Texas Strong

I sit here, watching the rain come down just thinking about my Texas. My Texas is filling with water. My Texas is structurally falling apart. My Texas is hurting. My home, the place where I was born and raised, is hurting and my heart is breaking. With every passing hour, there is another picture of homes being torn apart and another picture of people crying out for rescue. With every passing hour, there is more destruction happening in my Texas.

But in every passing hour, I see hope, I see love, I see unity, I see God. I see God in a man carrying children out of the water and into safety. I see God in mothers shielding their children from the rain. I see God in strangers grabbing their boats and heading into disaster to rescue their neighbors. I see God in companies supplying basic needs. I see God in people sheltering each other from the storm. I see God in people loving others. I see God in Houston today. My state might be hurting, but God’s love is more evident than ever.

Today as I stare at the rain I can’t help but think of Matthew 5:45 and Isaiah 43:2. The Bible says that it will rain on the just and the unjust. Rain will come whether it is actual water falling from the sky or metaphorical rain in your life, you must expect rain. However in that rain, God promises in Isaiah 43:2 that when you pass through the waters, He will be with you. He will be the emergency responder heading into the storm to rescue you. He will be the family offering you shelter. He will be the neighbor sharing food and water. He will be with you wherever you go, even unto the end of the earth (Matthew 28:20).

I am proud of my Texas. I am proud of the unity I see in this beautiful state and in this beautiful country. I am proud to call myself a Texan and an American. I am proud of my fellow Texans and Americans helping those in need. I am praying for my neighbors in this time of need. Along with others, I want to be light for God in the midst of this time of darkness. I want to represent the Lord and represent Texas Strong.

about sarah

Sarah Barnhill, 21, is from Texas and is the middle sibling out of three girls in the Barnhill family. She recently graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with her Bachelor’s degree. Her favorite snack happens to be Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos!

Praying Selflessly

I can testify to what it feels like to be on pins and needles in your prayer life. We all have (or will) come to a moment where an important decision must be made. It’s never easy to determine what to do. It could be deciding where to go to college, your job choice, where to live, whether to date (or marry) that handsome young man, where to travel, how to handle confrontation- ugh! You don’t make it through this life without stressful obstacles that cannot be avoided.

So, we immediately plunge into what we know is best- prayer. But, I have experienced times where even with all my prayer about a particular circumstance, I still felt stuck.

Although prayer is powerful and you can never get enough of it, if you are firstly stressed, anxious, or obsessing over an issue, your “prayers” only make you more frazzled. Pray about it, fast about it, and ask to hear from the Lord. Then, gracefully…move on.

We women are notorious for overanalyzing, overthinking, and having a hyperactive imagination. (It’s because we are geniuses). But, it can also be harmful when we are praying and interceding for ourselves. Pray without ceasing does not mean to do so while being tormented by worry and confusion. That is simply not of God. He is not cruel. He hears your prayers and sees your pursuit of an answer. So, do not live like you are having to fight for your cause every day.

What is the solution to releasing stress, anxiety, and fear? All I can do is tell you what has worked for me. I encourage you to try it out for yourself and tell me how it works after a few days of practice!

I pray for others.

We all know friends, family, coworkers, and saints in our local churches. Each person is facing their own battle, needs protection and guidance, or could just use a spontaneous blessing from your prayers. It is so liberating to get your mind off of your own problems and be concerned with others. You’ll start to notice that you don’t feel as anxious, worried, or fearful.

Because the simple truth is beautiful. While you are praying and interceding for others, God has others doing the same for you. You make God’s business yours, He’ll make yours His.

Philippians 2:3-4 “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

This scripture perfectly explains how we should behave in our prayer life. Although praying for yourself is essential, it is a whole new and wonderfully rewarding experience to pray on the behalf of others.

I’ve witnessed it myself and practice selflessly praying for others when I find myself overwhelmed in my own circumstance. It works! After all, the heartbeat of Christ is to love and care passionately and selflessly. If we want to truly follow after a lifestyle like His, we’ll do the same.

about blogger

Charity Huba is a 24 year old Floridian, fond of the State’s hot summers and tropical beauty. She is a leader in youth ministry, music ministry, and Sunday school. She has her degree in Political Science and works for the government in the Division of Elections. She adores quality time with her loved ones, musicals, and moon-lit nights.

AG Moms: Bump Style

Hey Apostolic Girls! It’s been a while since I’ve contributed to AG and I am so excited to be back! Since you last heard from me, I have added a sweet baby girl to my now family of five (Brooklyn, age 4, Bronx, age 2 and Gramercy, age 5 months). I love being a momma bear to a young family and I’m ready to share some mommy lifestyle pieces that I’ve been brainstorming for months… ok maybe years. I truly hope to inspire, entertain, and begin to build a strong community of Apostolic moms to support each other through this blessed and, let’s be honest, sometimes difficult journey we call “motherhood”.

So why not start at the beginning? Something most mommas have to deal with at the beginning of our journey into motherhood, maternity style. Now I feel I should preface this with a disclaimer, I do not claim to be a fashionista or style-icon of any kind. However, over the course of three pregnancies, I do believe I have learned a thing or two about how to dress a baby bump modestly and on a reasonable budget. Here are a few tips I put together specifically for this Apostolic community and the AG mommy readers. Enjoy!

maternity 11. LAYER, layer, layer! It can be very difficult to find modest maternity wear that is both belly hugging, and not too tight on the rest of the body. In fact, towards the end of pregnancy it can feel like an impossible task. We want to dress modestly but we do not want to look like a walking human tent. One way to achieve this is to layer your more form-fitting maternity pieces (dresses, skirts) under longer, looser items (tunics, vests, cardigans, jackets, etc.) This will give you a cute, hey I’m obviously pregnant hold the door open for me vibe, but should still maintain your personal modesty. Also, adding skirt extenders or knit skirts under dresses that become too short once your bump starts to grow is a great trick as well. Shorter waist length tops can also be layered over tighter fitting shirts and dresses to add another layer of modestly or even just spruce things up a bit.

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2. That leads me to my next tip, buy maternity basics! Some pieces I can not live without during pregnancy are white, black and navy (long or short sleeved depending on the season) knit maternity tops, a black maternity dress, a maternity jean skirt (harder to find but sometimes you can find them in Facebook resale groups) and a black knit knee-length skirt (maternity if you want but also a size up in a normal knit skirt works as well). I found all of mine at H&M but you should be able to find them at Target, ASOS US online or many other maternity stores. These pieces are really the gift that keeps on giving. They are great for layering and should fit you throughout the entire maternity process. They recommend that when buying maternity you buy the size that you normally wear. So for example if you wear a medium shirt at Target, a medium maternity shirt should provide you with the right fit.

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3. All knit everything. Ok well not “everything” but knit fabric is a maternity must. Many knit pieces will see you through your entire pregnancy, even postpartum and beyond! Finding things that you know you can wear after you have the baby just makes the maternity shopping even more justified. There are many online modest boutiques you can find that sell a number of different knit dresses whether they be A-line, empire waist, maxis, etc. Find a style that you like both during and after pregnancy and use different accessories (belts, scarves, vests, etc.) to better cater these pieces your body and bump style.

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4. Belts! Belts saved my life during my pregnancies. Cinching the “waist” of regular tops and dresses right above your belly helps to accentuate the bump and make everything look a little less shapeless. There is definitely a time and place for a subtle, hidden bump but when you want to give your belly a little more attention this is the trick for you. There’s no need to add holes to belts you already own, just look up some tricks for tying your belts (Pinterest, Youtube) and skip the holes altogether. It is also not a bad idea to invest in a couple new, slightly larger belts, one more casual for every day outfits and a nicer one for church and dressier occasions. I like to go with shades of brown and rose gold personally but of course black and more colorful belts work great as well. This also helped open up the possibilities of my pre-pregnancy wardrobe and gave me more wearable options for what I already had, without having to make a bunch of maternity specific purchases.

5. Shop online! Let’s get real. The typical mall maternity stores are not always full of trendy maternity options, and when you do find something cute, it is rarely very modest. There are a ton of great online options for maternity wear including ASOS US, Zara, H&M, Old Navy and Gap (some stores have a few pieces but you will do much better shopping their online selections), and even Modest Resale sites. This is a great way to shop a wider selection and find things that fit your personal style more appropriately than what you may find in your normal retail stores and in person.

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6. Knot your shirts, pull up your skirts. Knotting your shirts works for knit and woven shirts and can add a more interesting element to your outfit as well as help accentuate your bump. Again, this is a great way to repurpose things you already have. Shirts that may no longer cover your belly can be super cute knotted up with a high waisted skirt! Also, pulling your skirt up above your belly can keep those favorites in your outfit rotation a bit longer especially if they are a bit longer.

I’m sure I could talk on this subject for hours but I will leave you with these six tips. Whether you are repurposing your current wardrobe for your growing belly or finding some new maternity staples, I hope you find these suggestions helpful! I’d love to see how you style your own modest baby bump! Use the hashtag #AGmodestbabybumpstyle to share your pictures and tips with us, we would love to hear them!

about christi

Christi Witt is a mother of 3 from Cincinnati, OH. She attends Calvary Church where she is involved in music ministry. She’s a strong believer in Jesus, caffeine and the power of chocolate. Her greatest job is being a stay-at-home mommy, crafter, creator, and maker!

 

My Jesus Blend

Even though the Essential Oils companies have been around for years, they have been quite a hot topic lately. Now this not a blog post to persuade or argue either side, but just a thought I would like to share with all of you.

Being a new user of Essential Oils, I am constantly learning about new blends to use for health or emotional support. I have a low immune system and I work with kids, so I am constantly diffusing different blends for immunity support and emotional sanity! As a beginner in using essential oils, I find myself questioning which oils my body needs. Last week I was introduced to an ITOVI scanner, which scans your body and suggests blends to support your body’s emotional and health-related needs. Now I will be honest and confess that I don’t understand how the scanner works, but my results were quite eye opening.

The ITOVI scanner suggested blends for allergies, immune support, skin care, and emotional support. I began to read the descriptions of the emotional blends suggested for me and instantly began to cringe. There were suggested blends for self-acceptance, body image acceptance, forgiveness, release of control, and pain. Each blend description opened my eyes to my humanity more and more.

As Christians, I feel as if we forget how human we truly are. We set such a high standard for ourselves, and when that standard is not met, we are filled with shame and disappointment. This is exactly what happened to me when I realized the impact my flesh was having on my life. I was instantly faced with my flaws of being my worst critic, expecting perfection and falling short, holding grudges, and my constant desire to be in control. But because Jesus is my God, as that shame and disappointment began to creep in, all I had to say was His powerful name and I felt His peace wash over me.

I am human and I make more mistakes than I would like to admit. I have to work on myself daily and sometimes I still feel like a failure. But even though I am human and even though I will never deserve Him, my Jesus came to this earth and died on the cross so that I could have hope, joy, peace, strength, mercy, grace, and everlasting life. Because Jesus shed His blood for me, I am made pure and whole in Him. Because Jesus rose from the grave to be my hope and salvation, my joy is grounded in an empty tomb. He is the One that can heal my brokenness. He is the One that can set me free. He is the One that created me in His image. He is the One that is in control.

So even though I am known to carry my Peace and Cheer essential oils blends with me on a daily basis, I never want to forget to put on my Jesus blend every day. Because Jesus died for me, I can put on a blend of love, mercy, grace, strength, joy, and confidence. Jesus anointed my head with oil and because of Him my cup runneth over. I pray that His anointing will lead me, guide me, and use me. I pray that by putting on my Jesus blend every day, I can share His goodness and love to every one I meet.

about sarah

Sarah Barnhill, 21, is from Texas and is the middle sibling out of three girls in the Barnhill family. She recently graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with her Bachelor’s degree. Her favorite snack happens to be Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos!

Don’t Be Fooled, Saul

When we think of King Saul, we automatically think of an evil, jealous, and sinful man. A demented king burning with hate against the innocent David. Blinded by rage, he spent the end of his life relentlessly hunting a man he could never kill. With God’s Spirit and anointing taken from him, Saul dies bitter and tormented.

But…I can’t help but pity Saul!

You see, Saul started out a pure soul. He had favor in God’s eyes. When Israel pleaded for a King, God gave them Saul. God chose Saul out of all the men in Israel.

1 Samuel Ch. 9:15-17 “…Thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me. And when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my people.”

The prophet Samuel anointed Saul and he was officially king over Israel. The people rejoiced and Saul truly had God’s blessing. Everything was looking good. He obeyed the laws, was respectful to the prophet, and was humble before the Lord. God was pleased with Saul.

So, how does he go from that to a delusional reprobate?

The Israelites always gave a sacrifice unto God before any battle. This kept God’s hands of protection over them and gave them victory over their enemy. Before one particular battle, Saul was supposed to wait for the prophet Samuel to give a sacrifice. But, Saul got impatient waiting, took over, and performed the sacred sacrifice on his own (huge no-no). This showed disrespect and rebellion towards the holy and sanctified things of God. It all went downhill from there.

But, still…I pity Saul! My heart breaks when I read 1 Samuel 15:30, “Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.”

Saul would sin repeatedly, then mourn and weep as he begged for mercy- repeatedly. He had random moments where he would show reverence and respect to the traditions and beliefs of the Jewish people. Although he was losing his sanity and anointing, he would have glimpses of reality. A small spark of his consciousness would shake him and wake him up. But, soon his mind would fall asleep again into the darkness of his immorality.

God was not mocked nor fooled. He took His precious Spirit from Saul and an evil one tormented him instead (1 Samuel 16).

Saul’s life serves as a warning to us. It is an example of what happens when you try to love light and darkness. He loved God and had a desire to do right. But the love of his own pride and desire to please himself was greater. Saul became too confident in his own abilities and position. He put God on a shelf and tried to determine and govern his future with no regard to the One who made him king.

How often does Saul’s life reflect our own? Do we take mercy for granted? Have we lost respect and reverence to God, the church, ministry, and leaders in our lives? Have you been walking around haughty, prideful, and arrogant?

If you have answered yes to a few of those questions- don’t panic! It’s never too late to turn back to the righteous One. But, be warned. Do not fool yourself as Saul did. It is impossible to love light and darkness, to choose our will and God’s, and to want reverence and not give it.

Don’t be fooled and don’t let your story have the ending of Saul’s tragic life.

about blogger

 

Charity Huba is a 23 year old Floridian, fond of the State’s hot summers and tropical beauty. She is a leader in youth ministry, music ministry, and Sunday school. She has her degree in Political Science and works for the government in the Division of Elections. She adores quality time with her loved ones, musicals, and moon-lit nights.

evenTHOUGH

This life can be overwhelming. We can be overwhelmed by situations in our personal lives, anxieties about the world we live in, or even worries about our futures. Sometimes things in this life work out exactly the way we plan, but sometimes our plans completely fall apart. Sometimes we feel at peace and sometimes we look around and wonder how we will ever make it to tomorrow. Life is full of ups, downs, twists, and turns, but how do we approach God through it all?

Habakkuk was a prophet of the Lord that wrote a book in the Bible. Habakkuk’s book is a three-chapter conversation between him and God. Habakkuk’s prayers to God were full of fear because everywhere he looked, he saw destruction and violence. Habakkuk cried out to God asking Him why he had to watch and face so much misery. He asked God how long did he have to call for help before God intervened. How many times have we felt like Habakkuk? How many times have we seen violence or destruction in our lives and world? How many times have we asked God how long will we have to cry for help before He intervenes?

Throughout Habakkuk’s conversation with God, the Lord revealed to Habakkuk that there would be hard times, but that He had a plan. The Lord explained to Habakkuk that even when God’s plan seems slow in coming, he must wait patiently because it will surely take place and it will not be delayed (Habakkuk 2:3). Sometimes we can approach situations in life like Habakkuk. We can see destruction and immediately begin to fear. We cry out to God and feel as if He isn’t going to show up in time. We feel overwhelmed by this life and begin to question God’s timing and plans; however, we must trust in the Lord. We must believe in His plan and His timing. Just like God promised to Habakkuk, He promises to us that, if we wait patiently, His plan will SURELY take place and it will NOT be delayed.

In whatever we face throughout this life, we must trust and believe in God’s plans and timing. In Habakkuk’s prayer, he explained, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord!” Even though all Habakkuk saw was destruction and he had nothing left, he chose to rejoice in the Lord. He chose to be joyful in the God of his salvation because he knew that the Lord was his strength (Habakkuk 3:18-19).

Even though we face hard times, He is there. Even though all we see is destruction or failure, God is in control. Even though we see no solution and we are overwhelmed by our situation, God has a plan. Even though we feel like we will never obtain our victory or our callings, God has a perfect timing. We must wait patiently on the Lord because His plan for our lives will surely take place. We must be joyful because Jesus died on the cross for our salvation and we are strengthened because the joy of the Lord is our strength. Even though life is overwhelming at times, yet we will rejoice in the Lord.

about sarah

Sarah Barnhill, 21, is from Texas and is the middle sibling out of three girls in the Barnhill family. She recently graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with her Bachelor’s degree. Her favorite snack happens to be Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos!

Ruth’s Renderings

After the death of her husband, Ruth was still in her prime.

Young, of good reputation, and with no children. What a promising future awaited her! It was time to find a husband, be fruitful, and enjoy a life of provision while she still had the potential.

From a logical standpoint, Moab was the best place to have a bright and successful future. She was raised in this land, knew the people, and was familiar with the lifestyle. Going to another land where she knew no one, was not familiar with the customs, culture, or faith was absurd! How was she to find a good man? How was she to fit-in and become favored in the eyes of the Israelites? Not to mention, Bethlehem was not an easy journey through the desert and over the river Arnon.

How many times have we tried taking our future into our own hands? We have plans, dreams, and inspirations of exactly what we want to be. We have already mapped it out in our minds the steps we will take to get to that picture-perfect resolute “arrival”.

It isn’t until we surrender and hand the reins to God that we get the life we deserve. Ruth probably could’ve had a comfortable life in Moab. She could’ve married a handsome young Moabite man and made a life for herself. But, there was something in Ruth that knew a life surrendered unto this God she yet did not know, would be better than anything she could conjure for herself.

I’m sure there were times that Ruth had her doubts. She had a discouraged, depressed, and hopeless mother-in-law. Naomi didn’t even have the confidence to be welcomed back into her homeland. So how was Ruth to feel? But, Ruth had devoted herself to Naomi and did her best in lifting her spirits and being her strength. Once settled in Bethlehem, their living conditions weren’t ideal. Ruth had to go into the fields after the reapers and collect the left-over barely to feed Naomi and herself.

Ruth had every right at this point to throw her hands up and yell, “I’m out of here! Why’d I come here in the first place?!” But yet, there was still an assurance within that she was where she needed to be. It didn’t look like a fairy tale story at the moment, but this was the best life.

Ruth stayed committed and surrendered to the Lord, and he brought her a man of more value and worth than any prized Moabite! On top of being very wealthy and successful, Boaz was a selfless and kind man. He provided for Ruth before even knowing her. He shared what was his and welcomed her to his table. He respected her and accepted her when she performed the ritual of submission. He did things properly and right before he took her as wife, being a God-fearing man. Boaz was beyond Ruth’s dreams for herself.

Ruth now had a wonderful husband, provisions and comfort, and a son that would be the blood line to Jesus Christ. This was the life God had given her because she surrendered her wants, control, and plans unto Him.

Ruth 3:12 “The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.”

These were the loving words of Boaz unto Ruth. God sees your submission and faithfulness to Him. You will be rewarded if you simply trust in Him, let Him lead, and let Him do the rendering.

about blogger

Charity Huba is a 23 year old Floridian, fond of the State’s hot summers and tropical beauty. She is a leader in youth ministry, music ministry, and Sunday school. She has her degree in Political Science and works for the government in the Division of Elections. She adores quality time with her loved ones, musicals, and moon-lit nights.