Posted in Faith, Love

LOVE Defined (Book Review)

Hi lovelies! I am so excited to share with you a few of the major take-a ways I got from reading this book, Love Defined, by sisters Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird. In their book, Bethany and Kristen teach the reader how to embrace God’s vision for lasting love and satisfying relationships.

Some of us have been taught wrong on how to navigate love and relationships for far too long. I not only want to encourage you to read this great book for yourself, I also want to give you a short insight on the biblical based points in which Bethany and Kristen write about.

Beginning with chapter two, seeing through the Fairy Tale Facade, Bethany and Kristen write about Hollywood’s false front and how it takes a lot more than good looks and passion to maintain long-term love. Good looks will eventually fade, then what? Passion won’t always be there, then what?

Beautiful sisters, there is nothing Holy about Hollywood! We must stop fantasizing about having relationships like Hollywood portrays them. Instead, we must learn to crave and desire true love, which can only be found in Jesus Christ. Only then will we be able to embrace God’s vision for lasting love and satisfying relationships.

The Fairy Tale Facade consists of lies, deception, and selfishness. None of which are Christ like. In chapter three, the Merry-Go-Round Method for Modern Relationships, authors Bethany and Kristen describe the five-step process of this method (the wrong method to navigate relationships). Briefly, these steps include: (1) catch the right guy (2) coast on infatuation (3) concentrate on your feelings (4) count on him to satisfy you, and (5) cry when it fails, then go back to the beginning and do it all over again.

Does any of it sound familiar? It does to me! I was that girl on the “Merry-Go-Round” a few years ago before I learned and understood God’s vision for lasting love and satisfying relationships. I’ll admit, even though I’ve learned from my ignorant view of love and relationships, there are times that if I’m not careful, I can easily fall into the Merry-Go-Round Method once again.

Let’s take a moment to unpack steps 2, 3 and 4. Infatuation is a big mistake we as single girls tend to make when it comes to dating or even getting to know someone on a friendship level. If you have mentally planned your wedding with the guy, darling, you have officially entered the infatuation stage. That’s not a good thing!

Infatuation is a form of idolatry. You are constantly thinking about this guy, planning your wedding and honeymoon with him in mind, and wondering if what he said or did means anything. Infatuating about a guy will only cause heartache and disappointment when you soon find out he’s just not into you.

Concentrating on our feelings rather than on God’s truth and wisdom is the second mistake we as modern day women commit. We are quick to make decisions based on how we feel instead of taking time to seek wisdom for moving forward in a relationship. Our feelings should not dictate our actions. Our feelings are indicators for searching wise counsel.

The primary goal of the Merry-Go-Round Method, as Bethany and Kristen describe it, “is rooted in and fueled by a desire to please self (Clark & Baird, 2018, p. 37).” Rather than bringing God glory, this method is driven by personal happiness. God’s ultimate design for relationships is to bring him honor and glory.

Depending on a man for your personal satisfaction is like drinking coffee on a hot summer day and expecting your thirst to be quenched. No one can truly satisfy us the way Jesus can. The cycle of heartache and devastation will never end unless we change our way of viewing love and relationships. We must choose a Christ-centered approach if we want to see change happen in our love life.

“Who we marry is just as important as why we marry (Clark & Baird, 2018, p. 58).” Kristen and Bethany also write about the purpose of marriage and marrying the right guy. Marriage is much more than a wedding date and butterfly feelings. Marriage is about glorifying God and serving Him along with your spouse. Our goal should be to marry a man whom we could serve the Lord effectively. Kristen and Bethany provide the reader with three must-have qualities to look for in a future husband.

#1: Look for a man with VISION

“A man considering marriage doesn’t need to have every single tiny detail of his life together, but he does need to have a vision for where he is going and where he wants to lead you, his wife (Clark & Baird, 2018, p. 160).”

#2: Look for a man with PASSION

“Choose to marry a man who is passionate about the Lord now. This is a must-have quality in a future husband (Clark & Baird, 2018, p. 161).”

#3: Look for a man with PURPOSE

“Choose to marry a man who understands his God-given purpose (Clark & Baird, 2018, p. 162).”

What Kind of Husband Do You Want to Spend the Rest of Your Life With?

“A man whose life is marked by these things and who lives for the Lord is the type of person the Bible regards as wise to marry (Clark & Baird, 2018, p. 163).”

Ladies, I can go on and on about what Kristen and Bethany teach us in their book, but I rather have you read it for yourself. Please consider reading this book and allow God to show you his best for your romantic relationships.

You can connect with Kristen and Bethany on their website: girldefined.com

Posted in Faith

A Beautiful Story

What’s your story? Wait! Your story is still being written. Perhaps your story has a beginning, but I assure you the ending is still being written. We all have a story to tell and share with those we encounter throughout the course of our lives. Despite the fact our story is still being written, we have a beginning and a present part of it to share with others. There’s no perfect story, but there is a beautiful one.

Your story is beautiful, not because it has a good beginning, or an amazing present. Your story is beautiful because the author of it is perfect. Every chapter of your life, whether good, bad or ugly, is strategically being incorporated into God’s book of your life. Our life is like a book. The contents of it have been pre-established by God. However, the way we respond and navigate through the chapters of our life will determine how soon we experience our story’s glorious ending.

My story may look A LOT different than yours, and that’s OK. Our lives weren’t created to be similar to the lives of others. How ineffective would that be for humanity? Your story is unique because you are unique, and you can only leave the impact it was designed for you to leave on this earth. So instead of comparing the chapters of your story to the chapters of someone else’s story, celebrate the goodness and faithfulness of God in someones current chapter of their life.

Celebrating the victories of others when you’re expecting that same victory for yourself can be extremely difficult. Difficulties as well as challenges and unexpected circumstances enhance the beauty of your story. How? You may ask. Well, to be honest with you, nothing beautiful comes or happens just because. Seriously, can you think of something that is beautiful without it having endured a process?

From food, to clothing or jewelry and anything else you can possibly wear or use, there was a process and detailed steps to become the finished product. Similarly, the journey you are on and everything you encounter or experience is enhancing the beauty of your story. Remember, your story is already beautiful because of the final chapter it promises. The final chapter of your story promises you success, victory, blessings and a rich and satisfying life (John 10:10).

Although the current chapter of your life may not be one of success, victory or satisfaction, there is a chapter worth looking forward to. The final chapter, which will complete the beautiful story God has begun in your life. This chapter will be worth every hardship, scar and disappointment of the previous chapters you’ve come across.

So, my encouragement to you is this, rather than waiting miserably for that glorious chapter to flip its pages into your life, CHOOSE to wait with an expectant and thankful heart. Believe God’s promises for your life. Don’t lose time by not believing. God knows your situation. He knows the current chapter of your life you are living in because he is strategically orchestrating every moment and every aspect of it to bring you to the next chapter of your life.

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the confidence of what we hope for and the assurance of what we do not see. What does that mean? It means you believe and trust the process, the journey and every chapter of your life, even when you can’t see the evidence of what you’re hoping for. Don’t lose faith. Faith is what enables you to keep persevering despite the setbacks and challenges.

God always writes a beautiful story from beginning to ending. He’s the author and perfecter of your faith (Hebrews 12:2). Don’t let go of your faith yet. Don’t let go ever. Let God have his way in your life (you’ll be glad you did a few chapters later). Let him silence your doubt with hope. Remind yourself that God makes all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). He’s not done with you yet. He knows what’s best for you in every chapter of your life. Trust Him.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, strengthen me to rise above my circumstances. Help me understand that my circumstances do not define my future. My story is beautiful regardless of the good, bad or ugly I’ve experienced up until now and even what is to come. I trust your plans are good and worth every scar, hurt and disappointment. Thank you for the beautiful story you’re writing in me. In Jesus’ mighty name, amen.

Side note: I highly encourage you to listen to the song Beautiful Story by The Belonging Co. Be encouraged!

Posted in Faith

Hope is Alive Today

IMG_7322My sister once told me hope is the last thing we hold on to when our circumstances tell us to move on or let go of what we are hoping for.

For some of us hope can be easy to hold on to. For others, hope is the first thing that leaves us when issues or problems come into our lives.

What is hope?

According to Oxford dictionaries, hope is a feeling of expression and desire for a certain thing to happen, a feeling of trust.

What do you desire for today?

What or who are you trusting for that desire to be fulfilled?

I personally have so many unfulfilled desires I’m still waiting on to be fulfilled.

Under what circumstances do you hold on to or let go of hope?

Today I want to share with you a story of hope and redemption. This story is about a man named Job. You can read his story for yourself in the book of Job found in the bible.

Job had it going on for him. He had a great family, a great attitude, abundant resources, and pretty much everything anyone would wish for. Job took responsibility for his family and was loyal to them and especially to God. As a result, God delighted in Job’s way of living.

Job was blameless, a man with complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. Satan, defined as the accuser, argued that Job was such a good man and was well off because God had richly blessed him. Satan was sure that if God stripped Job away from everything good, Job would curse God.

God trusted Job and his faithfulness to Him that he allowed Satan to mess with Job’s life. God had faith that Job would not turn away from Him even if everything good in his life were taken away. Job got hit from different angles in his life. Tragedy after tragedy stroked him (4 times exactly).

Job became sorrowful.

He grieved over the loss of his family and everything else he had. Job indeed had every reason to question God, even doubt his goodness after everything he had experienced. However, Job reacted in a way others would describe as foolish.

Rather than cursing God like Satan wanted him to, he fell to the ground in surrender and worshipped his creator.

The Bible tells us that in all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God. I don’t know about you, but I find Job’s response amazingly impressive! Put yourself in Job’s shoes.

How would you react if every member of your family was killed and stripped away from you? How would you react if you got laid off from your career you worked so hard to obtain? Or that position you invested so much time and energy to get?

Would you bow down to your knees and worship God?

I personally wouldn’t know how to react. Just thinking about it paralyzes me. I LOVE MY FAMILY, and I couldn’t imagine living life without them. Satan the accuser was not happy with Job’s response. So he approached God again requesting to have access to Job’s health. God still trusted Job especially now that he proved himself faithful despite what he had experienced.

God again allows Satan to struck Job’s life but this time he stroked him with terrible boils from head to toe. Job reached the point where he couldn’t bear the pain and suffering any longer, which caused him to curse the day of his birth. He no longer wanted to live. He saw no purpose for going on with life. Everything had been taken away from him, and now his health was being jeopardized.

Job’s story goes far beyond what I just shared with you, and I highly encourage you to read his full story. However, for today’s blog and the sake of time, I simply want to focus on this part of Job’s story.

Maybe you are one to hold on to hope no matter what goes on in your life. You tend to seek the good in every situation regardless of how painful it is. Or maybe you are one to lose hope the moment things come crashing down for you.

Regardless of where you find yourself in the “hope spectrum,” I want to share this truth with you today,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).

What does that mean?

It means Jesus is alive and therefore hope is alive for you and I today! Hope never leaves us, we simply choose to ignore it or not acknowledge it. Hope is a feeling of expression. If you are going through a difficult and painful situation, I highly encourage you to express yourself to God.

Let him know how you’re feeling even though he already knows. God desires to hear your cry for hope and wants to draw close to you in your season of sorrow, anger or confusion. In doing so, whether you realize it or not, you are placing your hope in Jesus.

Hope is a desire for a certain thing to happen.

God wants us to place our hope in Him and not in a person, place or thing. Like Job, God wants us to trust him and turn to him rather than losing hope and having nothing to do with him when things aren’t going well for us. He wants to draw near to us in those hard seasons of life.

Maybe you’ve contemplated or are contemplating living life like Job did. Remember, Satan the accuser will try his best to separate you from God’s hope for you, which is Jesus. He’ll use the painful and sorrowful circumstances in our life to turn us against God rather than allowing God to help us find hope in them.

Don’t give in to Satan’s lies and schemes. Despite your heartache and sorrow, hope is present and available for you to take hold of. I wrote the following letter based on God’s truth and hope for you. My prayer is that as you read along you would feel His love and hope for you today.

My beloved [your name,]

For I know the plans I have for you. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a HOPE. Trust in me, and I, the God of HOPE will fill you with all joy and peace. My Spirit will empower you to overlook your circumstances with HOPE.

HOPE will not disappoint, because my love has been poured out into your heart by my spirit.

You have this HOPE as an anchor for your soul, firm and secure.

Give praise to me, the father of your Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that you have been born again, because I raised Jesus Christ from the dead.

Now you can live with great expectation. Put your HOPE in me and praise me.

I am your only savior and hope. Rejoice in my confident HOPE. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. Be strong and courageous, wait quietly before me. Continue to HOPE for my help and praise me even more. I have not forgotten the promise I made you, for it is your only HOPE.

Dare to HOPE in me even when it’s hard.

My faithful love for you never ends! My mercies never cease. Great is my faithfulness; my mercies are new each morning. Depend on me for I am good. Search for me, and wait quietly for my salvation.

Having HOPE will give you courage. It will protect your faith. Put your HOPE in me, I am your help and your shield. When doubt fills your mind, my comfort will give you renewed HOPE and cheer.

Now faith is confidence in what you HOPE for and assurance about what you do not see. Lastly, be confident in this, I will finish what I started in you.

Sincerely,

Your Heavenly Father

 

Take time to listen to these songs: Even If by Mercy Me and Hope is Alive by Kristene DiMarco. You are never without hope.

Posted in Faith

Costa Rica Mission’s Trip

Thank You/Gracias

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First and foremost, I want to thank all my sponsors and donors for making this mission’s trip possible for me to attend. Because of your love and financial support I was privileged to share God’s love and hope with disadvantaged families in Costa Rica. Whether you purchased a t-shirt or gave a generous donation, your investment did not return void. God moved in a mighty way everywhere we went. Children, youth, and adults of all ages were impacted by God’s presence. Lives were brightened with joy and love. Seeds were planted and several accepted Jesus as their Lord and savior. In the following paragraphs I will share highlights of what took place in Costa Rica. I hope you feel the power of God’s presence as you read along and see pictures of what was an amazing and unforgettable experience. Continue reading “Costa Rica Mission’s Trip”