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

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