Lay down your worries and pick up God’s love instead..

Hey everyone! So I had a little epiphany today, and I thought I would share…

I have been certified as an elementary teacher for 3 years now with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree completed and very few openings in districts near my home. I am currently a substitute teacher and I tutor on the side, as well as teach Sunday School often in my church. I have been applying for job after job, with no response, for almost 3 years now, and face frustration and discouragement about the lack of jobs. At one time, I was about to give up and throw in the towel, ready to search for careers in other fields. However, lately I have felt calm and relaxed about my current job situation. I have been praying for God to provide a teaching job for me when the time is right, and in fact, was doing just that today when I had my epiphany.

It hit me like a ton of bricks all at once, almost as if God was speaking directly to me. I realized, wow… I have been praying for a job, and although I have not found anything full-time yet, God has provided me with something better… His PEACE. That explains the change of emotion from discouraged and defeated to hopeful and relaxed. I just started to cry when I realized how much God has filled me with peace and hope. Without God, I am an emotional, high-strung, anxious, nervous, WRECK. I worry about everything, doubt myself constantly and get angered and upset so quickly. God calms me. He has shown me that in His time, He will provide. He has shown me His love by giving me an amazing soon-to-be husband who brought me to Christ. I still struggle daily with sin, doubt, etc… but I also know I can lay down my worries at the throne of Jesus, and He will take care of everything for me.

I heard the song “Lay it Down” this morning on my way to work, which is all about giving your anxieties to a healing and comforting God. That is exactly what I will do.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Please read– Prayer request.

I am writing today asking for prayers for a girl in my church.  She is a senior in high school who is suffering from Anorexia and does not believe she is beautiful.  This young woman is extremely beautiful, talented and kind, and is having difficulty seeing that for herself.  I know that prayer is so powerful, and that God can work wonders and that God heals.  Please, lift up prayers for this young woman so that this affliction may end.  She is suffering as well as her family who has reached out asking for prayers.  Thank you very much, God Bless everyone.

What am I going to wear?! Chronic planner at your service!!

You know what I’ve noticed about myself lately?

I spend WAY TOO MUCH TIME living in the future.  I often forget to live right now, in the present, making each moment count. I’m sure a lot of you out there can relate. I call myself a chronic planner.  And I don’t just mean that I plan my wedding, career, and baby names. No, my planning is daily! I’m constantly worrying about what I’m going to wear later, what I’m going to do, when I’m going to work out, what’s for dinner…etc… I literally plan out each and every day and don’t like when things don’t go as planned.

I came across 2 verses while reading my Bible today that really shed light on my chronic planning issue:

Proverbs 16:1 (GNB)
“We may make our plans, but God has the last word.”

Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”

SIDE NOTE: 🙂
If you’re wondering why I used two Bible versions, it’s because I like switching back and forth and reading scripture that is written in different ways. (I have my Master’s in Literacy Education so I’m kind of a word dork!) You’d be surprised at how much understanding you gain from reading different words that convey the same message!

Anywho….

These verses tell me to STOP WORRYING SO MUCH ABOUT THE FUTURE. God knows what is best for me way more than I do, and He has got it all figured out! How beautiful is it that I don’t have to put so much stress on planning planning planning, and I can rest knowing God has it covered? God probably laughs at us when we are in our planning frenzy because ultimately He is going to change our plans as much as He needs to.  Let go of your worries, and give them to God… He’s got everything in the works for our good. 🙂

God bless!!

My quick-little-pick-me-up for your Monday blues :)

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Hi everyone! Sometimes when I’m reading my Bible, I come across a verse that stops me dead in my tracks.  Sometimes out of conviction, sometimes thankfulness, sometimes complete humility.  Today, I read a verse that made me stop and say, “wow! Our God is awesome and really has made the way easy for us, if we just follow Him!” Here is the verse that caused this wow moment… read first and then I will explain! 🙂

“If you oppress poor people, you insult the God who made them; but kindness shown to the poor is an act of worship.” (Proverbs 14:8 GNB)

…An act of worship. Wow. God considers it an act of worship to treat all people with kindness.  Our God doesn’t expect us to scream His praises from the rooftops, or shoot fireworks in the sky for Him.  Our God considers it worship for us just to love one another and be kind to one another, because that is what He calls us to do. Wow. I serve an amazing God who loves us so much that small acts of kindness are enough for Him to feel worshiped. I think this is a beautiful truth and it only makes me want to worship God more. God deserves so much worship and praise and has done so much for us… Should we shout his praises from the rooftops and shoot off fireworks in the sky for Him? He sure does deserve our endless exaltation of His name! BUT– not without following his footsteps and treating the poor just as well as the rich. God is sooooooooooooo good!!!!! 🙂 🙂

Are you feeling afflicted? Say thanks!

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Affliction. A word that is seen numerous times in the Bible. But what does it mean literally and in application to our lives? (I say “our” to encompass myself and all of the Christians of this world.) Well, the dictionary definition of the word affliction is this:

1.) a state of pain, distress, or grief; misery: They sympathized with us in our affliction.
2.) a cause of mental or bodily pain, as sickness, loss, calamity, or persecution.

Some synonyms of affliction are: mishap, trouble, tribulation, calamity, catastrophe, disaster.

Those are some pretty strong words, huh?

I’m going to take you through a few verses of Psalms 119 where the word affliction is seen, and compare 2 translations of the Bible, to get a deeper understanding of what each verse is saying. The bolded verses are the NIV translations and in the italics are a contemporary English translation. I like to read the Bible in multiple translations to really deepen my understanding and clarify the message that is written.

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“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.” Psalms 119:67
Once you corrected me for not obeying you, but now I obey”

“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” Psalms 119:71
“When you corrected me, it did good because it taught me to study your laws.”

“I know, LORD, that your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.”
Psalms 119:75
“Your decisions are correct, and you were right to punish me.”

“If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.”
Psalm 119:92
“If I had not found happiness in obeying your Law, I would have died in misery.”

One major thing stands out to me when I look at the 2 translations back to back: The words afflicted/affliction seem to go hand in hand with the words corrected and punish. What this says to me is that yes, God does punish us, and yes, God does correct us when we need to be corrected.  God loves us so much, that he corrects us and punishes us in the same way loving parents corrects their children, to save them from making mistakes in the future (Proverbs 3:12).
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Being a Christian is not easy. Once you are born again, your old self dies, and you aren’t living for yourself anymore.  You are living for God as His servant.  When God calls us to be his children, we don’t live by the world’s rules anymore; we live by God’s rules.  Once God reveals Himself to us, we are forever changed.  Sure, we can go our own way and reject Jesus– if we want to end up in Hell and eternally separated from Him.  But when we choose to follow Him, it is not going to be an overnight transformation or an easy change of lifestyle.  As Christians, we will be mocked by the world that we now live in but are not of. We may feel alone because we aren’t as easily accepted by friends anymore, or we just don’t have the same lifestyles as our friends anymore.  We will be struggling everyday, in an ongoing battle between our old self and all it’s wicked ways, and our new self, striving for righteousness.  We will be under constant attack from the devil, who will do anything he can to win us back– because when we’re consumed in the world–money, sex, greed, alcohol, etc…– Satan has us.  But, when we receive Jesus into our hearts, we are FREE FROM ALL THAT IS IN THE WORLD. We no longer are bound and chained by sin. BUT… this is easier said than done.  

I can tell you, from my own experience, life after salvation thus far has been a bumpy road.  I was saved a little over a year ago, and have struggled everyday.  I am so thankful for my salvation, but I face afflictions everyday in my life.  In the beginning months after I was saved, I used to get so angry with God because my life wasn’t a nice, smooth ride like I thought it would be. I would refuse to pray, and absolutely reject reading the Bible. I was so angry with God.  What happened with my life? I faced one humbling experience after the next.  I was filled with pride and arrogance that got chipped away little by little.  I cried everyday for months, feeling helpless, wondering why I believed in God at all, and being angry at my boyfriend who told me the Gospel, thinking life would be so much easier had I never heard it.  But, what I have realized, is that when I was angry at God, he allowed me to go through some afflictions.  He allowed me to struggle, to cry, to be depressed.  He knew very well that once I reached my breaking point, that is when I would seek him wholeheartedly instead of giving him only half of my heart, allowing half of it to remain in the world.  He knew what it would take to humble me and make me seek him earnestly.  Once I sought Him, and begged for Him to lead my life, I was filled with the Holy Spirit.  We had a baptism of the Holy Spirit at my Pentecostal church, and I was able to speak tongues through the Holy Spirit.  My eyes were opened, my heart was filled with joy and with thanks, and my pride was broken. 

So, to sum it all up… God used my afflictions to lift me up and save me from them.  He corrected me, maybe punished me, but for my own good.  He corrected me out of love. He used my daily struggles to pull me out of idleness, and strive to read the Word, and seek him on a daily basis instead of when it was convenient for me.  He made me realize that I can’t go one day without Him in my life.  Not even one day.  My pride starts welling up, I get moody, it’s just not good.  Now, I’m not saying that life will be easy as a believer, but I am saying this: God will always be by your side through everything.  He knows all of our hearts and He knows things we don’t even want to admit about ourselves. There is nothing we can hide from God, so why not just share everything with Him.  Even after having God in my life, I mess up brutally.  I say things out of rage when arguing with my boyfriend, I don’t always honestly bless my friends, I get angry. But what is beautiful in all of this is that all of my afflictions of my everyday life show me how much I need God.  I am thankful for every struggle I face, because I know that God will use them all for my good.  He doesn’t put negative things in my life to rebuke me and then leave me stranded.  I put negative things in my own life, but He uses them as an opportunity to build me up on a foundation of HIM.

If you are a new Christian like me, don’t be discouraged when you stumble.  Thank God always for your afflictions and repent always for your wrongdoings.  God doesn’t condemn us– that’s what the devil does.  But, God convicts us– letting us know when we are wrong.  And honestly, I am completely humbled that God loves me enough to correct me through love, when sometimes I deserve for Him to turn His back completely on me.  No matter how long you have been a Christian for, you will never be enough on your own.  Everyone needs Jesus and everyone needs the Holy Spirit to guide us.  

Thank you for reading, I hope this helped someone who is going through the struggles of being a new Christian.

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A quick little pick-me-up for anyone who needs it today :)

Hey everyone! There is an issue that is heavy on my heart today– giving thanks. 
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         After I was saved (a little over a year ago), I thought that my Christian walk meant that my life would be a piece of cake.  I thought all of my problems would be washed away and I would never have a struggle again.  On the contrary, my life is just the opposite. I face challenges and struggles each and EVERY day.  Struggles with patience, anger, jealousy, self-doubt… the list could go on forever.  I have learned that being a Christian doesn’t mean my life will be easy. Actually, it makes life a bit more difficult, because after knowing Jesus, I know that I will be held accountable for my every thought and action.  BUT, I also know that i have a God who loves me with all of His heart, and who wants me to be full of joy.  I have a God who has set out a future for me, and all I have to do is obey Him, seek Him, and listen to what He is speaking to me.  I also know that I must give thanks to Him– not only for the good times, but I MUST THANK HIM FOR THE BAD TIMES!!!!! This is something that I have realized is absolutely essential. The Lord wants a great future for me, and if I am going through struggles, I MUST thank him because He is allowing those struggles in order for me to grow. He is opening doors for me that I may not see at the moment, but I put my trust in Him alone. He PROMISES us a future. And God never, ever, everrrrrrr goes back on a promise:

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

So I urge you to thank God for all of the good in your life, but also for all of the bad. Let go of control, and realize, we have an awesome God who is paving our path as we speak. Give Him your worries, thank Him for humbling experiences, and thank Him always. He is always listening! 🙂

1 Thessalonians 5 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”

JOY JOY AND MOREEEE JOYYY!! :) :) :)

I am just filled to the brim with joy today!!! I can’t even contain it. I am overwhelmed with happiness and thankfulness for my life and for my salvation. I just can’t believe how much Jesus loves a sinner like me.  Even after all of the times I tried to hide from Him, and all of the sins I’ve committed, He does not forsake me. I prayed for Him to fill me with peace and joy which I know comes only from Him, and He did.  He lifted all of the burdens from my life the minute I surrendered my life to Him.  I will NEVER look back. I will never turn away from Jesus, because He will NEVER turn His back on me.  Thank you so much Jesus for saving me from a path of complete destruction.  I no longer fear death because I know You will be there. I no longer fear life, because I know you have a great plan for me. GOD IS SO GOOD. If you have not accepted Jesus into your heart, don’t wait another moment. He wants to pave the way for You!!!!!

Just a quick pick-me-up for anyone who needs it today!! :)

Hey everyone! Just wanted to share a quick scripture that jumped out at me today…

“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.” Proverbs 4:25

So often we live in the past, and let negativity from who we used to be consume us.  This is just a little reminder to keep our eyes on the future– which will be bright if we’re walking with the light of the world in us!!!!

Have a wonderful day guys!

Tame Your Tongue!

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Have you ever said something that you later kicked yourself for saying? Offended someone by the bluntness of your words? Perhaps, you said a bit too much out of pure emotion, rather than rational thinking? Have you gossiped with your best friend, rather than bringing an issue directly to the person you are upset with?

GUILTY! I am a relatively reserved person when it comes to voicing my opinions.  I am not generally the person who offends others, as I don’t like confrontation, and would rather shake my head with a smile than face the awkwardness of a disagreement.  When someone says something that hurts me or just downright gets me fired up, I generally go to my best friend, giving her an earful of my thoughts. I just never seem to confront the person who actually offended me, and hold on to bitterness instead.  However, sometimes I hold on to my emotions for so long that they seem to overflow and exude out of my pores in a waterfall of harsh words when I have had too much. It may take months before I finally explode about something that upset me, and it often comes with a fiery tongue and buckets of tears.

Whether you are a person who speaks too much, too quickly, and offends others easily, or you are a person who finds it easier to gossip than to follow the Matthew 18 principle, the issue comes down to one biblical piece of advice: TAME YOUR TONGUE!!!
(Matthew 18 Principle: bring your issue directly to the person you have it with first. If nothing is resolved, bring someone with you as a witness/mediator.  If the issue still is not resolved, bring it to the church.)

I love reading the letters in the Bible, as they are written with such passion and a heartfelt desire to see people walking the true Christian walk. They speak such truth about life– both in the time they were written, and present day.  Every time I read a letter, I gain so much understanding about what God is telling me to do. The rules are written clearly and simply about how I must behave as a Christian.

This post was inspired by the book of James.  I am specifically focusing on James 3:1-12 pertaining to the danger of the tongue and the importance of taming it. In this section, the author uses metaphors to show the great power that our tongues have over our lives: “When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but is makes great boasts.” (James 3:3-5 NIV) As the scripture clearly indicates, the tongue has a lot of power on the direction of our lives. What we say has a great impact on our relationships with others and more importantly, our relationship with God.  If we are going around gossiping and speaking maliciously about others, do you think God will be happy with us? Absolutely not. He will love us, of course, but he will not be smiling when hearing our conversations.  In my own life, I know that the minute I begin gossiping, it opens the door for much negativity. Sometimes I feel like I just have to say something to my best friend about a co-worker who got on my nerves, or a friend who said something that irritated me. But, it never stops there. My best friend and I can easily talk on the phone for hours, talking about people and everything that upsets us. For a few minutes I feel good– I feel like I am justified to gossip because my best friend understands what I’m saying and agrees. But here’s the real problem– she is not a Christian. Do you think that my gossiping is going to show her I have truly transformed? Is it setting the example of what a true Christian lives like? Am I showing her a reason to turn to Christ if I am just as bitter as she is? NOPE! In hind-sight this is so clear, but in emotional moments, it is incredibly hard to stop.

This leads me into my favorite verse in this section of James: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3: 6) WOW! That is a pretty powerful statement if you ask me. The way I interpret this into my own words is this: What you say can slowly corrupt your entire life and set you on the path of destruction, away from God and toward Hell. Am I saying you can lose your salvation? I don’t know– only God can answer that. BUT by speaking harsh words, gossiping, slandering others and being too blunt, you are not walking on a path of righteousness with God who is pleased with you. Instead, you are showing God that your way is better. You are telling Him that speaking to HIM is less important than speaking to others about your problems. Your words can deeply hurt others as well as create deeply-rooted bitterness in your own heart. There is never a time that I use harsh words without regret.  I end up more bitter than before I opened my mouth because I know I have disappointed both God and the person I spoke to. Not to mention, it’s a bummer to know you hurt someone’s feelings. My pastor once said something during his sermon that struck me– your words are a double-edged sword that you can never take back. What truth there is in that! Once you hurt someone, you also feel hurt and bitter, and that person can never forget what you said. Think about when someone has said something really terrible to you. You may have forgiven them and gone on with your life, but seeded deep in your mind is that moment that they hurt you– and you can almost hear them saying the words that cut you.

James 3:10 says, “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.” “Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” (3:11)  We pray to God, blessing Him and asking Him for help in our lives with the same mouth that we use to say hurtful words about others. If we are true followers of Jesus, we need to use our mouths for only good. For praising Him, but also for blessing others. We are going to mess up, as in many other aspects of our Christian lives, but it doesn’t mean we accept failure. We all know how nice it feels to receive a word of encouragement from another person. When we are doubting ourselves, and a person says something really sweet, it almost takes power over the pain we’re feeling. Words have SO MUCH POWER.

As James 3:8 beautifully states, “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Three words jump out at me here: NO HUMAN BEING. None of us can tame the tongue, there it is, in plain English. It is one of the challenges that we have to face as Christians. We cannot just accept defeat over this challenge, and must strive to try our very best to tame our tongues as much as humanly possible. And what is not humanly possible… well, leave that to God. Pray about what you can’t do on your own, because through Christ, all is possible.

As for me, I am working very hard on taming my own tongue, as well as my bitterness, jealousy, pride, etc… the list goes on and on. I am looking to God for advice instead of people. Reading the Bible instead of gossiping. This will be a life-long process of success and failure, but I know it is absolutely necessary if I want to establish a stronger relationship with Jesus. So say a kind word to someone today.  You might be the one to turn their whole day around. If someone is rude to you, forgive them. Say something to lift their spirits. When your tongue really wants to unleash a fiery wrath on someone, think about what the Bible says. Think of what God’s face might look like when He hears you speak. Think of the path of righteousness that you want to walk on, and where the path of destruction will lead you. Think before you speak– not of the words in your mind, but of the words planted in your heart.

Thanks for reading, God bless.

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And would you like to buy anything for yourself today?

Hey everyone, I hope you all had a nice Easter. I just have a quick thought that I’d like to share…

My wonderful boyfriend bought me a Pandora bracelet for my graduation from Grad school last May. Lately I’ve noticed how many people look at my bracelet and comment on the charms, like I also do when I see other women’s bracelets. The whole idea of these bracelets is that they tell a story about someone. So, with that being said, I decided to buy myself a cross charm to tell everyone who sees my bracelet that I am a Christian, and I’m not afraid to show it. I walked into the Pandora store and told the lady I would like to buy the little dangling cross charm. Her response shocked me: “And would you like to buy anything for yourself today?” Huh? Why was it hard to imagine this charm was for me? I got thinking about these questions and decided that I once shared a similar view of Christians: old, strange, or both! I guess it really does catch people off guard when a young woman follows Christ instead of the typical things that come with the 20’s decade. I think that a lot is to be said about my interaction with this woman; Young Christians like myself can break all of those silly stereotypes out there, and really inspire someone to come to Christ when they see we are regular, down to earth people who love God… Not some judge mental and condemning group of oddballs! It definitely makes me realize that I am the exception to most women my age. I want to use this to my advantage, and I hope you will too!

PS: after overcoming the initial confusion I had about her question, I told the woman the charm was for me. She looked very surprised!