My mission is to provide you with inspiration and encouragement to live everyday to it's fullest. I do this by sharing the simple things in life such as recipes to the most difficult of things such a life. We all know life is a struggle and many days a balancing act, but I am here to inspire you to do it well. Everything I write about is designed to inspire as well as encourage you to be a "better" you that you can be. Everything I share is raw and real. I do not cover up or sugar coat what I write about. This would benefit no one. My goal is for you to walk away feeling uplifted and encouraged after leaving my page. Lastly, I am here to remind you that you are… enough and beautiful… just the way you are.
I am sharing a guest post written by Katrina Hodges from Transforming Love Ministries . It is an encouraging and inspirational blog post regarding being single and finding a Godly peace within, when being alone is not socially acceptable.
If you find yourself in a similar situation and you are looking for a peace to get through the difficult emotions that are associated with being alone, then this a post for you.
Read it today and be blessed by the heart and sweet words Katrina shared with us. God is waiting for you so He can bless you with the same peace He has blessed her with.
I’m 34. Most of the time I try to block out my actual age because I know I’m over 30, have never been married, and do not have any children. I realize in the eyes of society, my female stock just keeps going down. So, when someone asks me my age, I literally have to take a step back, not because I’m trying to lie, but because it’s one of those things that I don’t like to be constantly reminded of.
There are awkward introductions when meeting new women whereby age 34, if you don’t have a spouse or children, you are the odd man out. In those situations, since I don’t meet societal expectations, I have to find inner validation.
Most women in this stage of life define their identities by being a wife and having children. The next time you meet a woman I bet within 2 minutes you will know if she is married and if she has given birth to a child. Our society is so conditioned to make that the apex of our worth here on earth that it’s hard not to get caught up in it.
Growing up I knew I would have a family by the age of 27 and be this amazing wife and mother, nurturing a growing family. I had a calculated timeline that could not be interrupted. I was going to have every box checked off of my list to happiness. So, as time began to tick, at 25 I was looking around for my husband. It’s time to get engaged! At 27, I was saying to myself: “Did he get lost?” At 28, I questioned: “Did he fall into a well?” By 30, I had tears running down my face thinking about how I was going to be a crazy cat lady who doesn’t even like cats enough to be a cat lady. I began to ask God what He was doing to me. Why was I being cursed? At this point, if I was a character in the Bible, I would have been Job with the enemy picking on me.
Then I got this great idea that I’ve got to go on a rescue mission to find my husband because he is apparently lost. I had to form a game plan – I’ll search all the typical places they could be. Listening to others, I took inventory on where they met their spouse. Still no luck, so I turned to the last place I could think to look – church. Ironically, hitting multiple rock bottoms will lead people to Christ.
I began the journey of walking with Christ but continued a low-key walk to finding a man. Sisters let me say, this is a really bad idea! I cannot begin to describe how problematic this is. A large majority of men in church are already taken or married. Apparently, going to church is an activity that couples tend to do together. So, where does that leave me?
So just like any good adversary, the enemy started saying some pretty messed up things to me. The words, which played on a continuous loop in my mind, started out as him talking to me and then, somewhere along the way, I started saying those things to myself.
You are never going to get married.
You are never going to have children.
You are going to die alone, and no one will be there to mourn you.
Nobody wants you.
You are ugly, who would want to marry someone as ugly as you?
The list could go on. He wanted to hit me with every lie he could think of to discredit and discourage my belief in God’s word and my value to the Kingdom. These became my dark daily affirmations. Because I didn’t know any better or understand the tactics of the enemy well enough, I believed and internalized these thoughts.
Amazingly, at my lowest point and during my dating churches phase, I visited a church that I would later call home. My intention was to see if there was some eye candy in the congregation. But God walked up to me, tapped me on my shoulder, and introduced Himself.
The message that Sunday was about the Jewish temple and how it was set up. The temple had an outer court, then there was an inner court which was considered a holy place, and then there was a special place further in that only the high priest could enter – The Holy of Holies. The pastor went on to explain the procedure for how the high priest must enter the Holy of Holies. In those days, a rope was tied around the priest in case he displeased God and was struck dead, he could be pulled out without anyone else having to enter this sacred place.
It ministered to me. It made me realize that God is the one who will ordain my high priest and that if someone is not qualified to be in my Holy of Holies, it will cause them to be dead in my life. That message helped me to start healing from my failed relationships. It spoke to me that as a daughter of God, I was too powerful for what those old relationships had to offer. God asked me: “What is being married and having your own family going to provide you with?” “What are you going to gain from these things?” I thought someone to talk to, someone to live life with, someone to love, which is everything I thought I needed to be happy. It was then that God introduced Himself as Jehovah Shalom, the Lord is Peace.
Now when the enemy tries to lie to me, I can reply with God’s truths. I am not alone because my Father is with me. The Holy Spirit tells me: “I made you past a man’s idea of beauty into my idea of what beauty is.” He says: “I’ve always wanted you.” He lets me know that He has enough children in the world that need a mother like me. He enthusiastically wants to do life with me. He’ll even wake me up at three in the morning just to be in my presence and have my undivided attention. When it comes to love, who better to give and receive love than Love itself? He’s wanted to give me these things all of my life. He put a hunger for love in my heart. I was looking for a man to give me identity, purpose, validation, and wholeness but something greater found me and let me know He’s been there all along waiting on me. What I’ve been able to discover is that only God can truly make us whole and anything else is counterfeit.
During this season of being single, He has told me: “Daughter, I’m taking my time because I love you so much. I want to give you something special. I’m sorry if it seems that when you talk to me about being single that I’m not listening. That is not the case. What I’m doing is talking to the man I’ve called to be your spouse. I do not want to entrust my beautiful creation to just anyone. You, my dear, are not overlooked. Handcrafted things just take longer to make. I’ve intentionally given you this season because you have a lot of sisters out there that you need to set free. They need to know, if they will let me, I can fill the emptiness and they can live in peace during this season of preparation.”
There is freedom in having peace while being single. You have the opportunity to have unadulterated, extremely deep intimacy with Christ like no other time in your life. In you, He has the space and room to do incredible things in you, for you and through you. During your single season, you have the Lord, who will rule justly, fairly, and with reason. He is not a man and not victim to the imperfections of mankind. You have a Savior who has been your champion since the beginning of time. He has been waiting for the opportunity to know you completely. Every attribute of Himself, He is able to unselfishly share with you without you having to split your focus. He enjoys your company so much sisters that He wants your undivided attention a little bit longer. Every creation is special, but some provide Him with a different level of joy.
I’m 34. I’ll be 35 in March. I haven’t been on a date in at least 4 years. The world tells me I have a biological clock that is ticking. My flesh shows me that the effects of gravity across my body are real. I find gray hairs everywhere. But God, my Jehovah Shalom, reminds me that He made time and if it’s His design for me to have a child, I will have one. If not, He has so many children He needs someone to help love on. God, My Peace, reminds me that the gravity pulling at me really means He needs my heart on this earth a little longer so I can be His hands and feet. God, my comedian, told me the gray hairs are genetic and I got that from my mom’s side of the family.
All jokes aside. The freedom He gives us allows us to choose how we see this season. I have chosen to trust God and believe in His plan for my life. I have peace because I have the ability to show the Father my cheerful obedience and demonstrate my trust. How about you?
Do you ever feel like you are wandering around aimlessly in the forest? No matter what turn you take or what path looks right, the view is still the same. It never changes. It never looks different.
Eventually, you take the time to look around and you conclude you have only been walking around in circles, going nowhere.
Have faith in these words,
“God will meet you where you are, in order to take you where He wants you to go.”
My friend, today’s words of motivation are to stop walking to be just walking. This is why you are walking in circles.
Instead… stop, look up, and seek God’s direction.
He holds the road map you do not have, in His hands. He knows the direction you are to take to get out of the forest and He knows what forks in the road you are to be taking to live out the plan “He” has for you.
Stop, look up and seek God for your directions todayand your journey will begin to look different. Your circles will begin to straighten and you will begin to see the clearing of trees leading you out of the forest.
Enjoy your journey, Friend. Now you have access to the “Man” with the map and you have the assurance the route will be clearly marked out. You will no longer walk aimlessly, but instead you will be walking with purpose.
The purpose is the plan God has for you. Now you can enjoy the journey as well as the view along the way out of the forest.
Trust in His road map and your journey can be done with confidence and surety.
Living with chaos is extremely stressful to me. It takes nothing to blow me off course. Let the winds shift and my sails change direction, and away I go, in totally the wrong direction.
For anyone who has followed me for a while, you can tell, based on my writing and how often I post as to whether my life became chaotic and whether it shifted courses.
My Friend, does this happen to you as well?
Do you just plug along doing everything the same way, but one day you wake up and your spouse or your child is sick?
Maybe one day you go to work and you find out your position is no longer needed or you have been fired, but you have no reason or clue as to why.
I have had similar situations happen to me, but the later happened to my husband. These life events rocked my world and have the power to still shift my sails sending me in the wrong direction.
I want to encourage you today, if you too have experienced life changing events that left you feeling like you are treading on the water just praying you will survive, I am here to encourage you with this truth, you will survive.
I found three keys to this survival are God, family, and home.
God will give you the strength to sustain you during this difficulty. He promises to never leave or forsake us in Deuteronomy;
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread offor it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.””
Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV
No matter how tough you find your life to be or how chaotic it has become, God will give you the strength to sustain you circumstances.
I also found that despite how stressful our life becomes, it is imperative to keep your family together. I know how strained your relationships can become, but you need to remember the importance they are despite the difficulty of your situation.
Do not allow the wedge of difficulty to damage or destroy your family relationships. They will be there when life calms down and the chaos resolves.
Be sure to take the time to still invest in your relationships. Take the time to talk (and listen) with your heart. Take the time to hear how they are affected or impacted by your circumstances.
Take some time to reconnect on a regular basis and they will be there when the winds blow you back on course again.
Lastly, a lesson I recently learned was the power your home has to giving you a safe haven to be when chaos tries to consume you.
I found by investing in cleaning, organizing, and decorating, it has given me a renewal for finding my place of contentment when life spins out of control.
My friend, if you invest love and energy back into your home, it will offer a healing of your mind and body because it will help to distract you from the stress and chaos you may be living and will offer a safe haven from the world as well.
I found tremendous truth to this quote by an unknown author;
A house is built by hands, but a home is built by heart.
Invest your heart today into building your home. You will experience a release of the stress and pressure you have been carrying. In turn you will also be investing back into your family because they will have a safe and loving place to live in.
It is my hope and prayer if you find yourself in a season of chaos and difficulty that you will find some peace today.
Do not allow your circumstances to consume you. Give your every concern to God today and allow Him to carry the weight you have been carrying. You will be thankful if you do.
So there I was, lying on a hospital stretcher in the emergency room, just a few weeks out from the first ever women’s conference my team and I were hosting. The team and I had been planning this event for 11 months, people had paid for tickets, speakers and bands were lined up, and here I was in pain and unable to comprehend what the next 24 hours would hold.
For almost 3 years I had been battling with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease similar to Crohn’s but with better outcomes. Every medication the physician treating me tried begin failing after a while. And then toward the end of February and the beginning of March, it became obvious that my body was crashing under the weight of this disease.
But that night in the emergency room, with all the chaos surrounding me, I was at peace. I was incredibly uncomfortable, but peace filled me. From the moment I stepped through the emergency doors, through the admission to one hospital and then a transfer to a second hospital, right before surgery and immediately after, His presence was so evident that I was at peace with what was happening.
Oh, in my younger years, I would have been freaking out!!! But now, having walked with God through several ups and downs, I am have learned – when the situation spins out of control, let go and let God!
Paul, who knew a thing or two about wrestling with difficulties, tells us in Philippians 4:7:
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. NLT
But wait, what is Paul’s instruction before the “Then” in this verse? I am glad you ask! Paul states:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6 NLT
Ah, there it is. I wonder how many times we wrestle to find peace, but forget to ask God to come into the process. Letting go and letting God is not an easy mindset to obtain. It takes practice, it takes commitment, and it is something we must choose to do. But don’t miss the second part of it. We need to thank Him for all He has already done. If God has ever carried you through a storm, that memory is what will help you through the next one. Oh, but how easily we forget what our great and powerful God has done for us. It is so imperative that we remind ourselves over and over again what He has already accomplished. It builds our faith and when our faith is built upon a thankful heart, God will always be there standing in the gap for us!
This past week I have been reading the book of Daniel. Daniel’s faith in God was so evident that those in the kingdom of Babylon, where Daniel was exiled, attempted to use it against him and have him killed. See, Daniel had the gift of revealing dreams and this gained him great favor with the king. He was promoted to a high ranking position within the kingdom. But the Babylonian officials of the king could not bare the thought of a Jewish young man outranking them. Since they could find no wrong in Daniel, these pagan worshipers crafted a plan to use Daniel’s faith in God against him.
These unhappy souls convinced the reigning king, King Darius, to sign into law that for 30 days everyone in the kingdom must worship the king himself. Anyone caught breaking this law would be killed.
And Daniel’s response? Daniel 6 tells us this:
But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. Daniel 6:10 NLT
Daniel’s faith was indeed built on a grateful heart.
When the Babylonian officials found him praying, certain that their plan had worked, they immediately took Daniel to the king and demanded that he be punished as the law decreed. Reluctantly, the king agreed and Daniel was thrown into a den of loins. But when the king went back the next morning, this fierce den of lions was filled with peace. And there Daniel sat among these majestic creatures unharmed! Daniel had carried the peace that passes all understanding into that den of lions and the Lord protected him.
In awe of the great and mighty God of Daniel, the king releases Daniel and restores him to his position. The king then takes the Babylonians officials who plotted against Daniel and threw not only them, but their entire families, into the lions’ den. When that happened, no peace remained in the den and the lions consumed those who had been thrown in with them (Daniel 6).
When hard times come, which part of the story reflects your life more? Are you walking peacefully with God, thanking Him for what He has done? Or are you feeling trapped with your anxiety in a den of lions who are ready to pounce?
From the moment I opened my eyes after surgery, I knew God had delivered me from a disease that was holding me back. And I was grateful! The relief that I felt after surgery, minus some incisional pain, was all I needed to know that things were going to work out. A little less than 3 weeks later, we pulled that conference off. But I knew, standing on that stage, who had allowed me to recover in such a beautiful fashion so that I could indeed participate as planned and that peace has carried me the rest of the year.
I pray that in whatever you may be going through that God’s peace with fill you today.
Father God, teach us to lean into the process of learning how to receive Your peace. Tug at our hearts Lord when we forget to be grateful for all that You have already done. And help us to remember that the One who created the lion is also the One that can shut the lion’s mouth when he tries to consume us. In Christ’s name, I pray. Amen.
Founder, Transforming Love Ministries
Creator, She Steps Forward Women’s Conference
For more of Elaine’s story, you can find Love Echoed Back: I Cried Out; He Answered on amazon.com.
I am sharing a guest post today from a sweet friend over at Trophy of Grace / DON’T LOOK BACK & DON’T GET STUCK IN THE MIDDLE — TROPHY OF GRACE . I shared and linked you to her page as well. It is my desire you will be inspired by this wonderful post, especially if you found yourself stuck in a place or season in life where you are constantly looking backwards to what you know or what you have been through, instead of looking forward to what God has waiting for you.
If you go over to her page via mine, please leave her a comment saying I sent you (Heidi from Home. Life. Encouragement.)
Enjoy her encouraging post today.
Good morning beautiful TOG readers! Just a little reminder today to “Not look back.” Don’t camp where you were once hurt. It’s important to deal with our brokenness and pain but NOT to camp there. Don’t get stuck in the middle my friend. The middle has nothing for you. “Don’t get stuck in the middle. […]
Just a little reminder today to “Not look back.” Don’t camp where you were once hurt. It’s important to deal with our brokenness and pain but NOT to camp there. Don’t get stuck in the middle my friend. The middle has nothing for you.
“Don’t get stuck in the middle. We have to learn to go the full journey. Someone needs us on the other side of the shore line.” Charlotte Gambill
In Genesis, God reveals to Abraham that Sodom and Gomorrah are to be destroyed for their grave sins. Abraham pleads for the lives of any righteous people living there, especially the lives of his nephew, Lot, and his family. God said He would spare the cities if 10 righteous people can be found. So the LORD sent two angels to Lot in Sodom but are met with an angry, wicked mob who are then struck blind by the angels. Finding only Lot and his family as righteous among them, the angels warn Lot to quickly leave the city and they said “Run for your lives! Don’t look back and don’t stop in the valley. Run to the hills, so that you won’t be killed.”
But Lot’s wife did, and she became a pillar of salt.
Have you stopped in the valley?
Do you keep looking back?
I don’t know about you but I sure don’t want to be a pillar of salt, lol. Nope! Nope! Nope!
Don’t look backand don’t get stuck at the point of your pain. That my friend, I have done, and it’s not a fun place to be. I have been stuck from things of my past and present hurts.
Just a side note, the Bible has amazing accounts and stories in it from murder, hate, jealousy, and even sex. Yep! Sex is in the Bible. Get in the Word
Another cool story is the man at the Pool of Bethesda, John 5. “Soon another Feast came around and Jesus was back in Jerusalem. Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people; blind, crippled, paralyzed were in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “Do you want to get well?”
The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.”
Sounds like a pity party to me….I’ve had a few of those myself.
Jesus said, “Get up, take your bed, and start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bed and walked off.
That’s what I’m talking about…he was healed and he got about His Father’s business and he told of what Jesus has done for him.
That man sat there for 38 years!!! I’d like to think that in 38 years I could’ve wiggled myself to that pool and just fell into it, LOL. I mean that’s a really, really, long time! 38 years???
But isn’t that what we do sometimes, we get stuck somewhere at the point of our pain and we become paralyzed. I know I’ve been there. Truth is I’ve been there to long myself with some things. But you don’t want to be that man 38 years later and your still camped there.
So I’ll ask you, “Do you really want to be well?”
Bethesda means “house of mercy,” or perhaps “place of flowing water.”
That’s where I’m headed….to Bethesda! The house of mercy, the place of flowing water.
How about you?
“I know it hurts precious one. I know your wounds. I know your disappointments. I’ve seen the betrayals. I’ve seen your tears. I see your brokenness. But what you didn’t realize all along is that I was with you through the pain, and I am here to make it right. I will work it all out, all the pain, the hurt, the disappointment, the betrayals ALL for your good because your are precious in My sight and I love you. I will give you beauty for ashes. But you have to let go of those ashes, leave them behind so I can resurrect you with newness of life. All those things the enemy tried to steal, kill, and destroy, I got your back. I and the God of restoration. No weapon formed against you will prosper. Remember Lot’s wife, and Don’t look back and don’t get stuck in the middle at the point of your pain. Your destiny is ahead, and I am leading you toward your dreams. I have a hope and a future for you. I am able to do immeasurably more than all you can ask, hope for, or imagine.
Hope y’all have a blessed and wonderful day! Remember, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, YOU ARE AWESOME, YOU ARE CHOSEN, AND YOU ARE AN OVERCOMER! YOU ARE A TROPHY OF GRACE!
Reposted from Transforming Love Ministries / By Elaine A. Lankford / Article Written by Stacha Ashburn @transformingloveministries.org
Do I take it from a physical perspective? I have had pins in my right hip since I was thirteen years old. After the pin placement, I shattered my hip. The healing process caused my right leg to be shorter than my left leg. This in turn has caused back pain, neck pain, jaw pain, and knee pain that I still manage through today.
Do I take it from a mental perspective? I have been verbally assaulted all my life.
Do I take it from an emotional perspective? Thirty years I was hiding behind a mask, presenting what I assumed everyone wanted to receive. I was too broken to reveal the real me, so I created fantasies to keep from killing myself.
Do I take it from a social perspective? For so long, I couldn’t root myself into any community because I didn’t know how to push through the pain that comes with any authentic relationship, so I ran.
Do I take it from a financial perspective? My entire life I have never wanted for anything. I wore my heart on my sleeve and gave to folks until I couldn’t give no more. I have always had A-1 credit until one day I went to swipe, and I couldn’t swipe no more. The realization of being in over $100,000 of credit card debt alone grieved me!
Do I take it from a sexual perspective? I have had the unimaginable happen to me. I have stepped outside the covenant of my marriage in my space of dysfunction.
Or do I take it from a spiritual perspective? I assumed coming to Christ was going to be rainbows and kittens! That in my spiritual journey, I wouldn’t be caught up in conflict. I wouldn’t be hurt. That I would present myself to Christ and to HIS church and all the pain and negativity I had ever went through, I would never go through again. Now don’t get me wrong, Jesus Christ is a healer and every one of us needs to be connected to a local body of the Church. With that said, connection itself is not enough. It’s a process! Father God restores us all through different processes.
What I see now, on the other side of all the pain I have been through and still function through, is He will use it all for His good.
God isn’t in the business of wasting one single tear. His Word promises us in Psalm 56:8 that He has kept track of all our wandering and weeping. That He has stored up all our many tears in His bottle. Not one will be lost. For every tear is recorded in God’s book of remembrance.
We so often avoid working through the pain instead of growing through it. We want to be like Job’s wife. We simply want the pain to be over. What if, instead, we would PUSH (Pray Until Something Happens) through the pain to meet its purpose on the other side.
I wonder at what point Job realized that his tragedy wasn’t going to be over very quickly. That he was going to have to settle in for a long period of suffering. Yet his faith did not waver.
I believe that there’s a way to find joy in the suffering. It’s all in how we respond. We don’t control the cards life deals us, but we do control how we choose to play them. Attitude is everything in the pain management world. It can have a profound effect on how quickly we recover.
In Matthew 26:33-35, Peter is confident that he won’t be offended by Jesus even when Jesus predicts that Peter will deny him. In the King James Version, it reads, “though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.” Pain often causes us to feel offended by God. That’s why we all need an “eternal perspective” adjustment at times, so we can see the good in discomfort. In every circumstance, the disciples would return to Christ, leaving any offense behind. Yet, sometimes as Christians, we don’t realize this is part of the spiritual battle we face, and we can be angry at God for years.
Questioning God is not the problem, but stumbling, falling away, and staying away are. God calls us to get in the ring and wrestle with Him. When we are going through pain at any level, He wants us to present our real selves to Him. We are not “always” blessed and highly favored. There are times we are ticked off and tired of feeling like everyone and everything is messing with us. If that is where you are, then meet God there.
During these times, not only is it important to come to God in authentic posture, but it’s important that you realize who you are doing life with, your inner circle is so vital. Having people around you that will pray with you, stay with you, and lock arms with you through the storms of life matters. The enemy wants to silo us or keep us in a circle of toxic people that birth death. Everything touches everything!
If you are someone who finds yourself isolated: Heavenly Father, I pray that You will lead my sister to someone, or lead someone to her, that is led by Your light, Your way, and Your truth, to do life in community with.
If you are in a toxic circle right now: Jesus Christ, we come to You and ask You to wash this circle in Your blood. Clean and purify them. If those in the circle won’t adhere to the mandate of true repentance and turn from their broken ways, reveal them to our sister and help her to release them. Help my sister to find restoration regarding whatever hurt she has in her life that is causing her to stew in such a dangerous space.
If you are thriving in a healthy circle of life-giving friends: Lord, we say thank you! Keep us thriving, not just surviving, and help us to remain in a space of wellness despite our circumstances. In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen!