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love

Season of Romance

February 15, 2017

Hey Ladies! Check out this post by Asia Major-Waithe who was willing to share her story about God drawing her into Him in a deeper way as her Bridegroom and Husband. Valentine’s Day might be over, but our relationship with God can continually grow deep, even as single ladies!

By: Asia Major-Waithe

It can definitely be difficult to be single these days… sometimes it feels like you are the only one out of your friends, especially for me as most of my friends are married now. There are times where I really struggle with my singleness, and the enemy makes me question if there is something wrong with me.

The Truth is that Jesus is my husband and the lover of my soul. And to the Church, He is our bridegroom. Sometimes that revelation doesn’t necessarily bring the comfort needed- but it is true, and as believers we need to stake our lives on what is true rather than what we feel, think, or what Satan tries to throw at us.

I have been in a season where I’ve heard God say multiple times that He is the only thing that will truly satisfy my heart (Psalm 63:5, John 4:13). When you look up the definition of satisfy it literally means to fulfill a desire or need. It is ingrained in our DNA to be with God… It’s a deep soul thirst, and He truly is the one that can make things complete. I see shadows of this when I listen to moving music, see beautiful art, or stand in the midst of the majesty of creation. These aspects of life stir deep within me, but only point to the One that created it.

The Creator designed us to be with Him so intimately, that when we step into that place of intimacy…nothing else can touch it. Our world puts such a high value on the physical world of what is seen and felt like art, music, or nature- but as believers we need to live in what is unseen and known pointing back to Him. As you come to know this Holy Being that came and died for you, please consider the amazing romance He offers to you.

And He is the most Romantic… He left everything He had in Heaven, majesty and all. He came to a world that scorned and mocked Him. What bigger way is there to show His love? The world still turned its back and spit in His face- more broken than it had ever been… and yet the choice of Jesus was to Come, Teach, Serve, Love and Die all because He knew He needed to fulfill His greater purpose: to reconcile the ones He loved most to the Father, so that they would not live in forever brokenness and despair, but in Glory and Restoration.

That, my friend, is something beautiful and worth fighting for!

This last season I repented for being a “fickle wife.” Jesus is so tender and sweet, as He brings the hard things up not to hurt us but to heal us (Hosea 6:1). And in this season, He showed me my weakness, my sin, and my shame. He showed me when things got hard I would run away rather than toward Him. And he pointed me to a book of the Bible where this idea of running from my Bridegroom is so clearly illustrated.

The book of Hosea has spoken to me in many seasons of life, this last one I had the realization that I am Gomer, a prostitute taken in by her husband but left him to go back to her lovers, but her husband found her in the desert and wooed her back to himself there.

After reading Hosea, I realized that I am the one that gives herself to other lovers, other masters, other people. And He so lovingly and graciously draws us back to Himself by sometimes putting us in positions that are hard. He fences us in. He brings us into the wilderness where all we have is Him. (Hosea 2: 14) It’s in the lonely, tough times when you have to choose what you believe.

I thought my other ‘lovers’ (exercise and relationships) would save me, but the truth is those things only provided momentary comfort and were ultimately distractions from the greatest romance of all.

Ladies, my prayer for you is to seek the One whose hand stretched beyond the cross and into your life to be with you. Solely because He loves you. I pray that you come to know this Lover of your soul, this Bridegroom, this Husband of yours in a more real way than you ever could before. I pray that His pursuit makes your heart beat faster. And that His delight in you makes you overwhelmingly delight in Him. I hope you turn to Jesus when you are in the desert because He will sustain and romance you in a way that no man ever can.

Photo Cred: Rachel Crowe

 

Asia Major-Waithe grew up in Elmont, NY. She’s been an athlete her whole life and now trains other athletes. She loves Jesus and came to know him during her college years in 2010.

 

When You Invite God Into Your Breakup

July 5, 2016

By: Danielle Kingsley

I recently dated a great guy for a few months. He had all the key qualities and character traits I’ve ever wanted in a godly man, and on top of that, he was all kinds of handsome. On paper, we were perfect for each other. We had so much in common, we made each other laugh, we served together, and we challenged one another. I thought I’d finally met God’s match for me, but I was wrong. After a few months it was apparent that we were not meant for each other despite trying to make it work, and ultimately he said goodbye.

Dating relationships begin and end every day. Most of us have gone through our share of heartbreak. It’s hard to say goodbye to the hope of a future with someone. It hurts our hearts to see a relationship end when we didn’t want it to. Heartache can be brutal.

When we invite God into our breakups, we can see the gift of failed dating relationships. Here are three things God has taught me through this breakup.


1. End with grace, not bitterness.

Saying goodbye with grace gives more closure than any Taylor Swift or Kelly Clarkson anthem can ever give. You don’t need to resent the person you were dating just because it ended. You cared enough about him to enter into a relationship, so care enough about him to exit the relationship in a way that glorifies God. You don’t need to be bitter to move on. Be thankful for the good times you two shared, learn what you need to learn, let your heart heal, and move on to God’s best for you.

2. Checklists aren’t everything.

Like most girls I know, I too have a “Husband Checklist.” Let me tell you, checklists aren’t everything! The man I was dating checked off every quality on my list, but he wasn’t meant for me. I want to be surprised, and allow God to orchestrate my love story with a man who possesses qualities I never knew I wanted in a husband. Don’t you?

3. Thank Him for your breakup.

This is a tough one, but I believe it’s vital for growing and healing during this time. God doesn’t waste heartbreak. He is working all things together for your good, so trust in God’s plan and rejoice in this season he has you in. One day, you and I will both look back at this breakup and have nothing but thanks to give to God because he saved us for His very best!

 

Photo Cred: Danielle Kingsley

about the authorDanielle Kingsley, a Southern California native, served as a missionary and worship leader for ten years at a growing church planted by her family in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2007, Danielle moved to Nashville, Tennessee where she was provided the opportunity to be the original vocalist to record the now popular worship song, Your Great Name. In 2013, she released her first EP Falling, that generated two #1 singles on International Christian radio.

Since the recent loss of her father to a brief battle with cancer, Danielle has been sharing her story about finding hope through loss and the peace that is found in Jesus at a variety of conferences across the United States. She is writing her first children’s book and devotional, and is currently on tour with Secret Keeper Girls. Check out her blog at www.DanielleKingsley.com. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter @DKingsleyMusic

It’s Better to Give Than to Receive

April 7, 2016

By: Juliandra Durkin

“She wants me to use my gas money, to drive the opposite direction, to pick her up then drive back to the park two blocks from me, just because she doesn’t feel like driving tonight?!” I stared at my phone aghast at my friend’s request for a ride to the park where we decided to go walking that evening.

Stomping to the fridge, I pulled out a water bottle to cool down wondering how to respond to my friend’s text. “She knows I don’t have extra money. I’m barely making it as it is! I can’t use any extra gas tonight. I’m at a quarter of a tank and don’t get paid for two days.”

But then, I remembered the previous week when she covered the appetizer as I couldn’t and I wasn’t going to eat any of it because I felt bad.

“I wish I had more money to be generous back!” I moaned, taking a swig of water.

Lord, I prayed, what is the difference between being frugal and being stingy? You know my bank account. What do I do?

_     _     _

Though this account isn’t verbatim, I prayed a similar prayer a couple of years ago upon graduating college and I wonder have any of you been in a related circumstance?

Fresh outta college looking for more than a part time job and unpaid internship, paying my own bills, buying my own groceries, and not letting finances dictate my life in an emotional balancing act: Being honest with where I was at with friends, without complaining to them that I couldn’t afford the restaurants they could. Trusting God with my bank account, while taking responsibility for my purchases and expenses. It was taking a toll.

That’s when I took my question to the Lord- how can I be frugal (prudent/ economical) without being stingy (penny-pinching)?

Growing up is hard, I tell ya, and finances are a kicker. The reality is most of us grew up with parents who spent more than they earned, instead of guiding us to save, give, and spend money appropriately. The average American last year was over $7,000 in debt on a single credit card. It’s like an epidemic of see something you like, swipe that magic card, incur more debt, and turn a blind eye to the insatiable, consumer appetite that eats away at our culture.

What’s more is Christians are in the same financial crisis as non-Christians. God’s word tells us to be in the world and not of it (John 17:16). However our multiple TVs and cars, $5 daily lattes, and penchant for dining out, look the same as our unbelieving neighbors to whom we are supposed to be an example.

So when the Bible tells me that it is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), to look out for the poor (Ephesians 4: 27-28), and to let love be the only debt on my record (Romans 13:8)- how do I take care of my finances as a responsible Christian?

I’ve learned over the unstable post college years that God ALWAYS provides. And when He says it is better to give than to receive He means it! It tickles Him when His daughters are generous with what we’ve been gifted.

Perhaps you are in a place of frugality, how do you give back without abusing what little money is getting you by? It’s time to get creative my friend! On my end, I realized that I’m young and healthy; I have energy. I’m single and don’t have kids; I have time. I’m loved by the Most High King; I have an excess of love. Though short on money, I lived with abundant energy, time, and love. These gifts I used by encouraging friends with notes, babysitting a neighbor’s daughter for free, baking cookies for a friend who let me attend an event without paying, and donating time to the church as a tithe instead of that 10% the Old Testament talks about. There are so many ways to give, even without money!

Perhaps you are in a financially stable position and can give away those dollars and cents that make the world go round. Think back. Were you ever in a place of financial need that people gave to you? Be generous with those monies that God blessed you with; you never know when you might need a financial favor someday. Next time you go shopping, buy that cute scarf for a teen girl in your church instead of yourself. “Adopt” a college student and take him grocery shopping because you can. Give a gas card to your babysitter in addition to paying for her time. There are financial burdens all around. God is delighted when we use our creativity to meet those needs as well!

Those post college years words like, “don’t worry about it, I got you,” sounded like gold wrapped in emotions of gratitude and a good dose of humility to the point of tears once. I’ll never forget one friend saying over a simple cup of coffee, “This is my treat. You’ll return the favor one day.” I already see it happening as I trust God more with my finances and give to others in a variety of ways.

Back to the original question: the difference between being frugal and being stingy? Stingy lives in fear. Frugal lives in wisdom.

The bottom line is I serve a God who lives in a heaven paved with gold. To Him money is just a number. God cares about our hearts and character. He’s taught me humility to receive from others when I’ve had “nothing,” wisdom to save over spending, and generosity to give back when and how I can. Whether you have money or not to spare in this phase of life, you can always give.

Think about what God has given you much of. How can you give generously?

 

Photo Cred: Paige Marie

about the authorJuliandra Durkin is the manager for Wonderfully Made’s blog Know Your Value. She also writes at Written Jewels, a personal blog with stories and reflections on life. Besides writing, she spends her free time exercising or out in nature. Give her a beach or a mountain; sunrise or sunset, she loves it all, especially walking her dogs in the woods! A graduate of Westmont College, Juliandra was able to attend three study abroad programs exploring Spain, parts of the Middle East, and Mexico. These experiences gave her a heart for culture and travel and she hopes to get more stamps in the passport soon!

Dear Daughter

February 14, 2016

By: Juliandra Durkin

Dear Daughter,

Sit with me while I tell you a story. Can you do that? This story begins long before you were born. Long before your brothers and sisters, friends, and even your parents were born. It begins at the dawn of time, when I created time…

Before there was anything, I AM, and it was then that I thought of you.

I was already dreaming of creating your fingerprints, your eyelashes, your toes, your heartbeat.

You see it is in My nature to create. I can’t help Myself!

I love creating snowflakes in various crystal designs. I love creating the thin, red skin of an apple, with a sweet crunchy flesh just below. I love creating translucent water that rushes over rock formations that I molded, forming waterfalls with a soothing sound. And of course there are the animals of every kind!

I am in the thick sinew of an elephant trunk. And in the light twittering of Lovebirds as they flit about. From every ladybug spot to transparent butterfly wing… I created it all.

But guess what I love more than all of these creations and creatures combined? You.

You, my darling, I sing over. You, my princess, I call my own. You, my daughter, I gave up my Son for- nailed to a splintered cross, whipped beyond recognition, His flesh pouring out blood and water, all for you.

Your heart is worth it, and I desire your love and adoration. So though I created everything, I also gave My Everything.

Dear daughter.

Take a deep breath; know that I sustain your life with My breath.

Wiggle your fingers; see that I set aside your hands to worship Me.

I gave you a nose to smell the fragrance of spring. And lips that curl up when you laugh. And wisdom to make choices that honor Me.

Dear daughter. I love you…

Will you think of Me this Valentine’s Day? Will you think of My love for you?

Will you love Me in return?

Dear daughter, no matter what you say, know that my love will always be there for you.

Forever,

Your Abba, Your Father

 

Photo Cred: Nick Wilkes

about the authorJuliandra Durkin is the manager for Wonderfully Made’s blog Know Your Value. She also writes at Written Jewels, a personal blog with stories and reflections on life. Besides writing, she spends her free time exercising or out in nature. Give her a beach or a mountain; sunrise or sunset, she loves it all, especially walking her dogs in the woods! A graduate of Westmont College, Juliandra was able to attend three study abroad programs exploring Spain, parts of the Middle East, and Mexico. These experiences gave her a heart for culture and travel and she hopes to get more stamps in the passport soon!

 

The King’s Table

February 4, 2016

By: Tekoa Manning

Saul’s grandson, the son of Jonathan, named Mephibosheth was crippled as a child. When he was five years old, a report came that Saul and Jonathan had been killed in battle and when the boy’s nurse heard the news, she picked him up and fled. But as she hurried away, the nurse dropped Mephibosheth, and he became crippled (2 Samuel 4). Oh, the tragedy if it all!

We don’t hear much more about this boy until 2 Samuel 9, when David decides to bless anyone left of the house of Saul, the greatest enemy he ever had. David approaches Mephibosheth now a young man and Mephibosheth says, “What is your servant that you take an interest in a dead dog like me?” How ironic that the name “Mephibosheth” means destroyer of shame, yet his crippled up legs had brought him just that, shame.

Have you ever felt crippled? Ever felt worthless, like a dead dog? Okay, maybe not that bad, perhaps you’ve felt like another Biblical person, a lady named Ruth.

In the story of Ruth, when the wealthy landowner, Boaz, noticed Ruth picking up the leftover crops and grains, Ruth 2: 8-10 says, “Boaz went over and said to Ruth, ‘Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field.  See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them…. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.’ Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. ‘What have I done to deserve such kindness?’ she asked. ‘I am only a foreigner.’”

Have you ever felt like a stranger by people you know and have known all your life?

I can relate to these two people, Ruth, and Mephibosheth. Maybe you aren’t crippled in your legs or feel like a foreigner, but you feel crippled in some other way? Maybe its drug addiction that has crippled you, cancer, abuse, depression, or a nasty divorce or break up… whatever your illness is, I know one place you can go where all the hurt and pain disappears. “THE KINGS TABLE.”

Back in 2 Samuel, when Mephibosheth walked into a room he was noticed, not for his beauty or even his heritage as the grandson of an enemy king and the son of a mighty warrior, but that is not what people noticed; they noticed his hobbling bent up legs.

When David searched for Jonathan’s son, and brought him to the palace and placed him at his table, the Kings table covered his twisted legs that wouldn’t work right. The king’s table hid all his infirmities, he was under the shade of that table and he was fed delicacies. In one day Mephibosheth went from thinking he was a dead dog, to eating at the king’s table… What an awesome thing David did, showing kindness to the seed of his enemy!

I hope that if you feel like a dead dog right now, that you can see this crippled man hobbling, needing help up into a chair at the king’s table. Some of us need help climbing up to that table dripping with myrrh. Some of us need a David to come and say, “Mephibosheth, you shall eat bread always at my table,” 2 Samuel 9:10. We must remember that our Father is a King and that we have worth. We are worthy of love and our Father cherishes us.

Jumping to the other story, perhaps you relate more to Ruth. She felt crippled too, but in a different sense. She was a foreigner, a poor woman picking up the leftover scraps of barley; like my mother used to say, my barley was my waitress tips.

Things end well for Mephibosheth and Ruth, though they had afflictions, they were eventually able to climb up to the table and drink the wine Abba daddy had poured out for them. They hid by His banner, under the shade of His right hand, and favor was brought to them in their later years.

I pray that whoever is reading this, your latter years shall be greater than your former and that you eat at the King’s Table all the days of your life. I pray that you know that Yahweh has a plan for your life, plans not to harm you, but to give you a hope and a future. I pray that you realize you are not a dog, but a child of the highest King, the risen MESSIAH, and the Great I Am!

Do you know how important you are to The Lord Adonai?

Climb up to the King’s Table and sit a while, sup with him and taste and see that the Lord is good! “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings, you will find refuge. His truth is your shield and armor,” Psalm 91:4.

 

Photo Cred: Anton Bruehl, Vogue, November 1941

about the authorTekoa Manning is the author of two fiction works, Polishing Jade & Walter the Homeless Man. After a neurological illness left her disabled and eventually homeless, Tekoa began to channel her creativity into writing and devouring the Word of Yahweh. She is the wife of a retired police chief and the mother of three sons. Tekoa and her husband reside in a small town in KY. The pen name Tekoa means Trumpet, the instrument that unites people at a sudden impulse.

You can find out more about Tekoa and her writing endeavors at tekoamanning.com

12 Days of Christmas

December 13, 2015

By: Juliandra Durkin

It’s Advent Season! Do any of you know what advent means? The definition of advent is “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.”

Advent is a time to celebrate, reflect, and anticipate the birth of Jesus. There was no grand arrival for the Baby born in a barn, as his parents weren’t able to find a room to stay in on their travels.

There was nothing spectacular about the shepherds who came to see Him.

I imagine the cave-like atmosphere full of farm animals smelled foul.

The Baby’s arrival was humbling and raw, but still beautiful for His parents and the few people who were honored with the privilege to witness his first days on earth.

And it is beautiful for us today too! How special is it that in this day and age we get to remember and rejoice for His coming? There are many ways to observe Advent Season and we gathered ideas to celebrate where you are at with your friends and family, all in anticipation of One Baby’s birth.

It’s not too late to jump in with love and excitement in preparation for the fast approaching December 25 with our Wonderfully Made advent calendar!

December 12 Make a Christmas carol playlist.

December 13– Offer to babysit your younger siblings so your parents can relax during the holidays.

December 14– Fill a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child and send it to Samaritans Purse.

December 15 Bake cookies and deliver them to an elderly person’s home or a neighbor.

December 16Call a friend who you haven’t seen in a while and decorate gingerbread houses.

December 17Connect with a local church with a prison ministry and write Christmas letters for the men and women in prison.

December 18Set up a nativity scene.

December 19Visit Santa at the mall for a fun Christmas photo!

December 20Find someone from another culture and ask how he or she celebrates Christmas.

December 21Help a younger sibling wrap presents, or offer to help your Mom and Dad around the house as holiday time is busy, busy!

December 22Watch your favorite Christmas movie.

December 23Read the Christmas story in the Bible.

December 24Attend a Christmas Eve service.

However you choose to celebrate Christmas this season, whether you do any of the activities listed above, or you come up with your own ideas, remember Him.

 

about-the-authorJuliandra Durkin is the manager for Wonderfully Made’s blog Know Your Value. She also writes at Written Jewels, a personal blog with stories and reflections on life. Besides writing, she spends her free time exercising or out in nature. Give her a beach or a mountain; sunrise or sunset, she loves it all, especially walking her dogs in the woods! A graduate of Westmont College, Juliandra was able to attend three study abroad programs exploring Spain, parts of the Middle East, and Mexico. These experiences gave her a heart for culture and travel and she hopes to get more stamps in the passport soon!

He is Perfect Love

November 9, 2015

Warren Coetzer

When the day bird sings and the trees clap their hands

When the ocean foams along the shore

When the sun kisses your face and the breeze ripples your hair

When you can’t feel a thing because perfect love cast out fear.

And perfect love is obsolete

For you went looking for it on the street

In people, places, and muddy waters

So fear is all you know

It keeps you behind walls

They let you down, betrayed your trust

Then this new thing erupts

It breathes and you find no words to express

It comes from the wind and makes you bendable

It touches your soul and penetrates the stony heart

You decide to try it again this thing called love

But now you look in different places

Above

The carnal will not do

The lust can’t satisfy this new you

The perfect love came and hung on the tree

The lonely bird silenced

The darkness fell upon the earth

But the light broke through

And then you came running

Bringing all your fear

You placed it at the foot of that blood soaked cross

Perfect love cast out fear

You no longer search in people or self-worth

It’s a new morning and these grave clothes must depart

You open your heart and let him take the seeds of bitterness,

Dis-ease

You walk in a spiritual plane

Above trees and skies and even your dreams

And love removes the darkness

And now you glow

Like a lighted candle in a dark world

You fall down sometimes and you remember the earth

You are only dirt,

A flower fading

But now you know a love that renews you

Heals you and lets you soar above the fear

Where brokenness can heal

He is perfect love

 

Photo Cred: Warren Coetzer

 

about-the-authorTekoa Manning is the author of two fiction works, Polishing Jade & Walter the Homeless Man. After a neurological illness left her disabled and eventually homeless, Tekoa began to channel her creativity into writing and devouring the Word of Yahweh. She is the wife of a retired police chief and the mother of three sons. Tekoa and her husband reside in a small town in KY. The pen name Tekoa means Trumpet, the instrument that unites people at a sudden impulse.

You can find out more about Tekoa and her writing endeavors at tekoamanning.com

Selflessness

September 14, 2015

By: Tekoa Manning

I inquired about a friend’s daughter not too long ago and the response was, “She is planning to go to such and such college and she’s going to major in __. The answer was not really about her well-being, but about her future career. We don’t hear too many young women say anymore that they want to be mothers and the ones that do are often met with a response of, “That’s all?” The stress to land a high paying job and do well on SAT’s is overwhelming today. Young children are being taught that education is their golden ticket for success. Many parents hope that their child will win a scholarship to help with the cost of their schooling. This at times only adds extra pressure to the already mounting assignments and AP classes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about education, but I want to tell young women today that it doesn’t define you or your worth. I see young girls who have their whole lives mapped out, running to get the degree. At times they pick a field of study due to what it pays instead of following their heart and the Lord’s voice. Often, once they attain the degree, and a career actively working in their field, they become deeply depressed. They received all the accolades from family and friends for their accomplishments and they even landed the job, so why do they feel so unfulfilled? Because The Lord Adonai doesn’t measure us by our successes. 1st Samuel 16:7 says, “The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” NLT.

When your titles are stripped away what is left?

I want to share with you a story about a woman who did nothing to enrich her own life. Actually, she put herself last in order to help someone else and by doing so God gave her the desires of her heart. This woman’s name was Ruth. After her mother-n-law, Naomi, lost her husband and her two sons, she was very bitter and downhearted. Naomi had been living in a foreign land called Moab, but now she was headed back to the land of Judah and to her people. Both of her daughter-n-laws wanted to come with her; one was named Orpah and the other Ruth.

Naomi continues to tell them to turn back. She informs them that she cannot give birth to more sons for them and even if she could, would they wait for them to become old enough to marry?

Orpah kisses Naomi and tells her goodbye but Ruth clutched her tightly. “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”

But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.” Ruth 1:15-16 NLT.

Ruth arrived in Bethlehem and she went right to work to feed her mother-n-law. The poor people in those days would pick up scraps in the fields behind the hired workers. She didn’t have to make such a selfless sacrifice, but she did. Ruth gets noticed by one of the wealthiest landowners in the region named Boaz. What made her outshine all the other women? Boaz approach Ruth and gave her honor and the entitlements of his hired workers. Ruth said, “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” “I am only a foreigner.” “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers.”

Ultimately she becomes his bride and all the land and servants belong to her as well. God opens her barren womb and gives her a son named Obed. He was the great grandfather of King David.

Look around today and see who God has placed in your life that needs a Ruth. This woman only had hands to give and feet to follow. Her attention was not on her own needs but the needs of others. Her field of study landed her in the field of her redeemer, Boaz. A broken woman named Naomi who had lost her husband and her sons gets a happy ending.

“The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer… May he become famous throughout Israel! For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” Ruth 4:14-15 NIV.

How can you give to and love others this week?

 

Photo Cred: Chelsea Steller

 

about-the-authorTekoa Manning is the author of two fiction works, Polishing Jade & Walter the Homeless Man. After a neurological illness left her disabled and eventually homeless, Tekoa began to channel her creativity into writing and devouring the Word of Yahweh. She is the wife of a retired police chief and the mother of three sons. Tekoa and her husband reside in a small town in KY. The pen name Tekoa means Trumpet, the instrument that unites people at a sudden impulse.

You can find out more about Tekoa and her writing endeavors at tekoamanning.com

Date a Man Who Pursues Your Heart

September 8, 2015

By: Mandy Dobbelmann

When I was a young girl I loved to dream, especially when it came to love and the nameless man who one day would capture my heart. I’d sit on the swing on my back porch on warm northern Minnesota summer evenings, listening to the crickets and staring at the blanket of stars above me. In that moment, I was fully convinced that there was a God and that He had my best interest in mind when it came to my love story.

Fast-forward 20 years to a 30-year-old woman living in Los Angeles. The more I talk with my fellow single girlfriends, the more I realize that this is most every young girl’s story.

We dreamed of a man who would see us, love us, protect us and accept us fully. But somewhere along the way in between real life and heartbreak, many of us got a bit jaded.

After years of waiting for Mr. Right, a life shattering heartbreak or two and years of, what seems like, wasted time with Mr. Wrongs, it’s easy to give up. It’s easy to feel a sense of hopelessness when it comes to your own personal love story and to assume that love is only a fairy-tale for few, and that for whatever reason, you aren’t one of the few.

So instead of being patient and trusting God, you decide to settle. You go along with the cultural model of relationships- the model that says it’s okay for a man to get into your pants before he gets to know your heart, the model that says it’s okay for a man to show some pseudo form of love.

You go along with the type of “love” that uses your body without a whole life commitment. The type of “love” that makes promises that it can’t keep. The type of “love” that only dates you for what it can get.

In the moment, that can feel fulfilling, validating, and invigorating. It can even make you feel desired and loved. But the truth of the matter is: that is not love.

Perhaps it is a form of erotic love that craves the physical and convinces the individual of its desire. But that is not the agape love that healthy marriages are built on which drives a man to pursue a woman’s heart and make a whole life commitment to her, the love that we dreamed of as little girls and that our whole being aches for.

In spite of what our childhood dreams taught us, it is not meant to be a fairy-tale. Real life love will never look like Hollywood or a Disney movie. It is not void of pain, complication and trials. It is not easy. It is nothing like we imagined it would be. But just because it won’t be a fairy-tale doesn’t mean that it won’t be beautiful, epic and so worth the wait.

Our desire for this type of real love and companionship was placed in our heart from the dawn of eternity. And the Creator of the Universe first modeled it for us. Scripture reminds us that the church is the bride of Christ and He is our Bridegroom. We can either accept that as some cheesy analogy as I did for many years, or we can allow the truth and reality of it to transform the way we see ourselves, our worth, and the standards we set for the men we date.

I think a lot of pain and heartbreak in dating relationships could be avoided through this one revelation. Because if you truly get this, if you understand the way that Christ pursued and loved you first, you will no longer continue searching the world for a man to validate you. You will no longer have to waste your time dating boys who know nothing about pursuing the heart of a woman. You will no longer allow their acceptance or lack thereof define you. You will have learned that Jesus already did that on the cross.

You will have your identity intact and know fully that what you need is not just any man who looks good and keeps you company, but a godly man who knows how to pursue your heart in a unique way; a man who is after your heart, not for what he can get, but simply for love’s sake; a man who sees you for who you are and embraces every part of you, both the beautiful and the ugly; a man who has gone through the hard work of pursuing God’s heart first in search of yours; a man who understands partnership and has the guts to partner with you and lead from a place of strength and purity. That is the type of man you should be looking for.

I’m not talking here about being a diva and expecting men to bow at your feet. I see that way too often among women in my culture. I am talking about being a woman who has the grace, strength, and humility to expect godly men to live by the standards of scripture. A godly woman is not prideful, she is simply confident in what she knows she needs; she is not unrealistic, she is simply counter cultural; she is not a prude, she simply respects her body and her worth. That is the type of woman that God calls us all to be in our relationships with men.

Don’t let culture tell you your worth is based on how good you are in bed or how many men you’ve slept with. Don’t let culture tell you that you have to be okay with giving men what they want prematurely in order to keep them around. I’ve experienced first hand what it feels like to have men pursue my heart before my body and it is the most honoring, God glorifying experience. Those men do exist ladies! Don’t settle for anything less. You are worth more. Date a man who pursues your heart.

 

Photo Cred: Simon Hattinga Verschure

 

about-the-author
Mandy is the founding editor of the blog, Forte E Bello. She is a writer, singer/songwriter, and music teacher from Long Beach, CA with a love for life, people, adventure, and living simply. She is passionate about using her gift for writing and music to be a voice for change.

 

 

Truth on a Random Tuesday

September 18, 2012
by Stephanie May

I want my life to be about telling the truth.
At the end of my life, I want to look back and know that I’ve lived a good story. Actually… at the end of this week I want to look back and know that I’ve lived a good story.
It’s important. Our everydays are important. The decisions we make on a random Tuesday are the decisions that make up a life, that make up a story, that set an example for others to follow, and that teach us that God is faithful.
It must have been a random Tuesday when I made the decision that would change me completely.


 —

It seems that there are always two choices: one that ‘makes sense’ and one that doesn’t.
For me, that Tuesday, it was a choice between working for a second year in College Ministry, something that I loved with absolutely all of my heart OR spending 11 months on a mission trip traveling around the world.
To be perfectly honest, the decision I wanted to make was to choose to stay. I had every reason to stay… every reason.
Yet there was something in me that knew that I had to jump for more.
It felt like that moment at camp where you have to jump off of the highest platform, trying to grab a bar that seems impossibly far away- yet you just have to try.
But this was a scarier leap of faith. This decision would change everything.
I knew that I could continue on the road I was walking down with ease and comfort. I knew that if I continued the way that I was going, that at the end of my life people would smile and think of what a good person I was.
And honestly, most days that sounded like enough. Most days, there were often moments of comfort and security, and something that ‘made sense’ sounded pretty good most days.
And then, there were thosemoments.

Those moments when the sun would set and the sky would light up in an electric display of colors that can only be described as ‘brilliant.’ Those moments on a church mission trip where you get to kiss a little African cheek, or when a teeny Costa Rican girl reaches up to hold your hand. Those moments where your heart beats faster and where you feel like you’re a part of something real and eternal and beautiful beyond description.
As much as I wanted to live a life that was safe and made sense and made my parents’ friends smile with approval, I knew that God had more.
 —
Hebrews 11 has always been one of my favorites.
It’s kind of a terrifying chapter, full of stories of people getting sawed in two and tossed into lions dens, stories of persecution and living in caves. But there’s also something wildly exciting about it as well.
Those people lived lives that mattered. They lived radically and recklessly, knowing that they had everything to gain and absolutely nothing to lose.
They jumped, time and time again off the highest platforms, risking their safety, their security and their very lives for something bigger than themselves- and it rarely ‘made sense.’
And so when given the option between something that was comfortable, and something that was wild and reckless and free, there just was no contest.
I had to go.
And so I did.
I left my family, my friends, my job, any hope of a career, my house, my security, my safety and my ability to avoid rare and contagious diseases, and jumped off of the platform. The biggest leap of faith I’ve ever taken.
And I’d be lying to you if I told you it was easy. It was a decision full of tears, doubts and the greatest fear I’ve ever experienced.

But what happened over the last 11 months, traveling to 11 countries around the world, was nothing short of perfection.

The stories from this year are crazy and wild and scary and fantastic. They’re full of stunning transformation and miracles and being so close to a pride of lions that I was too scared to even take a breath.
And each and every story is full of wonder and God’s miraculous love- each story is worth a coffee date of its own.
But the story that’s most worth telling is this:
I jumped and He caught me.
And what I gained in that jump was worth everything.
When I stepped off the plane in the end I was a different person.
I walked tall and confident, knowing exactly who I am and what I’m worth. I walked off the plane light and free and healed and toting nothing but the passions, dreams and love that God had spent an entire year (and a lifetime) molding inside of me.
I walked off the plane and into relationships that were not just the same as when I left, but radically and wonderfully better.
I walked off of that plane as the woman that God intended me to be.
The truth is that God is a much better storyteller than we are. When we place our lives into His hands, when we jump and allow Him to catch us, He takes us on a ride that is wild and perfectly beautiful, and FAR better than anything we could have come up with on our own.

Oh look …a random Tuesday! Isn’t it just about time to jump? 



Stephanie May is a world-traveling journalist who is in love with Jesus, with life and with all things beautiful. In early September 2012, she returned from the World Race, an 11-month mission trip to 11 countries around the world (she blogged about it, too!). Currently, she is working for Adventures in Missions as a Storyteller. When she’s not traveling (and especially when she is), she’s writing for The Lipstick Gospel. You can follow her on Twitter at @Smay15.
All photos courtesy of Stephanie May.