Sticks and Stones

“Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow.”
-Proverbs 25:18 (NLT)

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Yeah right. That expression has always bothered me. Whoever made that up was obviously just trying to make themselves and others feel better. Words hurt. Words hurt just as much as sticks and stones and what’s more is the pain lasts even longer. Bumps and bruises heal. It’s much harder to heal the heart.
As women, we want to please everyone. It’s just in our nature and it’s how the Lord designed us. When someone says something hurtful, or even worse, spreads a lie about us, it is one of the worst pains. As women we work so hard to have a good reputation and one sorry lie can ruin our image in a skinny minute. But here’s the hope, ladies:

“Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed.
-Proverbs 12:19 (NLT)

Amen! Lies will be exposed!!! How wonderful is that news?! However, the truth may not be exposed as quickly as we want it, but isn’t it enough that the God we trust will reveal the truth in His time? His timing is perfect. So although we may be going through a difficult time filled with lies or hurtful words, we should hold tight to the Lord and remember He knows the truth and He will reveal it. “The truth will be revealed in due time.” That quote is something my preacher always says and I relish in that truth.
​As Christians we will suffer through people telling lies or people twisting our relationship with Christ into something negative, but in the end, remember who’s you are. You are God’s child (Galatians 4:7). You are His special treasure (Deuteronomy 14:2). You are made for His glory (Isaiah 43:7). You are loved (John 17:23). Meditate on these verses and search some out for yourself so you will always remember who’s you are and who created you. When Man lets you down, remember these verses. And let’s speak only good things of each other so that we never wound with our words. They do hurt more than sticks and stones.

He’s Right About One Thing…

“The temptations in you life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
-1 Corinthians 10: 13 (NLT)

“In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.”
-Ephesians 6:16 (NLT)

In my Sunday School class last week, we were finishing up the Christmas story. Although Christmas had just passed we still needed to talk about the wise men coming to see Jesus. Most of us are aware that the Magi did not find Jesus until he was around two years old. I can’t imagine the length of their journey. As my partner was telling this story to the children that morning, she explained that King Herod was trying to trick the Magi into thinking that he wanted to go worship Jesus as well. King Herod was very jealous and didn’t want anyone to be worshipped or called a king other than himself. She then told them the terrible truth that King Herod’s intention was to kill Jesus. As she told that part of the story, she asked the kids why they thought King Herod was trying to trick the Wise Men into finding Jesus, or why King Herod wanted Him to die. One little girl named Grace raised her hand and said, “Because the devil knew that Jesus was the Messiah and he didn’t like that.”
I love that Grace answered that way! Her answer really stuck out with me. She was right. King Herod’s actions were influenced by jealousy and jealousy is not of the Lord, but is a tool of Satan. Satan is the master of deception and he knows what tempts each one of us the most. He knows our weak spots. He knew that King Herod would be jealous enough to want to kill our Jesus. The good news—King Herod did not win. Yes, he continued to do terrible things through his reign including killing boys under the age of two hoping one of them would be Jesus. But God’s plan exceeded Satan’s.
Ephesians 6 talks about putting on the full armor of God. Verse 16 specifically talks about the shield of faith to block the fiery arrows from the devil. I love that verse. The full armor of God is a necessity. Without it, we will surely give in to the schemes of the enemy. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you are saved, the devil has given up on tripping you. If anything, he wants you even more. What reason does he need to focus on bringing down non-Christians? He already has them in his grasp. He wants to bring down the Kingdom. When you accepted Christ, you became a very valuable part of the Kingdom of God. You have a distinct purpose to help grow God’s family. The devil would love nothing more that to bring you down. However, the good news—God wins. Seek him first and the devil doesn’t stand a chance. As Grace said, the devil knows that Jesus is our Savior. I’ve got to say, Satan is right about that.

I Am Not Sin

“But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.”
-Romans 7:20 (NLT)

“The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.”
-Romans 8:3 (NLT)

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
-Romans 8:18 (NIV)

​Guilt is a terrible feeling. When I sin and acknowledge that I have done so, guilt can consume me. Have you ever thought of doing something so sinful or desired something you knew was wrong so much so that you felt God couldn’t possibly love you after knowing those thoughts? Things like lust, coveting, jealousy and the like? Am I the only one?
​It’s easy to feel as if God can’t forgive us. That guilt leads to loneliness and feelings of shame. It’s another tool of the Enemy. Sin is an even bigger tool of the Enemy. Look at Romans 7:20 again—we do not separate ourselves from God. Sin does that. This week God is showing me that through Jesus, my sin is separate from me. I’m beginning to envision sin as a person. It has become personified in my mind. Sin is in me because I’m human. However, Jesus is in me because I’m a spiritual being and have accepted Him as my Savior. I was born with sin. I was not born with Jesus. Jesus was my choice. That’s the big difference. That’s why we battle between the flesh and the Spirit so constantly. Stop thinking of yourself as flesh. If you’ve given yourself to Christ, sin no longer constrains you! You are free in Christ!
​Don’t let guilt consume you as it is our habit of doing. Sin does not win. The Devil does not win. Sin may influence our body and mind, but Jesus has full control of our souls and spirits if we’ve given ourselves to Him. Because I love him with all my heart, soul and mind, sin loses its power over me! See Romans 8:3—the law does not save us. Keeping the law doesn’t save us, or none of us would have hope in heaven. Jesus ended sin’s control! This life is nothing compared to what’s to come. All because of Jesus!

Out of Darkness

“O Lord, you are my lamp. The Lord lights up my darkness.” -2 Samuel 22:29 (NLT)

 

Out of my darkness

Into your light

You saved me, Lord

From the emptiness inside

I praise your name

For the light you’ve shown

For my struggles alone

They define me

You strengthen me with love

You love me in my weakness

Praise be to you, God

For pulling me out

For giving me life

Heart Not Behavior

“I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good motives, and I have watched your people offer their gifts willingly and joyously.”

-1 Chronicles 29:17 (NLT)

 

Motive. It all comes back to the heart. A woman that I respect and look up to had the privilege of speaking to my church on Sunday. She has such a heart for the Lord. She has been through more in her lifetime than I care to, but she still loves the Lord in spite of the things He has taken away. It’s inspiring. She said something Sunday that has really stuck with me: it’s not that you’ve got to go to church—it’sthat you get to go to church. Isn’t that so true? It is way tooeasy to get into that mentality of having to go to church, or having to go to work, or having to read your Bible before bed. We have the blessing of being able to do those things. We get the privilege of going to a building with other believers and celebrating His unconditional love for us, in spite of all the sins we have committed every day since we were there last. We get the privilege of spending time in His word and hearing the words of strength and encouragement He gives us each day. It is so easy to live with an attitude of behavior and not heart.

​Now if we go to church with the wrong motive, what good does that bring to anyone? If I went into Sunday School to teach my 1-2 graders with the wrong heart attitude, with the thought of, “ugh, I have to wake up and teach today,” don’t you believe that would show up in the lesson I’m teaching that day? Don’t you think those kids would see that the love of Jesus wasn’t truly on my face that day? Of course they can! Attitudes of the heart are NOT just internal. It shows in your actions, your words and all in between.

More so, if you’re going to church to merely be seen by others so they’ll think you’re spiritual, you may be fooling men, and even yourself, but you will never fool our Lord. If you lose your motive/heart, eventually you will begin to lose yourself. You’ll forget who you are, and more importantly, you’ll forget Who’s you are. You will not remember when you stopped doing it for God, and started for yourself and your motives. How do we recover from that? How do we get back to Him? He has the answer. Prayer.

Before every mission we ever go on, before every church event we go to, before every date we ever accept, before every work day, pray with me. I want us all to start praying for the right heart attitude before any and all social encounters. Let’s not give something only to expect something in return for ourselves. Let’s not serve in the church, or other ministries for the purpose of self-exaltation. Pray for humility. Pray for healing. Pray for others that we will be involved with that day. Let’s talk to God in the morning before we talk to anyone else so that He may prepare our hearts for that day.

When we serve, let’s serve joyously and with the love of Jesus. Let’s stop fooling ourselves and embrace who we are and Who’s we are. Let’s remember that it’s the condition of our hearts, not our behavior. At the advice of the wonderful woman I told you about, let’s change the got to into get to. J

 

Have a great weekend!

Who Has Time To Wait?!

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised.”

-Hebrews 10:35-36 (NLT)

 

Patience. Did you just cringe at the word as I did? No one likes the idea of waiting for something that they desire. I think as single women, we have to endure patience on a more consistent basis than others. I’m not saying that once I’m married I will never have to be patient again. I know I will have to endure this annoying waiting period over and over again in my life. Waiting to get pregnant, waiting for my husband to take out the trash (without me asking), waiting for my kids to graduate so I can have more time with my husband, waiting for my kids to get married so I can finally have grandchildren, and waiting for the Lord to come back, or to call me home. We will always have to wait for something. So why not use this single time to learn how to wait patiently? What I have begun to wonder as I walk more closely with Him is this: how can we change our attitude about waiting?

Picture yourself in a doctor’s office. Your appointment was at 9:15 and it is now 9:30 and no one has called you back yet. You think to yourself that doctors always run late, although you are slightly annoyed that 15 minutes have passed. You see the waiting room is full and as you’ve sat in your seat patiently, new patients have arrived. You sit around twiddling your thumbs and see 3 patients get called back that arrived after you. It’s now 9:45 and still nothing. Not only have you not been called back, but no one at the front desk has let you know of the delay. You start to grow very aggravated as patient after patient is called back, none of them looking as sick as you feel. You feel your blood pressure get higher and every person starts to aggravate you for no reason. At 9:50 you finally get called back. Your nurse is very nice, greets you with a smile and takes you back to your room. As the doctor comes in, he is very thorough and answers any and all questions you have—even the insanely ridiculous ones. He refills all of your prescriptions and is, quite frankly, the nicest doctor you have ever seen. So as the appointment is closing, you just ask him why you had to wait so long to see him. At that point he looks at you with a puzzled look on his face looks at his schedule to double check and says, “Ma’am, you’re appointment was at 9:50, we got you back here right on time. It’s our policy not to take patients back before their appointed time because it could mess up the workflow, and therefore the quality of your care.”

I think we get like that with God sometimes, especially in our single life. We sit in the waiting room and wait for Mr. Right. Each year we get more and more impatient. As we’re waiting, we see other women younger than us get called to the back to meet their Mr. Right. We begin to think to ourselves that it’s not fair and we got there first. You see girls get married that don’t seem to want it the way you do. We begin to feel our aggravation creep up. Each passing year we get more and more impatient and therefore, unpleasant. Just like being in the doctor’s office—the longer we wait, the less understanding we seem to become. The craziest thing is, we think we know better than God! Thankfully, His timing is ALWAYS right! So, let’s try focus on the good things that come from waiting. I know what you’re thinking… nothing! But trust me, friends, there is so much good in waiting. The following thoughts are not all my own. Some of them are things I have learned from others, and others are some I have learned through difficult times of waiting.

One benefit of waiting is anticipation. We have the gift of being able to look forward to something. Think about it, how much sweeter will the moment you walk down the aisle be while knowing how much you anticipated it beforehand? How gratifying will that be when you know how hopeful you were for the wonderful gift of marriage? If we never felt the wonderful feeling of hope and anticipation, the receiving would lose its luster. It has been said that anticipation is the greatest form of pleasure. I do believe that rings true. You will never feel that excitement of what’s to come AFTER you have received the blessing. Yes, you can remember it, but you cannot ever actually feel it again. Start seeing waiting as a gift of anticipation.

Another benefit is knowledge. I have learned the most about myself in times of waiting. God always uses a valley to teach you and to grow you in His Spirit. Those valleys in our lives are used as instruments to draw us closer to Him. Those painful waiting periods are for a purpose. Knowledge. If you’re waiting for something, it usually means you have something to learn. About yourself, about another, or about Him and the way He is working. Times of waiting allow for a certain clarity we don’t ordinarily have. It has been in those tough times where I see His revelations to me the most. Maybe it’s because my longing for something makes me seek Him more. Regardless, knowledge grows in times of struggle.

Believe it or not, waiting is security. That sounds like an oxymoron right? But it’s not! When we go through this time of singleness, we learn the most about ourselves. And, if we’re living for Him, we learn who we can be through Him and with Him. This is the time to strengthen our relationship with Jesus. As your relationship with Jesus gets stronger, you get stronger. As you get stronger through Jesus, your confidence grows. As your confidence in Christ grows, you gain security.

Let’s change our attitude of waiting today. As we are waiting for the Lord to give us our heart’s desires, let’s take delight in the anticipation. Let’s try our hardest to learn the things He wants us to learn through this time. Let’s rely on Him and trust Him so we can find our worth and security through His love. By doing this, we will learn to be content in whatever our circumstances are because in the end, we will always have Jesus. His love is the love we should desire more than any other. Let’s put our hope in Him.

Shakin’ Off The Chains

“‘Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood. For your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth. For the Lord has called you back from your grief—as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,’ says your God. ‘For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will take you back…’”

-Isaiah 54:4-7 (NLT)

This has been a very interesting week for me. It has truly been a week where I have been battling between the Spirit and the flesh constantly. I have confessed my sin to the Lord but my sin was so deep that I felt confined by it even after I repented. Have you ever felt like that? Have you ever felt like you couldn’t recover from something you’ve done? Have you ever wondered how God could possibly forgive you for breaking a covenant you’ve made with him? That has been the struggle for me this week. I made a covenant with God about something several years ago; this week, I came very close to breaking it. Luckily, I didn’t. But I almost did. I let go of some of my standards and morals this week. I almost let the Enemy convince me that what I was doing was okay even when it wasn’t. I have been so incredibly disappointed in myself. I felt guilty and unclean. I wondered to myself how in the world I was going to lay this out to my God. How could He look at me and love me the same way knowing that I was so close to putting Him on the back burner for a moment of worldly pleasure? I started thinking how I’m not worthy to teach Sunday School, or lead a Bible Study, or sing in front of my church. But then, my younger sister, McCall, showed me the verse above.

            McCall just recently started her freshman year at UNC-Wilmington. She is such a strong Christian young lady. McCall has such a sense of who she is, not only in herself but in Christ. The thing you should know about her is that she doesn’t compromise. She is one of the strongest people I know and I can only imagine what God is going to do through her life. She was telling me the story of how she happened upon this verse. She’s been praying about her witness and how it affects her wonderful new group of friends. It’s like she’s trying to find a balance between college life and her Christian walk. One of her hallmates joined a Christian Sorority and had a flyer on her door. It was one of those flyers that have tabs you can pull off of the bottom. The tabs had topics and a Bible Verse to correlate. McCall pulled off “Courage” and she went to open her Bible. The girl had marked the verse wrong and the above passage is what McCall read. It gave her such encouragement because she knew God would always take her back. Not that she had left Him, but she did say she felt like she had drifted. And He blessed her with this verse, which lead her to bless me.

            See, God knew that McCall’s friend would miswrite the verse. He also knew that McCall would pull off that verse. He gave that verse to her with purpose. Not only did He give her the verse He knew she needed, He used her as an instrument to share the verse with me so that I would know that He will take me back! How amazing is that?! He knew McCall and I would be questioning ourselves. He knew we would need confirmation of His love for us. He knew I felt shame and disgrace this week. He knew I would fail, and yet He has compassion on me! He has called me back. Thank God, I am redeemed!

            When you feel like you can’t recover from a sin you’ve committed, when you feel like God can’t possibly look and you and love you the same way, remember this verse. Remember that He created you for a purpose. He is our Redeemer. He is our Comforter. He will be our husband until our earthly one arrives in His timing. Let His loving arms embrace you as you fall back into Him. Sin does not win! He cast out our sins long ago. Confess it to Him and then as He forgives you… forgive yourself. I am not shamed. I am not disgraced. Praise God, I live by His grace and not by my efforts. Amen.

Have a wonderful and blessed weekend.

Hello world!

Hello, Everyone!

Okay so, I am very new to blogging. This is never something I saw myself getting involved with, however, a friend of mine told me I should consider starting one. I recently began to lead a Bible Study at church for single women (another thing I never thought I’d do) based on the book Lady In Waiting by Debby Jones and Jackie Kendall. If you haven’t read this book and you are a single woman seeking that perfect man, I highly recommend this book. So far, all you know about me is I am, yet again, embarking on another journey I never thought I’d walk. But, that’s what the Lord does to us isn’t it? He puts us in areas extremely out of our comfort zone and when we’re obedient, which is never easy, He blesses us immensely. That’s what He’s done for me. I thought He was going to use me in this Bible Study to help these other women in their singleness, but through it all, I am the one who’s been blessed by them. Amazing how He works! God has given me a heart for women, and perhaps due to the season of life I’m in currently, He’s given me a more specific heart for single women. I started my Bible Study with my testimony, which is how I’d like to start this blog as well so you can see how God gave me this passion. Bare with me, as it is only my second time sharing with such detail :)

I was saved when I was young. But really, it was more of a passing thought. I was literally riding my bike at a friend’s house and thought to myself, “I should probably ask Jesus into my heart.” So I did, without even hitting the breaks on my bicycle. Truthfully, it was just something I thought I was supposed to do. Don’t get me wrong, I loved God. I was only seven at the time and believed in God much in the same way I believed in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. I knew enough to believe in Jesus, but I didn’t know enough to have a relationship with Him. I did not truly give Jesus my whole heart. That time would come later in my life.

Ten years later, I met a boy. We met at school when we were seventeen. The first time we spoke, it was over for me. I knew he was too shy to ask me out, so for the first time in my life, I made the first move. I put my name with my phone number on a sheet of paper and put it on his car after school. That night, he texted me saying, “some rando put her number on my car.” From that point on, we were crazy about each other. We dated off and on for three years. To this day, I have never loved that much.

He joined the marines shortly after we got together. At the age of twenty, he went to Afghanistan. I was devastated. He was gone for seven months, and was only able to call four times, usually around 2 or 3 in the morning. I couldn’t wait to hear from this man. The man I knew I was going to be with forever. We savored those phone calls because we never knew when/if another one would come. Those were some of the most precious moments in our relationship.

One night in March of 2010, he called and proceeded to say he wanted to marry me when he got home. It was not the first time we had talked about getting married, so I just agreed with a laugh. At that time he said, “Seriously, Madison. Let’s get married. Please.” After getting over my shock and asking him if the desert made him crazy, I said I would. We decided not to tell anyone until he got home. He wanted to make it official with a ring and a “real proposal” but that conversation was real enough for me. It was going to be a long engagement because I was finishing up Radiology school and he was to start at NC State when he got home. We didn’t want to rush, but I think we just wanted to officially be forever.

It was May of 2010, time for him to come home. I went with his parents to get him on one of the most memorable nights of my life. I saw him get off that bus. Alive. He was looking at me like he had never really seen me until that moment. I can’t express in words how amazing that moment was. We were so immensely happy. We were complete… for four days.

He had to go back to base for debriefing four days after he came home. Then he would officially be on leave. He called on his way home to ask if he could come over for a few minutes. I knew him like the back of my hand; I could feel that he was coming over to break up with me.

I met him outside. We hugged as he sank into my arms while releasing a long, heartbreaking sigh. He didn’t need to say a word. I pulled away as looked into his eyes, then asked him why. He also knew me like the back of his hand. He loved me, but he was a marine to the core; he knew that wasn’t a life I could live. He said he couldn’t hurt me anymore. All of the sudden, I lost all words. In an instant, my life had been ripped away from me. After he poured his heart out to me about why we couldn’t be together and why it would never work, I told him, defensively, to go home. Those two words were all I could muster. Then, he actually left. I went inside to my sister’s room and cried as she held me.

The next two years of my life were the darkest years I have yet to experience. I was angry. I was sad. I was confused. I took my anger out on God. I yelled at Him. I didn’t understand why He would take the love of my life away from me. Why He would put the two of us on two different paths. I even questioned if God knew what He was doing. I began to try to manipulate my ex into getting back together me. I contemplated compromising my morals and standards. I cannot explain these years of darkness to you. All I can tell you, is it strengthened my relationship with Jesus. It forced me to put Him first in my life because I felt like I had nothing else. Yes, I had a family. Yes, I had friends. But truth be told, their words of encouragement, were just empty words to me. None of them had been through what I had just been through. None of them truly understood how I felt… But my God did. My situation made me comfortable with God. I confided in Him. It was more than prayer. We had conversations. I could feel His Spirit respond to me.

I still struggle with loneliness. I have felt every emotion imaginable when it comes to singleness. I’ve gone through the good as well as the bad; I’ve seen a lot of the bad, actually. But, my Jesus saved me by using so many different tools. Tools I will talk more about in the future. Eventually, I felt loved again. I felt worthwhile again. The pain that I had inside of me began to fade away with each scripture; it faded with each prayer. I used my dateless nights to focus more on the One who loves me more than any earthly man ever will. I began to spend more time with Him, one on one.

My relationship ending was one of the greatest blessings my God gave me. That sentence, took me three and a half years to say. The first time I said that sentence was to the women in my Bible Study a couple months ago. I know God has a husband for me. But the difference in my life now is that Jesus truly is enough. I can wait on His timing. It’s better than my own. And in the mean time, I have the attention of a Man who meets all my needs and then some. A Man who loves me more than anyone ever will. I am blessed to have Jesus. I am blessed to have a God who becomes who I need Him to be in the seasons of my life. Before my relationship was over, my ex was my best friend. He was my confidant. Do you see my error there? It always should have been God! It took me going through that deep, dark, lonely valley to see that what I’ve longed for my whole life, I already have! It’s my Jesus! Let Him be yours. It is the best relationship decision you will ever make. The struggles still come. The valleys still get deep. But this time, I have my Jesus.