Freestyle Faith: Breaking the Glass Ceiling

freestyle faith

[Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Ronel Sidney’s new book, Freestyle Faith: Around the Table. I feel so blessed to share this excerpt with you today. I think all women know that there are things that happen to women in this world that just aren’t right (understatement), and the more we speak up the more things will change. We can change things. P.S. military friends, this one is for you, too!]

Freestyle Faith: Breaking the Glass Ceiling

No glass ceiling was ever shattered by a whiner.”–Melanie Hope

Struggling and pushing to breakthrough to uncharted territory can be daunting and painful. Women have been treated as less capable and valuable than men for years, and yet many people do not want to discuss the topic. Much like avoiding talks of racism, people think if we pretend it does not exist then we can continue life without making any waves. The problem with this idea is that not talking or fighting to change the stigma keeps us stuck in the cycle of labeling, marginalizing and holding women back from reaching their full potential.

Recently I heard someone describe breaking the glass ceiling in a broader sense of the phrase. Breaking the glass ceiling is when you embark on pushing outside the box of what you were told was normal or acceptable in society or even in your family of origin. This description really intrigued me and gave me words to describe how I had been feeling for years. Guilt, shame and striving for acceptance kept me from speaking out or even breaking out of the “box” I was told was good enough for me and my life.

It began in my last year of high school, when my father and brother sat down with a military recruiter and it was as if I did not exist. The whole conversation was about what the military could do for my brother. There was no mention of what it could provide me and my future. The stigma of women in the military has been fought for years before me; however, women are still fighting to gain recognition and acceptance among their male counterparts. I have been “voted out” of offices, told I could not attend school, and even told by my own recruiter that I would do fine in the Navy because I was “decent” looking. I am sure you can imagine my surprise at these words.

The way we treat woman in the military and society in general keeps them stuck and often silenced about the wrongdoing that occurs aboard ships, during deployments and in the world environment. It is much like when you leave home and realize the way you were raised was not exactly conducive for the reality of the outside world.

We all come to a point of fight or flight. In some ways, I wish I could run from the glass ceiling, and yet, I have been able to break through it enough times to know the pain is worth the reward. Dealing with the intangible barriers within society and the military was expected; however, the barriers I faced within the church and my family took me by surprise.  Fighting for a position or school in the military was much easier than fighting for a place at the table in the church. Being told I could attend classes with men at church but could only perform some of the duties because I am a woman infuriates me to no end. I tried to stay and wait patiently for change, but why do we do this to women?

Why do we tell women they aren’t equal to men or they are incapable of doing what a man can do in ministry?

Acceptance is easy. Fighting to break the mold can be depleting. While attending seminary, I realized the truth was that we allowed men to keep us from being equal in order to make them feel okay with our presence. How crazy is that? We are minimized because of their insecurities and inability to accept us as equals in work, home, life and ministry? Seems a bit old school.

I have come to accept that we have two choices. We can stay within whatever system minimizes us, or we can choose to do things differently. In the military, I had no choice but to fight. In ministry and the church, I decided not to fight and instead begin a new journey outside the Sunday morning meeting and the building we call church. Within my family of origin, I have also decided to reject the “rules” of acceptance in order to embark on a journey of healing and self-discovery.

The choice is yours. You get to navigate this life with God, and He will give you the power to make changes in whatever situation you face in life. I believe the hardest part of breaking the glass ceiling is choosing not to whine and instead to be a part of changing the way women are perceived in the world. Yes, there will be women who make choices we may not agree with. However, standing together and fighting for equality is a must for the next generation.

I do not have a daughter, but I pray my nieces have less of a fight ahead of them because of the battles I decided to fight. I pray they have more opportunities because of other women who choose to fight and stand up to the stigmas of our culture. Mostly, I pray that we as women can begin to see our worth and value together and not in competition with one another.

Excerpt from Freestyle Faith: Around the Table by Ronel Sidney 

freestyle faith around the table

ronel sidneyRonel Sidney was born and raised in Northern California but, has made San Diego home with her husband and son. She has a business degree and works as a contractor for the United States Navy. As the National Director of Praise and Coffee she has a passion for encouraging women to share life and faith outside religious obligation.

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Editorial: Why All Women Are Safe at Devotional Diva

safe

safe

Why All Women Are Safe at Devotional Diva

I am a Christian, and I believe God made and loves all humans, regardless of their current religion or lack thereof.

While I would never want to alienate any of Devotional Diva’s followers, at some point I think it becomes more of an issue to not speak out. I think we have reached that point.

I greatly respect everyone’s points of view, so please keep that in mind.

However, as a Christian with this platform, I feel the need to speak out.

Although Devotional Diva was founded as a Christian blog, please know that your faith doesn’t matter here. You are safe here. I would be a hypocrite to my own faith if I did not love everyone.

Earlier this year, I read a news story about Mohamed Ali’s son who was point blank asked: “Are you Muslim?” When flying.

I felt ill when I read the headline.

I get it. I get the fear. I lived in San Diego, just a couple hours away from San Bernadino when that attack happened. They closed down some of our government buildings. I watched it unfold on our local news. We stayed home the rest of the day because we didn’t know what was going to happen!

Then we moved to Europe. I have a two-year-old. We fly a lot. I get the fear. I do.

But I’m a Christian. I know it’s illegal and dangerous to be Christian some places. I’ve been to the Coliseum, where Christians were slaughtered. It was unsettling.

And I’m very aware of the atrocities the Christian church has committed in its name, too (i.e. The Inquisition). My church is not innocent.

I don’t get how any person of faith could try to control any other person of faith.

I don’t care if you are a Christian or a Muslim or an atheist; you’re a human being first. I mean, yes, I want you to be saved, of course. But you have to want to be saved.

I accepted Jesus in my heart because that’s what I believe, and if you don’t want to, that’s cool.

I love Jesus so much that I can imagine someone having as much faith in their religion too…like, why is that so hard for others to get and respect?

Since I became the Editor-in-Chief of Devotional Diva, I’ve consciously made decisions to post more lifestyle and travel content, evolving Devotional Diva into a place where everyone might have something to read.

Devotional Diva was founded as a Christian blog — Devotionals traditionally include a scripture with them and there’s a moral to the story. But there’s no real definition of what a “devotional” needs to be or is. I found an explanation I liked here, explaining that devotionals are meant to change your heart.

I hope that, if you are a woman of another faith, or not “religious” per say, that you feel safe at Devotional Diva. This is a safe place for all women to share their stories! All are welcome!

I saw a local church advertising their worship service with this motto:

It doesn’t matter

Who you are,

Where you’ve been,

What you’ve done, or,

What’s been done to you,

You are welcome here!

I loved it, and I felt it truly captured what I feel is a mission for Devotional Diva, too.

I hope that you enjoy the content and perhaps share your story someday.

Blog comments are closed. Join the discussion on social media: 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.

Continue Reading

The Strength of Women

fran thring on devotional diva

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Fran Thring; Today she shares about the mighty strength of women.]

Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.

I should be at work, but thank goodness I’m not. Instead, I’m seated in my apartment in Cape Town, South Africa in a watery spot of winter sunlight. It’s a public holiday- Women’s day. The day the government of South Africa set aside today to commemorate all the brave and strong women in our past.

Let me indulge you with a quick history lesson. I won’t be long, promise! Let’s head back to 1956 where South Africa was in the midst of Apartheid- the racial segregation system which ruled our country for 46 years. Back then, pass laws were used by the government to try and prohibit the movement of people of colour. Just imagine if you can, immigrations at the airport and then put it inside a country- yip, not a lot of fun.

This system meant if you weren’t white-skinned you had to carry passports when you moved out of your designated “homelands.” It was a whole lot of unfair, and the girls of the day were onto it, so, rallying together, 20,000 women marched to the union buildings to protest.

They left bundles of petitions with more than 100,000 signatures at the office doors of the prime minister. Take that! Then they stood for 30 minutes singing a protest song: “Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo!” Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.

What a great example of bravery and determination. South Africans today reflect on this event with these words: “Makabogwe Amakhosikazi,” let the contribution of women be acknowledged.

Looking back on this, as I sit in my comfortable apartment, I find a powerful resonance in the words, “now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.” Those words remind me of the many women throughout history who have chosen to stand up against injustice. I think of the many examples in the Bible, such as Abigail, whose bravery saved their families and changed the course of history.

So very often I’m overwhelmed by life, the difficulties of the daily journey, the complexities of unanswered questions and the frustrating gap between what I hope for and what I see. To be honest, getting through the day with a smile when my boss hands me more work, my friend calls with boyfriend issues, our house runs out of electricity and the chicken I bought from the store is off is a challenge.

And yet, I cannot deny that within me there is the deep desire to overcome and do something awesome.

Every day we are faced with a battle. Perhaps your battle is not one of pass laws and inequality, perhaps your battle is your kid’s mean school teacher or trying to budget for your family when everyone is so sick of beans they would rather starve. Perhaps you don’t think that overcoming these are significant or feel like a woman of much strength? You are a women of strength.

To tell the truth I don’t feel like a rock, I feel more like a ball of cookie dough that got squashed by a 2 year old’s foot. Yet, know this, you are stronger than you think you are and what you can’t manage yourself, you can do with a friend.

When we feel more exhausted than insomniac at the end of a marathon here’s a plan: let us look to the women of the past who changed history, and let us look to the many inspirational women of today to build our tenacity. Who cares what the status quo says or what Kim Kardashian is doing with her life?

Let’s be women who build up each other, find strength and unity through community and then who use that strength to break down challenges in our paths and change nations and families. Sound good? I’m in!

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Who do you encourage and walk the journey next to?
  2. What wall do you need to muster up the strength to start pulling down?
  3. Who or what inspires you to be a braver person?

fran thringEqual parts fierce, kind and fun- if I was a character in a book I would be Alice. I have an uncanny desire to live a life which bursts at the seams without falling apart and am often found with a good group of friends and a bottle of wine. I explore topics about faith, relationships and leadership and write to work out the crazy adventure we call life. Feel welcome to join me!

Continue Reading

Case of the Widow

 

 

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Amanda Batten. Above is a picture she provided of those widows she met in Kenya. Here, she shares some of the lessons they taught her.]

“Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” –  Isaiah 1:17

Life can change in an instant and can alter us in many ways.  The weather can change in the blink of an eye, but I’ve come to learn that God never changes.  It wasn’t until I went on a mission trip to Kenya in 2013 that I learned just how unconditional God’s love truly is.

When I arrived in a little town called Kisumu with a team of missionaries, the first thing we did was visit the Healing and Salvation church.  There we met a group of widows who were having a meeting on table banking.  Widows are chiefly entrepreneurs, as the job market is scarce in Kenya, especially since many have not been able to access proper education.  These widows learn to be creative as they struggle to feed their families daily, and praise God when He provides for them.  The widows greeted us with song and dance, handclapping, hugs, and cheek to cheek kisses.  I never felt so loved in my entire life.  They certainly know how to worship!

 I felt God prodding me, “These are the women I sent you here for.”  I learned after the trip that it wasn’t so much me helping these women, they were teaching me something.

We each got up to speak to greet the widows with a translator, and told them what our mission was in visiting their country.  I let them know that I was there for them, that I would defend their cause, and I wanted to hear their stories.  Twenty-eight women walked far distances to find me, and told me their stories, which resulted in a book called Case Of The Widow. Their testimonies stirred my spirit and made me realize how blessed I really was, and how amazing God is. 

Widows are the heart and strength of not only Kenya, but Africa.  They are the face of many families; and God commands us to defend their cause.  Certainly there are widows everywhere, but the culture of a widow in Africa is much different. It is only by God’s grace that these widows have overcome.  To be a widow in African culture is considered to be a curse, and most are ostracized from society, and even their own families.  We know that Jesus broke all curses when He died on the cross. 

I learned many things from the widows, but the biggest thing I learned, was that no matter what we face in this world, we have a God that is unchanged and is always there for us.

Through Him we can have a peace that goes beyond all understanding.  The widows are so selfless, and give of all they have, especially for the orphans.  They are truly representative of the widow who gave all she had, with very little to her name. (Mark 12:44)

During many of my interviews with the widows, I asked each of them to give me their favorite scripture.  Most of them gave me John 14.  I call this “the widow’s scripture.”  Psalm 91 was also a big hit amongst the widows, as a source of comfort.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” – John 14:1-4

From God’s word we know that Jesus hasn’t left us, He simply went to prepare a better place for us.  In the face of poverty these widows have certainly overcome through the grace of God.  They have overcome polygamy, rape, abandonment, HIV, the stigma from becoming a widow, and finding new life and purpose in Christ. 

These women have overcome some of the cruelest predicaments, and they praise God through it all; I was humbled in their presence.  They know that what we face on this earth is nothing compared to what Jesus has prepared for us in eternity.

When a child is left with a babysitter sometimes they will sit and cry, usually out of fear or because they are made to adapt to something that’s unknown, and unfamiliar.  They are out of that comfortable place, with no choice but to long and mourn for the parent to return.

Jesus died on the cross and went to prepare a place for us, and left the Holy Spirit as our – babysitter so to speak.  The Holy Spirit is our peace; like a blanket of protection; a gift given to us to keep us, until Jesus returns to take us home.  God said he will never leave us nor forsake us.  I believe that is why the widows are so comforted by this scripture, because it basically says, “this isn’t the end all, I’m here, I will never leave you, and I’ve gone to prepare a better place for you.  Whatever you are going through is temporary, but what I have given you is eternal.”

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” – John 14:18

I am a personal support worker, and aspiring writer living in Ontario. I was born and raised on the east coast.   My hope is to inspire people to God through my writing.  Feel free to check out my blog at www.heavenlydevotions.org God Bless!

Continue Reading

Take Good Care of Yourself!

take-good-care-of-yourself[Guest post by Kunbi Ayo-Okanlawon: I found Kunbi’s post about the unhealthy fitness trends on social media very timely and extremely important for our readers. Remember, take good care of yourself!]

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”1 Timothy 4:8 (NLT)

I love fitness and I’ve been called a fitness fanatic a number of times. More importantly, I love encouraging and inspiring people on their health and fitness journey. Being fit and healthy is a good thing, and Apostle Paul alluded to that fact in 1 Timothy 4:8. Eating healthy (and within reason) and staying physically fit ensures that we can easily carry out our day-to-day tasks whilst also doing the tasks God has set for us to do.

In recent months, I have noticed a growing trend in the world of fitness where people are deeply involved in physical fitness but neglect other aspects of their health. A lot of people are suffering from eating disorders in the name of fitness and some aspects of fitspiration (fitness inspiration) on social media do not help matters.

Many people get carried away by what they see and do not take the time to assess and pull in the reins when they are overloaded with pictures of people with 6-pack abs, “thigh gaps”, ripped muscles, etc. So many people in the fitness community are suffering from depression and a number of suicides have been reported.

Orthorexia and anorexia appear to be a mainstay nowadays, and it is heart breaking to read stories of women who started out trying to lose weight and got completely obsessed with it; next thing they know, they are suffering from orthorexia, bulimia or anorexia! Orthorexia, bulimia and anorexia are all eating disorders. In the United Kingdom, bulimia and anorexia are considered serious mental health conditions.

Orthorexia is an unhealthy obsession with otherwise healthy eating, which can easily spiral out of control. Bulimia is characterised by binge eating followed by intentional purging. People with anorexia intentionally restrict the amount of food they eat in the bid to keep their body weight as low as possible.

Much as I love fitness, I am very particular about other aspects of my life that need attention – my physical, mental and spiritual health. Fitness is not worth it if we develop a mental illness from it.

It’s not worth it if by working out and trying to be fit or lose weight, we are letting go of our spiritual and mental health.

Apostle Paul says in that 1 Timothy 4 verse that training for godliness is much better than physical training. Why? Because it promises benefits in this life and in the life to come. What’s the point of building our physical muscles when our spiritual muscles are soft and flabby? What’s the use of being able to flex our physical muscles when we cannot flex our spiritual muscles?

As we spend time doing our workouts and keeping fit, let us spend even more time in God’s word and in His presence in order to grow our spiritual muscles.

Exercising is awesome and it’s something we should all do BUT while we work at keeping fit and looking good, let us not neglect other more important aspects of our lives. It’s easy to obsess with food and fitness; I have been in that situation myself where I was becoming obsessed with logging and tracking every single kilogram of my food. But, I have always had a rule in life and it’s this:

The moment I notice that I am getting a little obsessed about something, I cut it out of my life, no questions asked and no mulling over it.

This has worked for me in many ways over the years and it is something that you can give a try too. More importantly, hand it over to God by praying about it.

God is an amazing God and we can turn to Him for help and direction in EVERY area of our lives. You can also talk to someone you trust and be accountable to them. Please do not suffer in silence and please, take good care of yourself.

 

kunbi_ayookanlawonMy name is Kunbi Ayo-Okanlawon. I am a medical writer, serial blogger, wife and mama of a boisterous 3+ year old girl. I have a passion for writing and I love encouraging people with what I have learnt, what I am still learning and what God lays on my heart. I blog at www.kunbibalogun.com and www.natsandfitness.com

 

Would you like to “Become a Diva” and guest post on Devotional Diva? Follow this link!

Continue Reading

Becoming a Mom is Completely Terrifying

becoming a mom is completely terrifying maggie winterton on devotional diva motherhood anxiety christian blogBecoming a mom is completely terrifying.

Almost every night for the past few weeks, I’ve started falling asleep…and then I realize, I’M GOING TO BE A MOM.

I go into a panic, thinking about how hard it will be to take care of my new baby and trying to think of all the things I still need to do. I try to rationalize my knowledge of infant care and how I can get everything done.

In my mind, if I can make sense of something and have a reasonable plan, I start to feel better.

I’m excited for my little boy to arrive, really, I am. I want to be a mom, but at the same time, it’s just so scary.

There is no way one can really prepare themselves for becoming a parent, right? I am reading all the books on having a newborn, I’m planning on taking some classes, and I already have a lot of experience with babies. But I imagine you don’t know what you’re really in for until you’re there.

I hate that! I feel so much better when I’m prepared for things.

And it’s not just that I will have this little being completely relying on me in about two months. I still feel like I have so much that I want/need to accomplish before he gets here. Because, obviously, things we be different once he arrives!

So I want to try to get a lot of stuff out of the way, like home organization. I know that my son will not need our pantry to be reorganized when he comes home from the hospital. (Well, hopefully he is not a demanding little neat freak right out of the womb!) If it’s not reorganized by the time he gets here, oh well, I just will have to wait until things settle down and I have more time to do it. But I have still set that goal and feel I need to complete it.

The pregnancy books say that anxiety is normal, but I kind of feel bad about it. I guess I just didn’t think I would feel this way right now. It’s not like I thought I would be so ill during my pregnancy, either. Sometimes I have such silly expectations for myself.

It’s always amazing to me how, at stressful times, God will show me He’s got my back. A couple weeks ago fellow Christian blogger Kelly Crawford reached out to me to send me her eBook on motherhood entitled (get this): When Motherhood Feels Too Hard.

I think I laughed out loud when I read the email. There was no way Kelly knew I was just starting to struggle with motherhood. She only knew I was going to become a mom. Oh, but God knew, alright! God is so good.

It’s things like a devotional targeted just to what I need, that feeling of God’s love, and knowledge that He totally knows what’s going on with me that encourages me to carry on. To put down the baby care book at 1 AM and try to get some sleep; To stop looking at Pinterest to figure out how I’m going to reorganize my entire house.

And to just trust that, really, truly, everything is gonna be okay!

dd-sig

 

 

 

Disclaimer: As I mentioned, Kelly graciously sent me her eBook for free.
photo credit: Ezra toes via photopin (license)

Continue Reading

I Must Be Perfect

i must be perfect perfectionism perfectionist rachel madden devotional diva[Guest post by Rachel Madden: I think Rachel’s story on perfectionism will really encourage some of you, especially those who struggle with being a “perfect mom.” Remember “I must be perfect” is just a lie!]

 

Psychology Today quotes, “For perfectionists, life is an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. A one-way ticket to unhappiness, perfectionism is typically accompanied by depression and eating disorders. What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so theirs is a negative orientation. And love isn’t a refuge; in fact, it feels way too conditional on performance.”

Please tell me this quotation strikes a chord with one of you as well, that you come dangerously close to connecting to this quotation as much as me. We started a sermon series titled “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire,” and the first lie uncovered was “I must be perfect.”

Thirty seconds into the sermon I knew I was in trouble.

Although I claim to be a “retired perfectionist,” it is a work in progress.

The topic of the day told me paying attention was essential and notes may be required. And if I hadn’t recognized this fact on my own, it was clear as my husband Chris continued to jab me in the side, saying, “This is you! This is you!”

Both of us had a child on our lap (11 month-old twins) and he had to take our son Miles to the cry room. That left me with the choice to take notes or continue to hold our daughter Norah. I’d like to think it’s the teacher in me (although more likely it’s the obsessive compulsion), but I chose to throw Norah to the curb, or somewhat pay attention to her on the floor, while I ferociously took notes.

Before you judge me, please know that bless her 11-month old heart she doesn’t crawl and can’t go from sitting to laying down on her own; therefore, Norah spent the service on the ground. For the church members who witnessed the borderline negligence, I told myself I was already breaking free of the “I must be a perfect” lie, specifically the “I must be a perfect mom.”

This sermon hit me so hard I specifically told the pastor after church that bullying was wrong and I didn’t appreciate being profiled.

We know human perfection isn’t real. We tell ourselves it doesn’t matter.

But for those of us who are challenged in this area, we may accept those truths for others, but not for ourselves.

For example, I don’t think Norah is any less of a person because she isn’t developmentally in the same place as Miles. Of course not; the thought doesn’t even cross my mind. And yet for most of us, especially perfectionists, the lie that we aren’t measuring up creeps in daily.  

It doesn’t matter if I ate a healthy lunch, I had a donut for breakfast. Who cares that I spent two hours playing with my kids earlier today? This afternoon I turned on the TV so I could catch up on work. Losing 10 pounds can’t be celebrated; I shouldn’t have gained weight in the first place; I’m so lazy. Or a current lie in my own life right now: So you nursed your twins 11 months? It doesn’t count if you don’t make it to the full year.

The lie that says striving for perfection means you’re hardworking and accomplished, a person worthy of love and happiness is all-consuming and paralyzing.

We put the pressure on ourselves because somehow being the best we can be at everything we do makes us…what? Good?

As Christians, we know this isn’t true. No matter how good we try to be on our own merits, it doesn’t change our need for God. If we could find perfection on our own, there would be no reason for Christ’s death and resurrection.

Sometimes I’m preoccupied attempting the “perfect life” because it somehow validates me as a person. Have your achievements ever taken precedent over what truly matters? For the perfectionists out there, it doesn’t mean you have to be okay with mediocrity. It doesn’t mean it’s time to lower your standards or become less passionate. But let’s intentionally choose not to measure our worth based on our performance and abilities.

In 2015, let’s stop carrying a validating performance record around – one that affirms us because of our achievements or accomplishments. As the Bible says in Romans, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Today, let’s celebrate this freedom and bask in His perfection alone.

rachel madden on devotional divaRachel Madden is a teacher, wife and mother of twins. She experienced a bout with bulimia in college and was later diagnosed with anxiety and depression. She started a blog in 2014 at crazyMADDENINGworld.com to share her story about motherhood and living a passionate, Christian life with mental illness.  

photo credit: finger painting via photopin (license)

Continue Reading

God's Love Stories

gods love stories on devotional diva valentines stephanie rawnsley [Guest post by Stephanie Rawnsley: February is the month of Valentine’s Day, so I thought we would kick off the month with Stephanie’s great post about God’s love stories!]

Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, ours or someone else’s, we all love a good story.

Look at how many movies and books there are out there. When we go out for coffee, we exchange stories. We love hearing amazing tails of good winning over evil, of love conquering all. We love the stories that make us believe again, that make us reach for the stars and believe in the impossible. Why do you think Nicholas Sparks has been such a success?

His stories of love and overcoming the odds grips our hearts and makes us yearn for a love like that. An all consuming love that nothing and no one is ever going to destroy. 

Those are the stories that stick with us, that we hold dear to our heart, that meant something. Because they were just ordinary people who found the strength to do extraordinary things and we toy with the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we could do something extraordinary too. 

That’s one of the greatest things about living in New York City. You meet people of all kinds, all backgrounds, races, religion, nationalities, and each person has their own unique story to tell. They are as diverse as the city itself. Some have stories of triumph, some are down on their luck, some haven’t faced too many big trials, while others seem to never be able to get out of the fire.

But we all have one thing in common, we all have a story to tell.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20 

We all have our story, our own struggles and hardships. But we also have one thing in common: we are loved by a good, holy and perfect God.

He is writing your story, one filled with many peaks and valleys, struggles and triumphs, heartbreak and joy.

It’s through the messiness in life that you see the holiness in God. It’s through the struggles that the blessings come. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world because it is because I had been through the fire and came out the other side that I am here today.

C.S. Lewis once said, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” I believe that. I believe that our hardships, our trials, and pain change us in ways we can’t even imagine to prepare us to do things we can’t even fathom.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Your story is a testament to the greatest love story of all time.

The story of a man who loved us so much he sacrificed himself to redeem us. We are just a microcosm of the bigger picture, of what God is doing around the world today. It’s the greatest love story ever told. One of sacrifice, of unconditional love, of laying down ones life to save another, of good conquering evil. Your story is a part of that.

When you are little, you read the stories in the Bible. You learned about Abraham, Noah, Moses, Peter and Paul. You learn about Jesus and the stories he himself told. Even Jesus used stories and parables to teach, to share about himself, about love, and about life in ways we could understand.

Jesus was the ultimate story teller and we get to tell the story of him, the story of our past and his redeeming grace. What an honor!

We all have our own stories, our own hardships, our own trials. We all have something to say, war wounds that shape who we are. All that you have been through will launch you to a destiny only you can do. We all have a story to tell. Embrace it. Own it. Share it. It’s a miraculous story of love, redemption, sacrifice, and overcoming the odds.

Your story is a best seller because it was written by the greatest author of all.

So tell the story only you can tell. 

stephanie rawnsley on Devotional diva love storiesStephanie Rawnsley is an author, blogger, public speaker, and founder of Fearless in High Heels. She currently lives in Manhattan. To hear her story, just visit her website: fearlessinhighheels.com. You can also keep up with all of her blogs, videos, and appearances on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

photo credit: isoteemu via photopin cc

Continue Reading

The Unexpected Joy Found in Waiting

joy found in waiting on devotional diva[Guest post by Jennifer Kelly: Happy New Year! When Jennifer sent me this post, I just knew it had to be the first Devotional Diva post of 2015! She tells us of the joy found in waiting when this New Year is such a time of change.]

Wait on the Lord.

This is my season right now. My limbo. My song. My thing. My line. My joy and my pain. 

Why is it so hard to wait? What is it about waiting that tail-spins my impatient, stubborn self into a frenzied, spoiled three-year old brat? Honestly! I’m like THAT little girl you see in the store: arms furiously crossed, crazy-eyed, and spewing out a rather large sized temper tantrum of impatience, “But, I want it now daddy… RIGHT NOW”.

That might be a little dramatic, but I’m afraid not that far off.

Why does God require us to wait?

What good comes from being patient and still and hopefully expectant?

When is the last time (I can honestly say) that I waited upon the Lord for something?

For anything?

This year holds a lot of unanswered questions for my family, but specifically for me. Both of my girls will be in school full-time this year. I’ve been a stay at home mom. What will I do with my time? Will I work? Will I write? Will I finish school? Will I volunteer?

And I wonder as I write this, if this year marks changes for you as well?

Recently, I was challenged to give my thoughts, my desires, my questions and my worries over to God in prayer and WAIT for His response. 

Like a FOR-REAL kind of wait. No manipulating. No making big decisions. No self-initiations. Just me being faithful, right-where-I-am-at.

Oh boy.

The New Year is a time when we are pressured and bombarded to change everything about ourselves (our job, our diet, our money, our blah-blah-blah) I had no idea how hard waiting could be. Think about it. Have you ever heard anyone say, “My New Year resolution is to wait upon the Lord”? I don’t think so.

As I find myself quieting down, on my knees, praying, and waiting, here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1.) When I wait – I pray.

I find it most interesting that I am praying more than ever before. Waiting ushers in prayer. It’s much like meditation. It’s long and quiet. Most days waiting comes with no acknowledgment or feeling of gratification. I can either grumble or complain about my situation or I can go to God in prayer and lay it at His feet.

2.) Waiting produces perseverance.

Waiting (CAN) produce perseverance, but only by choosing to patiently obey. Mostly because waiting automatically brings us to a crossroads: Either to endure the present, expectantly waiting on God (even though we do not see – and trust Him) OR to take the present choices, decisions and actions into our own accord (even though we STILL do not see – and trust ourselves). Either way – it’s a choice. Paul writes, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Romans 8:25)

3.) Waiting reminds me of a much different perspective – an ETERNAL perspective.

As I reflect and pray, I find the things that I am anxious about, the hopes and desires for my family and church and myself, pales in comparison to what it means for a world in which Jesus is returning. The redemption and glory that will occur in the future is beyond exciting. Waiting reminds me that I am meant for another world! Again, Paul writes, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18)

When I look back on my time of waiting thus far, there have been mistakes and successes, but I am encouraged by the work that is being accomplished in my heart. When I wait for Jesus – my heart changes to be a little more like His. I become more available to be used by Him. I find the smallest of duties (where I am called to be a wife and mom) to be of great satisfaction right now. I understand Isaiah 64:4 much clearer, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him”

God knows the desires of my heart, much more than I do.

God knows my gifts, my talents, and my abilities. He knows my anticipations, my worries and my cares. Do I trust Him? With all of it? The whole-thing? Or am I going to rely on my own strengths, my own ideas, my own attempts to do what I think is best?

May God bless you and keep you in this New Year, but may we learn to sit at Jesus’ feet and patiently wait on His perfect timing, His perfect plan, His love and His power.

So that our source of waiting might become the joy of our soul found only in Christ Jesus!

 

jen kelley on devotional divaJennifer Kelly is a very messy wife and mom. She loves reading, writing, philosophy, music, art, theatre, and really anything that is created by an artist. Jennifer currently attends Christian Colorado University where she is studying Biblical Studies. Follow along with her at www.jenjkelly.com

 

Would you like to “become a diva” and guest post on Devotional Diva? Follow this link to find out how!

photo credit: Kaptain Koboldvia photopincc

Continue Reading
1 2 3 10