Framed as a Failure

I enjoy writing for AG.com, not just so I can preach at you and throw some scripture. But, I enjoy writing for this blog because I get to be open and hopefully relate to you! We are all alike in more ways than you’d expect. So, I don’t mind being a little vulnerable about my life experiences.

I’ve always felt like I was two steps behind. In school I struggled to keep my grades above a C average. I was good at being friendly and conversing, but what good was that?! I knew I had strengths, but they seemed worthless in areas that mattered. For example, I was carefree and good tempered (a strength), but it would cause me to be more susceptible in forgetting and lacking concern for due dates, responsibilities, and important events. My family consists of talented, gifted, and intelligent people, which left me feeling inadequate at times in my youth. After high school, I decided to get a better job, save money, and volunteer in my community with my free time. I would see my friends on social media at their prestigious universities or going out of the country on some exotic trip. And I would ask myself, “What’s wrong with you?”

I am grateful for where God has brought me to! But, maybe you can see why I felt like a failure many times when comparing my life to friends, family, and the image of success by society’s standards.

We live in a society that is obsessed with success, promotion, and profile elevation. I have noticed a common theme with many story lines about the modern woman. The girl that is the main character usually lives in a nice city apartment, has a degree from an ivy league, and works for a magazine company or some Fortune 500 corporation. For her to be an exciting and inspirational heroine, she must have this image. It’s like society knows to truly be successful, you must obtain accolades, degrees, titles, and money.

The principal behind a success hungry mentality is not all bad. After all, we want to do our best with the life God has blessed us with! But, what is true success?

What the world may view as failure or unsuccessful is fruitful when you are in God’s will and bringing Him pleasure.

When you want to “grade” your success, ask yourself these questions:

1)              Am I following the Word of God and pleasing Him in my lifestyle?

2)              Am I taking advantage of the opportunities God has given me?

3)              Am I looking for ways to better myself (especially spiritually)?

If you answered yes to all three, I can’t see why you would ever view yourself as a failure.

I Corinthians 3:6-8 (KJV)

“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”

A “faith without works is dead” kind of scenario. If you don’t labor and work hard in this life…there will be no increase! If you don’t apply yourself, wither it’s pursuing a degree, a career, or ministry, you will have nothing to show for it.

“Okay, Charity. But, what if I have worked and tried really hard and I’m just not moving forward?!”

Proverbs 16:9 (KJV)

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.”

He is going to say no at times. He is going to say yes when you weren’t planning to move. Simply because He has something better in your future and/or is protecting you from growth stagnation. God is wiser, smarter, and knows all. When we take matters into our own hands, we are judging and concluding from a very shallow perspective.

This doesn’t mean stop planning and preparing for your future, because God wants you to be passionate about the life He’s given you! But, it means to understand why some doors close and why some open. It’s like God gives you a little shove here and there to keep you on the path of His perfect will!

Psalm 18:33 (KJV)

“He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places.”

Overall, if you don’t have a high paying job, a degree to hang on the wall, intelligence, a hefty bank account, extraordinary good looks, or great social skills- you are not a failure! Don’t listen to those around you. Read God’s Word and see what is successful to the One who created life and the essence of dreams. Please God, follow His guidance, and take opportunities He presents. That is true success and the secret to a satisfied and content life.

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.

Fixer Uppers

Exasperated and tear-soaked, I flung my tired body onto my bed. Sighing into my pillow, I blubbered: “I just can’t do this anymore!” The waves of emotion moved over me: frustration, irritability, bewilderment, wanting more with less work– the experience needed to be over!

I laid there as the moments passed until, defeated, I dragged my hand across the pillow top, fingertips searching for the crisply untouched sheet of paper. I let my watery eyes absorb the Swedish Title and followed the illustrated instructions, trying to complete my IKEA furniture. Picture by picture I did what was told of me, the tears soaked back into my skin, and there– there was my finished Kullen dresser.

The mystification I was overcame with moments ago has resided to smiles, accomplishment, and neatly folded clothing. I had all the materials. I had the prior experience. I had the confidence. But I ignored the instructions. All of my own qualifications weren’t enough to complete the task ahead of me, I simply could not fix the situation!

This desire to “fix things” isn’t so unnatural. In fact, I think we all feel it. There’s an idea of what we want for our lives, and so we use our limited resources to achieve that goal! There are little Chip and Joanna Gaines inside all of us! But I have a belief that this “fix it” mentality stems from this question: how do we trust God’s plan when we don’t know what it is? Our desire to fix things is a result of not knowing the end, not knowing where God is leading us. It feels like being in the wilderness, and simply desiring more than clouds and fire.

In living positive, Christian lifestyles, it is natural and God-given to have big dreams (shout-out to the Josephs on AG!), but our life-instructions aren’t Swedish pictures with nuts, bolts, and wooden planks– it’s so much bigger! It’s the Word of God! The Lord beckons us to have faith and trust in Him! Trust the process! Yes, even in the “quiet-times,” He sees us. He’s always there.

Here are some Biblical promises that have practical applications that help us in trusting the process:

  1. God has all power and all authority.

There is nothing that He can’t do! Situations often seem impossible and like there is no way out. In the big ways and the small ways, these seasons of being “backed into a corner” are overwhelming by nature, but there is comfort in knowing that nothing is impossible for Jesus. He can make a way in every situation.

Scripture Reference:

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37

“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Matt 19:26

“For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.” II Corinthians 13:4

“Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.” Job 42: 1-2

  1. JESUS LOVES YOU!

So much more than the song we sing in Sunday School, God is crazy about you! He loves you more than anything, and that can never change. He will never love you more. He will never love you less. He. Loves. You! I know for some of us, the question of trusting God’s plan has less to do with “can” he do it, but rather, “if” he will do it. However, this concern is of no value when we trust in His love. Whether He moves in the way we expect isn’t the heart of the matter, it’s knowing that when you’re trusting God, praying, fasting and seeking, it is not in His nature to leave you! He cannot do it! He is bound by his word. He loves you so much.

Scripture Reference:

“If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Luke 12: 28

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” I Peter 5:7

“Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations” Deuteronomy 7:9

  1. His ways are higher than our own.

Along the vein of “things not going my way,” there is a deeper understanding that what I feel is — and what may be — “my good” is not necessarily God’s good. We love to quote Romans 8 where it says, “All things work together for THE GOOD of those who love him and are called according to his purpose,” but, it’s to note that it’s not necessarily MY good. It’s God’s good. For the betterment of His kingdom, so that souls might be saved.

C.S. Lewis makes an relates this concept well in the Chronicles of Narnia. The Pevensies, new to Narnia, are learning about Aslan. They keep asking the beavers if he is a “nice lion,” to which they glossily reply that he’s not nice, but he is good and he is just. As is God. Niceness gives us what we want (and because he loves us, God does deal with our wants and desires), but God’s goodness gives us what we NEED.

Isaiah 55 reminds us that his thoughts are higher than our own. Time does not exist for God, and He is always looking at the big picture. He sees the end and the beginning AT THE SAME TIME. He has never been surprised! There’s comfort in knowing that what I want, God will withhold because he knows what I need.

*Side bar: If I got everything I’ve ever wanted, I would be a Candy Land princess, married to Han Solo. Praise God I grew out of that phase, haha.

Scripture Reference:

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

“Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” Psalm 147:5

“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

Ultimately ladies — have patience. He sees you and he loves you. The season of patience you’re in is preparation for the greater things God has in store. David says that “surely goodness and mercy will follow me” — and surely goodness and mercy will follow you! He has not forgotten you, but the desire to “be a fixer” and to take matters into your own hands may rob you of the joy of the season you’re in. So break out your Life-Instruction-Manual (ahem, the BIBLE), snuggle into God’s open arms, and keep trusting in the carpenter who not only fixes things, but also creates it right the first time. He loves you.

about alexys

Alexys Rea Griffin is a 23-year-old coffee connoisseur, bibliophile, Disney aficionado, and fresh-flower-lover. Seeking her English Literature degree from Florida State University, Alexys devotes her time to the Campus Apostolic Ministry at FSU as well as youth ministry, kids ministry, and music ministry at her local church. Do you do Instagram? ‘Cause so does she: @alexysasalways

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.

belts

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.

tie

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.