Longing for Loneliness

longing for loneliness

Longing for Loneliness 

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Ann Grace. Boy, this devotional hit me hard. Ann is a remarried widow and military wife and mom of five with just an amazing story. Her heart inspires me. Look out for more devotionals from her because she’s got a lot more to her story, and a lot more to say. This devotional in particular is about “longing for loneliness.”]

I thought I knew what loneliness was, and I avoided it at all costs. Before my husband
died, there were many times I felt lonely and ran from it. I filled my schedule with errands, my days with household chores, and it seemed to help.

Life of this wife and mother of five was endless hours of cleaning and chauffeuring children to and from their schools. Don’t even get me started with helping with homework while holding a newborn and trying to cook a healthy dinner to be warm when my husband came home from work. Life was busy. It was chaotic. There was always something needing to be done. The laundry seemed like it had a vendetta against me, and orphaned socks were constantly screaming at me to find their pair!

I grew used to filling my lonely heart with the busyness of this life. I read my daily 5 minute devotionals, said my prayers before meals and went to countless Bible studies. My husband loved the Lord as much as I did, and we did our weekly ritual of attending church. We both strived to live for Christ as best as we knew how.

For years, the presence of my husband and kids seemed to be all I needed in life. Or at least that’s what I thought should be enough. I never admitted feeling lonely to anyone, myself included, unless I was ready to be judged. And I wasn’t ready. Where I grew up, being lonely was almost shameful, like you were ungrateful for your life, family, etc… It was kind of like there was something wrong with the person, you know?

The night my husband died, I asked him if he was in any pain, and he whispered ever so softly that he wasn’t. He closed his eyes and fell asleep. That would be the last time I spoke with him as he had a heart attack in his sleep. I remember thinking as I was by his side in all this, “Lord, how am I going to face being alone? Why won’t you heal him?”

I desperately feared being alone.

And in that moment of heartbreak and disbelief, loneliness once again showed up to greet me. Within minutes of his passing, friends and family arrived to comfort me. But no one knew just what to say or could understand how lonely I was feeling. And honestly, all I wanted was to be left alone.

Then the Lord allowed me into a season of loneliness.

He allowed a season of loneliness in my life to create a deeper longing for Him. Husband or no husband, my heart was crying out all these years to go deeper with my Savior. To be alone with Him. To hear His voice. I needed now more than ever to know who I was in Christ.

What was my calling? To be a wife? Mother? Widow?

My life was now being redefined in the midst of this loneliness.

My identity was so wrapped up in preventing a void of loneliness that I forgot to know my King. I let the fear of loneliness drive my life into a pit of even more loneliness. In the end, the Lord allowed heartbreak to reveal a need for Him alone. He saved me. He called me deeper. He called me to love harder. He called me to a season of widowhood so that He could save me from the pit of loneliness I’d crawled into.

In the years following his passing, the Lord has shown me many things, but maybe none more profound than the gift of loneliness. And you know what was most comforting, knowing that Jesus needed to be alone too. If Jesus needed to be alone many times in order to spend quality time with God, then why would I think a busy life, husband or quick devotion would be enough?

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16 NIV

Dear Lord, help our lonely hearts long for a deeper need of You. Comfort us in our times of pain and heartache. Let us bask in our season of loneliness knowing You are with us. Take our broken hearts and fill them once more with your unconditional love. Amen. 

ann grace

Ann Grace married her first husband, a Marine and Firefighter in 2002 and they were blessed with five beautiful children. She was widowed in 2015 and re-married in 2017. She had a stillbirth in 2017 and now seeks to share her passion of how Christ rescued her with other grieving women and children.

 

 

 

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

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Trusting God: How I Met and Married the Love of My Life in Two Months (and what happened after)

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Tara Canady. I saw so much of myself in this devotional — It is amazing, thank you Tara for sharing your story. So, I just want to say, Divas, trust in God, believe in love, believe in yourself, believe in the beauty of your dreams, believe in your marriage and don’t ever give up on the things God won’t let you give up wanting. Amen.]

Trusting God: How I Met and Married the Love of My Life in Two Months (and what happened after)

My name is Tara and I’ve been saved for twenty-four years. I just got married to my best friend last year, May 2016. I grew up in Charleston, SC but am now residing in Johnson City, TN. I have two cats, a love for books, and a passion for following Jesus and writing.

The past year and a half have been some of the most challenging times of my life. It began with a whirlwind romance to my now-husband, Justin. We met online at Christian Mingle. We texted for about a week and then decided to meet in person. We dated for a month and a half. During this time, I prayed ceaselessly about him.

I had never dated anyone before Justin. I’d gone out with a handful of men, but they never went past the first date. Justin was different. He was the first man I’d ever felt completely comfortable around – as though I could just be my weird, quirky self without having to put on a mask. And every time I asked God if Justin was “the one,” He always responded, “Yes.” In two months we were engaged and married. We went to the courthouse downtown Charleston on a Wednesday. Justin’s boss wouldn’t give him the day or week off work, so we had to rush through it during his lunch break. The only family present were my parents, whom I lived with at the time.

After the wedding, I moved into his condo. We stayed there for one month and then bills became too much for us. I didn’t work and he worked solely on commission. I cried a lot that month because I wasn’t used to stressful situations. My parents had always provided everything for me and I never really had to work at anything. Even the few years I trained in ballroom dancing, and the few months as an instructor, weren’t much of a struggle. Dancing had come easily. Being married didn’t.

As an only child, I grew up self-centered. I had been saved at age five and I did truly try to follow the Lord my whole life. I never rebelled against my parents, stayed out of trouble for the most part, and did what I was told. After I got married, I had to start thinking about someone besides myself. Although Justin and I are very much alike, truly two halves of one whole, we still think differently, as all men and women do. He wasn’t sure what to do about my mood swings (made worse because I had to go on birth control), or my anxiety and panic attacks I’d dealt with my entire life. He was more laid-back, trusting God with our problems instead of worrying about them like I did.

Because we were financially unstable, we decided to move in with my parents when they offered that as a solution. But that brought a whole new set of stresses because my parents barely knew Justin and weren’t sure what to make of him. We lived with them for a little over a year and by summer of this year (2017) it was time to move.

After months of fruitless search, Justin could finally quit the job he had when we got married and thought he’d found a new job. Within two weeks the women there forced him to quit. I’m not sure if they did it because he was a man in a female-driven environment, just didn’t like him, or God simply didn’t want him there. Whatever the reason, he couldn’t find a job after that.

We had a good amount of savings and Justin focused on starting an e-commerce business. But after reading Joyce Meyer’s book, Get Your Hopes Up! I knew we needed to make a leap of faith. So, we rented a home in Johnson City, Tennessee – a place neither of us had been before.

Now we are in the process of trusting God every single day to supply our needs, especially financially. I’m writing my own blog, a young adult fantasy novel, and working as a freelance writer. Every day we choose to trust God, and I’m excited to see where this adventure leads.

I am a blogger and a wife, married for less than two years. I was saved at five, homeschooled, and brought up following Jesus. My goal is to be a godly wife and mother, a successful blogger, and a published author. I want to travel the world, follow the Lord, and have a lot of cats (and a few kids too).

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God Cares For Me In Every Season

agnes-amos-god-cares-every-season

[Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Agnes Amos’ latest book, God Cares for Me in Every Season: Godly Insights for Singleness, Marriage, and Divorce.  (I did receive a copy of this book so that I could pick out the excerpt!) Agnes contributes regularly to Devotional Diva and has become a good friend of mine, so I wrote this endorsement that appears in the book; I wanted to include it here, too:

Each of us goes through at least one of the seasons discussed in this book – singleness may be our total path, or perhaps we go through all three seasons into divorce. In today’s modern world, these seasons are indeed normal and like Agnes discusses, trials of faith. I receive emails from women all around the world in the same positions and I know these chapters of encouragement are much-needed. Singleness and divorce especially are not discussed enough in the church, which is why I think this book is so unique. The situations are not unique, but the conversation is. There has been so much shame and guilt around both singleness and divorce, but Agnes reminds us in this book that God never leaves us – not then, not ever. Singleness is not a curse. Marriage may not be perfect (I know mine is not! Marriage is work!) and divorce may be inevitable. But you are always loved, Child of God.]

God Cares for Me in Every Season

I am an avid walker—this is a hobby I inherited from my earthly father, Papa Amos.

Walking is a time when I seek God’s face for my life and for others, and it is during these times that the Holy Spirit gets my attention. So that I don’t forget what He says, I often record it on my cell phone.

For those of you who are wondering, “Does God speak to humans like us?” The answer is Yes, He does in many natural ways. Here are the most common: Impulse, Ideas, Inspirations. The Bible is filled with many examples of how God speaks to His children.

Personally, I am learning to listen when God speaks, and my life continues to be transformed by this experience.

It was during one of these experiences that the Lord laid on my heart to write this book to encourage global Christians (and non-Christians) on His never wavering care during every season of their lives, especially the seasons of singleness, marriage, and divorce. I have to admit that when the idea came, I was reluctant to respond, and asked the Lord, “Why me?” The reason for this question is because the season of marriage is one where I have failed woefully in the past.

I do not consider myself to be an expert in these three seasons—at least that is what I thought. But the Holy Spirit reminded me of a truism I have heard in church many times: “A faith that is not tested cannot be trusted,”

My friends, I have been tested, and have failed and been redeemed in each of the three seasons I share in this book—single, married, and divorced. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I am here to share with you the truth that the Lord is in every one of these seasons. I want you to know beyond a doubt that He is indeed interested in and present with you in every season of your life.

For many years, I found myself struggling in each of these seasons. I was walking through each season with one leg in the world and one leg in Christ. After years of failing to succeed in any season, I finally discovered that living God’s way in every season of life is the best decision I could ever make. I have now begun a journey into a new and fulfilling lifestyle in marriage by focusing on Christ rather than my marital situation. I praise God for the truth of His Word in 2 Corinthians 5: 17 that says:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

My prayer for you as you read this book is that you will be encouraged as you discover that our God is the God of the impossible. Nothing that happens in your life is impossible for Him to handle (Luke 1: 37). He will do the impossible for you in each of these seasons. He is the God that can convert your pain to gain and cause all things to work together for your good (Romans 8: 28). I had to learn that lesson, and you may need to learn it too. Perhaps, you will discover—like I did—the God who waits to help you in your seasons of singleness, marriage, or divorce.

Agnes is a leader with proven business acumen in a variety of industries. She holds an executive MBA from the University of Hull, United Kingdom, and is also a Certified Meeting Planner (CMP).She is the author of God Cares for Me in Every Season: Godly Insights for Singleness, Marriage and DivorceThe Provisions of God: Insights from a Cat Named Mascot, and  Weekly Insights for the Workplace: A Devotional for Christian Professionals

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Single Again

single again

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Maneesha Grace. Maneesha and I went back forth for a long time on what she felt most called to share on Devotional Diva, and I really appreciated what she came up with for today. Her post is for singles, but as a military wife, I found a lot of it relatable! Thanks Maneesha, for this!]

Single Again

The only thing harder than being labeled “single”,  is being labeled “single again”.

When I realized my marriage was over,  I questioned everything that I ever believed about God. I questioned His goodness, I questioned His love and I wondered how a good God could allow something so devastating to happen. Days, months and even years of unexpected emotion would resurface and I would fall down on my knees to ask God why.  God hates divorce, so then He must hate me, right? Then it hit me, God wasn’t trying to scold me, push me into submission, or teach me a lesson… He was actually showing me His love and goodness. It was only until I surrendered my feelings and asked God to give me a heart of forgiveness that I experienced freedom and could delight in His goodness and love. All along He was guiding me, He was protecting me, and He was providing for me. The umbrella of His grace and mercy surrounded me and provided shelter from the storm.

If I had stayed in such a damaging relationship, I may not have been here today. I found myself in a marriage that looked right, but felt so wrong.  The dreams I had of being loved and feeling love were shattered with hurtful words and threats.  If I had continued with the masks and the materialism, the void in my heart would have become a gaping hole. I was torn between tradition, religion and in a relationship that Jesus was not the center of.

Nothing could have prepared me for divorce. 

When we are in the midst of a traumatic circumstance it’s hard to see beyond it. A lot of times we act on our emotions and feelings and forget that God is still sovereign and still in control.  My world turned upside down 6 years ago, but God still held the world in His hands then as He does today.

In my season of being “single-again” God showed me that His love for me was greater than the shame of divorce. His love for me was greater than the lies spoken to me. God taught me about my worth and value through His Word, and showed me how my gifts and talents could be used for His glory.  I relearned my worth and how to be single again with the comfort of the Holy Spirit.  I had spent so much time striving for love in a marriage that cut me down I forgot how much Jesus loved me, even in my brokenness. My roots grew deeper and my joy uncontainable, I finally understood what it meant to be a child of God.

When we’re followers of Jesus our season of  “singleness” or “single again-ness” is our moment to allow God to shine in and through us. It is our moment to completely focus on our relationship with Him and allow Him to heal us. What an incredible opportunity! God is giving me more time with Him. God is giving you this SPECIAL season as a gift. Start seeing your season as a gift, it will change your attitude and it will help you grow in walk with the Lord the more you commit time in prayer and in the Word.  There is so much growth and healing that can take place in the season of singleness, God wants to show us that His strength can be made perfect in our weakness. Be encouraged today, you are not alone even when society labels you so. You are not a victim of your circumstance, even when the enemy wants to remind you that you may be “physically” alone.

Being “single” or “single again” can be the most exciting adventure we could ever imagine.  Being single is a blessing,  here’s why…

You have time to spend with the Lord. 

Anyone can meet with God anywhere and anytime, but as a single, you really can capitalize on this. This is not to say that those who have families don’t have time, but they do seem to have more responsibility or commitment which makes alone time with the Lord more challenging. As many of my friends juggle young children, jobs and other commitments I understand how precious alone time is for them. As a single, you can make your schedule, you can choose how to spend your time.  Choose wisely.

God can and will use you in mighty ways. (Jeremiah 29:11)

God knows our desires, He knows our heart. He wants us to bring our requests to Him. But that’s just it, He hears us, He knows us and He knows exactly what we need. We can have faith knowing once we make our requests and leave them at His feet, He will answer us. This should bring us peace, it should bring us comfort. If we have not found “the one” yet, or still have “unmet” needs, trust that God has your best interest at heart. There are so many opportunities singles have to represent Christ and bring Him glory. Get connected, serve, volunteer and shine for Jesus! Nothing is impossible for God!  He wants to use you right where you are and He will!

God’s timing is best.

God knows the desires of my heart, He hears my prayer requests, but there’s something about waiting for His timing that keeps me hopeful and waiting with anticipation and excitement. When we understand that His ways are higher, we know that He won’t steer us wrong.

I know it may seem like everyone is getting married and having kids these days, but don’t allow that to speak negatively to your heart and your situation. You are far better off waiting for God’s best then throwing caution to the wind and making your own path and choices. Think of all the relationships that are headed for disaster because they rushed into marriage or made irrational financial decisions. Peace comes from knowing that our life is in God’s hands. He’s in the big things and the little things. God cares, He’s a God of details.

I like to remind myself of the hymn by Francis J. Crosby,

“He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand”

God literally protects us, sometimes from ourselves! As a single person praying for an “unmet” need, we can think of God as “hiding us” or protecting us for the moment until the time is right. God’s timing is always the best.

You are not alone. (Joshua 1:9)

God’s Word tells us that we are not alone. Some of the most lonely people in the world are in relationships. This is not to say that relationships should be avoided, but the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.  God will never leave us or forsake us. When we feel lonely, God is there. When we are troubled or are facing fear, God is there standing in the gap, ready to give us strength and courage. He catches our tears and binds up our wounds (Psalm 147:3).   A spouse will not satisfy the longing in our heart, only God can do that. Once we realize that, we are better prepared for our future relationship. When we learn to lean on God first, then it won’t matter if we’re in a relationship or not. We’ll be grounded on the solid Rock, Jesus Christ.

Being single can be a time of preparation. (Proverbs 3:5,6)

There are those anointed people who can live their life knowing that they were meant to be single. To those people, God bless you! It’s not for me… at least I hope not, but for many of us, we desire relationship, families and marriage. Think of this time as a season to work on yourself. Ask God to reveal things in you that you need to work on, things that you can work towards so that you can learn to live in relationship with someone else in a more God-honouring way.  When you know who you are in Christ, and you allow God to work on your heart, you will learn to listen to His voice in your future relationship. Jesus at the centre of every relationship makes it whole.

“Your  vibe attracts your tribe”

It all begins with our attitude, attitude is everything.  When we choose to have an attitude of faith and trust, then we are saying that no matter what season I am in, I know my Father has an incredible plan for my life. God’s peace will give us comfort.

Surround yourself with like-minded people, people who support you on your journey. I can’t tell you how precious the people in my life are who encourage me in my singleness and in my journey with Jesus. Get connected with people who celebrate your singleness and pray for you and with you.

I’m not going to say it’s easy to attend church services, parties, weddings or various activities as a “party of one”, but I do know that I can’t argue with God. This season of life that He has for me is the one He has me for a specific reason and purpose.  I want to honor God in this season and in my future relationship. If I can’t learn to live my life for God now, how am I supposed to honor Him when I have many responsibilities and a family?

We’ve got one life, and it’s a small part of eternity. Why are we pining and wasting our time desperately wanting to jump into a season that God has not shown us yet? Enjoy each moment, savour this time. It’s a gift.

No matter what storm or season you face today, know that God sees you, He cares for you and He wants to meet with  you. Draw  near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).  God is not surprised or shocked by anything, He is listening and He wants to help you.

Rest assured, being single is not a weakness but a strength. It can express qualities and characteristics you never knew you had. God has an amazing way of showing us what He can do in our singleness if we let Him and keep our eyes fixed on Him.

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37.4)

maneesha graceManeesha Grace is a single 30-something blogger and lover of Jesus. She’s passionate about her faith, family, friends and food. Like most women, she has a story to tell. Writing has become her joyful outlet for expressing all that God has done for her, and she wants to share what He can do for you. Her desire is to inspire and give hope to women who have faced difficulty. She wants to remind and encourage women that they are not victims of their circumstances. Jesus is the answer in every situation and season of life. Find her here: Blog address: www.maneeshagrace.ca Instagram: @maneeshagrace

 

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime.

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My Modesty Story

modesty story

 

modesty story

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Hannah Anderson. Today Hannah is sharing her personal modesty story — and I commend her for that. Everyone has different modesty standards today; let’s face it, there’s no cut and dry rules. Hannah felt led to share and I love the lesson in her story! Thank you Hannah for being brave!]

A twenty-something Christian woman who always always held herself up to Christian standards of purity and modesty (sort of, more on that later) and wore her father’s purity ring he gave her a decade prior with pride. This woman always liked to talk about how above the world and the pleasures of the flesh she was and how sorry she was for other women who destroyed their lives by going outside God’s boundaries.

However, this woman was self-conscious. She thought herself to be homely and overweight. She noticed that no guys ever paid attention to her except to be her friend and she pretended this didn’t bother he because that is not what a Christian woman should care about. She also noticed that homely girls could get attention from guys by dressing immodestly, but she deigned not to go down that road because of her faith.

This woman met a man at work she really liked. He was an independent contractor working there temporarily. They talked all of the time on lunch break but he never pressed it further. He was about to leave and the woman was tired of being just a friend so she did something. She bought some new clothes that were still very modest but could be quickly made immodest. The lady would be dressed just as demurely and modestly as ever except when talking to the man on lunchbreak when she made sure he saw more than he could handle.

The woman rationalized this behavior by telling herself she was still “dressing modestly.”

The man saw what she was showing and lusted after her. After a week he asked the woman out. The woman was happier than ever but she felt very guilty about using immodesty so he would lust.

Well, you can probably guess the woman is me and the man is now my husband. We have talked about this and while he did lust after me that was not the reason he asked me out. He said he always liked me but was too shy to ask me out and wanted to wait until he would never have to see me again in case I said no. He said he felt just as guilty about lusting after me as I did about being immodest. I, of course apologized to him just like I did to God so many times.

We should never break God’s commandments no matter what advantages we might procure, for he is the one who knows what is best, and sometimes, God in his graciousness gives us what we want despite messing up. Finally, we need to obey the spirit of the law and not just the ‘rules’ that we can keep while violating the principles behind them.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

hannah andersonI grew up South of Atlanta and got a degree in philosophy from Emory University where I learned to think deep thoughts while accruing even bigger debts. I now live North of Atlanta with my husband and son.

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Thankful for My Husband

thankful-for-my-husband

[Editor’s Note: Today I am welcoming back veteran Diva Sarah Coleman to congratulate her on the release of her new book, Together: A Journey Of Godly Marriage. Glad to have you back with this timely Thanksgiving piece, Sarah!]

It is the time of year when we are thankful. Thankful for the many blessings God has bestowed upon our lives. Yet sometimes there are blessings right under our noses that escape notice. Blessings we take for granted. People in our lives we forget to thank.

“Oh, they know how much I love and appreciate them.”

Do they?

I met my husband when I was thirty-one. After ten years of my adult life as a single person I determined I would never take my husband for granted. I am thankful for the miracle Father did in bringing us together. I am thankful we are such a formidable team.

But I’m not sure I’ve told him lately. So this is a letter to the love of my life, father of my children and hero of my love story.

I’m thankful for you, Baby.

Thankful we do life together

I watch many couples do life in close proximity, but not together. I am thankful we were on the same page when we met, and continue to be on the same page. I am thankful for our synergy and the powerful force we create.

Thankful for your love

When we met your love for me was fierce. I am thankful it has never waned, but grown into a burning, inextinguishable flame. I love your unconditional love, patience and gentleness toward me. And I love you, Ben, with everything I am.

Thankful for our children

I am thankful God blessed us with two incredible boys. I thank God for the godly example you give them of how to treat a woman. They honour you and you are their hero. Thank you for making time for them, telling them how proud you are. And telling them every day that you love them.

Thankful for the way you treat me

Every woman wants to be treated like a princess. More than opening the car door, you open doors for me though your encouragement and belief in my ability. You have never belittled me but you have lifted me higher and allowed my talents to flourish.

Thankful you provide for our family

You have never shied away from your responsibilities as head of our home and provider for our family. You are a great provider. You work hard and stick it out through the rigmarole. I am proud of your accomplishments. Thank you for providing our family with the life we enjoy.

Thankful for your love for God

Most importantly, I am thankful I married a man who loves God. I am thankful you lead the way in our home when it comes to life in the spirit. I am thankful for the books you read and the podcasts you listen to. I am thankful for the conversations we share about what God is saying. I am thankful you seek God more than you seek me.

Thank you, my husband, for being a man of God and the man who chose to spend the rest of his life with me.

 

Sarah colemanSarah Coleman, together with her husband, is the Senior Pastor of Generation Church in Australia. She is a passionate advocate for strong, Christian marriage and today is the release of her new book, Together: A Journey Of Godly Marriage. To learn more visit sarahcoleman.com.au.

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Why I Chose to Marry Young – Revisited

 

This post was originally published on Devotional Diva on June 8th, 2014. I decided that since my husband Brandon and I will be celebrating 5 years of marriage this month, I wanted to rework this post since I (personally) feel it’s one of my most important. Also, there will be no new Devotional Diva posts next week because we will be off celebrating our anniversary!

(side note: Devotional Diva founder Renee Fisher also recently celebrated 5 years! Congrats!)

 

I chose to marry young — at 19, to be exact.

 

Brandon and I have a fairy tale love story – with some major kinks thrown in.

We had a lot of opposition going up against us the whole time we were dating.

For one, I was in a horrible place mentally and physically in the beginning. I talked about this in that post I mentioned, but it really was a struggle. My mom knew that Brandon was the one for me because of how he stuck by me through it all.

I mean, I was severely depressed and Brandon stuck by me. He supported me. He showed me love. I know that I was not able to show him the same kind of love at that time, just because I was going through so much.

But we got through all that stuff. I got better. Things were going great, and we were happy.

Then Brandon decided to join the Navy.

At first, we didn’t even consider getting married before his boot camp. But as we went through his recruitment process, marriage actually seemed like a pretty good idea.

I knew I loved Brandon and wanted to be with him forever. He said he always knew that I was “the one.”

It soon became clear that we did want to get married before Brandon would leave for basic training.

But I was so nervous about what my parents would say.

I felt like they would disapprove, because I was only 19 after all. Now-a-days, that is young.

It wasn’t like getting married so young was in their (or my) plans for my future.

I worked up the courage to talk to my mom about it first, and she eased my dad into the idea. They were accepting, more than I thought they would be. They supported us.

Brandon formally asked my dad for my hand in marriage in June, and a few days later he proposed to me. In November, we said our vows at my childhood church.

My mom said she felt the presence of Jesus so strongly during the ceremony.

We’ve been married 5 years now. We now have an 18-month old son. Our marriage has endured several moves, cross-country and international. It has endured health scares. It has endured distance. It has endured seemingly unending uncertainty (#Navylife). No, we weren’t always perfectly happy. But we always loved each other and were willing to work together.

I see how God had these plans for me, and there’s no doubt in my mind that I was always supposed to be with Brandon.

I followed my heart and ended up with a great man. But getting married at a young age is not for everyone. Honestly, everyone’s situation will be different. When you find your mate is up to God.

I still get surprised reactions when people find out I got married at 19. That’s okay, but I wish there wasn’t so much judgment.

It’s not just people who marry young – I know those who wait until their later 20’s or 30’s are judged too for being “old.”

Bottom line is that everyone has a different path; Let’s get over expectations.

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God Is Still In The Marriage Business

god-marriage-business

God Is Still In The Marriage Business

 

[editor’s note: This post was originally published on Feb 09, 2016. Due to a recent glitch, I’m just republishing it!]

My husband and I decided to get married because we wanted our lives to line up within God’s order
. It was not because of love, convenience, or social pressures. We made up in our minds that we will be examples to our families of what God can do when you put Him first.

I wanted to share this for two reasons. First, we don’t hear enough. I even have people today that frown up at me when I say it. Secondly, I want to assure you it is possible for God to guide those who want Him to speak to them about their relationships. In return, you have to be willing to open your heart to what He is going to direct you to do.

It was very difficult for me to submit to what God was instructing me to do. It was not that I didn’t love my partner or didn’t want to marry him one day. I wanted to do it on my own time. I realized that at that point there had begun a process of exposure.

Sometimes there are places where, if we admitted it, we don’t want the truth of God’s Word to rule in our lives. My relationship was one of those areas. It was more comfortable to live the way I wanted and not how God required.

I would have continued to live in sin waiting on a grand proposal. I had my heart set on receiving a huge diamond ring. My partner would have recited a long speech about how much he loved me, and there was nothing else he would rather do than to make me the center of his life. Everyone would be totally supportive. Of course, things panned out a bit differently.

We fought constantly about where our relationship would go after I revealed what God said to do. To top it off, people who were very close to us were not on board with it either. Yet, God still impressed on my heart that we were doing the right thing. He wanted better for us than the life we had chosen. The things I was waiting on could never compete with the love God wanted to pour into my life in this season.

The love I have for my husband now is more genuine than ever before.

1 John 4: 7 says “let us love one another, for love is from God”

I can honestly say my love for God and His Word strengthened my love for my husband and myself. I now walk in freedom being confident in the fact that I am even more closer to God without that disobedience in between us. I can witness to people without any fear or internal conflict. God has even begin speaking to me more about things He wants me to do.

Ultimately, God wants us free. Bondage of any kind keeps us from what He wants us to experience. Choose God’s Word over your own advice every time. Here is the place where true love begins to flow out of us and into the world.

 

ozellaI’m Ozella Jones, a 26 year old Certified Medical Assistant from Birmingham, Alabama. I’ve been encouraged by other women in Christ to be all that God has predestined me to be. With Christ in my life, I can laugh, love, and enjoy my portion, knowing that things are provided for those who trust in Him! Be blessed and be a blessing to others!

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Companion on the Journey

companion on the journey by Samantha Hanni on Devotional Diva

[Guest post by Samantha Hanni: Trying to conceive, infertility, miscarriages and pregnancy are difficult times and Samantha is right — it’s so important to have a female companion on the journey! God certainly placed someone like this in my life, and what an encouragement she was!]

Luke 1:5-36; 39-45; 56

Elizabeth and Mary. Two pregnancies against all odds.

A virgin birth? A pregnancy after menopause? Medically impossible. Highly unlikely.

Imagine the looks the teenager and grandma-aged lady must have gotten from neighbors, even friends. The suspected immorality. The arched eyebrows and whispered comments behind palms.

How trying and humiliating…to be pregnant is to be already vulnerable, but to be labeled as odd on top of that? I can’t imagine.

However, God in His tenderness didn’t leave these special women to fend for themselves. I believe He orchestrated these two dynamic pregnancies to coincide with one another to provide the support and encouragement the new moms would need.

Elizabeth’s husband, John, couldn’t talk throughout her pregnancy. How hard would that be to not hear the voice of your love, your closest friend for nine months?

Mary was not even with Joseph for a third of her pregnancy, a whole trimester. I fight anxiety when my husband is out of town for the weekend, so I can’t imagine being separated from him for that length of time.

God’s love and care is demonstrated by bringing these two women together under extraordinary circumstances.

They were women who had a unique road ahead of them. The friendship and pregnancy moments shared during those months they stayed together undoubtedly fortified them for the days to come.

Whether it’s in pregnancy, miscarriage or barrenness, God is faithful to provide companions to join you on the journey. You have to be willing to let God accomplish this work, though. Sometimes it means opening up a difficult part of your life. Sometimes it means finding friendship in unlikely places.

Bringing new life into the world and conversely, waiting oh-so expectantly for life to begin in you is a difficult road to walk. And while husbands provide the tenderness and support that few others, even family members, could provide, other women in the same situation understand subtleties of the journey that few others can.

Look around you. If you are struggling with feeling alone and isolated, I am willing to bet God has placed companions in your life who will pray for you, share your burden and join you on the journey of bearing life, or the journey of struggling to understand why your body has not borne life yet.

Maybe God is calling you to reach out to some women in your life.

I had shared with a friend at church that I was due to start my monthly cycle the day before my 25th birthday, and I was dreading the disappointment from another month passing with no change, right before my special day. And Aunt Flo came right on schedule- and that meant my birthday was a very PMS-y day. Yuck. She texted me that morning and later in the afternoon saying she was praying for me that I would feel peace and contentment in spite of the circumstances.

Those words meant the world to me because I knew she understood. She knew how it felt to have another month go by with…nothing. Nothing but cramps and emotions that were all over the place.

It’s the enemy who wants us to feel isolated and alone. He can wreak great havoc on those who are separated from the flock. God never wants us to feel isolated and alone. His word promises He is always with us, and He desires that we find companionship and support in the body of Christ.

Sisters, let us follow Elizabeth and Mary’s example and support one another, during such seasons as these and always.

samanthaSamantha Hanni graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2012 with a degree in journalism. Her passion is encouraging other people and seeing God’s truth make a difference in their lives. She is featured in the devotional book “Big Dreams from Small Spaces” by Group Publishing and blogs at mrshanni.com. Samantha and her husband reside in Oklahoma City.

 

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A Christian Fairy Tale

devotional diva christian love story[Guest Post by La Micia Genova: I’m thrilled for you to “meet” La Micia today because, although our stories are different, La Micia and I both dealt with depression before God gave us our knights in shining armor. I’m all about princesses and fairy tales and this is an awesome Christian fairy tale!]

Do you believe God can give you a happily ever after? I’ve done things my way for 20 years and when I finally came to God, he gave me my fairy tale.

I probably made just about every mistake a teenager and young adult could make, and what’s crazy is I grew up in the Church! From impurity to drunkenness, I was a mess. When I submitted to Gods way of doing things I saw Gods plan for me come to life. 

11 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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

As I grew in my relationship with God, and really applied the “seeking” part of the passage in Jeremiah, I began to see him move in my life in powerful ways. From my friendships, to my family life, and eventually, my dating life.

As a hopeless romantic, I always prayed for my knight in shining armor to magically arrive and constantly asked God for the desires of my heart.

Growing up, what young girl doesn’t want to live out the Disney movie fairy tales? I was no different then the majority of girls my age and I never grew out of this phase. I continued believing this was possible, but heartbreak after heartbreak led me to feel God’s hand was against me.

This all changed in a vacant lot in south side Chicago in 2010.

I was 20 years old and had just given my life to Christ. I was at a conference in Inglewood, Chicago helping our volunteer group clean up vacant lots. I was dirty, tired, and focused on the cause. This was not the place I expected to meet my knight in shining armor. It was cleaning this lot that God intervened in my life for what later turned out to be a fulfillment of one of favorite scriptures in psalms.

            “Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart”

            Psalm 37:4

I met Patrick G.

At the time I had no idea that this was who God had planned for me to spend the rest of my life with, but as three years went by, you could say my eyes finally were opened.

One night Patrick began to open up to me about his struggle with depression and I felt like for the first time ever, someone understood me, the real me.

I grew up dealing with depression, and felt that no one could really understand.  I was constantly fatigued and didn’t know why. I had so many self-defeating thoughts, I really hated myself, I still struggle with this to this day, but at least I have a name for this monster. When Patrick got vulnerable with me about his fight with depression and how it made him feel, I felt like my feelings weren’t all that crazy.

I realized that I am not in this fight alone and that God has put a guy in my life that could understand me. From this conversation forward we leave off where my book, Becoming Ms. G picks up. I hope and pray you enjoy the rest of the journey that God has taken me on with my knight in shining armor, Patrick.

lamicia genova on devotional divaLa Micia really has a heart for doing Gods work and being a voice for women who deal with depression, anxiety, and self esteem issues. La Micia created a blog called “No Place to Lay”, www.noplacetolay.com this year to share the ways God is working in her life through struggles. You can purchase her book, Becoming Mrs. G here.

photo credit: Express Monorail via photopin cc

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