Remember to Chew

Consume Mindfully

Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing songs and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Eating lunch on my deck can be so peaceful. I look forward to it. Looking out past my railing, I start shoving salad into my mouth. I’ve got a long list of things to do today so my lunch can’t take up too much time. The faster I eat, the less I chew. Most whole pieces of spinach and cucumber find their way into my stomach. I barely taste the rich salad dressing I conscientiously put together myself. I pause. I keep forgetting, so I remind myself again, “Chew your food!” Eating all kinds of healthy food sounds great, but if your stomach cannot break it down all of those nutrients won’t make it into your system to power your cells and strengthen your body. *Inhale* Okay, chew.

Reading my Bible on my deck can be so peaceful. I look forward to it. Gazing past my railing, I start to hurriedly read today’s four chapters. I’ve got a long list of things to do today and this is one of them. The faster I read, the less I realize what I’m reading. Whole chunks of Psalms and Matthew pass before my eyes. I barely taste the priceless words before moving on to the next. Then I pause. God the Spirit reminds me: “You’re reading all of these nutrient dense words, but if you don’t take the time to digest it, all of the words of life will go in one ear and out the other. You need to be fed by Me through the Scriptures to be strengthened.”

Consume Communally

I looked out across the yard from my vantage point. A commotion drew my attention toward a group of people in front of a house across the street. The pandemic meant lots of families spent time outside if they wanted to be together without wearing a mask. I took another bite of salad and consciously chewed slowly. Siblings and friends were entering and exiting with various loads in their hands, all contributing to getting a meal together. The father stood at the grill, proudly curating the meat to present to his growing family. What appeared to be the mother started serving spoon-fuls of something lovingly prepared onto everyone’s plates. I looked down at the solitary bowl in my lap. I had bought the vegetables. I had cut them up. I had done all the prep. And now I was eating it. Normally I do this without a thought but observing this family from a distance made me pause. I wondered what they were talking about. Maybe they were talking about insignificant things like the latest meme they saw in their feed or maybe they were sharing their woes. The table puts everyone on the same level. Everyone has to eat. Everyone is a part of the group. A unit. Between mouth-fulls, stories were being shared and bonds forged. Normally, I’d be in too much of a hurry to taste my food, let alone to think about the fact that I was eating alone. 

I reopen my eyes and notice for the first time a group of people in a circle of lawn chairs. I began to resume my mindful reading but my attention was drawn back to the chattering movement. Young children scurried about, elderly couples helped each other get into position as young adults placed their lawn chairs for them. Did they have Bible’s in their hands? I looked down at the Bible in my lap. I read by myself. Journaled by myself. Kept my thoughts to myself (if I could even remember what I had read, that is). Normally I do this without a thought, but observing this church family from a distance made me pause. I wondered what they were talking about. Maybe they were discussing divisive things without getting to the heart or maybe they were sharing their woes. The gospel puts everyone on the same level. Everyone needs Jesus. Everyone can be a part of God’s group. A unit. Stories were being shared and bonds forged. Normally I’d be in too much of a hurry to check Bible reading off my list to ponder the words, let alone to realize the fact that I was trying to grow alone.

Eat Slowly and Share

Feeling too preoccupied to raise another fork-full to my mouth, I leaned back in my chair. What should I do, Lord? I prayed. The door to my patio cracked open and my roommate smiled out at me. “Can I join you?”She asked. Seeing the Bible in my lap, she asked, having no idea what I had just been thinking about, “What have you been learning?” It really doesn’t have to be complicated, does it? Don’t over think it, Breanne. Eat slowly and share. In that moment, when I could have been discouraged that I was reading Scripture all alone, the Lord encouraged me. Bringing my mind back to the question at hand, I looked at my friend, smiled, and began to share.

Breanne is a native of New Brunswick, Canada who recently moved to brave life in Ontario. She loves everything outdoors including cycling, hiking, and kayaking. Breanne is passionate about teaching (especially children who need a little extra love and attention) and learning. You can follow Breanne’s poetry account on instagram @scen.ic.route and you can find her blog here!

Twenty-Five & Single

Content: adjective

Satisfied with what one is

I’m 25 years old and I have never not been single. I’m 25 years old and I’m content with my singleness. In a world that is saturated with a “sex culture,” it has been a battle to find that state of contentment. Does being content in my singleness mean I don’t want to ever get married? No, but I’ve found satisfaction in something far greater. If getting married is something that never happens for me, I’m okay with that, because my satisfaction, my contentment, is not found in another person, it is found in Christ. Through Christ I have realized my singleness is a season, one that I can embrace and make the most of, or one that I can allow to break me apart.

Contentment: noun

a state of happiness and satisfaction

I remember a time in my life, specifically my pre-teen and teenage years, when my focus was on nothing but boys. I’d read romance novels, I’d constantly be thinking about a crush, always on the lookout for some eye candy wherever I went. I would watch chick flicks dreaming of the day that “prince charming” would walk into my life, sweep me off my feet, and we would live happily ever after. It didn’t matter how many books I read, how many heroines found their hero, how many happy endings I watched, I was never content. I oftentimes, more often than I would like to admit, would think to myself, “hmmm I wonder if that’s my future husband.” However, Future Husband didn’t come when I wanted him to. My plan was to find Future Husband and be married before I graduated from college. My plan clearly didn’t happen. 

I quite often get the question, “So… Do you have a boyfriend yet?” Believe it or not, I actually had someone once ask me what was wrong with me when they found out I was single with no “prospects.”  I have had the condescending, “Oh honey, you’ll find a man soon,” and the unwanted matchmaking of someone trying to fix me. I know their intentions were not to make me feel less, or to make me feel inadequate and insufficient, but at the time, my focus was not on Christ. I was self-focused on what I did not have and I allowed their words to be twisted in my mind, into thoughts of not being good enough. I had worries and fears that I would never find Future Husband, that I would be forever alone. At times I would be overwhelmed with feelings of sadness and loneliness. It would lead me to the question, “why me?” It would lead me to the judgmental thoughts of, “if they can get a boyfriend, then why can’t I?” It led me to the negative thoughts of “what’s wrong with me?” and “why am I not enough?” I remember nights when I so longed to no longer be single. I would cry myself to sleep, sure of the fact that I was, in fact, not good enough. 

From the time I was little I watched people. I obsessed over romantic relationships, thank you Disney Princess movies. In real life, I’ve watched so many gals drop the bar just to be with someone. Just to say they are in a relationship, or just to feel loved. Didn’t I so want that for myself? I watched them drop the bar, trying to fill the hole in their heart. Looking back, I can see how I tried to fill the hole in my heart with romantic books and movies, so I am not judging those girls. Had it not been for God’s guidance in my life, I could have easily been that girl. The girl who settled.

If I was so boy obsessed… then why didn’t I just get myself a boyfriend? I knew what I wanted in my significant other and refused to settle. I set my bar high and I kept it there. Did it hurt to keep it there? Yes, remember the crying myself to sleep thing? Was it easy to keep it there? No, remember the questioning my self worth thing? Keeping the bar high is not an easy task in a world that is filled with media that says “your life will be better if you’re not alone”, “your life will be better if you have a significant other, look at how happy they are,” and “you’re not complete without a man by your side.” 

So you might be thinking at this point that my bar was too high. That I had unrealistic ideas of romance. Maybe in middle school and high school my bar was a little crooked (and I admit, I was a little too obsessed with Edward Cullen and the drummer from Mayday Parade), with a list heavy with more physical attributes than actual values, but over time I set it straight and my core “list” was set. 

This is my bar. My list for the “perfect for me” man:
He must be a Christian, a born again believer in Jesus Christ, and he must have a fervent desire to serve and obey God.

That’s it. That’s my list.

My faith is vital, there is no way I would be even close to where I am if I didn’t have a personal relationship with Christ. It’s so important that I can share that with my future spouse and have a husband that will lead me closer to Christ. I don’t want someone who has zero motivation and sits around all day. I want to be able to serve Christ with my future husband and I can’t do that if he’s lazy and doesn’t want to serve just because it might be difficult. I’m by no means looking for the “perfect man,” because the only “perfect man” there has ever been is Christ. 

Many nights I would pray and pray and pray that God would bring Future Husband into my life. I often prayed that if a specific someone I was crushing on was my Future Husband, that God would make it clear to me. But, God didn’t answer my prayers, or at least that is what I thought. 

Over time I came to realize that God wasn’t not answering my prayers, but that my plan for my life was not equivalent to God’s plan for my life. 

I’ve had flirtations with guys before, some lasting longer than others. We talk, we flirt, but never to the point where we become “Facebook official.” Quite a while ago, there was this one guy I was interested in. For a couple of months we talked every day and I thought we had a good thing going, a good friendship at the very least. I remember asking God to guide me and to help me know if a relationship with him was something to pursue, or leave it at just friends. Not very long after praying that, the guy dropped me like a hot potato and started talking to another girl, and boy did that hurt. He didn’t even acknowledge my presence anymore when we happened to be in the same room. It was like I just stopped existing to him. Ouch. My pride was bruised on the fall, but over time I realized that God did answer my prayer, it just wasn’t what I had been hoping for.

As I grew up physically and mentally, I was also growing spiritually. The closer I grew in my relationship with God, the less the negative thoughts would pull me down and the less and less finding Future Husband was my focus. When finding Future Husband was my focus, or rather the fact that I had not found him, that’s when I struggled the most. (Cue the negative thoughts and crying.) I had heard, and even read, about finding my satisfaction in Christ, but it was a journey actually applying the concept to my life.

How did I find my satisfaction in Christ?

In my journey I discovered that contentment and satisfaction in Christ is found through my knowing and claiming my identity in Christ. It wasn’t just enough to know who God says I am. I have to actually believe I am who God says I am.

Girl, let me tell you… When you are fully believing who you are in Christ, there is no room for not good enough, fear, doubt, or shame. 

The world wants me to believe I am: not good enough, not pretty enough, broken, flawed, too fat, not funny, not smart, not loved… not enough.

God tells me I am: His child (1 John 4:4), loved (Romans 5:8), chosen (1 Peter 2:9-10), victorious (1 Corinthians 15:56-57), capable (Philippians 4:13). God tells me I am enough. God knows everything about me, the darkest parts of me, yet He still loves me and takes me as I am. I choose to believe that I am who God says I am. 

One night, I remember it so clearly, I was feeling extremely overwhelmed by loneliness and sadness… I cracked open my Bible. This is what I read:

Psalms 139: 13 -18

(v. 13) For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. 
(v. 14) I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 
(v.15) My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 
(v. 16) Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
(v. 17) How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
(v. 18) If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

The Creator of the earth created me, protected me while I was still in utero. His thoughts about me outnumber the grains of sand. He never leaves me.

The days were fashioned for me before I was even created. 

Right now. 

This day. 

So I’m not going to waste this day because I’m single. I’m not going to listen to the world tell me the reason I’m single is because I’m not good enough. The reason I’m single is because God has a plan for it. Jeremiah 29:11 tells me that God has a good plan for me. God’s plan for my life may involve me being single for five more years, or ten, or maybe even till the day I die. And that’s okay with me, because His plan is always so much greater than my plans ever could be. 

Being single won’t stop me from serving God or being who He created me to be. Being single isn’t a “problem” I need to fix. Being single is okay and I have found contentment in Christ.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

-Paul the Apostle

Whatever state I’m in: single or married, rich or poor, chubby or thin, I’m choosing contentment in Christ.

Maybe you’re like me or maybe not. 
Maybe you doubt your self-worth because you’re not model-thin. 
Maybe you doubt your self-worth because you’ve been caught in the comparison trap. 
Maybe you doubt your self-worth because you were hurt by someone close to you. 
Maybe you doubt your self-worth because your kid is sick or not hitting the milestones when you thought they should.
Maybe you doubt your self-worth because everyone is telling you how to parent your child.
Maybe you doubt your self-worth because you always seem to be left out or a second thought.
Maybe you doubt your self-worth because you were intensely bullied growing up. 
Maybe you doubt your self-worth because you’ve never heard “I love you.”
Maybe you doubt your self-worth because “not good enough” are the only words used to describe you.
Maybe you look in the mirror and all you can see are cracks and flaws. 

Cracks and flaws… We all have them.

Whatever your struggle is that is causing you to question your self-worth, this is my challenge to you:
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’ve been or what you’ve done, God still loves you. Find out who God says you are. Claim those verses. Pray them. Even when tears are streaming down your face and the waves of hurt are crashing in. Be brave. Fight what the world wants you to think about yourself, and claim who you are. Girl, you are enough.

If you don’t know what God says about you, if you don’t know the depth of His love for you, and you want to know more… Please reach out to us at Radiantly Brave. We would love to share with you how much Jesus loves you. God will open His arms to you just as you are. I leave you with the lyrics from an old favorite.

Are you hurting and broken within?
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin?
Jesus is calling
Have you come to the end of yourself?
Do you thirst for a drink from the well?
Jesus is calling
O come to the altar
The Father’s arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ

Leave behind your regrets and mistakes
Come today, there’s no reason to wait
Jesus is calling
Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy
From the ashes, a new life is born
Jesus is calling
O come to the altar
The Father’s arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ

Oh what a Savior
Isn’t He wonderful?
Sing hallelujah, Christ is risen
Bow down before Him
For He is Lord of all
Sing hallelujah, Christ is risen

O Come to the Altar – Elevation Worship

Valerie loves going on adventures, spending time in nature, and getting lost in the wonders of God’s creation. She works in the 6th grade resource room at the local middle school, co-runs a faith-based youth mentoring program, and is actively involved in Bible camp ministry. Valerie loves mentoring other women, teens and children. She has an obsession with pens and stocking up on beautiful journals. Valerie’s greatest joy is sharing Jesus with others. Her greatest desire is to know Him more deeply and make Him known. You can find her on Instagram @valerieeejayyy

Redefining Your Worth

Let me begin by asking you this simple question to ponder as you read: How would you define your self-worth in this season?

In high school, I struggled a lot with my self esteem and self worth. I was brought up believing that “God made [me] special, just the way [I am]”. I believed that, or at least I thought I did. At that point in my life (my teenage/high school years), I began to doubt everything I ever knew and believed. I found myself believing that I was worthless and I defined myself by the words of others. I allowed depression and negative thinking to overtake my soul like an incurable decease. I craved the affection of this world, rather than the affection of the one who created me. It devoured me. I was trapped in a dark hole of lies. Honestly, I hated myself for feeling so lost, but that was my first mistake. Because I hated myself, I took every feeling and emotion out on myself by hurting my physical body and beating up my spirit.

Can I tell you a secret?

Redefining your self-worth has to start with you showing yourself grace and love. What does that mean? It means forgiving yourself and accepting that you are human and will make mistakes. It means loving yourself, not out of selfishness, but out of respect for Gods handiwork and holy temple. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” Once you have shown yourself grace and love, then you can accept the grace and love that God freely gives.

Our minds can so easily distract us from our worth and purpose. Distraction from truth is the devil’s most valuable weapon. If satan is able to break into our mind, he can then easily destroy us from the inside out.

It took time (years in fact) and healing for me to redefine my worth. I finally realized that I wasn’t going to find it in human standards, but in God alone. Don’t let me fool you; I still struggle. It is a daily commitment. I have to constantly keep myself in check by accepting the reminder I am a daughter of the King and that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

God knew you and He knew me before we were even conceived! He had a plan for us before we were even formed in our mothers’ womb! He formed you and created you with His very hands; in His own image. It is literally His breath in our lungs. He created your life with a purpose and a plan in mind, just as Jeremiah 29:11 says: “For I know the plan I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

The way you were brought into this world does not define you.

The amount of  “likes” or followers you get on social media does not define you.

The number of “friends” you have does not define you.

The clothes you wear or makeup you apply does not define you.

The number on the scale does not define.

Your past mistakes do not define you.

Your failures do not define you.

Your achievements do not define you.

The words of others do not define you. 

You may be reading this and believe that you have no worth. Maybe you feel alone, lost, and unloved. Please don’t believe the lies your mind is feeding you. God sees you. He knows your heart. He loves you.  In fact, Jeremiah 31:3 says that He loves you “with an everlasting love”. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes will not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV, John 3:16). Did you know if you were the only person on earth, He still would have died for you? He loves you that much.

Please know that you are NOT alone. You read part of my story, and you know that I have been in that dark place. I have felt my worth shatter and I have grieved the loss of myself. But 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that if we turn to Christ, we are a new creation. He forgets our wrong-doings, purifies our hearts, and creates beauty from ashes.

So how do you redefine your self-worth? I briefly discussed it in the above text, but here is a three step guide for you to remember:

REDEFINING YOUR SELF-WORTH:

  1. Give yourself grace. I am constantly reminding myself of this. It may sound odd, but giving yourself grace is the first step in redefining your worth. If you’re constantly beating yourself up and tearing yourself down than you cannot live a full life.
  2. Repentance. The only way we can receive salvation and true self-worth is through repentance. Once you have chosen to give yourself grace, the next step is asking for grace from God. We must recognize our sin and choose to walk a different path according to God’s will for us.
  3. Proclaim the Word of God over your life. Memorize scripture – repeat and declare His promises. Remind yourself that you are a child of God. If God is for you, who can be against? The enemy will continue to mess with you and attack you; that’s why you need His Word. When the enemy tries to deprive you, you have the most powerful weapon ready to go! “For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12).

SCRIPTURE:

Write down these verses. Meditate on them. Memorize them. Post them on your wall, on your desk, on your mirror, in your car, etc. Remind yourself that you are valuable. You are precious and a child of the King. Hide these words in your heart so that you might be able to speak boldly and declare victory over the enemy.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

“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 NIV)

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7 ESV)

“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2 CSB)

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:13-14 ESV)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

If you would like to dive deeper into redefining your worth, or if you would like prayer or guidance in this area, please reach out to us at Radiantly Brave. We would love to walk alongside you on your journey with Christ. As women and sisters in Christ, we are called to build one another up in love and prayer. We’re here for you.

Kaitlyn is 23, a wife, a chinchilla mom, and she currently works full-time as a retail department manager. She dabbles a little in portrait and nature photography, as she enjoy capturing memories and natural beauty. Kaitlyn loves to write, spend time with her hubby, and explore God’s marvelous creation. She enjoys playing the piano, even though she’s still a beginner. Random fact: She would probably cry if she was ever given the honor of holding a sloth. Most importantly, Kaitlyn loves Jesus and is so grateful for His unconditional love and grace. She learns more about Him everyday, and desires to journey with other women, as we learn to walk in bravery, and shine His light through our lives.