Friday, February 17, 2017

Kingdom Woman

It took me almost a year to finish this book. I'd pick it up, read a few chapters, then put it down again for months. Why? I think because I was scared. I want to be a Kingdom Woman, and I don't feel like I am one. I didn't want to wallow in guilt while reading - "I'll never live up to this!" Finally, a few days ago, I started reading the book all over again from the beginning, my trusty pencil in hand, ready to mark passages. As expected, I marked a lot. Because I really, truly want to be this woman. I want to have a heart after God that is undeniable. I want people to meet me and know that I know Jesus, just by who I am and how I act and speak. I pray that the Holy Spirit will cause me to grow in all of these areas:


The body of Christ, in general, focuses on more on the concept of the church than on the kingdom. So many lives don't visibly demonstrate the significance God has given them. They don't advertise God's kingdom well.
One reason for that is the church has settled for buildings and programs instead of reaching men and women how to access the authority of the kingdom.
We've had church, but we haven't experienced the kingdom. Without our churches functioning in a kingdom-minded manner, believes are not be discipled to be the kingdom church that Christ came to build. In fact, Jesus only mentioned church three times in His earthly ministry, and all three times are recorded in the kingdom-focused book of Matthew. The word kingdom, however, is found fifty-four times in the same book.
We usually hear more about the church than the kingdom. We "plant churches" rather than promote the kingdom. Our seminaries teach our future leaders how to do church rather than how to be about the kingdom.

God's kingdom transcends time, space, politics, denominations, cultures, and the realms of society. It is both now (Mark 1:15) and not yet (Matthew 16:28), close by (Luke 17:21) and removed (Matthew 7:21). The kingdom's realms include the individual, family, church, and civil government. God has given guidelines for the operation of all four, and neglecting these guidelines results in disorder and loss.

We take the seed of discontentment offered by the devil and inform our souls of our dissatisfaction, unhappiness, or displeasure.

There is nothing like a kingdom woman who success in conquering the enemy's attempts to mess with her life and the lives of people she loves. There is nothing like a kingdom woman who succeeds in finding and fulfilling the purpose for which God has fashioned her.

When a kingdom woman begins her day, heaven, earth, and hell take notice. When she nurtures and advises the man she loves, he can do little to resist her. When she offers care, comfort, and encouragement to her friends and relatives, they are able to go farther, faster, and in confidence because of her inspiration and reassurance. "Her children rise up and call her blessed" (Proverbs 31:28 ESV). Other women turn to her for wise counsel and a compassionate ear. Her church relies on her faithful service. She is a vital contributor to culture and a gatekeeper at her home to keep out the negative and promote the positive.

If her priorities are rooted in anything else [than God's kingdom], they will lead to weariness and busyness rather than fruitfulness and abundance.

His voice is the loudest. He is the One she seeks to please. Her reverence of Him determines her choices.

A wise mentor once shared this thought with me: "Each morning before you allow your feet to hit the floor, lie in bed for one purposeful moment longer than you normally would, stretch your arms toward the ceiling and in effect toward heaven, and offer yourself to the Lord, inviting Him to show you what the most important thing is on His list for you to get done today. If you do not stop to ask Him what His priorities are for you, your "good" will always get in the way of God's "best." Let Him know that you are willing to be interrupted, willing to be derailed, and willing to be surprised if He sees fit. Then get up and walk in the knowledge that your day belongs to the Lord."

Jesus knows right where you are, and He knows how long you've been there. He has a way out of any hopelessness you may feel.

He wants to take you out of bondage and let you live in the freedom of His presence and provision. He wants to show you your new position and your new glory. He wants to get out out of a spirit of slavery. He wants to give you hope.

We serve a God who knows that we get tired.

He died so that you might have life and have it abundantly.

When you carry yesterday further than you ought to, you ruin today.

They [the Israelites] lives a yesterday life. In fact, they discussed yesterday so long and do often that God gave them another forty years in the wilderness so they could discuss it some more.

He does some of His best work when you don't think He's doing a thing.

Your commitment in the dark is your path to victory in the light.

You are only going to take this step of faith to give to other what you yourself need if you truly believe that God is your source. Because if God is your source, then the question is not whether you have enough to keep giving to others, but whether you have the faith to believe that He will replenish what you give away in His name.

God has given kingdom women the direction and path that He wants you to follow. And if He has not revealed each and every step at this very moment, my advice is to just continue walking until He reveals the next step.

God is passionate for His own reputation.

Sometimes the greatest faith is found in the most surprising places.

God will let you try everything you think you need to try to fix your own issues. He will let you spend all of your money, waste all of your time, and simply become worn out and weary. He allows this because often it isn't until someone has come to the end of herself and her own options that she looks to the only true option for lasting healing - God.

You know that you have faith by what you do, not merely by what you say or feel.

If you are where God says you are to remain, stay there. I want you to know that you can trust God in spite of what is happening all around you.

Prayer involves exercising our authority for heavenly intervention in our earthly affairs.

When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?

Since it was Satan who had messed up her [woman who was bent over] life, then her covenantal right as a daughter of Abraham entitled her to spiritual healing and release from bondage.

The more we know about somebody, the more we have to talk about that person.

Praise Him when you have food on the table. Praise Him when He opens the Red Sea. Praise Him when you have clothes on your back. Praise Him when He brings water out of the stone and manna from on high. Praise Him when you have gas in your tank. Praise Him when the doctor says your illness is cured. Praise Him for that, but also praise Him because nothing went wrong today. Praise Him because He provides for your basic needs. Praise Him for the "fish" and the "bread." Praise Him for the ordinary. And guess what! He'll be there for the extraordinary.

If you are single, you are free.

If you delight yourself in the Lord, then He will give you the desires of your heart. If you abide in Him, then ask whatever you wish.

It's as though God is saying, "If you want My blessings so you can build a kingdom of your own, don't expect much. I'm only interested in answering the prayers of women who are serious about being fruitful for Me."

If you lack obedience, you might as well stop praying.

"I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it." -Chuck Swindoll

Nothing we do can improve on God.

Your career is not to come at the cost of caring for your home and family.

You should be your husband's biggest cheerleader.

God is a master at bringing life from what appears to be barren.

Stop looking at human solutions to solve a spiritual issue.

The goal of the church is to transmit a biblical worldview so that women begin to think and function like Jesus Christ.

In the church, every older woman ought to be a teacher, and every younger woman ought to be a student.

As long as you remain the center of your universe, love will always be a struggle.

Leave margin - make room for the activities and people whom God wants in your life.

She [a kingdom woman] is a woman who recognizes her own depravity, either because she has been on the edge of a pit, fallen into a pit, or wallowed in the mud. She is amazed that Jesus has gone out of His way to know her by name. And because she is astonished that Jesus did not think her too low or too unworthy of salvation, she is grateful.

A kingdom woman is not a perfect woman. She is a forgiven woman.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Thoughts on a Snow Day

The best kiss I ever had was unexpected. I literally didn't see it coming.

We had been watching a movie in my dorm room. The first time we hung out just he and I, without a flurry of friends around us. We were awkward, as college kids can be, not really sure if the other person actually liked us.

The movie ended, and I was genuinely tired, so we said our goodbyes. I don't know why I didn't walk him to the door. I just snuggled up in bed and let him go, disappearing into the darkness, the room pitch black without the tv on. I heard the door open, but I didn't hear it close.

He walked back in quietly, bent down, brought his lips close to mine, and kissed me. It was soft, gentle, and sweet. Our first and only kiss. He left without saying a word, and I thought it was the most romantic thing to ever happen to me.

-

Today is my first snow day in Georgia. A light dusting would be an overstatement, yet our town has advised us to stay off the roads, so here I am.

In the stillness of the morning, I found myself conversing with God.

"It used to be easy. Now, it's hard. It's harder because of You. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change anything. It's just harder. I need Your help."

-

From ages 18 to 25, I dated a lot of guys.

If I was bored, there was always one to call. If I was lonely, I could find another. My self-esteem was tragically low, but all these boys wanted to be around me, for one reason or another.

I gave myself away again and again. Because they wanted to take, and I wanted to feel loved.

-

I haven't kissed anyone in nearly 6 years. I haven't dated anyone either. From one extreme to another, I suppose.

It's not because I don't want to. It's because my value has changed and my desires along with it.

The guys don't come around anymore.

-

There have to be people in the Church like me. People who lived a very different life before knowing Christ. People who feel, despite past experiences, like they're starting at square one.

Like they've never been kissed.



Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Baja Bug

Phil and I weren't super close friends, but I always admired his calm spirit. And DIY punk vegan ethos. We went to college together and co-worked at the campus Women's Center. Both native New Jersians, we also had opportunities to hang out while we were home on breaks, so I visited Phil one autumn night in Toms River.

I didn't have any particular plans in mind. Just wanted to spend time with a friend. That's me through and through - I don't care what we do. I just appreciate being around you.

After helping Phil deliver Chinese food for a few hours (and much to my heart's delight, play games with the owner's son while we waited for orders), we went to his band practice in a friend's basement. I sat silently on a fold-out chair in the corner, earplugs in (it was REALLY LOUD), and pretended to read Lolita, though I was secretly enjoying every moment of just being there. Again - that's me. Experiences. People. Life.

Band practice wrapped up, and for us early 20-somethings, the night was still young. It was 11:30pm, which is way past my now 30-nothing bedtime. Phil told me his friend Jesse had recently finished working on a Baja Bug and was wondering if we wanted to go for a ride.

A whosawhatnow? Can't say I had any idea what a Baja Bug was, but sure, why not? Being a classic Type A crazy girl, it was exciting to be spontaneous for an evening.

We arrived at Jesse's house where two others, Drew and Danielle, were patiently waiting for us. I grabbed shotgun, as I tend to get car sick in the back. And Jesse was quite handsome, so I naturally wanted to sit up front with him. Phil, Drew and Danielle scrunched in the back, and off we went, bouncing around the streets rather slowly and loudly. I wondered where we would actually go at such an hour of the night.

Where we went was a dark, magical place in South Jersey - the Pine Barrens.

Despite living in New Jersey my entire life, I had never actually been to the pines, let alone in pitch black conditions. This was either going to be completely terrifying, wonderfully fun, or both.

Thank goodness Jesse had some idea of what he was doing. Once we were far enough in the trees that any nearby civilization wouldn't be able to detect us, Jesse stomped on the gas pedal, and we went flying through the pines at warp speed, seeing only what the bug's headlights illuminated a few feet in front of us. It was so thrilling that I figured if we died, it would have been totally worth it.

I had read The Perks of Being a Wallflower when I was a freshman in high school, and this was the most infinite I had ever felt. Jesse didn't hold back, making quick turns through clearings and spinning donuts in open fields. There is much folklore about the pines (Jersey Devil, anyone?), so when we came across a small dwelling quite literally in the middle of nowhere, Jesse was sure to tell a scary KKK story that had all of us nearly leaping out of our skin. Though the fear just added to the excitement of the journey.

We finally stopped at "Thin Lake" and stepped out to feel the cool air rush across our faces. I knew in my heart of hearts that I would remember all of this as clearly as the moon's reflection over the water. This night, unplanned and unexpected, would become etched in my memory forever.

That was 8 years ago, and in a way, I've been chasing that night ever since. Chasing the feeling it gave me - the realization that we have the capacity to feel so much joy. Where is it? Does it only live deep in the pines, among one friend and three strangers, racing the autumn wind?

I often wonder why Jesus blessed me so much before I knew Him, before I even gave Him an ounce of my attention. And why I have incredible memories like this one and truthfully feel like I'll never have experiences again that could even compare. How can that be? I now have the Spirit of the Living God inside of me, finally and wholly, yet I struggle to find joy.

I pray that 2017 will yield a new Baja Bug for me (not literally, though that could be nice). A fresh perspective like I had that fall night in 2008 - one of spontaneity, cheerful surrender and wonder at everything around me. It doesn't matter if I didn't "have" Jesus then. Because I really did. He was there, and He knows that girl so well. That girl still longing, ready for the next adventure.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Insert Morrissey Lyrics Here

I've been depressed lately.

The excitement of "New life, new everything!" has transitioned to "Wait, this kinda sucks." I'm struggling with a bunch of stuff right now.

Missing home is a big one. I cried uncontrollably on Thanksgiving. It was my first time not being with family, and I didn't expect the emotions to hit so hard. I visited home for 10 days earlier in November, and it was everything I could have wanted and more. Awesome, quality family and friend time, cat time (SO NEEDED - seriously, my life would be greatly enhanced if I was allowed to have a cat at the trailer), beautiful weather, outdoor adventures - just a wonderful mix of relaxation and fun with people I really care about. I didn't want to come back to Georgia. At all. So, things have been difficult since then. I'm holding on to the fact that I'll be back home for Christmas, but after that, who knows. I probably won't be home again for at least another six months, and that's a scary/upsetting thought.

I'm also experiencing some challenges with work and church, which are obviously huge pieces of my life. I'm desperate for community that I don't feel like I've found yet. I do have some friends I would consider close or moving toward close, but they're spread out and all go to different churches. I'm used to having a core group of friends that meet each week and get super involved in each other's lives. I desire to know and be known on a deep level. Surface stuff isn't really my jam. I kinda wish people here knew everything about me like my friends do in NJ, so they could call me out on my crap and push me closer to Christ. Speaking of, an older mentor/pastor relationship would be amazing, too. Especially as I tend to slip away from Him when I get in funks like this. And make poor decisions, like I have over the past few days.

Basically, I'm questioning why I'm here. Meaning here in Georgia and here on Earth in general. I used to think I had a calling once, and I rode that wave for a while. Now, I'm not really sure what it is. And I feel very much alone in Georgia, missing everyone I love, missing the places I love, missing nature - what I wouldn't give for the luxury of walking out my door to the mountains or beach again. I live in a horribly boring, horribly congested, no pretty places to go town. And I'm learning that's not exactly the best fit for this nature-loving, hippy at heart girl.

I'm trying to find little bits of peace and happiness where ever I can - in the new boot camp gym I've been going to (even though it will severely affect my already dismal finances if I keep going there), in my box set of The Office (really though, Jim makes everything better) and in the Christmas lights my neighbors and I put up on the trailer to bring some kind of light to my dumpy dwelling.

I write all of this to confess where I'm at and ask for your prayers. Things are just really hard for me right now, and the holidays and impending darkness/cold of winter certainly don't help. Encouragement is very much appreciated, especially if you've experienced the exact situation I'm in. A lonely, confusion situation.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Make Me A Fool

Make me a fool
Take this away

Make me a fool
Shield my eyes

Wipe my tears
Wash my mind
Protect my heart

Make me a fool
I'm a living cliche





Today, I am bringing to light a recent struggle that has consumed me to an unhealthy degree. A struggle I'm embarrassed by, a struggle I never thought I'd have. But here I am, 30 years old and single, desiring a relationship more than ever.

Over the past few weeks, I've noticed myself noticing others. Couples in love, couples engaged, couples married. I'm noticing them and coveting what they have. I'm coveting their adorable photos and carefree smiles and kind words for each other.

I'm thinking of couples I know who very tangibly have what I want. They are living out Godly lives with Christ at the center, honoring each other and those around them. For this reason, I'm convinced that it's possible, yet when for me?

I'm looking at ring fingers. I'm trying to discern age. I'm browsing friends lists. I'm checking relationship statuses. And hating myself for doing so. Hating myself for being so distracted.

I'm resenting the in-between. I'm frustrated by the fact that seemingly every Christian man my age who I'd be interested in is married, and every single Christian man I'd be interested in is way too young for me. Guess this is the Bible belt, right?

I find myself praying for release from this nagging discontent. I've even asked God to trick me. Fool me into believing that you don't have someone for me, even if you do, just so my mind succumbs to the possibility of it never happening. Maybe I can be free if you fool me.

Maybe I am the fool. Maybe this is not "in my cards," as it were. If that's the case, please take away the desire completely. Force my gaze elsewhere, plant my feet where they are to be, just you and me, and not you and me and him.

I write this to encourage any other single woman who feels lonely, guilty, unworthy, confused and tired. I am with you. And He is still for us. I shake my fist at Him sometimes. I cry on my knees to Him sometimes. And He is still for us.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

And The Hits Just Keep On Coming

Let's recap the past week, shall we?

My car started making a noise of death while driving 70mph on the highway. I brought it in for repair, and $450 unexpected dollars later, all that was done was airing away some brake dust and resurfacing my rotors.

I discovered that even though I'm making a slightly higher salary here and working more hours than I did in New Jersey, I'm actually taking home less pay than I was before moving. It's now been four years since I've been able to save any money whatsoever. Regardless, I truly love my job. It was just a major buzzkill to find this out, and I'll have to re-budget accordingly.

My neighbors and I have come across two gigantic dead mice right outside my trailer, as our extermination process continues. Three holes inside have been patched (one in my bathroom wall that was eaten through) and countless traps set. I have yet to sleep through an entire night here, and I run on fumes daily after hearing said rodents parade around inside my walls every evening at ungodly hours.

Today, I somehow ended up with a nail in my tire. Thank God my landlord's son and neighbor were able to plug it, and I pray the plug stays in because my tires are brand new, and I obviously can't handle another automotive expense.

On top of all this, there continue to be serious health concerns in my family that I of course can do nothing about, not even hug the person because for the first time in my life, I'm not a short drive/train ride away.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer. Some lovely things have happened in the past week too, such as beautiful photo shoots and shared laughter with coworkers. I just felt it necessary to pen these adventures down as I have been. I hope to one day look back and think nothing of this nonsense. I've only been in Georgia for a month and a half, and I feel like I've already dealt with a year's worth of junk, honestly.

What doesn't kill you, right? To be continued...

EDIT #1: Ooook. Can y'all please pray for me? If you read this blog post, you know the week I've already had. This morning, another tire (not the one we plugged) is totally flat. Can we like redo this whole week please? Or can I go on vacation or something?

EDIT #2: Jesus is so worthy of some praise right now! I can count on one hand the number of people I have on my side in Georgia (my neighbors and coworkers), because I don't have any other solid, established friendships yet. And *thank God* for them. I rarely ever ask for financial help; it just doesn't sit well with me, even if I'm in need. Without me asking, my neighbor paid for my tire patch + full tank of gas this morning, and my coworker is treating me to lunch today + pest control service for my resident mice. I am beyond grateful to the point of tears! I've been through so much in a short time and often feel very alone here, but through it all, God is faithful <3

EDIT #3: This also happened haha oh boy!

video