Search

As a little girl I sang “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children” never knowing the impact and meaning of those lyrics. Going to Sunday School and learning about the “B-I-B-L-E” brought joy and laughter to my life. I have several fond memories of Vacation Bible School over summer break. Our family didn’t dedicate every Sunday to church, so I only knew tidbits about the gospel. I didn’t fully understand all that Jesus did or have those Bible stories memorized. God was authoritative to me, and I feared upsetting Him. I am grateful for those seeds that were planted from that southern church though.


Fast forward many years, we hadn’t been to church for some time, except Easter, of course. My parents had separated at this point and for good reason. So my brother, sister, mom and I all moved out and into a relative’s house to share a room. I watched my mom be completely selfless as she took care of us and basically served as a single parent even before the divorce.


Our dad drank alcohol everyday, and it was too difficult to live with and be around him. Nothing phased him, so he chose his addictions over all of us, and he still does to this day. It’s a toxic illness which led to constant disappointments and letdowns. No one can rely on him, and every promise he has made has come up void.


My teenage years led to confusion and angst, watching my dad drink his life away. I fell into the cliche of “daddy issues” to a T. I dated guys like him and lost hope and faith in humanity - men especially. I had trust issues as well which you can imagine made it hard to trust in God.


I revisited my faith though in my early twenties, joining a new church. For the first time I saw Jesus in a new light. I saw Him as a friend that was loyal and caring, and much more (just read Psalms), but most importantly a Father. My old religion transformed into a fresh relationship with the Lord. I realized I wasn’t fatherless, and I could put my hope back into something greater. I AM a daughter of the Almighty. He knows me more than I know myself; He formed me in my mother’s womb the Word said! How incredible is that?


You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13 NLT

This revelation picked me up off the ground and gave me confidence in myself again. I refuse to associate with the stereotype of having “daddy issues.” There is a Father in heaven that works out my life according to His will! No earthly father will touch what He has to offer me. That being said, my hope will always be for my dad to get healthy and be freed from this illness. I would love to see him overcome this obstacle and have a better relationship with him.



All those sweet melodies I previously mentioned have a nostalgic way of increasing my faith in our Spiritual Father. I am NOT defined by who should have raised me but by who is in my heart. It takes a renewal of the mind to take thoughts captive and remind myself that I have a good good Father.


I would and want to encourage any woman or girl feeling disconnected or less than to pursue the Lord. You won’t have any voids in your heart; my God's promises never come up empty. Find a reason to love like that, a childlike twinkle in your eye type of love, all from our Father.


Stay Beautiful,

Faith


Song for this blog: “Most Beautiful” by Chandler Moore/Maverick City Music

Favorite verses: Psalms 103:13 & 2 Corinthians 6:18



Faith Resides in Powhatan, Virginia with her husband of five years and their sweet golden retriever, Monroe. She is passionate about her industry doing hair and her community. Faith is Steadfast in her journey with the Lord and grateful for all His grace along the way.



Have you ever given a dear friend a piece of advice, only to have God later remind you of those exact words, except this time, it’s directed at you?


In 2007, I had a doctor tell me I might have a hormonal disorder called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). My hormones were unbalanced, I was dealing with some pretty big mood swings, and I was struggling with painful cystic acne on my chin and chest. I later had the diagnosis confirmed through more bloodwork and an ultrasound. PCOS is not fun. It is discouraging and exhausting. The symptoms range widely from woman to woman, but ask any of them, and I’m sure they will have personal stories of frustration and heartache.


My PCOS will probably never be completely gone, but the severity of the symptoms can be managed by diet, exercise, quality sleep and stress management. There are a slew of other actions I can take to help as well, but it starts to get overwhelming. I don’t know how many times I have started a program or a book, cut out a food, coffee, or sugar. I totally rocked it and was victorious!...for a while. Life got hard, or inevitably some stress/fatigue/holiday came along. I couldn’t be perfect, so I gave up and felt like a failure that was stuck and always would be. I haven’t been able to figure out how to stay motivated while keeping a positive attitude. I struggle with an all-or-nothing outlook, so I will do something hardcore and eventually burnout, when really, I need to be slow and steady and patient. Ugh.


Back to my stellar advice I was referring to - I remember writing a note of encouragement to a friend who was trudging through a time in their life where they were being obedient to God, but it was exhausting, tedious work that they weren’t particularly passionate about. I said something along the lines of, “I mean this in the kindest way - you are being so faithful in all this, but Jesus is way more faithful than you - hang in there.”


God's Faithfulness in Hard Times

I wasn’t trying to be flippant or brush off their situation. Sometimes I think it’s easy for me to look at my struggles and believe that no one feels this way or understands what I’m going through. I thought maybe this person also felt alone and weary and wanted to give up.


It makes me laugh when the Holy Spirit reminds me of how I challenged my friend - now that advice applies to me! These past few months have been one of the driest and spiritually loneliest I’ve ever walked through. I haven’t been one of those people who have thrived throughout the pandemic. In fact, my selfcare (spiritual and physical) had almost become like that forlorn, dusty cheerio under your fridge. You know it’s there and maybe you should take care of it, but it seems easier to just not think about it. Despite my shutting down and hiding away, my “turtling,” as I call it, Jesus continues to be faithful to me. I’m not sure I can express how truly grateful I am that He waits for me. He is so deeply kind and patient. Maybe I need to extend that same grace towards myself, and be faithful to the process He’s leading me through.



And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 ESV

Jesus is calling us to continue on, relying on His strength. I don’t know what you’re going through. It could be financial, relational, physical - anything really! Focus on Him as you take the small steps forward, and never give up. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m going to keep trying, and calling on Jesus for His strength and encouragement.


There are so many things I have to do before I feel like I’ve “arrived.” I have goals I want to achieve with regard to my spiritual walk, physical health, finances, organization of my house - the list goes on! When I feel overwhelmed by the crushing (usually self-induced) pressure, I remind myself to pause, take a deep breath, and ask Jesus to show me what’s the best next step to take in this exact moment, no matter how small. God even uses what we think is insignificant, and He weaves it into our life. Some things seem trivial or tedious, when instead, they are small parts that add up to a solid foundation.


And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NASB

I’ve been trying to get up a little earlier every morning to stretch. I have a desk job, so it’s easy to slouch and have bad posture. I thought that taking 5-10 minutes to ease into the day wouldn’t make much of a difference, but I pushed myself to try it out for a few weeks and see what happens. I noticed that my joints feel looser, and overall I feel less stiff. There’s a sense of satisfaction that I’m taking a moment for myself and listening to my body through a few minutes of movement. No, it’s not training for a marathon or a heavy workout session, but it’s something I’m doing for myself. I do it while I’m still in my pj’s, which somehow takes away the pressure of performance.


Another small step I’m doing is slowing down the coffee train. I could easily drink two cups of the delicious go juice within the first hour at work. It genuinely makes me a nicer person. But, it can also increase my anxiety. My small action? I drink a glass of water at home before heading out to work. I still savor that first cup of coffee. Then I will pause and drink some water or decaf tea instead of automatically getting a refill. That little break in between cups of coffee gives me time to consider if I really need more caffeine to wake up, or if it’s going to push me over the edge. I have a sense of control in having a choice.


God doesn’t call us to be perfect - He calls us to surrender, and trust Him with the outcome. He is faithful. He is kind. He understands, and He is with us to the end. Steady on, my friend.



Vanessa lives in British Columbia, Canada, with her husband of 13 years and their 7 year old daughter. Born and raised in Montana, Vanessa loves going back to visit family whenever she can. She delights in learning about God, and sharing His heart with others.











My Friend,


One of my favorite things to listen to is “God stories.” These are testimonies of people sharing instances God worked through them to meet a need, provide prayer, or give encouragement. For so many years I viewed the people who shared these stories like some sort of super heroes - the Super Spirituals.


Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Ephesian 5:15-16 ESV

I wanted to imitate Jesus and do what He did while He walked this earth. We only get one go around here, so I wanted to be smart with my time. I longed to see God move in people’s lives through me, but I knew how “normal” I was, so that seemed to explain my lack of experiences. But I was wrong. It wasn’t that the people who were talking of how they prayed for strangers were so special. It was that they realized a few things that I finally began to figure out.



I realized even though we are all unique, we are all human. Our qualification to be part of God’s work is because of Christ and not that we are more special than someone else. So, yup, yours truly just became “qualified.” It was also freeing to understand it wasn’t about trying harder or doing things to gain God’s love or favor. It had to do with living OUT OF HIM and acknowledging His love for others AND me. In addition to accepting God’s desire to involve us in His plans, I finally understood the “risk factor.”


Stepping out in faith can feel like we are taking a risk sometimes. We shouldn’t be surprised if He encourages us to step out of our comfort zone - He’s already established the victory, and there is no fear in Him. If we are waiting until we are full of courage, completely comfortable, or feeling spiritual, we may never begin. We may actually get a bit nervous to do what we feel we are being prompted to do. But it comes down to turning our back on fear and holding the hand of a Father who wants us to live in the identity and abundant life Christ died for us to have.


Life with God is to be our greatest adventure. When we embrace what God has for us, we will find fulfillment and, yes, excitement. I have huge adrenaline rushes while following Him. He stretches me, challenges me, and pulls things from inside me that only He knew about.


God wants to include us, but He doesn’t force us to help Him in what He’s doing. He suggests and asks. There is that moment when we have an idea, a nudge, a suggestion come to mind. In that moment we have a choice. Sometimes after the Holy Spirit makes His suggestion, our flesh or the enemy will try to talk us out of it. This may sound like our thoughts, making it easy to assume we simply decided against a passing thought.


At some point I stopped trying to talk myself out of that first idea. It then meant I had to step forward into the unknown. I have sent letters and received replies back that God encouraged them on the exact day they needed it. I have seen tears as God has placed me in the right place at the right time to share His heart with those He loves.


All this began with a single step, taking what I perceived to be a risk. I only became a risk taker as I came to understand more of this good, loving, all-knowing God. As I grow understanding, these “risks” become less that and more of the fun God lets me in on when we are hanging out together. Because of Him, these steps of faith are tied to something secure - His wisdom and guidance.


When someone tells me about their pain, whether physical, mental, or emotional, I see that as an opening God revealed to gently share the soothing balm of His Presence. One time while paying for groceries, a cashier mentioned she was tired. A conversation ensued in which I discovered this hardworking precious momma had a young son that kept her up at night. He was having some developmental challenges. I was reminded of the Scripture we had recently covered at a Bible study for moms and shared it with her. How convenient, right?!! (Thanks, God.) Tears filled her eyes as she received God’s encouragement. He knows the concerns we have in the depths of our heart tucked away. He knows. He cares.


Sometimes I get it wrong. I do. (Still a normal human being here.) I don’t grab hold of every prompt He sends, but I learn and try again, relying on God’s love for me and His ability to make something out of any mistake I make. I have seen God at work enough that I’m now looking forward to the nudge and stepping out in it just to see Him do it one more time. He has grown an insatiable curiosity in me. What is He going to do next? How is He going to express His love and Presence to them? After we take that step we will often find ourselves on the front row, watching God do something amazing and so personal for someone. Talk about a faith rush.


So where can you start? Start in the small things. Call someone when they come to mind. Engage with the people you come in contact with. Try to hold possessions more loosely, in case God asks that a larger tip be left, a gift be purchased, a book be shared, or those yummy cookies be given away that you tucked away in your freezer. You may find yourself praying for someone while shopping like two different First Love ladies did recently - just imitating Jesus, walking in love, making the most of their time…


If you haven’t ever considered your Christian walk as an adventure, well, I am excited for you. Today things are going to change, if you are willing to take one small step of faith at a time. Let God know you will be more aware of those nudges He sends your way. And would He give you a little courage to take that first step.

Us - risk takers?!!! Who woulda thought?


Candace


P.S. Our community member, Lexie Selting, took step after step into the unknown and recently started a site called “God Moments.”


Check out “God Moments” at https://lselt14.wixsite.com/godmoments or on Facebook. She’s looking for people to contribute their “God Moments” to encourage others. If you feel that nudge...





Let's connect on Instagram!

  • YouTube
  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Instagram Icon

© 2020 by FIRST LOVE