Opening up my Jesus Calling devotional by Sarah Young is something I look forward to every morning. Today, was no different.
How many of you wake up and say this?
“Today is a blank page. I’m going to see what I can fill it with.”
I say this all the time, and even started the New Year saying something very similar. Today’s reading encouraged me to try something a little different:
Knowing that your future is absolutely assured can free you to live abundantly today. I have prepared this day for you with the most tender concern and attention to detail. Instead of approaching the day as a blank page that you need to fill up, try living it in a responsive mode: being on the lookout for all that I am doing. This sounds easy, but it requires a deep level of trust.
Today, trust that God’s way is the perfect way.
Sometimes it’s hard to trust anyone, even God, but Psalm 18:30 reminds us that “His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.”
I found myself holding my tongue today in line at a Subway restaurant. The two girls behind me were talking about one of the girls boyfriend’s and how she couldn’t understand why he broke up with her.
“I bought him anything he wanted, cooked him foods that he liked, had sex with him like all the time, and he still broke up with me. I just don’t get it,” she said.
She continued telling her friend, who replied with “uh huh’s” and “yeahs,” all the things she had done to earn this guy’s affection, but he still rejected her.
I wanted to turn to her and say, “Maybe that’s because he used you and has no respect for you.”
Now, this chick could have taken me out if she wanted to, so I felt it was best to hold my tongue, but on the inside, I truly hurt for her and wanted to do my good deed for the day and help you. Instead, I proceeded to tell the Subway employee what I wanted on my BMT, paid for my food and walked away.
I’ve been that girl before.
I’ve been that girl who did lots of things to get the wrong kind of attention from the person I was dating only to be hurt, completely broken hearted and even confused as to why the relationship ended.
I’ve been that girl who thought she was doing the right thing in a relationship by allowing my boyfriend to treat me like crap, hoping he would eventually become someone he wasn’t.
I’ve been that girl who, now that I look back, had no respect for herself and made some really bad choices.
But, I’ve also been that girl, that because of some of those mistakes and the seeds that were planted by family and friends, is NOT the girl I used to be.
The other night, I was watching a local TV station called KMOS (one of the only channels I can get with my digital antenna). There was a documentary on about the wonderful Maya Angelou. Miss Maya said something that night that stuck with me. I even wrote it on the bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker.
“You are enough.” — Maya Angelou
“You have nothing to prove to nobody,” she went on to say.
I wish I would have believed that a long time ago. I wish I would have believed in myself back then, but I believe in myself now. I wish I would have respected myself back then, but I respect myself now. This is all thanks to the relationship that I have with a very special person – my Heavenly Father – and some amazing friends and family along the way.
The scripture says this about self respect:
“For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:20
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” – Matthew 7:6
My relationship with God has opened up my eyes to a whole new world:
A world where I don’t feel like I have to prove anything to anyone.
A world where I choose not to settle for anything less than I deserve.
A world where I respect myself and expect others to respect me.
A world where I show my daughter what it looks like to be respected.
While I wasn’t able to help this girl today, I hope she figures this out sooner rather than later. I hope she learns that she deserves someone better than this guy (notice I haven’t used the word man, because I don’t consider him remotely close to being one).
Ladies, if you’re reading this and it sounds like a relationship you’re in currently, get out of it. Relationships are all about giving and receiving, not just receiving. It works both ways. Love yourself first. Respect yourself first.
You’ve got a friend in me. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to talk.
We’re super critical, sometimes curt, and often forget they are, after all, kids. They don’t know it all. They haven’t figured it all out. We need to cut them a little more slack.
I have found myself apologizing to my daughter and asking for grace on more than one occasion. I don’t think there is anything wrong with admitting we don’t always know what we’re doing. Let’s be real…we’re raising teenagers…they think we’re stupid anyway. HA!
On Wednesday nights, I lead a book club at my church. Last week, one of the moms shared a conversation she had with her teenage son about his grades. Caleb is usually a very diligent student, but teenagers, oftentimes forget to turn things in causing their grades to decline.
Being the mother of a teenager, I can appreciate the ebbs and flows of good and bad grades, so when Maria, a former school teacher herself, shared this tip about something she tried with Caleb, I put it in pocket for future use.
“I felt really bad the other night when I was discussing Caleb’s grades with him,” Maria said. “I immediately focused on the missing assignments and the less than ideal quiz scores. I felt so bad after he went to bed, I decided to try something a little different.”
That night, Maria reprinted his grades and circled everything he done right—completed assignments and high scores. The next morning when he woke up, she showed him the same grades, but this time, with all the good things circled instead of the bad.
A little change in perspective goes a long way.
Luckily for me, my daughter shared her grade report for Physics with me on Thursday night, just one day after Maria talked about her experience with Caleb.
As you can see, there are a couple of not so good scores on here, but I chose to circle all the good ones. Focusing on the positive could give your child that little boost of confidence they need, something that’s hard for teenagers sometimes. I try to do this as much as possible with my daughter whether it’s grades, a play she made on the softball field or a stunt she nailed during a cheerleading competition.
Whether its your child’s grade sheet or something else in life, try focusing on the positive before you go right to the negative.
Getting divorced is never a fun process, even if it’s a mutual decision between you and your spouse. When we enter into a marriage, the last thing we want to think about is getting divorced. My ex-husband and I promised we would never do that, but alas, just one year into our marriage, on our anniversary actually, we pulled the top tier of our wedding cake out of the freezer, at a few bites and decided to get divorced.
Here is my advice to you:
1. Pray. You don’t have to be religious to pray. I think this article has some nice thoughts on why you should pray and how lifting your concerns up to someone is therapeutic. You can also try using the ACTS method to pray.
You also don’t have to pray to connect with God. Take a walk outside or listen to some peaceful music. Meditate. Find your own skinny place.
2. Surround yourself with positive people. The last thing you need to do is hang out with people who are going to bring you down or encourage you to make the wrong choices. After my last relationship ended, I got heavily involved at my church. The people at Woodcrest Chapel are so supportive and encouraging. It was just what I needed.
3. Spend time on you. The last thing on your mind right now is dating, but if it’s not and you’re considering getting back out there, I would strongly encourage you to wait a little while. When was the last time you focused on you? Now, I’m not trying to say that you need to fix anything about yourself, but oftentimes, a marriage fails because both the husband and the wife have things they need to work on. Be honest with yourself. Is there anything you need to work on to improve for your next relationship? Focus on your growth and write down some things you learned in your marriage that could help you in future relationships.
4. Give thanks on the good days and the bad days. Being single definitely has pros and cons. Maybe you’re able to spend more time on a hobby now, or maybe you can finally get the bathroom painted (because you knew your husband was never going to get it done). One of my favorites is eating ice cream straight from the container. There’s no one home to judge me! 🙂 Just be grateful for the things little things. You’ll appreciate them more later.
I think giving yourself permission to take things one day at a time instead of trying to move on too quickly is the right approach, too. If you need anything, I’m always here.
Need some honest advice? Email me email@example.com.
When I was a little girl, my Grandma Libby gave me a pink Precious Moments Bible that I still have to this day. Today, I probably have five or more Bibles that I’ve either purchased or received as gifts, most of them in different translations.
November 2013 is really when my faith journey hit the fast track, as that was the night I was baptized surrounded by family and friends. Over the last three years, my faith and commitment to God and myself have definitely been tested, but there is one thing that consistently gets me through the hard times — the Bible.
Every morning, literally before my feet even hit the floor, I start my day with scripture, thanks to K-LOVE’s Encouraging Word of the Day. After getting ready for my day, I sit down at the table in the dining room, or my desk like today, and dive in deeper to God’s word.
Before I became a Christian, anytime someone mentioned God or the Bible to me, I tuned them/it out.
“Why should I listen to God or trust Him?” I would often ask myself or others. “I have been hurt by every man in my life! How is God going to be different?”
I was scared.
I was vulnerable.
I didn’t want to get hurt again.
Now, the more I dive into God’s word, the stronger my relationship with Him becomes. The stronger I became. The more trusting I became. The less worry I tend to have. I’m constantly reminding myself of God’s word from Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
But what are you supposed to do when these plans don’t go the way you wanted them to go?
Recently, a friend of mine suffered a tremendous heartbreak. She’s hurt, she’s confused, but she’s also questioning God and wondering why He would put her through something like this.
“Girlfriend, I have been in your shoes, more than once, and it stinks.”
It’s not pretty when the ugly cries start, and especially when the ice cream runs out, but now that I have a foundational relationship with God, I know He has my back and is going to take care of me. He told me so in Proverbs 3:5-6:
“Trust in Me with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Me, and I will make your paths straight.”
Friends, as you prepare your hearts and your minds for your faith journey, I encourage you to open up your Bible and look for your skinny place with God. He has your back, too, and if anything, may His word be a lamp for your feet and a light on your path.
My first diary was green plastic with a small lock to keep my secrets a secret. It had Holstein cows wearing sunglasses. I thought it was THE coolest diary in the world. I bet if I look in a few boxes in my basement, I could find it.
Writing has always been something I enjoyed, so naturally, when I began my faith journey nearly five years ago, journaling was something I wanted to make sure I made part of my routine.
Every morning, I open up Jesus Calling and Jesus Always, two devotionals by Sarah Young, my Bible and a journal. I’m always excited to see what piece of scripture will stand out to me the most, then I journal about is using the SOAP. method.
For you men reading this, maybe you’re thinking, “journaling isn’t really my thing.”
I hear you.
Would it help if I told you I know a man who considers journaling one of his “skinny places,” too?
My friend Sam keeps a journal like me.
I knew he was a cool dude!
For Sam, he always wanted to keep a journal, but it always seemed to fail for one reason or another. Here’s more from Sam about keeping a journal:
“Late last year, I was moved by the Holy Spirit to begin reading the New Testament from beginning to end and write my thoughts during that exploration. I realized that I knew all the stories we go over during worship, but never knew the writings that occurred between these verses and how they impacted our understanding of the Word of God. At first, I thought this little exercise was simply to take notes, but I quickly realized it was more than that. This may seem weird or cliché, but I actually felt the Holy Spirit flowing from my body, through my hand, into the pen, and onto the page.
Before even opening anything, I take a few minutes to pray. I pray for forgiveness, I pray for those on my personal prayer list, I give thanks for the gifts God has provided to me, and I pray for wisdom to read the bible with an open mind and spirit… to read what God wants me to read. There are also times I just sit in silence and listen, sometimes God is speaking to us and we do not even know it since we are too busy talking. When I have finished my prayer, I begin my study.
I have learned to be patient and read only a little bit at a time so that I can fully focus on what is being written. Sometimes this is only a few verses and sometimes this is a few chapters…I wait for God’s inspiration to help guide my journey. I jot down verses that stand out to me, I write down explanations of these verses as needed (even taking the time to look up online commentaries if needed), and then I end with my “Thoughts” on what I have just read…how does it make me feel, what could it all mean, how does it affect how I live my life? Sometimes I am writing to myself and sometimes I am writing to an anonymous audience. This is when I let the Spirit flow. When you do this, it is amazing what comes out.”
Like Sam, I start my day with scripture often before I get out of bed (I read K-LOVE’s Encouraging Word of the Day and go from there) and often get up an hour before I probably need to in order to have plenty of time to write.
After I start the coffee pot, I head to the dining room table to prepare my heart and head for what I’m about to read. I’m always so hopeful that the Lord will “speak” to me. I recite Psalm 143:8-9 as my opening prayer:
“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you, I entrust my life. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
If you’ve been thinking of a different way to connect to God, try journaling. Like Sam, you might be surprised what the Lord reveals to you.
I want to give Sam a big THANK YOU for sharing his journaling experience with me and with you. I hope to share more from Sam soon!
About Sam: Sam Giroux lives in Boonville, MO with his lovely wife of almost 14 years and two adorable daughters. He’s a member of the Nelson Memorial United Methodist Church. Sam is currently reading Every Man’s Bible, New Living Translation, but he also consults the New International Version and the King James Version when discerning important verses. His favorite verses include Luke 18:14 and Acts 20:24, and he enjoys long walks on the beach. Just kidding…I added that final part. 🙂
Music has been a part of my life since the day I was born, in one way or another.
My late grandmother was a piano student at Julliard. My mother played the piano. I played the trumpet in the fourth grade, sang in the honor’s choir in fifth grade and even had a solo or two in the sixth grade. When the right song comes on the radio in the morning, you might see my daughter and I jammin’ at a stop light on the way to school.
Music makes my soul sing.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about five different ways to listen for God. Music is one of the ways I hear God “speak to me”. There’s something about listening to Christian music that makes me feel closely connected to God.
Growing up in the Methodist church, I was used to singing straight of a hymnal on Sunday mornings. Some of my favorite songs are from a hymnal, but my church, Woodcrest Chapel, introduced me to a different kind of music several years ago — contemporary Christian music! Being able to rock out and praise God is something I never thought I would do. Most of the songs and artists I listen to are inspired by scripture, which is added to their songs, so it’s almost like I’m reading the Bible and singing at the same time!
If you’re looking for a new way to get close to God, try music.
Soul on Fire – Third Day (as seen in ‘Miracles from Heaven’)
Nothing is Impossible – Planetshakers
Soar – Meredith Andrews
I could go on and on, but I’m pretty sure you’re already bored.
Bottom line, if you don’t like to read the Bible, journal or maybe talk to someone about God just yet, try a different skinny place — music. Turn on K-LOVE or watch one of the videos linked above. You’ll thank me later. You’re welcome.
“God doesn’t ‘speak’ to me the same way He ‘speaks ‘to you. I keep thinking I will hear Him clearly tell guide me one way or another.”
When my friend made this statement to me the other day, it pulled at my heartstrings, but I’ve had those same thoughts myself. About five years ago, I felt the same way he did.
I was confused. I felt lost, and maybe a little forgotten. I was looking for some clear direction from God and didn’t feel like I wasn’t getting any.
I remember wanting the same relationship with God that my friend Amy had.
“Why doesn’t God ‘speak’ to me the same way He ‘speaks’ to Amy? Am I not good enough? Did I mess up too much?”
I think I felt because Amy was a “better Christian” than me, she had “an in” with the Big Guy.
“She’s been a Christian longer, so of course God would ‘speak’ to her before He spoke to me.”
Those were the things I was thinking. Five years later, I would finally understand that God “speaks” to us all differently.
In order for God to ‘speak’ to you, I believe it’s important for each of us to identify a skinny place.
Before you go getting all angry with me, I’m not trying to tell you that you need to lose weight (put down the carton of ice cream already).
A skinny place is defined as “a place where Heaven and Earth meet so closely together, that you felt God’s presence and a sense of peace and awe. It’s a place where God is active and present.” — Piet Van Waarde
This is the definition that the former Senior Pastor at my church, Woodcrest Chapel, shared with the congregation in October 2016. This series opened to my eyes to the many ways people could connect to God and ‘hear’ from Him. After the conversation I had with my friend, I thought it was time to dig out my notes and help someone else find their skinny place.
Over the next few entries, we will dive into a couple of the skinny places Piet discussed, as well as a couple of mine own, including:
By the end of this series, I hope you have found your skinny place and God is finally “speaking” to you, too.
When the water company calls you and tells you there is water spewing from the meter at your house, that’s never a good thing.
A couple of days ago, around 11:30 a.m., I received a phone call from my water company that went a little something like this:
Nice lady at the water company: “Ms. Cowgill, this is “Angela” from your water company. Someone was walking by your house and noticed water shooting from your meter, so one of our guys went over there and shut the water off. When you get home, you won’t have any water.”
Me: “Umm…OH MY GOSH! Any idea what happened?”
Nice lady at the water company: “We don’t. All we know is that it’s on the house side.”
In my mind I’m thinking, my ENTIRE house is flooded, precious family memorabilia and EVERYTHING in my basement is floating in water and TOTALLY RUINED!
Me: “Ok. Thank you so much for the phone call. I’m headed home right now.”
Panic sets in.
I pack up my stuff, tell my boss I may or may not be back today and proceed to leave the office.
I’m not usually the one to panic. I’m usually the one that says “We won’t worry about it until we absolutely have to. It’s all going to be fine.”
Yeah well, not that day!
On my way home, I call the property management company and tell them I may or may not have a water/plumbing emergency, but I’m on my way home to figure out what the heck is going on! I also may or may not have broken the law once or twice on my drive home. I’ll let you jump to your own conclusions on that.
I arrive home, prepared to have a full-fledged meltdown.
Cautiously, I enter my home and begin checking every sink, faucet and pipe upstairs. As I open up my basement door, I expect to see things floating in a pool of water, but guess what — THE BASEMENT IS DRY!! THANK YOU, JESUS!!
So what the heck is the problem then? The lady on the phone said it was on the ‘house side.’
You men reading this know exactly what she meant.
There’s a pipe burst in the ground somewhere on the side of the water line that isn’t the water company’s responsibility.
Ah…I didn’t think about that!
I call the property management company back and tell them to call off the National Guard because the leak isn’t inside my actual home.
Long story short, I ended up having to spend one night with my wonderful momma and one night showering at the gym because I was determined to live off of 12 gallons (4-4 gallon jugs) of water just so I could flush toilets, wash my hands, brush my teeth and make coffee in my own home.
After two days of not having water, the problem is fixed. I’ve never been more grateful to NOT own this home. I can’t imagine what kind of bill that would have been today, especially when he started digging for a second time. I’m grateful for the homeowner who can take care of this!
Patience is a virtue.
I’m a very patient person. Sometimes, too patient. Some people might get super upset and demand the problem get fixed IMMEDIATELY.
My attitude about this?
This situation was out of my control, and b*tching and moaning isn’t going to make something get done any faster in my mind. That’s not the most Christian way to handle something either.
If something like this were ever to happen to you, here is some advice from two friends:
“When life gives you lemons…”
“When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do?”
My point is, when there are situations beyond your control — chill. Be grateful for things that you do have versus the things that you don’t.
For me, I’m grateful I have a momma that lives close enough and who loves me enough to let me spend the night with her. I’m also grateful that I had heat, even when I didn’t have water. I survived just fine.