“That’s a bummer.”

Growing up in the church, there wasn’t a whole lot that I didn’t already know about the Bible. You could say that I was emersed in it daily. My dad was a part-time preacher and had been a missionary, I went to a private Christian school, and went to church every time the doors were opened. Most of my childhood we lived as a house family at the local Children’s Homes. So misbehaving was completely out of the question. I had to set a good example, be the girl who never questioned authority, etc. That’s not to say that I didn’t sometimes go out of line or hold my own. I was and still are very independent and as my mom would say, “Aynsley you sometimes speak your mind too much.” All in all to say is that I was very much the goodie two shoe growing up.

When you grow up in the church, you aren’t really exposed to what it’s like not to know the story of Jesus. You kind of are brought up with the perspective of who He is and what He would be like. You’re told that Jesus and our Heavenly Father sometimes act like our parents. That when you do something wrong, there are consequences because, like our parents, God loves us and wants us to learn from our mistakes. We are told that Jesus is like our brother, but I feel as though He is also put in that disciplinary role and so it is hard for us to comprehend that He could ever understand the struggles that we face.

Honestly, it has been a long while since I have been able to feel that love from God or Jesus. I haven’t lost complete faith that They are always with me. I always have this sense that no matter where I am or who I am with that they are watching over me. But, for the most part of my 20s, I have felt that They are needed somewhere else. That the struggles I am facing are minimal compared to what the rest of the world is facing. And, this is very true. Some of the “problems” that I feel are big issues in my life are minimal compared to what starving children, homeless people, and terminally ill people face daily. So, with all that I had just grown numb to church and everything I had grown up to believe in. More or less, I had taken what was a part of me and tied it up and locked it away until I needed to be the Christian that people expect me to be. I would only open a little bit up just to get me through Church, social gatherings with my fellow Christians, and anytime I was around people who are struggling with their own Christianity. Cause you can’t show weakness. You had to be strong no matter what.

So, with all that I had just grown numb to church and everything I had grown up to believe in. More or less, I had taken what was a part of me and tied it up and locked it away until I needed to be the Christian that people expect me to be. I would only open a little bit up just to get me through Church, social gatherings with my fellow Christians, and anytime I was around people who are struggling with their own Christianity. Cause you can’t show weakness. You had to be strong no matter what. I felt that if I showed weakness people would judge.

Then something changed for me. No, it wasn’t a light that shone down from Heaven and a voice speaking to me. What happened was that I was listening to a YouTube interview of John Crist, and in that interview, something the person being interviewed said struck a chord in my heart. He started talking about a time when he was at a real low and what would happen if Jesus were to see him in the state he was in. Would Jesus be proud of the actions that he was taking at the time? (Watch the interview for the full story, for it is his to tell not mine) The answer is no, but the real question is would Jesus approach him with a judgemental spirit? And what this man said was profound. He said that Jesus would not, and instead He would pull up a bar stool, sit right beside him, and say, “Aww that’s a bummer that you’re doing that, but I get it.”

I had NEVER, in my life thought of Christ that way. That He would just pull up a chair look at what you’re doing and be like, “Dang that sucks that you’re doing that, but I get it life is rough.” He doesn’t like it, but He understands. Does He want you to continue down the wrong path? Goodness no, but He’s not going to come to you with a judgey spirit. That is something that is going to continually stick with me. Like this is something that has been on my mind all weekend long.

Nothing in a long time has touched my heart like hearing this. For a long time, I would go through the motions at church, get excited here and there, and then go home feeling numb. This Sunday, I was still the same way, but then I remembered what this man had said and then the song we were singing, “Magnificant,” started and I felt an overwhelming peace flood over me. It was the feeling I had when I was like 12 at a youth rally. That feeling that you are one with the Spirit and that God was right there with you singing. I started tearing up in church and had to hold back the tears because of how wonderful of a feeling that is.

So dear friends, if you are struggling in your walk or you feel like you have to hold it all together, let me be the first to tell you that you don’t. God is a loving God, and Jesus, He will always be there to sit and talk. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that He will be there to listen, pick you back up, and help you walk down the road of righteousness.

Love you, sweeties! If you ever need to talk just let me know. You are definitely not alone!

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For the Right Reasons: A Book that You Should Read

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE watching The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. It could be that I’m a romantic at heart and I just love, Love. It could also be the fact that I come from a small town, and NOTHING ever happens here, and so to find drama in my life I watch this show. Sounds sad? I know! It could also be that my own love life is in the pits right now and so I watch it to take notes on “what-not-to-do”, how not to be that “crazy girl” or take notes on how to flirt. Whatever my reasoning is, I just really like watching the show. However, this post is not about the show essentially, rather it is about a bachelor who was on the show and then wrote a book.

If you remember the contestant Sean Lowe than you already know what kind of a guy he is and what he stands for. I, however before reading his book, knew nothing about him. I actually didn’t get a chance to watch his season. I don’t know what happened I just didn’t watch it. Anyways, I heard about him and his wife Catherine, and started to follow them on Instagram and Twitter, and I absolutely admired their relationship! They are my what you would call #relationshipgoals.

Sean in his book describes how he was in a rough part of his life when he finally prayed every day for something more to happen to him. It was then that his brother in-law and sister secretly signed him up for the Bachelor. It was there that his, as the show would say, journey began. He went on to be a contestant, lost and then was The Bachelor. What was truly inspiring about his story was that he relied on making decision in love based on biblical terms and the advice of his friends and family.

As a Christian woman who is seeking love in a world that seems to be lost, I think that is what inspired me about Sean and his relationship with Catherine. He prayed that God would send him a woman who would push him as a Christian and who he could live life together with. God did just that. Maybe for us “normals” it won’t happen on a TV show, but it will happen.

Many of us who feel like love has skipped over them forget that God has a perfect plan for our lives. The word that has been constantly said to me these past few months with all my friends getting married is patience. We have to be patient and just enjoy life.

In Song of Songs 8:6-7 it says, “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love it would be utterly scorned.” We need to have a love for someone that cannot be blown out like a small flame. We want a “blazing fire,” and that big of a fire doesn’t come from rushing love. It comes from taking things slow and continuously building that fire so that it is something that is all consuming.

Sean and Catherine from what I can tell have this kind of love. From reading his book, I can tell that Sean stands strong in his faith. Of course, he hasn’t been the best Christian all his life and he knows that. There’s a part of his book in which he talks about this. He has fallen, but he has also gotten back up. That is what is truly amazing about this book. It’s a story about sin, redemption, falling in love, and finding love in God. If you ever have time be sure to read this book! It’s a great book to encourage you on your walk in faith and finding true love.

The Cake of Love

Engagements. It feels like when you are in your 20’s, almost every time you log onto Facebook, someone on your timeline is engaged. The “in a relationship” is seems to be the runner-up in statuses that pop up on Facebook among your friends. As a single person it can make you feel like you are doing something wrong with your life, missing out on something great or there may be something wrong with you as a person.

Recently, a friend of mine had just gotten out of a long term relationship. Being the consistent single friend in my group, she asked, “What do single people do?” At first my reaction was, “Really? You’re going to ask me that?” Then I realized that some people think that being single is the worst thing that could happen to a person, or maybe it’s that some have been in relationships for so long that they forget the freedom of being single. Now don’t get me wrong, I look forward to the day when I will meet my Mr. Right, but until then I want to enjoy my singleness. Consider for a bit some of the things singles can enjoy that couples can’t. I’m going to list three that basically encompasses a HUGE chunk of sinlgeness:
1. We can do things spontaneously without having to consider whether a significant other wants to go or if they need to know where we’re at. i.e. the movies, a weekend trip, unplanned hang outs, not making plans, free weekends, etc. I know that some of my girl friends are not able to do this because they have to plan their week out depending on their dates with their boyfriends/fiance.
2. Spending as much money as we want. I understand that you can’t go too crazy, simply because we would be broke! But consider the fact that if you love those fashion shoes in the store, and you can buy them because you don’t have to worry about saving money for a wedding. You can also get the $20 steak if you like! When you are single you have the time to spoil yourself a bit
3. Hanging out with the opposite sex as “just friends”. I have come through many obstacles lately with my guy friends who are in relationships because their girlfriends freak out when we hang out one-on-one. I’m not the type to make a move on a guy and so it hurts when someone who you are close to starts distancing themselves. When you are single you can hang out with other singles without fear of losing them as friends because they are not in relationships.

The list can can go on and on, and sure there are days when you feel like you’re the only one who can’t find someone and this list seems lonely and boring. Trust me I’ve been there. Let me tell you right now God has someone special for you and there is NOTHING wrong with you.

In the Bible, there is a chapter known as the love chapter. It is in 2 Corinthians. Now this chapter is for everyone in any situation single or in a relationship. Today I want to look a few verses from that chapter. One in particular right now is 2 Corinthians 13:7, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

If you are single and struggling with thinking that the perfect guy/girl doesn’t exist. Just remember he or she DOES! Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t chase after a guy or girl just because everyone else has someone. If you do you will be missing out on a love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” There is someone out there for you. Just because you may be ready for them God knows that they may not be ready for you.

That special someone could be going through a rough patch in their life, and God knows that if you were to meet him or her you may not like them. God is the Master Matchmaker and he can cook up the best love that there is.

Let’s look at this two layered cake of love. First you will need the right ingredients. Those ingredients can be found in the love chapter of 2 Corinthians 13:4-13. These two layers are you and your future love. Now you may be ready to go into the oven, but you significant other may not have all the right ingredients yet. They may be looking for love that is patient, kind, etc. Yet, once both of you are ready God will put you in that oven of love. Now it is going to take time to cook. It may be a few months or a few years, but don’t rush the cooking. Time is a precious thing. You don’t want your cake of love to burn. Take this verse for consideration from Song of Solomon 8:4. “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.” So take your time!

Once the timer has gone off God will take the two cakes out and make a beautiful two layered cake. He will add frosting, beautiful decorations, and a topper. This whole cake will be beautiful because God has blessed it.

Now this entire analogy may seem weird or different, but just remember that God has a handle on your love story and He knows when the perfect time is going to be for you. All you have to do is allow Him to make your cake.

Psalm 33:18-22

I wrote this a few months ago when I was struggling with being single. I’m sure right now you’re either laughing at me or sympathizing or whatever your reaction is I hope you know that this post is not a pity post. I am actually embracing my singlehood, singleness, whatever you call it. Anyways, as I was saying this comes from a time when I thought all hope was lost. One day I was at work and reading my Bible during prep time. I just prayed that God would help me through that time, and show me that I am where I need to be. You see a lot of my close friends were pairing up and I felt like I was behind in the “school of love”. It was as if I was failing that class, and I hate failing at anything! Well the good Lord knew what chapter and verses He needed me to read at that time, and when I flipped my Bible open it went to Psalm 33:18-22. I think it’s amazing how when you just flip your Bible open without intentionally seeking a book, chapter and verse that it will go to what you need to hear. Anyways this is what I wrote on that day…

Love. It seems to be the one thing everyone in this world craves for. From those seeking love from a mother or father, those seeking love from a significant other, or even seeking love from a friend. Whatever the case may be everyone seems to be on the search for love.

As a single 21 year old woman (now 22, remember it was before my birthday that I wrote this), I am usually asked, “Are you dating anyone?”, “Do you have anyone special in your life?”, “Why don’t you date him?”, etc. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who gets these questions. However, it always makes you feel self conscience, and you ask yourself, “What am I doing wrong?”, “How is it that so-and-so has someone and I don’t?”, etc. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t mind being asked these questions, but I always feel like after answering the usual “No, I am not seeing anyone right now,” that I may be missing out on something wonderful that everyone has had the chance to experience.

In Psalm 33:18-22, it talks about the love of the Lord. How those who fear Him and hold fast to His steadfast love will be delivered from death. Isn’t that romantic? I mean seriously. Look in in your Bible, and read what it says.

Have you read it? No. Seriously, go read it right now! It’s beautiful, trust me.

Now that you’ve read it, it talks about how “Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.” Isn’t that how we want love to be?

It continues on, “For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His hold name.” We TRUST! I mean come on ladies, what guy have we not looked to put our trust in? How many guys have we looked to, to be our shield and protector? Before those guys were ever born, our Lord has been there the WHOLE time doing just that!

Lastly it says, “Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” Again the Lord is steadfast in His love for us. Do you know what steadfast means? (I mean I’m sure you know what it means, but do you know the true meaning?) In the dictionary it defines steadfast as, “very devoted; not changing.” Do you see it now? Our Lord is not ever going to change His love for us. He is very DEVOTED in His love. He is LOYAL to us. The Lord is the Great Romantic. He was the one that created love.

It’s amazing how we go through life searching for love when our Lord has been waiting to give it to us the entire time. He is steadfastly waiting to share His love with you if only you are willing to let him. The image that comes to mind is from the 1989 movie Say Anything. John Cusack’s character standing outside waiting to tell his love how much he loves her. I feel like that is what God is doing, but instead he is waiting for us to open our love letter, and that love letter is the Bible. If only you will open then you will understand how much He loves and cares for you.