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Who Wore It Better?|By Jasmine Beard

 

2way8Comparison.

It is said to be the killer of joy, yet all of us at one time or another have compared ourselves to someone else.

Today we live in a society where people boast about the highs of life and often mask the reality of their lives.

As people, we often want others to view us as better than we actually are because of pride. It is because of this that now in our society, people are suffering with depression and anxiety triggered through social media. Instead of getting our worth and value from God as He intended us to do, we tend to measure how we are doing in life in comparison to others.

“Of course, we wouldn’t dare to put ourselves in the same class or compare ourselves with those who rate themselves so highly. They compare themselves to one another and make up their own standards to measure themselves by, and then they judge themselves by their own standards. What self-delusion!” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:12‬ (‭TPT‬‬)

Even before social media, people have been comparing themselves to others for centuries. Not only do we compare ourselves to others, but we compare other people to each other.

A perfect example is Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle.

Tabloids read:

“Who’s prettier?”

“Which wedding dress did you like better?”

And forbid Meghan Markle does not appear outside a hospital a couple hours after giving birth like Kate Middleton did after having her children. The tabloids will literally explode with comparison.

Growing up, people loved to compare me and my best friend. We did everything together and were almost like twins. We were inseparable.

Unfortunately, throughout the years, people often compared us to each other. I was labeled the the “cute friend”, and she was labeled the “smart one”.

By people comparing me to her all the time, all I strived for after that was to be smart. However, no matter what I did, she was always smarter. If I made an A, she made an even higher A.

On the other hand, no matter how pretty my friend looked (and she is beautiful), I always got more compliments than her. This resulted in me feeling like I wasn’t smart and left her feeling like she wasn’t pretty. But the truth is we are both smart and beautiful.

Comparison is not only the killer of joy, but it is a liar. You will never reach your full potential by comparing your life to someone else or by being envious.

“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” Galatians‬ ‭6:4‬ ‭(NLT‬‬)

If you keep your gaze on others, you will always find someone you think is prettier than you, someone you think has a better husband than you, and someone you think has a better life than you. But when we turn our gaze onto Jesus and are grateful for how He created us and the life He has entrusted to us, His truth can prevail.

Cheerios on the Floor| By Rachel Lukinovich

 

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Laundry to be folded, dishes in the sink, stuff all over the counter, and cheerios, occasionally crushed, spread randomly throughout the floor.

Does the cycle ever end?

The life of a stay-at-home mom seems over-glorified and desired by many. It has truly been one of the biggest blessings for me to be home with my two precious girls every single day, but like everything else in life, it definitely comes with its challenges.

However, when I am faced with challenges, I hold onto these two words – embrace and appreciate. The not so easy days in motherhood have allowed this to be the best ride on my spiritual journey with Jesus thus far. I have learned to embrace and accept. God has used my children, my weaknesses, and so much more, to reveal His pure and beautiful heart to me. I wouldn’t trade one second of it for the world.   

One area I find challenging is housework, the dreaded word to a stay-at-home mom. I am not a huge neat freak, but with the amount of company that comes to our house, I have always prided on having a clean, peaceful home, so everyone could see how nice and put together it was.

Did I say “it”? Really, I need to drop the “T,” leaving only the letter “I”.

I somehow came to believe that my house was a display of how together I was. Sometimes I really was doing well and could keep my house completely in order, but other times, it felt like such a huge burdensome task that never ended, and left me feeling overwhelmed and defeated. You may not be a stay-at-home mom, but I bet you can relate.

It wasn’t until recently, as I was on my knees before the Lord pouring out my heart, that my mind started to wander into thinking about the endless list of things to do. I was likely telling God how I felt I couldn’t keep up with it all, but regardless of what I said, His response is all that I can truly remember—

“The cheerios on the floor are not what define you. I only care about the cheerios in your heart. Are there cheerios in your heart? Do you have mounds of laundry needed to fold in your heart? Is there clutter in your heart? This is what defines you.”

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11

Freedom was released to me in that moment. A freedom that allowed me to breathe and not be overwhelmed when the house is not completely straightened. More importantly, a freedom to actively pursue what should overwhelm and consume me most – the presence of Jesus.

We all have pressures to perform to some degree in our lives. With new added challenges, it only increases the pressure and feelings of being unqualified. Most of us want to perform to this sometimes unrealistic standard we place on ourselves so we can feel accomplished and feel good about ourselves. It is like you somehow have it all together, and if you don’t, then “you need to get yourself together.”

“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” Ephesians 4:7

Gracethe word we all need to hear, receive, and accept. Although we should strive to do our best outwardly, it’s the condition of the heart that determines if “we have it all together” or not. Daily repenting and in return receiving His love, His grace, and doing the best we can with what God has given us – This is where our freedom lies. Let the challenges come, and accept and embrace them by knowing and growing in Him and His grace.

“But grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

I Am Not A Single Mom| By Chrystol O’Connor

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I’m not a single mom. I have several roles, and single and mother are just two of them. I hate when there are categories that I am forced to fall under. I am a sister, a teacher, a student, a daughter, a woman, a mother, an American, and most importantly a child a GOD.

Indeed, I am a single mother. I have a five- year-old daughter that brings absolute joy to my life. Just like every other role in my life, this too has its challenges. Being a mother is not easy, especially when you do it alone.

Of course, sometimes we receive help, a great support system or awesome parents who help make the load feel lighter. I, for one, am one of those single moms. I have great supportive parents and lots of sisters, which means several built in sitters.

But, it is still not an easy yoke to carry. I dealt with feeling inadequate as a mother, crazy, afraid, and shameful because when I got pregnant with my daughter I was involved in church.OH MY GOSH, yes, all in church. Shame and regret were things that I carried in my heart for a long time.

The enemy comes at us in so many different areas especially when raising a warrior for the kingdom. God has had to come and remind me so many times of my value regardless of past mistakes. I am reminded of this scripture 1 Peter 2:9:

“But you are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into wonderful light.”

Even though it doesn’t have everything to do with me being a single mom, it signifies what God has done in my life. It reminds me of the redemption that took place in me when I had my daughter.

I decided to live for Christ shortly after finding out I was pregnant, perfect timing right? I had a daughter to set an example for and God had proven himself so faithful when she was still in my womb. I am forever grateful for the grace and mercy that was showered over me while I was bearing proof of my sin in my stomach.

Maybe you’re reading this, and you’re a single mother. I want to inform you that there is hope. GOD is truly so faithful. I look back at my past struggles and some of the seasons and changes God brought me through, and I realized He was walking with me the entire time. Just like me, you are a daughter of the most high God, and nothing can separate you from His love– no past mistakes, no past pain or hurts, no regret or shame.

My Grace Is Sufficient| By Tori Savoy

grace“You don’t realize the power of your words,” a man yelled at me in the lobby of a public building.

Back in my journalism days, it was not uncommon for some people to be unhappy with the copy we published in our newspaper. This man just happened to be more passionate than most. He confronted me right before a public meeting and chewed me out for close to 15 minutes. I just let him yell with hopes I could hold the tears in until he was finished with his rant. It turned out, he had not even read the article and had to come apologize to me hours later for yelling at me without gathering all of the facts first.

All of my life I have struggled with insecurity and perfectionism. I will literally beat myself up over every little mistake I make. Similar situations such as this would run through my mind over and over again for days following the incident. Even though that particular incident was not my fault, I still felt as if I had done something wrong.

However, no matter how harsh others have been to me, I have come to realize it is nothing compared to the words I say to myself.

The perfectionist in me is constantly using harsh words to tell myself that I am not good enough.

I am not a good enough wife. I am not smart enough. I am not organized enough. I am not social enough. I am not kind enough. I am not a good enough friend. I am not pretty enough.

I will tell myself things like, “why can’t you just get your life together? You don’t workout enough. Your house is not clean enough. You do not read your Bible and pray enough.”

However, God has been working on my heart in this matter by constantly whispering one little word in my ear, “Grace.”

“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

Grace is a free gift from God that we could never earn. If a perfect God can look on imperfect me with forgiveness and unmerited love, why can’t I give myself grace?

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8

Accepting God’s gift of grace is one of the most freeing experiences. When I start to beat myself up about mistakes, I remind myself that God’s grace covers me.

Instead of spewing hate and negative words toward myself, I begin to repeat God’s words of love and grace over myself in times of failure.

Perhaps perfectionism is something you can relate to. You are a work in progress, beautifully broken.


One of my favorite quotes is by American playwright Eugene O’Neill

“Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.”

Rather than striving for perfection, let the perfect grace of God cover you. He wants all your broken pieces just the way they are. Embrace all of the imperfections and welcome in grace.

“But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Romans 5:20

Contaminated| By Jasmine Beard

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“Empty me of me, oh Lord.” This is a prayer I pray very often.

Have you ever been confronted with yourself and did not like what you saw? Like you didn’t even recognize yourself in your reflection?

So many times, our hearts and actions can detour from the character of Christ. It is not natural for us to have the same heart and character of God, but as believers, we count our natural character dead and our new character alive in Christ.

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 (NIV)

Picture yourself as a piping system with water, pure water flowing in and out of you. This is a picture of what God desires to do in us and pour out of us in this world. The water is His love.

The Bible tells us that God is LOVE.

You see, our culture likes to paint a very different picture of what love is. Culture tells us love is self-acceptance, self-seeking, and lives true to every fleshly desire our heart leads. In Jeremiah 17:9, the Bible tells us that the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked without God.

Paul gives us a great description of what true love is in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (TPT):

4 “Love is large and incredibly patient.Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance.

5 Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense.

6 Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong.

7 Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others.Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.”

The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy the love that God desires to flow through His people. He wants to contaminate the water that flows through us.

To contaminate means to make impure or unsuitable by contact or mixture with something unclean, bad, etc.

If you drop one grain of sand in pure water, the water becomes dirty. Something that was once drinkable and ready for consumption becomes tainted and undrinkable.

Today examine your heart and ask the Lord if you are contaminated, tainted, or even have a grain of sand inside your heart. He is faithful to purify us time and time again, all we have to do is ask.

“Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.” John 7:38 (NLT)

The Power of Encouragement| By Rachel Lukinovich

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Have you ever gone through something and felt like no one could possibly understand?

And if you were to tell anyone, they would judge you and think less of you?

Well, that makes you human.

Right after my second child was born, the first few months seemed pretty relaxing and easy. Several people warned me about how hard the transition from one to two children would be, but it honestly didn’t seem that hard to me. It wasn’t until my sweet Emmy turned 4 months that things became a little more challenging. Until then, all she did was eat, sleep, and poop, just like the perfect baby you hear about it.

Naturally, she became more awake and alert, making it hard to even go to Walmart without it ending with a poo or throw up explosion, or loud crying. I did not want to even leave home, which was hard for me, so very hard. I am not a home body, and even though God was doing a work in my heart, as He always is, I didn’t really feel so great about it. It was in this moment that I truly needed someone to understand me and encourage me through it. I needed someone to recognize that this truly was hard for me, and not just put a blanket over it with a statement like “trust Jesus and it will get better.”

Yes, those are words of truthful, but I needed something deeper. I needed someone that acknowledged that this is real and hard and although it WILL get better because of Jesus’ faithful promises, the present circumstances still were worthy of how I felt. I needed someone to acknowledge that I was not alone and it was okay to have hard times, but also to speak truth into my heart and help me along the way.

Thankfully, I had those people in my life who were already there to encourage me. Before letting the lies of the enemy steal too much of my joy and time, I chose to reach out to people in my life, and I will never forget some of the moments or words that happened during that hard time.

You see, the devil wants us trapped in those moments of difficulty. He wants us to believe the lie that no one cares, understands, or may judge how you feel. He wants us to become isolated and alone, where he can continue to speak those lies into our ears.

Only we have control of how we handle our own lives and situations. Unfortunately, we can not make others reach out for help when they are hurting or feeling dry. Sometimes, it is truly hard for someone to do this.

However, we do have the power to reach out to them and always encourage them, regardless of feelings or situations. We are all doing life together, through the good, the bad, and ugly.

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11

The fact that my people acknowledged the difficulty of my situation, but yet encouraged me in the faith, greatly increased my perseverance and even helped me look at things a little differently.

This tells me that our encouraging words have the power to cancel a thousand lies constantly being spoken in our sister’s ear.

Life can be so busy, hard, lonely, you name it, but we have the power to encourage others through it!

Sometimes it is as simple as:

“You did a really great job!”

“Your hair looks great, did you get a cut?”

“you have such a wonderful personality”

…and genuinely meaning it.

There is always something we can find positive about a person, regardless of who they are.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25

Your friend, your mom, your sister, your pastor…they all could use a good word of encouragement. I challenge you to use every opportunity to not only address real life, but to love and encourage them through it. Because our words have more power than you think.

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Searching For My Identity| By Tori Savoy

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Who am I?

Have you ever looked in the mirror and asked yourself this question? Or laid awake in bed contemplating what defines you?

For me, this question really hit me hard right after college. I was diagnosed with a health condition that impacted my mind and my emotions. The hobbies that I once loved, I no longer had the desire or energy for. Many of the areas I excelled in became some of my biggest weaknesses.

The only thing I knew about myself was that I had Hashimotos, and that it made me hate myself. I felt as if I walked around with “Hashimotos” stamped on my forehead. It became the only thing I talked about because it engulfed the majority of my life.

When you’re at a point that low, it is so easy for the devil to stoop in and attack your weakness. I was meditating on who I was, and the enemy started to hurl his false lies at me.

“You are worthless. You are a downer. You are a burden to everyone around you. You will never be more than walking sickness,” he’d whisper to me.

And the lies just kept getting worse and worse.

But deep down, I knew these were lies, despite how true they felt. I cried to God “Who am I really? Who do you think I am?

You are a CHILD OF GOD!

I immediately began to cry.  Those words were so freeing for me.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” 1 John 3:1

“And if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”  Romans 8:17

Society has a way of placing stigmas or labels on us by categorizing who we are into negative groups such as nerdy, preppy, dumb, smart, goofy, quiet, fat, skinny, etc.

However, God looks on us and sees His child, each of us unique and just the way He created us to be.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

As His child, He sees me as more than just another human on this earth, and I have access to all of the benefits that come along with it. The few that immediately pop into mind are chosen, protected, and loved.

Instead of wearing negative labels society gives or the ones I give myself, I can choose to proudly live as His child by being joyful, caring, loving, forgiving, and all of the things that He is. When people meet me, I want them to know that I belong to Him.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure”John 3:1-3

Faith Is Bigger Than Fear|By Jasmine Beard

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Everyone has their thing. You know that thing that you feel like you’ve conquered, but then still you have to conquer it over and over and over again.

That thing for me is fear.

Even as young children the enemy is scheming against us in the very area that God desires to use us in.

Throughout life, we go through experiences – some good and others bad. Unfortunately, some of the experiences I had as a child left me very fearful and unable to trust completely.

Even after giving my life to Christ, fear still seems to be a recurrence in my life. For me, speaking in public is something that often scares me – which is pretty ironic considering I have a degree in Communication and took speech classes growing up.

Just like that doesn’t make any sense, neither does fear!

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”1 Timothy 1:7

This scripture is proof that God has not given me a spirit of fear and does not desire for me to be fearful. Fear is simply a small scheme from the enemy in comparison to the very big God that I serve.

Over the years, I have come to realize that fear doesn’t magically disappear on its own. Even if God has completely set you free from fear, you will still be confronted with fear in life. It is when you step out in faith in spite of the fears that fear disappears.

“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Matthew 17:20

The enemy’s scheme with fear is to make us believe that our fears are bigger than our God, but the truth is our faith has to be bigger than our fears.

If we truly feared God, we would fear nothing else. When I say fear, I mean a holy awe, respect, and submission God type of fear! Then we would recognize that there is truly nothing to be fearful about.

“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

So the next time your fear is bigger than your faith, remember that God is bigger than your fears and that he is walking with you every step of the way.

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Did He Really Just Say That?| By Rachel Lukinovich

 

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You know that saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”?

In my experience, thats a big fat lie! Words can build us up, and words can tear us down. Some words are meant to insult, while others are meant to just be funny and harmless.

There has been several times that people have made remarks, and my internal response was “Did they really just say that?”

Like two simple words, “chatty Cathy.” A distant family member of mine made that comment toward me when I just a small girl.  It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but that little 5-year-old girl took those words to heart, and I still remember them today.

Even at a young age, I knew this was truth about myself – a truth that I didn’t want to be true. What was likely meant as a funny friendly comment, I took as “you talk too much, and you need to change.”

So often, people’s words and comments hit places deeper in us than they were likely intended to. Did the person making the comment truly mean to offend us or affect us the way they did?

Maybe, but likely not. Regardless, their words should not be what defines us.

Just like we all know the power of words, the devil does too, and he’s constantly twisting people’s comments and replaying them to make us feel unwanted and less than.

Yet, what the enemy sneakily tries to use to ruin us, God intends to use for good and His glory.

Did I really need to change? Only the truth of God’s word could reveal that to me. Only He could expose the lies of the enemy, and help me believe, accept, and begin to love what is true.

The Lord declared over me~

“The enemy only comes to rob, steal, and destroy, but I come that you have life & life abundantly.” John 10:10

“You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way.” Song of Solomon 4:7

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

Did He really just say that? Yes! And His words are truth, designed to fill every crevasse in our being with what it needs. When we choose His words, we choose power to walk in the grace He has called us to, just the way He so beautifully made us.

When I chose to let His words become what affects me most, the words people have said about me no longer affect me the same.

Being a “chatty Cathy,” isn’t all that bad when you’re able to talk to anyone and help people feel more comfortable. Thank you Jesus for that revelation!

What words are affecting you today? I encourage you to let Jesus’ words of truth be what resounds in your mind day and night because yes, He really did just say that.

Do You Even Know Me?| By Tori Savoy

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Marriage is one of those things that’s beautiful and ugly all in one. It has a way of exposing your true character and teaching you lessons you never realized you needed. Marriage is a representation of the covenant we share with God and just about every struggle and every victory can be related back to our walk with God.

This is something I have found true in my own marriage.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only wife who has been guilty of being upset because their husband was not listening to them or was not taking part in conversation.

Our minds are wired to relate intimacy to the emotional connections that happen through conversation. We want our husband to listen to our long story or allow us to vent about our days while responding in a way that shows he is genuinely interested. Words are our intimacy, and when we do not get it, we feel alone and less than as if we are no longer interesting to our husband.

How does this relate to our relationship with Jesus? EVERYTHING!

As I was upset over this very thing one day, God showed me this is exactly how I treat Him. When I neglect to talk with Him and listen to what He is trying to say to me, He feels neglected. It causes my relationship with Him to become disconnected.

A relationship with both man and God requires spiritual and emotional intimacy. This is why prayer life is so important.

Matthew 7:22-23 says “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

‭‭In our marriage, it takes work and intimacy to know one another. Saying you are married is one thing and knowing your spouse is another. Have you ever told your husband, “Do you even know me anymore?”

As I sat sulking to myself over this very question, God reached down to me and said “Do you even know ME?”

Sadly, my answer was not one to be proud of.

You see, God doesn’t want us to just claim to be a Christian, but wants us to pursue an intimate relationship with Him.

God is begging for your attention and wants you to seek intimacy with him through your prayer life. Just as you desire that intimacy with your husband.

Think back to when you and your husband or significant other had first met. All you both wanted to do was get to know one another. Me and my husband spent hours on the phone talking about anything and everything.

The same thing happens when we first become saved. But just as a romantic relationship requires us to continue to work at communicating and igniting that spark, our relationship with God must be pursued daily.

I challenge you to dig deeper into a relationship with God and truly desire to know Him and his love in a fuller capacity.

“I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord.” ‭‭Hosea‬ ‭2:19-20