Waves of depression settle into your heart. The voices are coming back - speaking lies, voicing doubts, planting seeds of disarray... "You are worthless. Nobody likes you. They think you're ugly and unfashionable. That's why you don't have that 'special someone.' You'll never be as attractive as her. You'll never match his strength. Even that dog has better hair than you. You're not 'strong and independent' like you think you are. You're weak. You're pathetic. You don't measure up to the standards of the world! You don't measure up! You're not smart enough. You're not fashionable enough...not athletic enough, not artistic enough, not pretty enough...You don't measure up. You're too skinny. Too fat. Too tall. Too short. You do not measure up to the perfection you see around you. Perfect people with their perfect clothes and lives; they look down on you. They judge you. They wipe their feet on you like a dirty doormat. You're disgusting and unlovable. Not even God loves you. Why would He forgive you and take you in when that guy over there is doing so much better than you?! Why love you when that girl obviously loves Him more than you do?! God doesn't love you. You've sinned too much. You keep going back...sinning over and over and over...you've dug you're pit too deep and no one is coming to save you. No one, not even your Creator, love you because you are repulsive in too many ways!!" "Silence!..." The commanding voice of the Creator breathes into your very being. "Be still..." He extols, "and know that I AM God. "YOU ARE LOVED. Do not listen to these deceiving voices. Listen to My Word. Block out all other voices and listen to Mine. Be still that I might speak and restore order to your soul." "I love you! I sent My Son to die for you. You are forgiven and loved by My grace through your faith in Me when you believed in My Son. Why do you let these troubles disturb your peace? Why are you downcast? Hope in Me and I will save and restore you. I knew you before you were formed in you mother's womb. I knew you before you thought of me. I have loved you longer than you think possible. Do not be afraid or discouraged when times of trial come your way for I AM with you. I will not forsake you. If you draw near to Me, I will draw near to You. Resist the devil and he will flee from you because of Me. I AM here to protect you. You are my child, a child of the King of Kings. You are a member of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for My own possession. This world is your temporary home. I have saved you a place in heaven, but in the mean time..." "YOU ARE FREE. Free from condemnation. Free from damnation. Free from the evil one, free from fear. You have been given a spirit of power and love and a sound mind. Do not be afraid. Nothing can separate you from My great love. I have established you. I have anointed you. I have sealed you. You are My holy temple and I dwell within you. Why then should you be afraid? All things work together for your good because of Me. You are complete in Me. You are hidden in Me. In your time of need, I AM extending you grace and mercy..." "Will you take it? Will you take the step of faith necessary to get out of the downpour and under My Wings? Will you let Me - your Creator, Father, Friend, Savior, Sustainer, King, and Lord - cover you with My grace? Will you take My cup of peace and let Me reign in your life? Dear child, will you let Me help you?" As your distressed and exhausted soul recognizes the strength and peace of God all other voices - of doubt, worry, fear, anxiety, anger, bitterness - fade away. You open the door of your heart and let your Creator in. "Take my life and let it be. Consecrated, Lord, to Thee. Take myself and I will be...ever, only, all for Thee."
Last Sunday was Valentines’ Day. As a single college-aged woman, that holiday can be tough. It seems many single women either have the attitude of “I’m a strong, independent woman; I have no need of a man, he’ll only hold me back!” or that of “I wish I had a man; is there something wrong with me that prevents my being in a relationship?” and may choose to ignore any other kind of reason for being single. I’m not shaming women who are single. I’m not shaming the romantics who dream of having a great guy. I’m not shaming the strong, independent women out there. If I were, I’d be shaming myself. I am single, and a romantic, and strong and independent. That’s what got me thinking this week (when all the chocolate’s on the Valentines’ sale). What if, rather than focusing on how loved I feel, I focused on how loved I make others feel? How would that change the atmosphere of Valentines’, I wonder? But that’s not what I was going to write about. Here’s the main thing that I realized…ready for this? I recognized that I have high standards. Some people may say that that’s why I’m not in a relationship. Low standards are often what lead to toxic relationships…that’s what I think. But, we all get our standards from somewhere, right? I figured out where I got mine.
My father is my standard setter. And why not? He’s funny, hard-working, kind, loving, energetic, thoughtful, discerning, and handsome just to name a few things about my dad. But it’s more than that. I know that my daddy sets his eyes on God. He’s raised my siblings and me to do our best. Live a life of excellence so that others have no root to pull you down by. Think things through carefully, especially the financial dealings in life. Don’t be afraid to get dirty. He’s built walls, put in hardwood floors, painted houses, helped us in the garden…he showed me in so many ways that he isn’t “too good” to get down and help with physical labor. He always pushed me to claim my dreams, but he encouraged me to research them to be sure that those dreams would be worthwhile. Above all, I know my father is a man of God. He’s shown me many ways to live out my faith in my daily work. A smile here, a word of encouragement there, the willingness to listen and pray, the nurturing and mentoring of many – these are just a few of the ways I’ve seen him living for God, living out his faith. He is respected by many people, and loved by his family. My standards for a man, who wishes to call me his partner (or his girl), are high because I expect him to be striving for excellence as my daddy does. I expect him to love God most of all so God’s love is clearly evident in his life. I expect him to learn to love me for who I am, with all my romantic notions and my quirks and my independence. I expect him to treat me with respect as my father treats my mother. I expect him to be a man of God. But, you might say, those are some high standards!! I know they are high, but I’ve met so many men who meet them that I know it is possible. I’m not discouraged that I haven’t met him yet. I have soon-to-be wed friends who I can encourage and watch with a smile, they’re so in love. I have my schooling to attend to. I have my relationship with God to strengthen. I have excellence to continue striving for. The standards set by my dad, I don’t just expect them of “my man,” I expect them of myself as well. A life of excellence, that of a godly man or woman, is what should set the standards because it is, to me, rooted in God Almighty, the most excellent of all.
Thanksgiving is the time of year when everyone posts on social media about what they’re thankful for. Often times, it’s the stuff they have, their possessions, that they are thankful for. The other common one is family and friends. There’s nothing wrong with being thankful for our possessions, for family and friends…but I wonder, how many of us stop to discern why we’re thankful.
So, I thought about it…My favorite holiday is Christmas. Because it reminds me of the why behind my thankful. The why behind my thankful is Jesus. He loved me enough to come in the form of a man, in the weakest form – a baby. He came that I might be saved…often times from myself. Christmas tells us the story of how He came, of the people who were involved and how hard it was for them. What we have in the Bible is only a glimpse of what they dealt with bringing the King into the world, of raising Him, of following Him. Jesus is my why I’m thankful. Let me tell you why He’s the answer to that question of “why are you thankful?”
He loves me. He died for me. He is my Shepherd (Psalm 23:1) and as such protects and guides me. He is my Redeemer and I join with Job in praising Him in the knowledge that He is alive! (Job 19:25) He won’t ever leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5) and because of this I can be content. He is my Provider, my Savior, the Lover of my soul, my Creator, my King! Nothing can separate me from His love (Romans 8:38-39), not my mistakes, or my struggles, my pain, my joy, my happiness, my dreams, no one and nothing, good or bad, can take His love from me. If that isn’t a reason to be thankful, I don’t know what is. If that isn’t a source of joy, than what is? In all that I’ve seen and experienced (and I know I’m not very old) nothing gives me as much joy as my King, no one loves me more than the One who loved me first. He is why I’m thankful for all I have, all I know, all I hold dear, all I’ve experienced…He is my soul source of thanks.
My King gave me a Daddy who doesn’t give up on me. My Daddy loves me, I know he prays for me, he let me follow him around. He supports me to follow where God leads, wherever that may be. He knows my mistakes and my issues and my dreams and my hopes, and he lets me learn from them all. He speaks when needed and loves so much more. He’s supplies what I need and sometimes what I wanted. He’s taken me on adventures and I can’t wait for those that come from my love of traveling that he instilled in me. I can never be thankful enough for my earthly father, my Daddy.
My Provider gave me a Mommy who trusts me and lets me learn. I’m old enough now to recognize that her rules were well-founded and I still carry many of them around with me. She always knows more about me and what I’m up to then I think she knows. She recognizes things in me before I do. She supports me, prays for me, loves me, and pushes me to be excellent in my King and to give my best in all that I do. My thanks for my Mommy will never end.
My parents are two of my biggest fans and encourage me when I’m ready to give up. They offer me wisdom, discernment, love, and prayers. They’ve done more for me than I can ever hope to do for them.
My Ruler knew I would need challenges and laughter and gave me that in my 4 siblings.
My older brother is my confidant and loves me fiercely and I him. I know I can always turn to him when I’m too afraid to turn to my parents. He’s my closest and dearest and oldest friend. All my life he’s protected me and tormented me in turn, but he almost never fails to make me laugh and to know when to keep everyone out of my way. We’ve been on crazy adventures that I’ll never forget and I hope to go on many more. I love my Big Brother and thank God for him.
My middle brother is my buddy and my nerd. He’s smart in so many ways that I’m not that I know he’ll help me when I’m stuck. He’s quirky and silly. His jokes and dances and songs fill my heart with laughter. Underneath all that nerd and silliness, is a godly young man who is developing in wisdom and discernment. He is the laughter in my life and my companion in school and I wouldn’t part with him for anything or anyone other than my God. I love my Middle Brother!
My youngest brother is my Teddy Bear. He is a source of comfort and understanding. In many ways, he is my “mini-me” we are alike in so many ways. He always looked up to me, watched my dance movies with me and my action movies and cartoons and Disney when no one else wanted to. He is a rock in my life, solid in our Heavenly Father and in his support of me. He has grown so fast and soon I’ll see godly young man in the place of my little cuddle buddy. I love my Youngest Brother more than words can express.
Last, loudest, most obnoxious and most endearing is my sister. She makes life an adventure of joy, laughter, and forehead smacking. She’s always followed me around like a little puppy wanting to be like her big sister. She never realized how much she has taught me. She taught me how to be patient, how to control my anger, and to remember to let people know that you love them. She’s blossoming into a beautiful young woman of God and I’m thankful that she’s here and that she looks up to me because it helps me watch my step. I love my Little Sister and refuse to let her go.
I have so many others to be thankful for. Bosom sisters (Anne of Greene Gables reference) whom I’ve met on this road who encourage and pray for me as I do them. Friends who are like family away from home. Mentors, teachers, advisers, and counselors who help me in so many ways. People I haven’t met who share their thoughts and wisdom that I see because of a friend’s post or a book that I’ve read. The possessions I have are just that…they break, stop working, rip, fade, etc. But they help me to grow in little ways. Hobbies, talents, and gifts offer me ideas of how I might live out my life to the glory of God.
What are you thankful for? What is the why behind your thankful? Have you thought about it?
“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1) I can and do join King David in his proclamation of thanks to God. My thanks is not limited to just one day of the year, it overwhelms my heart hundreds of days many times over.
To those who said something rude or stated some untruth, To those who tried to put me in a box, who stereotyped me...thank you. You taught me to respond with kindness and be discerning as I listen and speak, You inspired me to break the mold...who people think I should be Thank you...for you motivated me; I wanted to be kinder than you and share the truths that you ignored, To show people, they don't have to live up to the stereotypes. I am not a label, a stereotype! I'm a daughter of the KING, thank you for reminding me. To those who barely knew me and prayed for me anyway, Who cared and asked me "how was your day?" Who held open doors when my arms were full, Who smiled at me with joy in your eyes, thank you. Thank you for praying when I lacked the words, Thank you for asking about me when I was lonely, Thank you for helping without asking questions Thank you for reminding me about the joy... Joy that comes from being a child of the KING. To those who I call friends, mentors, teachers Who help me learn as I walk down this path, Who help open my eyes to the possibilities, Who make me laugh and forget my worries, thank you. Thank you for teaching and guiding me, Thank you for encouraging me to try something new, Thank you for showing me happiness and laughter, For opening my eyes to all the wonders around, That I couldn't see when my head was down. Thank you for encouraging me as a daughter of the KING. To those who are closest to my heart, Who stand by me now matter what comes, Who pray for me often and earnestly, Who are there when I call out, hurting, Who inspire me to better than yesterday, Who make me feel at home and loved, Who love me as I am, good days and bad, With all my quirks, sayings, and jokes. To those who hold a piece of my heart, thank you Thank you for being here, for being present, Thank you for loving me when I can't, For lifting me up, cheering my heart when I'm down. Thank you for accepting me and loving me, Thank you for supporting and encouraging me, When I'm excited, sad, hurt, angry, or joyful. Thanks for inspiring me to excellence in our KING, for reminding me Whose I am, not who I was. I am not broken, waiting to be put together; I am whole, as a cherished, beautiful, passionate Daughter of the KING!
“You’re lab report will be due two weeks from now. There are no page specifications, just follow the guidelines I’ve provided.”
“You’re one of my best friends.”
“You have to finish choreographing your dance…Your dance has been declined” admission.
“Our house finally sold, but we won’t get as much money out of it as we had hoped.”
“I injured my foot. I’m not sure what I did but everything hurts it, walking, dancing…What’ll I do? Dance is my passion…I won’t have an outlet!”
Sometimes, life gets busy and I neglect spending time with God. Sometimes, I allow myself to get overwhelmed by what’s going on. Sometimes, good things fill me with joy while bad things grieve me. But sometimes, I let the bad things outweigh the good…Why do we hold onto things that we would be better off letting go of? Someone says something rude to you and you can’t get it out of your head. You don’t make it into a group, a dance, a show and you feel like a part of your soul has been crushed. Your team loses and it feels like a personal hit. You say something rude and feel like it completely changes how everyone looks at you. Sometimes, when the weight gets to be too much, I let my anger out at my friends, my family. Sometimes, I cry at the smallest thing. Sometimes, I feel violent and I want to hit something. Sometimes, I just want to scream until I pass out…But I can’t. “Keep your chin up…you have to keep going…focus on your classes, ignore what’s bothering you…” But it doesn’t work that way. Ignoring the weight doesn’t get rid of it.
“Cast your cares (or burdens) on the LORD and He will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22b, NIV)
Cast = to throw or move (something) in a forceful way, to send or direct (something) in the direction of someone or something, to throw off or away, to get rid of
Cares = suffering of mind, a disquieted state of mixed uncertainty, apprehension, and responsibility, a cause for such anxiety
Burdens = something oppressive or worrisome, something that is carried (duty, responsibility)
Sustain = to give support or relief to, to support the weight of, to buoy up, to bear up under
This verse tells us that we must completely let go. That doesn’t mean that we can’t keep praying about it. It’s a burden when it is weighing down your mind, when it puts your mind in a state of disquiet that you need to throw it to God. Psalm 55 says that He will sustain you. But we have to give him our cares, our burdens first. Why? It shows that we trust Him to care for us. It shows a willingness to step out in faith. It acknowledges that we are not strong enough on our own. And when you do cast your cares on Him? Peace comes…peace that passes understanding. He nourishes your soul, soothes you mind, mends your heart…because you’ve decided to rest in His arms, you’ve decided to trust Him.
This is something that you have to choose to do every day. It means taking a couple minutes out of your day, daily, to give up your cares and then STOP STRESSING ABOUT THEM. If you’re still worrying about them, still stressing out about it, have you truly given them up?
Thoughts from a girl who’s struggling to cast her cares on God.
I wrote this about the man who makes me want to know God more, to love more, to strive for excellence. The man I’ve been falling for.
When he smiles at me, my day gets just a little bit better. When he greets me, I can’t help but smile and return it, even on bad days. The thought of him can calm me quickly or make it hard to breathe. He makes my heart accelerate and my stomach fill with butterflies. I love his little quirks and the way he laughs and how his eyes sparkle when he’s excited. When I’m with him, I’m not afraid to just be me, no walls or facades, no judgement or expectations. He makes me want to live life better and give God all glory, power, praise, and honor; he makes me want to love more people with Christ’s love. I respect him and love his energy, enthusiasm, and godliness. He helps, encourages, and prays for me, he’s there when I truly need him. It’s fascinating knowing him, and every day that passes, I pray for him. I don’t know what will happen or what will come of this and the feelings growing deeper, but for now I am content with simply loving him.