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Bold Women Of Faith: Why We Matter In The Church

Lonely. That’s how I started to feel when I realized that my bold personality didn’t seem to fit into many of the church groups I knew. I’m known for being outspoken, loud, opinionated, and I would rather lead than follow in most situations. I question practices and events that only exist in the name of tradition. And I would argue with anyone who thinks my only ability to serve in the church is food preparation or child care. It seems that those qualities in women of faith, most specifically young women of faith, are really hard to swallow sometimes. Especially in the church.

Journeying through loneliness in the church was one of the hardest seasons I’ve walked through. And knowing that it was because of my personality made it that much more difficult — I couldn’t change my personality to suit the preferences of the majority. In fact, I downright refused to. I would not allow myself to shrink just to please PEOPLE when I knew that my boldness could be used to please GOD.

This is probably the most sensitive topic I’ve addressed here. I’ve thought about it many times but held back for multiple reasons. One reason being that I never want to push people away from the church — especially women with similar personalities to my own. So, please know that this honesty is meant to show you how you can thrive in a church setting if you are a bold woman of faith. My goal here is to lift up the women who have been shrinking and encourage the women who fear being the odd one out at bible study.



Rather than argue why we are ALLOWED to be bold in the church I would rather spend this time explaining why we SHOULD be bold in the church. But, let me just say that you were not created with a bold personality or with leadership qualities just to hide them. God wants to use that part of you! Never believe the lie that to be meek is to be small, quiet, and unquestioning. You have a voice and you are allowed to use it — even in the church. This isn’t meant to be a debate over what leadership roles women should have, when they should or shouldn’t speak up. This is meant to demonstrate that your boldness is NEEDED in the church — it MATTERS. And whatever your interpretation of women’s role in the church, you can still show up in a big way and make a difference. Never let anyone, even a church member, convince you that you can only show up in one capacity: you do not need to be the silent childcare worker if that is not what God has called you to. And if you see something wrong in the church, you are allowed (in fact, REQUIRED) to speak up.

I come from a long line of women with bold personalities. My grandmother is everything you would expect from her generation: she is the stereotypical church grandmother. In fact, a lot of the kids in her church call her by such name. She is the head nursery worker, the best at bringing food to functions, and she always has a purse full of candy. She is a strong advocate for respect and dignity in a church setting and she was always the first to firmly grip my leg when I chewed my gum too loudly during a sermon. But one thing she is not: quiet. I have never known her to not speak up if she sees something wrong, something inefficient, or something just plain useless in the church. In fact, she will call out a complete stranger in public if she thinks they are in need of counsel. And she does not back down. She is barely five feet tall but I would guess there are men out there twice her size that would rather go up against a giant than my grandmother.

My aunt is exactly the same way. Only she’s even louder. And she would be the first one to invite criminals, addicts, and provocatively-dressed women to sit right next to her in church. She is always pushing back when the church suggests that people should look and dress a certain way to worship Jesus. She loves everyone — no exceptions. And for some insane reason I can never understand….people of the church don’t like her for that. They don’t like the unfamiliar, the tainted reputations, and the awkward gazes.

My mom questions everything about traditional church practices. She taught me to follow Jesus, not tradition. My great-aunt is the loudest person you will ever meet — a woman whose bold personality was shaped by her 6 brothers. And she has never missed a Sunday service. My closest cousin is the sweetest, most generous person I know but she couldn’t be quiet if you paid her — and I love her for it because everyone knows exactly where she stands. And me? Well, I’m a mix of all of them. Loud. Bossy. Compassionate. Joyful. Questioning. Stubborn. And more concerned with what Jesus thinks than what an entire auditorium of people think.



I know I am not the only one like this. In fact, I have seen many women just like myself — ones with a lot to say — become the most quiet people in the church community. They are the ones sitting alone or standing off to the side while everyone else “fellowships.” They are the women that never offer their opinion when asked because they have been taught that to have a quiet spirit is the same thing as never speaking up.

Well, friend, I want you to know that if you are one of these women it is 100% okay to fully embrace your personality and all of the qualities God has blessed you with in a church setting. You can offer up ideas, thoughts, and opinions. You are allowed to speak up. You are allowed to follow God’s leading even if it means you reject tradition. If you identify as a “bold woman” or a “big personality,” I want to encourage you to step into that part of yourself. Because God can use it.

Bold women of faith are the ones that inspire change. They build businesses that impact the community. They befriend the unwanted. They give to the rejected. They question tradition for tradition’s sake. They speak for those who do not have a voice. They change the world.

Embrace your boldness, woman of faith. Step into your leadership qualities & your go-getter attitude. You are allowed to be a bold woman and a strong woman of faith at the same time. We could talk forever about the biblical roles of men and women in the church — and I would guess that there are multiple reasons we could agree and a few we could disagree. But those things don’t matter. What matters is that you are letting God’s voice speak louder than all of the voices telling you what you are allowed to say, do, and create in His name.

So, we know that we SHOULD be bold women of faith….but what if we take it too far? What if we step outside of the parameters God has placed on our role as women? Well, I thought I might share a few simple ways you can be a bold woman of faith and still be respectful, meek, pleasing to God, and have a quiet or humble spirit….



  1. Know what God says — stay submerged in His Word and let Him show you what you need to know.
  2. Respect authority — we know that all authority comes from God and that He calls us to pay respect to those He places in authority over us. This includes husbands, pastors, fathers, elders, deacons, professors, and other leaders.
  3. Pray — ask God to USE your personality qualities and help you to step into them for His purposes and not for your own.
  4. Know the things that matter — hold firm to the beliefs that God has placed heavily on your heart to take a stand for. Make sure you know why God stands for them too.
  5. Speak with gentleness — always remember who you represent every time you open your mouth to voice an opinion or idea. And always, always speak with love.
  6. Speak up, then sit down — never push your point. Make it known, give your reasoning and scriptural explanation, and then trust God with the rest. Don’t push your own way.
  7. Know when to walk away — it is never an easy choice but sometimes we are able to thrive more in a different setting (as in a different church). Know when God is calling you to speak up but also know when He is calling you to walk away and move on.

I hope you know how important you are — how much your ideas and thoughts are meant to impact this world. Everything about you has a purpose. Never let anyone force you to hide your light. Let it shine. Not to illuminate you — but rather to cast the light on Him.

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This One Word Changed My Life

Hey there friend,

Five years ago my entire life changed when I finally understood the meaning and importance of this one word. For years I misunderstood it’s true meaning and I denied the important role it played in my life. I always thought of this word in a negative way and I honestly never thought I would now find so much comfort in what I once ran away from.

So, what’s the word?

OBEDIENCE

Now, I first must tell you that one of my biggest personality flaws is that I have a serious issue with authority. I hate being told what to do. I despise being out of control of any situation and I much prefer to be the one in charge. I’ve never been an all-out rebel, but I have been known to stretch the rules as far as I possibly can without technically breaking them.



Shockingly, I was an obedient child for the most part — but once I turned 17 that all changed. I got just 365 days away from “freedom” and adulthood and thought that I knew everything. And so began my belief that my parents no longer knew what was best for me. That guy they asked me not to date? Yep, dated him for three horrible years.

Throughout my career I have struggled with wanting to do things my way rather than the way I’ve been asked to do them (even though I can PROVE that my way is more productive and efficient). Let’s just say there is a reason I now work for myself.

Church? Yep, I have been known the fight authority there as well. We’re supposed to bring 2 desserts to this event? Count on me to bring one dessert and one side dish. You’re talking to the girl that has no problem walking in 5 minutes late just to prove that no one can tell her to be there at a specific time. When I say I struggle with authority I am not exaggerating — just give my mom a call and ask her all about it. She will first roll her eyes and then laugh…because she knows exactly who I got it from (thanks, Dad!).

As much as this is still a daily struggle for me, I learned something in the winter of 2014 that forever changed how I viewed obedience. In fact, I would probably be much worse than I am now if I never had this revelation about that word I disliked so much. I want to share that part of my journey with you and the one really important thing I learned about that dreaded nine-letter word.



Almost five years ago I was walking through one of the darkest parts of my journey to here. I was in a relationship that was leaving me empty and hopeless (yep, should have listened to Mom and Dad) with no intention of walking away. I was a Christian then, just as I am now. But I was walking in darkness — in disobedience (if there is anything that made me cringe more than the O-word, it was putting those three little letters in front of it).


…no matter how much I showed up and tried to get alone with God and hear from Him, all I found was silence

You see, I was daily seeking God. I was finding time to read my bible, do my devotions, and spend time in prayer. I was searching for things like peace, comfort, and purpose. Looking back, I now know that I was looking for those things because I was depressed, anxious, and lacking true joy. But, I wasn’t finding what I was looking for.

In fact, no matter how much I showed up and tried to get alone with God and hear from Him, all I found was silence. It was as if there was a wall between us and even though He was speaking I couldn’t hear because of that wall. I continued to show up…and still found silence on this side of the wall. And then, it all changed.


I was more concerned with being right and comfortable than I was with being in God’s will.

For months, maybe even years, I had been feeling this weight on my heart regarding this dating relationship. I knew that God didn’t want me in it anymore and that He never intended me to be in it to begin with. But, as I’m famous for doing, I pushed for my way instead. That relationship left me empty, broken, and incapable of identifying who I was or whose I was. But I was more concerned with being right and comfortable than I was with being in God’s will.

Finally, after months of wrestling with God and with countless friends speaking truth over me almost daily, I finally worked up the courage to walk away. I put that relationship, like my disobedience, to death. I finally believed, no matter how much it hurt to walk away, that God would draw me back to Himself and set me on the path He always intended for me to walk.


The walls came tumbling down and peace flooded through my heart in a way I had never known.

And, He showed up. Big time! The walls came tumbling down and peace flooded through my heart in a way I had never known. And as the walls came down they set off this domino effect in my life. One fell and then another. And before I knew it I was finding joy, discovering my purpose, meeting my husband, celebrating a marriage and a relationship that thrived with Christ as the central point, and telling the world about what God had done for me.

I sit here now, still a girl who struggles with authority, but fully understanding the power that comes with obedience. Friend, my life forever changed when I realize what I could do by just being obedient to what God was calling or asking me to do.

It is in my nature to respond to direction with a big NO WAY. I guess I really am a daughter of Adam in that way. But, it is God’s nature to know the very best for me, and for you. In finally listening to Him and doing the one simple thing He asked I was able to rejoice in things like joy, purpose, peace, comfort, and even ambition.


I sit here now, still a girl who struggles with authority, but fully understanding the power that comes with obedience

We have turned obedience into this monster of legalism and wrath — we have distorted the meaning behind the word. There is not a single relationship we can enter into that doesn’t require some form or amount of obedience from at least one, if not all, parties. And what I discovered in my relationship with Christ is that I cannot have a full, close, and even intimate relationship with Him if I am disobeying His calls and commands on my life every single day.



I can honestly say, from this side of the screen, that I love my life. I love everything He has brought me through and everything He has led me to. And I honestly believe that my obedience that day is what started this new journey to joy. I learned how powerful it is to walk in God’s will and ever since then I have tried my hardest to listen to His leading and obey what He asks of me. Every part of my story has been woven with obedience — meeting my husband, building this brand, showing up here for you and doing my best to encourage you…it all happened because of the new (and true) meaning I found when I looked at that word I once despised.

Obedience is a beautiful and life-changing thing, friend. I once believed it stripped me of control and freedom. But I now understand that it is the very thing that GIVES me power, freedom, and abundance.

If you are in a place where you feel like God is silent…I assure that He is not. He is speaking and reaching out to you but there might be a wall in the way. It could be that you, just like I did, have built a wall with bricks of disobedience and mortar made from bitterness and distrust. I want to invite you to examine any place in your life where you might be walking in disobedience and therefor rejecting God’s plan for you. And if you find it, don’t waste any more time with it…give it up. And finally understand the joy that I have found in simply walking where He leads.

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Failing As A Wife: How to Overcome Feelings of Inadequacy

We had been married for about three months. I was standing there in the kitchen, face swollen and tear-stained. I was overwhelmed by guilt, failure, and an intense feeling of inadequacy. I just knew that I was a failure as a wife.

If you have been married for any length of time then you know this exact feeling — knowing that you have messed up in one of the most important jobs you’ve ever had and let down the person you love the most. It’s not only heartbreaking but it makes you feel completely inadequate. I’ll never forget that moment and how I explained through my sobs exactly why I was a failure as a wife. I began listing things off to David that made me the world’s worst wife.

  • I haven’t had time to do laundry
  • I yelled at you for leaving that towel in the floor
  • I lost my patience when were waiting in line and took it out on you
  • I forgot to pray for you this morning
  • I’ve gained 5 pounds since our wedding
  • I haven’t swept the floors in over a week
  • I speak to you too harshly
  • I’m not as attractive as the day we met
  • I fell asleep before kissing you goodnight
  • I have nothing planned for dinner and the thought of cooking is stressing me out
  • You are a much better husband than I am a wife



I gave all of those reasons to my new husband. I practically yelled them to him. And he stood in complete shock. I’d been bottling those feelings up for weeks and he had no clue that I was feeling like an absolute failure as a wife. He could not believe the crazy list I had just rattled off to him and it took a few moments for him to gather his thoughts and finally speak.

When he did finally speak it was to calm me and reassure me that at no point in our marriage had he ever thought of me as a failure or a bad wife. Though I knew he wasn’t lying to me, I also didn’t believe him. I walked around almost every day with these feelings of failure and inadequacy…how could they not be true?

Friend, if this sounds like you then I want to share with you a few things that I have learned as I’ve navigated these feelings…

1. Failure & Falling Are Not The Same

One of my biggest obstacles to overcome in the early months of our marriage was understanding the difference between failing as a wife and falling as a human.



Failing as a wife would mean that I neglected my marriage – I abandoned the relationship I promised to honor or intentionally hurt this person that I promised to love and obey.

Falling as a human would mean that I had a bad day – I lost my patience, spoke disrespectfully, dropped the ball on a responsibility, or let stress get the best of me.

“I simply had to learn that just because I fell, that didn’t mean I failed”

I simply had to learn that just because I fell that didn’t mean that I failed. It just meant that I was growing as a wife. It meant that I was figuring out how to be the partner that David needed and the person that God was calling me to be. I’m still learning this — every single day. I’m still falling. But, I’m not failing. And neither are you.

2. Marriage is Not About My Success

I think somewhere deep inside, the main reason I felt so disappointed in myself was because I wasn’t living up to my own expectations. There are only two people that I need to be concerned with when it comes to my marriage: my husband and God. But somehow I had moved my own expectations for wife-hood ahead of both of them. I wasn’t feeling like a failure because David was voicing that to me or because God was laying it on my heart — I felt like a failure because I kept convincing myself that I was.



The main reason I was convincing myself I failed? Because I hadn’t lived up to the insanely perfect idea I had in my head of the type of wife I would someday be. I would see other wives have emotional moments, get impatient with their husbands, or get lazy with things like health and housekeeping and I would always say things like “not me! I will be the most loving, patient, and perfect wife.”

Just by saying that in my head a few times, even years before I was married, I set myself up for disaster and disappointment.

“Once I let go of the need to prove myself as the perfect wife…the pressure to be perfect was lifted.”

Finally, I realized that my marriage is not about ME. It isn’t about me being the perfect wife. My marriage is not about my success. But rather the MIRACLE of marriage. It is about David and I being examples to the world of what God can do with two hearts and how He can use two people, bring them together as one, and do something amazing for His Kingdom. Our marriage is about being a picture of Christ and His love for His Church. How could I, the wife — the church, do that if I was more focused on myself than the one that is loving me, my husband — Christ.

Once I let go of the need to prove myself as the perfect wife and focused my attention back on the two other people that were in this relationship — David & Jesus — then the pressure to be perfect was lifted.

Feelings of Inadequacy are Straight from The Devil

There is just no nice way to say it.

Those feelings of perfectionism, failure, and inadequacy were lies whispered from the Enemy. I let this world’s perception, — and often-times the church’s incorrect perception — of what success in marriage looks like, seep deep into my spirit and convince me that I wasn’t good enough to be anyone’s wife. And I bet Satan just sat back and laughed, pleased with how he had convinced me to disregard everything that I know God promises me — which is the following:

  • That He will finish every good work He starts inside of me
  • That I have everything I need to be a good wife when I turn to Him
  • That marriage is meant to be a picture of His love
  • That for everything I lack, He provides grace, mercy, and hope


“THAT is marriage. The messy, tearful, long-night-talk and let’s-figure-this-out-together moments. ”

Fellow wife, you are not a failure. You are not the world’s worst wife. You are an imperfect human trying to love and respect another imperfect human through all of life’s demands. THAT is marriage. The messy, tearful, long-night-talk and let’s-figure-this-out-together moments. It’s about showing up when you feel like you can’t. It’s about looking to Jesus every time the enemy’s lies come sneaking in. It’s about rejecting the enemy’s lies and resting fully on who God says you are and what He says makes you a good wife.



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What You Can Learn When God Says No

Friend,

Have you ever bargained with God? Have you ever told Him exactly why YOU think that the answer to a certain prayer should be yes? Have you spent countless amounts of time praying for something only to receive a big, fat, NO in the end?

Well, that happened to me this summer. I have been praying for this one specific thing for quite some time; I would guess close to a year. It’s been heavy on my heart and it’s deeply affected my attitude on the daily throughout this entire year. I’ve prayed. My husband has prayed. My best friend. My mom. Even my mother-in-law. It’s been a long year of prayer to say the least.

Want to know what all that prayer got me?

NO.

It got me a really hard-to-hear NO from God.

 

But, I learned something really important that has completely changed my attitude in recent weeks. And, if you feel like you have received a no from God, then I want to share this with you in hopes of opening your eyes to the bigger picture and the positive side of no.

  1. I Do Not Know What Is Best For Me

As much as I hate to admit it, what I think is best for my life is hardly ever what is truly best. In fact, most of the time I am down-right WRONG.

During this year of what has felt like constant prayer, I have done a lot of bargaining with God and trying to convince Him of why my way is best. I can’t tell you how many times I have literally prayed the words “I know this would be good for me because….”

Like I have ever been right about that before! And here I am trying to tell the Creator why THIS time I believe I’m right. Though time and time again He has proven that His will is always better than my own.

Friend, let me save you a little time and trouble here….

YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU.

You may know what would be good for you. And you certainly know what you want and what you think would positively impact your life. But when it comes to what is absolutely and truly BEST….well, that is up to God. Because of His all-knowing nature, He can truly determine what will produce the best possibly outcome for you and the ultimate plan He has for your life.

 

I know that sounds really preachy. I even hate hearing it myself. But, it’s the truth that has been revealed to me through this season of praying and hoping. You see, my husband and I have this motto, if you will. No matter what we do or where we go, we just want to make sure we are in God’s will. And, throughout our entire relationship, it has brought us nothing but goodness.

Yet, still I find myself wanting to argue my own will and have my own way.

Thankfully, God in His mercy doesn’t always allow me to have my way. When I think of all the times He has said no in the past I sigh in pure relief — so many blessings I would have missed out on if He had answered yes when I wanted Him to.

I know feeling like God is saying no or just isn’t answering your prayer at all can feel like the most painful rejection ever, but I promise that He always has a good reason. And that reason is this: His will is always better. ALWAYS. Even when it seems that what you’re praying for cannot possibly have a better alternative, I promise that what He has in-store for you will far exceed what you have in-store for yourself.

2. Sometimes NO Means NOT NOW.

The thing I have been praying about all year almost received a yes this summer. At least, it seemed that way at first. Everything was lining up. It all made sense. The timing was perfect. It all seemed even better than what I had actually been praying for. But then,…silence.

It all stopped and it felt like my prayer got a big fat NO stamp on it just when I thought the yes was finally coming my way. I was heartbroken. I spent many nights crying in bed while my husband tried to comfort me. He said everything he could think to say in attempt to help me see the positive side of the situation. But, all I did was continually ask why.

WHY wouldn’t He give me this? It seemed so perfect.

WHY would He let me believe it was going to happen and then take it away?

WHY doesn’t He want me to have this?

And then, finally, David said something that finally made sense to me.

“Sometimes what you perceive as a NO from God is actually a NOT NOW.”

 

Suddenly, I found myself rising back up to my usual self and little-by-little I stopped questioning Him. I learned to be okay with a simple “not yet” for now.

You see, this particular thing I’ve been praying for has been on my heart for so long. And for the past year it’s been made clear time and time again that some form of this prayer is what God is leading me toward. So when I thought He was saying no I spiraled in confusion. That is, until I finally accepted that God’s timing is perfect and that He will fulfill this promise when He knows the time is right.

Maybe this is true for you as well. There are certainly times when God says to no to what we think is best. But, I also believe that if you have covered a decision in prayer and have felt God’s leading that He will be faithful to finish what He starts….when He knows the timing is absolutely perfect.

Looking at my life right now….it’s actually a really good thing that what I prayed for didn’t happen when I thought it should. I would be weighed down by guilt and chaos and stress at this point in my journey if everything had gone the way I wanted it to. The timing I thought was so perfect turned out to be pretty far from it. Turns out, as we have already discussed, I tend to be wrong more often than I like to admit. So, I invite you to believe with me, friend, that when the timing truly is perfect He will fulfill the desires of our heart.

3. It Isn’t About Me.

Have you ever been so caught up in a prayer that forget that you aren’t the center of the universe. That’s what happened to me this summer — I was so focused on this one thing that I totally forgot how it might impact people around me — my husband, family, coworkers, friends….I was so caught up in how it would change my life for the better that I never considered how it might make the life of many others more complicated. I never considered how it would change how I serve those I care about. Because in those moments of prayer I only had one thing on my mind: MYSELF.

 

I never set out to be selfish about this. And who ever does? We all think we are being pretty generous and selfless, but if we’re being honest with ourselves….most of our prayers are pretty selfish. We want happiness, security, prosperity, contentment….and we never stop to think that maybe lacking those things isn’t the worst thing that could happen. We forget that we aren’t here to be happy and to prosper….but rather we are here to give of ourselves, sacrifice our own security, and seek to bring true joy to others by shining the light of Christ.

When I sit down and think about all the prayers that I have circling my life…most of them are pretty selfish. Good health, secure financial standing, an enjoyable career, safety….all of these things have one thing in common: my happiness. And as hard as it may be to admit…..that is not what this life is supposed to be about!

I had to ask myself….is receiving a no to this prayer really causing anyone discontentment except for me? Does it majorly impact anyone else but me in a negative way? No, not really. When I think of the time I spent worrying and begging and bargaining over this….I feel sick because all of that prayer could have been devoted to so much more — to something that truly impacts others and makes a difference for The Kingdom.

Dear friend, it is more than okay to pray for the desires of our heart, even if they are mainly about us. But, what is not okay is making those types of prayers our priority. That is what I did, and I truly believe that the no/not now that I have received is a wake up call regarding my selfishness. It’s time that I stop devoting 99% of my prayer life to myself — that isn’t the kind of prayer warrior I want to be!

I don’t know about you, but I want to be the kind of prayer warrior that lifts others up, that prays for the ones that no one prays for, that feels God’s presence in every moment because my entire life is drenched in prayers for others. I want to witness God moving in the lives of the ones I love rather than just in the life I lead. I want to open myself up to all of the possibilities of seeing miracles and lives changed.

 

So, you might ask: do I still pray for that thing I was so distressed over? Yes, every day. I lift it up every, single, day. But, I do so in a new way. Now, I hand it over to God each day, accepting that His will for this prayer is far better than mine. I try to truly let it go each morning and trust that He will use today to bring me close to that answer I long for. My faith in God’s ability and willingness to answer a prayer hasn’t changed — but my pursuit of that prayer has. I have found an abundance of joy in devoting more time to praying for others — my husband, my family, my dear friends, random people I meet or know of, even my readers (aka: you!). Trust me, that kind of joy is far better than the joy I would have received from having my own prayer answered. That kind of joy is irreplaceable.

-S.

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How to Journey Through Heartbreak & Remain Joyful

Sweet friend,

I’m just going to go ahead and say it, even though it is soooooo cliche, but just bear with me here…..

We ALL must journey through heartbreak at some point. I know, I know….that doesn’t change how painful it is when it happens and it certainly isn’t a statement that offers hope. But, you probably know firsthand what I mean by this.

So, because I know we all have either faced heartbreak, are facing it right now, or will face it at some point, I felt it was so important to start this conversation. I think we are so convinced that as women we can never show weakness for fear of being labeled the weaker sex or living up to some stereotype. But, today, I want to get VULNERABLE and talk about this entire topic LIKE A GIRL. Friend, heartbreak stinks. When you’re journeying through it, it feels like the most life-altering and devastating experience you could have.

 

Before we dive in, I want to tell you about the year my heart broke three times.

My senior year of college and the summer that followed was the most altering year of my young adult life. I was not the same person at the end of that year that I was when I first rang in the new year.

By February of that year I had been dating someone for about five months. This wasn’t just any guy. This was my best friend. This was a relationship we had both prayed over and talked about long before deciding to pursue it. And, of course, I totally thought that this relationship was destined to be the ONE because he was my best friend. All the movies told us that this would work out. All of our friends questioned why we hadn’t started dating sooner — we spent every second of the day together anyway.

Well, as it turns out, sometimes dating your best friend is not exactly what the movies lead you to believe it is. By the end of February, we had called it quits. And I don’t mean that we both decided to go back to being friends. I mean that he decided to call it quits.

So, we all know that getting dumped is no fun. But getting dumped by your best friend….that is just about one of the most awful rejections I’ve ever known. Now, I will be honest and say that I was in complete denial about our relationship. The sparks that we thought existed between us simply weren’t there — it just happened that he was willing to admit that sooner than I was.

 

Surprisingly, we were actually able to go right back to the way we were and to this day he is still the one I call when I just need my best friend. Of course, in those days after the breakup, I was pretty sure that I had just lost the best relationship I had ever known. How could we ever be friends after this?

For a month straight I went back to my dorm every day, crawled into bed with some sort of food (usually sushi or pizza) and watched endless episodes of Friends. I just couldn’t seem to get back to who I was before — I felt sad all the time and on the verge of tears most days. You see, I had just experienced my very first broken heart.

Fast forward to May of that year. I had just graduated and was about to start my summer internship. I was dating this dreamy guy who I’d met about a month after that breakup. He was totally infatuated with me and I with him. This was the kind of passion that you read about in books. I was head over heels.

3 days after gradation….HEARTBREAK.

I was beyond devastated.

I had to walk into my internship the next day and pretend like I was okay, but I was a mess on the inside.

Months passed and I still felt the ache. My internship was going great, the summer was full of fun things, and I had a bright future ahead. But still, I was hurting.

The end of the summer came around and I found myself being pursued again. This time, it only took about 3 dates for him to totally stop all communication and I was left with, yet again, another let down. This time was not nearly as painful on it’s own, but after feeling rejected so much in one year, it just added to all the cracks forming in my heart.

Of course, I am now married to the man who really was meant for me. And he makes all of that pain seem far less important. But, during that year of heartbreak I felt myself sinking. I’d grown insecure, untrusting, and unconvinced that any man was worth my time.

But I learned so much in those months. Some things that truly changed me for the better. Those breaks in my heart became small scars that remind of how far I’ve come, how strong I am, and how much I can depend on God to see me through anything.

 

After drawing out this long story about my relationship history, I want to share with you the things I learned through that journey in the simplest way I can….

  1. Dating relationships should never identify you.

Marriage may come with titles like “husband” and “wife” and those titles certainly become a part of who we are — they identify us as committed to one person so the rest of the world knows where we stand. One of the most defining things about me is that I am the wife to David Stephens. It means that I place his needs before my own, I serve him as God leads me, I am submissive to him as the leader of our relationship. It means that I get to enjoy the blessings of marriage with him, fall asleep with him each night, and possibly raise a family with him someday. Those are self-defining things that simply come with being married.

But, a dating relationship should never receive the same privileges that a marriage relationship does. A dating relationship should never define who we are. Part of the reason that I struggled to move past breakups was because I struggled to place my identity in God instead of in the guy I was with at the time. Because I wasn’t relying on what God said about me, I was devastated when rejected came my way.

That summer I grew closer to God than I ever had been before. All of those heartbreaks had left me with no other choice but to turn to Him and learn to find my identity in who He says I am. And though  I was still hurting, I was able to find true JOY because of my relationship with Christ.

So, if heartbreak feels more difficult for you than it should….maybe that’s because it is. Maybe what you’re really facing is an identity crisis. And the only way to move past that is to turn back to who God says you are. Spend time with Him, talk to Him, and really search His word to know what He says about you.

2. Your plan will never compare to God’s plan for you

I still struggle with this every day. I am always fighting and questioning God when things don’t go my way. Even though I know that when things aren’t going my way, that just means that God is working out something even BETTER for me than I had planned.

Of those three broken hearts, those three guys that I thought were so perfect for me….none of them even come close to the man I get to spend every day with. I am beyond grateful that the Lord didn’t let me have my way, no matter how much I begged. He knew that what I thought I wanted was not at all the type of guy that I needed in my life. He knew that David was waiting and praying for me. He knew that even though my heart was breaking, which I know He felt 100% with me, that He had something unbelievably good stored up for my future.

Friend, if your heart is breaking right now I invite you to take joy in this one thought: the relationship that you thought was unbeatable is actually going to fall quite short compared to the one that God has in-store for you. I know it seems impossible that anyone THAT good could ever come into your life again and you truly feel like you can never love anyone else more than you love him…..but you would be greatly surprised at what God can do with a willing heart. Including HEAL it. Trust that He has goodness planned for your life and believe that He will fulfill every promise and you will live each day with a joy that others simply can’t describe.

 

3. A relationship will never bring you true joy.

Not that lasting kind anyway. My husband makes me happy — every day! But my JOY is not found in him. Because if it were….well, I would be a pretty miserable person on the days he annoys me or does something in a different way than I would. If my joy were found in my marriage then I would never know as each day came whether or not I was going to be happy that day. But, because my joy comes from God, I know every morning I wake up is a day destined for joy….NO MATTER WHAT.

If you can learn to find your joy in Christ because you know that no other relationship will ever provide that kind of joy, then you will be free from all the miseries that other people complain about when it comes to relationships. You will know for certain that no matter what happens, you will be a genuinely joyful person.

I have one final thing to share with you, friend….

If you are really struggling through a season of heartbreak right now, then I would like to give you a special gift.

I have created a 7-day devotional that focuses on how you can journey through heartbreak and come out on the other side more joyful and hopeful and learn to see yourself as adored and loved by the Creator.

Just click below to download your FREE copy of this devotional and start the healing process today.

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Click HERE to download your FREE copy.

 

I hope you are choosing to walk the path of healing, friend. I pray that you are seeking God’s will through this confusing season — He will be faithful to heal your heart and provide you with the love story you deserve.

-S.

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How to Step Out In Faith When You Fear Failure

Sweet friend,

Failure is one of the scariest words in the English language. Well, at least for me it is. I have had a major fear of failure for as long as I can remember. The thought of acting on something without fully knowing the outcome has given me major anxiety for most of my life. If I didn’t know for sure that I would succeed, then I usually made the decision to stay exactly where I was.

You may be familiar with the story of my major career move that required me to step out in faith and leave the secure job I held, with no idea where my next pay check was going to come from. And sure enough, in the final ten minutes of my last day in that position, my phone rang with a job offer. God had come through just in time! And I finally felt what it was like to step out in faith, despite fear of failure (packing up and moving back in with mom and dad because I couldn’t make rent due to unemployment was the worst form of failure I could imagine). And let me tell you…that is a feeling that nothing else can compare to. Knowing that I had the faith within myself to step out, fully trusting God to provide, was a strength like I had never known.



So, maybe you are in  a place of knowing that you need to MOVE. That something needs to change. That action must be taken. But you have no idea what you’re supposed to be moving toward. Or maybe you do know but the route to get there is impossibly vague and you can’t see a logical way to make it work. Maybe you’re facing a choice of college major, a career shift, a major move for your family, or stepping into the life that you know God has called you to. But making that decision without knowing if you will succeed feels like stepping into a puddle of water with no way of knowing just how deep it goes…or whether or not you will be able to swim if it happens to be over your head.

If that sounds like an accurate description of your life right now, then I want to walk you through all the ways that you can step out in faith even though you’re scared to death that you may fail.

  1. Let Go of Your Comfort

Perhaps the scariest part of stepping out in faith is realizing that we have to let go of the comfort of what we have known for THIS season. A steady job, a familiar relationship, a place we have known all of our life….these things can be incredibly difficult to let go of if we have known them for any length of time. But, in order to move forward in any plan that God has for our life, we must be willing to walk away from what we know.

God never called us to comfort. He never promised that we would always be in a safe, familiar place and never know uncertainty or change. But He has promised that He has a specific plan for our life, with all things working together for our GOOD.

So, if fear of letting go of what you have known or what makes you feel safe is keeping you from stepping out in faith and trusting God’s plan for your life I invite you to really examine your life and surroundings. Did you reach this point by staying where you once were? Or did you have to make yourself uncomfortable and move into the next season of your life? Our entire lives are made up of transitions and fearing those transitions is exactly what will hold us back from the best things that God has planned for us.



I used to be the girl who feared change — I never wanted anything to change. I wanted to stay exactly where I was comfortable forever. Leaving for college was very difficult for me because for so long I had been trying to keep things exactly the same. And it was a leap of faith for sure — I had no idea if I had picked the right school, the right major, or if I wouldn’t fail that first semester and come back home with my head hanging down in shame. But not knowing the answer to those questions did not mean that I shouldn’t go — it just meant that I simply didn’t know the outcome.

And, of course, the changes didn’t stop there. I had to graduate and pursue a career, I left behind a comfortable, long-term relationship and started pursuing the right relationship. I moved to a new town for a job that I would later give up. I got married, purchased a home, even started this blog: all sorts of uncomfortable things! And I can trace each one of them back to the day I left for college. I tell you all of that to show you that change is not just a part of your young life or even just something you must endure once or twice. Change is forever around the corner. So, the sooner we let go of our comfortable mindset in this life and learn to be open to whatever God has for us, the easier it will be to step out in faith when those seasons come.

2. Accept that Failure Happens to Everyone

Yes, even you, high achiever. We all make the wrong decisions at some point. We all get overwhelmed. We all fail to measure up. But the beautiful thing is that even when failure does happen, it doesn’t matter to God.

The one thing you must understand about stepping out in faith is this: God doesn’t call us to step out because He knows or even promises that we will succeed; He calls us to step out so that He can show us that even in our failures He can work all things for our good. He just wants us to trust Him and stop relying on our own abilities to carry us through this life.



Once you accept that no one journeys through this life free from failure, it seems much easier to risk the possibility. You can rest easy in knowing that God can use the failures we feared most to glorify Himself and propel us even further into the plan He has for our life.

3. Remember God’s Goodness

Whenever I start to feel fearful about a season in life or decision I must make, my husband always reminds me of all the ways that God has blessed already. Reflecting on all of the amazing things He has already done, all of the ways He has brought us through seasons of uncertainty, I find peace. How can I be fearful of anything when I see all the great things He has already done?

So, when stepping out in faith on a decision feels absolutely terrifying, just recount all of the times that God has come through already. Think of every moment that you were overwhelmed by fear — didn’t He see you through that moment? If you can focus on God’s goodness in any situation, then those tough decisions don’t seem quite so tough after all. And the fear of failure seems far less terrifying.

So, when you’re called to step out in faith but fear comes knocking, telling you all the million ways that everything could go wrong and how you could walk away from this choice with injuries and scars, just remember that God can use even the ashes from our worst choices to make something GOOD. Just recount all the times you have made the wrong choice (because we all have!) and He was still able to turn it around into something that demonstrates His grace, mercy, and goodness.

Here is the final thing I want you to store away in your memory and pull out every time that fear of failure comes creeping in: Even if you fail, even if you fail BIG TIME, even if you completely change the direction of your life with one single decision….you can NEVER change how God feels about you. And you can never get yourself into so much trouble that He can’t bring you out stronger than you were before. This is not permission to go out and make reckless choices. This is an invitation to live with complete faith in God’s power to change our lives, to point us in the right direction when we seek His counsel, and to use our lives and every decision we make to further His Kingdom. All we have to do is TRUST.



Difficult decisions will always come in this life. There is no way around it. But, we can be better equipped to handle them if we live a life of faith and cover all of those decisions in prayer. So, if you are struggling with a choice that may require you to step out in faith, I would like to invite you to send me a message and let me help you pray for this choice. My inbox is always open and I will try to respond as quickly as I can. We all need a good friend to lift us up in prayer.

-S.

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3 Steps for Overcoming Issues with Food, Dieting, & Body Image

Hi friend,

Like many of the conversations we have here in my little internet corner, this one won’t be an easy one. It’s a topic I have skirted around a couple of times and it is one I’ve been super nervous to discuss with you; but, today we are going to break the ice on the conversation about our relationship with food.

I don’t know about you, but I have had a struggle with food and body image since I was really young. I can’t quite pinpoint the exact moment that I shifted from carefree girl to girl obsessed with calories, fat grams, and the size of my jeans. But at some point in my younger years my mindset shifted and the struggle to shift it back has been REAL. Does this sound like you? If so, I encourage you to keep reading so we can try to walk through this topic together and maybe come out on the other side with a little more courage.



There is something you should know first, though, before we move forward. This is NOT the post that will fix all of your issues with food and dieting. These words are not meant to erase everything you have been struggling with. This is just me, a friend, reaching out to you and saying “you’re not alone in this and you are not defeated.”

The steps I want to share with you today are not the cure for the struggle that we both face every day and none of them are going to fully eliminate the problem — but I believe that they can help us move forward, start to find healing, and learn to shift our mindset. Remember, I’m not here to tell you that there is a sure set of steps you can take to rid yourself of this burden– I’m just here to share my story in hopes that we can walk through this together.

1. Stop Gripping so Tightly & Learn to Let Go

Control is a huge part of this struggle for me. Whether it’s fighting for control over every little thing and being obsessed with what I’m putting in my body, or panicking because I know I have far less control than I would want. At some point I had to stop lying to myself: I cannot control everything. Including my body. Yes, I can make healthy choices. But I can’t control that I’ve been created with a small chest and wide hips. I can’t control that I’m a short girl with thick thighs — no matter what the number on my jeans says, they will always be thicker than what I have allowed myself to believe is acceptable.

I have to learn to be okay with the amount of control I DO have as well as the control that I DON’T have. And so do you, friend. Because we have both been made with beautiful intention — to be exactly the way we are. So, instead of fighting the way we have been made, maybe we should simply let it go. Let go of the control. Let go of the standards we have been told to live up to. Let go of that image we have of our perfect body because we have better things to do with our minds. Let go of the control we so badly want to have over the shape of our hips, size of our thighs, and flatness of our bellies. Let it all go so we can focus on the things that matter.

2. Stop Fighting Yourself & Start Fighting FOR Yourself

Something I believed for far too long is that I would wake up one day and this struggle would be over. And it wasn’t until recently that I realized that just isn’t going to happen. I’m not going to “grow out” of this. I’m not going to forget about it with time. It isn’t just a part of life — it is a part of me. And as much as I may hate to admit that, it’s the truth. Sure, it in no way DEFINES who I am. But it is a small part of who I am. It’s just as much a part of me as my quick temper, impatience, and tendency to procrastinate — they are all things I hope to change with time, but they are all things that will probably remain a part of me for the rest of my life, even if I can improve them somehow. It is how I handle them that makes the difference.



So, instead of fighting this part of me and being confused by the fact that I’m still dealing with it, I’ve decided to accept its presence and start fighting FOR myself. Start fighting for the things about me that matter MORE than this struggle — the good stuff.

And you should too. Start thinking of all the positive things you know to be true about yourself and FIGHT for them. Fight for your compassion. Fight for your love of art. Fight for your dreams, the people you love, the silliness that makes you…well, YOU. Those are the things worth fighting for. And I would be willing to bet that somewhere along the way you and I might find that while we were fighting for the GOOD stuff, the not-so-good stuff just sort of fell away. It’s when we shift our focus away from the struggle that the struggle itself seems much smaller.

3. Stop Believing the Lies & Hold Onto the Truth

It is nearly impossible to ignore the lies thrown at us every day. Or how about learning to let go of the lies we believed as little girls? The same ones that followed us through our teenage years and now as adults. I think some part of us likes to hold onto the lies simply because they feel comfortable and familiar. But we both know that we can’t continue to believe them while also believing the truth. We must choose which one we will hold onto — which one will we stand for? If not for us, for our best friends, our moms, our daughters….the versions of ourselves we want to be.

To stand for the truth, we must first understand the truth. And here it is.

We were not made for this. Our Creator did not weave every piece of us together so intricately and perfectly just so we could sit here and be unhappy about it and use all of our energy trying to undo it. No, we have been created for far more than this. We have been created to be storytellers, wives, moms, world changers, doctors, artists, business women, advocates, missionaries, friends, role models, and most importantly: shining examples of the love that surpasses all other loves. We were made to represent Jesus and if we are so focused on the lies of the world then we will never fully know the truth: that we have purpose beyond what we look like and what our body fat percentage is. We have real work to do! We have a world to change! And it isn’t going to happen if we spend all of our time trying to count our calories and measure our waists.



So, friend, I am inviting you to STOP gripping for control, STOP fighting who you were made to be, and STOP believing the lies of the enemy. You have so much work to do — a purpose that only you can fulfill. And you don’t have time for hating your body and obsessing over your food.

That leaves me with an invitation…

Will you join me? Join me in learning to stay focused on what matters most and trying to show the world that we will not be weighed down by expectations, lies, and envy. NO. Let’s show them that we can shine with GRACE, PEACE, and DIVINE PURPOSE.

I have one more invitation for you:
If you are feeling at all inspired by this post, I would like to offer you a gift. Something that I pray will bring you closer to overcoming this struggle every day. I have created a 7-Day devotional that expounds on this topic and takes an even deeper look at the healing process. This devotional is completely FREE for those who have read through this post — because that tells me that YOU might be the reason God placed this devotional on my heart. So, I would like to give this devotional to you.

Just click HERE to download my FREE Seven-Day Devotional, For The Girl Who: Is Scared of Cake.

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And if you do choose to use the devo, please let me know! Snap a screenshot of your download on your Instagram Story and tag me (@s.sweetlyblog). I would love to see you using this free content. Plus, you never know who you might encourage in the process of sharing.

-S.

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How to Have Patience in a Season of Waiting

Hey there, friend.

Can we just talk honestly for a moment about seasons of waiting? They are not fun or graceful…at least not for me. I kick and scream the whole way through. I show little to no patience during those seasons…patience with myself, other people, and even God. Maybe it’s just being a part of this whole instant-gratification generation, but I am absolutely horrible at staying patient through waiting seasons.

So, why on earth do I think I can sit here and offer you a word of advice on how to have patience during seasons of waiting? Because when I sit down to write these posts I am often in just as much need of writing it as you may feel you are of reading it. I think it’s easy to picture the people on the other side of our screens as having it all together — I mean, they sit down and write this stuff so they must be doing well, right?

Nope. Definitely not.

Friend, I am a broken, messy, girl-in-need-of-grace-every-day person. And I have about .001% of my life together (and that .001% is only because I managed to sweep my floors at least once this week).

Just like you might be right now, I am facing a season of waiting. Waiting on God to answer prayers, fulfill a promise, and bring me to the next part of this chapter. The future is uncertain, my days are often chaotic, and sometimes I am just straight up tired of waiting. So, today’s post is just as much for me as it is for you. These are the ways that I’m attempting to have patience in a waiting season….



Focus on the Present

It may seem simple and impossible all at once, but the best way to attempt to remain patient and content in a season of waiting is to focus on all of the blessings in your present. Try to enjoy the season you’re in right now. Believe it or not, this may be one of those seasons you’re going to look back on with great joy some day.

The summer after I graduated college was one of my biggest seasons of waiting. I had no idea where my life was going and I was doing my best to wait on God to show me the way. I was often stressed, lonely, and overwhelmed. I was searching for my first career break, hoping to have my own place, and healing from a broken heart. But, I often look back on that summer as one of the most fun summers I can remember. It was my last summer of just being a carefree young woman. It was my last summer working part-time, spending my afternoons by the pool, and eating whatever I wanted because I was burning so many calories just by staying crazy busy. It was my last summer home with my parents: the last summer I spent staying up late with my mom, giggling and being silly and talking about life and love. It was a season of waiting for sure, but boy was it a joyful season and I wish I had savored it a little more in those moments.

So, I invite you to try to take inventory of THIS season instead of rushing on to the next one. What things are giving you joy right now? What moments could be fleeting? What experiences could you be having that you may not have again once this season is over? Hold on to those, friend.

Focus on the Lesson

Think about it — what could God be trying to show you or teach you while you’re waiting on Him to bring you to the next step? So often when we think it’s about the destination, it is actually about the journey. Every season of waiting that I have journeyed through has had some sort of major impact on my life, my perspective, or my character. There isn’t a single storm or season that we endure that isn’t meant to mold us, shape us, and make us stronger than we ever thought we could be. Seasons of waiting don’t mean that your hope or prayer or dream is being delayed….they mean that you’re being prepared for the hope, prayer, and dream ahead of you.



I know, I know…seeking the lesson during the waiting season is nearly impossible. It’s so much easier to see it from afar, when we have finally passed through it. But just think of how much less frustration you might have if you can just uncloud your vision for a moment to gain a different perspective of the situation.

Focus on the Relationship

Even if you can’t seem to get a grip on the lesson in front of you and focusing on the joys of the present just feels completely impossible, there is one thing that you can focus on that will make all the difference through your season of waiting: the relationship you share with Christ. No matter what type of season of waiting you’re walking through right now, you can always grow closer to Him. Even when the waiting is painful and unbelievably frustrating, you have a dear friend to talk to about it. Even when the next chapter seems thousands of miles away, you can know that you aren’t walking alone. In fact, the lesson that we usually find at the end of these seasons is quite simple: we need to prioritize our relationship with the One who waits for us every day.

I honestly believe that most of the waiting seasons we face are because we have become so focused on the light at the end of the tunnel that we forget about the one walking through the tunnel right next to us. How many seasons of waiting have we journeyed through because we just won’t make time for Jesus? How many times have we been so preoccupied with where we want to be that we completely miss the point of where we are: because that is exactly where He wants us.

I am guilty of being so caught up in my pursuits and passions and dreams that too often I forget the One who gave me all of those dreams and passions in the first place. I forget that He didn’t create me to just do and seek and chase…He created me to be in constant communication and relationship with Him. We can’t let our longing to get through these seasons of waiting get in the way of what matters right now.

 

Friend, if you are doing your best to just make it through this season, searching for any sign of an end in sight…may I just challenge you? Don’t worry, I’m challenging myself on this one too…

Let’s make a real effort to seek what really matters in this season. The waiting isn’t purposeless. We need to enjoy these moments, pursue our relationship with Jesus every single day, and attempt to see the message He might be trying to share through this time of what feels like endless waiting. We aren’t meant to just try to get through to the next step: we are meant to thrive and be joyful and point people back to the One who got us this far.

Through my own season of waiting, I’m learning to pray with a new perspective. I’m hearing God whisper to me that I can pray for the impossible because I serve a God for whom nothing is impossible. I’m learning to pray big and expect miracles and believe that seasons of waiting are meant to prepare us for something amazing. 

If you’re ready to start praying big for the miracles and dreams He may have you waiting for, click here to read how you can pray big even when you feel small.

He has unbelievable goodness stored up for our future, friend. We just have to be willing to be content with what He has given us right now, in these moments. This season will pass. Keep your eyes on Him. We’re gonna get there…

-S.

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How to Pray Big When You Feel Small

Hey there friend,

So, you have a big dream. Maybe a miracle that you’re desperately hoping for. Something that seems completely impossible — maybe some people have even told you that it’s impossible. Well, I’m here to tell you that it is 100% possible — if you’re willing to pray big.

I have shared a few stories with you about my journey and the big things I have prayed for — meeting my husband, changing my job, finding our home, and launching this blog. And let me tell you, through all of those chapters of my life I learned one very important lesson: you can pray for big things even when you feel weak, unimportant, or feel like giving up. You can still pray big when you’re a mess and you’re feeling the weight of doubt and fear. You can still pray big when part of you is terrified that your prayer will never be answered.

If you have any major prayer that could be life-changing for you, please keep reading. If you’re feeling small in the shadow of your worry or burden or dreams, keep reading. We have so much power in prayer and we are not as small as we feel.

I’m breaking down 4 ways you can pray big even when you feel small.

Pray with Expectation

The most important thing you can do when praying for something major to happen in your life is believe. It may sound so ridiculously childish…but, friend, we must have complete faith in God’s ability to move mountains in our lives. That’s not to say you aren’t allowed to doubt or even prepare for the possibility that the answer you’re hoping for may not happen. However, your faith should greatly outweigh your doubt in those moments of praying. In the moments that you are laying your prayers before the Lord you should have absolute confidence that He hears you, He sees you, and He knows what is best for you. If you can pray with that kind of confidence then the waiting period between prayers will seem far less painful. He wants to do amazing things in our lives — those are the things He often uses to reach others — so be fully expectant of all of the unbelievable things He wants to do for you.

Pray with a Partner

Prayer is a powerful thing. But it is an unbelievably powerful thing when we pray with other Believers. Whether it is a close friend, a spouse, or even just someone else who is praying for something big in their life…praying together will make all the difference. Can I let you in on a little piece of my prayer life? I prayed about this blog for a long time. For more than a year. But I never saw it begin to take shape in my life until I told my husband about it and we started praying together. Just in the short time we have been married we have seen God work in amazing ways. Every time we have gone to Him in prayer together…He has completely blown our minds. So we continue to bring the big prayers to Him together. Sometimes that means we pray together before bed. Sometimes that means we pray individually throughout the day, yet pray for the same thing. Before David, I consistently sought out friends to help me lift those big prayers up. It can change your world. It changed the way I viewed prayer. I encourage you to be intentional and seek a prayer partner and then be prepared to see God work.

Pray with Contentment

I know that sounds crazy. But, hear me out on this. When we bring our prayers to the Lord, even the big giant ones that consume our every thought, we must do so with contentment. By that, I mean that we must come to a point of knowing that even if the answer we receive is not what we want, that God is still good, gracious, and has our very best interest at the top of His list. That is so much easier to say than it is to do…but it’s the truth. It took me a long time to accept that truth. In the post I wrote about praying for my husband I talk a little about the night I completely broke down with God and how that night ended with me saying “God, if it’s just you and me from here on out….then that’s enough for me.” I had to truly know in my heart that if He didn’t give me what I wanted or what  I believed I needed that I would still be okay, life would go on, and He would still be there through it all. So, before you lay down those prayers you have to lay down your own opinion of what is best for you. He knows far better than we do, friend.

Pray with Scripture

So often we forget about the one tool we have been given that is just as powerful as prayer: God’s Word. It’s not enough to just ask for what we want. We need to know what the Word says and include that in our prayer life. Praying God’s word over the giant prayers we have makes them seem so much more possible. Just look at all the amazing, unbelievable, completely impossible things that the Bible tells us happened for God’s people! His word is powerful and if we aren’t using it in our prayer life then we are seriously missing out.

Not sure where to turn to pray scripture over your life? Try The Psalms, Proverbs, and the Gospels.

I don’t know what your big prayer is. But I know I’ve had a lot of big prayers and He has always come through for me — even if the answer looks different from what I envisioned. There is nothing too big for God, friend. Those dreams you have that seem crazy and unattainable? He can make them happen. That miracle you need? He can provide it. That sorrow and heartbreak that is taking your breath away every morning? He can heal that hurt. In fact, there is a lot of healing in prayer.



Remember, it isn’t just about praying the right words or even making enough time to pray. It’s about truly laying it all down before Him and letting His will be done. We must try not to hold on to our prayers so tightly — just let them happen. Be a mess with Him. Cry and yell and be broken before him. Be ridiculously excited about your dreams — talk to Him about them. You don’t need the perfect words or the right timing; you just need Him and the peace He offers to those of us that turn to Him in our highest of highs and lowest of lows.

I want to help you with those big prayers, friend. So if you need someone to lift you up please reach out to me.

-S.

How To Pray Big: A 21-Day Devotional

Looking for a little more on this topic of praying big? I’ve got you, girl! After writing this post in the summer of 2018 it quickly rose to my most read post EVER. And my inbox was FLOODED with questions about prayer, prayer requests, and genuine curiosity about how prayer could change someone’s life. So, I decided to go a step further and offer you a 21-day devotional based on this post. This is a 3-week study intended to help you get back to the basics of prayer while also taking a more focused look at the power of approaching a communicative relationship with God. My hope and prayer is that through this study you will discover the unbelievably powerful process of prayer. CLICK HERE to check it out.

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4 Ways to Master Your Mission

Hey there friend,

I have an important question for you today — what is your mission?

I don’t mean your job, or your title, or the future that you visualize for yourself. I mean your MISSION – your purpose for being here. The call on your heart that screams out louder than anything else. The one thing that you can’t stop thinking about. If you are ready to tell that mission to anyone who would stop and listen then this post if for YOU.

Not sure what your mission is? That’s okay! I have two previous posts that I believe would help you determine what that mission is. I invite you to read both of them, really do some soul-searching, and then come back here to this post when you are ready to start mastering that mission.

4 Ways to Chase Your Calling

How to Pursue Passion & Forget Fear 

If you DO know what your mission is then stick around — this is going to be a good one. I am taking you through 4 ways that you can dig in deep and give that call on your heart everything you have.

First, I want to share my heart with you about all of this…

So, when I started this blogging journey last September I had no idea just how much it would impact my heart. I knew it was what I was being called to do so it just made sense to go for it. Friend, I had no idea what I was about to receive by answering that call. This platform makes me happier than I ever imagined it would. As I was researching in preparation for my blog launch I kept getting the same impression from other bloggers: blogging is hard work.

And it is.

It drains me of energy. It can be emotionally taxing. It takes SO MUCH time. It means sacrificing experiences to dig in and do the work and it can sometimes mean a monetary investment.

But here’s what makes the difference for me. I KNOW it is what I’m meant to do and it brings me joy because I consistently receive feedback about the impact my words have on someone else.

That, my friend, is the recipe for a mission. Something that impacts the lives of others while adding purpose and joy to your own life. So when I use the term “master your mission” I am referring to reaching the point of knowing exactly what your mission is, doing everything you can to accomplish it, and finding purpose and joy within it all while making a real impact in others’ lives.



Here are the 4 ways you can master your mission.

  1. Invest with Intention

My own personal journey has required a lot of investing — time, money, energy, emotion, honesty…and so many other things. But, every time I have had to spend time learning something new to apply to my brand, pay for a domain name or scheduling service, or just block out time (within what little free time I have) I have done so with great intention. I knew going into this that it would take some major investing on my part — but I also knew that the purpose behind all of this was worth more than what I was investing.

I encourage you to invest with great intention. Don’t try to find the quick or cheap or free way into your mission. Give it the time and effort it deserves! Maybe that is school tuition or committing to spending your weekends working on that call of yours. If you’re anything like me, then it might mean investing a lot of your own emotions and story into your mission. Whatever that investment looks like for you, just do it! When you finally feel that wave of purpose in the center of your mission I promise that you will see a priceless return on that investment.

2. Prioritize Prayer

And by that I mean pray constantly. Every morning. Every night. Every time you sit down to work on your mission. Because the God that gave you this passion and calling will be faithful to bring it to fruition in your life. But you have to make it a priority to go to Him every day and seek His will in this calling. You have to hand it over to Him every day.

Pray specifically. Pray big prayers. Pray with abandon — knowing that His will is far greater than your own.

I actually have a notebook that I purchased a couple of days after deciding to pursue this passion and I started writing prayers in it every day. Now, I already had a prayer journal, but this was different. This one was specifically for what I felt God was calling me to. This was for me to pour out my heart and ask for God’s hand on my mission. I use it to write out scripture that encourages me. I use it to pen the thoughts, hopes, and fears I have about this pursuit.

So, make it an absolute priority to take your calling to the One who called you. Every day.

3. Be Generous & Gracious

When it comes to the people who could be impacted by what you’re doing or hope to do, be overly generous and gracious.

Give. Give. Give. And when it feels like it is finally your turn to take….give some more. Trust me, your heart will be filled so much more by giving than it ever could be by receiving.

And then be unbelievably thankful — even if you feel like you are the one who should be thanked. Remember: this is a MISSION. It isn’t just about you — it is about THEM. Your tribe. Your people. The ones you set out to impact in the first place. Express your gratitude to anyone and everyone that supports you plus give thanks to those who are benefiting from what you’re doing.

That seems backwards, right? Thanking the people who YOU are giving too. Well, friend, without that tribe then your call would have no purpose. Simply thank them for being there, for receiving what you have to offer, for being your tribe.

4. Release & Rest

Release all of it. The dream. The passion. The hours of prayer and work and stress and planning. Now, hear me out.

You are doing what you’ve been called to. You’re investing and praying and giving generously — but at the end of each day you must let all of that go. Just when you feel empty from all of the giving that you do, give one more time right before you go to sleep — give it up to God. Let Him have all of your hope, your work, your plans. You have done your part for the day, now let Him do His. Let Him use everything you have invested to do something amazing.

You know what you will finally receive in return?

REST.

When you give everything up to God — even the dreams you hold onto so tightly — you will be absolutely floored by the rest that He will give you. Because when you let it all go you realize that you never held any of it to begin with and that is an incredible blessing. It means that you are not responsible for the success of your passion: He is! I don’t know about you, friend, but I would much rather have the Creator in charge of what I’m doing than even consider attempting it on my own.

That’s it, fellow dreamer. That is all it takes to master your mission. It’s truly a shift in mindset when you really break it down.

I encourage you to apply these 4 tips to your pursuit every day and see if you feel a little more at ease, a lot more joyful, and rested in a way you never realized you could be.

We CAN do this, friend. We can do everything that has been purposed in our hearts. It just takes a little hard work and a lot of faith.

I believe in your mission. So, go prove me right.

-S.