The Key to Finding Peace

Faith

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This past month I’ve been learning more in depth about prayer. I have the privilege of leading a small group of young women during the mid-week service at the church I attend and in this group we have discussed and shared about praying to God.

Talking about praying and actually praying are two completely different things. I don’t think we really know how vital prayer is in our lives, until there is nothing left to do but pray.

More than anything I’ve learned that there’s a certain posture you must take when it comes to prayer. It’s not what you say, but how you say it.

You must be humble yet bold. You must come with an open heart yet stand firm on what you’re believing for. Prayer, while it can be intimate and sacred, should be a time when you fight for what you believe.

One of my biggest struggles is trying to find peace. I get so caught up in the demands of life and on my own plans, that I leave no room to find peace and quiet. In times when I should be diligent to seek God in prayer, when I feel like peace has run out, I try to sweep my anxiousness under the rug.

Isn’t that exactly what the enemy would want us to do? Let our worries and anxieties get the best of us, so that we stop connecting with God.

I’ve discovered that the longer I wait to pray, the more difficult it becomes to verbalize and admit what’s going on in my heart. The longer I wait to let God in, the harder it is for me to open up.

Why must we wait to be exhausted mentally, physically and spiritually to ask for peace? I believe deep down inside we know we play a part in finding peace. We must turn towards God and quit trying to do it on our own. When we pray we remind ourselves of who God is. Prayer is a tool God has given us to discover and enjoy His peace.

Are you out of fuel? Do you feel empty and in need of refreshment? Going to a spa will help, eating some chocolate will ease the anxiousness and talking to a friend might help at the moment. But nothing can calm our hearts like praying, “God you are my refuge, you are my fortress and I can hide under the shadow of your wing”.

My newly discovered recipe for peace is to pray fervently. To me, fervently means to pray without fear. Praying with fervor means to come before God unashamed and ready to fight against the opposition with His word. The posture I’ve decided to take is that of a humble warrior. I surrender to my King, and only to Him. I won’t surrender to anxiety, worry, chaos or any other dart of the enemy. I’ll fight humbly through prayer.


“Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings,” Psalm 17:8

Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62:8

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2


How has prayer changed a challenging situation in your life for the better?

Has prayer helped you feel reenergized and refreshed? How?

What “posture” do you take when you are in time of prayer? How has it helped you connect with God?

Meaningful Relationships and Messy Homes

Faith, Friendship, Relationships

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“A friend is someone with whom you dare to be yourself”. -Frank Crane

It’s interesting to me that many of the young women I talk to say they desire to have closer and more meaningful friendships. I can relate to that on many levels because it hasn’t always been easy for me to get close to my girlfriends. It definitely has taken me time and many failed attempts, to understand how to have meaningful relationships. What is it that stops us from making genuine connections with others? Is it our social media crazy society? Are we isolating ourselves more than we think? Or is it a lack of understanding on the importance of having relationships that mold us and empower us? Maybe we fear being rejected or neglected?

Perhaps it’s a combination of all those things. What I do know is that in order to form meaningful friendships you must be willing to be honest and vulnerable. You can’t expect someone to trust you, when you can’t trust them to see you for who you are.

I grew up in a household that was meticulously clean. My mom is the most organized person I know. She is so organized, that she could see the wrinkles underneath the comforter if I had made my bed in a rush. I never really understood what the big deal was until I started living on my own. The way you present yourself, your home, your work, says a lot about your character and what is important to you as an individual. When there are guests over our home, I make sure my home is clean, organized and welcoming. It’s part of being a good hostess.

But the problem begins when we get so caught up in perfection, that we forget to be ourselves. We forget that as imperfect beings, it is fine to not have it all together. How else will we be able to relate to each other, if we can’t let others see us when our “home” is a little messy? I admire people who can be themselves around anyone. I have friends that have taught me, just by being themselves, that it’s okay to be a work in progress.

If we want stronger and more meaningful friendships, we must be willing to let people see the ugly, too. Being vulnerable with others, frees them to be themselves as well. It’s risky to do that, but the rewards are endless.

A couple years ago, I was struggling with letting people into my personal life. I was very close to my sisters and family, but lacked other meaningful friendships outside of my family unit. My husband, who I was dating at the time, had friends in his life that he’d known for a very long time. He grew up with them and still had them in his life. I understood the importance of having women in my life that could relate to me and understand me on a level that perhaps someone many years older than me couldn’t.

There was a time in my life that I had many close friends. Lack of wisdom put me in situations that I didn’t know how to handle. Instead of being honest with myself and my friends, I isolated myself and lied to them about how I truly felt. Instead of breaking off a relationship, I stayed in it because I was too afraid to be honest and confront the truth. But how could I begin to let people into my life after being hurt and hurting others?

My sister told me something I will never forget: she said, “You just have to know who you can let into your home, who you can let onto your porch and who will simply walk on the sidewalk of your home”. She explained that the people you let into your home are people you can trust to see the good AND the bad. Those are people you know you can be vulnerable with and will not judge you or gossip about you. The people you let into your “home” are people who will tell you what you need to hear not what you want to hear. The people who you let onto your porch are people you are close to, but know you cannot share every part of your life with. For whatever reason, whether it’s for their sake or yours, you know it’s best to keep deep, personal matters from them. And the people on the sidewalk are people who you know will hurt and damage you. You will still love them and care for them, but they cannot have access to any of your personal matters. Those are people who are toxic and do not edify your life.

Slowly but surely, I have learned to be vulnerable and open up in my relationships. I’ve learned that being honest, as hard as it is, prevents you and others from being hurt. Being open also helps us determine who we can really trust as a confidant. Have there been times that I’ve been let down? Absolutely! But I get back up and keep being myself. Building meaningful relationships will force us to reveal our imperfections, our questions, our doubts and insecurities. We shouldn’t let the fear of being rejected or misunderstood, hinder us from nurturing the genuine relationships God intended us to have. The people God places in our lives, to make us better and mold us, will take the good and the bad. They will be willing to listen and speak in the appropriate times. We just have to be willing to open up our “homes” (hearts) to them, even when it’s a little messy inside.

So, what are some practical steps to take in order to having meaningful and genuine relationships?
1. Pray for wisdom to know who are the people in your life that you should be in your “home”, your “porch” and your “sidewalk.
2. Be willing to show your true friends who you are. Don’t hide the truth about what’s going on in your life. Allow them to BE a friend. Many times God uses the people around us to speak truth into our lives.
3. Schedule time to hang out with your friends. Reach out to them regularly and make sure they know you care about them and what’s going on in their lives.

“Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” Proverbs 18:24 MSG

“A spoken reprimand is better than approval that’s never expressed. The wounds from a lover are worth it; kisses from an enemy do you in.” Proverbs 27:5-6 MSG

Have you ever experiences a time when you felt you needed meaningful relationships in your life? What are some practical steps you took to have them?

Confessions of a Newlywed

Faith, Marriage, Relationships

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Marriage is like a mirror; it reveals who you really are.

Growing up as the youngest of four and having my parents to myself for most of my life, I have a tendency to be selfish and self-centered. For a really long time, it was all about me, my needs and my wants. God has been challenging me in this area through different situations and scenarios. I’ve cried, thrown tantrums and been mad at God for it.

God has tested me over and over to break that chain of selfishness in me, but I never imagined that marriage would be my turning point. Now that I am married, there’s no room for selfishness. I can’t be mad over stupid things anymore, I can’t think of myself first, and I can’t complain all the time when things don’t go my way.

I have to admit, the first couple of weeks after our honeymoon were rough. I had to get used to being the one serving and not the one being served. I had to get accustomed to sharing every space in our tiny condo. My bed wasn’t mine, it was ours. The bathroom wasn’t mine, it was ours. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I was tempted to be angry and lash out at my husband for the restless nights I had. Honestly, there were times that I was not a nice person to my husband. Edward was so patient, though. Thank God for a patient and loving husband. He knew I’d get out of my funk.

Seven months into marriage and I am starting to settle into my role as a wife and getting better at being selfless. Marriage isn’t just a paper you sign in order to dress like a princess for a day. It is a calling on your life that only God can anoint you for (1 Corinthians 7:7 MSG). I’m grateful that God chose for me to be a wife, because it has made me a better person. It has taught me that I don’t have to “stand up for my rights” as if they are being taken away from me (1 Cor. 7: 2-6 MSG). Serving others, specifically your spouse, is a high calling, not a degrading or lowly chore. Serving my husband has taught me that God desires us to serve Him and others, uninhibitedly.

“And because He knows where I need to be tested, challenged and stretched, He will not allow me to stay in my comfort zone.” -Chrystal Evans Hurst

My comfort zone is to be selfish. My comfort zone is for me to have the last word. But that’s not how God operates. He wouldn’t be a loving Father if He didn’t test us and challenge us to be the people He designed us to be. He knew I needed to humble myself in order to reach a higher level in Him. He knew what had to be broken in order for me to flourish.

Now I realize why marriage is a mirror of the relationship between Christ and the church. It reveals the heart of God and what Christ came to do on earth, and that was to serve and rescue others (Matthew 20: 28). We may not be able to rescue our spouses or those that we give to, but we can serve them and give of ourselves liberally. That’s the kind of person I want to see, when I look in the mirror.

What situation or life change, has God allowed in your life, in order to reveal areas in your life that need to be adjusted or dismantled?

How have the tests and challenges helped you grow spiritually?

5 Floral Accessory Finds

Fashion

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These are some floral accessories I found in my own closet. No shopping necessary! I’ve had these pieces for a few years, but I haven’t put them to good use in a while.

It’s a smart habit to hold on to statement pieces (big or small), even if you aren’t using them consistently. They will most likely be your “new” go to accessory when you least expect it. What was out of style a few years ago, might be in style now. And what was old yesterday, might be new today.

Repurpose and reuse your accessories. The satisfaction of getting a compliment on an old treasure (with no money spent) is pretty awesome.

Share some of your personal closet finds! How will you use them this summer?

Just Live your Life

Culture, Faith

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There could be many reasons to want to be someone or something we weren’t supposed to be. Perhaps someone convinced you that you were the ugliest person. Maybe someone told you that you’d never amount to anything. Or maybe you doubt the dreams and talents that God gave you. I have dealt with similar words, thoughts and feelings.

There isn’t one popular magazine that doesn’t air brush and photoshop their featured model. They all do it and in some cases, it is very obvious. In a world obsessed with an unachievable standard of beauty, I am not a bit surprised to see young women going to extreme measures and forming unhealthy habits to reach “perfection”. We have been conditioned to live discontent with who we are. In some cases we adjust our hobbies, likes, and dreams to fit a mold of some sort.

The truth is, we were created to run in our own lane. We run the same race of life, but we run it, in our lane. We don’t do justice to our talents, unique personalities and specific calling, when we are constantly trying to live like someone else. We don’t do justice to who God made us to be, when we can’t love ourselves for who we are.

A few weeks ago, I decided to change my hair. It was a drastic change; to the point where people didn’t recognize me. I was on the fence to go through with it, but I said to myself, “Do you want to do this for you, or for others?; Do you want to change your hair or are you nervous about what others might think or say?” Might seem silly, might seem minuscule but it was something I had to do for myself. It was my way of saying, “Ok, I will be me”. I believe that when you act and live in the essence of who God created you to be, there is nothing to be afraid of, there is nothing to hide. Being genuine goes a long way. And the people around you will notice. They may not recognize you at first, but it will be worth it in the end. There is a feeling of freedom and satisfaction that you achieve when you live your life loving you, for you, and walking out the calling God placed on your life at your own pace.

Looking at the way others live, looking at what other have or don’t have, doubting ourselves because we don’t have it all together yet, can hinder the way we run our race. One of the most important things in running a race, is running steady, focused and keeping your destination in mind.

I am going to run my race and I’m going to run it right. I will run it the way God wants me to run it, without looking to my left or right. I will keep my eye on the prize, which is Christ.

“Be you, enjoy the things you like, laugh the way only you laugh, speak the words only you can speak, wear your hair the way you like, live your life, be who you were meant to be”. As Rhi-Rhi would say “Just live your life”.

“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone”. Ephesians 1:11-12 (MSG)

Have you ever felt discontent with who you are or with the way your life looks? What are some steps you can take today, to live life with contentment?