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5.19.2017

Enduring Singleness

Singleness. It's the word we all know and love. It's what some of us have overcome and what others of us feel we will never escape from. We all encounter different seasons of life that have purpose and meaning. While some of us may be the same age, God has called each of us to embark upon different circumstances and seasons at different times.

My Singleness

Growing up I was never one who was popular or attractive by any means. In fact I was probably known as the girl who was invisible, the outcast and socially awkward. I didn't have any true best friends, let alone romantic relationships. Over the years after high school there were a few instances of a guy or two having romantic interest, but none ever really worked out.

Being 24 and never being on an official date has left my heart feeling discouraged and worried that I'll never find someone who truly loves me for who I am. I constantly feel like I have to keep up with all my friends who are dating, engaged or getting married. I feel like my life is lagging behind while everyone else's is coasting along perfectly with everything falling into place. I feel like I'm not accepted or included because I'm not married and don't have a spouse. I feel like the girl who isn't attractive enough to be noticed. I feel like my quiet demeanor battles against me to feel comfortable in being myself. I lack confidence because I don't feel accepted. It's an endless cycle and I feel like I'm stuck in a rut.

I felt like I had reached a stage of my life that I was content in my singleness, but a recent heartbreak brought all the emotions flooding back in. I wish I could say that I am content with being single at the present time, but I feel like my heart has waited and tried to find hope, but lately it has hit an all-time low. Being single for 24 years makes me wonder what's wrong with me. I feel so defined by being single. I hate the labels put on me because I don't have a boyfriend. You're ugly. You have a unattractive personality. You have quirks. Flaws. You are unaccepted. Rejected. Abnormal. Unloved.

Looking to the Orchid

I have been trying to grow in finding joy in my current season amidst the unknown future and I stumbled upon something the other day. While I was looking at one of our flowers in our house and I realized a truth applicable to singleness. Our family had received an orchid as a gift a year or so ago. While it bloomed for a brief time, it has been dormant for many months. I've been awaiting it's time to bloom. Month after month - nothing. I was beginning to wonder if it was still alive. It had green leaves, but no shoots or flowers. Then it seemed like one day there were tiny buds forming. And then more waiting for another few weeks until the buds finally grew larger, but still they hadn't opened yet. Then the moment came. The buds began to open, displaying the vivid colors and beauty that was developing inside all these months.



While sitting there looking and gazing in awe at the newly bloomed orchid I began thinking how it related to my own life, or anyone who is enduring waiting or singleness. We may be enduring a waiting season in our lives that seems so hopeless. It feels like nothing is happening. We feel dead and dormant. But we can rest assured that God is working, and just like the orchid, we are still alive, but God is getting us ready; we just might not see it yet.

While looking at the orchid in comparison to the other flowers in our house I realized that the other plants bloom everyday and remain all year round, but the orchid is different. While I enjoy the beauty of the other flowers, when the orchid bloomed it was special. I waited for the time to come and anticipated it's beauty. When I look at it now I appreciate it's beauty even more because of the waiting I had to experience. The same is true with singleness. When we have to wait for something it means so much more to us than if it was an everyday occurrence. When we wait for the right one to come along, we will find so much more pleasure and appreciation that we waited for the right one and trusted that God would provide.

Seasons of Growth

We all have unique seasons of our life to grow in. Some may feel like seasons of waiting, discouragement, silence and frustration. But through each season we can learn something. God is teaching us something. Nothing we go through is wasted time. Let me leave you with six beautiful reminders relating to singleness that I have found evident over the past few months.

1. God is Protecting You

Often times God closes doors because He is protecting us. He isn't trying to withhold good from us. How many times I've had to remind myself of that truth. If you feel like God is closing a door on you and you just don't understand why, rest assured that He knows best. This time in your life may feel like God's trying to discourage and withhold good from you. It may feel like the door just slammed shut right in your face. Take comfort in knowing that God has better plans in store for you that couldn't be met through that door.

2. God is Working

It may feel like silence is the loudest noise you've ever heard. You can't take it anymore. It feels like God has just left you to fend for yourself. God is a God of His promises and He will never fail or forsake us. It's impossible for Him to fail us. He is up to something great in your life if you trust Him. I've grown to realize that true faith is shown when we cannot see what God is doing. I've also discovered that my faith wasn't as strong as I once thought when I felt myself doubting God when I couldn't feel or see Him working. God is present whether we feel or see Him. He is there. He has never left our side. Usually in times of silence it reminds me that God is testing my faith. He's seeing whether I will be weakened by this struggle or whether I will come out strengthened and restored.

3. Be Still

How many times I have tried to take things into my own hands and take control. I've learned over the past few months that no matter how much I harbor over something, waste my tears or try to work things out on my own, I will get nowhere. If you find yourself trying to control things. Don't. Seek God and let Him take the control you desire. We weren't meant to carry burdens on our own. You may think you have to get that guy to like you or notice you, but leave it in God's hands. You may be searching for your future spouse, but trust Him with it. We don't have to do anything but entrust our lives into God's hands and seek after Him. God's got a plan and it far exceeds what we see. We may desire something and are trying to force it to happen, but without seeking after God's will we will be working against the tide to get what we want to occur. We have to let go. Let go of the desires you have. Give them over to God and rest. Be still. Find peace in where God has you right now.

4. God is Providing

One of the biggest reminders that I have been slowly trying to comprehend is that God has provided all we need. It may not be what we desire, but it is exactly what we need. So many things have felt like they have been stripped from me recently. I have felt alone and questioned what God was doing. I often still doubt this truth, but God does provide what He knows we need. I can't count the number of times I've prayed and asked God for a husband. Oh how it gets discouraging waiting for God. I have desired something so deeply and I can't understand why God is choosing to not fulfill this overwhelming need I think should be met. God Has many purposeful reasons why He does things that we may not understand. Maybe your future spouse needs to grow spiritually. Maybe you need to grow spiritually before you meet. Through this time of seeking God and feeling like there is a void in your life, remember that God will provide what you need. It's not a question. It's a fact.

5. God is Enough

I've heard the overused lines that "God is all you need." While it is definitely such a valid statement, I have struggled the most in this area. Sometimes God just doesn't feel like enough to me. I want a physical someone who cares, listens and understands. I desire to be that someone for my future spouse as well. I want to feel needed and to use my love to encourage in return. I have come to realize that I have often let my feelings for my future husband become a primary desire that takes God's place. I've sought after a relationship rather than focusing on God. While I don't think desiring a physical relationship is wrong, it should never take place before God. Find satisfaction in God first. Remind yourself that even without the acceptance or love of others you can find joy knowing that God loves you. There's a relationship between you and God that will never be replaced by someone else. Nobody's relationship with God is the same as yours. It's unique. Find comfort in knowing you are accepted and loved by God and let the world fade into the background. It is here in the quiet place with God that you can find true peace and rest knowing that He will never change how He loves you when the world consistently lets you down.

6. Pray without Ceasing

Use this time to pray. Seek God on a deeper level than you ever had before. Write down your prayers. Keep a journal of what you're going through. I had asked for a prayer journal this past Christmas and since the beginning of the year I have been writing down prayers every so often. When times were difficult I found myself filling up the pages endlessly. And honestly, a lot of the pages I've been using for prayer regarding my future husband. Pray for your spouse. Not just that you'd meet soon, but pray for their heart. That their relationship with God would be strengthened. That they would seek and follow after God. That He would prepare you both for your future relationship. Pray for your heart. That you would seek and have the faith to persevere through this waiting season of your life. Pray for strength and guidance. Pray that God would give you a peace of mind that He is working all things out for your best. Pray that God would fill you with a content and joyful heart even through the discouraging times. Prayer is the most important piece that ties all of the things I mentioned together. It's the piece that connects our hearts with God and transforms our perspective on our circumstances. Our circumstances may remain the same but prayer can change our hearts and allow us to see our struggles differently.

Don't let this time of waiting become a time that you grow weary and lose heart. Take this time and choose to focus on what God wants to teach you. Every struggle has something that God is trying to teach us. You may feel like God will never answer your prayers and desperate pleas, but God is working. He's got a plan. He's up to something. He sees the pain it causes you. He's protecting you. And just when you think you can't take any more of the emptiness you'll find that right around the corner is your chance to bloom!


5.09.2017

The God Who Sees [El Roi]

If you've been following my blog for a little while now I've been choosing topics to write about and turn them into a PDF download. Over the past few weeks I've been seeking God on what study I should write about next on my blog. Through devotions, reading and other ways it became quite obvious to me and I felt God leading me to write about the names of God. While this really didn't feel something I was super passionate about initially I have found that through the studying I've done so far I've felt it ever so applicable to my life. I've grown encouraged and found it comforting to discover more about God through His names and characteristics. So I'm sharing what I've learned so far with you. I thought I would post each name out individually over the next few weeks as I go through and study them out. I hope you all can take something from the names that I felt God calling me to write about!




Have you ever felt like the life you lead is insignificant? Invisible to the rest of the world? Hidden and behind-the-scenes? Have you ever felt like all your hard work never amounted to much. Others receive praise, yet your effort goes unnoticed?

Have you ever felt used and mistreated? You respected and cared for someone and you received nothing in return? You felt rejected. Ignored. Unloved. Unnoticed. Your feelings and hurt emotions were cast aside and completely disregarded. The very thing you desired and offered from your heart was thrown away like left-over crumbs.

When we're mistreated and feeling invisible it's easy to let it get to our heart. When a fresh rejection occurs it's easy to allow that computer-like memory to pull up all the old "files" of past hurts and pains. The feelings come flooding back in and replays through our mind as if it just happened yesterday.

GOD SEES THE PAIN

To begin healing from past hurts, unfair treatment, rejections and insignificance we can start by recognizing that God sees our pain. He sees. He sees the things that tore our hearts apart. Although they may seem insignificant from an outside perspective, and it feels like nobody truly understands, He knows the deep heartache it caused you. The pain that broke your heart. The pain that runs so deep. The hidden suffering you endured. Only He knows your full story. He formed you and created you exactly as you are before time began. No mistakes. No oversights. No second-guessing what He created was incorrect or flawed. You were created on-purpose. With a purpose. A special purpose only you could fulfill. God sees you. The real you. The inner you. He knows all things and sees all things. Nothing gets past Him. He's aware and He sees.

GOD ALLOWED IT

Even though things are hard and sometimes God feels far away, we can rest assured that He knows what's going on. It's nice to take a step back and look over your life and get some perspective. Take a moment and see how God has worked in your life up until this point. It may seem like you've endured a lot of struggles, maybe some regrets, shame and pain, but through it all it was shaping you. God allowed certain circumstances in your life for you to become who you are today. The circumstances that changed you, made you and molded you into the person you are now. Every hurt, insult, rejection, hard day, all had purpose into creating and making you into the beautiful person God created you to be. You may see a person who is undervalued, incapable of being used and feeling like your life is a big mess in comparison to others, but God is using you. He has a purpose for you. And God is working now to continually shape and grow you.

It may seem difficult to accept that the things that broke your heart were allowed by a loving God. How could He be okay with tearing me apart? Doesn't He see the pain this causes? Why isn't He stepping in? How could He allow this for good? All questions which I've asked before. When pain arises in our lives it's easy to question and wonder what God is doing. Isn't it interesting that when things go wrong we end up finding ourselves seeking after God. It may be through doubtful questions or it may be through incessant prayers for strength. No matter what the reason, when we experience difficult times God knows that it is an opportunity for us to strengthen our faith. Whether we acknowledge this is up to us. We have a choice. Through hard times it shows how strong our faith in God is. Whether our faith will deepen or dissipate. Thrive or wither. Don't look at your circumstances as God trying to harm or hurt you, but as a time to strengthen and deepen your faith with Him. He is trying to teach you something. He is allowing your breaking heart or hidden struggles to draw you closer to Him, because only on the darkest of nights do we look up to find the Light.

GOD HOLDS THE FUTURE


God just doesn't see you now, He's known you before you were born all the way up to where you'll spend eternity and He knows every detail in between. He knows your life from beginning to end. Every detail. Every thought, action and intention. In fact, He probably knows us better than we know ourselves. Just as He has directed and led you up until this point, He will continue to lead you. Sometimes it's easy to see how God worked in the past, but looking to the future our trust gets dampened by the great uncertainty. Don't grow weary in looking to your future. Have hope that God has every season of your life perfectly planned out and there is purpose to every small detail. Nothing is overlooked. He sees the purpose of your life. He has not forgotten you. You're on His mind every moment. Nothing is overlooked. He is working! He is using your life for something far better than you could ever imagine, because God doesn't forsake those who place their trust in Him.


Psalm 9:10


Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.


CHARACTER EXAMPLE

When Jesus first met Simon, right off the bat he gave him the new name of Peter. Yeah, kinda weird, I know. It would be odd to receive a new name when you first met someone. Anyways, a little later on, Jesus and Peter were talking and Jesus led him to a place and mentioned that Peter would be the rock of His church. The rock in which they were standing on is where Jesus's temple would one day stand. Isn't it interesting that when Jesus first met Simon he gave him the new name of Peter. The amazing irony here is what Peter's name truly means. Peter's name translates into "rock." Isn't it amazing to take note that God knew way back to when He first met Peter what his purpose would be and the tiny detail of naming him "Peter" to represent his future purpose. He saw the whole picture. It's neat to see that God does see our lives. Not just in the present. Not just the past. Not just the future. But God sees our life from beginning to end. He sees the full picture. He's got a plan. Not just an ordinary plan, but an amazing one. Not just for your pastor. Not just your parents. But YOU. For each of us. We each have a vital role in His master plan. God cares for each of us personally. He has a relationship with you that only you and Him could have. Nobody else's is the same because we all are uniquely created.


Philippians 1:6


Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.


God sees your significance when others overlook your full potential. God sees your effort when all others see is the end result. God sees your broken heart when others reject and neglect you. God sees your heart when everyone else fails to discover the real you. God sees your inner beauty when others judge you on your flawed appearance. God sees your pure heart and intentions. He sees your amazing purpose. He sees a future for your life. He sees your willing heart and is cheering you on. He sees you as His child and loves you unconditionally. Nothing will ever change that. Nothing.

If only we could grow and desire to know God as much as His understanding and love is for us. If only we could see just a small glimpse of His unfathomable love for us. How often we fail to find love and acceptance in things other than God. I often have a difficult time understanding God's immense love for me. Outside of family, I've honestly never really felt a sincere love that remained steadfast. Most relationships end abruptly, so I'm always expecting a sudden rejection since that's what I'm used to. I have a hard time understanding God's love for me. I know He loves me, and at times I've sensed it, but it's hard to grasp His love for me personally. Ask God to reveal Himself to you. Seek Him and pray that you'd be able to see yourself through His eyes. Ask Him to help show you how He sees you. The real you. No outside perspectives. No faulty assumptions. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. That you might grow to gain wisdom and knowledge of who He is.

PRAYER

Lord, thank You for seeing me for who I am inside. You see the past hurts that broke my heart. You see how they still affect me. You see the unfair treatment. You see the kind acts done for You that seem to be hidden and go unnoticed. You saw my life before I even was born and You know what my future holds. You've got it all planned out and I thank you that You will never leave or forsake me even when others do. Thank You for believing in me and for all the ways You are involved in my life. Sometimes I fail to see how You're working, help show me that You are near. Reveal Yourself to me. Help me to see myself the way You do. Help me to see others the way You see them. Provide me with a new perspective. Remind me that when You feel far away and my life seems forgotten that You've never left.

4.13.2017

When Life Feels Small

Sometimes the life I lead feels quite small. It feels invisible at times. Sometimes just when I feel like my life is headed somewhere, all of a sudden tragedy happens and I'm left with empty hands. Sometimes it feels like God just strips everything from my life and it feels like I'm left with nothing.

Confidence is something I struggle with when I feel like I have nothing to offer. Nothing to bring to the table. I have found that when everything is stripped from my life. Desires. Relationships. Talents. Possessions. Fame. Everything that boosts my esteem. When they are all removed from my life I seek God more. I realize I need Him. I crave Him. And even though I desire those other things so deeply in my life, I grow to realize that they will never fully fill the void I have in my heart. Although they can sometimes take up a large place in my heart, they lack any substantial value in comparison to God's place.

When we desire more for our lives. More fame. More money. More friendships. More success. Whatever we're seeking. If we desire to seek more, hoping to find happiness and contentment with what this life can offer us, we're looking in the wrong places. The things I once desired and I presently have in my life now don't seem to fill the void I once thought would satisfy my heart. Somehow I always want more. I will never be happy if I'm looking to the things that this world can offer. Only Christ can satisfy the emptiness I feel inside. Only He can quench my thirst for more.


Maybe your life feels small. Maybe you feel like the circumstances you're facing seem insignificant from the outside, but they're effecting you ever so deeply. Maybe you feel like your talents and abilities are too insufficient to be used by God. Maybe you feel like your life has no impact. No purpose. Maybe you feel like you have nothing left to give. You're empty and broken.

Let me tell you that God is using the "small" things and doing something amazing with them. You may feel unqualified or unworthy, but God uses those who are humble and willing to be used in great ways. Others may view the struggles you are facing as "small" or insignificant, but God sees the pain you're feeling and He understands. Nothing is too small to be seen by God. Nothing is too insignificant to be used by God.

It's so easy to get caught up and let the interests and desires we want from this life to overtake our thoughts. We will always desire more unless we look to the source of where everything comes from. When we focus on God, the giver of all things, and not what we can get out of this life, we will find our heart being filled and content through even the hardest of situations. Not because the trials go away or they cease to exist, but because our focus is on Christ, He doesn't change or fail us. His love is constant. His promises never will be broken. We can look to Him and know that He is working.

It's easy to look at our lives and feel like what we once desired and obtained has been taken from us. We may feel like everything we had was torn out from under us. We question God and wonder what He's doing with our life. Maybe you feel like you have nothing left to be in control of. Being in that place often makes us feel vulnerable and broken, but that's exactly where God desires us. We may feel broken, but God is strengthening us through it. We can seek Him at a deeper level because we have nothing left to lean on. We learn that we don't have control, and that's okay because God's got it.

God's using your seemingly small life and using it in great ways. No life is small to God. We all have purpose, worth and importance to Him. When it feels like everything is taken from you and you have nothing left you can rest assured that God is providing exactly what you need. It may feel like you have nothing, but God has supplied all your needs. Not some. All of them. Every season of our life has a purpose. Every season has something we can learn. When you feel discouraged with your circumstances, look to God and place your trust in Him. Seek His truth. He is providing for you. He is protecting you. He will never stop loving you. He's got a plan. He sees the pain. He wants the best for you. It's impossible for Him to ever fail you!


"When I'm standing on the mountain I didn't get there on my own
When I'm walking through the valley I know I am not alone"

// Hills and Valleys by Tauren Wells 


Philippians 4:19
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

I Corinthians 1:28  
God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.

3.30.2017

An Unknown Future

Looking back over the years of my life I see a life far from perfection, certainty or predictability. Growing up I looked to my future with dreams of hope for what would lie ahead. Career plans. Having life-long friends. Getting married. The list could go on...

Sometimes I grow discouraged with where my life has led me and I struggle to find joy with where God has me now. I've been finding that the failures and insecurities of my past still seem like they somehow haunt me even in my life now. Sometimes it's hard to look to the future with hope when our dreams feel like they have been shattered and forgotten and we can't get our minds off the past.

When our hopes, dreams and desires seem to be overlooked, we can remember Who is in control. We can rest assured that He has heard our prayers. When prayers seem to go unanswered, it's not God failing to answer us, but rather a "I'm protecting you" or "not yet."  I have to constantly remind myself that when things don't go as I had planned, God isn't withholding them from me out of spite. God directs us in the way we should go according to His will. Not ours. He is directing us and protecting us from trekking to places that could harm us along the way. Even when our life feels like it is up to nothing, we can rest assured that God is up to more that we could ever imagine!



Maybe you've been encountering a season of your life that you're not sure what God is doing. Maybe you've been seeking, craving and hoping for God to step in and take control, but He feels farther than ever before. You're wondering if He hears you. Let me tell you that God has never left your side. He's right there with you, loving you more than ever and encouraging you along the way. He may seem silent, but as the saying goes "The teacher is always quiet during the test." I like to think that when God seems silent, He's testing how strong our faith is. Silence is often one of the hardest things to persevere through when we are anxiously waiting for an answer.

Maybe you feel like your struggling never ceases to end. Just when you get back up, it feels like you're brought to your knees yet again. Although trials and difficult times bring discouragement and pain, they are the source of tapping into a deeper level with God than we ever could have through the sunny and bright days. Maybe you're struggling through a circumstance right now that you just can't seem to overcome. You feel like your faith is failing and discouragement has the upper hand. Remember God is using this time to strengthen and deepen your faith. You may feel like it's the very thing that is breaking you apart, but when you come through the fire, you will be refined as gold. Your faith may be small, but we can rely on God because His strength is strong. 

We don't always understand God's plans. We question why. We wonder what if. We ask how long. We see the small picture, when God has the master plan. We get so focused on the tiny loose threads in the large tapestry that God is weaving together. We don't know how they all fit, but when it is finished we will see their full purpose and how they all fit together. We don't have to have our future planned out. We don't have to have control over our lives, because when God is the one directing us, we're right where we should be. God's knowledge far surpasses what we see. His plans for our lives have exceeded even our greatest desires. We may feel disappointed with what we see now, but when we see all the loose ends fit together in the tapestry that God is weaving we'll be fascinated by His master plan and understand He knew what was best all along!

Isaiah 43:2
When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you. When you're in rough waters, you will not go down. When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end.

3.09.2017

Focused Thinking

Are you engulfed in your current situations and feeling overwhelmed? Do you feel yourself being tugged into worry and discouragement? It's so easy to listen to the tiny negative whispers that enter our minds, allowing them to overtake and drown out God's voice.

Sometimes I allow my circumstances to overtake God's place in my heart and I wonder why my emotions fluctuate consistently. When my heart becomes focused on my circumstances, struggles and worries, I often find myself discouraged and upset. When we reset our focus onto God and let the world fade into the background we can find peace knowing He is near. He is working through our current situations, no matter how we feel or what we see.

I can get so caught up in areas of my life that I think are so vital for my existence. It's a quick reminder for me when they are removed from my life, just how much I rely on them. It is during these times that God reminds me just how much I need Him, and just how easily I place those things in my life before God. I have to step back and thank God for the many blessings He has given to me, but remember that I shouldn't let them control my life, and especially, my relationship with God. I want Him the first priority in my life.

Our prayers can often feel like they're being spoken into a dark void, thrown out and ignored. Satan loves to plant tiny seeds of lies that grow and multiply, spreading and overtaking the prosperous and flourishing ones. Once we focus on one tiny negative thought Satan sparks in our minds, we quickly find ourselves excessively making it a prominent thought in our heads. When you feel your mind heading down that all-too familiar road of deception, remind yourself to stop and refocus. Take your mind off your problems, struggles and worries. Set your mind on Christ. He's the one true thing that will never change. He's the only one that has control over all your problems and is always available and capable to help.

Don't let Satan win the battle. Keep God the center and entrust Him with whatever may be swirling around your head today. Don't worry, God's got it under control. He knows. He's got your absolute best in mind. He hears you!

I John 5:14
This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

3.01.2017

Take Over {poem}

When things seem uncertain and my path is unclear
Help me remember that You are in control; I don't have to fear
Let my faith be strengthened through this season
Remind me there is purpose to my suffering, even when I don't always see the reason

Help me to loosen my grip that I so tightly hold
Please take over, let me give You complete control
Take these heavy burdens I carry
And allow them to be used for something extraordinary

Remind me that Your plan is perfect and flawless in every way 
When things don't go as I planned, help me to keep trusting and obey
You will never lead me to a place that leads to a dead end
Though the road may get hard, You will be there through every bend

When I can't see what lies ahead
Help me to hand over the worries I fear and dread
I don't have to carry the burdensome weight anymore
Because I can rest assured that You have my best in store

My life may feel far from what I had planned
But You can use my imperfect life in far better ways than I could ever understand
Take my small broken life, hidden talents and passions
And use them for something far greater than I could have ever imagined!