It Takes Time

Remember when you were a kid and you would get a cut and want it to go away as soon as possible? So, you’d pick at it or try to cover it with a band aid. Your parents would get on to you and say that you’re just making it worse or you’re just making it heal slower. Well, they were right.

The more you try to pick on your wounds the more it will take longer to heal. Covering it with a band aid won’t help either because no wound heals overnight. They say that time heals all wounds. It’s true.  You see, healing does take time. It doesn’t have a timeline.  But what does this word “healing” actually mean? According to Google, it means, “the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again.” So now the question is, how long does someone have to wait until they can finally say “I’m healed”?

Healing happens over time. It’s something that cannot be rushed. It’s an everyday process. You got to be patient with yourself and push yourself to be brave enough to heal. Healing is hard and I will tell you this, there will be days where your mind will be full of questions and you will feel desperate for answers that do not exist. There will be moments where all hope is lost and you will feel like you have not made any progress. Healing is messy and can get ugly. Sometimes it can be breaking and painful. But, there will also be days when you feel free and hopeful, even when you thought you had no hope left. There will be moments where you will feel supported and loved by the people around you and that healing won’t be too far away. And those moments are the ones you should hold on to.

Healing also happens when you’re alone at night or when you’re sitting in your car at a red light and suddenly you remember everything that hurts, and it feels like you’re getting stabbed in the chest repeatedly. Now your whole body just feels heavy, your heart and everything inside you hurts. Because, healing is pain, but it is also triumph. To be honest, you will always scar, but it will serve as a reminder that you made it!

The bible says  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” -Romans 8:18

It takes time. It takes pain. It takes hopelessness. It is not an easy process. But, healing will come. And when this pain is over, the joy that He will bring in your life will be incomparable. He has a plan for your life. God brought you this far and He will get you through.

So this New Year, I pray for everyone that’s in the process of healing. Don’t give up on yourself! Keep pushing. Give your broken pieces to the Healer. Little by little, every day, as healing slowly find its way to you and as your wounds become scars which will be proof of how gracefully you healed, your heart will be full of joy, hope and love. You will be better than okay.

francesca vitug

Called to Be Hungry

God does not call the fed. God does not call those who are full. God calls those to the table who have a hunger to serve. We are not mighty. We do not have power because money, fame, talent, and etc. God calls those who bow to him. He calls us when we lay down those worldly powers and humble ourselves to his throne. We are called to be hungry for more of Him. Call unto His name and He will bless you abundantly!

You can never do enough for the kingdom because God always has more for you. Think of it as this way. We eat everyday because if we don’t, we’ll be hungry. So, we fill up until we’re full. But, we’re never completely full because we eat everyday. That’s what God is calling us to do everyday! To be fed in His Word. To be hungry for His love and wisdom daily.

Proverbs 25:21 KJV says, “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink.”

He even called you to bless and feed your enemies this truth. So answer the call. If you fill your free time with social media or games, then you’re not fulfilling your call. If you fill yourself up with the wrong thing, you’ll find yourself still hungry, still hurting, still worrying, and still filling up with the wrong things. So stop and answer the call. God has called the hungry. And we all have a seat at the table.

As this new year starts, I am reflecting on the wisdom God has given me. I am very blessed for my family and friends and church that God has placed in my life. 2018 will always hold a place in my heart because it’s the year I answered the call to be hungry for more. As we see in Isaiah 65:13 KJV, it says, “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed.”

I find myself feeling empty some days. Not knowing why I serve the God I serve. But, when I turn to His word and pray at night, all that shame and guilt goes away. All because, I am called to be hungry.

Check out Chelsea’s personal blog: (Gracefully Made)

chelsea hockensmith

 

Becoming An Auntie

January of 2019, I will be an aunt for the very first time. It seems surreal to imagine that my sister, so young and still blossoming, is about to produce a little human that will forever change her parents’ lives, our family’s lives, and most definitely mine.

We three girls dreamed of that day. We would talk about it, joke about it, and even plan for it (typical girls that had their weddings planned at age eight). Now, it’s actually happening. It kind of terrifies me because I almost feel caught off-guard and unprepared after all these years knowing that one day this would come.

Am I going to be a good aunt? Or the crazy aunt you try to avoid at family gatherings? Will I be a good example, someone she will want to model her life after? Will I be proud of who I am and what I represent to her? Scary thoughts…

I think Ella being born in January, the start of a new year, is perfect. New Year’s tend to be the time everyone finally does some self-reflection. It’s the time when people attempt to eat healthier, be wiser with money, accomplish dreams they have yet touched, and grow closer to God.

I am honestly self-reflecting myself and it’s kind of bothersome. I really am not where I want to be and it’s no one’s fault except mine. Although I’m not ashamed of my current situation, I know I could be and do better! Spiritually, physically, financially, occupationally, and so on. It’s time to live the life I really want to be living and be what I really wish I could be.

With God, all things are possible. No, I am not perfect and I know I will hit road blocks on my way to my dreams and goals, but Jesus is always in control. He simply asks that we do our best and never stop trying.

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men”

-Colossians 3:23

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might; for [there is] no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”

-Ecclesiastes 9:10

I have an easy going nature and a care-free personality. But, I am feeling a sense of urgency! I pray that this blog inspires you to feel the same way. Life is so precious, and is promised to no one. Take advantage of every day and use it in pursuit to be greater and better! Spirituality is most important and then following that, your witness, your relationships, education, and occupation.

May your 2019 be blessed and prosperous! I believe in you, ladies. More importantly, so does God. He’s excited to see what you do with this new year!

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Wise(wo)men Still Seek Him

The Wisemen got their name (wise-men) not because of their position, wealth, or intellect. The Bible doesn’t give much information on the wisemen, but we know that they were wealthy and astrologers/scientist.

They sought baby Jesus to worship Him, to bring valuable gifts, and to give Him a welcome He deserved. They did this by sacrificially giving to their lord.

They traveled for thousands of miles, the journey taking an estimated two years. Jesus was a toddler when they arrived. What commitment for them to forsake their comfortable lifestyle, their homes, and work to travel such a great distance. This took great sacrifice and faith not quite knowing what would be waiting for them once they arrived.

The wisemen put their lives on the line. When King Harrod heard about the threat to his reign over the Jews, he wanted the child killed. Thankfully the Wisemen were given a dream by God of the evil king’s plans and they fled for their lives. They left in the night and never returned to the king to let him know they had found Jesus. Scripture says that King Harrod was furious and spent the rest of his life seeking for the Wisemen to kill them. He murdered all male children two years old and younger in Bethlehem in attempt to destroy the savior (Matthew, chapter 2).

They selflessly gave precious gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These were costly and rare gifts that would’ve even been a sacrifice for wealthy magi.

My prayer for you this Christmas and holiday season is that you are a Wise(wo)man. Not in brains, career, or financial status. But, in how you give unto the Lord. The Wisemen would’ve never been considered such if it hadn’t been for their willingness to give of their time, energy, possessions, commitment, and faithfulness. Don’t love the Lord half heartedly, but give all of you to Him this Christmas. Give Him your worship, your finances, your time and energy, and your commitment. Be willing to sacrifice whatever it is God is needing from you. For no sacrifice is too large, no gift is too valuable to give unto our king of kings.

What can I give thee

Poor as I am

If I were a shepherd

I would bring a lamb

If I were a Wiseman

I would do my part

But, what I can I give

Give my heart

— In A Bleak MidWinter

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Be Grateful

It is not those with the most that feel continent, but those that feel they have the most.

We live in a self-suffocating society. Social media tends to be all about profiling and self-elevation. From name brand bags, to expensive vacations, to relationships, to glamorous shots- we seem to like ourselves a lot. Or do we just like people liking us?

I’m guilty of it. I continuously check on my most recent post to see how many likes I got. Or get overly excited about a name brand purse I got on sale (simply because of the name). I make sure my bio sounds impressive and would never be quick to post something that doesn’t look high quality.

Am I alone? (C’mon, you can admit it too!) Why do we think like this? Why is this such a toxic mindset that has poisoned this generation?

Comparison. Competition. Corruption.

Comparison

It’s natural to see something you like or is appealing and then self-reflect. Do I look like that? Do I have that? Am I at that same level of attractiveness?

Competition

From comparing, that little green monster then latches onto you. You feel the need to prove your worth, image, and social reputation. Girls struggle most with this although men are not exempt. We will compete to see who has the prettiest face, nicest clothing, possessions, most attention, and most extravagant sparkling life.

Corruption

From this mindset, we are corrupted. We lose gratefulness and the understanding of being truly thankful. Instead of being content of where we are at, who we are, and the life that we currently live- our minds tell us, “It’s not enough”.

Although we want to better ourselves (spiritually, characteristically, educationally, occupationally), you must be careful that you are not operating from that corrupt mindset of comparison and competition.

With Thanksgiving upon us, I just wanted to encourage you to be truly thankful. Look at what you have and be grateful. Look at your finances and be grateful. Look at where you are in your life and in this season and be grateful. Look at your job, your school, church, family, and friends and be grateful.

No matter how underprivileged or discouraged you may feel when scrolling through your feed- recognize how much God has blessed you and how He continues to do so, especially in areas you cannot yet see.

(*If you need a Thanksgiving jam to get you in the grateful spirit, listen to: Be Grateful by Walter Hawkins. It’s an oldie but one of my favorites!)

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Imperfect Beginnings

For as long as I can remember, I have been a perfectionist. I hold myself to a high standard and often exhaust myself trying to reach that mark. While striving for excellence is a good thing, being a painstaking perfectionist has a major downside: it also makes me a procrastinator. I don’t like to start anything until I know I can complete it perfectly. This has led to countless untold stories, unfulfilled dreams, and unshared talents. It’s also led to an assortment of excuses for why these things go undone.

I can’t do this thing, I reason, because it won’t be just right. If my results aren’t up to my high standards, surely my efforts aren’t worthwhile. It’s smarter to wait until I can guarantee a better result. When I know I’ll write fluently, make music flawlessly, share Jesus articulately, and succeed completely, then I’ll begin.

The real reason behind these excuses, though, isn’t wise planning or careful preparation. It’s fear. I am afraid to step out and walk on the waters Jesus has called me to. I’m afraid that my efforts won’t matter; my words, my songs, my heart, won’t make a difference. This fear tries to convince me that it’s not time to step out yet; when the time is “right,” then I can move forward. Until then, I shouldn’t begin anything. I should simply wait… and then wait some more.

For the past year, though, the Lord has been showing me that there’s no such thing as a perfect beginning. We will never feel equipped, confident or qualified enough for the things He calls us to. And we’re not supposed to. Jesus doesn’t call us because we have it all together. He calls us so He can put things together through us, providing what we need and showing His grace and greatness through even our shortcomings. One of my favorite Scriptures is 2 Corinthians 12:9: “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

The very weaknesses I have allowed to hold me back are what invite the power of God to rest in my life! His grace, not my talent is what equips me to do His will. Jesus doesn’t view our small, unsteady starts as an inconvenience or disappointment; He welcomes and encourages them. He doesn’t merely work with and through our imperfect beginnings; He delights in them.

When I feel that my efforts are uncoordinated or unimportant, Jesus isn’t recording my shortcomings. He is celebrating that the work has started. “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10).

What has Jesus whispered in your heart that it’s time to begin? Don’t let fear hold you back – Jesus rejoices to see our imperfect, obedient beginnings. Autumn may seem like an odd time to think about “beginnings,” but I often find myself reflecting in the fall. It’s a time to look back on the year that has passed so far and to look ahead to what’s coming. And it’s a time to simply, imperfectly, begin.

Sarah Bio

What Ministry Is Not

I grew up in a pastor’s home. I lived with parents that eat, sleep, breath ministry and working for God’s kingdom. From scrubbing baseboards and painting the church, to studying, praying, and fasting for each sermon and lesson, to dealing with all kinds of people as counselors and psychiatrists, advising with Biblical and Godly wisdom. And you know what, my parents LOVE it. All of it. The good, the bad, the ugly. I was raised in an environment where the mentality was: it is a joy, an honor, and a privilege to serve God’s kingdom as ministers. Not one time did I hear my parents grumble or complain about the burdens of ministry. When my parents faced a challenging situation, they never vented or involved me and my sisters. There are things that happened to my parents that I didn’t find out about until I became an adult, because they wanted to protect us and never give us a hazy outlook on ministry. I am eternally grateful for that. I know of others that are pastor/minister’s kids who grew up to resent ministry. They knew about the drama and attacks upon their parents, their parents would be gone all day working at the church, and would pour so much of themselves into their ministry that there was hardly any time or energy for them.

The definition of ministry is literally: servanthood. But, unlike the maids and butlers of royalty- being a servant to God is so rewarding, a blessing, and a powerful experience. Being a servant to God feels like being royalty. Ministry is anything that somehow benefits the kingdom. Yes, some ministries put you on a stage for people to see. But, at the end of the day, God sees ministry as a thing of the heart. If you scrub that church toilet until your fingers bleed, God values that more than the guy who jumps behind a pulpit and didn’t prepare his message (real talk).

Ministry was made to be a practice taken on by a follower of Christ. First you follow, then you serve. When God went looking for disciples, He didn’t stop at asking them to follow. He told them he’d make them fishers of men and that they would have to take up their cross. Ministry is supposed to be something we do because we love God, we want to benefit His kingdom, and want to devote our time and energy as His devoted servants.

Ministry, as satisfying and honorable as it is, is not a relationship in itself. It is supposed to be a product of a relationship.

In church culture, we tend to glorify ministry. We tend to treat it as a status symbol or a fancy title. I remember being a teenage girl and that being the pick-up line guys would use to attract the women, “Yeah, I’m going to be a minister”. When in reality, that probably wasn’t the most pure-hearted statement.

But, for those that are genuinely in ministry (and not trying to pick-up a date), sometimes we feel a pressure to always produce. Like, give a progress update at the end of every day of things we’ve done, people who have been filled with the Holy Ghost, or how many followers we got on our ministry’s Instagram. Without meaning to, we can start behaving like ministry is a job and we are being rated on our performance. Subconsciously we will compare our ministry to others and our work to other churches. Sometimes we wake up stressed and go to bed stressed thinking about our ministerial responsibilities. And that, is simply exhausting and not the way God ever intended ministry to be.

Burn out is a real thing. I have seen it firsthand. Marriages fall apart, churches crumble, and minister’s spirituality suffer. All because a servant of the Lord gave and gave and stopped being refreshed from the fountain. People get spread so thin, trying to pour themselves into ministry with juggling work, school, family and friends, that they eventually breakdown.

It is okay to take a break or even to pull-out of ministries. Yes, you heard me right. I believe whole heartedly ministry is something EVERYONE should be involved in. It’s so rewarding and a blessing to the congregation. But, I have to remind myself that God rather have His relationship with you be priority, strong and thriving, than have you hanging on by a thread doing His work. Your walk with God is so much more important than what you do for Him. Although your local church and pastor appreciates your help (especially in a small church), make sure you are thinking of your spirituality and mental well-being first.

Are you getting burned out?

Do you feel like you have nothing else to give?

Do you find yourself more often stressed than uplifted when helping in the kingdom?

Does it feel like an obligation instead of a privilege?

These are hard questions each of us who are heavily involved in church need to ask ourselves.

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

What God truly desires from us is communion, intimacy, meditation on His word, and to be priority in your life. Yes, that even means priority over your ministry.

Don’t find your satisfaction in what you do for Christ or the roles He has given you in His kingdom. But, in Him alone. Be thankful for the honor and opportunity of leadership that has been bestowed upon you. But, never let that fog your vision of what is most important…your one true love.

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