Down But Not Out by Kenika (Ladies On Life)

Photo Courtesy of Cameron Nunez Photography

I went over to a couple friend of mine’s house to hang out.  After visiting and catching up, we ended up playing a board game.  It was a game that I had never played before and it asked questions on a variety of subjects that I was not at all familiar with.  On their insistence that it was fun, we played.  This was not an ordinary game where you have players that give their best effort and whoever performs the best wins, on this game not only did you have to perform well, but you had an opportunity to bet against the success or failure of those you’re playing with.

As we began the game, it was apparent that with question after question I had no idea what most answers were. But you couldn’t just say, “I don’t know”, you HAD to guess which proved to yield some funny and wacky answers from me because I clearly had no clue.  After laughing at and even mocking me, my competitors began betting against me on every turn, sure that I would give a wrong answer, and they would gain points.  However, somewhere in the middle of the game, something began to happen. In this game if others bet against you and you get it wrong, they get points, but if they bet against you and you get the question right, you get all of their points.  The more they bet against me, the more questions I got right.

I started out playing a game that I was totally unfamiliar with and felt inadequate at, with two people who were not only smarter than me when it came to the subject matter, but had played the game before.  From the beginning it looked like I was sure to fail so much so that others stacked all the odds against me, literally.  But when it was all said and done, much to their shock, I won the whole game.

Even though it was only a game and all in fun, I saw such a parallel to life.  How many times does it look to your friends, family, the enemy, or even you that you are down?  It may appear that you’ve completely lost and you may even cry out to God to help or to save you before it’s too late, but please hold on.  God is setting up a supernatural move in your life.  No matter how bad it gets or how low you feel, you may be down at the moment, but you are not out.  How you start is not the most important thing, it is how you finish.

As others are betting against you, counting you out, or disregarding your abilities, God is in your corner and putting others in a position where they will be forced to turn their criticism of you into praise.

 

Consumers and Contributers by Sonya (Ladies On Life)

Photo Credit: www.dreamstime.com

I have been thinking about what it means to be a consumer and what it means to be a contributor in our spiritual walk.  Being a consumer in my opinion is being able to obtain information and learn more about God’s word through bible study or classes or church service.  As we are being discipled we are being consumers learning how to grow in our faith.  Consuming is great because you learn and understand more as pastors or other bible study leaders are teaching you.  On the other hand, if that is all you are doing by just listening to God’s word and just using it for yourself then it defeats the point of what God has called us to do.  “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” James 1:22 (KJV).  Hearing the word of God alone is not beneficial to you and others if we don’t use it.  We are to be doers of the word and to go out and act on what we have been taught.

 

Therefore you move yourself from being a consumer to being a contributor.  We would be selfish if we were to keep everything we knew and learned about to ourselves.  God has created us to be the hands, feet, and eyes of the Church and to go out and serve one another.  “Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it” 1 Corinthians 12:27 (NLT).  Contribute your talents and gifts and reach those that do not know and need to hear about God.  It is like a ripple effect; once you touch someone’s life they are more apt to want to touch someone else’s life.

 

What does this look like? I know for our family, we have been discipled and taught through our church and the different classes and bible studies and our kids through children’s programs.  We have been greatly blessed consuming God’s word through these programs.  But now we are challenging our small group and family to reach out and serve in these next few months by contributing our time and talents.  We have planned several outreaches to serve food in low-income communities, bring gifts to families that can’t afford it during Christmas, helping kids that are disabled, and serving our local food pantries.  These are just a few ways on how you can get involved.  We want to teach not only our children but also those around us not to be consumers but to contribute and give to others that truly need it.  Showing God’s love through your actions can be the biggest testimony of whom God is.

 

This holiday season, I challenge you to give your time and talents to those in need.  If it means taking the time out to help a neighbor or saying “hello” to a stranger, it will be well worth it.  Pray God will give you opportunities to be a contributor of your faith and not just a consumer. You will be so greatly blessed by putting your focus on others that you will forget about your own needs and realize what truly is important this season.

 

Heart Looking by Bombi (Ladies On Life)

 

photo credit: dreamstime.com

 

There is a popular show that judges singing talent purely on a person’s voice. The judges do not even look at the person until they have heard their voice alone and want to hear more from them, and then they take their first look.

As a believer, I hope to take that same approach with people I meet, only instead of hearing a voice, I want to see the heart.

In the Old Testament, when the prophet Samuel was looking for the next king (1 Samuel 16), he came to the house of Jesse and thought that each of his seven strapping sons could surely be the next king. However God was searching for His man, unlikely to the naked eye.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees;[a] for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Now I know that the Word says that it is God that looks at the heart. He alone knows exactly what is happening in the heart of men and women. But I believe we can take that same attitude or approach regarding discernment of the people who we interact with. We might not get it right all the time, God’s own prophet kept getting it wrong, 7 times in a row. But if we take a step back and think of the actions that are showing the heart of someone, we may become better judges of character. So the old saying says, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, this is wise, and even Biblical in this example. Sisters, I want to challenge you, the next time you meet someone and are tempted to make a snap judgment based on their outward appearance, or better yet, tempted to stick with that snap judgment, take a moment to seek God’s wisdom. Ask God for “heart goggles”. I believe He will honor your prayer.

 

Dream Bigger

Have you everplaced a time limit on your dreams or goals? Whether it was a childhood dream to pursue a certain career, or a goal to visit a country on a mission trip.  Maybe for you it was to get married by a certain age, have X amount of children, work so many years, travel so many places, start a business, or have a certain value of money in your bank account.  Whatever it was, you more than likely said you wanted to see it by a certain date or age.  If you are one of the fortunate ones, that goal or dream was accomplished exactly when you desired it to be.  For others, it may not have played out like that.

This is dedicated to the “others”.  For as long as I can remember I wanted to do modeling and acting.  I never wanted to be a huge star, only just local or commercial work. Instead of Vogue magazine, I was very realistic and understood that I was more like a T.J. Maxx catalog kind of girl.  I did my first pageant at 16 years old, and at age 18 did local work here and there.  When I moved to Orlando, FL the dream was still there.  God opened many doors and I did a few odd jobs here and there but nothing substantial or truly memorable.  It became overwhelmingly difficult to manage school, a full time job and try to continue to pursue this dream that requires you to be available at all times.  That dream quickly became my “Isaac” offering and I gave it back to God no less than 5 times saying, “Here, you can have it, I surrender, it’s yours, I don’t need it more than I need you.”  I was completely okay with giving it up, although I have to be honest and say it was always still in the back of my mind as a, “So, what was that all about?” sort of thought.

Fast-forward six years since I last pursued it, and it all came back to me again.  I had been petitioning God about many other things in my life, and here comes this concept again, “what about modeling?”  If this was really a desire that God placed on my heart years ago, then He can still cause it to happen. Without hesitation or reservation I contacted the agency I used to work with and met with them. Like a whirlwind, they said they wanted to work with me again, and I signed a two-year contract.   God’s timing is perfect.  I can prove it!  When I was younger in that industry I constantly had to fight because there were certain things as a woman of God that I would not do.  But when you are in that age bracket that’s all there is to do. Now that I am a little bit older (not too much I hope), the majority of the work available to me is what I always wanted to do all along!  GOD’S TIMING IS PERFECT.  Not only is He faithful to His promises, but also He is perfect in the timing of those promises. I never would have thought at my age that I would be thrust back into this world, but now I can look back and say that there was never a more perfect time.

If you find yourself struggling to see your promises, dreams, visions, or goals manifest, you must remind yourself to dream bigger.  If it hasn’t happened yet, it doesn’t mean it isn’t in the works.  We have to expand our minds and our faith to be able to receive the promises of God.  If you are frustrated, it’s because your dream is not big enough, it has to extend much further than you.  Now that I am walking this thing out by faith, part of me thinks I am way too old to keep dreaming, but thankfully it is always overcome by the part of me that knows it’s never too late.