Thursday, February 28, 2013

Guard Others

Men and women, oh how different we are! Before you read any further, please know that I am completely aware that I am a woman and have very little understanding of the men with whom I roam the earth. But, I do have a husband who is daily teaching me (whether he knows it or not!) about the uniqueness of men and the vast differences God created in them versus women.

While we walk through life in relationships, it is not only wise to guard our own hearts, it's important to guard the hearts of those around us. We can do this by choosing our words carefully when in conflict, by biting our tongue when we are tempted to gossip, and by doing our part in not causing others to stumble. Wait, not causing others to stumble? .... Yes. The Bible is clear about this! 
"It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble." - Romans 14:21

I came across this video (which, really is audio to some pictures) that a friend posted yesterday and was deeply moved by the rawness of it. As my husband and I sat and listened to what C.J. Mahaney shared, we knew he was hitting the point, despite the rather awkwardness of the topic... especially my husband, I could see him grin every now and then when he agreed. And it warmed my heart to watch my husband so grateful to have the man's "stumbling blocks" uncovered in such a real way. With no further ado, I share with you "What Guys Think About Modesty by C.J. Mahaney"

Ladies, I hope this has opened your eyes, even just a little bit, to what our men go through moment by moment. They are faced with a very real tempation that we should seek to avoid leading them into. If this stirs anything in your heart, I encourage you to seek God and ask Him what (if any) changes you should make - outwardly (in your wardrobe) and inwardly (in your heart/attitude/motives). If not for you, do it for the sake of our men! 

And I always say, "modest is hottest" - your heart is what will captive a worthy man!

"...likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control..." - 1 Timothy 2:9

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Guard Yourself

I recently had the privilege to share with a group of college girls on the topic of sex, love, and relationships. Going into the night, I felt somewhat prepared, but also somewhat nervous. Why? Because what I had to say was likely very different than what many of the girls listening believe and/or practice. I suggested that waiting for sex until marriage is best, guarding your heart while dating is wise, and that True Love cannot come from a man.

I have had my fair share of unhealthy, harmful, and heartbreaking relationships. But that still makes me no expert! After a series of these types of dating relationships, I found myself searching for more meaning and purpose in love... and this is when God grabbed a hold of my heart. It was a process, but over time, I came to understand and believe that unlike the guys I had been in relationships with, God....
loves me for who I am, not for what I do
is always with me, because of who He is
sees me as beautiful, for He created me in His own image
always desires His best for me.

How freeing that was for me. And it wasn't until I grabbed a hold of that Truth that my heart was ready for the kind of love with a man that God desires for me. When my heart was ready, God introduced me to the love of my life! But even in dating Tyler, my now husband, I had to be careful... after all, how was I sure that he wouldn't hurt me like the others had? I only have one heart and with it I must make it through all of life... I knew I needed to take good care of it.

Well, Tyler and I shared values and beliefs, which allowed for communication with ease on topics like physical boundaries, life goals, and knowing God more deeply. Without a shared belief system (in our case, our belief in Jesus), you're asking for trouble and ultimately setting yourself up for failure and heartache. I also put into practice "guarding my heart" as we're told to in Scripture. How? Well, first and foremost, I had to at all times surrender Tyler and our relationship -- trusting that God could choose to end it at any time -- I had to trust God's plan for me, and for us. There were also topics we chose not to discuss early on in our dating relationship. We set physical boundaries and to up the ante, we were careful to not put ourselves in situations that would be more tempting (for instance, we wouldn't spend time alone in an empty apartment together late at night). We also involved other people in our dating relationship -- and by that I mean, we had a married couple give us wise counsel, we had friends we would spend time with as a couple and as individuals, we spent time with one another's families. We were dating exclusively, but we were not all that each other had.

As you prepare your heart for dating and guard your heart in dating, I urge you to seek God. Without Him, we can do nothing. He knows you better than you know yourself, so trust Him to introduce you to who He has for you! They'll be more perfect for you than you could have ever imagined!

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."
- Proverbs 4:23

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Strengths, Weaknesses, & Creativity

My husband, Tyler, and I are spending the next two years or so in New Jersey on campus at Rutgers University. During those two years, we are undergoing training as "New Staff" with Athletes in Action. This initial campus training encompasses many areas. One is our personal development. I recently went through some personal and ministry goals with my trainer, Missy. She helped guide me in brainstorming and narrowing some things down. 

One suggestion she had for my personal development plan (an annual plan Athletes in Action staff make to help us cement our goals and persevere!) was to not only work on strengthening my weak areas but also some of my strengths. Her philosophy is that it's exhausting and discouraging to focus on all the things we're bad at without incorporating our strengths! Brilliant, right? I know. I consider myself extraordinarily blessed to have Missy as my trainer!
So in conjunction with working on several of my weaknesses, I will also be working on becoming more creative (although I would consider creativity a strength of mine). I am very much looking forward to continuing to develop my creativity, especially as it pertains to life within the home. Pinterest will come in handy, as I plan to implement one recipe, craft, or homemaking tip from Pinterest each week. [Follow me on Pinterest to follow this process more closely.] This will stretch me to try new things, which I tend to veer away from and instead remain paralyzed in fear. And I cannot wait!

How are you strengthening both your strengths and weaknesses? Have you ever given much thought to it? I challenge you to join me on this adventure and not only pray and work towards growing in your weaknesses but to enjoy and flourish in the strengths God has given you!

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." - 2 Corinthians 12:9

Thursday, February 14, 2013

True Love Songs

As you know, I love me some music. And I love music that glorifies the Lord. So, in light of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share some God-centered and God-honoring love songs!

Whether you have a romantic date night planned or you view Valentine's Day as "Single Awareness Day", I challenge you to sample these songs. Let God speak to your heart through these melodies and woo you! He loves you and desires for you to know both Him and His love!

Love Song for a Savior - Jars of Clay
Love Never Fails - Brandon Heath
Wedding Day - Casting Crowns
Beloved - Tenth Avenue North
Here In This Moment - Beckah Shae
I've Always Loved You - Third Day
Hephzibah - Beckah Shae
My Beloved - Kari Jobe
Worth Waiting For - Beckah Shae
I Love You - Lecrae
True Love - Phil Wickham
By Your Side - Tenth Avenue North
Buttons - Lecrae
(All songs available for purchase on iTunes)

"For the Father himself loves you..." 
- John 16:27

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Hero

In light of Superbowl Sunday, I thought about this paragraph I read in Beth Moore's Breaking Free last week.

"I love to watch the playoffs of most any sport. Something about naming a team or a player as the best excites me. I always watch the interviews afterward and sit smugly satisfied when the winners thank God for the victory. Yet I must confess I don't grab the next morning's newspaper to read about God. It's the star player. Although the star may thank God, it's not God who gets the ring. The team doesn't retire God's number. They don't boast about His statistics. And we wouldn't expect them to. The point is--the players become the heroes. At best, some may mention God as their means to their heroic end. I believe this scenario was true of King Uzziah. He may have sought God in advance for strength and victory and he may have thanked God when He delivered, but the kind didn't go out of his way to resist the heroics. Finally, he believed his own press. Big mistake. 
I see an important point emerge from his example. A wide gulf lies between thanking God for our wonderful victories and pointing people to God as the One and only Sovereign victorious." 
[Excerpt from Beth Moore's Breaking Free; pg. 14] *Read the full story of King Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26

There will likely be mention of God, His blessings, and His goodness tonight on national television. But I think Beth is right. Will the players, or heroes, intentionally take the spotlight off of themselves and shine it on the Lord?

How can you, in your own life--since, let's face it, we're not all Superbowl athletes--intentionally take the spotlight off of you and point it at God? How can we take thanking Him a step further to give Him all the credit, praise, and honor He deserves?