Tossed By The Wind

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God – who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly – and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:5-6

Are you tossed by the wind? The wind is strong and forceful, but you don’t have to let it move you.

Do you know what you believe and why you believe it? Do you have doubt flooding your heart? Maybe you’re not sure what to believe with misinformation and conflicting information constantly presenting itself.
Do you doubt God and His plan for your life? Do you doubt His sovereignty in this world of chaos?

There is a lot of wind right now. Sometimes it feels like a gentle breeze and other times it feels like hurricane force winds. Either way, the question remains: Will you be tossed?

Pick any topic and you’ll find people on either side and you’ll find the people who are easily swayed. Some topics are arguably more important than others and compromising may not be a huge deal depending on what the topic is. There are silly topics like whether or not pineapple belongs on pizza and then there are more serious topics like who to vote for in the election. There is one topic that stands above the rest: your faith.

I was watching a television show the other day in which a character stated the Bible was not meant to be taken literally and that the majority of scripture was metaphorical. They were even so bold as to say that the Bible was inspired by God, but not actually dictated by God. They mentioned the idea of God inspiring the words written, but they did not believe that the actual words were God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). If I did not know what I believe and why I believe it I could easily be tossed by the wind. The inkling sometimes pops into my brain, “I don’t think God actually means…” and that my friend, is a dangerous statement that could lead me down a dangerous path. If I begin to question His Word, it wouldn’t be long and I would be questioning God’s character and my faith in general.

But I do know that scripture is God-breathed. I know it’s true. I know that there are things I don’t understand in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It doesn’t mean the whole book or chapter is a metaphor. What it means is that I am human. My understanding may be lacking or skewed, but God’s word never is. If I find something in scripture that I think conflicts with another part of scripture, it’s not the scripture that’s wrong. Instead, it is me and my perspective that is in error. John 17:17 tells us that God’s Word is truth. It does not say bits and pieces are true or that you can feel free to pick and choose what you think is true. God’s Word is truth. All of it. So if you are lacking understanding or wisdom, ask God for understanding and wisdom. He gives wisdom generously!

Be Rooted

Back in the days of the New Testament Galatian believers were being deceived. In Galatians 1:6-7 Paul writes, “I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” I’ve experienced times in my life where I was being turned away from truth and I didn’t even realize it, which is why it is vitally important to know what you believe and why you believe it. There are people who will purposefully attempt to sway you and also people with pure intention, but still walking in error.

You say you believe salvation is a free gift and cannot be earned. Why? What if I showed you my good deeds? I’ve never been in trouble with the law, I do community service, I go to church, and I am a good person. Would you be tossed if I told you that by my works I was earning my way to heaven?

You say you believe that God is good. Why? What would you say if I pointed out every flaw, every tragedy, every little thing that didn’t go right? What if I told you God was not good or loving because a good God surely wouldn’t let such awful things happen in the world. Would you be tossed?

I could keep throwing out scenarios, but I won’t. Colossians 2:7 says, “So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.”

If you don’t want to be tossed you must have roots. Think of a big tree that has withstood the wind for many years. Why doesn’t it blow over? It is deeply rooted. We must be like the tree planted by the river of water. Our roots must run deep to the source of living water: Jesus. Read your Bible. Get to know your God. Get to know your Savior. It is okay if you don’t understand everything. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you.” 1 John 2:27a.The Holy Spirit will teach you. Don’t stress it. I’ve also learned that I can read a verse a bunch of times, but then one day it just hits different. Be patient with yourself. Show yourself grace. You don’t need to understand it all right at first, I mean, there is still stuff in the Bible that is way over my head and I’ve been a Christian for the majority of my life. Don’t let it discourage you. Ask God for wisdom and understanding. Keep digging your roots in a little deeper day by day.

Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23

Stand Tall

The tree that is deeply rooted is not afraid to stand tall. When the wind comes with a vengeance the tree whose roots run deep will not be plucked out of the earth. The tree that is deeply rooted is unashamed to stand tall. Are you like the tree, deeply rooted in the truth of God’s Word?

Don’t be afraid to stand in your convictions. Don’t be ashamed of your stance on the immutable truth of God’s Word.
This does not mean getting into heated debates and arguments with those who believe differently than you or are in error. Ephesians 4:15 says, “But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ.” We are to speak the truth in love; not in anger or self-righteousness. The Bible also tells us to be gentle in correcting others. I know from personal experience when someone is harsh or rude in their correction towards me it often turns me off from actually listening to them and taking to heart what they are saying. In the quest to stand tall it is also important to have a teachable spirit. You don’t know it all and I most definitely don’t know it all either. So inevitably the time will come when I am the one who has misunderstood God’s Word or am the one who is in error. But it is so vitally important to go back to scripture. If someone tells you something, don’t believe them just because they’ve been a Christian longer than you have. Go back to God’s Word. Does it line up? If you’re not sure then ask God for wisdom.

A Prayer

Dear God,
I pray that you would help me to dig my roots in deep to You and Your Word. I pray that you would help to discern what is true and what is false. Help me to bravely stand unashamed in my convictions. Lord, help me to grow in every way so that I may be more like Christ. I pray that you will help me to be gentle when expressing my stand, but I also pray you will give me a teachable spirit. God, help me to stand firmly in the truth of Your Word so that when the wind inevitably comes I will not be tossed.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

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

Joy

Joy.

It’s one of my favorite words. Joyful is a word that is often used to describe me and if you know me, you know I love finding joy in the small simple things. I don’t require big gestures of grandeur to be able to find the joy. Joy is also the name of my summer home, my cabin at the Bible camp I volunteer at, and I have lots of “joy” decor. Joy is just a really great word. However, sometimes it’s rather difficult to find true, lasting joy in life.

I’ve often baffled people with my joyful and positive attitude. They don’t understand how I can be in a stressful or downright crappy situation and still find the silver lining and smile. Throughout high school and college, I worked at the local Dunkin’ Donuts. If you’ve worked fast food you know just how crazy, stressful, and exhausting it can be. I think sometimes I annoyed my coworkers and the customers were sometimes perplexed. I honestly loved working fast food. I loved the fast pace and the hustle of it all. I was good at it, like really good. I loved my customers too and had a good portion of orders memorized. The regulars would simply just have to say, “It’s me,” when they heard my voice on the intercom. I would typically be the one taking the orders for drive-thru and making them. On more than one occasion I can remember a customer coming to the drive-thru window and making a comment about how cheerful I sounded or questioning why I was so happy when I was running around making coffee. Honestly, it always threw me off guard. I wasn’t sure how to respond and I had to take a step back and examine what my source of joy was. Because my customers and coworkers were right, it wasn’t normal. On the flip side though, there have most definitely been times where I have felt absolutely no joy in my life and pasting a smile on my face felt like the most difficult thing I had to do. Even as someone who loves joy and is often described as a joyful person, holding on to joy in every season is hard and seemingly impossible in some periods of life.

What is the source of your joy? Is it your circumstances? Is it your family? Your significant other? Your children? Your job? The weather? As I began to examine my heart I had the realization that the source of my joy is from none of those things. Sure they make me happy and I love it when the sun shines, but does that mean my joy disappears when the clouds arrive? When I had the light bulb moment and realized where my joy was flowing from it all made sense.

God desires for us to find our joy in Him and in His word!

I learned the more time I spent with God and the more time I spent working on my relationship with God, the more joy was consistently present in my life. The Bible has a lot to say about joy. The word joy appears around 200 times in the Bible, not including it’s synonyms like “rejoicing“. Have you lost your joy? Or maybe you’re trying to find joy in all the wrong places.


Joy is found in the presence of God:

If Joy is lacking in your life the first thing you need to do is some self-examining. The Bible states that joy is found in the presence of God. Psalm 16:11 says that in God’s presence is an abundance of joy! Not just a smidge of joy, but an abundance. So if you’re struggling to find joy, my first question for you is how is your relationship with God right now? Is He first in your life or have you put Him on the back burner? I’m not here to judge you, because many times I have put God in a box in the corner of my heart, only bringing Him out of the box I created when it was convenient for me. If we want true joy we must put God first in our lives in everything at all times. We must be seeking him and intentionally devoting time to Him every single day.

You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures.

Psalm 16:11

In Deuteronomy 6:5 the Israelites were given the commandment to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” These words were so important the Israelites were instructed to memorize them, teach them to their children, talk about them at home, on the road, in the morning when they woke, before they went to bed, to bind them and carry them on their person, and to write them on the doorposts of their homes and city gates. This commandment is so important that Jesus reiterates it in the gospel of Matthew. When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment found in the law was he responded by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5. “He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command.‘” Matthew 22:37-38

If you love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength you are going to be spending time with Him and cultivating a relationship with your Creator. When you have a relationship with God He gives you Joy. At the moment of salvation, we are given the Holy Spirit and as we continue to grow in our relationship with God, the Holy Spirit bears fruit in our life, and joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

Joy is found in creation:

This is an easy, simple, step in sparking joy in your life. God created this earth for our enjoyment. He didn’t make a lackluster place for us to live, but He was abundantly creative in making us this home. Even in the seemingly simplest pieces, we can find creativity and beauty. It brings me joy knowing that God loves me so much He gave me beautiful things to enjoy. My favorite color is yellow and when I find yellow in creation, it just brings me so much joy. I love seeing the speckles of yellow dandelions in the grass, the yellow of sunflowers and brown-eyed Susans, the golden stripes on honey bees, the bright yellow of finches, and the golden sunshine. I can’t look at it and not feel the joy. I love the smell before rain, the smell after rain, the smell of dirt, because well… I’m a country girl. I love the smell of the woods and how different trees have different scents. The feeling of a cool breeze on a hot summer day. The sound of the water flowing in the river or a bubbling brook. I love the way rocks have different hues and shades and I especially love smooth river rocks. I love the feeling of grass between my toes and the sun on my shoulders. I love it when the sky is a brilliant blue with scattered white puffy cumulus clouds. I love listening to the evening peepers and the morning songs of the birds. I love the intricacies of nature. There is joy in creation. Go outside and find the joy God has blessed us within the nature around us.

Joy is found in fellowship and unity:

When we have fellowship and unity with fellow believers it brings joy. Fellowship means friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests. So when we are having fellowship with people who are united in Christ, it is a beautiful overflowing of joy. In the past I have attended, volunteered, and hosted women’s retreats. These women’s retreats have been some of the most joyful gatherings I have ever attended because it is a group of women, united in their passion and hunger for Christ. Even though I was meeting some of these women for the very first time there was a sweetness of friendship found in our fellowship. If you don’t have Christians you can fellowship with, ask God to bring you friends. Ask God to open doors of opportunity for you to get involved in your church, to open doors for fellowship. Fellowship and unity doesn’t mean hanging out with people who are just like you. It means spending time with people who love Jesus. I’ve experienced immense joy in fellowshipping with people who are in their 80’s and people who are children, and people of all ages in between. Maybe you are in a season of waiting on Christian friends, but that doesn’t mean your life is without fellowship. 1 John 1: 3 says that our fellowship is ultimately with God. So going back to point number one… Fellowship with the One who created you. When we have fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, our joy is complete.

Make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

Philippians 2:2

Do you have fellowship with God? You may be able to answer that question confidently or maybe you’re not sure. There are four key elements to having fellowship with God.

  1. You need to have a personal relationship with God. This means you need to be saved; you need to believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior. If you don’t believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, you cannot have fellowship with God.
  2. You need to keep short accounts. This means that you need to confess your sin regularly. Sometimes this looks like asking for forgiveness multiple times a day. Being saved from the penalty of sin does not mean you become sinless. The goal is to sin less and to become more like Christ each day. Sinning after salvation is unavoidable because we are human. When we sin it does not mean we lose our salvation, but if we allow it to accumulate we cannot be in a right fellowship with God. Our sin builds a wall and the wall separates us from the source of joy. Confess your sins. Tear down the wall.
  3. You need to read your Bible on a daily basis. The Bible is how we learn about God and how He speaks to us. Don’t expect God to speak to you through a burning bush and audibly hearing his voice. Open His Word and listen for the still small voice stirring in your soul. When you seek Him you will find Him.
  4. You need to be praying. Prayer is how we talk to God. Prayer does not need to look like getting down on your hands and knees with your hands clasped together, although there is nothing wrong with that. You can pray in your head, you can pray in your car, you can pray at work, you can pray in your journal, you can pray all day long. Talk to God about everything and anything. Take it all to Him, lay it all down at His feet. The good, the bad and the ugly. Yes, He already knows everything, but He desires for you to talk with Him. God craves intimacy with His children and we should crave that intimacy with Him.

Joy is found in trials:

This one is tough. Finding joy in trials seems like a bit of an oxymoron. How can you be joyful when you’re enduring trials and sufferings? Peter encourages believers by telling us that we should not be surprised when testings come, but instead to rejoice that we are suffering for Christ because we will someday have great joy when we see Jesus in His full glory. Peter went through a lot of trials and testings. In the book of Acts it describes how Peter was threatened, imprisoned more than once, and his close friends, the other apostles were being murdered. Peter knew what it was to endure suffering, but he also knew that the suffering he was enduring was not worth comparing to the joy that was sure to come. Paul also knew what it was to suffer and Paul wrote about joy a lot in the new testament. Paul was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and he was also receiving news of fellow believers that were being murdered. It was Paul who wrote “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” Paul also wrote the book of Philippians, which contains the words “joy” and “rejoice” more than any of his other books, while he was in jail.

Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials…

James 1:2

Peter, Paul, and the other apostles were able to find joy through their sufferings because they had an eternal mindset. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are risen with Christ, we are not to be seeking earthly things with an earthly and temporal mindset, but seeking things above, seeking Christ and the furtherance of His kingdom. If Paul could sing praises to God while sitting in a dark, cold, damp prison after being beaten then so can we. The same Spirit that was in Paul, is in us. Paul’s focus was Christ and sharing the gospel and because of this, despite the various trials that came his way he still had joy.

Joy.

I’ve learned that being joyful is more of a choice than an emotion. Happiness is an emotion. Happiness is fleeting and can be gone at a moment’s notice. But joy… True joy is not fleeting, because true joy is found in Christ. It is easy to lose your joy when you allow your focus to be pulled to the world. When your eyes are taken off of Christ you give the world and all of its many burdens the opportunity to snatch your joy. But when your eyes are on Christ your joy cannot be stolen no matter what comes your way.

Do you see it? Do you feel it? I’ll say it again, joy is found in Christ. Go back to the first commandment. Love God with all of your everything. He doesn’t promise us a perfect and easy life. He promises to sustain us, to be our strength, to be our joy. We will have tough times and that’s okay. But you don’t have to let the tough times rob you of your joy in Christ and the joy in the eternity we have been promised. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Go pursue your joy in Christ. 

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

What If I Told You…

What if I told you…

What if I told you I’m sick?
What if I told you I have a disease?
What if I told you I have a heart problem?
Would you comfort me, take me to a doctor?

What if I told you…

What if I told you I’m a liar?
What if I told you I’m a hypocrite?
What if I told you I have a problem with lust?
What if I told you I’m a thief?
What if I told you I’m filled with hatred?
What if I told you I’m gay?

What if I told you…

What if I told you I’m a murderer?
What if I told you I’m a drug addict?
What if I told you I watch porn?
What if I told you I’m sleeping around?
What if I told you I’m the reason your friend is suicidal?

What if I told you…

What if I told you I’m broken?
What if I told you I’m racist?
What if I told you I’m manipulative?
What if I told you I’m struggling?

What if I told you….

What would you say to me?
Would you condemn me?
Would you judge me?
Would you joy in my short comings and failures?
Would your heart break for me?
Would you think I am equivalent to my failures?
Would you think I am defined by my brokenness and sickness?
Would you think I’m unworthy, undeserving, despicable? 
Would you think I am too far gone?

What if I told you…

Would you think I put on a good act?
Would you think I am the lowest of lows?
Would you think I’m a fake and a fraud?

What if I told you…

What would your face say?
What would you think of me?
What would your eyes reveal?
Would you still love me?
Would you still value me and my words?

What if I told you…

Would you unfriend me?
Would you trash my name in the comment section?
Would you verbally destroy me?

What if I told you…

Would you pretend we never met when I passed you in the grocery store?
Would you disown me?
Would you choose to forget me?

What if I told you… 

What if I told you… You are sick too?
What if I told you your body is riddled with a disease?
What if I told you there was a problem with your heart?

What if I told you….

Would you hate me?
Would you compare your brokenness to mine?
Would you think you’re good and I’m a liar?
Would you think you’re fine and I’m mentally unstable making such harsh assumptions of you?

What if I told you I know you are broken?
What if I told you I know you’ve been hurt?
What if I told you your mask of perfection is slipping?
What if I told you our struggles stem from the same thing?
From one thing…

What if I told you…

What if I told you I know a place?
What if I told you it’s the culmination of every wrong thing every human has ever done?
What if I told you it’s the darkest of darks?
What if told you it’s the worst unending torutre?
What if I told you it’s real?
What if I told you we deserve it?

What if I told you the root cause?
Would you believe me?
What if I told you our disease was genetic, contagious, a pandemic?
What if I told you it affects not only you and me… but everyone else too?
What if I told you our brokenness may look different, but it’s just a side effect of the disease called sin?

What if I told you it’s not about me?
What if I told you it’s not about you?
What if I told you it’s not about what we can or can’t do?
What if I told you we could be set free from the weight of our brokenness and sin?
What if I told you the key to our chains is found in a smidgeon of faith?
What if I told you the Jesus is the cure?

What if I told you that tugging on your heart is God?
What if I told you his love reaches past every bit of brokenness, every crack, every flaw, every failure.

What if I told you His arms are reaching towards you?
What if I told you He wants you despite everything.
What if I told you He will always want you?
What if I told you that if you were the only human being on earth…
He still would have endured the beatings, the mockings, the whippings, the nails and the cross just for you.

What if I laid aside my fear? What if I told you?

But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.

Romans 5:12

Sins. Imperfections. Flaws. Shortcomings. Some of them are mine, but some of them are yours, your family members, your friends’, and the average person you pass on the street. I challenge you to examine your heart. How would you respond if someone beared their heart to you? Would you jump to judgement or would you jump to compassion? Would you shame them or would you show them Jesus?

Did you know that there is no condemnation, no shame, to those who are believers in Jesus Christ? If you’re a believer, don’t live in your past, but glory in the Lord and how He has set you free from the burden of sin. If you’re a believer, God has rescued you. You have a rescue story. Use it to draw others to Him. Don’t live in fear… You are free. It’s your story… Share it for His glory. God has worked in your life in a different way than He has worked in mine. Your story is uniquely different than mine and this means we can impact different people who will impact even more people.
Don’t live in fear. Don’t live in shame. Share the story God is writing in your life.

This is the message of faith that we proclaim:If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on him will not be put to shame, since there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord of all richly blesses all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Romans 10:8b-13

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

Grace Squashes Perfection

For it is by grace we have been saved, through faith, it is not from ourselves- it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

“Create in me a clean heart, Oh God. Renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

“If anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17
)

These verses may seem completely unrelated, but they actually tie together like an unexpected mosaic.

Christ saves us from sin, from darkness, from eternal death, from ourselves, from emotions through GRACE alone. We cannot do or say anything to earn this free gift. No matter how much we strive for perfection (which for perfectionists is every second, every day) we will always fail. Apart from God, we can’t stand. Our endless pursuit of perfection gets us further and further from God, because we wind up looking inward and becoming self-focused and self-reliant. We start to serve our emotions and allow them to guide us. We begin to serve our circumstances and our abilities. We soak in shame, guilt, and regret when we mess up, completely missing the freedom Christ has for us. This freedom and grace flowing out of the salvation Christ offers us, has nothing to do with our amount of accomplished tasks, checked off to-do lists, always saying the right things, never thinking impure thoughts, having a perfectly-polished home, having a perfect marriage, being a perfect mom, a perfect employee, perfect daughter, or perfect friend.

Our hearts are inherently selfish. We want to glorify ourselves and appear polished and perfect all the time. Underneath the mask, though, is the aching, all consuming need for Christ. Despite our failures, His grace is available. We have done absolutely nothing to deserve it. We have a choice of whether or not we will accept this free gift right in front of us, or to keep living for ourselves, striving for perfection, and serving our emotions.

God never intended for our emotions to be a a roadmap of any kind. Emotions are chaotic and always changing; they are the stark opposite of the unchanging, firm foundation that God provides. Emotions are like a house built on a false reality that can be blown down in an instant. Emotions are rooted in SELF, SELF, SELF. Emotions constantly lie and pull us away from God.

But grace.

But salvation.

In our mess, in our stumbling, in our trying and failing, God pulls us out and SAVES US through GRACE alone.

As Psalm 51:10 says, we have to continue approaching Him in prayer, earnestly seeking Him and asking Him: “create in me a clean heart.”

We are unable to have a clean heart on our own. It’s impossible. Only He alone cleanses us.

When we slip back into sin, turn to selfish desires, allow our emotions to take rule, focus on perfection, or turn far from God, we have the BEAUTIFUL reminder that the old has passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17) and the new has come. We are forgiven and through Christ alone we can flourish as a new creation.

A word of encouragement:
It is never too late.
You are never too far gone.
God is after your heart.
He died for you.
No matter how broken and shattered you feel.
No matter how many mistakes you’ve made.
He is waiting with outstretched arms.

If you have questions about Christ’s love for you or what salvation means, PLEASE don’t hesitate to reach out to us via the contact form on our website or on social media.

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.

Steadfast

“He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in His faith and gave glory to God, because He was fully convinced that what God had promised, He was also able to do.” (Romans 4:20-21)

The second part of this verse is something a lot of us struggle with and probably couldn’t always proclaim with confidence. We are told in Romans, though, that Abraham was able to to proclaim and believe with confidence that God was able to do what He promised He would do. Abraham believed that God was steadfast.

God is the ultimate storyteller. He didn’t write a story with a cliff-hanger. We don’t need popcorn. We know the ending already and it’s a beautiful one. God finishes what He starts. He is trustworthy and can always be counted on. Romans 8:20-21 tells us: “For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of him who subjected it—in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage to decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children.” That’s the ending. The ending is that we will be set free. We don’t have to wait around wondering if this reality will show up in some far-off sequel. Instead, we can place our hope in the fact that this promise has already been written, is being fulfilled, and will continue to be fulfilled.

How many things are truly unchanging? Our society is always on an epic hunt for something new, eye-catching, and thrilling. At times, the idea of something remaining the same can appear stale and bland. Many of us believe we can truly thrive on unpredictability and fresh experiences. There is nothing wrong with being adventurous and spontaneous, but when we welcome in too much of this attitude, we can find ourselves feeling like we’re sinking in a pool of dissatisfaction when we can’t keep up with the demand. “I’m over it” or “I need a change”, we say as we toss things aside and prepare for the next thing. Loyalty is an antiquated concept.

New hair. New job. New house. New life.

What if there was beauty in, not the unexpected, but in the expected?

What if life could be found in something unmovable, unshakable, and never changing?

Definition of Steadfast

1a: firmly fixed in place IMMOVABLE

b: not subject to change

2: firm in belief, determination, or adherence

There is this ravenous desire within us for change, yet if we’re honest, at core, we actually do desire a firm foundation of stability. It’s possible, though, to chase down stability in a way that will never truly deliver. When we hunger for steadfastness, something unchanging and unwavering in relationships and material objects, we are oftentimes left feeling hollow and empty when those things do change and do waver.

When our emotions zig-zag throughout the day and circumstances in our own lives and throughout the world have become entangled in weighty darkness, God is steadfast.

When we come to the end of ourselves and feel completely void of strength, God is steadfast.

The steadfastness of God is mentioned 132 times in the Psalms alone. When God’s steadfast nature is spoken about, it is almost always associated with His LOVE being steadfast. Although we have been gifted the grace of experiencing God-fueled, love-driven relationships with others, this form of love between humans could never measure up to the overwhelming steadfastness of God’s love.

He alone is steadfast.

Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.”

That is a promise to cling to in the shadows of life.

We can remain steadfast in Christ by seeking Him with our whole heart. Only then is God able to meet us there and gently walk in step with us. This is a continual process, not a once-and-done, prayed-a-prayer, good-to-go type of seeking. Remaining steadfast in Christ is a beautiful habit formed; one where you find comfort in letting praise leave your lips, constantly acknowledging that God Himself is steadfast. We are able to remain steadfastly planted in Him BECAUSE He is steadfast first.

Water your heart with His unchanging truth and unwavering love.

Plant your heart firmly in His endless promises.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.

Use Permanent Ink

Bravely Pursuing God’s Vision for Marriage

My outlook on marriage has been a patchwork of feelings and opinions that have shifted over time. I thought maybe I would be married somewhere far, far in the future at 35 or something. Most of the time trying to conceptualize the thought of marriage at all seemed like a stretch.  I would have laughed bluntly if someone told me I’d be lumped into the “young and married” category.

“Why would I limit myself?” I used to think. 

“Why put my hope in another human being who will  break my heart into a million little pieces?” 

“I’m young, I have a life to live, things to accomplish, and a husband will just drag me down,” I told myself.

I used to view marriage as a prison cell that only locked you into a life of confinement, disappointment, and less opportunity.

It was pouring rain and my life was about to change. I didn’t know that, of course. You never know when something groundbreaking is about to happen. Usually you can’t foresee the big moments that wind up being a pivotal event- the kind of happenstance that ends up defining how you describe everything else in your life.

This day would later end up being a bold, italicized, LARGE font event written on the timeline of my life, even though at the time it all seemed very commonplace.

I was about to get into a very dangerous car accident. Everything I once knew would be completely turned upside-down.

Seventeen. Senior year.

This was one of the darkest seasons of my life, to be brutally honest. I hated God, I hated love, and quite honestly, I hated myself. I had turned to self-destruction and I was completely unstable, lacking any fragment of purpose or direction. My heart was hollow and closed off and I was out of breath and exhausted, always running away from God. I was petrified of Him and I wanted absolutely no part of that “love”. My heart was nailed shut to keep out God’s love or the love of anyone else. Love was the last thing on my mind in that season; love with God, love with a man.. I wanted no part of it.

I saw another car’s headlights in my lane. Through the splashes of rain, I realized there was no time to react.

Death was upon me.

I couldn’t run anymore.

I didn’t realize how much I truly did yearn for life and love until death was a few feet away.

I sharply turned the wheel, then cried out to the God whom I wasn’t even certain I believed in. 
“I’m not ready to die yet. I want to live for you. I still desire to meet my husband and have a family someday.”

My car spun uncontrollably, eventually ending up in the ditch on the other side of the road after hitting a telephone pole. The telephone pole fell on top of my car, causing the front end to catch on fire just as I stepped out of it.

This was when my heart first danced with Christ.

Adrenaline pumping, sparks in the background, I surrendered.

He saved me.

It was a gradual and sometimes painful process, but Jesus began reshaping and capturing my heart. All of the lies that I had built a foundation upon were being ripped apart and tossed out forever.

Over time, He began to reveal purpose to me, breathing life into everything that had been lifeless.

I began to understand my need for Him. I started to understand, not just my need for Him, but also His wild love for me; love that was boundless and unimaginable to the point of death. Something I was once uncomfortable confronting became a comfort: I was a sinner in desperate need of a Savior. He was there to love me mightily, restore my soul, and then die on my behalf to atone for my shortcomings.

Walls broken down.

He opened my heart to love.

Two days after the accident, I met and started talking to the man who is now my husband. 

Two weeks later is when I knew he was the man I was going to marry (this is laughable now, because we are talking about the same girl who was totally against the idea of getting married young).

Simon loved God and wanted to pursue a life of serving Him. He was patient with me as I started to understand what all of that even meant. I had no prior understanding and it was a process  to shed the gruesome layers of my flesh (this process never ends). In the beginning of our relationship, we learned what love was together. We learned how to love each other and love God together. We grew from teenagers to adults together.
I will never be able to wrap my head around the weight of what God did that year of my life. I was in a downward spiral and He called me by name and drew me to Himself.

My view of marriage started to shift, as did everything in my life.

Naturally, during our dating and engaged years, my outlook on marriage changed into a sea of prince charming and white horses. Looking toward marriage I envisioned endless happiness, no arguing, constant fun, holding hands in the sunset, candle-lit dinners, and romantic getaways.

After being married a few years, though, God is chiseling my understanding yet again. God did not create marriage so that we could be happy, get all of our needs met, or fill a void in our heart. He didn’t even create marriage so that we could have a lifelong partner to have deep conversations with or go on lavish dates with (though there’s nothing wrong with those things and they are actually a by-product of a healthy marriage).

There’s a war going on in today’s society. There are broken, empty, and confused people everywhere. God’s design for marriage is for a husband and wife to come together in unity to accomplish His mission and share the gospel as a team. Marriage is meant to be a union in which the same vision is shared for how to point other’s towards Jesus. 

Yes, marriage is supporting one another’s dreams.

Yes, it is carving out intentional date nights.

Yes, it is laughing so hard you cry.

Yes, it is cozy movie nights with way too much popcorn.

Yes, it is long drives in the car with even longer deep, heart talks.

Yes, it is dying to one-self and choosing to serve your spouse over your own desires and needs.

But at the core, it is chasing after the same vision together. 

There is only one vision to chase. The vision is the same for every couple that He brings together: to make disciples and love others, as Christ did, alongside one another. The way this takes form is different for every couple depending on gifts and timing. It is so easy for this to get diluted and over-complicated. 

There are influences from the world saying that marriage is all about pleasure, happiness, and perfection.

On the flip-side, there are toxic influences even in christ-centered communities slowly seeping into our hearts about marriage. These messages are more subtle and they are wrapped in appealing packages. Hearing these influences can make us forget about the vision of the gospel and instead focus only on bettering ourselves and strengthening our own home. Family time has so much value. Spreading the gospel has the most value, though. This is beautifully imaged when done as a family team. Entertainment, comfort, and ease try to pull our focus off of what has the most eternal value.

Faith in Jesus was meant to be shared beyond our walls. Marriage is more than an amalgamation of cooking meals together and cuddling on the couch. Those things are a blast, but they can’t be the only purpose in marriage. I think often in faith-based communities, messages about marriage mean well. We hear about respecting and honoring our spouse and spending enough time together. We see step-by-step processes of how to have a constructive argument and how to have beneficial communication. These things are all good.

In the midst of all of this advice, though, we also need to be asking one important question: what are my spouse and I doing together to further the kingdom of Jesus?

Everything needs to be built around that. God has provided a vessel in marriage for this to happen; a unique way for His message to be carried. God’s love for us is not based on performance or service, but a thriving marriage will be a deep well overflowing with love to pour out on others. It does not mean every couple will be missionaries in a foreign country, but it means that God calls us all to be missionaries right where we are. He placed you and your spouse in a specific location and time period for a reason and brought you together for a reason. He desires for you to love and enjoy one another, yes- but also to extend that love to others around you as a team.

Don’t misunderstand – marriage is meant to be pleasurable and delightful and beautiful, but these things come from flourishing together in your calling. There are some days filled with tickle fight, board games, adventures and movie nights. I believe God wants us to enjoy marriage, too.

Also understand this: there will always be challenging days. Stop and think about the austerity involved with combining two people and two lives together. There is going to be friction. There will be harsh words exchanged and bad choices made. You will hurt each other often. We are flesh and selfishness rules through our whole being. Trying to mix two broken people together is difficult, but worthwhile. The vision is bigger. The vision for God’s kingdom is bigger than socks left on the floor or your husband forgetting to ask how your day went. Some days it might be hard to forgive or extend grace, but remember the vision. When you remember the vision and you truly understand what you signed up for, dissatisfaction can’t reign.

When you get married:

Don’t sign up for perfection.

Don’t sign up for bouquets of flowers and loves notes (although those are a sweet surprise sometimes).

Don’t sign up for manicured lawns and children in matching t shirts.

Don’t sign up for Instagram photo shoots.

Don’t sign up for only pursuing your own dreams.

Don’t sign up for no conflict,

and don’t sign up for building your own kingdom.

Sign up for unity.

Sign up for embracing imperfections.

Sign up for constant forgiveness and grace.

Definitely sign up for striving after God’s vision to share the gospel together.

Sign up for forever.

Use permanent ink.

My love story with my husband evolves daily. We know each others’ hearts deeply and intentionally. It is breathtaking to pursue God’s calling together and the most attractive thing in the world is to see my husband desire God.  We laugh together and cry together and there is no one else on this planet I would rather have by my side. We are still learning how to pursue this common vision together, though. We are constantly being purified and refined by God. We still argue while driving sometimes, things get chaotic and we say hurtful words, and at times, we altogether forget the unity  God has called us to. But God always sweetly reminds us once more of His miraculous love and His purpose for our story together.

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.

This day would later be a bold, italicized, huge- font event written on the timeline of my life, even though it seemed so commonplace at the time. You see, I was about to get into a very dangerous car accident and everything I once knew would completely turned upside-down. This was one of the darkest seasons of my life; I hated God, I hated love, and quite honestly- I hated myself. I had turned to self-destruction and I was completely unstable, lacking any fragment of purpose or direction. My heart was hollow and closed off. I was out of breath and exhausted from running away from God. Honestly, I was petrified of Him and I wanted absolutely no part of the “love” that I had seen coming out of some “christians”. My view of love was seemingly flawed beyond repair. Love was the last thing on my mind in that season- love with God, love with a man- I wantedno part of it.
Through the splashes of rain, as I saw another car’s headlights in my lane, there was no time to react. In that moment, I realized how close death was. I couldn’t run anymore; it was coming straight for me. I didn’t realize how much I truly didyearn for life and love until pain and death were a few feet away. I sharply turned the wheel at the last possible second and I cried out to the God whom I wasn’t even certain I believed i
“I’m not ready to die yet. I want to live for you. I still desire to meet my husband and have a family someday

Jesus Wept.

John 11:35 is only two words long. The shortest verse in the Bible tells us so much about our Savior.

We serve a God who came to earth and led a radical revolution; one that ushered in love and hope for all those cast aside and marginalized.

We also serve a God who came to earth and experienced real, raw emotion.

Jesus wept alongside those experiencing shattering sadness.

We weep too.

We weep because unfathomable injustice still lives in our nation and our world.

We weep because too many lives have been lost- lives of people made in the image of God and loved so tenderly by Him.

We weep because voices are silenced and stories are shoved away.

We weep with those who are weeping and enter into the real pain being experienced by so many. We weep as we take a humble position and desire to engage in real conversation with those hurting.

We weep as we lament the places we’ve failed and confess how we have knowingly or unknowingly added to these injustices.

In our lamenting and weeping, we’ll continue to pray Matthew 6:10: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

This world is not our permanent dwelling place. While we are in this world we are to be constantly in pursuit of reflecting God’s kingdom on earth. We are not here to accomplish our mission or glorify ourselves, but we are here exclusively to accomplish God’s mission: To spread the message of His radical love and redemption to every tribe, nation, and tongue; to declare value and worth and purpose over every soul.

We have to be brave when things are dark and when things are not going the way we want them to go. We cannot walk away from the only source of hope that we have. We must choose to trust God even when we don’t understand; even when it seems like justice is far away.

May we all walk radiantly and bravely as we commit to intentionally learning how to love better and bigger as we serve those in our communities. May we truly mourn loss and injustice the way our Savior did, and still does, as we press forward, carrying a bright lamp in this dark time.

Our response to all of this needs to be unwavering, because Christ Himself is sure, secure, unwavering, unshakable, and never moving.

OUR RESPONSE IS MICAH 7:7-8
“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.”

We will look to the Lord and wait on Him always. We will have confidence that He will hear us and we will have faith that the enemy will not prevail. We know that when we feel defeated, through Christ we will rise. Darkness encompasses every corner of the earth right now, but the Lord is our light in the midst.

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.

How Environmental Protection Ties to My Faith

Did you know that there is a ministry in environmental protection? Now is time to rediscover the oldest form of ministry, because now more than ever we need to give it our attention. Nature is a ministry not limited in its audience and it has no language barrier. The environment is a topic that when viewed through a biblical lens can reach everyone! Unfortunately this wonderful spiritual connection is being ignored, and abused. We are lied to everyday when we are told there is nothing we can do about it. Nature is the oldest ministry there is because it shares with us a deeply personal connection to our Creator.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Genesis 2:15 NIV

This involves all of us. On the day the first of humankind was created we were given two gifts. The first gift was free will and the second gift was dominion over the other living creatures on earth. The first gift greatly impacts the the second. When God gave us this significant amount of control over our environment, he also gave us a responsibility to take care of it. Even more, what we do with that authority will forever have consequences. Thankfully this also affirms a truth for us. The lie that we are powerless to make a difference in environmental change is just that: a lie! Government policies are not the environmental save we are all waiting for. What we need are changes in the little decisions we make day to day.

Why Environmental Protection Ties to My Faith

Let’s start by reconnecting with our roots. Let’s look at our ancestry. When God made Adam, He placed him in Eden with instructions to take care of it. In those days humanity was at peace with nature. We didn’t have to build back soil, or worry about bugs and fungi overpowering our food. More significantly, when we had a close relationship with nature we also had a close relationship with God. Imagine knowing God so closely that you can go for a simple stroll just to talk! Adam and Eve had that, walking with God in the garden on a regular basis. In fact, the Bible says that when we know nature we know for certain there is a God.

They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

Romans 1: 19-20

How could we look at creation and not know there is a Creator? So much of nature just works together so efficiently in a way that could only be designed. For example, one of the rumors I remember mentioned by a teacher in high school is that cows are bad for the environment, because they give off CO2. Well, guess what converts any CO2 into oxygen. The pasture the cow grazes on! Letting grass grow to feed the cows gives us more oxygen. Plus, consider the alternative, pastures give us so much more than the CO2 from a gas guzzling lawn mower. God’s design works better than our own every time. It’s even an educational standard in Next Generation Science, used in our public schools. Children are taught to look to nature for design help:

“1-LS1-1 Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.” — Next Generation Science Standards

Nature is not only great on its own, but it is also great for us. Multiple studies have looked into the health benefits of being in nature, finding that regular contact with nature has psychological benefits. Think of God’s original intention for Earth. He was creating it for us and what we as humans need. Two studies, one in the USA and one in the Netherlands, found that time with nature reduces cortisol levels, taking away our stress and reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Another study in South Korea found that exposure to nature improves cognitive function, helping us think clearly and improving our memory. Plus nature has been seen to have a positive impact on diabetes, obesity, and circulatory heart disease. A daily dose of time in nature is preventive medicine! There are even multiple studies emerging in the topic of “nature-deficit disorder” which suggest that time in nature is not just preventive medicine, but an actual human need. “The Last Child in the Woods” is a book which makes the understandable claim that more exposure to experiences in nature will even improve “behavioral problems” in young children.

Everything about the earth was specially made to sustain us as our food and for our mental health. Taking care of the earth is an extension to taking care of ourselves. I know who made this earth, and I can see Him in the things that He made. However, our daily lives revolve around distractions and it is easy to feel separated from God. Likewise, nature which shows us God, is easy to feel separated from. We have so many man made things to keep our attention such as TV screens, computer screens, money, and all the things we think we need because society says so. Meanwhile, those same man-made things have led us to abuse our natural resources. We cover the world over with concrete, and treat it as disposable. We have the ability, the ingenuity, and the responsibility to take care of our planet.

So What Can We Do?

I’m one of the save the world from plastic types. Plastic is the environmental issue that any individual person can make a difference in. Whether global warming is an issue or not, we have other concerns which require the same response to take care of our planet. We know about the plastic in our oceans. The problem is not just the presence of plastic in the ocean. The problem is that plastic was designed to last. In natural creation plants die and they become compost, animals die and they become compost, even people were made from dust and will return to dust. Plastic does not rot. Nothing is lost in nature because it was designed to repurpose itself, but plastic is man made and here to stay. Every piece of plastic which has ever been made still exists today and we are producing more than we are recycling.

I feel that by respecting God’s creation we are showing Him our respect. I want us to be encouraged knowing we can make changes in how we use resources so that we can give back to God’s green earth. Thankfully there is already a growing number of people wanting to make changes to live more peaceably with our environment. There are small decisions that each of us can make that will provide big changes. In 2016 I stumbled upon the Zero Waste movement, including the whole trash in a mason jar fad. I loved the aesthetic and I binged all the information I could on how reducing plastic will save our planet. What I have learned is there is noticeably more to reducing waste then the mason jar aesthetic. The movement has since been renamed the Low Waste movement, because the first thing to know is that it is not a total elimination of waste. Essentially the call of the movement is to reconsider how we use plastic and avoid purchases of plastic items with a disposable nature. After avoiding the plastic that we do not need, the second part to the Low Waste movement is to add to and go beyond our current methods of recycling. Rather than the 3 steps of Reduce Reuse Recycle there are 5 steps.

More than just Recycling

Refuse.
Reduce.
Reuse and Repair.
Recycle.
Rot.

Refuse plastic disposable items whenever possible, and look for alternative items which will serve the same purpose. In many cases the solution will be something retro.
Reduce. This applies to all resources and can be as simple as turning off the lights when we leave an empty room.
Reuse and Repair. A lot of the products we buy in plastic today were one of three things in the 1940s. They were made of materials closer to nature such as glass, steel, and wood; such as glass baby bottles as opposed to plastic ones. Perhaps the product was designed to be reusable such as a cloth towel rather than a paper one. In other cases products were repaired; such as mending a shirt with a tear rather than tossing it.
Recycle. Recycling is not perfect, since every item we recycle can only be recycled a few different times. Even still recycling plastic saves money and resources which would have otherwise been spent on producing more plastic. So good job!
Rot. Only a small percentage of our planet has usable topsoil, which we need for growing our food. Composting not only disposes of waste but it builds back our soil.

I hope to write more about environmental protection in the future so feel free to like and subscribe and follow us on social media such as Instagram, or Facebook for updates on new posts. Be sure to leave a comment and join the conversation. Let me know what you think of the topic or if there is anything related that you noticed I left out.

Works Cited:

Kim, Bo-Young, et al. “Horticultural Therapy Program for the Improvement of Attention and Sociality in Children with Intellectual Disabilities.” HortTechnology, vol. 22, no. 3, 2012, pp. 320–324., doi:10.21273/horttech.22.3.320.

Rodiek, Susan. “The Role of the Outdoors in Residential Environments for Aging.” 2006, doi:10.4324/9780203820193.

Berg, Agnes E. Van Den, and Mariëtte H.g. Custers. “Gardening Promotes Neuroendocrine and Affective Restoration from Stress.” Journal of Health Psychology, vol. 16, no. 1, 2010, pp. 3–11., doi:10.1177/1359105310365577.

Lachowycz, K., and A. P. Jones. “Greenspace and Obesity: a Systematic Review of the Evidence.” Obesity Reviews, vol. 12, no. 5, 2011, doi:10.1111/j.1467-789x.2010.00827.x.

Olivia is an eclectic creativity enthusiast. A teacher by profession, but an aspiring storyteller on occasion. Her super power is her compassion.

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.

Hungering For Christ: A Prayer

Lord, hear my prayer.

I want to live a changed life.

I want my radical love for you to quite literally overtake everything.

I don’t want a boxed-in faith.

I don’t want a convenient, half-in, lukewarm, sort-of, haphazard, sometimes, kind-of, neat and tidy relationship with You.

Lord, let me not be like the pharisees, obsessed with head knowledge, or left with a bitter, unchanged heart. Lord, let me not use the term “christian”, referring only to just a “good”, “moral” way of living. Instead, let my bold faith change EVERYTHING.

Lord, I can buy all of the bumper stickers, post beautiful graphics of scripture, attend bible studies, read my verse-of-the-day, engage in “christian” political and social conversation, and yet still be so far from You.

Lord, you are not a box to check, a bullet on a to-do list, or a curated photo reel on social media.

Save me from this.

Save me from the idols of SELF and COMFORT. Save from my love of compromise.

I can listen to “christian” songs, order popular “christian” books, be surrounded by “christian” ideas and “christian” people and actually have no intimacy with You: Christ himself.

Lord, I am in a daily battle with a cute, ease-filled “christian” culture. It is a culture that tells me I don’t need to change, that doesn’t challenge me to love boundlessly, and seek You over everything else. It is a culture that condones my remaining comfortable, while building my own kingdom, and all the while neglecting the most prominent command I was given: to shine the gospel through all things that I do and share the truth of the gospel with all people.

Lord, the biggest threat to our christian faith is ourselves and our flesh. Forgive us, Lord, for we have welcome in a pseudo faith and a false, watered-down version of striving after You.

Lord, restore a fire of desire in my heart for You. Stir up a hunger and an unquenchable thirst for Your word and Your ways. If my relationship with You isn’t the lens through which I do and see everything else, Lord reveal to me what needs to be transformed in my heart.

I want to taste the change.

Lord, I give You permission to rise to the single most important aspect of my life. I invite You in to mold and shape my heart daily to be more like You and to love as You loved.

Lord, what a mind-blowing gift you have offered to have the opportunity of rich relationship with You, the Father, through your son Jesus Christ. I deserve death, but I have been given life over and over again. My sin does not rule over me anymore. I have been set free forevermore because of the blood of Jesus.

What a marvelous chance I have been given to live on this earth in this set-a-part time period and to spread Your truth like rapid wildfire. What a beautiful blessing I have to let You write my story as you guide my steps, my choices, and my relationships, and stir my heart affections for what truly matters.

Lord, allow Your compassion and love for others, and this world, to dwell in my heart for all to see.

I don’t deserve anything except for death, but through Your mercy alone I have abundant LIFE.

Lord, in desperation I seek You. I humbly ask for Your help to reject the authority of convenient, luke-warm christianity and instead sit under Your life-giving authority. Allow my heart not to be led astray by money, popularity, worldly riches, entertainment, comfort, or security.

I invite You to change everything.

Lord, when I fall back into vicious habits and run away from you, my shepherd, thank you for lovingly leading me back once more.

Thank you for starting each day anew and for placing my hope in eternity with You.

I praise You alone until the ends of the earth and the closing of time.

Amen.

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.