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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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

 

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Why I don’t date men who are ‘willing’ to save sex for marriage

why i don't date men who are willing to save sex for marriage

[Guest post by Arleen Spenceley: If you’re an unmarried Diva, this article will give you some pretty hard to argue with advice. Arleen’s writing on chastity is not something you read everyday. Even if you are married like me, this is something we should pass on to our friends, daughters, nieces and granddaughters.]

“There’s something I need to tell you,” I said to a man on his couch in a Tampa apartment. He — then in his late 20’s and interested in me — nodded, and waited for me to say it. I, then in my early 20’s, breathed in before I did: “I’m saving sex for marriage.”

I breathed out while he silently processed what I had said. Then he turned his face toward mine and spoke:

“If you want to wait, I’m willing.”

But waiting had never been part of his world. He agreed to abstain from sex with me because he knew that if he didn’t, I wouldn’t date him. He agreed to behave as if he practiced chastity, but was only bound to nonmarital abstinence by my prohibition of nonmarital sex.

He respected my boundary, until he didn’t — until he mocked my decision to save sex and chalked it up to “immaturity,” in effort to manipulate me into changing my mind. He said “no guy will wait that long,” and begged me to break my promise to practice chastity. Instead, I broke up with him. I learned a lot in that relationship, including this:

I’d never date a guy again who was only “willing” to save sex.

Here’s why:

Because I don’t want a man who acts chastely; I want a man who is chaste. We who practice chastity have apprenticeships in self-mastery. We promise to govern our appetites instead of being governed by them. A man who is “willing” to save sex in order to date me isn’t a man who governs his appetites. He’s a man who makes chaste girlfriends do that for him. If I date him, I govern two sets of appetites, which makes me an enabler: he doesn’t have to practice self-mastery if I master him.

Because a man who doesn’t practice chastity doesn’t define sex the same way I do. We who practice chastity believe sex is a sacred, physical sign of the the commitment spouses made to each other on the altar where they were married, ultimately designed to bond them and to make babies. A man who is “willing” to save sex — but would have nonmarital sex if he had my permission — does not by default define sex the way I do. How can we be united by sex in marriage if we can’t agree on the purpose sex serves?

Because a man who would forsake virtue (his or mine) if only I gave him permission is a man whose standards are too low. A man who is “willing” to save sex is a man whose choice to abstain from nonmarital sex likely isn’t underlain by much other than the absence of my consent. He’d be as content — or more — dating a woman who doesn’t practice chastity. But I don’t want to marry a man who settled for a chaste woman. I want a man who wants a chaste woman, who holds a high bar for me because he wants me to become the woman God designed me to be.

Because men are capable of more than the world around them says they are. “No guy will wait that long” is a lie, and boys who are taught that turn into men who believe it. But I hold up a higher bar than that for men because I think my future kids deserve a dad who can reach one, because I believe men can reach one, because I believe God created them able to do it.

 

arleen spenceley on devotional divaArleen Spenceley is author of forthcoming book Chastity is For Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin, to be released by Ave Maria Press in Fall 2014. She works as a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times and blogs at arleenspenceley.com. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in counseling, both from the University of South Florida. Follow @ArleenSpenceley on Twitter and click here to like her on Facebook.

 

This post originally appeared on arleenspenceley.com and was used with permission.

 photo credit: Photosightfaces via photopin cc

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Gossip is Not a Harmless Sin

gossip: a harmless sin?[Guest Post by Jenee Day: I honestly used to think gossiping was okay, even though I was a Christian. As I got older, I realized, like Jenee, gossip is not a harmless sin. Here’s why.]

Today I contributed to the destruction of a relationship.

Contributed is probably the wrong word.  Comparing the relationship to a skyscraper being demolished, I would be the person who provided the explosives.  Not directly, not intentionally, but with a little bit of ‘harmless’ sin.

I was having a difficult day, and I called my friend to talk about it.

Disclosure:  Gossip is a sin I struggle with.  It’s easy for me to rationalize and honestly, it feels good.  It feels good to have a laugh at someone else’s expense, when that person has hurt or angered me. Gross, right?

Gossiping is also a way for me to feel justified about my feelings while showcasing my mind-blowing sense of humor.  Nothing wrong with a joke or two, right?  Besides, if it makes me feel better, and the person being talked about never hears it, then I’m not really hurting anyone, am I?

Here are some verses from God’s word:

Be careful with your words.  James 3:5  “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”

Speak nicely.  Ephesians 4: 29 ”Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Let your words be pleasing to God.  Psalm 19:14 “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, oh LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Your words will be judged.  Matthew 12:36 “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”

(Wow! Clearly God frowns upon this kind of behavior.)

When I hung up the phone, I felt lighter.  My frustration gone, I felt unburdened and free.  Sadly, by not giving my frustration to Jesus in the first place, all I did was transplant it.  I caused my friend to sin on that phone call, and then she continued to struggle with the thoughts and frustration I had suffered from.   How irresponsible of me!

So, let me ask again: If I feel better when the conversation is over, and the person being talked about never hears it, then I’m not really hurting anyone, am I?

Wrong!  First, I hurt God.  I hurt him by disobeying, and by saying ugly things about one of his children, who he adores.  Second, I hurt my friend by leading her to sin.  I hurt myself by sinning and tarnishing my witness.  Finally, I hurt the friend I was convinced would never find out.

How?

Well, as I mentioned before, when the phone call was over, I felt great.  Sadly, my friend was now burdened. She allowed our conversation to replay her mind, until finally she picked up the telephone, called our other friend, and LET HER HAVE IT.

Later that night, my phone rang.  It was my gossip buddy, calling to rejoice in her victory.  After hours of deliberation, she had decided to call our other friend and unload on her. Convinced she had acted righteously, she recounted every word, and how she had let our friend know “what we were all thinking”.  Immediately, I thought, “what have you done?” followed in quick succession by “What have I done?”

I hung up the phone and got on my knees.  I begged God’s forgiveness for the role I played in destroying this relationship.  I repented of my disobedience in the moment I chose it.  I cried.  The friend I gossiped about does not have a relationship with Christ.  Oh, Father, what have I done? My ‘feel good’ sin left the bond between two friends in shambles.

Proverbs 18:21 says “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”  So we are instructed to “speak life” to others, that we might be a blessing to them.

As followers of Christ, we must love the lost more fervently and sincerely.  A slip of the tongue – a harmless joke – could push someone away from salvation permanently. There’s nothing funny about that.

 

Jenee Day on Devotional DivaJenee Day is a freelance writer and researcher and published poet. A member of the Spiritual Writer’s Association, she has written for textbroker.com and various regional publications.  She lives in Alabama with her husband and two kids, and her heart belongs to Jesus.

photo credit: Kevin Shorter via photopin cc

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Why I Chose to Marry Young

 

Why I chose to marry young

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

As some of you may know, I am still pretty young – 22, to be exact.

There’s that Taylor Swift song “22,” but I don’t relate to it at all because I’m married and have been for 2 and a half years. I don’t know if you’ve heard that song, but here are a couple quick quotes:

Everything will be alright
If we just keep dancing like we’re 22

 

And

 

It feels like one of those nights
We won’t be sleeping

Nope, does not describe my life at 22 at all.

I do not dance anywhere, except I did dance at my wedding.

And YES, I will be sleeping because I have things to do tomorrow! Every day I have things to do!

I’m not complaing in any way. I love my life! I just think it’s comical how different my life is from this Taylor Swift song and actually, most of my peers’ lives.

When I wrote about How God Changed the Course of My life Completely, I told you about how supportive my now-husband Brandon was (and still is) and how we met.

But what I didn’t tell you then was how big of a role following my heart played.

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 in the mental health unit at the hospital (more than once) and he stayed with 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.

And it was a shock to everyone around us when we started dating because Brandon is 7 and a half years older than me.

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 2 and a half years now, and things are working out for us. We’re happy. 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’m 22 and married, let alone that I have been married for almost 3 years now. 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.

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

→M

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Playing The Jesus Card

the-Jesus-card

[Guest Post by Jenifer Jernigan – Like all authors meet, we met through social media. I love her vulnerability, her voice, and the desperation behind her story. I am honored for Jenifer to share her story, and if you, like her, have felt like taking your life–you are not alone! I know her story is long but please read the whole thing. You will be blessed!]

The summer months found me serving as a youth intern in a local church, teaching, ministering, and loving on kids who became an important part of my life.

The fall semester ushered in months of studying through the Psalms in my Old Testament class and Paul’s Prison Epistles in New Testament class.

I was happy.
My heart was full.
I was in a good place.

But the heat of the summer months melted away to nothing, and the coolness of the crisp fall air blew through so very quickly. And there I was, in the dead of winter, broken, yet again, into a million pieces, heart cold and calloused, experiencing a death all its own.

We sat there, my friend and I, on the sidewalk outside the cof­fee shop, he numb from the icy-cold air, me numb from my shat­tered world. Coffee-shop music played in the background. Bells jingled each time the heavy glass door opened. People hurried in from the cold to warm their bodies with yummy deliciousness. They laughed and shrilled with glee. Some shared secrets and made grand plans. Others came to enjoy time alone away from the busyness of their lives.

It was almost like an out-of-body experience, if such a thing exists. I saw them all, the many who walked past. And I heard the music, the bell jingles, the laughter, and even the ahhs as the warmth of the patrons’ treats made its way into their bellies. Yet, at the exact same time, I saw absolutely nothing and heard not a whisper. I was lost in an ocean of broken dreams; a sea of emptiness enveloped me. And years of innocence lost, wrongs done, and wounds inflicted welled up inside me.

The minutes passed by and turned into hours, how many exactly, I have no idea. My friend was the first one to speak.

“Ya know,” he said, “God has a plan and reason for everything.”

Immediately I felt a fire burn deep within. Slowly I turned my head, looked straight into his eyes, and loudly whispered my rage. “Do not play the Jesus card with me! Do you understand me? Do not tell me everything has a purpose and a plan. Are you f#*&^*$ kidding me?”

I stood to my feet, pacing back and forth, heart beating hard and loud, like a thousand bass drums. “Don’t say that to me!” I screamed. “Don’t!”

People stopped dead in their tracks to gawk at my public display of brokenness and pain.

“I can’t do this!” I went on. “Do you know how bad this hurts? I can’t breathe. I can’t think. I can’t feel. Except . . . I feel everything. And my mind races. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. It wasn’t sup­posed to end like this. It wasn’t supposed to end at all!”

A madwoman walking is what I was. I mumbled. I screamed obscenities. I cried; no, I wailed in pain. I lashed out at my friend in unimaginable ways. He sat there, silent.

As I paced with fists clenched, the tears poured from my eyes. The pain, the ache, the emptiness inevitably forced me to my knees. My friend came to my side, trying to ease the burden, to lighten the load of pain that weighed me down because years of hurts and heartaches and things that should never happen to anyone had just broken me.

“Don’t touch me!” I shouted. “Don’t touch me! Please don’t touch me!” I cried uncontrollably, hugging my waist, my head lying against the gravel parking lot.

But my friend didn’t listen. He lifted me up from my puddle of pain so I could see into his eyes.

“I will play the Jesus card,” he said, “because it’s the winning card. And the pain you feel right now will one day subside. And you’ll be able to stand, victorious over this emptiness you feel.”

That was 1998. The pain I felt that cold winter night, the ache that left my heart empty, didn’t vanish in a few short days; it took years. Years of God working and me surrendering. Years of God healing and me accepting His healing and realizing there was pur­pose for my pain.

But I need you to know something; those years found me bro­ken many more times by the weight of pains.

They also found me searching to be accepted. Searching to be loved. Searching to be heard. Searching for the real me. And my search led me from one unhealthy relationship to the next, from one bottle of alcohol to another, and from one shopping spree to the next door-buster sale. During those years I married and had my first child, but I still searched for more. My searching and pain dead-ended in a court­room, with me uttering a word I never thought I’d utter: “Guilty.”

I then found myself in an extremely dark place for two years.

On a daily basis I contemplated taking my life; I’d attempted it years before, but this time I knew I wouldn’t fail. I emotionally dis­connected from my daughter and husband; I felt nothing for them. I was out all hours of the night, driving dark roads, sitting in empty parking lots, hiding from the world because I was so very ashamed of what I’d become.

Driven face to the ground once again, like Paul, I had my own Damascus road experience. And once again my heart screamed out as tears poured from my eyes, God, I’m a mess. I’m a complete and utter failure. I’m stupid. I’m used up. I’m alone. I hate myself. And believe me when I tell You, You want nothing to do with me! I’m sure there are others far less complicated than me. Others who are better suited and much more deserving than me to be Your child.

My insides were jacked up. I’d been deeply wounded by others and myself. And my wounds were bleeding and festering and stunk to high heaven. I had absolutely nothing to offer God. There were no credentials to my name. No great accolades or endorsements to cause heads to turn my way. I was just a confused, shame-filled, broken-down girl.

But God had purpose for my pain.

The day God chose me and turned my insides upside down and right side out, the day He turned my unlikeliness into something extraordinary in His book, I was a hot mess. But today I stand changed from the inside out only because the Word of God has rocked me to the core, healing the wounds that left me empty and lonely. I stand brave, not fearful. I stand whole, not broken. For those of you who are hurting today, weighed down by an oversized load of pain, heartache, hurt, and complete emptiness, may I lay the Jesus card on the table and say to you, “God has a plan and reason for all your pain”?

It’s okay if you can’t see His plan and purpose right now through your pain; and it’s okay if you scream obscenities at me.

And while the perception may be that you’re “the perfect Jesus girl,” the reality may be that you’re standing in a very different, very wounded place this very moment. People may not see that, but Jesus does. It’s okay. You don’t have to be who others think you should be. It’s okay for you to feel your pain. But what’s not okay is for you to stay buried by it, broken down in a puddle of hurt and heartache.

The time will come, and for each of us it’s different, when you’ll have to look your friend Jesus in the face, choose to allow Him to lift you above the pain, and embrace the healing He offers. The day will come when you’ll have to lay it all at His feet and allow Him to carry the load of your heartache. Until that day comes, even if you’re only able to know this in your head, know that God is actively working, there is purpose for your pain, and one day, you’ll stand on the other side of it, sharing your grace story for His honor and glory.

Jenifer JerniganJenifer is a Bible teacher whose passion is to equip women to d.i.v.e. deeper into God’s Word, teaching them to study Scriptures for themselves. Her book, Dive Deeper, is a part of Thomas Nelson’s new InScribed Studies Collection. Visit with Jenifer at jeniferjernigan.com.

*Excerpt taken from Jenifer Jernigan’s new book, Dive Deeper: Finding Deep Faith Beyond Shallow Religion. (Thomas Nelson, March 2014. Used with permission.)

dive deeperLeave a comment below to win a copy of Dive Deeper! Winner will be chosen at random on March 22.

[Photo: ashley rose, via photopin cc]

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When Your World Comes Crashing Down

when-your-world-comes-crashing-down

[Guest Post by Rochelle Frazier – I met her through the Top 10 Blogs for Christian Women post I compiled. She was nominated for the list, and when I looked at her blog–I knew I had to have her share! For anyone who has seen their picture perfect like come crashing down, this is for you today. Be encouraged! You are not alone.]

Is it possible to arrive at the place where you stop asking, “Is there more? Should I be more?”

Is it possible that your restless heart could actually find rest right where you are?

Satisfied?
I dare to say “Yes!”

I don’t have the story of overcoming an addiction or a broken, battered, and abused childhood. I not only grew up in church, but you could find me there whenever the doors were open. My story was more on the line of the over-achieving, people-pleasing perfectionist. Everything in order and perfectly decorated, even my children.

From the outside, it appeared I had it all. And according to the “American Gospel,” I had every reason to believe that I did. You know the gospel that teaches us to be all that we can be, to own, possess, and claim what is ours, to climb a ladder that is placed on the wrong mountain and burst through the ceiling that has no eternal significance. And do it our way! This same spirit even carried into the way I served the church.

So when my perfectly orchestrated life left me empty searching for something more, I had no idea it was Him that I was missing.

I had it all together, right? Believing I was spiritually full, I offered my little teacup to the world asking… will you fill me?

But it didn’t come as I expected being a wife or a mother.
Nor through my perfectly decorated home waiting on Southern Living to arrive.
Nor from improving my figure or my social agenda.
Nor from becoming the top of my industry.

And then when my perfect little world came crashing down in 2006, broken and believing irredeemable, I turned to the very things I had avoided in my pursuit of perfection to see if they would fill me. But nothing satisfied the deep longing of my soul.

And then I finally came to the end of me, and because I needed God so desperately I would finally fill the calling of Jeremiah 29–not the one that I had worn on t-shirts and pasted on journals claiming that He has plans for me, but the rest of the verse that says,

“When you seek with your whole heart, I will be found. And bring you back from captivity.”

I was praying for captives. Quick to point out the captives. I had even prayed for God to open a door so that I might visit the captives in Africa. And then reality hit that I was a captive. My heart would become restless trying free other captives who, like me, bought into the wrong gospel.

So how did I come to this place?

There was a year that changed my life. Our community was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, a few months later I would be diagnosed with congestive heart failure delivering twins, and while seeking to beat all odds against me, I would become a single mom.  I was told I may never work again, and with my three precious angels and a healing heart, I offered up a prayer,

“Would you give me an idea that would change my life?”

And He did. I began writing what is now the children’s series, Sweeteas, and these precious little characters would absolutely change my life. However, what truly changed me was that He answered that prayer.

A collision with the fully present God who I had enthroned in eternity wrecked my life. I was never to be the same. He became a reality and my life had to adjust to the true Gospel. The Gospel that says,

“You will find your life when you lose it” (Matthew 10:39).

And I did!

Sweet friends, when your world comes crashing down your heart has tasted eternity (Ecc 3:11). It will be restless until you return to His love. But when you do, you will find that the longing of your weary soul is satisfied!

Rochelle FrazierRochelle is a storyteller by nature infused with undeniable markings of a true Southern girl: charming accent, gracious hospitality, and her passionate and infectious faith. She is the author of the children’s series Sweeteas and He Gave Me Pearls and journeys with women daily through her blog “Living with Divine Purpose.” Her story is one of inspiration birthed at a time of desperation, and gives hope to women that He still brings beauty from ashes. She is the mother to a beautifully blended family of seven including her husband Todd, and children Joy, Jadyn, Holland, Houston & Jackson. She is currently finishing her newest book, Something More: Daring to Live on Purpose. Connect with Rochelle at http://www.rochellefrazier.com.

[Photo: A National Acrobat via photopin cc]

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Why Not Pursue Him?

why-not-pursue-him

[Guest Post by Paula Hendricks – I met her many years ago at the True Woman Conference in Chicago, IL. We were roommies and it was fun to meet her when I published my first book, and now years later it’s my turn to return the favor. Please welcome my friend Paula!]

Ever been tempted to force your fairy tale? Yea, me, too.

On those days when I’m tempted to act like a beggar or an orphan (instead of an adopted daughter of the King of Kings!), here are four truths I often come back to. I pray they spare you the frustration and heartache I’ve experienced along the way.

1. You are already loved completely and unconditionally. 

You no longer have to fight for attention or find your worth in a boyfriend. Listen to how deeply—and how long—the King has loved you:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness” (Jer. 31:3).

2. You don’t know what is best for you, but God does.

Have you ever set your sights on a guy only to realize later he’s totally wrong for you? I’ve done that more times than I care to count. That’s because:

“Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way” (Prov. 19:2).

God, unlike us, knows everything. Including the hearts of all guys (1 Kings 8:39b). You can trust Him to lead and protect you, His daughter, even when you don’t realize you need protecting.

3. You’re not actually waiting on a guy to pursue you—you’re waiting on God.

Whenever you’re frustrated over how long it’s taking a guy to notice you, remember that God is in control of everything:

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it wherever he pleases” (Prov. 21:1).

If the Lord can move the heart of the most powerful man in the land, He can turn any guy’s heart. Wait for His perfect timing.

4. God has nothing but good in store for those who wait on Him. 

You can rest easy. Psalm 25:3 says:

“None who wait for you shall be put to shame.”

That’s a fact you can count on from Your God who makes promises and keeps them. Of course, that doesn’t mean we’ll always get what we want when we want it. God tells us that in this world we will have trouble. But ultimately, in the end, He will work everything together for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28).

Having said this, I feel like I should add the following disclaimer . . .

Trusting God with your love life doesn’t mean everything will work out beautifully, or that you’ll get what you want. God isn’t a formula. God is a Person—one who’s more interested in securing our forever happiness than our temporary happiness. Hard to believe, but as our Creator, He knows better than we do what will truly make us happy. And ultimately, the ache we’re looking to fill will never be satisfied by anyone or anything other than Him.

And with that said—why not pursue Him?

Paula HendricksPaula Hendricks lives in southwest Michigan where she no longer tries to catch guys’ attention by swallowing live goldfish, arm wrestling, and jumping down flights of stairs. Instead, she blogs for teen girls and women by day and journals her adventures by night. She’s worked at Revive Our Hearts for nearly nine years (whew!), where she currently serves as Writing and Editorial Manager. Catch more of her writing at PaulaWrites.com.

 

confessions of a boy crazy girl*Adapted from Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom.

To win a copy of Paula’s book please leave a comment, and the winner will be chosen at random on March 6.

[Photo: Robby Mueller via photopin cc]

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I never wanted a bruised heart

bruised heart

[Guest Post by Laura – I appreciate how brave Laura is! This is the second time she has shared her story of rape on DevotionalDiva.com, and I love seeing how far she has come and how her story continues to encourage others. If you struggle with a bruised, broken, or shattered heart — be encouraged today!]

Bruised. I bruise easily.

Bruises seem to appear randomly on my knees or shins, and I can’t remember bumping into anything. To make matters worse, I can be a little klutzy. On the bright side, I’ve never broken a bone. But I’m fairly sure that a broken bone hurts exponentially more than a bruise. And just like bones and knees, our hearts can end up broken and bruised throughout our lives.

Perhaps it was naiveté, but I always thought that meeting someone, falling in love and getting married wouldn’t leave me bruised.

Why?

Maybe it was the relationship books that I read in high school and college, the ones that made it seem like if you followed God, everything would end up fairly wonderful, and the process would lack confusion and chaos. It didn’t take too long after college for me to realize that those books weren’t accurate.

But I still wanted it to be my story – a relationship without a bruised heart, no klutzy steps, no confusing words or actions. It would be my fairy tale.

Part of that fairy tale disappeared one night in South Africa when I was raped during a home invasion.

And a piece of my heart broke then as well. Suddenly the fairy tale seemed incredibly distant. Who would want to be in a relationship with me? Who would want to marry me? Eventually I reached a point where I could look in the mirror and tell myself that someone would, that I wasn’t too broken.

I still wanted the rest of my fairy tale to be perfect, however. So I was careful with my heart. Balancing hope and risk with reality and guardedness.

Not easy.

But I think I managed fairly well. It helped that I was living overseas, that there weren’t any guys interested in me.

And then there was a message.
Followed by a flurry of messages and flirting.
A few phone calls.
Then fewer messages.
No phone calls.
Followed by confusion and impatience.

Throughout the entire time there was lots of prayer. I was honest and brave. And while my heart wasn’t broken, it definitely came out bruised.

Once I admitted to myself and to God that I was bruised, that I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was, I felt relief. Relief in knowing that it was okay to be bruised, that it was okay to be hurt, that it was okay to not have a fairy tale ending. And now I focus on being open again, on not putting up walls, on trusting God’s plan.

I never wanted a bruised heart. I wanted the fairy tale. And I’m sure that many women would say the same thing.

But this bruise to my heart, which faded and eventually vanished, taught me a lot. About how sometimes the bruises in my life are more about the lessons learned and less about the bruise. About how I am partly responsible for how deep the bruise becomes and how long it lasts. About how important patience and waiting are when there is the potential for a relationship. About how I still struggle with high expectations. About how God doesn’t always answers my prayers the way I want Him to.

About how trusting God is far more important than seeking my own desires.

Question: What have your bruises taught you about God or about yourself?

LauraGod has given Laura a heart for teen and young adult girls, as well as a love for drinking coffee and living overseas, and she loves when all three of these come together. She currently lives in Ireland and writes regularly about life, ministry and healing on her blog http://chattingaboutlife.wordpress.com.

[Photot: CarbonNYC via photopin cc]

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A Happy You Comes Before a Happy Wife

happy wife

[Guest Post by Arlene Pellicane – I just love the question she asks because so many women ask it before getting married. Now that I AM married, I can honestly say she speaks the truth! Don’t be afraid to wrestling with this question yourself, and be encouraged today!]

Have you ever met someone who thought her happiness was dependent on getting married?

I remember being in my twenties, dateless, without a speck of hope when it came to romance.  But I always believed that a happy me preceded a happy wife.

In other words, if I couldn’t be happy alone, I couldn’t be happy with someone either.  I love the story John Maxwell shares in his book Make Today Count. He and his wife Margaret had been married for a few years. He was speaking at a pastor’s conference and she was presenting a session for the spouses. He writes:

During the Q and A time, a woman stood up and asked, “Does John make you happy?”  I have to say, I was really looking forward to hearing Margaret’s answer. I’m an attentive husband, and I love Margaret dearly. What kind of praise would she lavish on me?

“Does John make me happy?” she considered. “No, he doesn’t.” I looked to see where the closest exit was. “The first two or three years we were married,” she continued, “I thought it was John’s job to make me happy. But he didn’t. He wasn’t mean to me or anything. He’s a good husband. But nobody can make another person happy. That was my job.”

A happy you has to exist before there can be a happy wife.

Happiness begins with a choice you make. When you wake up in the morning, you don’t only decide what you are going to eat for breakfast. You decide whether you’re going to be irritable or even keeled, cheerful or melancholy.  An attitude isn’t thrust upon you. You have the great honor of choosing how you will respond on any given day – whether married or not.

Happiness in marriage can be found in some counter-intuitive places. Through serving your spouse instead of waiting for him to serve you. Through seeking God instead of seeking your own good. Through make wise choices instead of waiting for great circumstances.

It’s not up to your husband, your address, or your circumstances to make you happy.

You are the one who ultimately makes the decision to choose joy. When you place your hope in your marriage to make you happy, you will be disappointed. But when you put your hope in God, you will find enough joy in Him to last you a lifetime.

As you look around, you see a lot of people singing the blues about marriage. Becoming a happy wife seems impossible on many days. Yet this desperation is where hope can really shine.

Is it really possible to have joy on a regular basis in your marriage?
Can you really be happy in your current situation?

If you are married to a decent man who is not abusive, I am here to tell you that happiness can indeed start with you.  But you must begin by placing your hope in God.

Question:  Who are you counting on to bring you joy? What unrealistic expectations might you have for what your husband will do for you? 

*Today’s blog is an excerpt from 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife (Harvest House, 2014).

Arlene Pellicane 600x600jpgArlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife.  You can visit her website at www.ArlenePellicane.com Arlene lives in San Diego with her husband James and three children.

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