A Heart In Waiting by Trish

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It’s that time of year where our senses are overloaded with reminders to send that special someone tokens of our affection. An open display of love and appreciation is widely celebrated for that designated day of February the 14th.

While I love the fact that we have set aside at least one day out of 12 months to show our love for others, I do realize and understand all too well the sting that some feel during this time.

My desire is to encourage those who have a “heart in waiting”. I know for me personally now approaching the YOUNG age of 25, I mean 35, life was “supposed” to look very different for me by this stage. According to the very well planned calculations I formulated in high school, I should be married and raising 4 children by now.

Funny how life takes a different spin than the one we imagine. I love the fact that among the many plans in my heart, it’s God purpose that prevails. While I’m by no means bitter, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t disappointed.  I celebrate the fact that God has allowed me to do so much more than I could have ever dreamed possible, and yet there is that one small detail of my life that remains a mystery seemingly unsolved.

So what do you do with a heart in waiting? You continue to trust God and celebrate whatever season of life He’s allowing you to experience right now.  I realize that this is much easier said than done! But trust me, it’s possible!

For those of you who are waiting on God for your spouse, please continue to believe that He has His very best prepared for you! God is not teasing you or making a mockery of your single season.

I’ve had to learn to simply RELAX, and by that I mean I’ve had to learn how to let people in and take healthy risks in exploring possibilities. What I’ve learned is that you can lower your walls without lowering your standards! I always tell my friends that I was taught over and over how to guard my heart, but I never learned how to appropriately let the guards down.

When you stay connected to God’s plan for your life, you may not know every, single detail of the journey, but you can rest assured that your steps are ordered and He will not lead you astray.

As you walk out your single season, can I offer some lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn)?

1)      Don’t settle

It is far better to be with no one than with the wrong one. Don’t become so desperate for a relationship that you agree to something you know is not God’s plan for your life. Evaluate what is being presented to you.  Does the man of interest have the ability to lead you spiritually? Is he able to provide for and protect you?  Does his character speak well of him among those you respect? Does his life challenge you and cause you to aspire to be better?

I truly believe that God has someone amazing for me, and someone amazing for YOU. I desire to one day be fully confident that I am with the one God has ordained. Just as Eve was from Adam’s rib, so I will be to my husband and there will be no room for a spare.

 

2)      Don’t take yourself so seriously

I tend to cause unnecessary pressure in my life when I don’t know the end result or details along the way. I have “freak out” moments when I shut down entirely and clearly this is not healthy. I’ve had to learn that God is in control and when I respond in such a way of shutting down, or freaking out as I call it, I’m surrendering myself to fear and that is not of God. I had to learn to relax and trust that God has me and He is keeping me.

It’s amazing the possibilities you’ll discover when you learn to not take everything so seriously. You’ll discover incredible things about yourself as you open up to others. It will become easier for you to identify what traits you appreciate in a guy as well as things that could be a hindrance.  Determine what your personal boundaries are (and stick to them) and what your goals are in connecting with a person.  There is no perfect man, just like you are not perfect. Ask yourself what is negotiable in your interests and what the deal breakers are. Above all else, I’ve had to learn to let peace be the umpire of my heart and maintain honor for God, myself and those He’s allowed to come closer to me.

3)      Turn off the alarm

Come on ladies, you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about, the biological clock. If we truly believe that God is guiding our lives, then we must believe that His timing for all things is perfect! I remember a few years ago (please forgive the candid conversation about to take place), I was watching TV and a celebrity had openly shared how she had her eggs frozen. She was single at the time with no prospects of a husband and she decided to better ensure her chances of pregnancy at a later time by taking more of a drastic medical approach. I remember looking at my mom and jokingly saying to her “That’s it! That’s what I need to do!”  Needless to say, my mother was not the least bit amused by my brilliant plan to  eventually bring her grandchildren from my womb.

I don’t bring this up to debate if this decision is right or wrong, that’s not for me to say. But I shocked myself at what I allowed to consider, if even for a moment, when I dwelled on the tick-tock of my clock.

God knows far better than I do what is best – His ways are SO much higher than my own. I’ll have what I’m supposed to have WHEN I’m supposed to have it!

4)      Continue to cultivate healthy relationships

In this past season of my life God has graciously allowed me to get to know some incredible people. In particular, I was introduced to a friend that proved to me that my standards were not too high. I’ve never felt so honored, valued and esteemed. Ladies, there ARE good men out there. Do not buy into the lie that they do not exist. I’ve been blessed with the best in my male friendships and I can tell you, there are guys that will defend your honor, protect your purity and embrace the essence of who you are without asking you to compromise yourself to satisfy their needs or desires. You don’t have to know everything at once. Cherish the friendships God allows you to have and if something blossoms from it, great!

If not, you’ve lost nothing by gaining a true friend.

One of my favorite verses to refer to is in Proverbs 3:5-6. My job is trust in the Lord with ALL of my heart and don’t get caught up in what I think I understand (my personal interpretation) but in all of my ways, acknowledge Him and He’ll direct me.

So, this Valentine’s Day, don’t sulk over what you don’t have, but celebrate what you do have. Pour your love into someone else who needs encouragement. God’s got you and your precious heart in waiting.

 

Attitude of Service by Sonya

 

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Serving our families shows the heart of God to our children, spouse and extended family. This New Year I want to put aside my selfish ambitions and truly serve the Almighty God by having an attitude of service. My goal is to serve in such a way that people will see Christ in me. What if people asked, “What is different about you or how can I experience that joy and peace?” Serving brings out joy and peace when we model how to give of our lives to one another. Christ is our perfect model of service. How can we take on the attitude of Christ when we serve? I believe it is a mindset that when we serve our family and others, we do this getting nothing in return. As a parent, I try to model to my children that we can serve our siblings and each other out of the kindness of our heart and not expect a “thank you” or reward. Truly if we are serving with a heart of gratitude and not with a “what is in it for me” attitude,  we are serving for God and not man. “Whatever you do, work it with all your heart as working the Lord and not for me.  It is the Lord you are serving” Colossians 3:23-24.

Teaching my kids that our reward in serving is not from this world but from eternity is hard at times. For me it is hard as I work in the home taking care of my kids and husband, I can feel taken for granted and not appreciated. In those moments I can get a bad attitude and start to think, “why I am doing all these things for my family and do they even appreciate it?” As my bad attitude creeps in I realize whom am I doing this for. Am I serving my family to get recognition, or am I serving my family because they are the sons and daughters of the most High and out of love for them I WANT to serve them?

Having the attitude of wanting to serve them, and knowing that it is a privilege to be their mother and wife, gives me a new perspective.

This year I want to desire that perspective of having a joy filled attitude to serve in a way that they don’t see me but Christ! I want to model that kind of servant’s heart to my children and husband so I can be a reflection of Christ to them. Servant hood is one way we can show Christ’s love and humility through serving like a slave. Let’s become leaders in this area for 2014 and show our families God’s heart by serving.

“Anyone wanting to be a leader among you must be your servant. And if you want to be right at the top, you must serve like a slave. Your attitude must be like my own, for I, the Messiah did not come to be served, but to serve” (LB). Matthew 20:26-28.

Shortcuts & Selfishness by Bombi

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Photo Courtesy Of: Big Stock Photo

The New Year tends to bring much reflection. One area I often reflect on is how I am doing with parenting. Being a parent is no joke. Once you think you’ve mastered something, another challenge will arise. Maybe you’re the kind of parent that just figures it all out on your own. For me, I tend to seek wisdom from solid parents and of course, my Father God. Recently, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing my awesome husband in action as a parent. Danny has been told time and again what a good kid Noel is, how he’s so well behaved, and that Danny must be doing a good job. You know what? They are right. If you have the opportunity to step behind the closed doors of our little home, there is a diligent father parenting a growing boy who will one day become a man. Something that impressed me right away with Danny’s parenting is how he despises shortcuts in our home and in his life. Simply put, he is against them.  When correcting Noel, he carefully explains that taking shortcuts in life, in homework, in chores, etc., leads to bad places. It cheapens things. It makes you have to go back and do it again when you were capable of doing it right the first time. His message is that shortcuts are time wasters, and boys that constantly take shortcuts will turn into men who are trying to play catch up with life.

It’s some sobering and tough stuff, but it’s good stuff. It gets me thinking about our Father God and how He really wants us to get it, and get it right.  If we don’t He still corrects and loves on us, putting us back on our feet to try again. God’s guidance, or parenting if you will, teaches us about the process of selflessness and living for His kingdom and not our own. Jesus was and is that ultimate example showing us that every single part of the process was necessary, and there were no shortcuts to the cross. All of it, every step of the way, from being a baby born in a manger, to a student learning in the synagogues, to being raised by His parents, being baptized and sent out to minister, to the miracles, the betrayal, the lonely road to Golgotha, the death, burial and resurrection, all of it. He made every step and He didn’t take shortcuts. He didn’t leave anything out. He did it for us. He was showing us that doing things right, and fully, is the way of life, it is the way of love. It is complete.

I think about the ways that God was watching me, knowing there were times when He wanted me to stay on that path, but I turned and took a shortcut. Or the moments when He wanted me to just sit a little longer with Him in His presence, and I got up. I took shortcuts. I walked away from the process. I was living selfish, knowing within that the process brings the promise of love; “because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Hebrews 12:6 (NIV)

When I feel like something isn’t fair, and it’s all taking too long, and I don’t want any moment of suffering, I remember my ultimate example of the man who took the selfless, long, narrow road for you and me. He would not skip one step, because He loves us so. So here’s my prayer, “Lord, help me be the parent you have called and created me to be. Let me stay on your path because I am your daughter and child, and you love me so. Let me walk this road the way you want me to. Let me bring others with me on this journey. When I forget my way and want to take a shortcut, remind me that it’s pure selfishness to do this. So give me more of you. You are so selfless. You are the only perfect parent, and I’m glad you’re my father, Amen.”

Specks, Planks and Smelly Breath by Kenika

 

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Photo Courtesy: Big Stock Photo

I would like to begin by putting myself on blast.  That’s the best way to start anything right? When I was in middle school I was probably one of the most judgmental little sixth graders you’d ever meet.  I was always outraged to hear that my friends had done something like smoke a cigarette, or go a little too far with a boy.  Not only did they have to deal with me ranting and raving about them going to hell with gasoline underwear on, but they also had to suffer through my disappointment in them because they behaved in a way that was not considered appropriate by me.  It didn’t take long for me to discover that this was the fastest way to lose all of your friends! Worse than losing friends, I left them with a horrible taste in their mouth for anyone who claimed to be a “Christian”. They probably walked away thinking, “Where is the love?” and also feeling as if they could never measure up.

Please don’t get it twisted there is absolutely a time and a place to let people know the truth.  However, I’ve had to learn the hard way that if a person walks away feeling wounded not by what you said, but by you personally, you have completely failed at delivering this truth in love.  Real truth should provoke conviction in the heart and change in actions.  That’s a total sidebar.  I had a scenario where someone expressed their observation of the foul body odor of the person standing next to them. Nose turned up in repulsion, face scrunched in disgust, head shaking back and forth in disbelief, they leaned over to me and asked me if I smelled it too.  Attempting to whisper so as not to offend, I was nearly taken out of this world with the rancid aroma of this person’s breath.  That’s right, the person making a huge deal about and drawing attention to someone’s body odor, was suffering from an awful case of halitosis.

Matthew 7:3-5, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”  I thought to myself moments later, “Isn’t this just like the Church today?”  Everyone is so focused on the stench of others that they can’t begin to fathom or perceive their own.  In Matthew chapters 5-7 Jesus is teaching on basic rules to live by like how to think, how to pray, and how to treat each other.  We must first learn to address our own issues before we can ever lend a hand to another suffering brother or sister.  We need to serve God with a humble heart that doesn’t say that we’re better than anyone, but rather grab hands and seek to remove the specks and planks together.