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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!

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Rising Women Daniels Fast 2017

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Your purpose as a wife, mother, business woman or entrepreneur is right around the corner. Can you see it?

You may be wondering why we are doing the Rising Women 21 Day Daniel Fast and that is a good question. I began asking Women Everywhere to Join me in 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting for the Month of January 2016 and you responded! We broke through in prayer for the entire month.

And now we are going to do it again! Many of us are coming out of a season of transition and have many questions as to what to do next, we are entering into a place we have never been, but we are assured that we are right where God wants us; that is why we are seeking Him together for clear vision and purpose. We are determined to rise into our purpose with no hindrances.

This fast has been on my heart for months but now is the time for breakthrough, the season for deliverance and for each one of us to tap into the fullness of what GOD has for us; sometimes this requires both prayer and fasting. If we want to see all that GOD has for us actualized, there are blockages that can hinder us from receiving it in completion.

This is Biblically evident when reading through many accounts with Jesus and those He ministered to throughout His ministry. As believers, we want to follow His instructions and methods of reaching deliverance.

In one specific incident Jesus after healing a young boy from being deaf and mute, His disciples inquisitively asked Him, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He told them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:28-29).

You see, there are times in which we can only see breakthrough as we pray and fast.

This is also confirmed as Daniel completes three weeks (21 days) of prayer and fasting. He is visited and told, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel…for from the first day that you purposed to understand and to humble yourself before your GOD, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me for 21 days.” (Daniel 10:12-13)

Through this passage we can conclude that there are oftentimes spiritual hindrances to our prayer requests. As Jesus revealed to us, we must both pray and fast to bring down certain barriers in intercession.

Both Jesus and Daniel were men of great devotion, consecration, fasting and prayer. Jesus shares that He expects us to pray and fast.

Daniel committed in his heart to not defile his self with the king’s meat (Dan. 1:8) and that is what we will do during this fast. We will separate ourselves from any idols in our lives, knowing our GOD will reveal the deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells in Him (Daniel 2:22).

I began this fast to help me remove personal barriers such as praying for my future children and the removal of fertility blockages. It is also a way for me to detox myself spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physiological as I start this New Year. Will you join me in seeing GOD move through us and in us like never before? Let’s believe together for Healing, Dreams Fulfilled and Awakened Hearts! 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, January 10-31, 2017.

Daily Prayer Schedule:

1/10-1/31, Every day on prayer line 6am, On Periscope Every Monday at 6am

 Tuesday, 1/10- The Heart Detox: Cleansing Our Hearts from Hindrances to our BreakthroughWednesday, 1/11- The Power of Yadah Praise: Entering into a Heavenly Place through Praise

Thursday, 1/12- Warfare Prayers: Awakening the Warrior in Your Heart

Friday, 1/13- Remember the Dream: Redigging What God has already Spoken

Saturday, 1/14-  Praying Through Vision: Praying through the Promises of God for your Life

Sunday, 1/15- Writing the Promise: Prophetic Writing to Seal the Word

Monday, 1/16- Hope Deferred: Dealing with the 3 D’s- Depression, Doubt and Delay

Tuesday, 1/17- Wearing the Coat of Joseph: Immersing Yourself in Vision and Favor

Wednesday, 1/18- Praying Through Dreams: When Dreams Point to Purpose

Thursday, 1/19- About the Father’s Business: Praying for Entrepreneurs and Business Women to Arise

Friday, 1/20- The Discipline to Lead: Honing the Skill of Hard Work and Discipline

Saturday, 1/21- Hard Work Ethics: When Passion Fails and Determination Wins

Sunday, 1/22- Organizing the Plan: Praying for the Gift of Administration and Keys to Order

Sunday, 1/22- Organizing the Plan: Praying for the Gift of Administration and Keys to Order

Monday, 1/23- Childhood Dreams: Discovering Purpose through Childhood Clues

Tuesday, 1/24- The Emerging Wife: Praying for Singles, Unmarried and Aspiring Wives

Wednesday, 1/25- The Companion: Embracing our Calling as Wives

Thursday, 1/26- Household Matters: What Matters First is First

Friday, 1/27- The Mother in Me: Understanding Spiritual Motherhood

Saturday, 1/28- The Mother in Me: Purpose as a Biological or Adoptive Mother

Sunday, 1/29- Your Prayers Matter: Taking Your Stance as a Praying Woman

Monday, 1/30- Making a House a Home: The Power of Hospitality

Tuesday, 1/31- Celebration/Testimony Call

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7 Ways to Pray for Your Husband

By: Paige Smith It didn’t take long into marriage for me to realize how vital prayer was to our union. To be honest early on I viewed prayer as something good, but not essential–similar to eating my greens or taking a multivitamin. Now three years into this beautiful and unexpected journey I now know  prayer […]

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!

friends

Why You’ll Always Need Girlfriends, even After the Wedding Day

By: Paige Smith

Is it really possible to have single friends after getting married? Some of us may have our doubts, but I’d love to share with you my story which I hope brings encouragement!

When I got married nearly three years ago it was such a joyful, exuberant day. We recited vows promising to love each other unconditionally and to keep this covenant forever.

With marriage came an exciting new adventure to do life with my husband and best friend. It also presented a new opportunity to relate to my single friends in a different way.

When life’s transitions come whether it be moving to a new place or marrying the one you love, maintaining strong friendships with your loved ones can seem daunting.

Questions can run through our minds like, How do we relate now? How do we include each other in our increasingly busy schedules? Are there topics that are off limits for discussion now? How do we balance time with our spouses and also make needed time with our friends we had even before marriage?

If you’ve ever wondered these questions as I have, I encourage you to continue reading as we explore how to relate to friends once married. With marriage brings a new season and new way to relate to friends. The good news is marriage can actually create a deeper bond between friends and create growth and maturity in the friendship!

There is nothing quite like a deep friendship. The laughs, the inside jokes, the shared experiences you both cherish.

I’m so fortunate that so many of my close friends since before and during college are still my closest friends today after marriage and starting life as a new mom.

Now our lives may look very different, but our love for one another remains the same!

A few things I’ve seen help grow and maintain our friendships and want to explore more myself is to:

-Focus on our similarities over our differences.
-Enter into their world whether it is school or work or hobby and share their excitement.
-Make a fun “girls time” for one another just to connect and reconnect even if it’s a simple outing for coffee or potluck dinner once a month.
-Open up about my “world” and share how I’m feeling and what I’m learnings, what’s challenging me and what is inspiring me, including them in my life.
-Pray for one another! As we pray for one another our bond and compassion and grace and honor for each others role in our lives only increases.

These tips have been so nourishing to my friendships and have helped show me that it is possible to have strong healthy relationships with single women even after marriage!

Solomon even reminds us in Proverbs that “iron sharpens iron” and again in Ecclesiastes that “Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.” (Proverbs 27:17; Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:9-10).

Even in marriage we need good friends. Friends that will sharpen us. Friends that will help lift us up when we’re down. Friends that will see the best in us. Friends we can laugh with. Friends we can cry with. Friends that become sisters who then become the adopted daughters to our mothers and later aunties to our children.

Friendships may look different in different seasons but we’ll never outgrow our need for our friends, in singleness, in courtship, in marriage, in motherhood, in our careers, we will always need the loving support of a true friend.

Here’s to having girlfriends for life!

We hope this article has encouraged you that it truly is possible to have deep bonds with your single friends even after major life transitions like marriage. Do you have any tips or questions on connecting with your girlfriends in different seasons? We value your input!

Blessings to you and your friends in every season!

JLO Academy9

Which Books of the Bible for What Life Issues?

Learn how to break down books for each area of your life and to get a holistic view of the entire Bible. 

If you would like a basic teaching on How to Study the Bible you may want to reference the blog I wrote on this topic before reading this article.

Sometimes we go to our prayer times, get out our Bible, journal, a pen and maybe some worship music.  Some of us begin to sit quietly, others pray loudly, others listen for God’s leading.  But so often we do not really know where to begin if we are honest with ourselves!  Which books of the Bible do we use for what?

This is Pt 2 of a Series on How to Study the Bible.

I remember when I first rededicated my life to Jesus, I was so full of the Word actually because I grew up in very strong Bible teaching churches.  I grew up in a “Bible study family.”  We were going to go to church every single Sunday (which I LOVED).  And…we were going to talk about what I personally learned in church.

I remember vividly the trips home from church services as a five year old, my parents in the front seat, they seemed so huge back then, asking me the familiar question, “What did you learn in church today?”

And learn I did, because we paid attention.  I am so thankful my parents had a great expectation of his, they had faith in the fact that we could learn at a young age.  Church was fun, it was exciting, it was where I heard amazing Bible stories. 

And I loved stories.

I was a little writer bubbling over with the desire to read more and more and more.

Those stories have never left me.  Some of them I have now written in an adult perspective for women.  They are the stories that have guided my life values.  These women (and men) of the Bible are my greatest heroes and are intertwined in the fabric of my identity.

They are threaded in my life foundation.  They lead the way I think, the way I see the world (Christian worldview), the way I relate to my peers and leaders.  And they can never be taken from me.

I am blessed.

As a member of the Millennial Generation (1981-2000) I am one of only 4% of young adults my age who actually attend church.  And that is directly attributed to my Personal Understanding of the Biblical Truths I was taught.

That question, “What did you learn in church today?” made my faith, My Faith, not my parents faith- at a young age.  And My Faith was personal.  My Faith was meaningful.  My Faith was truth.  My Faith was understood when I gave my tiny heart to Jesus at four years of age.

It was real when I prayed a prayer asking Jesus to show me where my little lost glasses were as an elementary child.  And He did.

Of course, the expression of my faith has evolved over the years to more “mature” conveyances, but the foundation is and always will be a deep, rich Biblical legacy.

How Do You Study the Bible?

My profession or calling is to help other Millennials, some who were raised on this same foundation, but many who did not have a Biblical church upbringing to grow in their own personal love for Scriptural truth.  In essence, I am called to ask over and over again the resounding question, “What did you learn in church today?”  This question can be translated, “What did you learn from the Bible today?”

And it is my joy to see them answer that personal question on each one of their unique experiences.

Like my parents, my eyes light up as I express another viewpoint of the same text and watch them grow!

As this is occurring I wholeheartedly believe in the tools I received and want to share them with you.  They are tested and proven tools you will grow to love.

The Bible Bookshelf

Bible Bookshelf

The Bible Bookshelf is a symbolic bookshelf dividing the Bible into sections by type.  As you can see to the left, there are the following types of books: Law, History, Wisdom, Major Prophets, Minor Prophets, Gospels, History, Letters of Paul to Churches, Letters of Paul to Individuals, General Letters and Apocalyptic books.

In your personal Bible study, this shelf will help you have a greater understanding of how the Bible made up as a whole.  Then you will be better prepared to know which books to reference on an experiential level (when you are encountering different life experiences). 

It is also important to understand that the Bible is not written in a chronological order.  Therefore, some Bible book authors were living many years apart but their messages are found many books later in the Bible. 

For example, 1 Samuel 20 and Psalm 59 were written in the same year, 1013 BC.  But the book Psalms is 10 books apart from the book 1 Samuel.  Also, different Psalms were written in different time periods.  Psalm 60 was written 15 years after Psalm 59.  And Psalm 63 was written 41 years after Psalm 59.

Fortunately, we do not have to guess when the books of the Bible were written.  There are free resources where we can get a timeline of the entire Bible.

Bible Timeline2

The Bible Timeline will help you see visually how the entire Bible is laid out in real time or the chronological order of the Books of the Bible. The Old Testament points towards Christ. The New Testament looks back to Christ. And Biblical Prophesy tells us what is going to occur.

Now that we understand how to study the Bible and how the Bible is chronologically setup, we can begin to dig into the types or genres of the books of the Bible.

I personally love genres because of my English major background so please bear with me as the nerd in me comes out!

The Bible is made up of 66 separate books (with different authors) over the time span of 1500 years.  These books create a library having varying subtopics.  These genres are:

The Law Books- The Law Books, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy reveal more about the God created legal system for the Jewish people of the Old Testament.  They help us learn more about this people’s government by answering questions like:

  • “What were the moral laws” or the “matters of behavior” during Biblical times?  See Exodus 20
  • What were the social and state laws? See Leviticus 25:13
  • What were the domestic laws and matters of hygiene?  See Leviticus 12
  • What were the religious laws?  See Leviticus 1-7
  • What were the laws on worship and sacrifice?  See Leviticus 1-7
  • What were the blessings and curses?  See Deuteronomy 28 (Ferdman’s Handbook of the Bible, 59)

It is important to remember that these were the Laws God gave to Moses on how He wanted His Chosen people (the Jews) to live their daily lives.  If you want to know the details of the Jew’s lifestyle the Law books will help bring you contextual understanding.

The History Books- The History Books, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther reveal more about what actually happened in the storyline of God’s people, the Jews. 

Webster’s defines history as “a chronological record of significant events (as affecting a nation or institution) often including an explanation of their causes.”  That’s exactly what the history books do- they tell the history of a nation, the Israelites.  They include explanations of their causes.

As we read the Bible, we must remember that these are true stories of people who lived on the same planet Earth as we live on, these are not fictional figures made for our entertainment.

The History Books help us learn more about what actually occurred by answering questions like:

  • What was the historical background to the passage?  See Ezra 1:1
  • What actually happened?  Who were the people involved?  See Luke 2:1-2; 3:1-2
  • Where did it happen?  See Nehemiah 1
  • Often material was selected to make a point: is there one stated or implied?  Judges 6:1, 7, 8 (Ferdman’s Handbook of the Bible, 59)

The Wisdom or Poetry Books– The Wisdom or Poetry Books bring the drama of the Bible to life, imagine various characters in a play or novel.  It is interesting how these different genres of the Bible relate to different types of people with various interests or personalities.  Creative tend to feel a profound connection to the poetry books of the Bible.

Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon reveal the characters, giving us a microscopic visual of their deepest emotions and thoughts.  When we read them we can ask the questions:

  • Is it a drama with characters, as in a play?  See Job
  • Or poetry, expressing one person’s feelings which we can share?  See Psalm 42, 29, 68
  • Is it highly symbolical?  Is the language from the worship or history of Israel?  If so, what is referred to?  See Psalms 77, 78, 79
  • Is there a historical setting which will help us understand the poem?  Or was it writtenf or use in Israel’s worship?  See Judges 4-5
  • Is there repetition or contrast for poetic effect?  See Proverbs 10:11 (Ferdman’s Handbook of the Bible, 59)

The Prophetic Books- There are Major and Minor prophetic books, considered so because of the length not the importance of the books.  The Major Prophetic Books are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel.  The Minor Prophetic Books are Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

These books were written by the Old Testament prophets.  Some consider Revelation one of these books as well, but Revelation can also be in it’s own category as an Apocalyptic (End Times) book.

They reveal prophecy (God’s direct word for the nation(s), people and speaking into particular situations).

These books also include Messianic prophecy, predicting specific attributes of the Messiah, what He would accomplish, down to how he would physically look (See Isaiah 53).  It is incredible how specific and accurate these prophecies were.  When we read them we can ask the questions:

  • What was the historical background?  See Daniel 1:1
  • Is it written in poetic form?  See Isaiah 36:22-29
  • Is the language highly symbolical?  If so, what is the imagery taken from?  See Daniel 7
  • What was the original purpose of the prophecy in its time?  What is the universal principle involved?  See Isaiah 30:1-5
  • Are there specific claims to its fulfillment in the New Testament?  See Isaiah 53; Acts 8 (Ferdman’s Handbook of the Bible, 59)

Next week we will explore the New Testament section of the Bible bookshelf.  This review should help you begin to understand the Bible on a broader level so you can take it to a deeper level.

Resources used in this article:

Each section of questions was taken from Ferdman’s Handbook of the Bible, pg. 58

Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary Tenth Edition

For Part 1 of this series go here: http://jadelee.org/spiritual/how-to-study-the-bible/

Do you have any questions or tips on how to Study the Bible?  Please use the Comments Section to add your valued input!

 

 

 

jlo blog13

How to Study the Bible

One of my favorite activities is prayer and studying the Bible, but this took about 13 years to develop

From my desk: My personal Tyndale Bible Dictionary. Of great use when referencing Biblical topics of interest.

From my desk: My personal Tyndale Bible Dictionary. Of great use when referencing Biblical topics of interest.

and cultivate! I want to share with you some of the joys I have found and the secret to keeping your relationship with GOD thriving, even in the mundane.

For many I have talked to prayer and reading the Word of GOD (the Bible) is very difficult, not because they cannot understand it alone but because they fall asleep, get bored and do not always know where to begin.

If you feel this way as well, it is not because you are not as spiritual as another or something is wrong with you; it is because prayer & the study of GOD’s Word is an art.

Allow me to show you how to become an amazing Bible scholar, find topics relating to your current situation and encounter GOD in a personal way.

First, you will need a few tools, but no worries at all- many of these tools you can find for free online or at a low cost on sale in a Christian bookstore (both Lifeway Christian Bookstores or Family Christian Bookstores are great chains).

From my desk: a few essentials in my Bible study repertoire. Found to be both tried and true!

From my desk: a few essentials in my Bible study repertoire. Found to be both tried and true!

Your Bible Study toolbox should include (but is not limited to):

  1. A Great Study Bible. I personally enjoy the Nelson’s Study Bible in the King James or New King James Version. If you are new to this, there are many versions of the Bible. Some are even written in modern language to help us understand terminology. I will write another post on these versions so stay tuned.
  2. A Strong’s Concordance. I absolutely LOVE studying the Bible using a concordance. It is a
    From my desk: My personal Strong's Concordance is an essential piece of my valued collection.  Needed in almost any thorough Bible study.

    From my desk: My personal Strong’s Concordance is an essential piece of my valued collection. Needed in almost any thorough Bible study.

    classic edition and essential to your studies in no small part because of it’s extensive list of words in the Bible. These words are provided in both the Hebrew/Aramaic (Old Testament) and the Greek (New Testament). It can be used similar to a dictionary- search a word and you will find many other instances the same original word appeared throughout the Bible. This will help you compare the ways GOD uses this word in various situations. I always encourage people to note the first occurrence of a word remembering the beginning of a mention is usually related to its root. Also, please remember to use this Bible Study help in avoiding reading a Scripture out of context (more on that later).

  3. A Bible Dictionary- Use this as you would an Encyclopedia. It is a reference tool to learn more about the historical context of topics, people, places and artifacts of the Bible. One can
    From my desk: My personal Tyndale Bible Dictionary.  Of great use when referencing Biblical topics of interest.

    From my desk: My personal Tyndale Bible Dictionary. Of great use when referencing Biblical topics of interest.

    commonly find marvelous informational jewels when delving into a Bible Dictionary. Allow me to provide an example of how to utilize this tool- You are studying the Book of Esther (one of my favorite books of the Bible) and you come across the mention of a man named King Ahaseurus.

In your study you open your Bible Dictionary to “Ahasueurus” finding incredible information about his kingdom and role.

 

You have now been enlightened on one of the personages in your historical backdrop.

A visual of King Ahasuerus' name within the Tyndale Bible Dictionary.

A visual of King Ahasuerus’ name within the Tyndale Bible Dictionary.

You then long to know more about his kingdom, which is provided for you using a search on the words “Persia” or “Media.”

A search of the location Persia in the Tyndale Bible Dictionary.

A search of the location Persia in the Tyndale Bible Dictionary.

Your search will yield information regarding Persia such as her geography, climate, history and other mentions in the Bible. This helps you understand who King Ahasuerus was on a worldwide scale, increasing your appreciation for Esther’s positioning. A Bible Dictionary can be used as a thread connecting people, locations and contemporaries throughout the Bible.

4. A Bible Handbook- In my personal study, I use the Ferdmans’ Handbook to the Bible, which has proven to be a wonderful resource for a quick cultural, historical and thematic backdrop of both the Old and New Testaments. Part One is dedicated to an overview of the Bible for basic Bible students. It even includes a Bible Bookshelf, which I will write about in a later post. It also relates the Bible to other types of religious books and provides a brief timeline of various versions. Part Two explores the books of the Bible separated into sections based on the types of books (I.e. Historical, poetic, prophetic, etc).

This is very helpful in understanding dates different books were written and which writers were alive in

From my desk: Ferdman's Handbook of the Bible is a reliable wealth of quick natured information for the rightly divided student.

From my desk: Ferdman’s Handbook of the Bible is a reliable wealth of quick natured information for the rightly divided student.

specific time periods. You may also use this to conduct a brief study on an entire book of the Bible by searching the book name.

5. The Vine’s Concise Dictionary of the Bible- This resource is especially helpful in understand the original meaning of particular words in your text. It “combines in one handy volume condensed versions of W.E. Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words and Nelson’s Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament by Nerill Unger and William White, Jr.” (Introduction to Vines). I would highly encourage you to purchase one of these as a handy tool you will reference constantly. It will help you avoid misinterpretation of Scriptures by a hasty understanding based on modern English. The English language is by far less detailed than the Greek or Hebrew. For example, for our one word “love” in English, there are various forms of the word “love” in Greek. This source will aid you in discovering the original meaning of the word and how the Hebrews would have understood it contextually.
These tools should help you begin your studies, but there are many more. In fact, there are a few free internet sources you can utilize when unable to obtain the books above or in a hurry:

  1. The Online Jewish Encyclopedia– Another phenomenal way to understand the Bible is to study the people of the Bible, whom are primarily Jewish. This source will aid you in researching how they view different aspects of life and Biblical truth.
  2. BlueLetterBible.org– This resource will aid you in studying words in the Bible when using the KJV with Strong’s feature. It is much like the Strong’s Concordance aforementioned and the vines Concise Dictionary. It fact, it’s interactive features warrants one to engage the meaning of words simultaneously to reading passages.
  3. BibleGateway.com– This is an online hub of the Bible in various versions. Use to find a Scripture in many different versions. It also includes articles and other valuable Bible studies.
  4. Biblehub.com– I use this as a constant way to quickly cross reference (see other Scriptures that are relatable to the one I am studying) and see Scriptures in varying versions at a glance.

With these sources in your quiet time, you will soon find yourself running out of time due to the wealth of information and increased depth of your studies. The Bible will begin to come to life and you will no longer fall asleep so easily, in fact, you just may wake up early to do more searching!

Grab your new Study Bible, a valued journal and start with prayer. Then get ready for fascinating discoveries within the rich content of the Scriptures.

I look forward to sharing with you next week in Part 2: How to Develop a Strong Relationship with GOD through Prayer!

If you know of any other resources pertaining to studying the Bible, and I’m sure you do because there are Many, please share with others in the Comments section of this post. I know you will have marvelous tips and I’m thrilled to light a spark in the embers of your walk with GOD.