Be Mine by Michaela F.

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Last Valentine’s Day, I wrote about how to love God better. This Valentine’s Day, I wanted to write about real life ways that God reveals His perfect love for us. He really is a romantic God and I want every girl to feel special today, whether you are receiving flowers and chocolate or not.

Imagine a scenario with me. A guy gets all dressed up, so excited to see his girl looking absolutely ravishing and walks to the door with a boyish grin on his face. He rings the doorbell and is met by a surprising sight. His date looks HORRIBLE. Her hair is a rat’s nest, she’s wearing her painting tshirt, and her face is covered in streaks of a makeup experiment gone wrong. What would he do? Unless he was an exceptional fellow, he would probably postpone their night out. But if that guy was Jesus, He would say “Hey, precious girl! I am so happy to see you and I can’t wait to spend the evening with you because you are the BEST!” Alone, we are a mess every single day, but our God still cherishes us!

Lately, I have become very disillusioned with popular romantic movies because they portray unrealistic and flaky relationships. When I find myself “ahhhh”-ing at a guy who did something sweet for the girl on the screen, I suddenly want to throw up because it is not love. The only redeeming thing about these situations is that I remind myself about my amazing Prince. The One who died so He could woo me to Himself day after day with the sweetest words, the most thoughtful actions and the most perfect love of all time. The love that pursues me when I am sitting in the middle of my sin, selfishness, confusion and pain. The love that protects me from all kinds of harm and the love that provides infinitely more than I could ask or imagine.

In December, I found myself really struggling with the fact that I had a really hard time letting God love me. I saw people who  had encountered the relentless, incredible love of God and I was so jealous to have my own experience. A wise friend told me to speak to a guy from our church who had gone through the same thing. He gave me advice and prayed for me and I went back to my dorm room feeling expectant. As I lay alone in my dark room, I had the urge to stand up and pace. I just started talking out loud to the Lord and speaking His truth over myself and it dawned on me that 1 Corinthians 13 is not just directions on how to love others. It also describes how our Father loves us. I started going through each quality of love and I got to the part where it says “love keeps no record of wrongs”. A little voice popped into my head and said “He doesn’t care!” and then I cried. He doesn’t even remember or care about what I said to my mom today or my bitter thoughts yesterday or my failure to seek Him last week. He just loves me. He just wants what is best for me. He just looks at me with a happy-tears smile. The King of the universe is enthralled with my beauty, inside and out.

I don’t know about you, but I have a big date with the One who chose me to be His before creation, wrote my DNA code, and pieced me together. I even shaved my legs and I just might wear lipstick! I am going to think of prayer as hearing His words of love for me and worship as thanking Him for His radical love. I am going to listen to this song over and over again until the truth of the words permeate my heart. Our God is the Perfect Father, the available Best Friend, the greatest love song Writer, the Painter of the skies, the Author of our story. And the best part about it is that there are no questions involved in the phrase “Be Mine” with Him. We are His and He is ours. That is the best news ever on this pink and red holiday.

 

Blog Review // A Girl Like Me

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“A Girl Like Me” is written by Heather and Kelly, wives of the Tenth Avenue North musicians Jeff and Mike. In their words, their desire is “to use [the] blog as a way to share life with other young women and let them know that they are not alone in their struggles and that there is hope.” The two women take turns posting twice a week, writing with honesty and conviction on topics close to their heart. They also give readers a chance to share their stories on the blog “A Girl Like You.” I love reading their thoughts and I know you will too…

Where to Start

What is Love?…“Romeo and Juliet. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcey. Bella and Edward. Three epic love stories that withstood the test of time, trial, and even immortality. As girls, we live for stories like these. Stories that make us dream of a day when we too will experience our epic romance. When we meet the man who would make us give up our lives and souls for the opportunity to love him and be with him. Ahhhh….love…..isn’t it grand?” Read the rest here

The Very Thing I Desire…“Hey.  Come sit across from me.  Grab a cup of coffee or a peppermint tea and pretend to look me in the eyes.  Let’s talk.  Lets get real shall we.  Let’s look into the depths of our hearts and pull out the crutches that we are hiding and the sin we are pretending isn’t there.  You see, I haven’t been real with myself lately and thought, just maybe, you were in the same boat.” Read the rest here

Vanity, Vanity…“Girls, if there is one thing that being pregnant has taught me it is this: I put way too much stock in my own vanity than anything else. I stand in the mirror calculating every little bump, bulge, and bloat, complaining about how I can’t believe I have six more months of dealing with this. The irony is, at the end…I get a baby, and for the most part, my body back. So why then? Why do I allow myself to focus so much on all the things I hate, robbing myself of the blessing and gift that being allowed to carry a life inside me can bring? Because in my mind..I am defined by how I am seen by others. Plain and simple.” Read the rest here

Click here to read more from “A Girl Like Me!”

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Blogs are great ways to be encouraged and inspired, but make sure you aren’t spending too much time reading them. It’s easy to get sucked into the lives of others and start playing the comparison game. I’m starting to do these reviews regularly to provide blogs that will keep your thoughts focused on Jesus and inspire you to use your talents to glorify Him. Let me know what your favorite blogs are and send us your reviews!

A Different Approach to Valentine’s Day by Michaela F.

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If you’re looking for a cutesy article about chocolate and flowers and teddy bears and hearts and Pinterest pictures, I encourage you to keep looking elsewhere. This Valentine’s Day, while I will most definitely be celebrating in traditional ways, will look much different for me. And I hope it will look different for you, too.
You see, love is the most beautiful thing on this Earth. Love shared and expressed between friends, family members, couples, and yes, even animals, is just plain amazing. Life would be nothing without this complex noun and verb.
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Without sounding “cliché Christian teenage girl”, I would love to encourage you to reflect upon, grow in, and act on your love for your Lord and Savior as you pass out cartoon-covered cards or whip up a heavenly chocolate dessert. I always have a hard time when people say “I love Jesus” or “Jesus is the love of my life” because in my head I’m screaming “But what on earth does that mean?!?!” I so desperately long to feel the emotion of love when I think about the One who died and rose again in order to spend eternity with me, yet sometimes devos and prayer seem like a mere drudgery. I used to think I was alone in this, but I have since learned that absolutely every follower of Christ has those days and months and even years when time with Him does not fill you with warm fuzzies and a fiery passion.
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However, right now I am in a place where I just really do love Jesus. I roll out of bed and onto my knees to spend the first minutes of my morning committing my day to Him. For the rest of the day I am consumed with thoughts of what the Lord is doing in my heart and in the hearts of those around me and I cannot wipe the smile off my face for my life (not that I would want to). My conversations with my friends and family are full of praising His glorious goodness. I guess you could say I am head-over-heels. I have no idea how long this season will last, but I am so hopeful that there are actually little steps I can take to get to this place and keep it this way. Would you like to hear them? Oh good, I hoped so. (Some of them are from my own thoughts and some are from my youth pastor.)
First off, I will play Captain Obvious and point out that God made us in His image, including the way we interact with others. When we love somebody, we invest energy, time and resources into the relationship. We listen to them while they pour out their thoughts and we rely on them to listen to us as well. God made us to do this. I think that’s how we should love Jesus too. We should think about Him and how to please Him, talk to Him, listen to Him, and tell other people how great we think He is. It really is that simple, yet I know it doesn’t always work out perfectly or even well.
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I also know for a fact that a major fire-extinguisher in our walk with Christ is focusing on our circumstances. Life-changing decisions and little annoyances alike fill our thoughts and take our eyes off our Strength and Comforter. I have been practicing fixing my eyes back on the prize in those moments and let me tell you, it’s a game-changer. As we focus more and more on Christ by repenting of selfishness and focusing on thanking Him for every little thing in our day, we will be free to receive what He has for us.
If you are still not feeling the love, get yourself around people who are. It may not be your parents or people you think should be in love with Christ, because everyone has dry spells or gets busy etc… Think about who is literally bursting with joy and peace and life, chances are they are deeply in love with their Lord and Savior. Hopefully you will be able to catch a spark and fan your own flame.
A specific way I am going to try to learn more about God’s love for me is by reading through the Bible with rose-colored glasses, if you will. Not in a literal sense, but basically reading through the Bible looking for very specific evidence of His love for me, His creation. Whether it is a tough-love punishment for the Israelites or a tender-hearted statement from Jesus, I want to see the different threads of the greatest love story ever.
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Will you join me in this revolutionary approach to Valentine’s Day? If you do, please comment and tell me your plans or results-I love fellowship sooo much.

Love: a poem by Michaela F.

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love.
kinda confusing.
always unconditional,
but different situations
call for different expressions
of this verb we call love.
sometimes it’s a lotta TLC
not the channel-the acronym silly!
sometimes it’s tough;
you just gotta let them go
and hope they figure it out on their own.
sometimes it’s both:
gentle support
while you push them out the door.
it’s hard, it hurts
and it’s not always returned,
but loving like our Father is worth it.

The Goodness of God

During Bible-study tonight, my leader said something that stuck with me: God knew you long before you even thought about Him. Isn’t that a cool thing to think about? It makes you feel so known.

When I got home, I turned on my ipod and started doing my math homework and the song “The Goodness of God” came on. As I listened to the lyrics, I felt a sense of peace and contentment that God truly knows me and wants the best for me. The song says…

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My God is a giver.

An overflowing river, pouring His lavish love on us.

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Season after season we give Him every reason to stop but He never does.

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The goodness of God is flooding my heart with peace.

The goodness of God is bringing me to my knees.

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My God is a father who ransoms sons and daughters.

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Pouring His costly love on us. His greatest treasure given so that we may be forgiven.

His son crushed to make us whole.

A Thought to Start Your Week // A Guide to Culture

“If I speak with the tongue of a national, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I wear the national dress and understand the culture and all forms of etiquette, and if I copy all mannerisms so that I could pass for a national but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor, and if I spend my energy without reserve, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love endures long hours of language study, and is kind to those who mock his accent; love does not envy those who stayed home; love does not exalt his home culture, is not proud of his national superiority,

Does not boast about the way we do it back home, does not seek his own ways, is not easily provoked into telling about the beauty of his home country, does not think evil about this culture;

Love bears all criticism about his home culture, believes all good things about this new culture, confidently anticipates being at home in this place, endures all inconveniences.

Love never fails: but where there is cultural anthropology, it will fail; where there is contextualization it will lead to syncretism; where there is linguistics, it will change.

For we know only part of the culture and we minister to only part.

But when Christ is reproduced in this culture, then our inadequacies will be insignificant.

When I was in America I spoke as an American, I understood as an American, I thought as an American; but when I left America I put way American things.

Now we adapt to this culture awkwardly; but He will live in it intimately: now I speak with a strange accent, but he will speak to the heart.

And now these three remain: cultural adaptation, language study, and love.

But the greatest of these is love.”

{source: Missionary Help}

Just Stop and Think

This article by Ellyn P. originally appeared in the February 2010 issue. I wanted to repost it as some of you are going to college soon and, even if you’re not, it’s still encouraging.

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“I want to hear the thunder of who You are
To be captured inside the wonder of who You are
I want to live I want to breathe
To search out Your heart and all of Your mysteries

Your glory burns in the stars
Shine down Your light let me know who You are
Jesus, Your glory burns in the stars
Shine down Your light, let me see You, let me see You.”
-Phil Wickham

I thought I had my life figured out. I came into college thinking I had it all together and that I would be fine but soon enough I realized what a mess I was. I hated college, hated America and didn’t fit in. I felt so different from everyone else and no one understood me. I saw everyone making friends, laughing, having fun and enjoying life. I on the other hand was lonely, dissatisfied, and desperate. Desperate for something greater. I had this longing in my heart that I couldn’t explain to anyone. I felt so incomplete and I knew I was missing something.

One night I was having a quiet time in the cafeteria (to be honest the first one in a while) and while I was sitting there by myself I couldn’t help but feel alone. Looking around at everyone so happy made me feel even worse. All of a sudden I heard God’s quiet voice saying to me, “You are not alone, you may feel like you have no-one but I am here. I’ve been here the whole time. This is your time to get close to me, to understand who I really am and to capture the crazy love that I have for you. I alone can satisfy your deepest longing and can offer you more than any human being on this earth. Until you truly love me with all your heart, you will continue to search for fulfillment.”

I am reading this book called “Crazy Love” and I firmly believe that God gave me this book at this time in my life for a reason. It talks about God’s crazy and unchanging love for us.

God wants a relationship with us. It’s not about joining some cult it’s about talking to our Creator and having a relationship with Him. God says we become His bride. It’s a picture of intimacy, love and relationship that’s greater than any relationship we can experience as human beings, it’s intimacy with our Creator. It’s almost as though the God of the universe is proposing to us saying, “Look, I love you, I want to forgive you, I want to spend eternity with you and forgive you as far as the east is from the west, we will put it behind us and start this new relationship together.” God is begging us to surrender all that we have unto Him and trust Him fully. He is on one knee giving us this ring saying, “Will you take me? Will you enter into this relationship with me, Almighty God?” All we have to do is say, “I do.” Get on your knees or get alone and say to God, “I love you, I know i’ve messed up but now i know Your Son paid for this and I want to spend eternity with You, I want to follow You.” But don’t just say it, look at your life, is it showing in your life? If we really love God then we will follow His commands. It is the idea of trust and saying we trust Him because He has done everything for our good, He has given us life, forgiveness, and His commands that are going to be for our good and that will show through our lifestyle. This is God’s love letter to us. Jesus alone can satisfy the longing of our hearts. The God of the universe is crazy about you and screaming out for your attention, so don’t just walk away and go back to your routine, this could be the greatest day of your life.

Just stop and think.

And that is exactly what I have been learning. To just stop and think about the beauty of God and His love for me, for you. God wants us to come running into His arms fully devoted and committed to Him. Are we willing to trust Him? I have had to ask myself this question over and over again since I have been in college. There are so many things I want answers to right now and so many things I want figured out but I now know that God isn’t ready for me to hear it. It’s about patiently waiting on our Creator and knowing that His timing is perfect.

Although I have felt alone and abandoned I also feel the love of God surrounding me. I have never felt this close to God in my entire life and it is changing my entire perspective of life and the way I choose to live. I realized I was just going through the motions of life and I viewed God as this book on the bookshelf that I would only go to when I really needed it. Now I know that it’s all about relationship with the One who created us in His perfect image. It is about waking up every morning and making the decision to follow God and to letting Him guide your day. It is about taking time to be with your Jesus.
Jesus is a person so knowing Him has to be personal. Do I really know Him? Do I passionately pursue relationship with Him? I have to ask myself these questions daily.

There is one thing I know, the best thing in life is knowing Christ. He has changed my life and I hope this note encourages you and reminds you of God’s crazy love that He has for us. I challenge you to take time out of each day, and thank God for giving you life and asking Him to guide you through your day to day life. I promise you won’t regret it. God is crying out for us to be His bride. All we have to say is, “I do.”

Just stop and think.

Faith in Hardship

Last year, my class and my brother’s class took a trip to Auschwitz, one of the most notorious concentration camps from WWII. This was the first time I’d ever been there, and it was a heavy day. You hear about everything that went on during the war, but to see the place where it all happened with my own eyes was something completely different. There aren’t even words to describe it.

When I got home I started reading a book by Corrie ten Boom called “The Hiding Place”. It’s an incredible book- truthful, sobering, and real.

Corrie was a Dutch Christian, and during the occupation of Holland hid Jews in her own home, and found many other safe places for them. Eventually, her family was arrested in 1944, and her father died 10 days later at Scheveningen prison where they were first held. A sister, brother, and nephew were released, but Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, where only Corrie survived.

Reading about Corrie painted a more vivid picture in my mind of what things were really like in concentration camps. I still have a hard time taking it all in. But what I do know is that God’s power is always greater than what we can see. Corrie experienced that in a personal way in unexpected circumstances.

“There are no ‘if’s’ in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety – let us pray that we may always know it!” 

― Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place

 “When we are powerless to do a thing, it is a great joy that we can come and step inside the ability of Jesus.” 

― Corrie ten Boom

Auschwitz and all the other concentration camps will forever be a reminder of what humans are capable of because of sin. The ten Boom family will forever be a reminder of what God is capable of despite our sin, because He loves us.

 “This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.” 

― Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 Romans 8:35,37-39 

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Read more from Claire on her blog: Claire’s Corner