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Living in the Spirit of Expectation

By: Paige Smith

Weeks into the new year some of us are still forging full steam ahead while others of us are needing a little extra push to continue on with the same zeal and motivation we brought our 2017 in with.

The real question we all face when life circumstances, unexpected challenges, and the simple mundane ebb and flow of life come our way is How do we maintain that spirit of Expectation we first had January 1st? And Is it even possible?

We can look forward, into this New Year, full of Purpose, Hope and Expectation!

Expectation is defined as “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case” (oxforddictionaries.com).

Another word for expectation is Faith, which is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

The good news is that countless men and women of faith have proven that it is possible to live in a constant state of Expectation even when inevitable life trials come!

We can find inspiration from these Biblical heroes and heroines who demonstrated that it’s truly possible to not just get excited about what God promises us, but to live in that spirit of Expectation continually.

Anna: Cultivating Intimacy in the Wait

Annna is one such woman of faith we can look to to see what it means to live in a spirit of Expectation.

Anna was a prophetess and widow who stayed in the temple day and night praying to God awaiting in joy and expectancy for when her Messiah would arrive.

At around 84 years after a life of fervent prayer and dedication to the Lord her prayers were answered and she met Jesus face to face (Luke 2:36-8)!

Anna lived in the spirit of Expectation. We know this because she prayed to God in faith every day for nearly 80 years!

This year we can stoke the fires of faith in our hearts through pressing into the secret place with our Heavenly Father!

He can revive our spirits and stir up an unexplainable joy even while we’re in the wait for our personal breakthroughs.

Habakkuk: Resolving to Catch God’s Vision

Habbakuk is yet another person we can find inspiration for how we can rise as women of faith this year!

Looking towards the vision GOD has for us in 2017!  Let's rise into faith like never before, like Habakkuk. He's about to do a new thing and we are excited!

Looking towards the vision GOD has for us in 2017!  Let’s rise into faith like never before, like Habakkuk. He’s about to do a new thing and we are excited!

Habakkuk was an Old Testament prophet who lived during a time of great corruption. He was known for wrestling with God. His name means “One who Embraces, Clings to, and Relies Upon His God” (Strack, Impact Study Bible, 1026).

When others would have been tempted to give up on God or their faith, Habakkuk made a resolve to go to the high castle wall walking away from every one else to wait until God spoke to him.

It’s after this decision where we find the beloved scripture, “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets that he may run who reads it” (Habakkuk 2:2).

This year we can live in the Spirit of Expectation by being like Habakkuk and resolving to wait on God, positioning ourselves away from distractions, until God responds!

Noah: Preparing for the Rain

Many of us know the story of Noah, he was a man who served God when every one around him had forsaken God.

When God spoke to Noah about the coming flood and told him to build an arc, Noah obeyed the instructions exactly as God gave him.

Noah had never seen rain before but he chose to expect it in faith by doing everything God told him to prepare for it.

Just as Noah showed his faith and expectation in God by obedience to build the arc, we can live this year in a spirit of Expectation by diligently making the necessary preparations now for what we’re believing for in the future!

So what does it mean to Live In a Spirit of Expectation?

It means having joy knowing God has good plans for our lives and that even if everything isn’t going well right now He can turn it around and work everything together for our good!

We can fill ourselves with joy knowing our God has good plans for us this year!

It means setting our minds and positioning ourselves to wait on God in prayer, knowing He will respond!  He’s a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

It means removing the distractions from our lives so we’ll be ready when He speaks to run with the vision He gives us.

It means radically obeying what God has already spoken to us concerning our futures even if we can’t fully comprehend now how He will work it out.

When it seems difficult to keep that spirit of expectation, we can encourage ourselves that God responds to faith!

There may have been a wait before the promise was fulfilled, but ALL of these men and women of faith saw their God breathed dreams realized as they lived a life of expectancy!

Let’s resolve to live in a spirit of Expectation this year knowing that God can and WILL come through in His perfect timing!

We hope this article has encouraged you to continue on in faith this year! What are you believing from God in 2017?

Feel free to share any comments, insights, or questions we love hearing from you!

All White Rising Women

How to Set Goals that Work for the New Year

“Before you do anything, put your trust totally in God and not in yourself. Then every plan you make will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3)

By: Paige Smith

With 2017 quickly approaching many of us are reflecting on the past year and thinking of everything we want to accomplish in this new year.

We want to be more disciplined, have better relationships, eat healthier, travel more, pay off debt, and learn a new language, among several others.

Yet after the invigorating excitement of dreaming of the possibilities of accomplishing these goals wares off, we are usually left with feelings of defeat and discouragement.

Frustrating questions can arise such as ‘What are my goals?’, ‘How can I even accomplish them?’ Or even a defeating, I didn’t accomplish them last year why bother making them this year?

When we focus on our own shortcomings and past failures discouragement is sure to come. But we always find home when we look first to God!

When we focus on our own shortcomings and past failures discouragement is sure to come. But we always find hope when we look first to God!

If you’ve found yourself wrestling with any of these range of emotions and concerns you’re not alone.

The good news is we are not without hope! There are practical and spiritual principles we can all apply to help ensure success in our New Year goals.

I love the Proverbs mentioned above because it reminds us of the sovereignty of God in our lives and how our success ultimately comes from us trusting and following God’s guidance and leadership.

I encourage you today to give yourself a clean slate and let every old thing pass away! Leave past mistakes, regrets, and failures in the past and determine today to press into 2017, you deserve a new beginning and a fresh start.

Here are 5 practical steps for making your goals work for you.

1. Take time out to reflect on your past year and where you envision yourself going this new year. This is great to do while journaling or during a listening prayer time with peaceful music. Write everything that comes to mind and keep it in a safe place to later organize into concrete goals.

Take time out to journal what God is stirring in your heart for this year.

Take time out to journal what God is stirring in your heart for this year.

Some may have lost faith in creating New Years goals after years of seeing them go uncompleted or unfinished. However studies show even the simple act of writing a goal down significantly increases a person’s chances of accomplishing it (“Why You Should be Writing Your Goals, Forbes.com).
2. Take those journals, thoughts, and jottings and ask the Lord what His plans are.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs‬ ‭19:21‬ ‭ESV‬‬).

Without God, we truly can’t accomplish anything of value. God often speaks to us to the desires and dreams in our hearts but He also may be speaking something we hadn’t thought of or He may have a different timing than we originally thought.

Allow God to speak to you about His plans for this year. He may choose to speak through His word, His voice, or seasoned godly leaders in your life or all of the above. God promises we will find what we seek, let’s seek His will for our lives into this New Year!
3. With your list of goals for the New Year, begin to separate them into categories. Some categories you could use are Spirituality, Health, Family, Finances, Personal Development, Career, Education, and any others that work with your life and goals.
4. Refine your goals with the tool, SMART goals. Educators and business leaders alike have attested to the effectiveness of this template and often share it with their employees and students.

For each goal make sure it fits the characteristics of a SMART goal.

A SMART goal is:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Realistic and

Time-sensitive.

Many times it is difficult for us to see our growth or track whether we are completing our goals not because they were bad goals, but simply because they were impossible to measure the completion of them.

For example, a goal such as “get in better shape” could be hard to measure the actual completion of and lead to feelings of defeat of feeling like you’ve never reached it.

This goal would become a SMART goal by changing it to “Do 30 minutes of cardio 3 days a week, drink 8 glasses of water a day, and do 20 crunches and push-ups 4 times a week from Jan 1 2017 to March 1 2017.”

The second goal achieves the same end result of “getting in better shape” but unlike the first it is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Sensitive.
5. Find an accountability partner or mentor to help check in with your progress with your goals. So many modern day and biblical figures we admire can attribute much of their success to having godly mentors that walked them along their journeys.

Look over your goals and find people that already seem to be walking in victory in those areas and ask if they will help you be accountable to reaching your goals.

A mentor who you check in with weekly or biweekly is also vital to seeing your growth this year. At the beginning of the year you can give them a copy of your goals and commit to keeping them updated throughout the year.

The most encouraging thing is that God promises to have good plans for each one of us! God will fulfill the purposes He has for us (Psalm 138:8). We aren’t alone in accomplishing our goals, but He is with us every step of the way.

The plans for our life begin and end with God, who is the Author and Finisher of our fates. He lovingly penned every page of our lives before we were even conceived!

Let’s put our full trust not in our own strength to accomplish our goals, but in the power of God that can work through us! Nothing is impossible with our God.

“Now to Him that who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work in us” (Ephesians 3:20)

We hope this article was encouraging for you and you find fresh vision and renewed hope for the new year!

Wishing you a Happy and Blessed New Year!

Wishing you a Happy and Blessed New Year! From our founder, Jade Lee

We invite you to share any comments and to join JLO in our annual New Year’s Daniel’s Fast, “Rising Women” where we will be praying and fasting together for vision and clarity for 2017!

 

Happy Holidays from our Family to yours!  We pray the prayer of peace, joy and contentment in this season.  We pray for GOD to surround you with loved ones, family and friends that will provide you the gift of their presence!  Don't let anybody or anything take your joy hunny :-)

7 Ways to Find and Keep Your Joy this Holiday Season!

With Thanksgiving just ending and Christmas and Hanukkah just weeks away we are fully in the Holiday Season.

I remember being a little girl bursting with excitement this time of year. I loved everything about the holidays and especially everything about Christmas. I loved getting in the car with my grandmother and driving through neighborhoods full of ornate Christmas light displays. I loved adorning our Christmas tree with lights and colorful ornaments and waiting with expectation for the shining presents underneath to be opened.

The holidays can either be a time of excitement and joy as it was for me as a little girl or for others a time when joy is harder to find and keep. The National Institute of Health even found that “Christmas is a time of year people report high incidences of depression” (psychologytoday.com). For some this is undoubtedly the most exciting time of year and for others it couldn’t be a more painful reminder of the difficult relationships or lost loved ones in their lives.

For whichever scenario relates more to your holiday experience I want to encourage you it is possible to find and keep your joy in every season, even difficulty or in times when it seems we may be lacking or are waiting for the answers to our prayers.

Happy Holidays from our Family to yours!  We pray the prayer of peace, joy and contentment in this season.  We pray for GOD to surround you with loved ones, family and friends that will provide you the gift of their presence!  Don't let anybody or anything take your joy hunny :-)

Happy Holidays from our Family to yours! We pray the prayer of peace, joy and contentment in this season. We pray for GOD to surround you with loved ones, family and friends that will provide you the gift of their presence! Don’t let anybody or anything take your joy hunny :-)

Here are 7 tips for Finding and Keeping Your Joy this Holiday Season:

1. Make a Joy List
This can be one of the most fun and therapeutic activities when the “holiday blues” attempt to bring you down. I took the advice of JLO founder Mrs. Lee and in a moment of discouragement took out a pen and paper and wrote on one side everything that brought me joy and on the following side the situations that were troubling me. By the end of the exercise I was filled with newfound encouragement over every blessing I had previously overlooked in that moment. I’m sure you’ll discover as I did that your joy list will likely far outnumbered the list of things that are bothering you.

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2. Make time for Loved Ones
Its easy to get busy in the holiday season with finals, cooking, shopping, or simply the day to day grind of life. However, studies have shown that social isolation, even for individuals who naturally consider themselves introverts, quickly leads to depression during the holidays. Spend time with those loved ones that make you smile just thinking of them. Solomon wrote about the value of relationships saying that “two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
3. Focus on what brings you Joy and Peace
There are times when it seems like everything going wrong is demanding our attention. In those moments a sea of emotions can seem to well up around us threatening to take us under with them. Those are the times that when focusing on something, even if it one thing in our life, that brings us joy and peace is so vital. For me sometimes just taking a few minutes to stop and thank God for just one small area in the midst of negative circumstances in my life will shift my emotions entirely.

Sharing the Gospel and Encouraging Others to Press into His Promises Brings me Joy!

Sharing the Gospel and Encouraging Others to Press into His Promises Brings me Joy!

4. Ignore the little things that steal your Joy
As I found in the activity where I wrote my joy list and a list of things bothering me, the things that were stealing my joy were much more trivial than they originally seemed. Still tend to things that need to be taken care of, but while doing it remember the bigger picture and the fact that even the things that bother us today are only temporary.
5. Take time to rest
While for some isolation can bring depression, for others the sheer business of life can bring stress and anxiety. Allow yourself time to rest and rejuvenate. Whether it’s taking a long hot bath, drinking a cup of tea with a favorite book, or simply closing your eyes and soaking in your most loved worship songs, taking time out to rest is needed to keep our joy and peace in the midst of busy lives and schedules.

6. Soak in the Sun
That’s right, soak up the sun! One of the major causes of increased depression in winter months is simply a lack of sunlight exposure. Exposure to the sun helps our bodies release a hormone called serotonin which helps boost our mood (“What Are the Benefits of Sunlight?” Nall). Try to take a quick walk in the morning or if weather permits, eat your lunch outside during 10 am-4 pm when the sun shines at its strongest (sunsafetyalliance.org). My son and I take daily visits to the local playground to get much needed outside time for both of us. 
7. Know that God rejoices over You!
There is nothing more encouraging than knowing our Heavenly Father takes delight and rejoices over us! Zephaniah 3:17 tells us God is literally in our midst, rejoicing and singing over us! When we wake up He is right there celebrating another day He is able to spend with us, singing joyful songs we might not hear but that He sings enthusiastically to express just how much He loves us. I pray this truth penetrates our hearts and fills you with unspeakable joy this holiday season!

GOD enjoys your life, your ministry to Him and to others.  He rejoices over you with singing, as we believe this we are more at peace and rest in Him.  We have more confidence and our joy becomes more stable.

GOD enjoys your life, your ministry to Him and to others. He rejoices over you with singing, as we believe this we are more at peace and rest in Him. We have more confidence and our joy becomes more stable.

What brings you the most joy in your life? What tips will you be trying out this holiday? Feel free to share in the comments below we love hearing from you!

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The Single and Happy Life

by Edleea Brewster

In College? Living for Christ? Feeling alone? Introducing JLO’s newest segment “Saved and in College”. Watch college student EdLeea Brewster as she encourages, motivates, and inspires girls to live for Christ with purpose while in college.

EPISODE #1- The Single and Happy Life

Being single isn’t always the easiest thing to do, especially when you are in college. You can easily feel like the outsider when everyone around you is in romantic relationship. Singleness is beautiful. It is a great time to serve the LORD wholeheartdly! Watch this video to be encouraged.

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Healing Journaling to Find Your Voice

by Jade Lee

I vividly remember a few moments in my dorm room (years ago) when I needed to get all my thoughts out, one was to write a joy list in overcoming the blues, but the other was reading the Psalms.   I wasn’t on the path I should have been but hearing David’s vulnerability and authenticity in the Psalms was really comforting to me in my time of weakness, I was experiencing what I have now termed Biblical Healing Journaling.  If he could do it, then surely I could freely share what was on my heart, it was like his feelings were equivalent to mine, all I needed was love undeserved, beyond performance.

I have come to find that, like David, we need a way to express our inner lives.  Sometimes, this comes out with whoever we can trust, usually our nearest loved ones or friends.  But it doesn’t always get expressed in positive ways.  I sure have had my moments of trying to express in a healthy way then in quickly goes down hill with a blow up because we are talking about a sensitive topic.

Writing and reading are both very instrumental in creating a stronger self awareness in our lives.  And writing can be a way to ease the raw emotions before they are shared with others in anger or the fullness of frustration the shock causes us to feel.

My Story

I have always loved writing.  It is like second nature to me and was many times much easier than sharing with someone verbally.  I wrote short love stories, poems, journal entries and research papers.  But all of it was from my deepest place of self.  And that’s what I want to help you do, find your deepest sense of who you are then express it in a wholesome way.

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When you write you can safely express whatever is on your heart.  Over the years as you mature in your voice, you will find that this can become an intricate language depending on who you are, or it may remain profoundly simple.

But combined with Scriptural truth, writing can be used very powerfully to heal our hearts and bring deep joy.

One day I began to realize how to write in a different way.  This was the day my writing became my prayer.  I noticed that I was going on a passage from deep heart stings, pressures and emotional duress to release, forgiveness and liberation.  

As I walked many women through mentorship and intimacy therapy I realized that this could be a great tool to help them accomplish a new state of being, they could live with all the windows on their emotional computer closed and their minds could be free of overload.

I started that day by writing everything that was on my mind when I first woke up, for many people that is when the wrestling match begins…words that you have processed from the day before come back up and you begin to wonder “why did they say that like that?”

For some simply casting down thoughts in general and moving on may work.  But I tend to be much more complex.  I need to literally see my thoughts in front of me then deal with them one by one.  (I can think a lot of thoughts at a time so I need a way to get it all out.)

I noticed that once it was all out on that sweet paper in my journal a sense of peace came over me.  And I felt healed!

I wrote vulnerably, free flowing, intricately from the deepest place of self awareness and pain.  And my pain became an electrifying tool to release strong emotions, questions, fears, challenges…without being hurtful to the hearer.  It became a filter guarding my loved ones from the worlds that only God could handle.

Because rarely are raw emotions digested by the ears of even tender listeners.  But seasoned words go down like sweet honey to their open hearts.

Rarely are raw emotions digested by the ears of even tender listeners.  But seasoned words go down like sweet honey to their open hearts.

The Shift

Once all of our words are out, our heart is empty and we sense “the release.”  At this point we go through the needed passage from pain to an elevated perspective.  We see through the eyes of God- that person, that situation, the words that hurt us.  

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You can do it, just keep going, keep writing and be consistent! Let’s hold one another up in prayer.

Suddenly, it’s as if light begins to break through our darkness.  We are at the end of a gloomy tunnel.

This is what the Psalmist David, experienced in the lament psalms like Psalm 3:

“A psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.

  1. O LORD, how many are my foes!  Many are rising against me;
  2. many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God.  Selah
  3. But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
  4. I cried aloud to the lord, and he answered me from his holy hill.  Selah

In this passage David is running away from his son Absalom.  If you want to read the story read 2 Samuel 15:13-23.  But you may want to read 2 Samuel 14-18 if you want the entire narrative.  It is definitely a tear jerker.

Can you imagine running from your own son who wants to kill you?  There had to be some serious identity, soul searching emotions happening here.  Questions like, What did I did wrong?  Why does my own flesh and blood want me dead?  must have been combatting David’s warrior heart.

This was not your son or daughter sitting in a counseling office, it was them growing up to want to come after your life.  

But notice how David handled it, he wrote down his complaints to God.  He shared from the deepest places of his soul, “O LORD, how many are my foes!  Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God.”

His reputation was being mocked, he was being chased, his life was on the line and he felt severe levels of rejection.  He expressed it freely to God, in a healthy dosage of desperation.

Release the Sting on Paper, Not on a Person

David’s situation was enough to make any marriage fall apart, friendships deteriorate and arguments to spring forth with children.  He had a lot to manage and his heart was full of disappointment.  

I’ve noticed that when I am in that position I am much more vulnerable to making poor choices and decisions I may live to regret.  

When my heart aches because someone gave me harsh criticisms like, “You’re not doing this right.”  “I don’t like what you are doing here, the way you minister, how you carry yourself.”  Or, “You need to do this…”  The sting of those words can pierce my tender heart.

I have also learned that if I don’t deal with the sting, try to keep it moving and forget about it, it will come up later because it is still buried deep without.  This can come out in many ways, but we don’t have time to address that in this article.

Journaling is a way to deal with the sting.  This is so helpful for anger management.  

It has helped me to release the sting on paper instead of on a loved one.

Then I can process the pain.  Many times when we feel pain the only words we have to express it are “I feel angry” or “I feel hurt”…”I can’t believe she had the nerve to say that,” “I don’t really feel anything.  I could care less.  They can’t bother me.”

But if we are going to heal, plus have healthy relationships, we need a more expansive vocabulary to communicate in a way that others can receive.

This is called Finding Your Voice and I will help you do that in our next article.

This is really all about self awareness.  Self Awareness is about being in tune with your feelings so that you can express those feelings appropriately to others including challenging upwards, sharing your preferences with peers and lovingly talking to those in your care.

Here are a list of emotions you can bring with you as you do healing journaling:

emotions_Plutchik-wheel

emotions2Using this list of emotions can be very helpful to articulate and even discover for yourself how you really feel about a comment, an action or a behavior of another.  It can also help you sort through how you feel about God in a situation or what you are in need of emotionally.

Not having a voice for your feelings oftentimes leads to one emotion: Anger.  That can then become passive aggressive (shut down) or aggressive (blow up).   Neither are healthy.

When We Hear God’s Voice

After the release in journaling you will being to see the light.  This is where it all makes sense.  God begins to speak to you.  Write down what you hear from Him.

If you need help in hearing His voice asking questions may be a great starting point:

Ask the Question- God is there anything you want me to know?  

  • How is God using this situation to heal me?
  • How is God using this situation to bring something to my attention?
  • How is God using this situation to help me grow?

Journal your thoughts and search the Bible for truth.  

Through this writing process you will find yourself seeing from a perspective beyond your own thoughts.  Maybe you write the psalmist key word, “But”…that is a sign of Transition.

“But God will use this to help others.”  “But I can handle this and that’s why I’ve been chosen for this challenge.”  “But I know these thoughts aren’t true.”  “But I am forgiven.”

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In transition you may feel small but are able to realize you are really at the top of the world, while seeming insignificant.

When you have all your thoughts on paper you can in a way see yourself as if you are looking from the outside in.  You can then medicate your pains with the Word of God.  Some phrases may have been initially expressed in your journaling session that you want to revisit:

“I feel like a failure.  I’m such a loser.  I always mess up.  I’m never going to get this right.”

These are trigger phrases to a negative thought pattern, they are signs towards why you may feel sad, depressed or angry.

This is empowering you to get the knowledge and understanding needed to identify the faulty thought processes you are encountering regularly.  You can now see the enemy’s lists and course correct these ideas with truth.

God’s Word is the truth we need:

For example if you wrote the thought, “I feel so ashamed.”

The Course Correction is Isaiah 61:7 For my shame I will have double and for confusion I will rejoice or 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Finally, like David, you are able to get your Confidence back in the midst of a Really hard, seemingly impossible situation.

And that is the Healing Journaling process.

My Prayer for you: Father, I thank you for every one who reads about this tool you are giving us as Your beloved children.  I pray that you will speak to our hearts through your Scriptures when we are in need of Your help.  Please give us the boldness to face ourselves, to grace to let go our our shame and the confidence to move forward with strength.  Remind us that your mercies are new every morning and You are a very present help in the time of need.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

My Challenge: I want to challenge you to do at least one healing journaling session this week.  Start with prayer and then use the 4 C’s based on the Lament Psalm.  Focus on Psalm 3 as an example:

  • The Complaint- Write down how you feel (Psalm 3:1-2)
  • The Conjunction- Write down your “but” statement (Psalm 3:3)
  • The Clarity- Write down your newfound Biblical clarity (Psalm 3:3-4)
  • The Confidence- Write down the confidence that you now have out of that clarity (Psalm 3:5-8)

I hope you have found this helpful and can use it frequently as another way to do the needed work of inner healing.

If you have any other ideas or questions that center around this concept of healing through writing I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.  They are Always Welcome!

Be Inspired.  Be Encouraged.  But Most Importantly…Be Transformed!

In His Love,

Jade Lee

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The Importance of Friendships in Every Season of Life

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Life is full of seasons and each new season is like a new adventure of unchartered territory that brings with it exciting challenges and opportunities to grow and discover new things about yourself and others.

In any new season it can be a great time of transition, we may be in a new job, new location, or starting a new relationship. Transitions can often be a time of high stress for so many of us because they involve so much that is unfamiliar to us.

I hope to bring encouragement to every single person reading this article that it is possible to navigate new seasons, but only with others by your side.

At a young age I’ve experienced a handful of new seasons, all unique and precious that each taught me something new, yet one thing that remained consistent was my need for a community that was there to support me and provide much needed friendship and fellowship.

The best way I found to make new friends in new seasons or maintain friendships I had already cultivated was to realize the season I was in and to communicate realistic expectations to my friends. Below are seven common seasons many will experience throughout their life, however each person has their unique journey and may not experience every one of these seasons or in this order.

7 Common Seasons of Life:

1. Single and Dependent on Parents and Family (living at home)
2. Single and Partially Dependent on Parents and Family (living away from home, possibly in college)
3. Single and Financially Independent on Parents (living away from home, some call this stage “adulting” or “real life”)

4. Courtship (Pursuing a long term relationship unto marriage)

5. Marriage
6. New Parents
7. Seasoned family

God is so gracious that He offers us wisdom for every season and in fact He’s the one that brings us into new seasons. Daniel tells us, “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding” (Daniel 2:21).

Our Heavenly Father is the one who is completely sovereign over our lives. He’s the one who “changes the times” of our lives and who can “give wisdom” to us in every season!

Adjusting to new seasons can be difficult, I remember feeling at one point that a new season would begin right when I was getting comfortable with the previous one. Leaning on God and reaching out for help or companionship when I needed it was my saving grace.

From the seasons listed above, here is some practical advice to help in adjusting:

1. Single and Dependent on Parents and Family (living at home)
 There is not as much adjusting in this season since it is the first many of us experience, the best advice I have found is to simply enjoy this season and soak it up, building a strong relationship with each of your family members especially your parents. No matter how old we get we never outgrow our need for our parents.

2. Single and Partially Dependent on Parents and Family (living away from home, possibly in college)
 For so many, college represents the first of many huge transitions in a person’s life. It can be uncomfortable for some of us, but a great way to adjust in this season is to introduce yourself to new people, and try new things. Go to events and games and fully engage your college experience.

3. Single and Financially Independent from Parents (living away from home, some call this stage “adulting” or “real life”)
 Creating a support network of friends, family, and older mentors is invaluable in this season. What helped me the most in this season was realizing how much help I needed and reaching out for it and asking for advice from parents and mentors in my life.

4. Courtship (Pursuing a long term relationship unto marriage)
 Courtship or any relationship with marriage as the end goal is such a great time to build the foundation of friendship with your future spouse and best friend for life. Guidance from older mentors and parents is also great to help adjust and prepare for the next season of engagement and marriage.

5. Marriage
 A great way to adjust in this season is to find other young couples to grow with and older couples to glean from. Read more on making and maintaining friendships in this season in the JLO article, “Why You’ll Always Need Girlfriends, even After the Wedding Day”.

6. New Parents
 This is the stage I find myself in now as the mommy to Elijah, our beautiful one and a half year old son. Being a mom has been one of the most fulfilling and also challenging experiences for me, one that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

More than ever it’s caused me to lean on the support of other older mothers in my life for wisdom and encouragement. I remember when I first came from the hospital, friends came over just to hold Elijah as I took a nap, or to see if I needed assistance on any miscellaneous household chores. It has only been a little over a year but the best way I’ve found to adjust in this season is to reach out to friends and family for support.

7. Seasoned Family
 This is a season I’ve never experienced myself, but have learned from others who have, that a good way to adjust is to keep God at the center of your family and relationships, and to stay connected with others.

I hope this article as helped bring more guidance on adjusting to every season in life and the importance of community and friendships in each season!

What season are you in now and what have you learned about connecting with friends and loved ones? We value your insight and experiences!

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A Quick Self Esteem Boost

By Paige Smith

 

According to Real Girls, Real Pressure: National Report on the State of Self-Esteem, Dove Self-Esteem Fund, 7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with family and friends.

According to this study, 70% of girls are dealing with low self-esteem. That means 70% of girls desire boldness and confidence.

There is an undeniable attack against the self-esteem of women in our society. The Dove Campaign also found that 92% of women want to change something about the way they look.

Most women want to be confident, want to love who they are and how they look, but believe they will only feel that unshakeable confidence once they change something about themselves.

But what if God wants us to feel that self-assurance and peace about ourselves right now, in the midst of our imperfections and shortcomings?

God is our Heavenly Father and He sees us as His beautiful daughters. When we only see our “darkness” and our frailties, like the Shulamite woman in Song of Solomon, God sees our beauty and declares it proudly:

“Behold, you are beautiful, my love! Behold, you are beautiful! You have dove’s eyes” (Song of Solomon 1:15).

You may feel like the Shulamite woman today, so conscious of your own darkness and how you daily make mistakes, yet there was hope for her and there is hope for you.

She begins her journey unsure of herself, doubtful of her own beauty, and desperate to be loved. By the last chapter of Song of Solomon, she is confident in her Beloved’s love for her:

“I am my beloved’s, And his desire is towards me” (Song of Solomon 7:10)

She has not changed, but her perspective of who she is has drastically been altered.

She boldly declares, “I am my beloved’s”

Not only does she know she belongs to her Beloved, but she knows He returns her affections,

“And his desire is towards me.”

Today know that you are deeply and irrevocably loved by your Heavenly Father. You are His daughter and He adores you!

He sings over you, He rejoices over you, and His banner over you is LOVE!

Its clear that women all over are longing to feel confident, to walk in boldness, and to love who they are! It doesn’t begin with a pair of stiletto heels or the perfect profile picture. It begins with a fresh revelation of how much you are loved.

Allow the truth of your Father’s love to penetrate your heart in a new way today and speak those truths back to Him. It will produce a true confidence and boldness rooted in the only unchanging variable that exists, His love.

7 Biblical truths on the Father’s love for us:

  1. We are valuable to God. (Matthew 6:26)
  2. We are God’s children. (Romans 8:15-16)
  3. God has prepared a place for us. (John 14:1-2)
  4. Our Father in heaven gives good gifts to those who ask Him. (Matthew 7:9-11)
  5. God doesn’t want to lose any of His children, and will seek out any that are lost. (Matthew 18:12-14)
  6. God is kind and merciful towards us. (Luke 6:36-37)
  7. God lavishes His love on us! (1 John 3:1)

We pray this article has been empowered you with a boldness that comes from knowing you are a Beloved Daughter of The King!

Are there any Scriptures you have used to help yourself or others gain a stronger self esteem?  We’d love to hear from you in the comments section so we can encourage one another!

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You Don’t Deserve My Time of the Day: How to Honor when there’s been Deep Hurt

Father’s Day has just passed and with it a myriad of varied emotions for many of us. For some the day brought joy and excitement as we reflected on tender moments from childhood with our dads from being twirled around in their arms to seeing them in the audience cheering us on in little league games or recitals.

For others the day was a painful reminder of the absence of shortcomings of our fathers in the past or present, we instead reflected on phone calls not sent and birthdays missed. Still for others it could have been a bittersweet mingling of the two extremes.

The call to “honor our mother and father” might have either been a welcome reminder, or a seemingly overwhelming demand.

This post is for those of us who may have struggled with honoring their father or mother not just on the recent holiday, but in general. It is our prayer that we would receive healing from the pain that can come from negative experiences with our parents, and be empowered through God’s love to honor them.

Many of us know the scripture that instructs us to “Honor your father and mother so that you’ll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).  It’s a beautiful concept.

It speaks of a unique promise our Heavenly Father makes to us to give us a long life in a land He’s given us when we honor our parents. Yet it can also seem daunting for those who may have a strained or complicated relationship with their parents.

Honor is defined as “respect given to someone who is admired” (merriam-webster.com) and “to hold in high respect” (dictionary.com).

But where do we begin when we don’t carry that esteem and respect in our hearts due to painful situations instead harboring disappointment, anger, and possibly even unforgiveness?

I submit to you John 15. Jesus tells his followers to “remain in Him” so that they can bear fruit in their lives:

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me” (John 15:4).

We cannot manufacture honor within ourselves, we need the grace and empowering of the Holy Spirit. God wants to pour out His love and honor on you today. He knows that we are frail, we are from dust, and cannot do anything unless we remain in Him.

Here are 7 key things to remember in beginning to honor our parents:

1. Begin with receiving God’s honor for YOU! God esteems and honors you so highly he has seated you in heavenly places and adorns you in “robes of righteousness” and “garments of salvation” (Isaiah 61:10)

2. Know that only God mourns with you for every disappointment or trial you’ve experienced including those your parents may have brought upon you knowingly or unknowingly. He validates your emotions and wants to heal every wound and give you “beauty for your ashes” and “joy for your mourning” (Isaiah 61).

3. God is the only perfect Father, our parents can be used to reflect God’s love for us, but even the most good intentioned parents miss the mark at times because they are only human and are bound to make mistakes sometimes.

4. Our parents need grace just as much as we do. God showers His love on us and even died for us while we were still in our trespasses. His love covers a multitude of sin. Lets extend the same grace to our parents and loved ones. Grace is favor that is undeserved and unmerited. Just as we’ve been given grace beyond our imperfections, let’s show that same favor to our parents through honor.

5. It’s not easy to be a parent. This doesn’t excuse any negative or abusive behavior from any parent, only to help us as children and possible future parents to have more compassion on our parents. Almost no parent purposes to hurt their children. The day their child is born they are ecstatic and filled with love for their child. As the difficulties of life come, demonstrating that love can become harder and harder, but the love is often always still there.

6. Ask for God’s heart for your parents. While we might only be able to see our parents through a lens of hurt, God sees our parents as His children. With the same love He has for us, He has for our parents. Ask Him to give Him His heart for your parents and to show you aspects you can honor in them. Honor begins in the heart, and only God can change our hearts. Ask him to begin a work in yours.

7. It will be a process. Every small step counts. It takes time to build and rebuild relationship but stay encouraged. The call just to say hello or ask for advice, the simple prayer for their life, the card on their birthday, the loving post on their Facebook wall…Every moment of honor is filling a cup of love in their hearts until it will be overflowing. And as you give honor it will be given back to you, “running over.”

We pray this article has inspired you to begin to honor your loved ones, even in difficult situations. Remember God wants to pour into you and doesn’t expect you to be able to honor without first remaining in Him.

He is pouring out His love, His forgiveness, and His grace on you today!

I encourage you to say this prayer with us:

“God thank You for Your unconditional love toward me.Your mercies are new every morning and Your grace is always abounding toward me. I receive Your love and honor and ask You to help me to honor my parents and loved ones today. You know how difficult this is for me, and I know you care about everything I feel and have gone through. I can only do this with Your strength, help me to remain in You. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Please feel free to share your stories of how you have been able to honor those who may have hurt you or how this post has encouraged you. We love hearing from you!

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Healing a Hardened Heart

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

It is very hard to honor our fathers, God, or anyone else when our hearts have been hardened.  But if you are reading this, allow me to encourage you- you must have a desire to forgive and be healed.

This topic reminds me of a Biblical character named Pharaoh.  The Bible says Pharaoh’s heart was hardened against God (the Father).  The missing element in Pharaoh’s life was honor.  

He failed to yield, to give respect, or to honor the God of the Israelites.  Pharaoh eventually gave honor tot he Lord, but it was at his own expense.

When our hearts become hardened due to life’s difficulty or pain, we must remember that honor is a choice.  We don’t have to remain forever calloused.

Multiple times in my own relationship with my father, the Lord has convicted me about three acts of love.  He has asked my hardened heart to express love as I forgive, confess, and restore.

I’ve had to forgive my father, confess that I was wrong for holding anger and resentment against my dad, and then make a commitment to restoring him back to his rightful place in my life.  This process has not always been easy, but in return for my obedience, I’ve seen my father travel for hours just to kneel at my feet, weeping words of godly sorrow.

It was through my place of humility that God brought healing, restoration, and the healthy relationship I desired.  He wants to do the same for each of us as we listen to His leading.

Multiple times in my own relationships ith my father, the Lord has convicted me about three acts of love: Forgiveness, Confession and Restoration. I know God can restore any one of our hearts to sweet gentleness and healing.

Multiple times in my own relationships ith my father, the Lord has convicted me about three acts of love: Forgiveness, Confession and Restoration. I know God can restore any one of our hearts to sweet gentleness and healing.

In fact, He promises to give us a softened, loving heart if we receive by faith, saying, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

So go and be bold; don’t be afraid to exemplify love, because you will be glad you took a step of faith.  Even if your father (or others) do not respond the way you desire, you will be able to say you have obeyed a very important part of God’s Word, and your heavenly Father will always be there to carry you.

Let’s Practice This Truth Together:

That it may go well with you in the land the LORD your GOD is giving you.  (Deuteronomy 5:16)

Ask the Holy Spirit to prompt you with any needed areas of change in your life.  Ask Him:

  • Is my heart hardened?  Do I need more humility or a new heart from You?  Ezekiel 36:26
  • Is there any forgiveness that You want me to show to my father?
  • Is there anything that I need to confess to You or to my earthly father?  Search me, Lord, and know my heart…(Psalm 139:23)
  • Is there any restoration needed in my relationship with my father?

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the answers, and then make plans to live out anything He reveals.

Talk to others who don’t know Jesus about the transformational power of our heavenly Father.

I hope you had a Happy Father’s Day!

Here’s a pic of me and the hubby on daddy’s day this year.  This was a fun look I achieved through basics in my wardrobe and thrift store finds!

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Get the Look:

Sleeveless Tank- JCPenney ($9.99), Old Navy, Cato ($7.99, many colors), The Limited ($24.90, classic colors, satin- great for dressy outfits).  The key to a dressier look is to buy “seamless” not “ribbed”

Red Flats- Nine West ($69.00)| Forever 21 ($9.99)| JCrew ($135)|Born ($44.51) I found these Talbot shoes for $7.99 at a thrift store!

A Line Midi Skirt- Macys ($24.99)| Zulily ($11.99)| Honor ($240)|Chicwish ($39.02)|ASOS ($40.00)

Purse- Kate Spade ($29.00)|Nordstrom ($33.98)| Humble Chic ($38.00) Really this is a Kate Spade eyeglass case that I used as a purse my dears

Pearl Necklace- JCrew ($26.00)|Banana Republic ($198)

Let’s be beautiful both inside and out with hearts ready to love from the deep place we have been embraced!  Have a sweet blessed week…

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Saying Yes to God’s Forgiveness

By Paige Smith

It can be so difficult at times to shake off the heavy weight of condemnation and guilt after we’ve done something wrong.

Have you ever found yourself like the little child hiding from their parent after eating the forbidden cookies knowing there’s no way to cover up what they’ve done?

But imagine that parent finally finding the child, covered in crumbs and chocolate stains, so grateful to have found them and wrapping them in a warm hug, continuing on never once mentioning or even thinking about that missing cookie that had originally brought so much guilt and possibly even a stomach ache to the child.

As comical and endearing as that small example is, it also serves as a beautiful parallel to our relationship with our Heavenly Father when we mess up.

We make a mistake, sometimes smaller or larger in our minds than eating a cookie before dinner, and before we know it we find ourselves convinced God is angry with us and we separate ourselves from Him, anticipating His disappointment and even rejection.

Thankfully this perception couldn’t be farther from the truth!

Like the parent in the example above, God is always longing to be with us, to wrap us in His arms and His forgiveness is always available to us, no matter how deep or dark we feel the mistake we made is.

Psalm 103:12 says that “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed out transgressions from us”.

God never wants to condemn us, but rather redeem us and forgive us.

We have a God that delights in showing us mercy and who throws our sins into the depths of the sea of forgetfulness! He keeps no record of our wrongs and instead showers us with grace and blessings.

God knows all and sees all we do but He chooses to forget our sins when we simply confess them to Him.

Many times the hardest person to extend forgiveness to can be ourselves but when we begin to truly encounter the loving and gracious character of God we begin to feel that weight of condemnation lift.

God’s word is an amazing place to start finding out more about Him and how He truly feels about you.

Here are 7 Incredible Scriptures on Gods Forgiveness that you can experience TODAY:

  1. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25)
  2. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)
  3. “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18)
  4. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  5. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7)
  6. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)
  7. “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy” (Micah 7:18-19)

Forgiveness can be difficult to receive when we try to rationalize it, because it doesn’t make sense. There is no payment or penalty we need to undergo because Jesus has already taken on the full penalty of our sins.

So rather than punishing ourselves for what God is longing to redeem us from, let’s receive God’s open embrace and forgiveness today.

Let’s say yes to Forgiveness!

We hope this article has encouraged you to say yes to God’s forgiveness and break free from the weight of condemnation! Please share any comments or questions you have on receiving forgiveness or overcoming condemnation. We love hearing from you!