Single Appreciation Day

Happy Single Appreciation Day!

Notice I didn’t say singles appreciation day.

But single.

Our culture is obsessed with relationships, and I know because I’m one of them!

I used to HATE Valentine’s Day because I was single.

Charles Ringma writes, “We are surrounded by family and friends who have enriched our lives in various ways. Much has been given to us. But we receive more when we are thankful for all that God and others have given us. It is thankfulness that builds in us the capacity for generosity. Unthankfulness robs us of the benefits of the very thing we have received…life” (Seize The Day With Dietrich Bonhoeffer).

I love this quote.

I also love how the Bible spells it out, and very succinctly I might add.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

So like I said, today is single appreciation day. Why? Because we need to see the beauty in singling out those we love. Maybe you hate Valentine’s Day and maybe you don’t. Let today be the day to show how much you appreciate those you love.

Be generous to your family and friends.

Be thankful for them.

I personally find love means more when I express it out loud. That way there is no guessing as to how I’m thinking and feeling toward that person. They know it because I show it (so cheesy and hopefully so true)!

To see how important it is to express how much we love others while we have the chance, I wanted to post this video of Kim Burrell on her relationship with Whitney Houston. It is very touching, and will make you cry!


[Photos taken from iStockPhoto and my iPhone]

Continue Reading

Two or Three Witnesses



“For where two or three witnesses gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20, NIV).

In school, we’re taught from an early age that 1+1=2.

When you’re a baby, you learn to count by using your fingers and toes.

Body parts.

When you grow up you learn to count your toys. For instance, one for me, none for my baby brother! I loved being the first born, but that’s not the point!

Counting shouldn’t require thinking.

It’s a habit.

Something ingrained in us since childhood. Unfortunately, as “mature” adults we learn to count by comparing ourselves to others.

For instance, when I was single all I could think about was 1 + 0 = Fail. I hated the fact that all my close friends had boyfriends and husbands before I did.

It wasn’t until I was reading my Bible this weekend in Matthew that it hit me.

Two.

I didn’t need a specific person.

Just one more.

My heart instantly skipped a beat because God answered my prayers after all those years for a prayer partner. Then I felt renewed and strengthened by the power and intimacy of marriage because God gave me a +1.

BUT.

Thankfully, in God’s economy, there is no shame in numbers.

He didn’t say where a husband and a wife are: there I am in the midst. So, if you’re still single I challenge you: find a +1 and don’t be embarrassed or ashamed. And if you’re married, pray with your spouse and pray often!

“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:13-16, NIV).

Next time you are tempted to have pity on yourself–don’t. See, right there in the Bible we are without excuse!

We are to pray about everything! To bring our requests to God because He cares for us and does not withhold any good and perfect gift.

I don’t know about you, but I am so encouraged by this powerful reminder to pray with one another.

Find someone today and let’s get in agreement to pray together. Daily.

Let your praises rise.

Make your requests known.

Shake the gates of hell and worship the Lord for all He is and all He has done.

How can I pray for you?

[Photo taken seconds before Marc saw me in a wedding dress for the first time with my friends Monique, Jenn, and Rachel praying over me!]

Continue Reading

Uniquely You

Growing up, being uniquely you was considered a bad thing.

I should know.

I was the shy home school kid (yes, I said SHY) with no friends and very little social interaction. I mostly read–a lot and practiced piano for hours a day.

That all changed when I entered college and finally found myself. I learned how to be comfortable in my own skin. Literally.

The reason WHY I write and am heavily involved ministry is because I lost the skin off my face and feet due to severe eczema when I was 15, and it took me over 6 years to recover.

Basically the years when a girl becomes a woman.

I never thought a man would ever love me.

I never thought I would have a normal life.

I never thought my skin would heal.

But God did all those things…because He loves me…and because I’m His daughter.

I am unique.

This past weekend, my parents threw my fiancé and I a wedding shower. It was an amazing time for Marc to meet my parents international friends including a few pastors.

One of them had a word for us.

Normally, when someone says that I get excited. Why? Because I’ve learned to test everything (1 Thessalonians 5:21, NLT).

But I always pray about it because I want to see if the Lord confirms it. That’s how prophecy works. The Holy Spirit is constantly at work and if our eyes are opened we shall see it (2 Kings 6:17).

So I share this word with you for a number of reasons.

First, it’s been a while since I’ve given any update about how I’m doing in this whole engagement process. It’s been a blur because we’re also moving Marc into a new house.

Second, I’ve been VERY emotional (as I should be and with good reason too). I didn’t want to share during this time purely for hype to get more blog hits. It’s easy to do this at times, and I wanted to wait it out.

Third, I wanted God to speak. Wait, shouldn’t that be first?

So the “word.” It came from 1 Samuel 2:30 that says, “…“I will honor those who honor me.” Then he said that Marc and I are “unique.” As in created for a eternal purpose, for each other, and because we honored the Lord and waited for one another.

I was reading Song of Solomon in my One Year Bible and came upon this verse and it HIT me…

“Sixty queens there may be,
and eighty concubines,
and virgins beyond number;
but my dove, my perfect one, is unique,
the only daughter of her mother,
the favorite of the one who bore her.
The young women saw her and called her blessed;
the queens and concubines praised her.” ~Song of Solomon 6:8-9, NIV

I am unique.

Instantly, I felt like cowering in fear. “Do not stare at me because I am dark” (Song of Solomon 1:6a, NIV). I hate what my health has done to my body. Sometimes I am so insecure about my weight and other emotional issues like fear that I feel unworthy of receiving love.

I have been processing through this the past week and asking God to help me overcome my fears. And He HAS. Today, I came across a post by Mary DeMuth called “Don’t Live Your Life in Fear.” She said something about being unique. AHH! I let my fingers run as fast as they could back to WordPress. I knew I had to write this NOW and not save it for Monday’s blog.

I wonder, Did you know you are unique? Like me, Have you ever felt ashamed or embarrassed about it? Today (or ever) is not the time because “the Lord honors those who honor him…”

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV).

Continue Reading

The List

I don’t care if you’re single, in a relationship, or already married…if you’re breathing you’ve made “the list” of what you want in your partner.

Taken from my book “Not Another Dating Book” that releases Valentine’s…

“When I was a kid I made a list of all the qualities I was looking for in a mate. I didn’t get much farther than tall, dark hair, blue eyes. When I got older, I added other words to the list. Leader. Communicator. Compassionate. Encouraging. I kept building it out, describing my perfect man. Wants children. Virgin. Well-read. Likes to cook. Doesn’t smoke. Doesn’t swear. Comes from a Christian family. Good hygiene. Pays his bills on time. Has a heart for ministry. None of those qualities are bad, of course, but over time I started to understand that by holding every man to my impossibly high standard, I was putting God into a box…”

Yesterday, I got to officially name my Fan Page for “Not Another Dating Book” on Facebook and it hit me. When I was writing the portion in my book about “The Boyfriend” I remember the feeling that God was showing me if I don’t obey and make a new list, He’ll withdraw His Holy Spirit from me and I won’t have anymore words on how to write my book. So I sat down on my floor with a bunch of post it notes and began writing furiously!

I’m so glad I listened because I met my boyfriend a few weeks later.

I’ve heard miracle stories before, but never me. I’ve been single pretty much my whole life.

That’s why I wrote the book.

I’ve been single for so stinking long I wanted to write an accurate depiction of what real Christian 20-somethings go through. No more of this “kissing dating goodbye.”

Heck, all of my friends–including myself kissed dating goodbye years ago and now what?

I wanted to share my list and be completely transparent. I only make one requirement: PLEASE DO NOT LAUGH! It’s quite long, it has categories and some may sound utterly ridiculous to you. But this is me!

If you want to share yours or write one and email it to me please do!

Renee’s List

Relationships/Friendships

1. My best friend
2. Tenderness
3. Independent
4. Non-emotional
5. Not a drain/co-dependent
6. Calming
7. Non-smoker/Social Drinker
8. Good with large groups of people
9. Christian parents
10. Likes to cuddle
11. Communication
12. Not easily pushed around, but can be playful with me
13. Needs or appreciates alone time
14. Wants a family someday
15. Understands I process by isolating or hiding myself, and doesn’t let me stay angry

Looks/Physical

16. Photogenic
17. Calf muscles
18. Whether tall or shorter than me-> He. Must. Be. Strong.
19. Clean shaven/short hair
20. Dark brown hair/light eyes
21. Healthy
22. Physical touch is his love language
23. Hugger
24. Big arms
25. Strong jaw bone (don’t laugh)
26. Nice hair
27. Virgin

Church/Ministry

28. Shepherding
29. Ministry Partner
30. Called
31. Spiritual leader
32. Holy Spirit led
33. Daily Quiet time
34. Community is important
35. Loves God/others
36. Suffered
37. Conflict doesn’t bother him
38. Not intimidated by me (very important)
39. Teacher
40. Speaker
41. Prays with me
42. Anointed

Hobbies/Free Time

43. Well read
44. Enjoys social media/media/tv/internet/movies (doesn’t have to like them all)
45. Likes going fast in cars (hehe this is very important to me)
46. Needs guy time
47. Acts of service is a love language
48. Takes time out to spend intimate time with me
49. Doesn’t have to do everything with or for me!
50. Prayer warrior

Finances/Money

51. Provider
52. Pays bills on time
53. Responsible with debt/money
54. Saves for the future
55. Values money

Work/Career

56. Leadership
57. Stable
58. Has goals
59. Hard worker
60. Doesn’t whine or complain
61. Drive
62. Does not need to be #1
63. Values work hard/play hard

Continue Reading

29 Things

Everyone who knows me, knows how excited I get about my birthday, and that I celebrate my birthday month! So on the last day, I wanted to share with you 29 things I’ve learned in my short lifetime in the hopes that you’d be inspired and most of all encouraged!

1. Your spiritual birthday matters more than your earthly ones. ~ I proudly accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of my life and became born again on my 5th birthday, June 24, 1987.

2. It’s never too early to get a Bible concordance. ~ When I was 7, I balled my eyes out when I saw how horrible the conditions were for orphans in Romania. I yearned to help the orphans, and my parents bought me my first Bible concordance so I could give them same hope and faith I had. Why? Because God is the only one who can guarantee 100% spiritual adoption!

3. It’s okay to grow up under a rock. ~ I was home schooled, sheltered, and grew up in a Christian home with two loving parents in full time ministry…need I continue?

4. Living without cable TV is not the end of the world. ~ I didn’t have a TV until I was 9 years old, nor did I have cable  until I was 15. During those years I learned how to read, write, play piano, and many-many-many more things! I do not regret the years without it, although I know I’d find it more difficult to go without now…

5. Be creative. Pick up a hobby and practice until it becomes perfect. Even if it takes years to master the piano, or water coloring, or writing–someday it will be worth it and you might even be able to make a career out of it. It’s okay to do what you love!

6. Pray. One of the most beloved gifts I received from God as a child was my cat, Lemon. My dad was never going to buy me a cat, so I had to wait on God’s timing. The day my life fell a part Lemon showed up on my door step. NEVER STOP PRAYING!

7. Hug others; Pets are allowed too. Life is too short; It can be challenging, difficult, and begin in brokenness. God has placed others around you for a reason. Value someone today through the power of touch and show someone you care!

8. It’s okay to cry. I was the shy kid growing up. When our family moved to CA from NE, I didn’t have any friends. I spent my afternoons crying and feeling alone. Adolescence was painful, but nothing compared to the suffering that was to come during the ages of 14-24. God’s used every season of isolation to bring me closer to Him and give me new life. Not once, not twice, but many times!

9. Find freedom in Christ and you’ll find everything else. ~ My parents did a good job of helping me find freedom in Christ at a young age. They had me go through Neil T. Anderson’s “Seven Steps to Freedom in Christ” which helped me overcome anxiety many times. My favorite verse to pray over my anxious thoughts is, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT).

10. Being broken doesn’t mean you’re actually–broken. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt less than, believed I didn’t measure up, and didn’t feel a part of the cool crowd because of my health limitations. Years later I realized this was a bunch of crap. I am my own worst enemy!

11. Take Sunday naps. Whether you’re a kid at heart or you hate taking naps–naps are important. One thing I’ve learned in all my life is if you don’t take care of your own health, no one else will. It’s important to rest–after all–that was the first thing Jesus did with His creation.

12. Memorize Scripture. I grew up in a Baptist Church and loved going to Awanas. I learned Scripture like nobody’s business, and was always the first to win at Bible sword drill. (Give me a verse and I’ll prove it to you!) Seriously though, the verses I learned as a little girl have carried with me throughout my adulthood. I don’t know where I’d be without my foundation and knowledge of the Word.

13. Have a daily quiet time. No adult has made a bigger impact on me than my mom. Every day she starts her mornings with God in prayer and reading the Word. Growing up, she would ask me, “have you spent time with God today?” If the answer was no, I’d have to go back in my room until I had spent time with God. At first I resented her, but the more I saw her in action and admired her character–I realized I wanted what she had. Now, I model my life after her mission to impact my generation and connect them to Jesus daily.

14. It’s okay to be afraid of boys. I was always taught that a guy should be the one to make the first move. If I could boil down all the words of encouragement from my upcoming book on dating and relationships–it would be this: purity matters. I always hated the fact that popular girls got boyfriends and I didn’t. I have seen over the years that it was God’s hand to keep me pure.

15. Invest in relationships. I cannot say how grateful I am for friends and mentors who have stood by me and encouraged me through bad times and good. Without them I wouldn’t have priceless memories, uncontrollable laughter, and lots and lots of pictures!

16. You are what you eat. I have struggled with food my entire life. I gained 100 pounds from taking prednisone for my eczema (rash). It took me a few years and a couple thousand miles later to bike off the weight. I still struggle with controlling my anxiety and how much food I eat. Food is a daily reminder that keeps me humble!

17. Family matters. Every night I eat dinner with my family as long as I’m living at home or don’t have other plans. My mom cooks and my dad cleans. I cannot tell you how many problems have been worked out over the dinner table, and how blessed I am to be a part of such an amazing family.

18. Be ministry minded. My parents have been in ministry as long as I can remember. Their legacy has left more than just an impression on me, but a rich spiritual inheritance that drives me to my knees to leave the same for my kids!

19. Be kind to strangers. Love is action and Jesus told us to give to those in need who can’t give back to us. By giving to others we’re actually giving to God, Himself and this pleases Him (Matthew 25:31-46, NLT).

20. Your money belongs to God. My family wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for people who gave to missions fund or personally supported us over the years. Now that I’m raising personal support I value the gift of money more than ever. We are called to be stewards of the resources He has already given to us whether that’s tithing to your local church, a missionary, or ministry.

21. Set and obtain goals. Whether small or large, setting goals is important. It took me five years to achieve the things I set out to do and never thought I’d accomplish. Without those goals starring me in the face (hanging on my wall, actually) I never would have made it. My life map verse is Proverbs 4:25-27 that says, “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.”

22. Find your promise. When I was in the hospital, my mom read a verse over me from Hosea 6:1-3. It made me want to read the Bible for myself and find my own promise in Scripture. I didn’t want my parents faith anymore, I wanted my own. Eleven months and twenty six days later, I found it in 1 Peter 5:10, NLT. “In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.”

23. Nothing good happens after 9 PM. I never want to think that I’m strong enough to stand up underneath temptation. We’re supposed to run away from temptation and stand up to trials and NOT the other way around!

24. Unbelief is a killer. God healed me when I thought I was a dead woman. Other times He made me lie down in green pastures and walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I had to learn how to trust in Him and not lean on my own understanding. Every time I doubt God I hinder Him from working in my life. (Note to self: don’t doubt!)

25. Do what you love and keep doing it. You have to start somewhere. (Long before anyone will ever see, notice, or appreciate YOU!) I started my first website on geocities in 1995 and blogging in 2004 on blogspot years before personal websites or blogs were cool.

26. Live passionately. I love what God has done in my life and I’m never going to stop shouting it. Even on my worst days when my health is killing me, I know God is still faithful.

27. Love others. Because God said so and because people are the currency of heaven (I can’t remember who said this).

28. Forgive, and forgiven often. People hurt people–all the time. You won’t end up with many friends if you can’t forgive others. Moreover, if you don’t forgive your Christian brothers and sisters, God won’t forgive you (Matthew 18:35)!

29. Live one day at a time. “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV). It wasn’t until struggling with health issues that I realized I couldn’t live in my own strength. I needed His grace daily. Yes, I make goals and I DREAM BIG, but I no longer take life for granted. I give God the day and live for Him as best as I can–TODAY!

Continue Reading

10 Tips to Renew YOUR Devotional Life

10 Tips to Renew your devotional life.

1. BE A FOLLOWER. Disciple simply means follower. It’s not a spiritual term.

QUESTION: You follow people on Twitter and Facebook, so why not be mindful to follow God FIRST?

BIBLICAL EXAMPLE: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33, NIV).

2. DISCIPLINE TAKES TIME. Over the years I’ve discovered what works for me. Daily eVerses + Yearly devotionals + One Year Bible + journal/pen = a VERY happy Renee.

QUESTION: What have you found works best for you?

BIBLICAL EXAMPLE: “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27, NLT).

3. IF YOU’RE BORED, GOD’S BORED. My friend Monique told me this phrase, and it’s always stuck with me. If you’re in the middle of reading your daily this & daily don’t be afraid to get creative. Try a new Bible translation, time of the day, or devotional book.

QUESTION: In the past what have you found most helpful in getting creative with changing up your devotional life with God?

BIBLICAL EXAMPLE: “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts” (Exodus 31:1-3, NLT).

4. DON’T DO IT ALONE. We need community. We need people. We need help. See if one of your friends or family can keep you accountable to spend your time daily with God. If you don’t tell others, they won’t know to ask.

QUESTION: Write down the names of one or two people who help keep you accountable for reading the Word daily. If you can’t think of anyone, write down the name(s) of people who you will ask this week:

1. ______________________________________

2. ______________________________________

BIBLICAL EXAMPLE: “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25, NLT).

5. ASK FOR HELP. Don’t be afraid to lean on your accountability partner for help. When trials come (and they will), God tangibly offers His support in the form of those who are made in His image (your friends and family).

QUESTION: Are you afraid to ask others for help?

BIBLICAL EXAMPLE: “Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening” (Acts 16:25, NLT).

6. KEEP WATCHING! Even when we’re asking others for support and encouragement—ultimately we need to take responsibility to stand watch and keep watching for the Lord to speak to us.

QUESTION: Where do you go to watch for the Lord? Write down at least three places including your room, the outdoors, private gardens, etc.

1. ______________________________________

2. ______________________________________

3. ______________________________________

BIBLICAL EXAMPLE: “I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint” (Habakkuk 2:1-2, NLT).

7. USE YOUR SENSES. I don’t know about you, but I love the taste of food. I like how it fills me up, tastes good, and gives me energy. The Bible is like that too. We taste and see that God is good by spending time daily in the Word, through prayer, and meeting with others.

QUESTION: How do you use your senses to connect with Jesus daily?

Sight – ________________________________________

Hearing – ______________________________________
Touch – _______________________________________

Smell – _______________________________________
Taste – _______________________________________

 

BIBLICAL EXAMPLE: “The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. Jesus replied, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’” (John 6:33, 35, NLT).

8. FIND YOUR PROMISE. It took me eleven months and twenty-six days to find my promise of healing from God. He told me specifically “In kindness He called me to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after I have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen me, and He will place me on a firm foundation” (1 Peter 5:10, NLT-emphasis mine).

QUESTION: What kind of promise from the Lord are you desperately searching for or have you already found one?

YOUR BIBLICAL EXAMPLE HERE: ___________________________

____________________________________________________

____________________________________________________

____________________________________________________

9. MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE. If you can quote your favorite movie, you can memorize Scripture. Just sayin’.

QUESTION: When was the last time you memorized a favorite passage of Scripture?

BIBLICAL EXAMPLE: “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do” (Joshua 1:8, NLT).

10. LIVING FOR ETERNITY. God has given us every spiritual gift we need for living a godly life (2 Peter 1:3, NLT). Don’t let Judgment day catch you by surprise. Live each day with for eternity. Add goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, affection, and love to your faith daily.

QUESTION: What attribute do you find most difficult and/or easy to live out loud?

BIBLICAL EXAMPLE: “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NLT).

NEXT STEPS:

Purchase a copy of “Faithbook of Jesus: Connecting With Jesus Daily” on Amazon and subscribe to Daily Devotionals on Air 1.com and New Living Translation Daily Devotionals.

Continue Reading