Journey Back To Her: Finding the Girl I Once Was| By Jasmine Beard

I am on a journey back to find her. The girl I once was. Maybe you can relate to this…

Once upon a time, I was a young fifteen year old girl who tasted Jesus for the first time. I ran into the arms of my Heavenly Father for everything and wanted nothing more in life other than to see people run to their Father’s arms as well.

I remember the days following my salvation, seeing the world in a totally new light. The world seemed brighter than it once had been before.

But Somewhere along the way, I lost her. I lost that girl who had the ability to see the brightness in the world that outshines the darkness. Maybe that’s adulthood for you or maturity, but I find as a 26-year-old woman that I do not see life as brightly as I once did when I first gave my life to Christ.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5 (NLT)

The world at times just looks dim. I am now aware of the world’s problems, I am aware of the church’s problems, I am aware of my personal problems in a way that sometimes clouds my once singular focus of simply seeing Jesus in the midst of a dark world.

When I gave my life to Christ, He was the picture. He was everything and nothing else was crammed into the big picture that I saw Him in. It was all about Him and connecting with Him and connecting others to His heart.

I miss that fifteen year old girl. She was overzealous and a bit prideful at times, but she got what was important. She did not let the world’s darkness cloud her view of the world. She did not allow people’s judgements or opinions to cloud her focus, and she did not let world systems or politics cloud her mind. She did not care about climbing the corporate ladder or about buying a house by age 30. She simply abided in Jesus and enjoyed Him.

I am on a journey back. A journey back to find that girl. I think she could teach this woman a thing or two about simplicity.

The simplicity of the gospel.

Jesus makes it plain in Matthew 22:36-40 (NLT) , it says, 

 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” 

The gospel is plain and simple and beautifully laid out in scripture. We must love God with every fiber of our beings, and love our neighbor in the same way we love ourselves.

SO simple. Yet, as humans, we complicate it, or we allow the world to cloud our views of what is truly important.

Today, I want to encourage you to strip the things that cloud your mind. Maybe it is religious habits, politics, worry, anxiety, or comparison. Whatever it is, let it go and look to lock eyes with God like you once did when you first got saved.

It really is that simple.

“Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:22 (NKJV)

I’ll leave you with this song. 

Good News| By Emily Lawson

I had to wake the Kraken.

It was 6 p.m. (bedtime is 8 p.m.), and the baby was an hour into a deep nap. 

It was time.

And it was not a pretty sight. 

Wailing because he was being held too high. Whining because he was too reclined. Throwing of food and pacifiers because he 

JUST.

WASN’T.

HAPPY.

So, sucking it up, I took the usual mama’s boy, outside to his daddy. 

And there it was – 

A smile. 

And just like that, all was right in the world. 

Later that night (after bedtime) as I was doing my daily studying, I came across these words:

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalms 16:11 (KJV)

Just like my son, perking up from a bad mood when he saw his father, we, as Christians, gain joy just by being in the presence of our Heavenly Father.

The news is full of negativity – this group hating this group, a shooting here and an assault there. 

This world can be a scary place. 

But I have GOOD news for each and every one of you! 

We are not meant to be part of this world! We are set apart (Psalm 4:3). We are a peculiar people (Deuteronomy 14:2).

We have been chosen by the One and Only God, and in turn, we must choose to keep our Godly mindset. 

Philippians 4:8 (KJV) says, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” 

True.

Honest.

Just.

Pure.

Lovely.

Of good report.

Virtuous.

Worthy of praise. 

It is all outlined word-for-word for us. It is not about making daily difficult decisions. It is the simple task of choosing to observe the good things in life, both in the world and in our spiritual walk.  

Did you hear about all the people that flooded to the Bahamas to help with the hurricane destruction? Did you hear about the 16,000 people that crashed the University of Tennessee website after they began selling a bullied teens’ T-shirt design? 

Good news is out there. 

Yes, this world is full of bad things. Many are unavoidable to a point. But, what we choose to let in, what we choose to dwell on, and what we choose to allow to define our actions, is what determines our view of our surroundings and our mindset. 

Galatians 5:22-23(KJV) says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” 

It is not a one way street. We are given the blessing of love to share, joy to spread, peace within, longsuffering through the hard times that we are bound to face when we choose to dwell on God and to let Him define us! 

And just like the quick change in attitude with my son, when we get ourselves in the presence of the Father, physically and mentally, He will always choose us. He will provide us with that missing piece. 

We just have to choose Him first.

When My Steps Fail Me| By Stephanie Cain

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Breastfeeding is hard. Those who have tried know this already, but if you haven’t yet, let me just reassert that breastfeeding is hard. Before I had my son, I had this image in my mind of breastfeeding him. There I was in a softly lit room, my child lying peacefully in my arms, me glowing while I looked blissfully down at him and my hair magically blowing in the same imaginary breeze that is featured in the Pantene commercials.

It was beautiful.

It was also no where near the reality! The reality was that I had a strong-willed, independent child right out of the gate. He is very independent, does not like to be confined, and is strong physically and mentally.

So here is what the reality was more like: me in my barely lit bedroom at two in the morning, trying to guide my sons head to the milk, and him with his head shoved in one direction (inevitably the wrong one). He was convinced he knew where the milk was and how to get to it!

During one such moment, I remember saying to him, “Son, if you would just let me guide you, this would be so much easier! I know where the food is, let me help you!”

I felt the Holy Spirit jump inside of me. He had been trying to tell me the same thing.

When we come to a fork in the road or a difficult situation, our human nature is to pick what we think is the right direction and go head first down that path. However, we cannot see all the way down those paths. We can’t know for certain what comes from going “that direction” in our lives. The good news is that we are in the hands of the One who does!

The Bible says in Jeremiah 29:11 that the Lord knows the plans He has for us and that they are plans to prosper us, to give us hope, and a future! It also says in Isaiah 58:11:

“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

The Lord is ready, willing, and oh so capable of guiding our steps. However, we have to allow Him to guide us. We have to relinquish that tiny bit of “control” we feel we have. It is a hard thing to do, but if you think about it, whose hands would you rather your future be in? Yours or the hands of the Creator of the Universe?  

We, myself included, have to make the daily (sometimes moment by moment) decision to remind ourselves to rest in Him and in His promises, to seek Him for guidance, and to trust that He is faithful in all things. It is not always an easy thing to relinquish control and trust in the Lord. I struggle with it daily. BUT if we do, there is joy, overwhelming love, and indescribable peace that will flood our spirit like an overflowing fountain and an abundant life waiting for us.