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JLOclassyweb

How to Dress Cute, Modest and Classy

 

JLOclassywebWhat immediately pops up in your mind when you think of the word modesty?  An outdated outfit and frumpy clothes?  Or a sober heart, not too proud or overly excessive? 

Do you think balance or restriction from being who you really are?  Maybe some of us think, “That’s not for me.  I’m just not there yet.”  And that’s okay that we know how we feel and where we are…we are all entitled to start where we are judgment free!

GOD knows and He will take us in our current state, gradually adding His own convictions for each one of us.

God will take us in our current state, gradually adding His own convictions for each one of us.

For example, when I was in my early twenties my modesty journey began.  I was so excited to follow the Lord in every area of my life, that when He began to convict me about certain pieces of clothing in my wardrobe, I said, “Lord, this is so hard, but okay.”

Jade Speaks

In this look I took a dress and put a sheer top under it to make it more suitable for a church environment. It fit my classic modest style type.

Clothes that were a bit too tight here or there began to escape my wardrobe.

Clothes that weren’t reflective of what I wanted to represent began to be filtered.

And then I came across a woman of God teaching on Deuteronomy 22:5.  I read the Scripture.  I studied it.  I thought about it deeply.  Today it’s fully how this one Scripture on, you guessed it, the clothes we wear has become one of the most controversial Scriptures for Christian women. 

But I was convinced God was convicting me to wear only skirts.  The key words here are, “Convicting me.”  This was a personal conviction God gave to me.

And I saw the benefit of it in my life.  I dressed up a lot more, explored more feminine options and no longer was attracting the type of attention I didn’t want from guys.

For a season, this was also very helpful for me to overcome superficiality, finding my beauty in my inward man, not the outward.  But over time I felt the Lord begin to release me from that conviction.

JLO 2.17

And here’s another dress I adapted into a top with skinny jeans to add a modest approach…

What I did wrong was place too much of my zeal and excitement about this life change on others.  It was important not to place my conviction on others or teach it as if it was a law of God.  It was also important not to make this conviction a source of “holiness” or “arriving in God.” 

What I did wrong was place too much of my zeal and excitement about this life change on others.  It was important not to place my conviction on others or teach it as if it was a law of God.

But on the other hand, I know what it’s like to be persecuted for my personal convictions, even by those I never mentioned skirts to!  Please don’t do this to your friends or loved ones.  It has developed a great deal of compassion in my heart towards those who God leads to break cultural norms.

Placing our convictions on others is a danger many new believers experience as the excitement of hearing God’s voice can cause us to miscalculate the purpose of that experience–forcing it on our friends and family–not just in how we dress, but in what we watch, where we go, and what we eat.  This creates a haughty attitude and a “better than thou” demeanor that repels others from us.  Learn from my experience, this is not a healthy way to go and it stifles our relationships.

But on the flip side, if someone you know develops a new conviction, please do your best to respectfully support what God has told them to do–Remember, this is the same God that told Samson to wear his hair in locks and never cut his hair on a Nazarite vow.  The vows people make with God should be respected and honored.  For me, I see my period of wearing skirts as a personal vow between me and the Lord. 

If someone you know develops a new conviction, please do your best to respectfully support what God has told them to do

An outward expression of obeying what He asked me to do.  And I am grateful to say God led me through a 13 year season of embracing this conviction, whether others were pleased or not.  I was content to please God.

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.  Galatians 1:10

At the end of those 13 years the Lord gave me a sense of peace about wearing pants again (which was not new to me, it’s the way I grew up for many years).  It was the time and He confirmed why to me through various means. 

I was reminded of Peter, who’s conviction as a Jew was to not eat meat.  Then, after living out this lifelong conviction, God gave him a vision of eating “all” of His creation.  Was Peter wrong to be on a mainly plant based diet before this “discovery”?  No way!  He was following God’s law.

But Peter was about to reach the Gentiles.  And he was experiencing the freedom to obey God’s voice, which is what Christianity is all about!

So with all these thoughts on real life lessons about convictions, let’s talk about what modesty really is.  First, it will help to understand that modesty is not our own idea.  It comes from the Bible.  And though it may look different for each lady, it is important for it to be a part of our lifestyle.

This word appears in 1 Timothy 2:9 and 1 Timothy 3:2.  It’s the word kosmios meaning well arranged, seemly, modest.

I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes  1 Timothy 2:9

In the dictionary, it means

“placing a moderate estimate on one’s abilities or worth;  neither bold nor self-assertive :  tending toward diffidence” or “limited in size, amount, or scope a family of modest meansb :  unpretentious a modest home”

So modesty is about being self controlled in our attitude, not putting on an act for someone else (pretentiousness) or going over the top with something.  We can be modest in our thoughts, in our speech, in our actions, and in how we dress. 

Modesty is about being self controlled in our attitude, not putting on an act for someone else or going over the top with something.

Modesty is not just about how we dress.  It comes from the realization that we are where God chooses to reside and because of that we want to walk in the Spirit.  We want to respect His presence.  We want to be humble in all that we do.  This comes from the heart.

1 Corinthians 6:19 says Our body is a temple of God. We want to represent Him well. 

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own  1 Corinthians 6:19

Let’s keep in mind that, as Christians, what is in the heart is what is most important, not the outward appearance.  And we don’t win God’s approval by how we dress.  We are justified by Jesus Christ alone!

1 Timothy 2:8-10 give us the principle behind an inward focus, not an outward one alone.  If we begin to put how we look on the outside (whether modest or inmodest) before God who is in our temple, we’ll probably find ourselves in bondage.

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Modest doesn’t have to be frumpy or colorless it can be stylish and fun!

Is what I’m wearing reflecting Godliness?  Am I wearing this to attract the right attention or to get a lustful stare, the attention of some guy I don’t even know?  Am I wearing this to help heal insecurities?

As we know our heart, we focus on ways we need healing we will realize why we do what what do.  We will discover our motives.  God can help us see this and this is the Holy Spirit’s role to personally convict us.  If He convicts you it will lead to freedom,  not a sense of negativity or bondage.

Another principle that I like to apply is knowing my “areas”:

Is my chest showing, cleavage becoming a distraction?  This is not a hard and fast rule, but we want to keep our private parts discreet for our current or future hubby if possible.  Pray about this and ask the Lord how He feels.  He will show you where He wants you to draw the line.

Am I depending on the praise of people to give me identity?  If I wear something cute, I get a bunch of compliments and I feel better.  There’s nothing wrong with that but the core of who we are comes from who Jesus says we are in the Bible…fearfully and wonderfully made.

Many times we are told as women in the church that we have to dress more modest to protect our brothers and although this does have a role of putting our brother before ourselves, this can also be abused.  Men also have to carry their own spiritual responsibility in how they keep their eyes, but are we at least concerned about helping a brother out from stumbling?

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Romans 12:10

By the way, even when we are modest it’s really important that beneath the surface we love ourselves, care for our bodies, try our best–this is not an excuse to go to the other extreme of not putting forth effort to look our best.

Well those are my words on modesty plus here’s a few fashion tips:

There’s a few ways you can “work your own look”:

  1. Know Your Body Type (Are you an apple, pear, hourglass or banana)?body-shape
  2. Know Your Style (Are you classic, trendy, bohemian, or dramatic?) style types
  3. Learn to Love Yourself!  Who you are in essence rarely changes.
  4. Learn your Undertone (color) and Color Wheel, are you a winter, spring, summer or fall?
  5. Explore a Few Trends- Certain cuts, looks and even colors could be on trend from year to year.  Don’t try to wear all of them lol figure out which ones look best on you  Here’s a few for 2017:neonruffleskhaki

I’m a classic but I do trends and chic looks as well.  Classic tops, bottoms and earrings never go out of style!  You can still have fun by mixing colors and trends.

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Here I’m wearing a classic white collard skirt and pencil skirt but mixed up with a trendy fur vest!

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Here I’m wearing a classic outfit with bell sleeves, a current trend. You can google trends for 2017 to see the last ones!

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And here I am wearing a classic a line cut dress with a pop of color. All classic though- straight lines etc. I like skirts and dresses that flare on me since I’m a pencil/banana and don’t have many curves lol

And here’s a link to natural makeup options that don’t have any preservatives or chemicals that will seep into your pores.

Well, I hope this helped you understand a little bit more about modesty and I know you will be well on your way to hear from God for your own modesty journey.  But let’s keep in mind that it’s what is in our hearts that matters most!

Love you!

Jade Lee

 

 

jlo office

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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A Father Who Is Always There for You

Father…when you hear that word what do you think, what image comes to mind?  Perhaps you instantly see a heroic figure, a strong loving protective man, or a kind, gentle compassionate presence.  Others of us may see nothing but an empty, loss presence.  Nothing is there but space and neglect.

Oftentimes the image we see of our earthly father is the same image we imagine when we see our heavenly Father.

And this can be problematic for obvious reasons.

I have a mixture of the two images.  I can remember as a little girl waiting to hear the sound of my father’s keys opening the front door of our miniature, three bedroom two bathroom starter home.  We lived in the ‘hood but I did not have a clue that’s where we lived because I always had a sense of shelter, of sweet protection.

It was home.

Walking outside, playing with my dog, with toys, with nature, running through the wooded lots surrounding us…there was not a care in the world.

And I was in private school with middle to upper class children, mostly very different from me, so there was a sense of safety, even at school.

My father would come home, at least in my mind, every day around the same time.  And when he would open the door I remember running up to him waiting for his embrace.  There was a sense of needing approval and attention.  Then he would swing me up in the air.

It was the moment of delight I longed for daily.

And I’m sure it filled his heart with joy just as much as mine.

This is a beautiful image of father.  Protector.  Friend.  Presence.  Supporter.  Guide.

But we probably all have at least one or two difficult memories of “father.”

Maybe there are days when he does not come home as expected, his countenance is disturbed, he is not the gentle friendly guy you need him to be and you are disappointed.

This is all so real in the heart of a small child.  In fact, it can be magnified.

Both experiences are valid and both are valuable schoolmasters when relating to our Heavenly Father.

What Can We Learn About “Father”?

That dad I described, fun, friendly, kind, playful is a mirror image of our Heavenly Daddy.

He is there, present when we need him, ready to give us sweet gifts.  He wants to give us the gift of His Presence, of joy, peace, patience, happiness, and forgiveness.

Believing in the fact that He will be consistent.  He will never come home in a disappointed manner, He is a safe, secure place to land our hearts.

We can Trust Him because of this unchanging stability.

And we can sit on His lap.  We can talk to Him about anything, our greatest joys, victories, anticipations…our strongest failures, needs and frustrations.

When we see that our Heavenly Father is not a mixture of good and bad, like we humans are…He is All Good, we are finally able to settle our hearts with His good leadership.

He is much like the Prodigal Son’s Father who is there for us no matter what, ready to pour out blessings on our lives.

When we expect him to be the most disappointed, He is not.  Instead, he gives us what we least expect, a huge celebration of the fact that we are Home!

He honors our presence.

We can encounter Jesus around this truth.

GOD Honors my presence.

We have to wonder how others will respond when we show up, but we do not ever have to wonder if our mistakes push GOD away from us, if they cause Him to reject, look down on, or judge us.  He is simply excited that you and I showed up for the party.

A New Way to Encounter Jesus

Have you every went into your prayer time only to feel a heap of guilt like a ton of bricks crashing down on your shoulders?  Then you want to just hide?  And it seems to come out of nowhere.

Am I right with God?  Is He angry with me?  Am I praying right?  I missed my prayer time yesterday.  I am not on my schedule.  I wonder if I’m under His judgment because I haven’t forgiven so and so.  I need to find the right Scripture to focus on.  I need to focus.  I need to spend more time in the Word and put on my Spiritual weapons.  Why am I not consistent?

Ugg…by this point prayer is exhausting.  Because pleasing Him is beyond me.  It is impossible.

I used to think this way all the time and my guess is, so have you.  It is human to base God’s satisfaction with us on who we are, our faulty mentalities about who He is and all the ways we think our prayer life should be.

Yet the reality is that we are way off in thinking God wants all that!  Sometimes he wants a few minutes of us simply accepting that it is okay to vent, to talk to him, to get it off our chest just as we would a friend.  And then to be ourselves, to not feel guilty for the way we prayer.

To stop comparing our prayer lives to others and to know that every little bit counts, is enough and is heard.

When we put down the show and just choose to be, we are starting to go in the right direction.

Let’s encounter Jesus around the Prodigal Son story.

“And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming.  Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of the story of the prodigal son, but ask Him to refresh your experience of the Father in this well-known story.  Read Luke 15:11-32, where the son demands his inheritance, lives a life of foolish choices, and then out of complete desperation and regret returns home to his father. 

Notice the father’s response.  While the son was a long way off, the father saw him coming.  Imagine the scene of a father who sits on the front porch, scanning the horizon, looking for any sign of his son returning home.

You have a Father like that.  He can’t wait to be with you, can’t wait to run off the front porch and embrace you.

Pause for a moment and imagine the scene of the story, but this time, imagine Jesus running out to meet you.  He is filled with love and compassion.  He runs to you and embraces you because His heart is thrilled to call you His child.

What does it do to your heart to imagine a God who can’t wait to be with you?  Tell the Father about your gratitude:

Heavenly Father, when I imagine that You are scanning the horizon because You can’t wait to be with me, I feel…

When I imagine that You are running to meet me and embrace me with a heart of love and compassion, my heart is moved with gratitude because…

My father would come home and I was in so much anticipation to see him walk through the door, squealing with Joy!  But I hadn’t imagined that he was feeling the same about you.

Could the same be true of our Heavenly Father?  Filled with delight over the thought of seeing your face as He opens the door to meet you!

How has your perspective about your father changed over time?  Maybe you have a God Encounter you want to share to encourage others.  We would love to hear your story in the comments below!

 

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Healthy Body Image in African American Women

Did you know that every one in two African American women are obese? But we have the highest self-esteem of women in our nation? Education is one of the most powerful mediums to overcoming this foe in our community of high self-esteem but sometimes unbalanced views. Our goal is obtaining a healthy body image for ourselves, daughters, friends and families. As we gain more understanding regarding the significant empowerment that comes from healthy living, we can learn how to creatively change our diets and lifestyles, all while continuing to be the glue of our communities.

Sources:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/curvy-hurts-black-womans-severe-struggle-body-image/story?id=24777077

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4696065

http://healthpsych.psy.vanderbilt.edu/2009/AfricanAmericanBodyImage.htm

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/black-women-and-body-image/2012/02/24/gIQAuvkIeR_gallery.html

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Discovering A Lost Identity in Africa

Upon leaving the coast of South Africa my heart was full to overflowing. I wept many tears and cried everyday in Africa.  

The tears I cried were an expression of Christ’s heart for a people that has been oppressed, forsaken and forgotten for hundreds of years.  This people is all around the world, identified as the African diaspora.  His heart deeply cares for her wounding and neediness.

I’ve been to Kenya twice and this was my third trip to the continent of Africa. But this particular experience was so deep and rich for me.

It is even more intensified as I am in the middle of in depth research of the history of America’s national racial wounding.  Going back to Africa this time meant more to me than ever before; I soon would realize I was crying tears for an entire people group.

I was in pain over the needs I knew the African American community had and how we were suffering due to generations of mistreatment.  Sure we can forgive and have forgiven much, yet there is oftentimes a lack of understanding of the need for comforting the pain we have experienced.

We had a 17 hour flight to Africa! It was nothing but the grace of GOD that helped us and we made it through jet lag still able to gain

We had a 17 hour flight to Africa! It was nothing but the grace of GOD that helped us and we made it through jet lag still able to gain.

This occurs as we weep with those who weep.  Romans 12:15

I sat with hundreds then with a small group of college aged young adults ready to approach life.  They were at a crossroads without much, no parents, these children were orphans now become adults.

What would they do next?  How would they become successful leaders in their nation?  How would they regain the control of their economy?

Understanding the history of Africa is vital.  Understanding the history of Africa is healing. Understanding the history of Africa is to know the missing pieces of the black community.

And I picked up a few pieces to that lost puzzle, but it was a painful experience.

One specific moment really grabbed my heart and opened my eyes to reality.  I sat in a small room with these recent high school graduates as they shared their viewpoint of GOD.

We split into small groups sharing inspiring stories and helping them move forward in finding purpose (akin to what most young adults their age need).

But as we began to share the African American storyline their eyes lit with interest.  This was foreign information; the shock and deep concern displayed on their young faces gripped my heart and wrung it out until the tears later escaped my eyes.

Our roots run deep into the soil of Africa, a long, lost land that we must reconnect to if we want to fully heal. There are blessings we as African Americans can both give and receive from Africa.

Our roots run deep into the soil of Africa, a long, lost land that we must reconnect to if we want to fully heal. There are blessings we as African Americans can both give and receive from Africa.

They had never heard of a people who were considered and treated as less than humans.  It was heartbreaking to find our distant cousins and tell our story.

Knowing them was like a mirror, we could more clearly see ourselves.  We could see what has been taken from us, in a way, unknowingly.  We were able to see our blessings in America, yet see the little treasures that had been stripped from our identity:

We are just now approaching the age of African American natural hair care discoveries.  We are indulging in shea butter, argan oil, twist outs, coconut oil and lots of hair moisture.  For years, we have had to ReLearn the Basics because we were in survival mode.

How do you focus on hair care, oral tradition, body care and the like when you are traumatized by the rape of a loved one you cannot help, the violent beating of a son you cannot stop, the ripping of a daughter from your very hands, the laws that dehumanize and separate you from the remainder of this foreign land or the covert prejudice that surrounds you in the workplace?

As we heal, we must go back.  There are stories, information that has been casually and naturally passed down from generation to generation in Africa.  It may or may not even be recognized as especially significant until you go and see the differences with your own eyes.

For me it was a different experience.  It was glaringly different than the white Americans who traveled with me.  

And I was marked.

Black women all over the world are beautiful, we shared the graceful message that the gospel brings with these young adult women who just graduated from High School. These women would now receive the identity needed to give hope to those they are called to influence.

Black women all over the world are beautiful, we shared the graceful message that the gospel brings with these young adult women who just graduated from High School. These women would now receive the identity needed to give hope to those they are called to influence.

I was marked with a burden, a blessing, a deep longing to see use healed.  Self discovery gripped my heart as I longed to bring back the lost treasures engulfed by the Middle Passage.  

And this provided HOPE.

The songs of these young adults, the strength I felt encouraged me.  I thought of the strength I have seen many times in the African American Episcopal, Baptists and other black congregations.  The power that only a slave spiritual brings as you hear it sung was identical to the power I felt behind these songs.

The force I felt when only a gospel song is sung was the same force I felt behind these songs.

The strength behind a beat a staccato like war sounds was the same strength I felt behind these songs.

At that moment, we were one.

They were not African and I was not African American.  There was a connection beyond our time that was connected through the fact that we had the same ancestors.  And I was experiencing what I would call HOME.

I felt a sense of belonging that I have yet to feel in the states.

While all the while I knew I was American to the core.

This connection…will be valued forever and the identity I have experienced will heal many as together we discover all the MISSING PIECES it is now to time to collect.  It is time to ReGather.

And through this journey.  We will now heal.

Africa is so gorgeous, the people, the food, the entire experience. As we flew back home, over the Atlantic Ocean my heart was immersed with love, remembering years past...how my ancestors were lost, dispersed on the Middle Passage over this same ocean. And I saw renewal, refreshing, a restoration of a people ready to now Go and Reach the World.

Africa is so gorgeous, the people, the food, the entire experience. As we flew back home, over the Atlantic Ocean my heart was immersed with love, remembering years past…how my ancestors were lost, dispersed on the Middle Passage over this same ocean. And I saw renewal, refreshing, a restoration of a people ready to now Go and Reach the World.

 

jlo blog5

The Secret to Satisfying Your Approval Need Revealed

Jade Lee {Podcast at Bottom}

Many times we are looking for a father to fill a deep void of approval in our hearts.  We may look to our natural father only to find that he is too busy or doesn’t know how to be the man that can meet our needs.  

We may look to other fatherly figures in our lives to mentor us and fill that void.  A measure of the Father’s love can be shown through these male figures GOD has placed in our lives.  They can be a schoolmaster, showing us a glimpse of the Father’s love, but there is a greater love we all can experience.

This became more real to me than ever before when I lost my senior pastor, who was more like a “spiritual grandfather” to me.  He was a very precious person in my life.  I wept for months on and off after his passing onto glory.

But a few weeks into mourning I was encountered with an amazing revelation from GOD.  It was early in the morning during my typical devotion time.  Open the Bible, grab a pen, a journal and get ready to dive into the Scriptures or listen for His gentle voice.

This time was different.

I tried to pray but only tears would come.  These tears were drops of prayers falling into the bottle of heaven, ready to be heard by GOD.  Then, in the midst of tears, my heart- aching in pain- the LORD led me to the following Scripture:

“A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is GOD in His Holy habitation.  GOD sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.”  Psalm 68:5-6

I don’t know about you, but when I think of a Holy GOD in His holy habitation, the first thought that comes to my mind is not this gentle, sweet fatherly figure ready to comfort me in my pain.  I see this Humungous, Bigger than Life Hero of a King handling world matters.  I don’t instantly imagine this humble, kind sweet man willing to hear out the tenderness of my heart.

So when I read this, it caught my attention, to say the least.  It was one of those Aha Moments when you realize GOD is hearing more than your words.  He is listening to the aches of your heart beat.

I was solitary.

I was alone.

I was saddened.

And I was missing a father in my life.

But He was saying, He would give me something even bigger, better and more potent.  He would replace that void in my heart with His Fatherly tenderness.

Psalm 68 began to minister to my aching heart.  I knew that was GOD’s way of inviting me into a direct relationship with Him as my Father.  I needed this to be a complete woman.

And we can all have these bitter sweet life moments.  True, there is a real loss that comes with the lack of a natural father, but there is a greater sweetness that comes as we allow the reality of the Father’s love to touch our heart.  Our hearts may feel dead inside, empty or like we are missing that approval, but the Father has always been there waiting patiently for us to see His love.

All we have to do is ask Him to show us His love.  Then what do we see?  An eternal, everlasting lover of our souls.  This may take time to fully grasp but it will become more and more real as we dedicate our lives to receiving His love.

Jesus experienced this type of fatherly love.  This love caused Him to be very confident.  He had the Father’s Approval.  He knew that He was loved and Fathered not because of what He did, how well He preached or even His sacrificial death on calvary.  He was approved of and embraced for who He was.

This is the approval we all need from our Heavenly Father as we dig deeper into intimacy with Him.

Approval is “building up or affirming another person, particularly for “who” they are (as opposed to what they do).  It is also met by affirming both the fact and the importance of our relationship with another person.” (Relational Impact, Dr. David Ferguson)

Because Jesus had a clear moment of approval (Fatherly blessing) in His life, He was able to stand in the midst of great rejection by others, confidently declaring who He is without shame.  He consistently fell back on the fact that He was accepted by the Father.  He was sure of His approval and acceptance by His dad, even though His birth may have been considered “illegitimate” by others.

Imagine a 26 year old Jesus, walking up to John the Baptist to be baptized.  John realizes this was not just any man, He was the Messiah and everyone else there would begin to see something different as well.  He is the Beloved Son.

Before Savior (Action) He is Son (Identity).

…and while He prayed, the heaven was opened.  And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased. Luke 3:21b-22, NKJV

In this place, Jesus’ identity is confirmed, affirmed and approved of, it is in His sonship that we can find sonship or daughtership as well.

We are now joint heirs with Christ!

Maybe you are realizing that approval has been missing in your life and you want it; you want to be receiving unconditionally, loved for who you are.

Here is a Special Approval Prayer you can pray over yourself throughout the day, write it down and come back to it in your Intimacy Moments:

“Daddy, Father GOD, I know that You love me, even when I do not feel it.  Yet I find a world of pain inside of me at times.  Other times, I am numbed by this world.  The rejection, the voids of my heart and the need for your love is a constant reminder that I am created to Be Loved.  Not only is Jesus your son, but I am your BeLoved Daughter.  I thank You that you say over me today, “This is my BeLoved daughter, in whom I am well pleased.  Heaven is over me, no longer in a distant way, but Your presence is on my life and You long to be with me.  Teach you, show me, mentor me and disciple me in Your Fatherly Love from this day forward.  In Jesus’ name, power and authority I come to you, no longer having to carry the weight or burden of coming on my own abilities.  In His name I pray, Amen.”

We have prayed this prayer and He has heard!

Are you excited to receive GOD as your Father on a daily basis?  Could you use a refresher in His Approving Love?  I’d love to hear a bit of how GOD is meeting your needs and growing your heart in love!

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The Importance of Giving and Receiving Relational Needs

Paige Smith

“And the LORD God said, “ It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.””
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:18‬ ‭

Have you ever wondered why God, a perfect completely whole being, created humans with needs?

We need to drink water or we become dehydrated, we need food to survive, and our brains can only function without oxygen for so long.

If this level of dependency wasn’t enough many of us have surely realized we need far more than merely food, air, and water to survive, we need love, we need peace, we need compassion–we have Relational Needs.

A Relational Need is a need that is met in the context of relationship with another person.

Relationship expert and founder of The Great Commandment Network, Dr. David Ferguson has found that humans are physically, emotionally, and spiritually complex needing both practical essentials and relational nourishment!

In short, we all have relational needs!

Each person, no matter how young, old, rich, poor, educated, etc. has ten core needs which are:

1. Acceptance
2. Approval
3. Respect
4. Comfort
5. Attention
6. Security
7. Support
8. Appreciation
9. Encouragement
10. Affection

I encourage you to look over this list and even visit the previous article, “Receiving Foundational Healing” by Mrs. Lee in which she describes each relational need in depth complete with Biblical references for each need.

We all have the same ten relational needs, but each person has varying degrees to which they need each one depending on their makeup, personality, and life experiences.

I pray it brings your heart relief to know you are not uniquely deficient or “needy” because you have felt a strong desire for any relational need listed above.

Maybe all your life you have struggled with feeling as if you belong, you may have a high need for Acceptance.

If it is important for others to show they value who you are and not just what you do, you could have a strong need for Approval.

If knowing that you are highly esteemed and honored makes you feel loved, Respect could be a high relational need for you.

For me since childhood l have always needed affectionate words and touch to feel most loved. Previously others and myself might have brushed this off as being too sensitive but now I realize I simply have a strong need for Comfort and Affection.

Previously others and myself might have brushed this off as being too sensitive but now I realize I simply have a strong need for Comfort and Affection.

If it is important to you for others to listen attentively when you are speaking or show interest in your life you may have a high need for Attention.

If you value those in your life who are consistent and reliable and you appreciate planning ahead, Security may be very important to you in relationships.

If you have a high level stress job or are simply going through an unfamiliar or difficult season in life where more is expected of you than you are able to do alone, Support is likely a high relational need for you in this time.

If you are someone who particularly cherishes the kind words of loved ones or when someone demonstrates their gratitude for you, you might have a high need for Appreciation.

If a positive word from someone during a time of discouragement truly makes you feel loved, Encouragement could be one of your top relational needs.

Maybe you have read this list and realized, I have all of these needs! Don’t feel overwhelmed. We all have these needs, the only difference is some have certain particular needs more than others.

Often the very things we have been made to feel are weaknesses or are excessive about our personalities are real needs we shouldn’t apologize for having.

Needs, whether physical and relational, are completely natural to have.

Some of us have been wounded and shamed by others dismissing these needs. We’ve been told that we care too much about what people think, we think too much of ourselves, we’re too sensitive, we’re always trying to get attention, we don’t have enough faith, or we need to be more independent.

In response, we’ve learned to ignore or hide our own relational needs.

Don’t believe the lie anymore that you are too much for having a relational need.

God created you to be a relational person, and has given you needs that can only be met in the context of relationship!

You have the permission to have needs!

And it doesn’t make you weak, needy, or overly emotional, it makes you authentically human!

In December, JLO introduced the Superwoman Myth campaign which still resonates today.

Whenever you feel the pain of condemnation over your emotional makeup and are tempted to label yourself as needy remind yourself that you are not a superwoman (or man). You are not a robot devoid of emotions. You have a mind, body, and soul and we each need loving care and attention.

Acknowledging and embracing your relational needs is a beautiful step to having them filled by others.

Not only that, you will become even more compassionate to others as you realize everyone has a need for relationship. Everyone needs love.

If a particular relational need has been highlighted to you today I encourage you to write it down and share it with your closest loved ones.

Let them know how you most feel loved. Maybe it is when they ask first before using one of your belongings (showing respect) or thanking you if you made dinner (showing appreciation) or letting you know they care about you (showing affection).

This would also be a great time to ask them how they best feel loved. You may be surprised they have a high need for something that is not as needed for you.

Maybe it’s especially important to your loved ones that you keep your word (security), or that you offer to help them in tasks they have difficulty in (support), or let them know verbally how great a job you think they’re doing (encouragement).

Try not to assume what may be a need for your loved ones, ask if possible.

Many have learned to mask their needs and worse, not communicate them in fear they will be seen as weak or over dependent.

Some of the most stoic members in your family might have the deepest need for affection. And your friend who seems to be effortlessly juggling every responsibility, could be in dire need for Support. Your shy little cousin could be the same one desperate for Attention.

Seeing others through the lens of how we can give and receive relational needs will make us far more loving people.

Think of a mother and a new born infant. The bond between the two couldn’t be closer. In fact, when a child is born it already recognizes its mothers voice and midwives or nurses will often put the baby directly on the mothers chest after delivery because the very heart beat of the mother calms and soothes the child as it is plunged from the warmth of the womb into a new, unfamiliar environment.

The baby is completely dependent on its mother for nourishment and sustenance. The mother too needs the child in a sense. Scientists have found as a mother nurses after delivery, she is filled with oxycotin, a hormone that beats off those notorious “post partem blues”.

We’ve been taught to despise dependency, but the truth is where there is need there is value and where there is value there is love.

When we realize how just much we need relationships in our lives we begin to value and love people that much more.

We have all been made in God’s image and we have to remind ourselves in times of isolation that God is a relational God. Even within Himself He operates in perfect unity and relationship as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

But above all, God is the essence and definition of Love. All of these relational needs are simply different ways to give and receive love.

If you’ve read this article and realize major relational needs haven’t been met or that you have been ignoring the relational needs of those around you, please don’t be discouraged.

Allow yourself to receive God’s approval for you, acceptance of you, comfort for you, affection for you, respect for you, attention for you, support for you, encouragement for you, security (peace) for you, and appreciation for you! Receive His love today!  (We will write more articles soon on how to do this).

From that place of overflow you will find yourself able to pour into the relationships of those around you who need the manifold expressions of your love as much as you need theirs.

If this post has encouraged or inspired you on giving and receiving relational needs, feel free to share below. We love hearing from you!

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Receiving Healing from Childhood Wounds

Jade Lee {Podcast at Bottom}

So many wounds occur when we are in our childhood years of life, but oftentimes we are not aware of how this affects us going into our adult years.  Instead, these wounds can remain buried deeply, until we receive foundational healing.

This term came to me years ago, the idea of healing in the foundational relationships of one’s life.  Foundational relationships are those between your biological or immediate family- your father, mother, brother, sister.  This applies even for those who are adopted and for those who never had a father or mother.  The relationship or lack there of can still bring deep hurt causing an orphan spirit to be developed in the person’s life.

Orphan- A child whose parents are dead.  Pertaining to a child so bereaved.  One deprived of some protection or advantage.  (Webster’s Dictionary)

When a child becomes orphaned due to either death of his or her parents in the natural or due to a spiritual lack of protection or advantage, this can affect the child very deeply until adulthood.

This can also occur in relationships with spiritual parents, when a spiritual mother or father abandons, neglects, ignores, abuses or spiritually manipulates that child.  Instead of acceptance and embracive love, the son or daughter may feel unloved and unprotected producing shame, deep pain and/or depression.

It is very important that when we realize this pain has occurred, we are able to go to our Heavenly Father for healing.  Over the past year I have been entrenched in studies on my Father’s love because of the profound need for this in my own life and others lives around me.  It is fascinating to see the differentiation between His love, His expression of love and our own lack of knowing How to express this love to others.

GOD has also brought key fathers into my life to help me see the How to this Love Expression.

The reality is that a father or mother’s heart can be in the right positioning, yet due to each one of our human needs, they do not know How to express that love in a way that meets our hearts.

But GOD shows us How to practically Heal and touch the lives of those who have been harmed, rather than bringing on more harm.  Some of what we have believed to be simply a Spiritual Attack on the church of Offense or Unforgiveness, or the Enemy Bringing Division is in reality a Lack of Relational Skillsets.

There are many Human Needs.  Once we have an understanding of the makeup of humanity and our needs, we are better equipped to meet those needs in the lives of those around us.

These needs are literally found in the Scriptures.  Here are 10 of the key needs we have as humans:

  1. Acceptance– Receiving others willingly and unconditionally (even when their behavior has been imperfect) and loving them in spite of any differences that may exist between you (Romans 15:7)
  2. Affection– Expressing care and closeness through physical touch and through words such as ‘I love you’ or ‘I care about you’ (Romans 16:16; Mark 10:16)
  3. Appreciation– Expressing thanks, praise, or commendation, particularly for who they are (as opposed to what they do); affirming both the fact and the importance of our relationship with another person (Ephesians 4:29; Mark 1:11)
  4. Approval (Blessing)- Building up or affirming another person, particularly for who they are (as opposed to what they do); affirming both the fact and the importance of our relationship with another person (Ephesians 4:29; Mark 1:11)
  5. Attention– Conveying appropriate interest, concern, and care; taking notice of others and making an effort to enter into their respective worlds (1 Corinthians 12:25 NASB)
  6. Comfort– Caringly responding to a hurting person through words, actions, emotional responses, and physical touch; hurting with and for others in the midst of their grief or pain (Romans 12:15 NASB; Matthew 5:4; 2 Corinthians 1:3,4)
  7. Encouragement– Urging others to persist and persevere in their efforts to attain their goals; stimulating others toward love and good deeds (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:24)
  8. Respect– Valuing one another highly, treating one another as important, and honoring one another with our words and actions (Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 2:17)
  9. Security (Peace)- Establishing and maintaining harmony in our relationships and providing freedom from fear or threat of harm through expressions of vulnerability, deepening of trust, and the successful resolution of conflict (Romans 12:16,18)
  10. Support– Coming alongside others and providing gentle, appropriate assistance with a problem or struggle (Galations 6:2)

All of us have a need for each one of these, but on varying degrees.  Whereas one person may have a high need for support, another person may need respect.  It is important to note that part of the healing process in relationships is found in knowing these are needs, not merely desires.

For example, if a person has a high need for respect and this is seen as a Weakness instead of a need, we may devalue their need by saying they need to be stronger, more spiritual or have “thicker skin” when in reality, they simply have a true, valid need to be treated importantly.

The sooner we realize this, by meeting that need, their heart is filled with love and we are used to heal rather than tear down.

I have found this is desperately needed in our relationships with one another- as family and in the church unit.

When I did not understand this principle, I would fail to accept people for who they are, “receiving them willingly and unconditionally (even when their behavior has been imperfect)” and I thought I was doing good as a pastor.  If I made it clear they were in sin (which we should do as relationship develops) then surely they would repent!  But what I did not realize was how much that person may have needed Love and Acceptance, In Spite of their Failures.

The very opposite could be true in that situation.  If I love In Spite of Sin, the unfulfilled need causing them to struggle with that sin would be filled and the power of temptation finally overcome.

When our needs are not met, we experience pain.  Pain causes us to default to other “opportunities” to alleviate the hurt.  This can either be in the embracive love of our Heavenly Father or it can be in seeking the approval of man (in an imbalanced way) or it can be in falling into the temptation to sin.

Perhaps you were deeply hurt by a lack of affection as a child and now that need is great or you never received the attention you needed and now there is a deficit in that area.

There is HOPE.  GOD can bring well equipped mentors in your life, spiritual fathers and mothers that know how to heal these areas.  He can use your husband or wife, a close friend or sibling to heal this area.  And, He can heal you directly.

Pray this prayer with me: Father, I thank You for showing me my needs.  I thank you for the confirmation and affirmation that these needs have come from You and I never need to be apologetic for the fact that I have human needs.  Now, I pray that You will begin to heal my heart as my Heavenly Father.  I pray that You will bring the right people into my life to heal the wounds caused by foundational relationships and unmet needs.  I trust You for this process and ask for patience as You grow me, delivering me in your love.  Remove the orphan mentality from my life and bring in a spirit of great acceptance, love and healing to me.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen

Did you pray that prayer?  My heart is with you, desiring to see you comforted as you encounter His nearness daily.

Take time to think about your top three needs.  This is the first step to beginning the healing process in your life.

I would love to hear how this article has blessed you and your thoughts on Meeting Needs to Heal Foundational Relationship.  Come on, comment below and let’s start a conversation that will heal many.  Have a blessed and prosperous day!

 

Emotions2

GOD Cares About My Feelings Too?

Jade Lee {Podcast at Bottom}

For years I experienced a lack of feeling the love of GOD in my emotional life, desperately longing for a touch from the Master’s Hand.  Have you ever known you are loved by GOD in your intellect, yet struggled to find His love in an emotional connection; do you know without a shadow of a doubt that you are His BeLoved?

When we begin to struggle with feeling loved, at least when I have experienced this phenomenon, it has always led me back to man’s imperfection and a misperception of GOD’s Personality.

Feeling His love is extremely important whereas we are made up of 80% emotional intelligence.  The majority of our makeup is emotional.  Unfortunately, we do not always realize this and are sometimes encouraged to downplay our emotions, preferring the intellectual or spiritual approach.

GOD cares about your every emotion and He does not expect you to dismiss how you feel with thoughts of “It doesn’t matter how I feel.  I’ll replace feeling with faith.”  Instead He connects to us emotionally and heals our hearts in love

There is nothing wrong with reading the Bible intellectually or understanding it from a spiritual perspective, but when emotion is removed we lose the heart of GOD for us…Take a look at the following Scriptures:

  • Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  • John 5:29 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me
  • Isaiah 43:4 Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.
  • Deuteronomy 33:12 Of Benjamin he said, “The beloved of the Lord dwells in safety. The High God surrounds him all day long, and dwells between his shoulders.”
  • Jeremiah 31:13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

In each one of these passages, GOD speaks to our emotions.  He knows we will experience fear so He communicates that He is with us and we are not alone.  This is the image of a gentle, loving, embracive father reassuring his frightened child.

Have you ever been afraid of the dark, then your father or mother comes into the room, lovingly embracing you?  You can feel their presence and you are suddenly comforted.  This is what GOD does for us in Isaiah 41:10.

Jesus constantly drew us from the intellectual study of the Scripture to a contemporary relational perspective.  He would say things like, “You thought that you would find eternal life in the Scriptures, but you find it in Me, in a relationship with Me.”  You can’t find life outside of emotional connectivity with Me.

This is why it is so important to be connected deeply with ourselves and GOD on an emotional level.  The more we know about who we are and how GOD really views us, the more freedom we obtain in our lives.

Truth begins to meet our emotions, which many times have been deeply harmed and we are made free!

For example, for years I was broken and hurt because of my view of GOD.  Due to no one person’s intentions, but a lot of generational misperception, I was taught to see GOD as a hard, highly driven and highly expectant personality.

He constantly wanted yet another performance out of me and it never seemed to end.  No matter how well I did, GOD overlooked my good and saw my lack, then He harshly rebuked me, giving me another seemingly impossible command.

No matter how well I did, GOD overlooked my good and saw my lack, then He harshly rebuked me, giving me another seemingly impossible command.

This is not to say that GOD never wants anything out of us, nor that we will never go through hardship.  But it is to say that we may struggle to be faithful and committed to Him when we do not have a strong enough emotional connection to His love for us, regardless of our situations.

How can a human who does not emotionally know the love of GOD, does not have a broken and contrite spirit really live in the abundance of GOD?  We are made up of 80% emotion, GOD has given us emotional Scriptures based on His makeup and ours.  We can conclude He definitely cares about our emotional health.

Three of the five Scriptures listed above are from typically seen as prophetic books of the Bible.  When we have a faulty perspective of GOD, we see these books as scary or demeaning, a harsh GOD judging humanity with no grace.

But even in this books of the bible, we experience His heart.  Miss his heart?  You miss the meaning of the text in a historical, current and personal context.

We all long to hear these words from the love of our life, or anyone for that matter, “I’m doing this for you because you are precious to me, when I see you I see you as a valuable jewel.  I honor and love you with all of my heart and I would do anything for you.  No material item could ever be worth a moment in your presence.  I would give even my most prized possessions and many people in return for having your heart.”

This is how GOD speaks to us, His people in Isaiah 43:4.  He addresses our emotions and is determined to win us with His love:

Isaiah 43:4 Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.

As we read the Scriptures relationally, slowing down to feel His heart, our souls begin to soften in His gentle love.

We realize how patient, kind and sweet our GOD really is, and we are comforted.  This comfort brings healing to broken, wounded areas of our hearts.

I can remember times of my father lifting me up on his shoulders as we walked on the boardwalk of a beach.  These moments were both literally and figuratively the high points of my life.

I felt huge, bigger than I could ever be on my own and my perspective was higher than I could obtain with my constantly growing legs.

I was being paraded around for all to see His acceptance and approval of me.

I was safe.

I was surrounded by His love. 

And no one could harm me because I was “dwelling between his shoulders.

Can you imagine GOD that way?  This is how He relates to us in Deuteronomy 33:12.  Now, let’s read it again in this context:

Deuteronomy 33:12 Of Benjamin he said, “The beloved of the Lord dwells in safety. The High God surrounds him all day long, and dwells between his shoulders.”

I can also remember times where my heart was so lost, broken and hurt by the mistakes of my father.  I felt all alone.  One particular moment, he came to me sitting on the bed next to me for one reason only. 

I was probably frightened by the sound of his steps, in wonderment of what I had been caught doing now for there were many sins I had hidden from him, but he came, sitting gently by my side only to say, “I’m sorry.”

That will be a memory I never forget.  Those words were comforting and reassuring to my broken heart.

GOD models this same affection for us in our pain promising us that He will turn our mourning (sad emotions of loss) into joy and He will comfort us (when in pain):

Jeremiah 31:13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

All of these Scriptures are really love letters so that we will always know how He feels about us, no matter how stormy life may blow us around in feelings of defeat or hopelessness.

You are worth loving because He has proven to love you by choice, without condition and He wants you to know this with ALL of you, not only in your head, but experiencing Him in your heart.

He is more concerned with this, much to my surprise at times, than He is with how much I can DO for Him.

Like a good daddy, He wants us to feel connected to Him.  This is a sign we are going in the right direction in relationship.

And He will do anything to win our hearts!

This truth fees us from hardened, dry, weakened hearts, full of condemnation, fear, rejection, hopelessness or being overwhelmed.

We begin to think different, believe different and feel different as we meet a Need Meeting, Loving GOD.

Meditation: GOD can cause the impossible to begin to occur in your life, even when it seems absolutely unachievable.  He can and will heal your broken heart.  He will help you in the areas you have not received His love due to false perceptions of Him.  You are loved no matter what you do and nothing you do wrong or right can change that.  This propels us to want to live for Him in passionate pursuit.

My Prayer for you: Father I pray for every daughter (and son) reading this article today.  I thank you that you are healing, restoring and reforming our perspective of who You are.  I pray for a relational, contemporary GOD to be in their lives, rather than a finger pointing, condemning GOD.  And I thank you that whatever they have lost in years past will be completely restored by Your pursuit.  In Jesus’ name!  Amen.

Have you been blessed by this article?  Tell us how in the comments!  We would love to hear from you and your testimony just may help another reader.

Sources:  A Guide to Effective School Leadership Theories

Our Model’s Story:

“I never thought I would be a model/ model because in my mind you had to look the part.. full lips, hour glass, tall and slim, strong bone structure etc. I felt as though i didnt meet the criteria. I was very self conscious about my body, my skin, my hair everything. I was fearful to be around beautiful women becase I didnt think I was beautiful.  But I found confidence in knowing that God accepts me for me 😊.”

-Victoria Williams 

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!

How Do I Feel GOD’s Love?

Jade Lee {Podcast at Bottom}

As we are approaching the Month of Love, many may be preparing for the anticipated moment of Valentine’s Day!  Yet, we all too often find ourselves filled with emotion during the holiday season.  This is because love is in the air every which way we look- in the market, traversing the streets, on commercials- we cannot seem to get away from those chilling colors, crimson and white.

This if you are single, of course.  The wait for marriage when trying to live in purity can oftentimes be very difficult.

This is why the entire duration of February we are focusing on how to BeLoved by the Father.  These same emotions are felt as we Know we should Feel Loved Emotionally, but we have yet to find the bridge between our Knowledge and Emotional Life.

Even if you are not lonely on Valentine’s Day, perhaps you are married, happily enjoying your sweet family or living life in bliss…there is still a part of every one of our hearts reserved for LOVE.  This Unconditional LOVE cannot be filled, by our nearest loved ones or distant friends.  It can only be filled by GOD.

Have you ever known in your head Scripture passages such as John 3:16, that Jesus died for you and His Father gave Him for you, yet you cannot seem to find the love He speaks of in your current life?  I can remember feeling this same way a few years past.  Actually, it was over a decade ago, as a collegiate athlete, enjoying the luxuries of a full scholarship to an illustrious Historically Black College.  

Much to my surprise, there were no loosely weaved pullovers, careless sweatpants nor unkempt hair.  Walking into the snack bar or lunch room was quite the experience as whiffs of lightly sprayed perfumes accented well-pressed coiffures and model-like movements quickly passed by your wondering eyes.

The caricatures at this establishment were distinct enough to be on any modern tv-show or best selling novel.  And somehow, I fit in to this carefully insulated world of luxury glam studies.

I was the typical athlete, donning my sweats everywhere I went, and I knew I was good. 

This is me with Jackie Joyner Kersee, the Sports Illustrated for Women Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century and six time Olympic Medalist.

This is me with Jackie Joyner Kersee, the Sports Illustrated for Women Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century and six time Olympic Medalist.

But there was a gaping void in my aching heart.  I could not seem to fill it no matter how hard I endeavored.

And the weight of exams, early mornings, all day classes or excrutiating workouts became all the more heavy as I continued in my studies.  I would finally have an internal collapse, wondering why I was the MEAC Championship MVP, winning races, at the peak of my running career yet so empty inside, longing for more.

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This is me with a teammate carrying our College Track & Field Trophies

This is when I would realize that only Christ could fill this empty placement of my longing heart, no love novel, in spite of how well written…whether on Oprah’s Book List or a New York Time’s Best Seller, could ever play out in my life in such a way that I was fulfilled.

The fancy attire of a 19th Century Jane Austin hardcover would not fulfill me.  The romantic wordplay of the most charming gentleman could never immerse this aching heart.

Only One Man would become my knight in shining armor, had enough charisma, magnetism and attractiveness to convey the type of tender affection I so longed.

And He did just that as one by one, every boyfriend or cheating beau, began to break my tender soul.

On top of the world yet broken inside, I began to experience what it meant to BE-Loved.

It was on this journey that I found the significance of my value.

And the voyage never really ends.  We continue to realize there are many levels of revelation in regards to LOVE.

You are Be-Loved.  The essence of who you are is made to Be-Loved.  This is never determined based on your actions, your behaviors, your thoughts or your capabilities.

Many times we have this misunderstood, believing somehow we can win love from GOD, when we are called to receive His love freely!

A world of performance drives us to a mentality that we must Do Something More to win GOD’s Favor, when He is more concerned with us Being, Receiving His Promises by Faith.

Remember, one of our heroic forefathers, the great Abraham simply believed and in the power of his belief, he would eventually receive.  This was so paramount that GOD took note of it saying, “Abraham believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

What we believe about GOD and ourselves can shape our reality and decisions, but belief is about who we are inside, not what we do on the outside.  Belief is an active choice yet so principle.

You and I can Believe That We are LOVED beyond our own Imperfections!  This is a Powerful Weapon against Loneliness, Condemnation, Fear and Emptiness.

You are LOVED and GOD wants you to feel loved.  He wants to pour love into you like never before.  He wants this to be Your month of Receiving Love.  He is enamored by you and wants to give to you even more than He wants you to give to others.

He is enamored by you and wants to give to you even more than He wants you to give to others.

Do you believe that?  Do I really believe that?

Believe you are LOVED and allow it to be expressed fully!

Believe you are LOVED and allow yourself the full expression of LOVE!

When we think of the word, “LOVE” what is our inceptive thought?  Do we initially think of GOD’s LOVE pouring over our weakened hearts, filling us to overflowing?  Or, do we conceptualize earthly relationships, a cumbersome to-do list that we must fulfill…as our minds begin to weigh down in the seemingly impossible burden?

Unfortunately, I believe the latter is all too often true of us; we believe must Do more and Give more when it relates to our connotation of LOVE.

But in this month’s LOVE CHALLENGE, I challenge you to join me in Receiving Love before you feel compelled to give it; it is in this reality that our hearts become tender, finding grace to give even more.

GOD is LOVE.

The truth that we receive love only from Him is liberating.

It frees us from feelings of exasperation, hopelessness, emptiness and unappreciation.  We are no longer constantly giving and never receiving, feeling condemning lack, overwhelmed with our inability to please GOD or ever do enough.  We no longer, in general, feel UnLoved.

Have you been there before, or maybe you are there right now?

You are always the one giving, giving, and giving while others seem to take for granted your willing nature.

Yet you cannot seem to grasp the essence of tenderness you so desperately need in your own life, a pure and gentle kiss on your trembling cheek, an embracive hug full of “I don’t care what you have done” acceptance, a listening ear hearing out your many thoughts…when will this type of practical love come to me?

When we reach emptiness in this measure, our hearts can become lifelessly cold, numb and giving up on experiencing the fullness of joy promised in the Scriptures.  

But I am encouraging you that it is not over; GOD will cause the impossible to begin to occur in your life, even when it seems absolutely impossible.  He can and will heal your broken or slightly weakened heart.  You are Lovable.  He loves you no matter what you do and nothing you do wrong or right can change that truth!

Meditating (deeply focusing your mind on, in silence, repeating them to yourself quietly) on the following passages in our quiet time can begin to cause us to seek out the Only One who can saturate these abandoned spaces of our souls:

  • You are worthy of everything because GOD gave you everything– John 3:16 For GOD so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
  • GOD wants more than anything to save you from all harm, giving you eternal salvation!– Romans 10:9-13 Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
  • No one and nothing has been given the right to condemn you, because the Only One who Could chose not to; He has redeemed you His very life- Romans 8:34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
  • He longs for you to be at peace and unworried because He cares about your emotional health– John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”
  • He is very patient and kind towards you; He is not rushing to see you perish, He wants you to thrive!– 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
  • He has given you a Forever Helper so you will Never be alone– John 14:16  “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,”
  • He has given you a way even beyond your own abilities to come to Him; Never feel that you cannot come to Him, He is gentle, kind and forgiving– John 14:6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
  • He has adopted you as one of His own children and will never leave you nor forsake you; He wants you to experience His love in a deep way.  You are embraced and accepted by Him– John 17:26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
  • He protects you from evil and is your security– John 17:15  I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.
  • He speaks highly of you to His Father; You are Well Spoken Of– John 17:6-8  “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

There are many more Scriptures we could meditate on until we feel change occurring in our emotions, but these ten are a great start in resetting our minds back on how GOD truly feels.

BeLoved my sisters and have a wonderful week in Jesus!

What helps you know and feel the love of the Father on weaker days/seasons?  I would love to hear your stories and encouraging tips!  Share in the comments below!