Finding the Friendships You Deserve.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:17b-18)
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Last month, I was feeling so insecure and discouraged about friendships. I ended up calling one of my best friends in tears, feeling so vulnerable and in need of advice.

I had been feeling like as soon as I would get close to a friend, we would grow apart. Or that they would find other, cooler, more fun friends and suddenly vibes were weird.  I honestly couldn’t figure out if something was wrong with me or if I did something to screw up friendships. I’d look online and see pictures of cliques and feel even more isolated. I would hang out with friends and watch groups of girls taking selfies, but usually would be the one taking the photo. It would hurt, it would make me feel insecure, and discouraged.

There have been times in my life that I would try to bend and contort myself in whatever way I could just to fit into a group. But no matter how many times I tried to bend and contort, it never really seemed to work.

Friends, if you are struggling to feel like you belong or if you’re having trouble with friendships, I just want to encourage you.  God did not design you the way He did just for you to bend and contort His design to fit into some group or clique it wasn’t designed to be a part of. And you’re not weird or strange and there’s nothing wrong with you if you grow apart from women you have cared about for awhile.

Because you know what? All things are redeemable. And at the end of the day, God delivers who you need, right when you need them, to stand by your side. Some of the girls I honestly thought would be life-long friends (maybe even in my wedding one day) have been some of the friendships that drifted apart. Some of the girls I thought I would grow apart from years ago are the same girls that have invited me to be a part of their special wedding day. And often, those  friendships that continue to build and last throughout the years are not friendships you can fake. They’re disorganized and crazy and a little bit messy — but they’re real. They take time to build.

I think, sometimes, we avoid friendships that require much of us because we are afraid of the risk. When we’ve been hurt or walked all over, we begin to close up and control our environments. I mean, who wants to be hurt again? Trust me, there’s wisdom in guarding our hearts, but that doesn’t mean we have to live in isolation. Though isolating can be tempting to do when friendships haven’t gone our way in the past, there’s a problem with that logic. The truth is, the greatest satisfaction comes from the greatest sacrifice.

Although I haven’t solved the friendship puzzle, I do know that REAL friendships can empower us and bring out the best of who we are.  Real friends won’t judge you for your messy hair days, they encourage you, challenge you, make you better, push you closer to Jesus, support your dreams, they love you through the hard times, and they pray for you. Life is so much better, and easier, and certainly more fun when we walk through it together. I am so grateful for authentic friendships. For raw, real, tough but gentle love.

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Life Lesson Learned While Playing With Play-Doh.

Yes, I learned a life lesson while playing with play-doh. Here is what I learned:

First, play-doh is extremely entertaining to children. It can keep them occupied for hours.

Secondly, it can seriously get stuck all up in your nails for days.

And thirdly, I need to be more like play-doh.

I get the honor of babysitting my best friends son while she is busy making brides look stunning on their wedding days. Recently while I was babysitting, her son asked if we could play with play-doh together. I was super excited, like kid in a candy store excited. I always loved playing with play-doh as a kid, so of course I wanted to play.  It was while I was attempting to make different creations out of play-doh for him, I was overcome by emotion. Side note: I definitely failed at making them look anything like what he wanted. However, I realized that just as he was asking me to mold things for a purpose, God desperately wants to mold His children and shape them for His purpose.

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I was reminded of Isaiah 64:8.  “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand”. 

I   L O V E   T H A T !

Play-doh is very similar to clay.  Both can be molded, shaped, and both can dry out.

I once took a pottery class where I learned all the ins and outs of making pottery. I’m not going to lie, I’m extremely uncoordinated, so my experience was an epic fail at the beginning. I definitely knew why becoming a potter and making pottery was not my calling; nor was making cars and tractors out of play-doh for a two year old.

The instructor of this class had to teach me how to handle the clay. He told me there were two important things to remember, that I needed to keep the clay wet during the process and that I needed to keep the clay centered on  the wheel. If the clay is not centered on the wheel, it will eventually tear apart before I would even have time to finish the process. And it’s only when the clay has enough water and is centered on the wheel that the molding process can begin.

If we want God to mold and shape our lives, then we need to be in His Word daily so that we can become shapeable and not dry out. And we need to be properly centered in Jesus Christ before God will be able to start molding and shaping us.

When we try to live our lives in our own strength, away from Christs leading, and not centered on Him- our lives will eventually fall apart. Just as the clay would if not centered on that wheel.

We all have experienced lives ups and downs at one point or another. We are going to feel pressure, especially when being shaped. Think about the clay, it definitely feels the weight of the potters hands when they are adding pressure to make the desired shape. Think about the play-doh, you have to apply pressure in order to create the shape you desire. Now think about your life, it is through life’s trials that God is able to stretch you and shape you.

God is able to mold us, transform us, and sanctify us when we are open to His will for our lives.And He will mold us and make us the vessel of honor that He desires for us to be. “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work2 Timothy 2:20-21.

Just as the clay (or in my case play-doh) needs to fully trust the creator, we need to fully trust in our Maker.

PS…I love how God can speak to our spirits in the most simplest of moments. It was in playing with the play-doh that He reminded me of His greatness, His power, and His love for me. Look for God throughout the day- He is there!

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Winning My Battle With Instagram.

I spent a lot of this weekend doing something I know I shouldn’t have—something I know I hate, something I know makes me feel small every single time. Yes, I spent most of this weekend scrolling through my Instagram, hitting refresh again and again, trolling other people’s profiles, and wondering why the heck so many more people follow them than follow me. While this is so humbling to admit, it’s extremely disgusting as well. I’d much rather pretend I’m above this kind of behavior–that I never succumb to the temptation to compare.

But I do, and I did, and I spent the majority of the weekend feeling rather small as a result—all of the things I don’t have at the front of my mind, center stage. Have you ever found yourself doing this? I’m betting I am not alone in this.

It’s easy to compare our lives on Instagram. A big part of it is that it’s all about the numbers. Just like our weight or our pant size, there’s this number at the top of each of our pages, and hearts on our photos that say how many people like us, how many people care what is going on in our lives, how many people want to see what we have to share.

Sometimes this number sits there peacefully, allowing us to be us, and not taunting us with the fact that we should be more. But other times, it begins to whine—softly at first, but louder the more we listen to it. The longer we look at the number, the smaller we feel too, the more significant that small number feels and the more insignificant all of our other dazzling attributes become.So what if I’m a good friend, or a good writer, or a good counselor? She has more Instagram followers, nothing else matters.

It’s ridiculous, but if we’re honest, I think most of us have felt this way—our worth and our likability dictated to us by tiny numbers on our touch-screen.

I’m mad that I let myself feel this way—that I let my mind get small and narrow like that. I’m mad I spent my weekend feeling so small, that all of my accomplishments, relationships, and who I am as a person faded into the background because of an insignificant little number and how it measured up to the number of other women I admire.

I would love to tell you that I got over it, or that I found some sort of magic Jesus cure that made me feel better, but I’d be lying. I found a way to feel better, a way to win the battle, but I know comparison is a war we’ll wage as long as there are people who are better than us at things—or in other words, forever.

So instead of ignoring it, or feeling defeated under the weight of the war comparison wages against us, I started reminding myself of what I have, the amazing people I have in my life, and that I am special. I spent this morning thanking God for the people I love, and reminding myself of how much they mean to me and I know I mean to them. I started reminding myself of what I’m good at, and thanking God for how He’s blessed me and skilled me. And I started reminding myself that I’m still growing—that I’m in process, that I’m not finished.

And slowly but surely, the number at the top of my profile started to fade into the background of my life again, back to where it belongs. I’m sure it’ll pop out again when I’m feeling small, or in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. But I’ll do the same thing I did this last time. I’ll take the truth of who I am, and why I matter, and stab at comparison until he goes away—exposed as the little jerk that he is. Comparison may always try to sneak into our minds and our lives, but we don’t have to let him win.

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Releasing A Dream I Clung To So Tightly.

“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD”.      Psalm 112:7

I didn’t release my dream for my life over days or even weeks. It was a long journey. I was terrified that if I truly surrendered it to God, that He would make sure it didn’t happen, just because He could. I was certain that letting it go would be the nail in the coffin, as they say. I believed that He wanted to take this away from me as a punishment for wanting it so badly.

What He began to show me is that I truly didn’t know Him. If I did, I wouldn’t doubt Him or His ways so much. I had a very warped sense of who He was.

So I started searching everything I could find about the attributes of God. Books. Sermons. The Bible. Friends. Anything and everything that could possibly help me to better understand  God I wanted to dig into deeper and deeper. I will be honest and tell you that I really struggled, especially when it came to learning about the characteristics of God. For example, I understood  that God was unchanging, but to me He seemed so different between the Old Testament and New Testament. I was terrified of the God I read about in the Old Testament and yet infatuated with the God I read about in the New Testament. This took me on the journey of how, why, when…It took me on a journey of chasing Jesus. I read and prayed, and prayed and read.

I was determined to understand God to the best of my ability. And the more I grew in understanding God and His character, the more I felt like I wasn’t losing a dream. I felt like I was gaining an understanding and a path that was truth.I realized- I wasn’t losing anything, I was replacing my longing with contentment. I was gaining an eternal perspective. I was standing in the center of His will (which is right where I wanted to be).

I wouldn’t have started the journey of discovering who God was, if He hadn’t prompted me to give up my dream. I wouldn’t have know this unshakeable, unchangeable, full, rich, complete, perfect love of my Savior. Simply put, I wouldn’t have been an active participant in my relationship with God. I would have been a bystander, with His love, mercy, grace, conviction, power, authority, and Spirit swirling around me, but never being a part of me. This journey is why I know who God is. It is why I trust Him.

God wasn’t asking me to give up my dream to hurt me, but to fill me up with more of Him. I never want to take His love for granted again. I want my passion for Him to ignite in my heart.

I promise, God will blow your mind with who He is.

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Ladies, Don’t Get Lost In His Mixed Messages.

There was a time when I spent months waiting, and wondering, and hoping for a relationship to move to forward, I spent so much time trying to figure out what the heck his mixed messages were trying to tell me, and hoping beyond hope for a happy ending.

There were so many questions that seemed to replay over and over in my mind:

  • If he doesn’t like me, why would he flirt with me so much?
  • If he does like me, then why no commitment?
  • I’ve prayed over and over again, “God, if we’re not supposed to be together, take away my feelings for him.” But God hasn’t. Is that supposed to be telling me something?
  • If this isn’t supposed to happen, then why do so many of our friends tell me how perfect we are together?

I felt like a detective, I was piecing together all these different clues. It all felt so complicated, and so entirely uncertain. I looked at relationships around me wondering how the heck they made it happen. I wondered how they figured out the whole puzzle to such a stunning result.

 I decided to ask my close friends about their relationships and how their husbands pursued them. I wanted more insight. They told me how they each started talking in the beginning of their relationships, how their husbands were friendly and kind, how they pursued them. They told me the different stories about how they became ‘official’ (yes, we are even talking Facebook official). It was so simple! Their husbands met them, got to know them, liked them, pursued them, asked them out. My friends didn’t have to make it happen, or pin down their husbands, or decode what they were thinking, because they told them. Plain and simple!

After listening to their wonderful stories and talking through my track record with these amazing ladies, I decided that I needed to change some things up, because clearly my way wasn’t working for me. I made a decision that I wouldn’t give my heart away again until it was truly asked for. I realized the importance of Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” and allowing a man to pursue me correctly. And until a man told me how he felt, showed me how he felt, and made a commitment to me, I decided that mixed messages just weren’t enough anymore.

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Everyone’s story is different. But in every story, if the relationship is going to happen, there’s a point when the man has to make his intentions clear,  when he has to make a commitment and follow through with it. And until that point, we can’t give our hearts away.

Now, this is hard because we are such lovers. We have such huge hearts. We want to love and care for and connect with people. And I love this about us. But if we aren’t careful, this gets us in trouble. It lands us in positions where we’re fully invested when we maybe shouldn’t be, hurting, and feeling powerless as we wait for him to make the next move.

I know y’all have all the hope in the world that this guy is going to get it together, realize what he has, and run to you like he absolutely should. And maybe he will. But here’s the deal, until that happens, until he comes to you telling you how much he likes you and asking you to be his girlfriend (committed, exclusive, and public)- he has no business being in your heart.

He cannot have you (or your heart) until he is willing to pursue you and commit to you, in the way you deserve. And so that’s what I hope you hold out for because that’s what it should take to catch an amazing woman like you.

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It May Be Time To Get a New Name Tag

There’s a verse from Song of Solomon that I read a couple months ago and it has gotten stuck in my head and in my heart. So, I decided to write about it (that’s what bloggers do, right?). It’s verse 2:4, “He has brought me to His banquet hall, and His banner over me is love”.

I love everything about that.

I love imagining what that looks like. I just imagine God walking me into this elegantly decorated banquet hall filled with flowers and white table clothes draping over the long tables as He holds a gorgeous banner high over my head that tells everyone at the banquet that I am His. “His banner over me is love.” Love is my name tag. Love is how I’m known. It’s how the world will recognize me.

I want that to be my story, and I deeply want that to be yours. 

Unfortunately, more often than not, we are standing under banners that say drastically different things. I have a strong feeling that “love” is probably not at the top of that list.

The other morning I grabbed a cup of coffee and decided to make a list. A list of what words I was actually allowing to define me. What words I was wearing around like a name tag. The words that I had come to believe about myself. And as I began writing, tears began to fill my eyes. The words were devastating.

The list looked something like this:

I am…

  • A lot of work
  • Not worth the effort
  • Unlovable
  • Somebody’s last choice
  • Awkward
  • Insecure

Can you picture me walking into a networking event with these words Sharpied on my chest? “Hi, my name is Awkward,” As absurd as that sounds, that’s exactly what I had been doing! I was going into friendships, relationships, introductions, meetings, experiences, moments, with these words scrawled on my heart.

The truth is, that the longer we wear those names around, the harder they are to get off.

So that morning, for the first time in my whole life, I began to question the things I had always believed about myself. I began to sort through the words I had trusted for so long. I picked them up one by one and started to examine them. It wasn’t easy, and it definitely wasn’t fun. I wondered where those thoughts/ideas about myself started and why I had allowed them to live there for so long. And as I was scuffle through all these different emotions and labels, I began to wonder what EXACTLY God said about me. I was desperately hoping that His name tags would look much more like love than mine did. And so I decided to find out.

I spent hours that morning combing through the Bible looking for the words God uses to define us. And it was on that day that I realized that NOTHING I had believed about myself was actually true. I had been living under a banner of lies. 

God said I was chosen, that I was enough, perfectly and wonderfully made, that there was no flaw in me. I had read so many of these same verses before, but that day they meant so much more to me. I scribbled them down as fast as my hand would write.

After hours of shifting through the Bible to find who God said I was,  I had my list! A list of words that God uses to define us. I realized that if I wanted to think differently about myself, I was going to have to get a new name tag, because mine would no longer work for me. I was going to have to replace the thoughts I had believed for sooo long. The lies that I had gotten so use to believing.

I decided to actually create new name tags. Don’t worry, I didn’t actually walk around with a name tag saying “Hi, my name is Enough”, but I took sticky notes and decided to decorate my agenda with them. I needed to be reminded each day of the things He said were true about me. And over time I began to wear those names proudly.

I felt more confident.

 

Every so often, I still hear those old names used again in my mind. And every so often when I’m tired, or overwhelmed, or extra emotional, they creep back in. But those instances have become less and less frequent. And today, more than ever, I can see that banner over my head, the banner that says “love.”

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Insecurity Is Not Our Friend

Insecurities…I am NOT a fan of them!  Yet I feel like they plague my life.

Insecurity seems to inevitably attack women, which is completely understandable when we live in a world that tells us that beauty is happiness.  We unfortunately live in a world that displays half naked pictures of women everywhere we look, even commercials are no longer safe.  It’s all around us. Even though it’s  all fake, we find ourselves falling into their trap.  The list of “I wish” begins and feels like it never ends. “I wish I was skinnier, I wish I could gain more weight, I wish my eyes were farther apart, I wish I didn’t look like a boy, I wish my nose would be smaller, I wish my chest was bigger, I wish I was more outgoing, etc.

It can feel constant, unless you are willing to take control. 

I have had many battles with insecurities over the years, but I have also had major victories. It wasn’t an easy journey, but the Lord taught me how to rely on who He says I am. I am realizing how beautiful I am in the Lord’s eyes, but there are still those days that come along and crash it all down again.  It’s a constant battle.  It’s finding the will to think differently and to not allow yourself to conform to this world. (easier said than done, I know).

Romans 12:2 // “don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect”.

We need to tell ourselves that Scripture over and over and over; again and again and again.  Everyone struggles with different insecurities.  Whether it’s material possessions, outward beauty, comparing, money, and each one is a trap from Satan.  Even as I sit here and write this I kind of feel like a hypocrite, because I too so easily fall into these insecurities.  It’s a constant renewing of the mind, it’s a fight, a battle in the unseen world.  Our battle is against the darkness, Satan’s attempt of pulling us down in our darkest hours. It’s in those moments we need to cling to Ephesians 6:11 which tells us to “put on the FULL armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devils schemes”.

So today I am more so writing this post more for myself than necessarily for anyone else. I needed to find strength today. But I do think we could all benefit from reminding ourselves of these truths that we know, but so easily drift away from.

I pray that any of you who are dealing with some of these same issues are able to focus on His Word and who God says you are. Write it down and put it in a visible place to remind yourself that you and will overcome the battles with insecurity. Let’s battle these insecurities together!

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