LAY IT DOWN.

It’s time to stop being fake. To take off the makeup. To stop acting like you have it all together. To stop pretending that you are fine doing life all on your own.

Here, we don’t want your perfect, fake self. Here, I’m asking you to set aside the persona you put on for the world and just be you. I know that can be a hard thing to do, especially in this world we live in… that demands so much from us. I understand that it takes a lot to lay down the weight you’ve been carrying, but for your sake you have to lay it down.

If I am being honest, this is such a hard task for me to do daily, but I try my best to do it everyday. This is what I call having daily faith. Daily faith to wake up, say “Lord, I give my anxiety and control over things I have no control over to you.” I find myself stating this multiple times a day if something is laying heavy on my heart and on my mind.

Many times in life you will come to a crossroads about this matter. One road will require you to lay your baggage, dead weight, and unrealistic expectations at the stop post. The other road will require you to carry the weight yourself until it kills you and convince you that you can do it all on your own power. Each road will give you two different outcomes, one will allow you to walk free with Jesus and free from anxiety, dead weight, and baggage. The other will do the exact opposite and trust me, you will be miserable trying to do things your way.

There is such a freedom that comes from releasing and handing your problems and worries over to Christ. It’s hard to explain how great the peace of God it is unless you have experienced it yourself (then you know what I’m talking about). I know this is all easier said than done, but if you are bold enough to trust your life to Jesus then I promise your heart will have peace.

SETTING TWO KIDDOS FREE IN JESUS NAME

About a year ago I started sponsoring a young girl named Ludmylla through Compassion International. I felt extremely called to serve through the community and others any way I could. During the Compassion Experience weekend at my church, I was moved by the Holy Spirit to give and sponsor, sweet Ludmylla. I was fortunate enough to have extra money to do my part in giving life and spreading the gospel to this little girl.

Now, a year later, I was in the same place of wanting to do my part in giving life to these sweet kids, but financially I was not in a place to do so. After praying during the service and listening to my pastor speak, I knew in my heart I wanted to take up another child. I had zero idea how I was going to pay for two kiddos, but I was reminded that my God is greater and he will make a way for it to happen. I sponsored a young girl that night named Winnie and my heart was so overwhelmed with joy and faith in my God, who I knew would somehow provide the way for me to follow through financially.

The next day, I was contacted by a friend for a constant nanny position and I started regularly babysitting for another family. Therefore, I am able to provide for my two little girls who I cannot wait to watch grow up. I know to some, this may seem like a small or insignificant story, but it is a huge testimony to how great and faithful our God truly is. I have the means to spread his kingdom and make much of who HE is through loving on these sweet kids.

Even now a few weeks later, I am still blown away at how perfect God’s timing was and is, but I know that he knew EXACTLY what he was doing. I took a step out in faith, faith that God was going to provide for my financial needs, and it turned into a beautiful testimony.

Interested in Compassion International? Questions? Click the link here!!

A TIME & PLACE

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens – Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is a time and a season for everything under the sun. This can be taken into any part of your life, but today I am going to tie this into relationships and friendships. There is a time and a place for certain relationships and friendships. First, I would like to set the stage up for us before we get into the deep, heavy unpacking.

Everyday we encounter people. Whether you’re at coffee shop, gas station, grocery store, work, even at home. How are you acting? What does your actions and character say about you? For me, I have made an effort to be as open as I can to strangers that I encounter on a daily basis. You never know what someone may be going through, so I think it is extremely important, especially if you are a believer, to show kindness and a smile to anyone you come in contact with. You never know who you could proclaim the gospel too and it won’t kill you to show humanity to someone else. Get off your phone and make connections!

Now, that is slightly off topic of what I wanted to really dive into, but honestly it needed to be said. This year the Holy Spirit really brought to the surface areas in my life that I needed to have more attention too. One of them being, my friendships and relationships with others and I really want to unpack this. This is going to come off as harsh, but I promise I will dive into it more, but sometimes you have to love from a distance. As hard of a decision as it may be, there are times when you have to either remove yourself from a group of people or simply distance yourself. God has really placed this heavily on my heart and mind this year.

Think about it, some relationships we have are most likely dead weight. “We have been friends forever so I can’t stop being their friend”, “that person is my best friend, I couldn’t distance myself from them”, “even though they aren’t always benefiting me, I have to be friends with them or else I wouldn’t have friends.” YEP, I will say it loud for the people in the back THESE ARE EXCUSES. Plain and simple, people.

If you are not benefiting from a relationship/friendship then it’s time to step back and reevaluate the purpose and reason you have that person in your life. If you are not constantly being filled with encouragement, life, and love from someone, they got to go or at least you need to distance yourself from them. You can 100 percent still love someone by taking a step back, if anything it shows that you love them and you want what is best for the both of you. You shouldn’t feel like you’re a burden in a friendship or you shouldn’t feel overlooked. You SHOULD NOT be hanging out with people who you know go against your values and lead you down a path that if full of nonsense or temptation.

I’m 22 and this is a hard pill to swallow because I know there have and are people in my life who certainly do not benefit my life. However, I am so grateful for the progression of my relationship with the Father that I hear what he says and I know that what he says is true. It is a daily surrender to let go and understand that he is working for my benefit, but it is a daily surrender that I am willing to part take in.

I have some action steps for you to take if you are on the fence with someone either being a liability or an asset to your life!

  • Get in community – join a church, volunteer at your church, get in a disciple group that you can benefit and grow from.
  • Surround yourself with like minded Christians – take action & get out of your comfort zone to make new friends with the same values as yourself.
  • Let go & surrender – let go of the relationships that you find are not for your best interest. Pray to God about this, I promise you he will show you who needs to stay & who needs to go.
  • Be obedient towards Christ – if you get a word from God that you need to let someone go or distance yourself from someone, obey him!! You will benefit greatly from listening to the one who knows all things will work for his glory and your benefit.

As always, I love feedback and hearing what you have to say! Feel free to message me or comment your thoughts!

POURING FROM AN EMPTY CUP

There are probably many of you who are in a season where you are pouring from an empty cup. This is a common phrase or term that has been around forever. My interpretation of “pouring from an empty cup” means you are giving more than what you have.

I am a yes person. I love to say yes to almost everything. Where are my enneagram number twos at? I want to do everything I can to help someone or give someone my all, but that (most of the time) backfires and leaves me feeling either unfulfilled or drained emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I have a hard time saying no (which is a boundary problem) truthfully because I love seeing others happy and I believe in helping others as much as I can. I have found for myself, that I need to work on saying no to things that I know can lead me to feeling drained. It is perfectly okay to set up boundaries for yourself which leads into the topic of the article – you cannot pour from an empty cup.

Think about it, you cannot give someone what you do not have. For example, you cannot love someone if you do not have or know love. If you recognize that you are not in a place to give right now, 1) that is perfectly normal and okay 2) switch your mindset to a filling stage. Essentially what I mean by “filling stage” is that if you recognize that you are empty and drained, fill yourself back up. An empty gas tank will get you nowhere. Fill yourself up with Jesus, the word, and his love. Take care of yourself. Find the time to do things that make you happy. It is so okay to be selfish sometimes. Your health is just as important as everyone else’s.

Here are some verses that I find to be super encouraging when I find myself needing to either take time for myself/ in a filling phase of my life:

May the God of hope fill you w/ all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow w/ hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edge sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow: it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13

AWAKENING

This past weekend radically changed my life. Now let me be honest with you, I had no idea what I was going to experience. There is a lot of negative perceptions surrounding “church retreats”, but my experience this past weekend gave me a whole new meaning to what a women’s encounter is.

The first night I had a freak out. Literally. I was so nervous to meet other women, to be vulnerable, and let others see my heart and the mess that is inside. Thinking about that makes me want to laugh at myself because I have never had a problem with being vulnerable and talking to others – as you can tell by this blog, I have no problem writing out what is going on in my life. I guess the realization of having to be vulnerable in person to others who do not know me freaked me out. Truthfully, I think part of me was a little scared to let things go and to completely surrender everything over to the one who already knows my heart.

Let me tell you though, God did a thing in me. He set a fire in my heart. I have never felt so confident in my identity in Christ. My perspective on so many topics changed this weekend, but everything lead back to renewal of the mind and putting God first in my life and in my heart. Our identity precedes our activity. Our activity should be a display of our heart and who we are in Christ. Too often we can get this flipped… our activity in anything should never identify who we are. This hit hard for me, because there have been many times in my life were I have thought if I do x, y, & z … then someone will be proud of me or God will love me more. The more I think about it, that is a very toxic and harmful place of mind to be in. We need to flip our perspective and realize that there is nothing, no activity, that can make God love us any more or any less. God’s love never fails and never fears. How freeing is that? I know that this truth sets my heart free.

By the end of the weekend, I realized that I was holding onto habits and thoughts that had to be given to God. There is no reason for me to hold onto guilt, shame, or habits that do not honor God. How can I live in a place that reflects the fullness of Christ if I do not relinquish my control and surrender to Jesus? There is a common misconception about Christians, that once they surrender and are baptized they never have sufferings and life is all flowers and rainbows. THIS IS FALSE. Truth is, I think surrendering your life to Christ only puts a bigger target on your back for the enemy. The good news of the gospel is that we are fighting our battles from a place of victory. God has already won the battle. Jesus has already conquered the grave. Yes, he promised us that we will encounter sufferings in this life, BUT GOD has overcome the world (John 16:33).

Your failed relationships do not define who you are. Your past habits and actions do not define who you are. Your sufferings and circumstances do not define who you are. Christ is the only one who has a say in your identity and guess what? He claims you as his child. He calls you beloved. He called you beautiful and HIS. There is no greater love than the love of God. I pray that as you are reading this that if you do not know the kind of love that I am talking about, that you soon accept and follow THE ONE who loves you more than anything in the world.

I am forever grateful for the strong, christian women who poured into my life this past weekend. The time, patience, and hard work that went into bringing together and carrying out this retreat did not go unnoticed. Again, I am so thankful to be apart of such an amazing church. The revival that is going on within the church and in the world fires me up for what God has planned in the church and in my life.

LIFE UPDATES & TRUSTING JESUS

I have missed writing my thoughts down and sharing them with you guys. While I do write a lot, I just don’t always take the time to type it out and share. So today, I am sharing some life updates and some lessons that I have learned within the last few months.

The biggest lesson and hardship I have been dealing with is failure and trusting that God has a plan. Recently, I applied for nursing school. I was so relieved and thankful when I finally submitted the application. There were a few things that went wrong with the application and I quickly fixed them. I was confident that I was going to get in. Turns out, I didn’t get into the upcoming spring program. I missed the cut off by 0.887 points. 0.887 points. This number has been running through my head for several weeks now. Initially, I didn’t know really what to think when I read that email. I was shocked and heartbroken. God, why didn’t I get into this upcoming semester? Is it not my calling to become a nurse? What do I do now? 

Now, after spending time with God and figuring out my next steps, I am confident in God’s plan for me and I am confident in saying that I do trust Jesus with my future. I trust him with my future career, my future relationships, and my life.

I’ve been doing some reflecting on this past year as I approach my birthday that is at the end of this week, specifically in two days. It blows my mind that last year at this time, I was doing the same thing. I was in a completely different place that year and I thank God for all the lessons he has taught me within this past year.

I’ve gone through heartbreak in more ways than one. I’ve tried to fixed and heal my heart in again, more ways than one. I know that Jesus is the only one who can fully satisfy the cravings of my heart. I have to remind myself of this quite often when I get caught up in the idea that I can handle things on my own.

I’ve had to learn to love myself in whole. I have struggled with who I am in Christ, as I am sure many of you have before. I know I am loved. I know I am worthy. I know I have beautiful and precious to the Father. Some days I have a hard time believing these truths that the Lord has said, but when it comes down to it, God’s love and grace he showers over me is more than what I deserve. I am so thankful for that.

This is a big one. I’ve learned more that you cannot please everyone (and thank goodness you don’t have too because it is exhausting!!!). There will always be people trying to scheme against you and distract you from what you are focusing on. I’ve learned to focus on you. You cannot control what someone thinks or says about you.

Finally, and I think most importantly, I have learned that seasons of waiting are necessary for spiritually growth. They sometimes can be the hardest seasons because you don’t know what God’s plan for you is, but that is also what makes the waiting seasons amazing. The Father isn’t going to give you anything less than beautiful. Sometimes we tend to think that setbacks and trials are meant to hurt us, but God uses that to build and growth us for the future plans he has for you. God has the power and authority to make things better. Jesus is in authority over every aspect of your life. It is about time we step back, relinquish control to him, and follow the one who knows better than we do.

TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS

Last weekend the sermon at my church was on toxic relationships. The sermon was great (I will link it down below) and there were many great points made on forgiveness and conflict. However, as a woman in her twenties, the phrase “toxic relationship” has a completely different meaning to me (as I am sure it does to many young adults my age). I want to take a different look at it & give my side of what I wish was spoken about.

When I hear the phrase “toxic relationship” many different images, situations, and personal circumstances come to my mind. For starters, the word “unhealthy” flashes in red, bold letters in my mind. I see a great amount of people who are in these unhealthy/toxic relationships. Many of them who may not even see that the actions and behaviors displayed in the relationship are even “toxic” or “unhealthy”. If you have to do anything and everything possible to get your partners attention or acknowledgement, then that’s a red flag you’re in an unhealthy relationship.

What I wish was touched on during the sermon is the acknowledgement of knowing when to flee from a toxic relationship and how to heal from the brokenness. For a long time I was in somewhat of denial and didn’t exactly consider my relationship to be unhealthy. I had the best times of my life during this season, but there were also so many low points for me that it’s hard to just ignore them (which is what I tried to do). You can’t hide happiness, but you sure as hell can hide unhappiness.

Now, having time to reflect on the things I’ve gone through, breaking up and getting back together, the loss of Jesus at the center of the relationship, comparison, manipulation and not being treated right, is all very much so, unhealthy. It breaks my heart to say and admit that none of that is considered “love.” I use to solely rely on God to help me through the situation, crying till 4 in the morning, begging him to change my circumstance. I completely ignored him when he told me to flee and to let go. I am not saying that God doesn’t have any control over your situation if you are in a toxic relationship, but you too have a say in what happens. You have the choice to make to flee or stay. At the end of the day, God is in control. He has a plan for your life, even if that means going through several valleys. I know now what I deserve and how I should be treated. I’ve learned who I am more than I ever thought. I absolutely have zero idea what my future holds, but I firmly believe it’s nothing short of happiness and blessings.

In no way do I want to come off as bashing, but I really wanted to just share my thoughts on this topic, honestly just hoping someone can relate or find this enlightening.

The Church of Eleven 22 – Toxic Relationships: https://subspla.sh/6733j5d

GOD IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS.

There have been countless times in my life where I have found myself hesitating to ask God certain questions because I had a feeling his answer was not what I wanted to hear. I know his ways are greater and better than mine, but at the time I don’t think I believed in that promise. You see, there is a huge difference in “knowing something to be true” and “believing something to be true.” We can know everything possible, but it takes believing and having faith in it that determines our mindset and actions.

I have deliberatly turned away from answers that I was searching for because I simply did not like the answer. I thought my way was better and more beneficial for me. Little did I know my own actions hurt me the most. I’ve come to learn (and trust me, I still have a lot of learning to do) that God isn’t going to take away something from you without giving you something bigger and greater in return to you.

I love this picture for so many different reasons and when I saw it for the first time I couldn’t help but think “This is exactly what I have done and who I am.” I am sure many of you can relate to this, not knowing what the future may hold so you want to hold on for dear life onto what you have now. Thinking this is the best I will ever get, which is small minded thinking. Believing in God takes great faith and trust especially when it comes to gifts he will bless you with. The only ones who can hinder the opportunity for God to bless you, is you. If you are holding on so tight to something, but asking God for more, it is up to you to let go and trust in Him to fulfill his promises to you.

THE BATTLE

The fear of the unknown 
When did it start… when will it end
The sleepless nights… the restless mind
The lonesome cries eating away inside
Smiling & saying “it’s okay, I’m fine. I’m strong. It will pass. 
It’s just a season. It’s just not my time”
But the fear continues to grow 
Battling my mind of what I feel & what I know
Knowing my God is faithful
He’s good & he provides
Knowing he’s paved the path for me & gives me strength to survive 
& on the darkest of nights, his light always shines
For I know faith comes by hearing & hearing through the word of Christ
Surrendering seems simple, when you’re being washed in the water 
But the nights your mind seems lost I’m constantly reminded that it’s okay I’m HIS daughter 
The daughter of the King who’s love is so deep
That he sent his one and only son to die for me

Depression is real
But so is the cross
Reminding myself to be thankful 
Not to focus on what’s lost
But I’m only human & I’m honest enough to say
That my emotions can get the best of me & my mind goes astray 
Falling down to my knees & pleading for help
In whatever way I need that I don’t know myself
For I know he knows me best
And his will be done 
So relax my child, breathe deep & know
God’s got it handled
the battles already won.
🖤

Written by Bethany Judah

THE UNEXPECTED.

What do you do when the unexpected happens.

When you don’t make the team you tried out for. You may fail your exam you needed to pass the class. You loose your job. You find out you are infertile. Your relationship crumbles into pieces….

AND you find yourself stuck in this rut. You find yourself confused and overwhelmed at the fact that you are now stuck in a place of “where do I go from here?”

I’m sure you have been there at least once in your life and if you haven’t, you will. God didn’t promise us an easy, perfect, smooth sailing life. Honestly, you wouldn’t grow as a person if you didn’t walk through those valleys.

John 16:33 –
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I have to remind myself of this verse more often than you’d think. A set back or an interruption in your plan for life may be what you need to reset your mindset. Your life and plan is controlled by God, not you. While yes, your decisions and choices are made by you because we were given free will, but your future and plans are in the palm of his hand. Think of it this way, God knows better than we do. We would be arrogant to think otherwise. God gives us those interruptions in life or set backs to put us in check. When we are faced with this situation, we should be changing our mindset FROM “Why is this happening to me? I know everything and I have my own plans” TO “God is the creator of the universe and I know his plans are greater than my own understanding. Lord your will be done and not my own.”

We aren’t always going to know or understand why things happen whether they are interruptions that throw us off course, but they don’t just happen to happen. It is all apart of a plan that has been designed for us and only for us.