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.

Posted in At Home, Devotional, Living Single with Christ, Single Women, Women's Ministry | Leave a comment

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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True Love

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Next week, dozens of roses will be delivered to women everywhere.  Expensive chocolates will be bought, and cards will be sent. Eventually, all of those things will end up in the garbage.  For some, feelings well be hurt because they didn’t get that diamond ring they were anticipating and that expensive meal they waited hours to get just wasn’t worth it.  The problem with Valentine’s Day is it focuses on “stuff” to make us feel loved.  It doesn’t focus on the One who offers real true love.

 

As women, we want to be loved and to know without a shadow of a doubt that we are truly loved. Unconditionally loved.  We are emotional creatures and the slightest thing will cause doubts to creep in about our lover’s intentions.  Why?  Because of our worldly desires.  Our desires should be Christ centered.

When we focus our hearts on Christ, we experience real true love.  We receive a love that is faithful. We receive a love that is unconditional.  We receive a love that will make our dreams come true.  Jesus loves us so much that He gave his life so that we can spend eternity in heaven, eternity in peace.  Why would we not accept that gift?  If you were starving would you deny the food and water placed before you?  If your house was burning, would you deny the hoses that would extinguish it? Then why would you deny Christ who offers you more than this world ever could?

 

This Valentine’s Day, as candies and cards are exchanged, I pray that you focus on the true love only found in Christ.  The things of this world will disappoint, but Jesus never will.

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The Flu

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Everyone’s heard about it.  Actually, almost everyone has had it.  The dreaded and dangerous flu that has been going around this season is no joke.  It is crippling even the healthy and even claiming lives. Scary is an understatement, especially for me.  With a 4-year-old and a 7 week old, I am frightened that they will contract some strand of this nasty virus and face what could be traumatizing times.  I have even gone so far as to almost become barricaded in our home with our new baby, attempting to shield her from any unwanted germs (or a wandering touch).  It’s serious, y’all.

Some may call me overprotective or even a little bit silly for keeping her in this bubble.  But I am adamant to do whatever I can to keep my girls safe and well.  My 4-year-old has even had to resort to applying a layer of vaseline on her dry, chapped hands before bed at night from washing them so much.  I know that there is only so much I can do to keep my babies safe.  I understand that even in all my attempts for them to stay well, there is still a chance sickness could find our home.  Does this however cause me to throw up my hands in defeat and give way to any and all germs because my efforts could still be thwarted?  Absolutely not.

Sin is like the flu.  It is running rampant in our world and even has crippling effects.  Sin can be dangerous, nasty, traumatizing, and could even claim lives.  But God has offered us a remedy.  A treatment for our sin sickness.  Jesus Christ came to overwhelm our sin.  His death on the cross creates the cure, but we must still remain vigilant daily to thwart the effects sin can have if we don’t try to stay away from it.  In Proverbs it says, “Give us clean hands (YES!), and give us pure hearts.”  Our hearts’ sin problem is cured when Jesus becomes our Savior.  But may we remain adamant about trying our best to have clean hands from our daily sins so the sickness does not overtake us.  Will I stumble?  Absolutely!  Does that give me a reason to throw my hands up in defeat?  Absolutely not!

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The Smile Button

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Psalm 118:14-16

The LORD is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!” The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!

As I read these passages and I recall all the hard seasons, the Holy Spirit hits the smile button. There has never been a time that the LORD has not been my strength and defense. I thank Him as I type for His faithfulness.

Kristen Dimarco said, “If you want to experience the faithfulness of God, you have to have been in a position of where you needed God to be faithful to you.”

We may not be able to smile at the circumstance or the hurt or pain of a hard season. What we can smile about is the faithfulness of our God. That’s where the smile button is.

Maybe you’re like me and this is a really hard season. There may not be much that makes you smile right now. What I have found is that no matter the ‘thing’ or ‘circumstance’ I am learning to think on those things that are eternal and not allow my joy be present according to the situation. I used to question how Paul had learned to be content in any and every situation, it’s so hard and yet so simple. Paul knew strength and joy only comes from our Father. How do I tap into that? Through prayer and speaking God’s Holy Word over my circumstances. It’s an instant push to the smile button!

Smiling,

Shana

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In God We Trust

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For those of us who are military families, uncertainty is just part of life.  We often live a life of “hurry up and wait.”  Uncle Sam could knock on our doors at any time. Military families live with a lot of unknowns, yet it’s important for us not to place our faith in the government, but in Christ alone.

 

When my husband found out he was going to be deployed back in 2012, we began making preparations.  Then, his orders were rescinded.  Whew! He wasn’t going to be deployed…..or was he?  There was talk that he would go and talk that he would not.  I really dislike the unknown, so I made it a point to be in constant prayer, that whatever he was called to do, I would support him, and I would not stress and worry because ultimately, God was in control.

 

Needless to say, my husband deployed.  Throughout that time, there many unknowns.  Yet, through prayer, God sustained me during that time.  He provided for my family in so many amazing ways.

Whether you are a military family or not, life is still full of uncertainties.  It is important for us not to put our faith in government, in our financial advisors, or even in our doctors.  Our faith should be placed in Christ.  He is the one with the answers. He is the one who is unchanging.  He is the one who knows our pasts, is with us now in the present, and will remain beside us in the future.

 

So, Sister, I pray that whatever you are going through, that you will place your faith in Christ.  Trust Him to care for you and provide for you.  He will stand with you on the mountaintops and walk with you through the valleys.  Why? Because He is faithful and true.

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TTFN – Tah Tah For Now

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“My soul, praise Yahweh, and all that is within me, praise His holy name.” Psalms 103:1 HCSB

It’s been a full year since I was asked to blog for the KBC. In that time, God has moved and my life has been transformed. I have enjoyed every moment of this journey and can’t wait to see His story continue. He is our faithful Lord Almighty. He is deserving of all our praise.

If you are currently in a waiting period, a storm, or a time of suffering, know this truth: you are not alone. You can have perfect peace through the One who gives it. Praise Him with all of your being and see how He transforms your perspective. Psalms 103 is a beautiful psalm, full of truth about our Lord.  I love that David starts it out with praise! We are called to enter His gates with thanksgiving, with praise. And that’s what I want to do through this post.

I want to praise Jesus for giving me the ability to write for Him and for my sweet baby, who will be here in a month! I want to praise Jesus for a loving husband who cherishes and takes care of me and for my dream job which gives me the ability to love students who so desperately need it. I also want to praise Jesus for those of you reading this. The Lord has allowed me to shine His light and I hope that you, dear sister, can see how bright it shines! He loves you and wants your heart. I pray that you have given it to Him. I will continue to pray for you, beloved ones, as I take a break from writing for a few months. I can assure you my return post will be brimming with stories of first time motherhood and the Lord’s faithfulness. As one of my favorite cartoon characters once said, “TTFN, tah tah for now!”

Lord, thank You so much for Your blessings. Thank You for this blog. Please bless it, the writers and the readers. In Christ I pray, Amen.

Blessings!

~Lauren Ray

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Faithful Lord

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“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and rich in faithful love.” Psalms 103:8 HCSB

If you would have told me a year ago that I would currently be at my dream job and expecting my first little one, I would have laughed at you. I knew God had big plans for me, but I would never have realized how soon they would come to fruition. Our Heavenly Father is amazing. His love knows no bounds. I am awestruck by His faithful love. He alone is faithful. I apologize for the short post, but sometimes less is more.

God bless my sisters!

~Lauren Ray

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…In Honor of His and Many Others’ Efforts

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 Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. He was a Baptist minister, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, and civil rights leader who championed justice and equality. As he said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Today, many honor the efforts of Dr. King, as well as those who knew and acknowledged injustices, working to provide equality.  Martin Luther King’s dream was: that the inhabitants of the United States would be judged by their personal qualities and not by the color of their skin.

We can still peacefully fight injustice. We can pray; be watchful, speak up, or even be prepared to dial 9-1-1 when we see someone being mistreated.  We can also admit our personal struggles with various forms of injustices, ask God for forgiveness and the strength to treat All people according to His plans.

So, whatever your thoughts about Martin Luther King, Jr., as God’s children, we can see clearly to combat the injustice around us with a merciful attitude (Micah 6:8; James 1:27).

I am grateful for God’s provision through Martin Luther King and many who spoke out against injustice and those who continue to do so in and by God’s strength and wisdom.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. –Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–68)

~Shelly

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When Storms Come

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On Thursday afternoon, I made the dreaded trip to the grocery store.  We are under a Winter Storm Warning, so we must be prepared. You know the drill: milk and bread in every shopping cart.  When the forecast calls for extreme weather events, it’s only natural to prepare.  Even those of us who live in “the bubble” here in south central Kentucky prepare although somehow, we often miss the brunt of the storms.  We prepare our homes by stocking our refrigerators and gathering supplies.  We err on the side of caution for those “What If” situations.  Yet, how often do we prepare for those other storms of life?

 

All to often, we find ourselves unprepared for what lies ahead: sickness, financial difficulty, loss.  Usually, these storms come out of nowhere, there’s no forecaster to predict we will be diagnosed with cancer or we will lose a loved one unexpectedly.  So, how do we prepare?

 

We continue to grow in our relationship with Christ.

 

As we study scripture, spend time in prayer and worship, and lift our hearts in thanksgiving, God will not reveal our upcoming trials.  However, He will mold us. He will teach us. We will grow closer to Him.  Then when those storms approach or hit us out of nowhere, we can stand strong.  We can thrive because we never stopped preparing.

 

Spending time in fellowship with the Lord is never wasted time.  God uses this time to prepare our hearts and minds for what’s to come.  As we grow in our relationship with Him, we see how God has proved Himself faithful.  When those big storms come, we have faith that He will provide for us again.

 

Dear Friend, I pray that you spend time with the Lord each and every day.  I pray that as you pray and study scripture that you remain confident and steadfast in whatever lies head. God is good all the time even in our storms.

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