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

The Beauty of a Stop Sign

Picture this: You are driving down the road, in a hurry to get to your next destination, but what is that you see? A stop sign. “Ugh, I don’t have time for this,” you think to yourself. However, you only have two options: stop or keep going at the risk of hurting yourself or others. Of course you see the importance in stopping when driving a vehicle, but what about when you are traveling through life? How many of times have you been trucking through life, trying to get to the next destination, only to be stopped by those pesky red signs?

As a very busy and constantly going generation, we tend to see waiting as the worst possible activity. Whether it’s waiting at the doctor’s office, waiting in line, or waiting at a bus stop, we will always try to avoid this horrible task of waiting. And when avoiding is impossible, we distract ourselves in the meantime. I mean, that’s what scrolling through social media is for, right?

So what happens when God asks you to wait? What if God calls you to something, but it doesn’t happen immediately like you planned? What if there are stop signs standing in between you and your destination?

Did you know that David was anointed by Samuel to be king of all of Israel and then David waited TWENTY-TWO YEARS to be king of all of Israel? TWENTY-TWO. That’s longer than a lot of us have even been alive! I’m sure David became impatient a few times, but what David didn’t know is that he had to wait at certain stop signs before reaching his destination. David had to become ready for what the Lord wanted him to do; therefore, in the mean time, he prepared himself. He defeated a bear, a lion, and Goliath. He even became king of only Judah during his waiting period, but he didn’t stop there because he knew the Lord had promised him so much more.

You must see your waiting periods or stop signs in life like David saw his. Instead of distracting yourself with ungodly relationships, social medias, or your own plans, you must be intentional on how you use the waiting time God has allowed you to have. You have to take this time equipping yourself for the next step instead of being frustrated about your current step. You need to take this time to study God’s word, deepen your relationship with Him, and even find yourself in the beauty of His creation.

God designed every single destination, but He also designed every single stop sign. When you hit a stop sign, look around. Look behind you at what God has done. Look in front of you at what God is going to do. But most importantly, look beneath your feet at the foundation the Lord is building during your waiting period. And always remember to be brave and courageous and wait patiently for the Lord (Psalm 27:14).

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!

 

I’m Going Where?!

At some point in life, we all question our purpose, or calling. Often, we can go through seasons where we just can’t figure out what it is that we are supposed to be doing. And if there’s anything I’ve learned in my 10 years in the Apostolic church, it’s that there is a season, or a waiting period, for everything. Some come and go as quickly as a whisper in the wind, while others last for days, months, or maybe even years. I’ve met many people that found out quickly what their calling in life was, while others were still searching.

That goes to show that no two people are the same. If you have already figured out your life’s calling, if you’re already building on it, then that is great! But if you are still searching for an answer about which path your life is supposed to take, know that you are not alone. You can rest in knowing that God has called you to something. Matthew 22:14 says, “For many are called, but few are chosen.”  So whether you are 10, 20, 30 or older, you are called to be great! Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t figured it out just yet.

There is a time for everything and everything is in God’s time. God’s word tells us in Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” That alone tells me, that if I focus on God, on seeking Him and building my relationship with Him, that anything and everything else that I need will be taken care of. When the time is right, He will tell me just what to do and where to go. And then you’ll find yourself asking not “where am I going?” but instead, “I’m going where?”.

about blogger haley

Haley Ivey, 24, resides in Bryant, Arkansas, where she and her husband serve as assistant youth leaders at Solid Rock Pentecostal Church. She enjoys photography, travel, writing and spending time with family.

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

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!