REAL Blog

Valentine’s Day…A Single Girl’s Perspective

Valentine’s Day…

A Single Girl’s Perspective

Here comes that dreaded day again, Valentine’s Day. What is meant to be another day of celebrating love, satan can twist and turn into a single girl’s worst nightmare. He uses it to create an emptiness. Seeing pictures all over Facebook and Instagram of the beautiful flowers from boyfriends and husbands or hearing stories about sweet dinner dates that sail into the sunset. Our minds start playing games of why not me, or jealousy and loneliness kick in. Or, why am I in my 30’s and still single?? Yes, those can be real feelings! But it’s time to draw a line in the sand and tell satan that enough is enough. Let’s put our focus on Jesus! The author and perfect our faith. (Hebrews 12:2). The One who loves us so much, He literally died for us. (John 3:16)
Valentine’s Day isn’t always easy. But I challenge us to take a different approach this year. Instead of allowing satan to use this day as a downer that spirals into an all out pity party with us crying and snottin’ all over the place, let’s allow God to use it to draw us nearer to Him. Take our hurts and emptiness to Him. He already knows them anyway. And let’s focus on Him. His goodness. Tell Him why you love Him. Because of His faithfulness. His everlasting love. His grace. His mercy. His sovereignty. His timing, even though so often we want to rush Him. His forgiveness. His patience with us. His Sacrifice. His Son who died on the cross, while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), so that we could have life with Him eternally. Thank Him for the Holy Spirit who we can already be with here on earth.
Let’s be happy for those who have husbands and are getting spoiled by boyfriends, and let’s fall into the arms of the one whole loves us most. Yes, I would love to be married or be in a relationship to have someone to spend this Valentine’s Day with. But that’s not going to steal my joy or take my focus off of Jesus. Because as a Christian, I am already His bride. And I am living in the greatest love story ever written.
You don’t have to be alone on this Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year. Every day can be Valentine’s Day with Jesus. The one we should be falling more and more in love with every day. He already loves us, literally to death (and life).

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Getting REAL!

Flashback with me to summer… Grilled burgers. Watermelon. Homemade strawberry ice cream from my Mom’s 50 year old secret family recipe. It was a typical summer holiday cookout – yummy and very laid back with just the fam.

So after a day full of old movies, Nertz, and being totally lazy, it was wonderful to have a couple of friends that we hadn’t seen in a while drop by in repsonse to our facebook post about the homemade ice cream. We enjoyed the frozen goodness and had a wonderful conversation, ranging from light-hearted catching up, to corny inside jokes, to deep, gut-level honest sharing that you only do with REAL friends and family.

It was 30 minutes after they left – probably 7:00 p.m. or so – that I went into the bathroom and noticed myself in a mirror… Yikes! I had not combed my hair after I got up that morning! But then… I smiled. And I thought how wonderful it was to have people I could be REAL with! They didn’t care. They loved me anyway.

Don’t we all long for that?! We want to know and be known at a deep, gut level and to be so comfortable with friends or family, someone, anyone, that we can smile, relax, and not sweat and fret and fear what they’ll think. We don’t want those insecurities to rise to the surface. We want to be accepted for who we are, they way we look, and the mistakes we make. Not for who people want us to be. Not for who they think we are because we are keeping up pretenses and hiding the REAL us every time we are around them. We long to be accepted… loved… just as we REALLY are.

Some of us will have the rare pleasure of experiencing that with a few select friends, but for many of us even family seems to be unable to know us, accept us, and love us as we long to be loved.

But there is Great News! There is Hope! We have a Heavenly Father, our Abba, who knows us intimately, accepts us totally, pursues a relationship with us relentlessly, and loves us unconditionally! Psalm 139 reminds us “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely…. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be…. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

God sees you! He knows you – the REAL you! And you know what? In spite of all your self-condemnation, fears, hiding, and not loving yourself – God loves you! He REALLY loves you! Come to Him. Just as you are.

“He Knows” by Jeremy Camp

Believe

by Peg Braden

Has the Lord ever done something so great, so specific for you that you’d be willing to step out of your comfort zone, if you thought telling others would bring Him glory? Ta-dah! Here I am! Talk to total strangers? Not a problem. Sing in front of hundreds? No big deal. Write a blog post? Gulp. But if my experience will encourage others to not give up when they are tired of waiting, and if my words give Him all glory and thanks and praise, then so be it.

When you consider the promises of God, what comes to mind? Jeremiah 29:11? “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD…” Philippians 4:13? “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Or Romans 10:9? “…If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” These are just a few of the many promises found in the Bible, but has God ever given you a specific promise? A promise meant just for you regarding a specific situation or request?

‘For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.’ 2 Corinthians 1:20

Christmas celebrates the fulfillment of God’s greatest promise. Isaiah 9:6-7 prophesies the coming of Christ, but the Israelites waited 2000 years for the promised Messiah to be born. In Genesis 12:1-3 God tells Abram that He will make him into a great nation, and in Genesis 15:6 we read that Abram believed the LORD and it was credited to him as righteousness. It wasn’t until twenty-five years later, however, that Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5). Samuel anointed David to be king when he was just a teenager tending his father’s sheep, but it wasn’t until David was 30 years old that he was acknowledged as King of Israel (2 Samuel 5:4). These are only three examples, but do you see the similarities? God gave the promise and then His servants waited.

How well do you wait? Did you read through the previous paragraph and not really consider 2000 years or 25 years? Years. How would you respond to God today if He confirmed an answer to your deepest desire, yet didn’t give you a time frame? Without a doubt you’d be grateful! You’d give Him praise and glory for answering your prayer. But what if the answer doesn’t come quickly? Days turn into weeks, then months and maybe even years. You’re still coming home to an empty house, or waking up to go to a job you don’t like. How long, Lord? Has He changed his mind? Did I misunderstand? Maybe the promise isn’t what I thought it was going to be after all? Would you choose a “good” gift right now, or are you willing to hold off and wait for His “best” gift?

Let me tell you about my experience of receiving, and waiting, on a promise from God.

First, let me say that I wish I had written down the specific date that God gave me my promise. Oh, how I wish I knew that date! When God gives you a promise, write it down and date it. I think I would celebrate it like a birthday, every year. The best I can do is say somewhere in 1992 or 1993, while I was driving back to college, God promised me that I would have a husband. I was in my early 20’s and a lot of my friends were engaged, some already married, and others dating seriously. Not me. No hope on my horizon, so to speak. I pretended I was ok with it. After all, I was young and there was plenty of time for me to meet someone. But God saw fit to answer my tearful pleas for a godly husband through a song. (How appropriate for someone who loves music, huh? He knows I struggled to memorize scripture, but song lyrics are easy for me to recall.)

On my six-hour drive back to college I had turned the radio off and begun talking out loud to Jesus as if He was sitting beside me. It had become one of my favorite things to do on that long boring drive from KY to Birmingham. It made Him so real and my prayer time intimate. Eventually our conversation came around to a complete lack of a boyfriend or serious relationship and I cried out to Him to fulfill my deepest desire for a godly husband. Picture a young child asking her dad for something she has no ability of obtaining on her own. That was me. Begging my heavenly Father to do me a favor because I knew He loved me and there was no one else who could do for me what He can do.

With red, tear-stained eyes and a snotty nose, this prayer goes on for some time. Then I realize the car is quiet. In that holy moment, there is a hush of finality in the air and I drive on in silence. After a few contented minutes I turn on the radio to my favorite Christian station. Only I am met with more silence, like they are off the air. Several seconds passed, then the following song came on without any introduction:

SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD TODAY
A LITTLE GIRL WILL GO OUT TO PLAY
ALL DRESSED UP IN MAMA’S CLOTHES
AT LEAST THAT’S THE WAY I SUPPOSE IT GOES

SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD TONIGHT
BEFORE SHE REACHES TO TURN OUT THE LIGHT
SHE’LL BE PRAYING FROM A TENDER HEART
A SIMPLE PRAYER THAT’S A WORK OF ART

AND I DON’T EVEN KNOW HER NAME
BUT I’M PRAYING FOR HER JUST THE SAME
THAT THE LORD WILL WRITE HIS NAME UPON HER HEART
‘CAUSE SOMEWHERE IN THE COURSE OF THIS LIFE
A LITTLE BOY WILL NEED A GODLY WIFE
SO HOLD ON TO JESUS, BABY WHEREVER YOU ARE

SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD OUT THERE
THAT LITTLE GIRL IS LEARNING HOW TO CARE
SHE’S PICKING UP HER MAMA’S CHARMS
OR MAYBE SWINGING ‘ROUND IN HER DADDY’S ARMS

SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD TO BE
THOUGH THE FUTURE’S NOT REALLY CLEAR TO ME
THEIRS COULD BE A TENDER LOVE
GROUNDED IN ETERNAL LOVE ABOVE

AND I DON’T EVEN KNOW HER NAME
BUT I’M PRAYING FOR HER JUST THE SAME
THAT THE LORD WILL WRITE HIS NAME UPON HER HEART
‘CAUSE SOMEWHERE IN THE COURSE OF THIS LIFE
MY LITTLE BOY WILL NEED A GODLY WIFE
SO HOLD ON TO JESUS, BABY WHERE EVER YOU ARE

This was not a coincidence. The overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit confirmed it. I had more tears, this time from thankfulness and a heart full of peace.

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I wish I could say that I met my husband, Keenan, really soon after that special night, but I didn’t. God gave me a promise; He didn’t give me a time frame. Six years later I was struggling to believe that I had heard God correctly. What if I never married? Was God enough? Yes. Is His plan always better for me than my own attempts? Yes. I knew the Lord could send me a husband, I just wasn’t confident anymore that He would.

But God is immutable. He never changes. It is impossible for Him to lie. And though no one would have known if He had broken His promise to a young girl from Kentucky, (we were the only two in the car that night and I hadn’t told anyone for fear they would misinterpret my experience as wishful thinking) He would never do that because it is not in His character. If God has given you a promise, you can trust that He has not forgotten it and you can trust that He has not changed His mind. Don’t give up. Wait on God and wait well. God’s purpose is to use the time you are waiting to mature you and to prepare you for what is to come. And oh, when your answer does come, God will be glorified because He has done what only He could do!

Romans 4:18-21 sustained me while I waited on God to answer His promise. May it encourage you, too:
“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. “

May it be said of us that we do not waver in unbelief regarding the promise of God, but we are fully persuaded that God has the power to do what He has promised. Against all hope, may we, like Abraham, believe.

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God’s Perfect Timing

by Tammy Harris

In March of 1994, as a young mother of my first child, I found myself watching an example of God’s “perfect timing” play out in the life of my 13 month old baby girl and choosing to believe in the Power, Provision, Peace, and Protection of a Great Big God!

My daughter, Haley had been sick with what I thought was a stomach virus for several days. During that time, we had been in and out of the Dr.’s office a couple of times. On the third day, Haley’s pediatrician called our house to check on Haley. (This was the first and only time I’ve ever received a house call from a Dr.) I explained to the Dr. that Haley was better; no longer nauseated, but just sleeping a lot. The Dr. insisted that I go check on Haley while he was on the phone and tell him exactly what she was doing. When I walked over to her, I saw her having a seizure. It lasted only a few seconds, but it was clear to me what had happened. After the seizure, Haley was lifeless, limp. The Dr. advised me to bring her to his office (in Gardendale). I immediately took her to his office where he examined her with no answers. From there he told me to take her to Children’s Hospital where they would be expecting me. I arrived at Children’s Hospital, holding my lifeless/limp baby. I knew she was breathing, but that’s all. We went immediately to admitting. Haley was first taken for a CT scan before going to a room. The scan was completed and Haley started having a seizure that did not stop. Alarms started going off and hospital staff came rushing in and ushered me out of the CT scan room immediately.

The technician in the CT had reviewed Haley’s scan just as she started seizing. They knew exactly what was going on and what to do.

Haley had a brain tumor. As the CT scan was completed, the tumor had just completely blocked the passage where the spinal fluid drains, which caused the continuous seizure. I don’t remember the name of the procedure, but in the CT scan room, they had to insert two tubes in the top of Haley’s head to start draining the fluid off her brain.

Once this procedure was completed, Haley was moved to ICU. It was at that time that we received an explanation of what had just taken place and what was to be expected over the next 48 hours.

First, they had to get Haley stabilized. There was no guarantee she would make it through the night. Then, we would need to wait approximately 48 hours for the swelling of her brain to go down before operating would be an option. There was no way to determine at that point how much (if any) brain damage Haley would suffer, and certainly no indication if the tumor was benign or malignant. The attending physician that night did not give us a lot of hope.

After having been at Lakeside Baptist Church, we had decided to find a church in our own community and had just joined GFBC (Gardendale First Baptist Church) weeks before this day occurred. We did not know a lot of people at GFBC, but Craig called one of the few people he could even think of at the time. He also, made one phone call to a friend from Lakeside. In no time at all, we had a waiting room full of family, friends, and staff from both churches. What a blessing to have been surrounded by faithful prayer warriors from two different churches. The very thing that calmed me through that night, the following days, the next five years, and life, was the group of people there that night that circled that room and prayed on Haley’s behalf asking God to allow Haley to live and live life to the fullest. That night, I had to choose to believe God would hear each and every one of those prayers lifted up on Haley’s behalf and trust his answer, regardless of the answer.

The next morning, we met the neurosurgeon assigned to Haley. He said no guarantee, but he was 99% sure the tumor would be benign, based on what he was seeing. Thank you God for answered prayers and for a peace and calm in the lives of two young parents.

haley-1994Day 3 – Haley had surgery to remove the tumor. The top of her head was shaved and cut open, to remove the tumor underneath her brain. Surgery went as planned and the surgeon was still positive about the tumor, but we needed pathology testing results to verify. However, we were reminded that due to brain trauma, brain damage was still a possibility, as well as Haley not remembering anything from prior to the surgery and having to re-learn to walk, talk, etc.

After recovery, we were pleasantly surprised (but not really… we believe in a great big God!), that Haley recognized us, and seemed to remember her favorite songs (Jesus Loves Me & You Are My Sunshine!) We were so very thankful!

Day 11 – After having major brain surgery, Haley was discharged from Children’s Hospital and headed home!

The tumor was confirmed to be benign. However, due to no explanation for the cause of the tumor, Haley would have CT scans for the next five years, to confirm no recurrence. This was a very emotional, but necessary experience to have to go back to the same CT scan room where so much had previously taken place.

Even though Haley seemed to have no brain damage or memory loss due to the brain trauma, we were advised to expect learning disabilities, later in life. (Middle & High School). This child who went through so much at only 13 months of age became an honor student in elementary & middle school, a member of the National Honor Society in high school, and graduated May 2016 with honors from Troy University.

So very thankful for God’s perfect timing. We have been reminded over and over again, how important the timing of that first house call from the pediatrician was. And also, for the timing & completion of that CT scan before Haley was taken to a room, that allowed the hospital staff to respond quickly and efficiently when Haley started seizing continuously.

I believe in a great big God who answers prayers, (even when I wasn’t given much hope) and in HIS power, provision, peace, and protection, as this was not the only time we would be challenged to do so.

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Walking Through the Fire

by Karen Webb

It was 2008, one of the most difficult years of my life. We had come from a season of abundance and plenty in many ways, into a time of famine and drought.  Much like Naomi when she said in Ruth, chapter 1, “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty” I was suffering loss in many areas of my life.  Job loss for the 3rd time, our home that once resounded with life and laughter was quickly becoming quiet as our firstborn set off for college and within a few months our second son signed papers to join the Marines.  Friends who felt like family were removed…and, our thirteen year pastoral ministry that once thrived was hanging by a thread.  It seemed everywhere I turned life as I’d known it was being stripped away.

Walking through that year was one I will never forget.  My heart was broken, my vision blurred, my faith tested.  I knew the Lord was near; in many ways I felt His Presence more powerfully than ever, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around all that He was doing.  Have you ever had a time in your life like that…when things just didn’t make sense?  I knew God was not the author of confusion, but boy was I confused in the moment at what He was doing, or what He was allowing in my life!

So, I did the only thing I knew to do, I cried out to Him to “teach me Your ways and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your Name (Psalm 86:11).  I cried, Lord, “You have torn us to pieces but You will heal us; You have injured us but You will bind up our wounds!” (Hosea 6:1) And, ever so slowly, God began His healing work.

Not too many months later, on June 7, 2009, I was studying Exodus 3.  In it Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law and he ended up on the far side of the desert in Horeb (or Sinai), the mountain of God. “There” it says in verse 2, “the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush.”  He too was in a season of life that he didn’t understand and something that had never happened before was about to happen to him.

Moses saw a “strange sight.” He saw this bush that was on fire but was not burning up. Hmm, he thought. I have to go see why this bush that’s in flames doesn’t burn up. Then it says, “When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush.” He called Moses by name and Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer.” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then God began to reveal Himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob (the covenant keeping God); then later in the chapter as the I AM (Everything you’ll ever need). He also revealed His call on Moses’ life.

I wrote this blog post late that night…

“The burning bush is you and me! Look at it again. Something caught Moses’ eye. He saw a “strange sight.” It was a burning bush that didn’t burn up. On this earth we will go through fiery trials. But Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are pressed but not crushed, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed!” The Old Testament burning bush is a shadow (picture) of the New Testament “living sacrifice!!” (Romans 12:1)

When people see us going through something extremely painful but we are not bitter, we’re not angry, we’re not “burnt up” by the flames or feeling sorry for ourselves; rather, like the three Hebrew children in the book of Daniel we are walking through the flames with Jesus in our midst, they will have to stop like Moses and say, “What is this strange sight! Why are they on fire but they’re not burnt up?” And God will speak from within the bush to reveal Himself to us in ways that we’ve never experienced before. Could we live like that?

When God said to Moses, “Do not come any closer… take off your sandals for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” First of all, the ground was holy because God was present. And I think He was saying to Moses, I want you to recognize I AM God, and you are my child (take your shoes off, humble yourself like a barefoot child). Then, we will have sweet fellowship and I will show you MORE of who I AM!

Eight years later I’m still asking, still seeking, still knocking…every question doesn’t have an answer but my heart’s desire is Lord, show me MORE of who You are from within the flames of life.

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A Messed Up Girl Living in a Messed Up World

by Morgan Ramsey

So I want to share with you a story. But before we do anything, let’s get something straight. I’m going to use “I” a lot. But here’s the thing… This story has NOTHING to do with me. Crazy, I know. It may sound and look a lot like this is all about me, because from the world’s view that would be true. But this isn’t a story about a girl living in a messed up world. This is about a Savior who radically changed a messed up girl living all up in a messed up world.

So let’s start from the beginning. I grew up in a Christian home. My dad’s a minister at our local church where we’ve been attending since I was 7. When I was 14, I knew I needed Jesus desperately, so I surrendered my life to Him, and have never looked back a day in my life. When I was 15, through crazy circumstances that you can only attribute to Jesus, I knew God was calling me into something greater with my life. So Jesus laid missions on my heart. I KNOW. Like I had never been on a mission trip. I kind of laughed a little bit and I was like alright Lord, I don’t understand, but let’s go. So the Lord took me on a cool adventure with him through the next 6 years of my life. I was able to travel to Ecuador 5 times, spend 3 summers there, a summer in Uganda, and then week trips to Guatemala and Mexico.

So to fast forward a little bit and to summarize, God did such big things in my life. Every trip I went on gave me a clearer and clearer vision of what I wanted to do with my life. It was a cool growing time in my life. So December of last year, 2015, I graduated from college with a dual degree of History and Spanish under a major called “Global Studies”. Before I graduated, I heard about an opportunity that I couldn’t get out of my head: spend a semester in Greece to work with refugees. Another long story short, in February of 2016 I found myself fresh out of college and in Greece. I could write a book on everything that God taught me over there, but due to the word limit of this blog, I’m going to have to summarize. It was incredible, it was awesome, and it was more fantastic than I could have ever dreamt. And the biggest take away was,

Sometimes God places in us in strange, uncomfortable areas in our life where we think, ‘I am wasting my time. I can’t be effective here. God, are you sure about this, because I’m obviously not talented enough, charismatic enough, or Christ-like enough for this!’ But those are the areas where He uses us most. So He can be glorified, not us.

I know. Not the most awestruck thing you’ve ever heard in your life, but hey it was for me. So by the end of my time in Greece, I knew Jesus was calling me to something deeper, and something so different, but I just couldn’t figure out what it was. I tried to fill that hole before I came back to the States. (side-note, I knew this was coming, so I met with my college pastor before I left, and said SOS send help, pray for me because I’m FREAKING out about what I’m supposed to do after I come home). So while I was in Greece I met with organizations, prayed, met with more organizations, and ate plenty of figs and gelato, because that’s the only real remedy ladies.

Anyways, I thought I had it all figured out. I had met with a lady at an incredible organization and had planned to go to Germany for a year, to start a children’s ministry with some missionaries who worked with refugees. It looked great on the outside, but something was telling me, Morgan, as much as you loved working with refugees, didn’t you feel like this isn’t what God had for you for the rest of your life? It was incredible for a season; I just couldn’t do it for a year. But I kept telling myself, Sure you can, you can do anything you put your mind to. You see the problem here? There’s a whole lot of me, and nothing about Jesus.

I could never bring myself to write that email saying, “I’ll go to Germany.” So I went back to work at the place I had been at for the last 5 years. And to say I was unhappy would be an understatement. I was like – Really God? You told me to get ready for the next step and then now this? COME ON GET IT TOGETHER. Please tell me that selling books is not what I’m called to do for the rest of my life. But Jesus kept telling me, Morgan chill. Just wait. So I did. For two weeks.

And then I got a phone call. A phone call that really has changed my life, in more ways than I think I realize. It was from my youth pastor at our church. He asked me to come in to the student ministries office to talk about something. And I was completely clueless thinking, Okay, he probably wants to talk about my Greece trip. Nope. He asked me to consider being a summer intern for the student ministry at my church. And I remember thinking, Me?!? Whhhhaaaattttt??? So I said, “Okay but I’m almost 125% percent sure they are going to hate me and think I’m super weird because I can sing every lyric to any One Direction song.” He said something I’ll never forget, “Just try it. You’ll never know how much you may love it, unless you try it”.

And as usual, he was right. I love my girls. I love watching them fall in love with Jesus and eagerly following Him in every way possible. And if I’m being honest, they make me jealous, because I really wish that I searched after Jesus the way they do when I was in high school and middle school. So my summer started at, “uhh…. I’m not sure about this… when does it end again???” to at the end of the summer me saying, “PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME LEAVE”.

I know. I’m crazy. But these girls make me crazy by the way they love our Jesus.

So our girls’ minister left a couple of weeks ago because Jesus gave her two precious, precious babies. One adopted, and one that was due in October. And Jesus told her that it was time to minister to her own family, so she left in July. And what an incredible joy and honor it was for me to intern under her. She’s the best, and I’m not just saying that because I was the intern. She really does walk the walk. Really.

So fast-forward to August 16th. My internship was up. All I wanted was to love on these girls. I had to fully trust Jesus in a way that I had never trusted Him before. I told Jesus, “Lord you know I want more than anything to see your name lifted high, not Morgan Ramsey. And you keep telling me, ‘be faithful with the little and then you’ll be faithful with much’. So I’m trying to be faithful with my little. But Jesus, you know how much I want this job. But above all, whatever it looks like and whatever may come, I want your will over my life.”

Four hours later, I walked out of a meeting as my church’s new girls minister.

And I share this story not to say “wow look at all the things I’ve done”. Please re-read the beginning and if you still feel like I portrayed that it’s all about me, I give you complete permission to come up and slap me in the face. But gently ok?

I share this story to encourage YOU. This is written for the lady that just lost her job, and thinks her life is over. For the college student fresh out of graduation with nothing on the horizon. For the girl who has NO IDEA what she wants to do with her life. For the lady who just wants so desperately to be a mama. For the senior adult who thinks her life is over, and that she has nothing left to offer anyone. JESUS IS NEVER, EVER THROUGH WITH YOU. NEVER.

And sometimes the things that He calls you to are different from what you were expecting. If you would’ve told me a year ago that I would be in this position I would have laughed for a solid two minutes, and said no wrong girl. Because I felt and still do feel called to missions! But can I share something with you? Before she left, my girls’ minister told me, “Morgan, Jesus calls us into seasons. And sometimes those seasons are places where we never, ever thought we could go. And those are the seasons where He gets most glorified. And when you look back on your life twenty years from now, you are going to see how all of those seasons where you laughed and said ‘seriously God?’, brought you to where you will be. They will be all be connected, preparing you for the next season”.

So are you looking for the next season? Are you waiting, and waiting, and waiting for something in your life to happen? Has God answered you in a way that you are having a hard time grasping?

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He WILL give you the desires of your heart, just like it says in Psalms. But get ready. Because sometimes those desires look different from what you were expecting. Sometimes those desires will bring you to places you never thought you would go. Sometimes those unexpected desires will turn into the biggest blessings in your life. Sometimes those desires will look like investing in a younger girl, diving head first into ministry, serving the church more, or starting a new job where you think “what in the world am I doing here”.

And sometimes those desires look like a car full of high school girls piling into your car singing to the top of their lungs the newest One Direction song, headed to Bible Study. Not your desire? Well then, I’m completely content with it being mine.

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Christmas

by Laura Nixon

What do you think of when you hear the word Christmas?

I’ll be honest, up until a couple of years ago I thought Christmas meant family, food, Christmas lights, and presents. I knew it was to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but I had no idea what that meant. And although being with family, eating together, looking at lights, and giving presents aren’t bad things, I didn’t know the true meaning of Christmas. It wasn’t until just a couple of years ago, when I was asked to teach a lesson on the Christmas story that I realized, I had no idea what the Christmas story was. As I began to study, God began to show me a story of promises, obedience, fulfillment, and the greatest love of all. He began showing me that Christmas is all about His love for us. It’s about His promise and fulfillment of the birth his Son, who would one day die on the cross for our sins, only to be raised so that we could live.

But what He began showing me didn’t stop there. Not only did He show me about the miracle of the birth of Christ, He really had me focus on the events leading up to it.

The Mary and Joseph side of Christmas.

God used ordinary people, living obedient lives full of faith and trust in Him, to do an extraordinary thing. Mary, a faithful woman who was favored by God, and Joseph, and ordinary carpenter who trusted the Lord over his own fears or chastising from others.  They were both part of a miracle and the fulfillment of God’s promise to us. A baby born of a virgin, who lived an obedient life, and died an obedient death, trusting that the Father’s plan was better than His own. Not giving in to the enemy or worried about the ridicule and chastising from other people, but listening to and obeying God.

God used ordinary people, living obedient lives full of faith and trust in Him, to do an extraordinary thing.

God really began speaking to me through the obedience of Mary and Joseph. I listen to the world way too much. Sometimes I let the enemy paralyze me with fear because I listen to him rather than to God. Or I worry about what other people will think or say. What if Joseph had that attitude? What if he worried about what other people would think rather than obeying the Lord? Look at Mary. When the angel Gabriel appeared to her, telling her she would conceive and give birth to a son, the Son of the Most High, her only question was, “How will this happen, I am a virgin”. When the angel responded, Mary replied, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” She didn’t worry that people might think she was crazy. She was obedient to God’s plan for her. Lots of times our obedience to God seems crazy to the world. But Mary didn’t worry about what the world thought. She actually praised the Lord for the great things He had done for her. Once Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph continued living obedient lives, obeying God and trusting His plan for them, following Him wherever He told them to go.

Looking at the Christmas story makes me think… What is holding me back? What is God wanting to do in and through me that I am allowing the enemy to stop? When He tells me something, do I listen to the enemy’s voice rather than God’s word that says, “For nothing is impossible with God”? Mary didn’t do this in her own strength, and neither can we. But with God, all things are possible! Think about the connection Mary had with Jesus because He was inside her womb. If you are a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you. Look at the miracle God birthed through Mary. God used an ordinary woman, living a life of obedience, to birth a miracle. Who knows what miracles He is wanting to birth through us. Are we living in a posture where we can hear His voice? Are we living a life of obedience? And yes, that can be scary. Our obedience to Him often takes us out of our comfort zone. But we don’t have to worry, because if we truly have a relationship with Him….then HE is our comfort zone.

Now, when I hear the word Christmas, I think of the celebration of an incredible act of His love. I think of God’s sovereignty and the fulfillment of the hope and His promise of Christ. Christmas… part of the greatest love story ever written… His love for us, His love that still continues today, tomorrow, and forever.

With God, all things are possible!

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Things Don’t Always Go As We Plan

by Kim Moody

Sometimes things don’t always go as you’ve planned. Actually, many times, they go the total opposite of everything you had in mind. Trusting in God’s sovereign plan is the only thing that got me through this past year and a half. Had I trusted in anything else, I would’ve crumbled.

You see, a few years ago my family of 8 felt like God was calling us to go and serve as missionaries in Uganda. Yes, even though we had six children, we still felt God wanted us to serve among the Acholi people. Long story short, we sold everything we had, moved into the church mission home, raised support, and bought one way plane tickets to Uganda. We were three months out from leaving when something happened in our family that put a hold on things.

Sometimes, as Christians, I feel like we believe we’ll know when a trial will come into our lives, and that somehow we might see it coming before it hits. I know now that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Sometimes we are completely blindsided by trials and tribulations. However, what I thought was a horrible time in our lives, would soon change my prayer life and strengthen my faith more than I could ever imagine.

I got a call one night that two children who were very close to our family, and that I cared about deeply, were being taken into DHR custody. I was more than upset about the situation and remember crying all night long. I felt helpless. There was nothing I could do that night. It was one of the worst feelings in the world. I remember asking God why He was allowing this to happen? There is nothing about this kind of situation that makes sense at all. When children are taken away from their mother and father it is a very difficult thing to deal with, and on top of it they were people I loved and cared for very much….part of my family.

That night I wrestled with God about what our family should do to be a part of this situation. I didn’t sleep much from the conversation that He and I were having. During the night, I clearly heard the Lord tell me that our family was to petition for these children. I knew it sounded crazy. My husband and I went back and forth about all the things the Lord had put before us. I thought to myself, “Lord do we not have enough faith already?” We’d sold everything to go to Uganda. We were to leave in 3 months!!!! There were people supporting us, supplies that friends had bought, and don’t forget the plane tickets that were purchased.

We went through many questions. What will people think if we don’t go? Will they think we have lost your minds? But there were also many things that God was telling us. He clearly told us that we were to go tell those in Uganda about Him and show them how to love and take care of the least of these. I prayed and prayed asking the Lord what to do. I was sick over the situation. I prayed for the Lord to give me wisdom like James writes about in James 1:5. As I was asking in faith for Him to show us direction, I heard him say “How can you show the Gospel to the Acholi people if you have those in your own family that need the same?” He said, “So who cares what people think? Who cares if they think you’re crazy!!” So after praying and crying out to the Lord, we petitioned for the children. Not knowing what the outcome would be or what the journey would look like, we said yes to the Lord.

After a few very long court dates later we gained custody of the children. We became a family of 10 within a matter of minutes. We had no clue how long we would have them, we just knew we had them and they were safe and sound in our home. The Lord started me on this journey of trusting in Him… and not just for now, but for the journey ahead.

We prayed having faith that God would use us during this time. It put everything we had planned on hold. But the reality is, it was God’s plan all along. I prayed at times not knowing the outcome, but believing God was faithful no matter what.

Sometimes the answers were not what I wanted them to be, but God was still good. He was changing lives in more ways than I can put into this testimony and continues to today. God was breaking walls and building faith in the meantime. I’m forever grateful for this detour, if you will, in our lives.

Today I sit in Uganda writing this testimony to you, and the best part is that the children are back with their mother. God would still be good, even if we were still back home in Gardendale, Alabama, taking care them. But in His grace, He has allowed us to serve a different mission field in northern Uganda for this season of our lives. We are thankful for that, and stand in awe daily of His faithfulness.

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REAL gathering 2017

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Believing God

Saturday, January 28  |  9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Tickets: $15 – Lunch Will Be Served

NORTH CAMPUS  |  CELEBRATION ROOM

The REALgathering is an event for ladies of all ages to come together, take off our masks and just be real. We must realize that we all have issues in our lives & that the church is not about being perfect. It’s about focusing on a real relationship with God and with each other. This year’s focus is on believing God, and trusting that His will be done in our lives. Join us for a day of worship, testimonies, table talk, panel discussion and more.

Masks Off – Real Conversations  – Lives Transformed 


Purchase Tickets

Purchase tickets by clicking the button above or visit our Encouraging Word Bookstore.

Just Trust Me

by Beth Hill

“Faith is trusting God even when you don’t see His plan.”  ~Unknown

Of all the fruit of the Spirit that the Lord gives, patience is the hardest one for me to practice. When I was a little girl, there was a song sung by a crazy hyper rabbit that couldn’t wait to get on with things.  Over and over the rabbit sang “I just can’t wait to have patience, because patience is a wonderful thing.” As a child I laughed at that silly rabbit.  Yet as a thirty-something, I can look back and see that I have been just like that rabbit on many occasions.

I have been through many seasons of “not yet” in my life and through them all God has never left me.  Instead, He has called me to trust.  I believe that in some (if not all) of these seasons God may have been purposefully leading me through a wilderness, because He had better plans in store.  He’s done that sort of thing before.  In the Exodus story, God raised up Moses and rescued His people from the Pharaoh. When the Israelites had finally been told to go out from Egypt, the Bible says, “God did not lead them on the road through the Philistines even though it was shorter.”  You see, God knew exactly what He was doing in taking them the long way around.  He knew that if the Israelites had to fight the Philistines to get to their victory they would  give up and return to Egypt to be slaves.  Their will wasn’t that strong. Their faith, though laden with incredible history of God’s faithfulness, was overshadowed by what they could see in front of them. We aren’t unlike them.  We try to travel the shortest quickest route to where we want to go. We have escalators for walking, interstates for driving, microwaves for cooking and many more ways of taking shortcuts.  We have very little patience.  But the shortest route is not always best. In this case, the Israelites could have ended up enslaved to be beaten and mistreated once again. God knew better things were in store for his people.

That same passage says that God “led the people around the desert road toward the Red Sea.” When they fled captivity they headed east towards the Red Sea. They had mountains to the south and mountains to the west and soon they had Egyptians bearing down on them with thunderous sound from the north. They had no way of escape. They were doomed.  But wait, I just told you that God led them toward the Red Sea. Why would God do such a thing?  Why would He lead them towards disaster?  Because God had BIG plans in mind that they could never have fathomed. When they were stuck with nowhere else to go God stepped in and split the Red Sea. He made the waters recede to the right and to the left with a ½ mile of dry ground in between. Dry ground. Don’t miss the miracle because the story is familiar. The Israelites were hemmed in by disaster on all sides but God rolled back the sea because even the waves obey Him. He led his people the long way not only to protect them from themselves, but also to show them that He is I AM; the very present God, able to meet their every need. And He does the same for us. He steps into our messy days and leads us the long way to protect us. Then when things look bleak and we are stuck between a rock and a hard place He does the miraculous.

My husband and I are currently in a season of “not yet.”  We have a business that God has gifted us for and with.  We are waiting for the day when God says, “keep moving; take this business forward.”  We are eager to run ahead and get to that place.  But in the midst of the “not yet” and the Spirit reminds me again, “Be patient [trust Him] maybe He is leading you the long way around. He may be doing more than you can even fathom.”

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