Bad Girl, Bad Girl, Whatcha gonna do?

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I am totally a sinner and a bad girl. I try way too hard to be a good girl, but I fail miserably every chance I get. I want to say it’s easy to stay good. I want to say that once you’ve been saved it’s all uphill from there. But it’s not and Satan makes sure it’s not. I don’t want to blame Satan 100%, we’re definitely still sinners once we’re saved.

Sometimes I can see the bad girl rise up inside of me. I hear the Holy Spirit’s whispers, but I ignore Him and let my anger get in the way. After I realize my sin, I come to the throne of grace and beg for forgiveness. Our Lord freely gives us His bountiful, amazing grace if we confess our sins to Him. Then He gives me a second chance (and third and fourth and…).

When I stay in His Word and put it in my heart, that’s when the bad girl becomes stifled; that’s when she stays away. I had an incident at work where rumors were involved and the most extreme pettiness you can think of. I was determined that rage would not get the best of me and I refused to get angry over something I knew Satan was a part of. I remembered Psalm 37 and immediately looked over verses 8 and 9. I wrote them down on an index card along with Isaiah 26:3. Both of these scriptures, side by side, helped my anger dissipate and I was able to share my index card with my best work friend. It not only helped me, but it helped her. She even told me how much she needed to hear those verses. The Lord allowed me to shine a little bit of Jesus her way. The Lord is faithful, even when we’re bad girls. I praise Him for His faithfulness, mercy and grace. Trust in Jesus, sweet sister. You don’t walk this road alone.

Thank you Lord for being faithful and merciful, even when we are “bad girls.” In Christ I pray, Amen.

~Lauren Ray

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He Holds the Future

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If you’ve been following the state news, you know that there are some issues with the pensions of state employees.  As a public educator, I am affected by this.  It affects my future. I am reminded, however, that God holds my future.

As I reflect on crisis or tough times in my life, I am reminded that my security doesn’t come from people. It doesn’t come from pensions. My security doesn’t come from anything other than Christ. When my husband was deployed, I knew God had us in Hands.  When I was awaiting the results of ultrasounds and bloodwork to confirm my miscarriage, I knew that God was in control.  When my husband changed career paths and became a fulltime pastor, I knew God would provide when this brought a salary reduction.  In these circumstances and in so many others, I put my trust in God because He is my security.

 

No matter what comes at us, no matter how badly our government fails us, no matter how we hurt, we can remain confident of our future when we know Christ.  Through Him, we can do all things.

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Covered in Prayer

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When I was in high school, I had found out that one of my friends had asked her Sunday school class to pray for me. I was livid. Pray for me?!?! There was nothing wrong with me, so I couldn’t understand why my friend would be praying for me and asking others to do the same.

 

It took many years to be appreciative of her prayers.

 

You see, there was something wrong with me….I was lost.  I didn’t have a relationship with Christ.

 

Now, as a Christian, I covet prayers.  Just this morning, I received a text from a coworker letting me know that she’d been praying for me.  God had laid it on her heart, and she was obedient to Him and lifted me in prayer.  I’m eternally grateful for her prayers and for the prayers of others.

God tells us to pray without ceasing, devoting ourselves to prayer.  He tells us to pray in faith, believing that He hears us and answers according to His will.  In Romans, Paul’s heart’s desire and prayer was for the lost to be saved.  In Ephesians, 1 Thessolonians, and Philemon, we are reminded to give thanks for others as we remember them in prayer.

 

I challenge you to heed to God’s voice. When you awake in the middle of the night thinking of someone, pray for that person.  When you see a young mother struggling to get through the supermarket with fussing children, pray for them.  When you see the elderly widow sitting alone on her porch, pray for her.  Pray for those sitting around you in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. Pray for your families. Pray for your elected officials. Pray for your coworkers. Pray for your waitress. Pray for those who have slighted you.  Pray.  Pray without ceasing and pray with a thankful heart.

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Fearless

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Do not be afraid! Do not be discouraged! Be Strong! Be courageous! The LORD fights for us!

The battles we face can be long and tiring. But always remember we are never fighting alone!

Live Fearless.

 

 

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White As Snow

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Whatever the enemy has thrown at you today, cast it aside, do not listen. Those sins are forgiven, they can’t hold you captive anymore. What was once stained red like crimson is now “white as snow!”

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But Grace

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So, last night about 10:00, I realized it was Friday.  That’s when I also realized I had not completed my post for this week.  Talk about a big “OOPS!”  As a blogger, I often found myself asking forgiveness from my readers when I hadn’t posted as often as I’d liked. I felt the need to explain myself. When I realized I was apologizing for “life happening,” I stopped.

 

And it does, doesn’t it?

 

Life happens.

 

Why do we apologize for having a rough week at work?  Why do we apologize for being sick? Why do we apologize for putting the needs of ourselves and our families before other things?  This week, between a constant headache and crazy schedule at work, I’ve felt pretty terrible. I’ve neglected my housework and my ViBella business. As you can tell, I’ve neglected my writing as well.

The important thing we must remember when “life happens” is to show grace…..grace to ourselves and to others.

 

The ultimate picture of grace is Jesus Christ.  When we fall, He picks us up.  When we fail, He redeems. When we hurt, He comforts. Whatever happens in life, Jesus is there for us.  How are you at showing grace?  Do you live by a NO EXCUSES motto, or do you say, “Girl, I understand!”?  My prayer for all of us is that we can let go of that Wonder Woman image we want to bear and just bear the image of grace.

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What Are You Waiting For?

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Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen

What are you waiting for? Doesn’t that question stop you in your tracks? It does me. When I heard that in my spirit, I immediately took out a pen and paper and began to write. Here are a few items on my waiting list:

  • Prayer Requests for Salvation and Healing
  • Live stronger in my relationship with Christ
  • Find joy again
  • To see our Sunday School grow
  • Financial Freedom
  • To be at my goal weight
  • To go on that dream vacation with my family
  • To cultivate stronger relationships

So what does your list look like? We all have different things we are “waiting” for. But do these things cause us to live in a place of anxiety, discouragement, fear, laziness… I could go on and on with another list of reasons why these things may not have come to pass yet.

Here’s the shocking thing though, ya’ll… The Lord just revealed to me that possibly the reason a few of these things have not come to pass just might be because of ME.
What??

Obviously, some of those prayer requests for healing, salvation, and such are all Him but these other things… I have to admit, for most of those, I have a part to play in whether I see them come to fruition or not. When Christ changed my perspective of my part in each one, the anxiety lessened, the discouragement backed away, fear disappeared as courage rose up, and laziness turned into determination.

Let’s seek the Lord’s guidance in where ‘our’ part is in each one and then leave the end result up to Him. This is what our relationship with Jesus is all about. Laying the list of burdens at His feet. Seeking His face for direction. Taking up our mats (See John 5 for more) and proceeding with that ‘thing’ He is telling us to do next. Now that I know the part I play in all of this, the next step is obedience.

Let me ask you one more time.. What are you waiting for?

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Morning

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I am totally a morning person.  My favorite thing to do is make a pot of coffee, check out the sunrise, and read my Bible.

Morning is just a special time. It’s quite for the most part (I’m usually the only one up). The beauty of the sunrise amazes me.  Although the view out the back door is the same, the image is always different.

And morning reminds me of renewal.  A fresh start.

There’s so many ways to connect that thought to Christ.

Joy comes in the morning.

Morning by morning new mercies I see.

He makes all things new.

The earth is filled with His glory.

I like to think that God is a morning person too.  Its full of beauty and peace and so is He. I’m thankful for mornings, not just for my routine during this time, but for the new start.  Waking to the realization that God has blessed me with a new day, and regardless of what the day brings, He is in it. He’s ordained it.  Because I know, “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” And I can rejoice each morning because of Him.

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The Fairytale Love

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While we are in this week of Valentine’s Day, many people concentrate on the idea of a fairytale love, or lack thereof.  We work so hard to meet an idealistic, Hollywood portrayed, Disney princess kind of love story and are sorely disappointed when it doesn’t pan out even close to this picture of so called love.  Our culture especially damages a lady’s view on romance because we idolize these fantasies of Prince Charming and living happily ever after.  When reality actually sets in or the first blemish appears in our love story, we are not equipped to handle it because we refuse to believe that could be a part of love.

Love that’s not perfect….does that even exist!?  If it doesn’t, then my marriage should bow out now.  I like many of you was sucked into believing that my love story would be infamous for its powerful culmination and the perfect Prince Charming of a husband that would spend his days thinking of another romantic gesture to surprise his wife.  I find it very ironic how long I idolized the fantasy and how quickly that idea was altered.

I am not knocking love or marriage, but rather I want us to have a healthier view of a perfect love (because we can only get that from Jesus) and an imperfect marriage.  Now, I have only been married for eight years, but in that short time we have endured many trials and been exposed to our countless flaws that I feel we have a bit of a grip on God’s intention for our love story.

In a fairytale or romantic movie, the guy always says the right thing, buys the gifts, prepares an elaborate date, and swoons over the lady in his life.  These are all good things, until these acts become the focus of the definition of love and then we tirelessly lose in an effort to maintain these actions.

My husband is far from perfect (but I’d say much closer to perfection than I am).  I get so annoyed when he goes on a rampage through the house throwing things away just because he doesn’t like clutter (or keeping things for very long).  The majority of the time he chooses the negative outlook on any situation (he would call it being “realistic”) which makes me disheartened.  The way he drives like a grandpa, whether we are in a hurry or his wife is in labor, always emotes anger on my part.  We have fought over how to squeeze the toothpaste tube to parenting differences and everything in between.

However, when I think of love from my husband, I think of the nervous 19-year-old on our first date who was too worried about messing things up that he couldn’t even eat his meal.  I am reminded of a college student who would drive 2 hours at 4am on a Saturday morning to visit his girlfriend for the day before driving 2 hours home that night.  Love cleans your wife’s hair out of the shower and never even saying anything about it.  Nursing your wife back to health, working full-time, caring for a baby, and doing all the household chores; that’s love.

Having a perfect marriage, happily ever after love story doesn’t exist because we are superficial in our idea that roses and chocolates define what love really is.  So, no matter what Hollywood says or Walt Disney portrays, how well Richard Gere and Julia Roberts act, or what Nicholas Sparks writes in his next novel, a fairytale love like these do not exist.  Marriage is hard work.  Love becomes a daily choice rather than a thoughtless magical moment.  I am grateful for the love my husband shows to me in how he displays Christ’s love in our relationship.  In the season of love, look no further than Jesus’ perfect example and his unfailing love.  When a man treats you like that, a romantic movie loses its passion.

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Praise through the Pain

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The last few weeks have been hard. Like the kind of hard that leaves you unsure of what life will look like in the coming months. It’s an unsettling sitting on the edge of your seat, hands over your eyes, while looking through your fingers. Know what I mean, anyone?

It would be easier to retreat to your room, pull the covers over your head, and stay there till brighter days come. Unfortunately, we cannot do that can we? We must move forward, keep getting up out of the bed, putting one foot in front of the other.

As I was praying today, I asked the Lord, “What do I do when I feel like I am in a pit?” I began combing aimlessly through the Scriptures, my mind not focused or able to settle. Then, the Lord stopped me:

Ephesians 5:19-20 “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ..”

So, I started to praise the Lord for every thing I could think of. Thank You for a warm home, thank You for running water, thank You for food in my cabinets, thank You for words to thank you with, Lord!! I just started praising!

It was hard at first, but as I thanked the Lord I began to be encouraged by every Scripture I could find on praise and every song I could sing on praise. The sadness shifted and even though my circumstances did not change, my perspective did.

You may be going through a season that is painful too. It may seem like burdens are stacking on top of each other and you keep telling yourself, “Just one more thing and I am going to lose it!” Start speaking to yourself in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Tell yourself of the great, faithful, and mighty love of our God!

Praising through the pain,

Shana

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