All The Single Ladies!

All The Single Ladies!

I think the worst part about being single is the pity looks you get from the committed or married population of the world. Like there is something wrong with you. Because, obviously, that is the only reason why you don’t have a date this weekend or a boyfriend or a husband. And that, my dear single friends, is just SILLY. But as silly as it sounds, I’ve been hearing this a lot from my single friends. Things like “Is there something wrong with me?”, “Why don’t guys like me?”, or “What am I doing wrong?”. As I watch my single friends struggle in singleness with me, my heart goes out to them. The self-deprecating tapes they play in their heads are vicious and cut deep to the soul. Who said you aren’t good enough? Who said you had to earn love? Who said you are anything less than spectacular? Whoever did, they’re wrong and I will punch them in the face. You’ve been lied to and I’m here to set the record straight. You have nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. You are a diamond in the rough (or maybe a diamond in plain sight). And I’m telling you something right now: he will be worth your wait. Because let’s be honest, the best things in life are the ones you wait for. Just because no one is asking you out doesn’t mean that you’ll never be asked. It also doesn’t mean that people don’t think you are awesome, beautiful, and valuable. All it means is that God has a better plan for you than you could ever imagine and He is saving you from unnecessary heartache and wasted time. So hang in there. I’ll keep you company in the Singles Club until God calls you or me out of it. In the meantine, set yours eyes on the other relationships in your life. Community is so important for your spiritual and emotional growth. When the dates finally come, your friends will be the ones helping you process them in a godly way. And most importantly, cling to God. He is the only thing that will bring you fulfillment and eternal happiness. With a husband, it’s “’til death do you part” but Christ has beaten death and will never leave you.  Find delight in HIM (Psalm 37:4) and don’t define your worth by the world’s idea of dating. Set your eyes on Christ for He is directing your path (Proverbs 3:5-6).  So yes, it sucks being reminded everyday of yet another engagement via Facebook and seeing a plethora of your friends’ wedding dress preferences and cake recipes on Pinterest. But your time will come. God has perfect timing.

A Hurting and Hopeful Heart

A Hurting and Hopeful Heart

My heart hurts for this country. Not because of the attacks on U.S. embassies around the world in the name of Islam, not for the crippled economy, and not for the disgraceful attempts at political campaigns (on both sides). No. My heart hurts for this country because we still think WE can fix it. We think that the solution to our problems is a new President or 4 more years of the current one. We think that more jobs will create more happiness and that bringing troops home will bring peace. We think that same-sex marriage will spread ‘love’ to all. We think that universal healthcare will eliminate sickness and give hope to the poor and needy. We think there is an easy fix to all our problems. These things we want, these ‘ideas’, are not intrinsically bad. Each side of the political spectrum is trying to make our country better, whether you agree with the issue or not. Noone is trying to bring our country to its knees. And as much as it pains me to watch us tear eachother apart, I feel that’s exactly what we need: to be brought to our knees. Our country doesn’t have an economic problem or a policy problem. We have a heart problem. We’ve believed for far too long that we deserve everything. We think that we deserve freedom, we deserve happiness, and we deserve comfort. But in our effort to secure these things for ourselves, we’ve become dependant on man instead of relying on God. We’ve become entitled, believing this country owes us something, that God owes us something. We believe that because we’ve been ‘good people’ that good things should and will happen to us. But God does not promise that life will be easy. In fact, for the life of a Christian, we’re told the exact opposite. We’re told life will be harder on us. (John 16:33, Matthew 5:11-12, 44; 10:23, 13:21; Mark 10:30; John 15:20,John 15:18-19). But with the knowledge of a harder life, we cannot lose our joy and our hope, which rests soundly in the power and love of Christ. Yes, our country has a heart issue, but if you are a Christian and you’re reading this, WE have the answer: Christ. This world is merely temporary but we know the key to eternal life. This mess engulfing our world today has already been foretold:

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” – Matthew 24:6-8

These rumors of wars, economic turmoil, moral decay, and natural disasters are all part of a grander plan. The ‘end of the world’ may be tomorrow or 100 years from now but our instructions remain the same: Share His gospel, love others, and obey His law. Do these things and rest easy in the knowledge that He is coming. This world is not your home.

So don’t be discouraged by the mess you see on your television or hear on the radio. Vote faithfully, love unconditionally, and pray without ceasing. God knows what he is doing. No politician, earthquake, or war can change His mind or alter His plan.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21

“The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” – Proverbs 16:4

“All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”” – Daniel 4:35

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:19

Remember the Ladies?

Remember the Ladies?

For the past couple months, I have been reading posts about the supposed “War on Women”, how current politicians are so out-of-touch with the modern woman, and how women’s rights are being threatened. The primary concern at the moment is healthcare and the woman’s right to control her own body. What the world doesn’t realize is not all woman are on the left side of the argument. I for instance, do not support abortion. Yes, I have the right to my own body and my life but the life inside my womb belongs the little boy or girl I will carry one day. By giving me the right to abort a pregnancy, you are denying the right of the future generation to their’s. So please stop grouping me into your “War”. But let’s put the pro-life/pro-choice issue aside for a second. I think we, as a culture, are missing an even greater threat to women: the growing animosity between us. Women were designed by God with attributes and talents that differ greatly from our male counterparts. He made us relational, loving, and nurturing beings. Now not every woman feels like she encompasses these qualities, but whether you think so or not, it is at your very core. Women throughout history have raised the heroes of wars and the leaders of nations. We’ve banded together in support of Patriots and rallied together for the right to vote; but recently, we’ve been creating a divide between us that will have a detrimental effect on the next generation, if it hasn’t already.

We’ve suffered abuse and discrimination in the past and desperately want to be seen as the equals we are. We want to prove to the world that we are valuable. So we created the feminist movement in an attempt to show the boys that we’ve got what it takes, demanding to be taken seriously. But instead of cultivating a society of women in support of each other, we’re tearing each other apart. As we try to ‘beat the boys’ and prove our worth, we put each other down in the process. We call each other ‘ugly’ and starve our bodies to fit into some made-up image of the ideal woman. Inside, we’re empty shells of femininity. Instead of praising the uniqueness and beauty that every woman possesses, we point out each other’s flaws in our race to the top of the list of America’s Hottest Women. We chastise the world for objectifying woman and we turn around and use our bodies for personal, financial, and political gain. We play ‘stupid’ for attention and laugh at the women who study hard. We prey on the weak to make us feel strong. What has happened to us?

We’ve risen through the corporate world with much success, which is truly something to be proud of. We have women CEOs and entrepreneurs, even Secretaries of State. But while successful in that realm, we’ve put down the ladies who have chosen to stay at home, caring for our children. We call them ‘traditional’ and blame them for keeping us back instead of affirming them as they toil day after day in arguably the toughest job on the planet. All we gain from this is a larger divide between us. We’ve even botched the term “feminist”. We’ve perverted a word that was intended to bond us together and turned it into a word that divides us, tearing a hole in our collective heart. Proverbs 14:1 says, “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down”. Our ‘house’ is the world we live in and we’re tearing it down brick by brick.

We’ve lost sight of who we are: a being designed by God. Perfect in every flaw. We’ve let our insecurities rule our lives instead of finding our security in our Heavenly Father. And we’ve tried to find our value in temporary things and based on mortal standards instead of recognizing our value lies in Him alone. Let’s stop the real ‘War on Women’ and start loving each other. Let’s become something our daughters can be proud of.

You are Remarkably Made

You are Remarkably Made

Growing up, I always had great self-esteem. I knew I was cute, smart, and well-liked. I worked as a teen model for the likes of JC Penny’s and Dillard’s and, due to being a twin, was constantly being told I was “ADORABLE”. I considered myself a contrarian, my mind firmly set against being a “normal teenager”. In fact, my Nana repeatedly tells the story of me announcing this to my family. In high school, I was a huge nerd and PROUD. I loved school and the dramatic arts and flourished in them. I was well-known (again due to being a twin) and joked about being the ‘popular nerd’. Being a late bloomer, my body really didn’t start changing until late highschool/early college (making my ‘awkward stage’ exponentially more awkward). I began to gain weight in all the normal places for women and, in the beginning, never paid it much mind. I embraced my body! I didn’t care. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted, and looked down on those who counted calories and watched their figure. “How silly and vain!” I thought. Then college happened. Everyone warns about the ‘freshman 15’ but amazingly, I lost 10 pounds. This encouraged my horrible eating habits that lead to weight gain and a blatant disregard for the importance of exercise. But again, I paid it no mind. Until one day, I started noticing. I honestly couldn’t tell you what started it. Maybe it was the fact I lived on a campus located in one of the prettiest and richest cities in Dallas. Or the fact that girls at SMU wear heels to football games and sundresses to class. All I know is something happened and I started caring. I started realizing that I didn’t have the body that was in the magazines, on TV, and on campus. Why now? Why did I decide to notice this NOW? The next two events that stand out the most on my journey down a slippery slope are my parents separating and my trip to NYC. I remember flying to NYC the morning after a very traumatic family event (I’m choosing not to discuss the event so as to respect the privacy of those involved.), seeing a musical that almost exactly represented my family’s current situation (Next To Normal), and sitting at Junior’s stuffing my face with a slice of the best cheesecake I have ever had in my life. I was sitting there, eating this cake, feeling completely full and disgusted with my inability to stop eating. That moment changed my life. I wish I could tell you that it was a positive change. Perhaps, it started out that way. Unfortunately, my control freak nature combined with a lack of control of my family situation and me being slightly overweight, turned into an eating disorder. I wasn’t anorexic or bulimic, but had an unhealthy relationship with food and my body. Though I did in fact need to change my diet and start making healthier choices, I took this to the extreme. Being an impatient person, I decided to cut almost all fat from my diet. I ate iceberg lettuce with only vinegar as dressing and gave up all fried food and most kinds of meat. I said ‘no’ to dessert and started working out daily. I would go to bed hungry most nights simply because I was afraid my body was ‘faking it’ and that I was in fact just giving in to my old “eat for the sake of eating” habit. All this sounds super unhealthy, which it was, but to be honest, I felt great! I had more energy, I was losing weight, and I had something to focus my mind on. But what started as an innocent attempt to get into shape turned into an obsession with attaining the ‘ideal’ body. Despite all my hard work, I wasn’t happy with what I saw in the mirror. If I could only lose X number of pounds or fit into “insert size here” pants. If only I could weigh under X amount. I ended up losing 25 pounds within a matter of months. I think the lowest amount I weighed was 111, which by health standards was the minimum on the spectrum of a healthy weight for my height and age. I was tired all the time and constantly worried about food. I had become one of those girls I had made fun of in high school. Throughout this whole process, I didn’t think I had a problem. I figured since I never skipped meals and was making ‘healthy’ choices, I was ‘ok’. I could control this. I could CONTROL this. I wasn’t starving myself or purging. I simply was hyperfocusing on my eating. Throughout all this, my family situation was getting worse and ultimately ended with a divorce. But I was ‘ok’. Or so I thought. Thankfully, the Lord brought two people into my life who cared enough about me to ask me some tough questions. I am equally thankful that the Lord humbled me to a point where I was eager to listen. A part of me was waiting on someone to call me out. Waiting for proof that someone cared about me and my life. After the confrontation, I opened up to my small group and shared my struggles. With accountability and the determination to be healthy, I adjusted my diet to a healthy one and began to teach myself how to value my body. Not by the world’s standard but by the only standard that truly matters: my Father’s.

Growing up in church, I was constantly fed the line “God made you special”. This is fact. No bells, no whistles, no fluff. God did, in fact, make me special. But sadly, this profoundly beautiful statement has become cliché. We hear it so many times we stop believing it. So about 2 years ago, I started re-teaching myself about the beauty and wonder of God’s creation: Me. I, Alexandra Braunwyn Faith Gatewood, am like no other. I was crafted in my mother’s womb before she even knew I existed (Jeremiah 1:5). I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-16). God crafted every inch of my body with an artist’s eye and a Father’s love. He designs for a purpose. He designed my height, my weight, the length of my arms, and the color of my eyes. He added special details to make me unique, different from any other person on this planet, even my twin. But the Lord made something even more beautiful. He made my soul, my spirit and being. And no amount of dieting, exercise, or plastic surgery can alter His masterpiece.

One of my all-time favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 31:30 which says that “charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” I love this verse because it reminds me that everything is temporary, even my body. In the end, we all wrinkle, we all gain weight, and we all ultimately pass away. But the single most important thing in our lives is our relationship with the Lord. We are not here to please man, who is fickle. We are here to know the one true God.

I think the hardest part about struggling with food and exercise is the fact that, in moderation, it is necessary to live a healthy life. It’s when you find your happiness and self-worth in these things that the problems start. The Bible even addresses this in 1 Timothy 4:8 saying, “Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next”. The gym will only bring me temporary happiness but my quiet times, scripture memory, and fellowship with other believers will keep me eternally ‘fit’. My body is a temple and should be treated as such (1 Corinthians 6:19). It is not to be used for my glory but for His. I mentioned before that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. I recently heard a different translation, saying ” we are remarkably and wonderfully made”. I love this translation because it is true. It it truly remarkable how we’re made. The human body is complex, intricate, fragile, resilient, and made in His image. We have the fingerprints of God on every cell in our bodies. We are a miracles by every definition. Take some time to dwell on that.

Sadly, I can’t say that I am cured. It is a daily struggle and, with the omnipresence of the media, it is nearly impossible to escape the World’s view of beauty. But I am equppied to handle attacks from all sides. I have my sword of Truth and have surrounded myself with people who know the true value of beauty, loving me for the woman God designed me to be.

So for those of you out there, men and women alike, who struggle with something like this, you are not alone. You have a Father is Heaven who loves you and has put you exactly where He wants you to be, looking exactly how you look, and with the talents you possess. And He said, “It was good”.

Everything Happens for a Reason

Everything Happens for a Reason

I started my today nervous about my first business trip ever. It was the first time I would be driving myself to the airport and flying alone. I always compensate for my anxiousness by planning ahead. Giving my world structure gives myself the illusion of being in control. So I got to the airport two hours early and was ready to go. I had even contacted the co-worker I was supposed to meet in Miami to coordinate our shared cab ride to our hotel. He said not to worry, that he would hail a cab when we got there. Perfect. One less thing to worry about. As I’m sitting at my terminal I realize my gate is not for my flight. I check the departure board and notice that not only has my gate changeQhd but my plane is at a completely different terminal! So I hop onto the sky rail and go to the opposite side of the airport. Finally. My gate. The RIGHT gate. After a while, a woman comes over the intercom explaining that there has been a slight delay. The plane I was supposed to be boarding had been struck by lightning prior to landing at DFW and needed to be checked out. They were currently searching for a replacement plane. She assured us that we would be leaving in 30 minutes…. An hour and a half later, I finally board the plane. I had to call my co-worker and tell him to go on ahead of me to the hotel. Now I would be hailing a cab by myself… something I’ve never done before. I take my seat among the other passengers. As I begin to read my book, the pilot tells us to hang tight while they check on a maintenance issue. At this point I’m just laughing. I figure everything has gone off my plan so obviously I’m here for a reason. In my uncommonly good mood for a passenger on a delayed plane, I made a witty remark that caught the ear of the guy sitting next to me. For the life of me I can’t remember what I said or how we started our conversation but we talked the entire 3 hour plane ride. He was 24 and active in the air force. He worked with private intel and couldn’t tell me much due to the secrecy of his position. However, what he did tell me was fascinating. As I began to learn more and more about this man and his life, I began to realize how caring, dutiful, and lonely he was. He wasn’t allowed to talk about his job, moved frequently, and was an introvert, causing him to have few friends. But he loved his job. He loved helping people and was thankful for his blessings. When I asked him how he got the job he has and he told me he chose his top three options and the air force and his test scores chose for him. They were the following:
#1: bomb defuser (ala Hurt Locker).
#2: fireman (equally as dangerous in combat).
#3: choose for me.
His test scores were so high the government put him in special ops/intel. He couldn’t tell me much but I do know he saves and protects the lives of soldiers everyday. The survival of wounded men rests on this young man’s shoulders. I told him that it was obvious that he was put where he was for a reason. Seeing that he was carrying a heavy burden on his shoulders, I asked if he had anyone to talk to, any friends.
“Not really…”
I then asked if he was a religious man.
“No, are you?”
I said yes and we talked a bit about religion, just surface level stuff like how he put “Jedi” on his dog tags as his religion because he didn’t have one, etc etc. As the conversation diverted, I felt convicted to keep talking about God with this young man. I went to the bathroom and said a quick prayer asking God to bring up a point in our conversation where it would be a natural transition to religion. He did. I spent 30 minutes explaining what a personal relationship with God looks like. I explained how Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophecies, died for us, eliminated the need for rules and rituals, and provided us with the gift of eternal life. Turns out, this young man had not only never heard the gospel, he didn’t even know Jesus was a real person. He had never read the Bible. After my explanation of Jesus, I encouraged him to evaluate who he believed Jesus to be: a lunatic, a liar, or Lord. As our conversation diverted once again, I began to feel self conscious. Did my babbling explanation of the Gospel sound convincing? Did I sound silly or offensive? Did this guy understand anything I said? As all these worries swarmed through my head, I suddenly felt a sense of peace. I was reminded of a message I once heard that spoke directly to this situation. It is not our job to convert others. Eloquent speeches, scientific/analytical explanations, and fuzzy feelings don’t cause people to believe. It is between them and God. God doesn’t call us to convert people. He calls us to share the Gospel. I was obedient and that’s all that mattered. Before the plane landed, I asked his permission to pray for him. He looked skeptical but told me that prayer never hurt and that I could. As we walked off the plane, I lost him in the crowd and didn’t get the chance to say goodbye and wish him luck. I then remembered I had the daunting task of finding a cab. As I walked out of the airport, a taxi was waiting for me, having been hailed by my heavenly Father.
Everything happens for a reason. If my plane hadn’t been delayed, I never would have made a comment about it and would have simply continued reading my book, ignoring the people around me. Instead God gave me the opportunity to witness to one of His children. I’ll never complain about traveling again.
Please pray that Steven, the 24 year old man with the world on his shoulders, would see that he isn’t bearing the world alone. He is loved and appreciated by a God who is keeping him safe and has blessed him with the talent of helping others. Please pray that others would reach out to him and teach him more about Gospel and the hope we have in Christ.
Stay Classy

Stay Classy

‘Classy’ is a word rarely used anymore. When was the last time you heard someone say it? Better yet, when was the last time you heard someone say it and mean it? Class is a dying attribute in women. We live in a world where we are encouraged to be fit, strong, independant, to seek pleasure, and that our body should be celebrated by showing it off or by using it to manipulate others to get what we want. Some tell us to play it dumb and ride the coat tails of the richest man we can catch. Others tell us we don’t need men and that we can solve all our problems by relying on ourselves and our own abilities. With all these messages flying around, we’ve lost touch with the true meaning of beauty and what really makes a woman classy. Thankfully, God provided a manual:

A classy woman is a woman whose self-worth is not defined by the world but her Creator. She knows that “charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting” and that striving after secular beauty will not bring her happiness or joy (Provers 31:30). A classy woman “laughs at the days to come”, knowing that her path is paved with a purpose (Proverbs 31:25). She clothes herself in modesty, knowing her body is a temple and deserves respect (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). She knows that her body is beautiful, a work of art. She knows it can have the power to manipulate and so she is careful not to use it in shameful ways. A classy woman acknowledges her own faults and is forgiving of other’s. She is authentic. She is herself. She may not be poise, she may not be graceful, but she shows grace in how she treats the people around her. A classy woman shows God’s love through her words and her actions. She speaks her mind and is assertive but is loving in her boldness (Proverbs 31:26). A classy woman is independent of others but dependant on the Lord (Isaiah 26:4). She knows full well that stiving for perfection is futile, that she will never become all these things. However, she is crowned with the confidence that God loves her despite her failures and her flaws.

That is a classy woman.

Do you know any? I think there are more classy women out there than we think. So let’s bring back the word “classy”  and perpetutate the kind of woman we want to be, friend we want to have, and daughter we want to raise.

Stay classy!

Let’s Hear it for the Boys

Let’s Hear it for the Boys

You’ve probably seen or heard the phrase, “I’d rather have a Proverbs 31 woman than a Victoria’s Secret model”. This little campaign sparked out of Baylor University and caught fire. I am a huge supporter of this biblical campaign for many reasons. However, it has started me thinking why there isn’t a male-equivalent campaign. Yes, culture is attacking women, telling them they need to be rail thin, have big boobs, perfect skin, etc. etc. But culture is lying to men, too. The media is full of images of men that encourage sexual promiscuity, laziness, passivity, and other worldy passions. Any man on TV today fits this image. If I see another “family” show where the father is stupid and the wife rules the household, constantly repimanding her spouse for his laziness, I’m going to throw my remote out the window (or exit my Hulu window). This is percieved as “humor”. I don’t think there is anything humorous about a stupid, lazy man. That is not attractive and that is not ok. The other extreme is the “man’s man” who is tall, built, and highly sucessful. His success is determined by the clothes he wears, the car he drives, and the number of zeros in his salary. He controls his life by the credit card in his pocket and is admired by all. This image teaches men that money and success is the answer to all their problems and defines his worth. This leads to husbands and fathers who would rather provide for their families financially than emotionally. They would rather work overtime than spend time at home with their children. Now this doesn’t mean they don’t love their families, they have just been taught that this is the ‘right’ way to do things. The media also encourages sexual promiscuity in men of all ages. Boys are taught their worth is derived by the number women they sleep with (Just watch any show on ABC Family or even How I Met Your Mother, among others). Character’s lives are defined by the constant attempt to get laid and how to manipulate women to do so. To make matters worse, men who have chosen to remain sexually pure are portrayed as weak and are the butt of all the jokes. Staying ‘pure’ is seen as unrealistic, undesirable, and unmanly. Just like women, men are told they have to look a certain way to be handsome: big muscles, tall, athletic… Newsflash ladies, males models are airbrushed, too. Beauty is fleeting in men just as quickly as in women. Ryan Gosling is not always going to look that way. What is more important is the way he acts; His character. One’s character never fades.

As a women striving to be a Proverbs 31 woman, I can only wonder why there is such an emphasis on women. Men should be equally encouraged to pursue a Christ-like character: A man who loves his wife as Christ loves the church, giving himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25). A man who is faithful and loyal, giving honor to marriage (Proverbs 5:15, Hebrews 13:4). A man who doesn’t take advantage of the women in his life (Col. 3:19). A man who stands firm in his beliefs and who is courageous (1 Cor. 16:13). A man who is not passive, but subdues his world (Genesis 1:28, Psalm 8:3-8). A man who is merciful, just, and humble (Micah 6:8). A man who rules his household in a way that earns respect, not with laziness and passivity, and not in a way that engenders fear (1 Timothy 3:4-5). And, above all, a man who fears the Lord (Psalm 128:1-4).

These are the qualities and characteristics we should be encouraging in our sons, our fathers, our husbands, and our guy friends; encouraging men to be who God calls them to be, not this world.

If men would rather have a Proverbs 31 woman than a Victoria’s Secret model, then I’d rather have a godly man than a man who defines his worth by worldly standards and worldy pursuits.

Are We There Yet?

Are We There Yet?

As I’ve gotten older, I have begun to realize that life is kind of like a road trip. We are all driving down the road toward our ultimate destination: God’s plan for us. Like most road trips, its a long journey. For some of us its a family road trip, full of people who care about you but can get annoying after the nth rendition of “She’ll be Coming ‘Round The Mountain”. Never the less, God has given us family, or your college roommate, or the nameless “road trip buddy” to help us as we speed toward our destination. For others, we may be making the long haul alone. Our cars may look different, just like our lives. Some may be blessed with an escalade while others are hitchhiking their way. Either way, God has given us great directions (AKA the Bible) to help us get where we’re going. And like most situations, it is important (and necessary) to ask for directions if you get lost. I don’t know how many times I’ve needed 3rd party advice on decisions I needed to make. There is no shame is taking a pit stop now and again to refresh, refuel, and rethink your path. Always makes sure you’ve got either trustworthy passengers with you or trustworthy gas station attendants.

Now, I’m always trying to figure out exactly what God is thinking (I should really just stop trying and start trusting… working on that). I’ve devised a couple sure-fire tips for reading God’s mind while your on “Life’s Road Trip”:

  1. When God gives you a road block, He is saying their is a better way to get to where you’re going. Either you were headed down the wrong road completely or God knows there is a better route.
  2. When God gives you traffic, He is telling you to be patient. Enjoy the view. You’ll get there eventually.
  3. When God gives you a flat tire, He is giving you an opportunity to call on Him for assistance. Think of it as an opportunity to better equip yourself for the days to come.
  4. Lastly, singing makes the trip go by faster. We’ve been given this life for a reason. Each person has a purpose even though we may not not what that purpose is. But if you take the time to thank the Lord for your blessings, and even your curses, Life becomes more enjoyable. Whether you worship God through song, through art, or through business, use your talents to show your thankfulness and others His glory.
Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

Growing up in a Christian home, the word “grace” has always been a household word. I always knew what grace was and knew that God’s grace applied to everyone, including me. However, recently I have come to realize that knowing something is different than truly understanding something. I know that I’m forgiven and God shows me grace but its never really sunk in. The concept of grace lost its meaning and its significance as I grew up. I’ve always considered myself a “good girl” and have frequently been called a “goody two-shoes” so I always felt like my sins weren’t that big of a deal to God. My sins were easily forgiven. I really never felt truly remorseful for a majority of the mistakes I made. While reading the book Redemption by Mike Wilkerson, I discovered that my attitude toward grace and forgiveness is arrogant. He writes,

“a preoccupation with self-forgiveness is to believe that your sin is a bigger deal to you than it is to God. You think, “Of course God has forgiven me,” as if it were a small thing to Him. The fact is that God is always the most offended by your sin, even when you sin against someone else. No one knows more than God just how big a deal your sin truly is. It cost  him His perfect son”.

He goes on to say, “It is the height of self-centeredness to think your sin somehow offends you (or anyone else, even) more than it offends God”. I felt very convicted by this. I obviously considered my sin insignificant when in reality, my sins don’t differ from murder or greed. All sins are equal in the eyes of God (James 2:10).

My conviction led me to re-read the gospel so I could truly understand the price Jesus paid for my sins, no matter how small or insignificant they are in the eyes of man. Every night I read a chapter and every night I’ve notice a pattern: its all about faith. In almost every chapter someone either lacks faith and Jesus forgives them or someone has faith in Jesus Christ and is blessed because of that faith. As I’ve mentioned in blogs past, I’ve been struggling with worry and anxiousness about my future. Every night I am hit with the realization that my worrying is really a lack of faith in God, which is my constant sin struggle. Despite the fact He has always provided for me and things always work out a million times better than I could ever plan, I still worry. Yet, as I’ve been reading, I have caught myself getting frustrated with the disciples and others who lack faith. Unlike us, they actually met Jesus Christ. They watched him perform miracles, they watched fulfill prophecies, and they witnessed him rise again. They have no excuse to doubt, right? Once again I have considered my lack of faith not a big deal. But I’ve realized that I also have proof of God’s authenticity: the Bible. So I don’t have an excuse. Jesus died for me and I think its trivial that I don’t trust him? Pitiful. However, it is comforting to know the disciples and I struggle with the same thing. Doubt and worry are natural parts of being human. When the disciples became afraid of the storm Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm” (Matthew 8:26). God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and EVERYWHERE. And this perfect, loving God gave His only son to die for my sins. ALL of them.

So for those of you reading this and thinking, “I thought this blog post was supposed to be about grace?”, let me explain. You cannot truly understand grace until you understand the validity of Christ and the meaning of what He did (AKA: the Gospel). Jesus died for our sins. He DIED. He didn’t just ‘die’ either. He suffered the most humiliating and painful death at that time in history and not even for just one person. He died for His friends. He died for His enemies. He died for everyone in His present, His past, and His future. He died for you before you were you were formed in your mother’s womb. He died for your lies, for your greed, for your sinful thoughts and your sinful actions. He made Himself filthy in the eyes of His father. So filthy, in fact, that God turned away from Him. He did all this so that you and I have the opportunity to spend eternity with a loving God. So he suffered for the things I am apathetic for. So no matter how small I consider it in relation to the sins of others, it still cost Him his life. And he did all of this because he LOVES us. Let that sink in.

So as you can see, I’m being convicted a lot recently. And, subsequently, I’m learning a lot too. I was shown the following video from a very dear friend of mine. I feel this video truly encompasses what I tried to convey. Enjoy!

A Beautiful Redemption

A Beautiful Redemption

My family has been through a lot over the past 2 years. I have been constantly reminding myself to consider my trials pure joy (James 1) and that God is in control. Though I’ve told myself this many times, it didn’t really sink in until tonight. Not only does God have a plan, but he knows our sinful nature. He knows all. Nothing is hidden from Him. He knows its our nature to sin and has planned ahead in order to bring about His glory and the glory of His Son, Jesus Christ.

“For we know all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28)

“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.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

It is truly a comfort to know that though the trials we go through are caused by our sin, our sins are not too big or too messy for God. He has already planned ahead and made everything work out in the end. No matter what happens, nothing can stop God’s children from being redeemed through Jesus Christ. That is God’s plan: an eternal relationship with us, His children. All we have to do is accept His gift.

So God really does have a plan. God has planned to use these trials I’m going through to bring me closer to Him and make me a stronger daughter of Christ. As hard as it can be at times, I’m going to take every day as a gift from God, no matter what happens. Despite the trials we face daily, each day is truly a joy and ultimately brings us one day closer to an eternity with our Heavenly Father.

And knowing that brings me pure joy.