Archive for January, 2015

What You Believe Determines the Way You Live

January 31st, 2015

^ Proverbs 27:6 ^ “I’d rather you punch me in the stomach with the truth than pat me on the back with a lie,” I repeatedly told Bryan as we began getting more serious. You see, I’d been lied to before, and I never wanted to experience the unraveling effects on myself and others that […]

 

^ Proverbs 27:6 ^

“I’d rather you punch me in the stomach with the truth than pat me on the back with a lie,” I repeatedly told Bryan as we began getting more serious. You see, I’d been lied to before, and I never wanted to experience the unraveling effects on myself and others that came from a dishonest relationship again…with friends, family or anyone. Since God got a hold of my attention and faith as I mentioned in my testimony, He’s begun working on me little by little, and in the last few years I have begun to recognize that while I had a growing faith in God, I needed (and I continue to need) to correct my thinking and living little by little.

I want you to know that I am NOT a Biblical scholar, theologian, or expert on the Bible by any means. But I am reading and learning, and learning and growing in my understanding…and all the while gaining little bits of wisdom as I see what I am learning ring true as I live life. I will not be writing about anything that isn’t relevant to what God has taught or is teaching me in my personal life. As my pastor once said, “I am just a beggar telling another beggar where I found bread.” :) And good, sweet, life-giving BREAD (I mean heyyyyy!) is enough to excite me in hopes that we can relate and benefit from God’s Word together. This post is a collaboration from my notes from the Study Lies Young Women Believe and Believing God, along with other quotes I’ve connected to its theme of what I’ve been learning along the way.

A lie is “an inaccurate or false statement with deliberate intent to deceive.” It is “an imposter of the truth.” We will probably be talking about dishonest lips in the future as it is a theme throughout Proverbs, but today I want to talk about the lies that distort our reality and affect the way we choose to live.

2 Peter 2:19 says “Whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” The term “overcome” means to defeat, conquer or control. Just to mention a few things capable of overcoming our attitudes, conquering and controlling our thoughts and actions and defeating our hope – fear, doubt, anger, sadness, loneliness, pride, insecurity, greed, envy, laziness, hatred, impulsiveness, the list is endless. Many of us are experiencing the consequences of being enslaved to harmful patterns in our lives and are experiencing those above mentioned emotions that overcome us without recognizing the lie they are connected with. If we can identify the lies we didn’t realize we have been believing, we can break free from continuing down that path.

The Bible says that Satan is the father of lies – (John 8:44). His lies begin with planting doubts, half-truths, falsehoods disguised as truth. And he is smart. He throws us a baited hook, so that we will bite.  Satan takes what you desire most and promises to fulfill it if you reject God and ignore His word and set out to fulfill your desires on your own rather than in a way that aligns with God’s Word. 

What is one thing you want more than anything?

 Example: I want to feel….pretty, attractive…

                                           ….loved, cared for….

                                                ….important, successful, recognized, powerful…

                                                           ….comfortable

Examples – An easy example that young girls and guys alike face is the desire to be attractive – usually it is a combo like the desire to be attractive and loved and important, etc. So instead of clinging to what God charges young people to pursue, we might spend way too much time and effort to meet this desire or combination of desires instead – and by any means necessary – healthy or not. I want to feel pretty or attractive. Unhealthy ways to fill this craving might include things like ….taking a million selfies to get one perfect one to post, shopping for new clothes way too often , or I spend unreasonable hours on makeup or hair or attempts to cover my flaws, or I dress or do whatever it takes to get any kind of attention from people, or I will do whatever it takes to get or stay skinny. All of these are harmful habits started with attempts to fill that one deep desire. Every harmful habit, or sin if we may call it that, in your life begins with a lie. Lies are found everywhere…in our emotions that warp our perspective, in our culture and social media, conversations with friends, etc. Some consequences of believing lies in our own lives can include self-sabotaged broken relationships, fear, depression, guilt…the list goes on. Satan’s goal is to help you let your own sin destroy you. He taunts us to accomplish and fulfill what we desire our own way or how the world seems to chase it rather than the wisdom of what God’s Word tells us about where to find fulfillment of our deepest desires.

So where do lies get their power to destroy our lives? Satan’s lies may be tempting, but they have no power without us. 

Unfortunately, instead of standing firm and confident in the truth we can find in God’s Word, we often allow ourselves to play a part in tripping over the lies of the enemy like a fly hypnotized by a light on a bug zapper. The first lie we can read about was told by the enemy (in serpent form) to the very first woman – Eve. Tomorrow we will look at 4 ways she cooperated with Satan took the bait.

 

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From Savior to Lord: My Testimony

January 26th, 2015

Sorry this is so long, but there are so many things that play into this initial part of my journey with God that I have to include and I hope it makes sense! Though both of my parents were raised in homes where God and faith were involved, they both accepted Christ when I was […]

 

Lies Young Women Believe Testimony

Sorry this is so long, but there are so many things that play into this initial part of my journey with God that I have to include and I hope it makes sense! Though both of my parents were raised in homes where God and faith were involved, they both accepted Christ when I was a small child, maybe 5 years old. I remember singing Jesus Loves Me, the B-I-B-L-E, Jesus Loves the Little Children, and one of my particular favorites – I am a “C”, I am a “C-H”, I am a “C-H R-I-S-T-I-A-N”. I grew up in a church for as long as I can remember, and I took things seriously. I mean, every time there was an alter call, my parents had to watch and make sure I didn’t run down the aisle because “the preacher said that if I said that prayer to come down the aisle now”. I had a longing to commit something to Jesus, and I wanted to go to heaven. So finally, after a few years with multiple attempts, my parents brought me to see our pastor where he asked me questions to determine if I fully understood what it was to accept Christ. As if I remember my eyes rolling, I answered him politely (as you would expect nothing less in the South) but with a silent “Duh!” on the end. I had learned all the Sunday school answers…why was everybody hesitant because I was young?

Looking back I laugh at how I thought I even remotely understood God, but nevertheless I guess I did have an exuberant child-like faith. But the truth is, Jesus was my Savior, but I had no idea how to take the Sunday school answers I was learning and actually surrender my will to experience God as my LORD. So this went on…for years. I was involved on Sundays, in the youth some, etc. But I generally did what I wanted as long as I wouldn’t get in trouble for it.

I became more involved with my dance company over time, so time at church and with other friends was very restricted (not that I think this would have helped a ton? Kids are just imperfect & sometimes just as unkind there too. But maybe the truth would have sunk in sooner…who knows.). By the time I was in middle school, I was disengaged with the cliques in our youth groups, but I was accepted as a company member and was spending 20-30 hours a week training intensely for what I wanted most – perfection.

Ballet years

But during my 8th grade year and freshman year in high school, I remember a few comments that shocked me and hurt my confidence in a way I never saw coming. Comments and jokes about being pale, having braces and major dental work, and legs with more muscle than 85% of our male classmates left me desperate to fix what I could about myself and hate what I couldn’t. Then, with the dance company that I was working my butt off to rise the ranks amongst, we were brought in for an evaluation. Some of the things I would be rated on were my strength, technique, and body (there were more, but this is all I remember). I quickly ignored all the other perfect 6 scores and high-ranking 5 scores when they directed my attention to the score of a “4” on my body. I wished it could have been ANYTHING else. I could work on strength or technique, but what more could I do to make my body fit the body type they wanted? I was, as my grandfather once put it, built like a “plow horse” and not a quarter horse. It was frustrating and heart breaking to realize I had poured so much of my heart and soul into something that seemed to have a mold that I wouldn’t be able to force myself into. Already a little burned out from our crazy hours and summer-long intensives, this was to me the straw that broke the camels back. I declared I was ready for time to “do more of what I wanted,” and without knowing it, I was determined to look for affirmation that I was beautiful to anybody and everybody who would help me forget what I had begun to hate about my body. I mean, my parents told me I was beautiful…my Dad taught me the Serenity prayer and he and Momma relentlessly encouraged me that I was valuable…but they had to – I mean they are my parents.

Thus led to being more tanning-obsessed, body-image conscious, boy-crazy than ever. Soon enough, I had my first real boyfriend. I so so so want to just glaze over this part. Haha.  It taints my high school memories for sure. But I will highlight a few things I see looking back over my sophomore, junior and beginning of my senior year. I took every insecurity about my figure, my calves, and my skin color and I threw my need to feel valuable and my affirmation-deficit onto my boyfriend. The only problems were that he wasn’t exactly upstanding and that I was placing my needs onto a guy rather than dealing with them, and I began to try and make him the perfect man – because I needed a perfect man to always affirm (dare I say “worship”?) me and to never let me down with his actions and choices (idolizing the idea of a perfect relationship). After multiple inevitable disappointments and unhealthy choices, I was a paranoid, insecure, untrusting, hot mess of emotions. But I still wanted to marry this guy. I mean, it was the only security I could think of, and I didn’t want anything to get in the way of the relationship – it was my idol the most important thing in my life (same difference I guess). Though I have no memory of this, that summer my mom introduced my boyfriend and I to the current president of the College ministry she worked at, and told me later that night “Brittany, if I could hand-pick the man God would have you marry – it would be this boy.” (God was working – more on that later.)

One night I went to my boyfriend’s house for dinner. We didn’t argue or anything, but when I left I had this overwhelming feeling like “This is it? This is what you want forever?” out of nowhere. On the way home, I began sobbing, and I had no idea why. I sat in my truck in my parents’ driveway (as I often did when crying about boyfriend issues since they were not keen on the relationship and, frankly, I didn’t want that lecture) and I poured out a prayer that was about what my heart needed more than what I thought I wanted for the first time. I remember praying “God, if this is not the relationship you want for me, YOU are going to have to end it. Because I am not going to do it.” After praying that, a peace came over me and I was able to pull myself together and go inside. And forget it.

THE VERY NEXT DAY, my boyfriend walked right up to me and broke up with me. Not kidding. Totally forgetting about my prayer the day before, I fell apart. I was taken by surprise and wondering why he wanted to break up – you know – paranoia, doubt, and insecurity kicked in making a really nice batch of crazy. I also realized I really really did not want to be the girl who got dumped (major hit on my security), I dreaded that everyone might find out (me being the last to know) that it was because he liked some one else or cheated behind my back making me look like a fool…and more than that, I did not know how to deal with all my insecurities with no one to make me feel secure and loved.

I was a hot mess. Actually, not even hot. I was an ugly mess. I acted crazy. My pour cousin Ashley got to witness me at one of the lowest moments in my life so far. I remember crying and over and over again asking her and my Mom – “What am I supposed to do now?”

This week changed my life. One night a few nights after, I woke my Mom up because I couldn’t sleep and I was hurting. As we talked, I remembered that prayer in my truck and I told her. She told me, “Wow Brittany. Can’t you see that God has been waiting all this time for you to let Him show you what He wants? Look how quickly He answered you. I think He is stripping away everything you have held higher in your heart that Him. He can heal your heart and He wants you to learn that He is all you need.” This was a huge a-ha moment for me. This was the first time I saw God directly intervene and answer my prayer. ALL of the doubts I had had about my faith were dim compared to the undeniable coincidental sequence of events that I was absolutely sure was God working. I went from wishing my ex would take me back (I mean really, I had no dignity) to being mad – mad that I was even sad about it, mad that he had been a scoundrel, and mad that if I hadn’t become mad I would have gone back with him the next week or weeks after when he decided he would like me back.

At the end of that same week, my Mom suggested I check out the BCM Crash (like a college worship and message night) on UWF’s campus since I was dual enrolled as a student there.   The group of students I would soon become a part of had an authentic, contagious excitement for what God was doing in their lives, and I had just had a taste of it – and wanted more. Though supposedly I had been introduced to him when I was in my previous relationship, this was the night I actually officially met Bryan (the man my Momma “hand-picked” and my now husband of almost 8 years). Praise God for working with my sassy scarred self because I remember him meeting and thinking he was attractive, but I immediately thought, “He’s ridiculously good looking. He is probably a jerk – just like all of them.” And though you know how the story played out with him and that he proved my jerk assumption wrong, this allowed me to become more focused on what God was teaching me than getting sidetracked with any guy. I had tried life my way, and was absolutely sure I wanted to try to do things God’s way from now on.

That year quickly became a growth spurt for my faith and it was crazy and I am so thankful for all I learned and saw happening in my heart and my life. About 2-3 months later, Bryan told me he was “interested in getting to know me better”. While I still had a bit of boy crazy tendencies in me (I mean, I still had crushes – I was 17 lol) and while I did like him a lot, I had become so thankful for what God was teaching me that I knew it would be best to not get distracted with a boy for at least a while…so by a miracle in my opinion – I looked this guy I admired and liked a ton right in the eye at my parents’ kitchen table and told him I was not interested in having a boyfriend at the time. ((:-0 For real.

So I won’t bore you with details of my love story…but I will say that sometimes God breaks a heart to rebuild it the proper way. And He is so excited when we allow Him to be our LORD and to show us what He is capable of being and doing in our lives when we stop trying do things our own way. In my case, He used my struggle with doing life my way to teach me that He is real, that He is trustworthy, that He knows how to provide for me far better than what I thought I could provide for myself, and that He has to be the priority in our heart for everything to fall into proper place. This is the point at which I began to comprehend what Trusting God with my life could mean for me. But there was still much my heart that needed to learn….and the next bunch of years would begin to open my eyes to just a hint of how free life with Christ can be. But this is a testimony of how my journey of pursuing a trust-based relationship with God started for me. It is silly and filled with high school drama, but hey – whatever it takes for God to get my attention – I am ok with sharing! :) I can’t wait to share so many beautiful truths I have discovered that all started with this very first surrender. Stay tuned! :)

 

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Creating She Walks in Freedom – Here We Go

January 9th, 2015

Well this sprung up out of nowhere. But here I am. And here you are. And praise God He knows how to work with my impulsivity and run with it. ☺ Somewhere among the last better half of a decade, God has shown me that I am not called to follow Christ to save myself […]

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Well this sprung up out of nowhere. But here I am. And here you are. And praise God He knows how to work with my impulsivity and run with it. ☺ Somewhere among the last better half of a decade, God has shown me that I am not called to follow Christ to save myself (and others out of obligation) from the firey pits of hell. I accepted and claimed that at age 10 or 11 (and I mean what kid wouldn’t want a pass from hell when given those options?) but it never clicked for me mentally. As I said, over the last almost 10 years I have finally begun realizing that Christ offers way more than salvation.

He offers FREEDOM. (John 8:32)

And by freedom I mean – you name it, and He can free you from it kind of freedom. Maybe you don’t think you are in need of freeing from anything because you do whatever you want, but I don’t know about you – but that didn’t go so well for me. I was empty, unsatisfied, quickly irritable, discontented with life situations that seemed to “just happen” and just blah. As we continue digging into my aim for this blog, chances are God will reveal that you are enslaved to things that you had no idea were causing you to feel the way you feel or that you act ways you wish you wouldn’t act or live in a way that doesn’t compare to how you are intended to live. I, for one, have finally realized so many things that I have let control my life without even realizing it. I thought that following Christ would put me in a box with rules, but I am dropped-jaw-amazed at the freedom I have found in Christ in so many strongholds in my life that I never really even knew were holding me hostage until I was FREE. And I am still working on me, or more accurately, God is still working on me. But it is about time I shared some sweet secrets I have learned that are too good not to share with anyone looking for more in life. Our friend Tat who accepted Christ in his college years said it best. He said something like –

“So many people say they will get right with God once they’ve had their fun in life. But no one should want to wait because being a Christian is exciting, joyful and the best thing that ever happened in my life. Why would you want to wait for that?”

And do you know what? It is so true. If you checked into this blog, you are not here by accident. It doesn’t matter where you have come from, what kind of set backs, dysfunctional family or experiences you have had, what you have done, what you are doing or where you are in life, God is good and He promises freedom and a full life that you will not want to miss if you just consider what He offers. Until I learned the true experience of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the freedom and joy it produced and continues to produce in my life, I thought it was boring and confusing. But Jesus came so that we may live life, and live it abundantly (John 10:10).

And my prayer is that you humor me and check back here for this upcoming “series” – if we’ll call it that – to maybe just see if anything hits home and that God do amazing things with my mess of words and raw testimonies of how these truths that I will be writing about have been real in my life. I believe there is power in the Word of God and, if I will follow through with writing, His Word will be powerful and effective and reach the purpose for which it was meant on this blog. It might not be pretty, but it’s going to be real lol.

So I think it will only be most appropriate to start with a general version of my testimony which I will write in the next few days.Friends and family – this blog idea came from my love and desire to connect and share with you – especially the girls in my life ☺. I was not blessed with a sister, and as I watch my beautiful cousins and friends grow up around me, I realize I was actually blessed with many. And I know it may sound odd since I live further from you all than ever, but I treasure you in my life now more than ever, and I want to see the power of Christ do amazing things in your life…and if anything I have to share as I am learning or pondering scripture and its application in my heart and my life can relate to, encourage, or help you, I am more than excited to share even my most embarrassing struggles lol. I will probably be referencing other books/sources I adore along the way so I have created a resource page to check out if you are desiring further reading materials! If you begin following and think it would encourage someone around you – please share this with them as I have faith that God can easily multiply what I intended for a few to reach the eyes and hearts of whoever He sees fit. If you are a friend of a friend or whatever – welcome! I hope this will be beneficial for you too!

Feel free to contact me anytime and we will have fun along the way!

If you are a believer in Christ I am going to ask you to help me in prayer and encouragement. Pray that I will be disciplined to stick with this and see it through. Pray that anything that would get in the way of getting these messages out there be cast aside so that the messages God wants to share happen. Pray that this blog develops a focus and points to the truth in the midst of our daily circumstances. Pray for readers of this blog, that their hearts are changed for better. I would also LOVE your help if you have decided to read along with us and feel you have a testimony to share that correlates with the messages. Feel free to comment or email me. ☺

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