For the Woman Who is Wrestling with Disappointing Diagnosis

For the Woman Who Is Wrestling with Disappointing Diagnoses
 

RachelMaier

I had expectations about my life. Not dreams, exactly—although I had those too. I’m talking about things I looked forward to with absolute certainty. When I pictured myself as a mother, I almost always saw myself standing at the stove, playfully swatting away eager little fingers snatching still-warm cookies from the counter, my kids’ faces speckled with chocolate and crumbs, a satisfied and mischievous smile twisting their lips. I expected this sort of scene to be a normal, natural part of our home life as much as I expected my children to have perpetually empty tummies I would be tasked to fill. Now here I am, a mom standing in front of the stove just as I thought I would be, but my kitchen and circumstances are far different than I expected, and my attitude toward food has changed forever.

 

Before my kids were diagnosed with food allergies, before gluten and I became enemies before we became a food allergy family, my attitude about food was joyful, and I wholeheartedly believed food was a gift from a good God, meant to nourish, sustain and delight His creation. The notion that food could be dangerous or cause death was nearly unthinkable. My heart went out to families with food allergies, of course, but I expected my own brood to be immune from them.

 

And then, the unthinkable happened one morning when my 11-month-old little girl grabbed my breakfast—a piece of toast smeared with peanut butter—and shoved it in her mouth. My two-year-old tolerated peanut butter with no problem, so letting my youngest little girl munch on a smattering of the stuff didn’t phase me until I noticed the skin around her mouth was red. Upon closer examination, it was splotchy too, and before I knew it her face erupted into an angry cluster of what I now recognize as an allergic reaction. Panicked, I called my husband, who assured me, “Nuh-uh, no way. No kid of mine has a peanut allergy. Her skin is probably just sensitive or something.” When he got home, he set out to prove his theory and put a fingernail-sized scoop of peanut butter on her tongue again. The hives returned and Benadryl mitigated the problem. A scratch test followed, and soon we had the diagnosis that rendered our little girl one of the frightening statistics. Two years later, we welcomed a son who ended up with a food allergy diagnosis as well, this time to milk, casein, sunflower seeds and eggs.

To make matters worse, in the middle of all this my own body was showing signs that something was amiss, and over time I came to understand gluten and I don’t get along. My body reacts in the most repugnant and painful of ways after even the smallest gluten exposure; the stuff wracks my body with searing pain, like road rash on the inside, that quickly spirals out of control. For years, I tried to get to the bottom of the problem, but between misinformation and doubting doctors, ER visit after ER visit and negative test results to boot, no one seemed to believe gluten could possibly be causing the trouble. And so, I lived with the agonizing fear that I was dying a slow, undetected death, and no one would figure it out until I was long gone. 

Eventually, I went to see a new doctor, a specialist who listened like others wouldn’t; ran tests others didn’t; and gave me news that at least made me feel less crazy. He suspected I had an undiagnosed case of Celiac Disease, either that elusive thing called Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. Either way, he urged me to live like I had Celiac Disease and impressed on me the importance of never eating gluten again. Following a colonoscopy, he was also able to diagnose Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and gluten was clearly a major trigger for that condition. Two years later, I was diagnosed with Biliary Dyskinesia, a hard to diagnose a painful condition that causes the gallbladder to malfunction. 

And so, we are a full-fledged food allergy family and my expectations about feeding my family didn’t turn out the way I imagined. Disappointment turned into frustration, and frustration turned into anger that food—that beautiful, good gift from the God I loved—went from delightful to dangerous. It was all a logistical nightmare, of course, and the fear that accompanied every subsequent diagnosis seeped into my heart and twisted it around, tempting me to believe my family had big targets on our backs or rather stomachs, and Someone was aiming to fire. A deep sense of loss plunged me into a dark place indeed. 

I wrestled with the Lord over all this, arguing my case and putting Him on the spot. Your word says the food that you made is good—that it is a gift! Why is your good gift causing so much grief for my family? And why would you create children who are allergic to normal, everyday healthy foods people have eaten for generations? How can you allow a measly old peanut to carry a death sentence for anyone, much less my perfect little cherub of a girl? How can you sit by and watch as my baby boy’s body swells with hot, patchy hives when so much as a drop of milk touches his lips? While we’re at it, why does gluten wreak havoc on my body? If you really made all the food in this Earth, and if it is even half as good as you say it is—if it really is a gift from your heart to ours—then why are food allergies even a thing?

In the deepest, most vulnerable part of my broken heart, I was really asking this: How could you do this to me?

I lived under a cloud of disappointment over the diagnoses, yes—but also, embarrassingly, I was disappointed with God. I felt betrayed, as if my life-long love affair with food had been a ruse, a set up to lure me into believing God was good when in fact, He was just plain mean. How could a good God let such bad things happen to people who love Him?  I wondered how we could have any quality of life when social gatherings suddenly posed a threat to the lives of my children? How would my kids safely go to school? How could I ever trust anyone else to feed them safely? Our world shrunk into the confines of our own little house, the only place we could control the safety of our food allergy family, and I struggled to know what to do about it.

I wrestled with the reality of all this disappointment and the accompanying frustration and fear for a long, long time, crying out to the Lord in the middle of the worst case scenario situations that come with the reality of being a food allergy family. But even as I did so, I felt as though my cries for help bounced off the ceiling of Heaven because surely the Lord would rescue us all from what felt like a death sentence, but instead here we were without healing. My expectations about family life weren’t met, and in the very scary aftermath of facing the grim reality of how going gluten-free and living with food allergies affect our everyday lives, I grieved.

God met me in the middle of my grief and showed me the startling truth that food allergies are a result of His good world gone completely wrong, in much the same way as cancer and murder and selfishness and conceit, theft and diabetes and migraines and addiction are all byproducts of sin making a most unwelcome appearance on His good earth. When the first bad decision was made, when Adam and Eve decided to distrust God's original intent for their lives and instead chose to believe lies lisped from the mouth of the Enemy, things have spiraled out of control (haven’t they?), and we live in the very real aftermath of a world gone completely wrong. No one knows for sure the exact cause for the alarming growth in food allergies, but many have strong opinions (It’s the GMO’s! Pesticides and over-processed food ruin everything! Blame the vaccines! We’re too clean—if we didn’t wash our hands, there would be no allergies!). I imagine many of these theories have quite a bit of truth to them, too. But at the root of it all, if we go back far enough, God’s idyllic ideas for life twisted under the weight of human greed, the effects of which reach all the way into our food system today, and our bodies are paying the price for it. I am certain of this. And while getting to the bottom of the food allergy crisis is admirable, important, necessary work, I suspect the problem won’t be set right until Jesus returns and makes all things new. 

In the meantime, while we wait for that day to come, I live in the tension between disappointment and hope. If you're struggling with a disappointing diagnosis, I imagine you live there too.

I still feel disappointed about it all, it’s true. The reality of our diagnoses threatens to steal our joy and cut our lives short, and that makes life difficult. I still cry about it all sometimes, especially after I have to administer epinephrine to a floppy, swollen little body and wait while my child’s fate is left to the mercy of the Lord. (And by cry, I mean flail and scream and call out to Heaven in sheer desperation and panic. It’s not pretty, I assure you.) But in the middle of even the lowest, hardest moments, God asks me again and again and again to hold on to hope, promising that hope in Him will never ever disappoint me. He won't disappoint you, either.

But how do I actually do that? How do I exchange disappointment for hope? It takes time. It takes practice (I’m still practicing.) It takes acknowledging my disappointments so I can move forward into a new reality or make lasting adjustments to the way we live. It takes realizing that God understands what it feels like to be disappointed and knowing He understands what it feels like to lose a child, so he can relate to the gut-wrenching feeling that washes over me when my own kids fight for their lives. It takes looking the alternative—that God is an unmerciful, detached meanie who couldn’t care less about my pain—squarely in the eye and deciding to believe He is who He says He is, and He loves me and cares about my life even though my circumstances tempt me toward believing otherwise. I know now in a very real sense what Jesus meant when he said man cannot live by bread alone, but on every word that comes out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4), and over time I let the promises of God fill me up in a transformative, life-giving way. 

I still let myself cry when the pain of our reality peaks, but now I cry out to the God who promises my hope in him will not lead to disappointment (Romans 5:4-5). I experience the truth that the Lord is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). I trust that God will always give us the food that we need (Matthew 6:25-34). I know the Lord redeems our suffering and turns it into something valuable and lasting (1 Peter 5:10). I know my disappointment over food allergies and sickness and diagnosis after frustrating diagnosis is not God’s fault, and now I grieve with Him that His good world went so horribly bad. And I am full of hope and anticipation for the day that He will make everything right again when death and disease and sadness and fear and all the stuff that makes life on Earth so painful dissolves as the beauty of His holiness restores wholeness and health to all creation. 

 

***Watch Rachel and I's live interview on Instagram on this topic below***

 

For the Woman Who has been Betrayed and Abused

kellykirby

After living through a nightmare so far beyond anything I could have imagined, I am clearly convinced God is much more interested in our callings than our comfort. In September 2016 my marriage and dreams for the future came crashing down around me when I learned my husband had been living a lie.  The kind, honorable, trustworthy and compassionate man I fell in love with had been a persona to cover a darkened and burdened heart incapable of experiencing unconditional love. I was a victim of seduction and deceit in the worst way. An affair alone would have been devastating but to learn the sordid details of things he did and said behind my back for the length of our marriage was absolutely crushing.

 

It's not easy to reflect on the pain of the past, especially when you are made to feel responsible for the pain by your perpetrator. To aid in the process of understanding the type of emotional abuse I suffered in my marriage, God blessed me with the opportunity to meet twice a month with a Christian counselor that not only knows me but my ex-husband as well.

 

Sadly, I realize this isn’t always the case for women who have suffered emotional abuse in their marriage.  This is the reason that I have chosen to speak up and share my story publicly. Without wise counsel and revelation from the Lord, I would still be so stuck in a pit of despair that I am derailed from fulfilling my divine purpose in life.

 

I spent 2017 in hibernation mode. Being too frail, broken and overwhelmed with rejection, shame and guilt to do the social activities I did prior to my marriage. As a woman who suffered childhood abuse and chronic self-worth issues, I was “ripe for the picking” for a man like my ex-husband to woo into marriage.

 

Many women like myself don’t recognize we are in an abusive relationship. In fact, more than a year later, my experience seems too surreal to be true. What I have since learned is, most abusers are very charming, attentive to your needs and extremely loving and caring. They typically lavish you with love and show you deep appreciation, so we often miss the signs of controlling behavior. This is all part of the scheme, to make us trust them and develop feelings for them. Why do they do this? Because it is easier to control someone that loves and trusts you.

 

In my case, I was living with what my counselor refers to as a “covert narcissist”. She tried to soothe my feelings of guilt stating that there was no way I could have known that I was marrying a narcissist. After 37 years of professional counseling, she had also been deceived by the true intentions of my ex-husband.  In the case of covert narcissists, it is extremely difficult to discern the true nature of the individual – a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

 

Over the course of our marriage, my husband used a form of psychological abuse often used by narcissists called, gaslighting. Once I filed for divorce, I was advised to reach out to women in my ex-husband’s past and inquire about their relationships. At least two women had gone through the same abusive treatment I had experienced. In fact, one kind-hearted woman told me I was lucky to have been spared years of heartache with my ex, as she referred to her time with him as “some of the darkest days I have ever known.”

 

As followers of Christ, we should never be surprised when we come across trials in life. Jesus clearly states that we “…will have many trials and sorrows, but take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33; 2 Timothy 3:1-6

 

We can take heart because Jesus will never abandon us to deal with our troubles in our own strength.  When we let God heal our past hurts, He not only wants to help us, but He also wants to use our experiences as a gateway through which others can experience the same type of healing. But we cannot move beyond our pain and learn how to love and forgive others until we have personally experienced the love of God. We must allow him to fill the handicap places in our hearts. 2 Corinthians 1:4

 

We must understand that comfort doesn’t necessarily mean that God will immediately deliver us from our painful circumstances. It can also mean receiving strength, encouragement and hope to deal with our troubles. The more we suffer, the more comfort God will give us. Every trial that we endure will help us comfort other people who are suffering similar troubles.Psalm 84:5-7

“The richest testimonies come from people Christ has made whole who still remember what it was like to be broken" Beth Moore

We can place our hope on the fact that God always gives us the strength to do what He has commanded.  The strength may not be evident however until we step out in faith and begin doing the task. Walking forward, not looking back at the pain but truly resting in God’s truth. Romans 12:2 . When we have been in a situation or a relationship where our self-esteem has been torn down and our mind has been inundated with lies, we need to “renew” our mind.

"The person coming out from under the influence of lies desperately needs a season of intense deprogramming. Until you are less vulnerable, flood your mind primarily with Truth and secondarily with materials that line up with the Truth. Coming out from under the influence of a long-term stronghold can  be like coming out from under the influence of a drug.” – Beth Moore, Breaking Free Bible Study

 

When we have been victims of abuse it is common to suffer from debilitating negative emotions.  Hindsight is 20/20 so we feel a lot of guilt, shame, and anxiety because we were so blind to what was going on. A crucial step in the healing process is understanding that shame is one of the deepest roots of our emotions when we experience abandonment, rejection and betrayal. Shame is the enemy’s greatest weapon. He knows that shame snuffs out our spirit. God wants our spirit to be awake and filled with peace, joy and all the fruits of His Spirit which lives in us as believers. The enemy knows we can be very powerful in bringing others to know Jesus, so he is going to do everything he can to derail us.

 

Suffering is training ground for Christian maturity. When God delivers us from our worst fears we can clearly see that what God can do for us is far greater than ANYTHING that can be done to us. I believe God carefully and graciously allowed me to experience the pain of an adulterous and abusive marriage, so I would discover I would not wither away and die. Don’t get me wrong, God didn’t create the storm, but He allowed me to walk the road of redemptive suffering as part of the fallout of someone else’s immoral choices and selfish actions.

 

To be honest, I am now grateful to have experienced this season in my life. Intimacy with God grows through sharing every realm of experience. Had I not gone through this terrible suffering I would never have gotten as close to the Lord as I have. I would never have realized how much He loves me. Psalm 119:50 He taught me that fruitful relationships are relationships where each person can be who God created them to be. Any relationship where one person is being controlled, constantly being neglected, demeaned, insulted or made to feel bad about themselves is NOT a fruitful relationship. Nor is it a relationship that is healthy or loving by any stretch of the imagination. Further, any relationship that causes you to shrink back from your commitment or passion for God is NOT a good relationship. Matt 12:31-33

 

We cannot allow another person to define us by the way they need us. I was nothing more than a trophy wife, something my ex-husband could use to boost his self-esteem while he methodically destroyed my self-confidence. As he whittled away at my identity in Christ, my identity got skewed from who I was in Christ to my value (or lack of value) in being his wife. One of the most important relationship lessons I have learned from this disastrous marriage is that you must let a person be who they are and allow their identity in Christ to surface and blossom. When you give a person this type of freedom to be who they are you could find yourself being married to someone who is interesting, who is intriguing. But, to discover that interesting and intriguing person, you cannot lock them in a prison of who you need them to be for yourself.

 

We must remember that God’s plan is the ultimate plan for our lives. We must remember that we have a very limited perspective. We see the start and God sees the start, the middle and the end. We must trust that He knows best. It’s not until we believe that what is in our future is better than what is in our past that we will ever be able to forget and press onward.

*** Watch Kelly and I's live interview on Instagram on this topic below***

THE SOUND IS BAD, IT PICKED UP MY KIDS VOICES FOR SOME REASON BUT IT GETS BETTER AS IT GOES**

 

 

**Kelly Kirby is an artist, writer and Jesus girl with a passion for helping others discover and embrace the beautiful woman of God they were created to be.  She enjoys spending time with God each day, playing tennis, yoga, paddle boarding and making custom designed jewelry.  Kelly has a heart for missions and is a dedicated supporter of Fallen Sparrow, a 501c3 organization created in 2008 to help provide funding for the care of at-risk children.  She will be serving on her 4th mission trip to Cambodia this summer as a member of the Fallen Sparrow mission team. http://fallensparrow.org/
 

·         blog: www.atlantabeautyexpert.com

·         website: www.jewelrydesignsbykelly.com

·         Instagram: www.instagram.com/atlbeautyexpert

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For the Woman who Deals with Depression and Anxiety

jessicaeggan

I was 19 years old, and I thought I was losing my mind.  It was right before my 20th birthday and I figured by the time I was 21, I’d legitimately be crazy.  It’s a terrifying feeling.  To be scared, not know what’s wrong, how to fix it, or why it’s happening in the first place.  You wouldn’t have known anything was wrong by looking at my life from the outside.  I was living at home and attending college full time.  I worked a part-time job that I enjoyed.  I had friends, a loving family, and I was dating the man who is now my husband.  Life was good; so I had no idea why I felt the way I did.  I was confused, hurting, and scared.

 

It started small.  For lack of a better explanation, it felt like a dark cloud was hanging over me; following me.  I could shake it for short periods of time, but it would come back.  I still remember walking around my college library and I could feel it- the cloud.  It was surreal, and yet somehow palpable.  Things started getting worse and I began having panic attacks.  If you haven’t experienced one, they are horrible.  It’s a gut-wrenching, all-consuming feeling of panic and terror.  It’s overwhelming and feels as if it will never end like there is no escape. Picture the most terrifying and extreme mental torment imaginable…and you’re on the right track.    

 

I told my parents what was going on (as best as I could since I really didn’t know what or why this was happening).  My mom cried and held me.  From there, things are a bit of a blur.  The panic attacks continued.  I couldn’t be alone.  My mom slept in my room with me.  I didn’t go to school.  I didn’t go to work.  I remember that on a good day, I made it from my bed to the couch.  Fear, despair, and hopelessness pervaded my life.  It’s a painful and miserable way to live.  In fact, it’s barely living.  I couldn’t do the things I usually did.  Nothing brought me joy.  The only relief came from not being alone and the escape of sleep.  I realize that if you haven’t experienced something like this my story may sound dramatic, but I promise, the agony is all-encompassing and crippling.

 

Thankfully, somewhere in this, I saw a doctor. I will never forget the feeling I had when I finally learned what was wrong with me- depression.  As soon as I heard what was wrong, I was relieved.  I wasn’t losing my mind at 19!  There was a REASON I felt this way.  Relief washing over you is one of the best feelings!   Relief and knowledge opened the door for hope.  Now that I knew what was wrong, and this terrifying monster had a name, it was time to fight.

 

~ ~ ~

 

That’s how my depression and the path to getting better began.  What I haven’t talked about yet is my relationship with God.  I was a relatively new Christian when this happened.  I had been a believer for just over a year.  I’m sorry to say that at some points during my battle with depression my relationship with God suffered.  Sometimes in my deepest, darkest depression and anxiety, I couldn’t bring myself to pray.  It was almost like it hurt too much to even think about God.  I guess you could say I avoided Him.  I never abandoned Him or my faith, but I didn’t pursue Him like I should have.  But here’s the beautiful thing, even though I may have drifted away, He never left me.  When I was weak, He was strong.  When I wandered, He was steadfast.  Despite my weaknesses, despite my wandering heart and mind, God’s love is unchanging and unending.  He’s a good Father whose love knows no bounds.  He never loved me less and He saw me through the darkest days of my life.  Praise Him.

 

Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

 

One of the most gracious gifts God gave me was loving family and friends to support me on the journey.  Family and friends have rallied around me when I was hurting beyond belief.  They prayed when all I could do was bawl in a heap on the floor.  They fought for me when I was too weak to do it myself.  When you are at the end of yourself, having people come alongside you is priceless. 

 

Two are better than one…If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

 

~ ~ ~

 

As for where I am now; I have continued to deal with depression off and on since that first time at 19; including a bout with postpartum depression after the birth of my first child.  (To any mom who has experienced postpartum depression, or is currently, my heart hurts for you.  I know the pain and I stand with you.)   The thing about depression and anxiety is that they tell you lies.  They tell you that this is how life will be from now on.  They tell you it will never get better.  Those are powerful lies because they oppress hope.  Hopelessness is an awful feeling.  Thankfully, now that I know these are lies- I can call them out.  I recognize them for what they are- lies from the enemy.  Knowledge is power and feeling empowered against depression and anxiety is a crucial weapon.  Going through all of this has made me stronger.  Depression doesn’t have the same power over me that it used to.  I know there is light at the end of the tunnel.  I know it will pass, I know God is with me, and I know I will get through it. 

 

…weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:5

 

Depression may be a part of my story, but it doesn’t define me, and it will never conquer me.  I am an overcomer.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, rather it’s a sign of strength.  Depression can be painful, lonely, and crippling, but thankfully we have a great God and He is a source of strength, peace, healing, and hope.  For the woman who suffers from depression and anxiety, you are not alone.  There is hope, there is help, and you are so very loved.

 

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.  LORD my God, I will praise you forever.

                                                                                    Psalm 30: 11-12

 

 

 

Jessica and her family live in Northern California.  She and her husband Brad have been married for 15 years and have two children ages 10 and 7.  Brad is a worship pastor and Jessica is an instructor at a local university.  She has a heart to encourage women to live in freedom through Christ!

For the Woman Who Doesn't Love Herself

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Anyone who belongs to Christ knows without a doubt that God is love. The quintessential bible verse we all have memorize is John 3:16, “For God so LOVED the world that He gave us His Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” As we grow in Christ we are taught to love our neighbors as ourselves, but what if we don’t know how to love ourselves? What if we actually despise who we are?

For any woman has faced any sort of abandonment there’s a deep root of unworthiness. We blame ourselves for someone else’s rejection. Obviously, there must be something greatly wrong with us if they didn’t want or like us. And that’s exactly the thought Satan wants us to dwell on. Deep within our minds and souls, it’s burned in and without realizing it, we have fallen prey to his deceit.

Maybe you’re unable to rightly love yourself because you’re still beating yourself up over a past sin. The grace of Christ seems too easy to cover a sin so great. And just like the enemy did with Eve in the garden, he’s created doubt in your mind of what God can do. Or maybe you’ve fallen into the lie that you can only love yourself if you have a great job. Or get married and become a mom. Or maybe you can only truly love yourself if you lose weight, get that degree, and have lots of friends. You can only love yourself if you weren’t so tall, or so short, or so clumsy, or so loud. You’re perpetually trapped in feeling like you’re too much or not enough.

In all these situations the focus falls on us instead of on God. We don’t think of these torments as being prideful, but if we aren’t careful that’s exactly where they will lead us. Our attention is centered around our sin, our hurt, or our lack instead of our Healer.

The enemy knows just how to spin this web around us so that we don’t recognize just how self-centered we’ve become. And I say “we” because I’ve been here too. For years I battled with past sins because that was the most obvious. I knew Jesus died to save me from my sins and I trusted His Word was true and that He forgave me, but I couldn’t forgive myself for the sins I had done. The more I grew in my walk and sought God for healing the less Satan could hold these things over my head. I walked boldly in healing and therefore he found another way to sneak in.

1 Peter 5 tells us that Satan is prowling around like a lion looking for someone to devour. Again in John 10:10 we are reminded that he comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He is the father of lies! So once he could no longer hold my past sins over me he found another way. He used old wounds of rejection mixed with current ones. And I let him.

Somewhere over time I not only listened to the negative things people said about me, not only did I let the enemy spew his deceit, I also spoke those negative things over myself. I affirmed that I was too much this and not enough that. This cycle of self-hatred would come in waves. I made a fatal mistake that you are probably making too. I confused confidence for self-love. If I was doing something well, or even if I felt particularly pretty that day, my confidence was up and I was unaware that the lack of self-love was still missing.

My worth began to live and die based on people’s compliments or how I happened to feel about myself that day. Do you see how dire this mistake is? My worth was based on human opinions instead of Biblical truths. Who does God say we are?

In the very beginning, God created people in His image. Our value is high simply for this reason alone! As believers 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reminds us that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. God of the entire universe lives within us! We are His children and He loves us unconditionally! We are chosen, a royal priesthood, God’s own possession as 1 Peter 2:9 puts it. How dare we put ourselves down and live in condemnation when God says we were created and chosen by Him?

The only way to learn to love yourself rightly is to remember not just who you are, but Whose you are. We have to constantly take these negative thoughts and words captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) and began speaking life-giving words over ourselves. Proverbs 18 and Deuteronomy 30 both talk about the power of life and death in our tongues.

I have found that when others criticize us it truly has nothing to do with us, but everything to do with them. When their words sting, do as scripture says, pray a blessing for them and then speak the truth of God’s Word over yourself. Do not let the enemy continue to win this battle! Christ died to set us free. So if it’s a sin that keeps you in the cycle of hatred, have you truly repented of it? If not, do it now! Confess to Jesus. He’s not going to shame you or condemn you. John 10:10 not only tells us that the devil is looking to devour us, but Jesus says He came to give us life and for us to have it abundantly. Not mundane. Not just ok. ABUNDANTLY! Full! Complete!

This world makes self-love into prideful deceit, but loving yourself in Christ is acknowledging God’s creation, Jesus’s redemption, and the Holy Spirit’s transformation. It’s not about us. It’s about Him. Take note from Romans 12:2 and keep renewing your mind. Do not conform to this world and what it tries to tell you about who you are! Take those thoughts captive, renew your mind by reading the Bible, worshipping your Creator, and praying to Him daily. Hourly if needed. Then it says you will be able to test and learn what God’s will is for you. And that His will for you is good, pleasing, and perfect.

Friend, you are worth loving. God created you, He chose you, Jesus gave His life for you, the Holy Spirit lives within you. You are not the sum of your failures or your successes. You are His. And that’s perfectly enough.

 

**Watch Ashley and I's live interview on this topic below**

--Ashley is a self-professed dork who loves sharing the Gospel and digging deeper into Scripture! She wants to live her life in such a way it inspires others to passionately seek Jesus and have Lively Faith. She’s a happily married homeschooling momma to four blessings who runs on Holy Spirit power, coffee, and laughter.

You can find her writing about her faith and crazy life at aLivelyFaith.com or over on Instagram @ashley.sigrest. Ashley serves in her local church and community and enjoys helping other women grow in their spiritual gifts.

 

https://m.facebook.com/aLivelyFaith/

https://www.instagram.com/ashley.sigrest/

https://mobile.twitter.com/alivelyfaith

Blog http://alivelyfaith.com/

 

For the Woman Who is Broken Over a Breakup

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Breakups are tough and despite cliche advice like “you’re better off without him” or “his loss”, breakups can actually be debilitating for some. Even if we knew it was coming, or that it was inevitable, it still hurts. And worse yet, if we didn’t see it coming and we didn’t think it was inevitable, it can feel like the wind is knocked out of us. Breakups force us to live in solitude, revise our routines and really reflect- sometimes over-reflect. What went wrong? How can I fix it? is it really over?

 

We are second guessing everything, replaying minor details, eating tubs of ice cream and obsessively discussing what went wrong. Breakups cause most of us to feel like we are momentarily spinning out of control. Like a slip-n-slide that is actually not that fun. But at their worst and most detrimental, they make us question our identity.

 

Why wasn’t I enough for them? What is wrong with me? Am I worthy of love? companionship? fighting for?

 

Who am I without them?

 

I have been there before. Feeling like the solid ground I was standing on just crumbled right beneath me. My confidence, my “status”, my security vanished when the “perfect”relationship ended. 

 

So where do you go from here? Rock bottom, alone, full of ice cream but low on hope?

 

I wish I had some handbook that will make the pain disappear over night or heal you in just a moment from the earth shattering reality that is now yours. But I have a solution…well,  process, that I have tested out myself that will absolutely change your life. It might not get you your ex back or answer a lot of your questions but it will help you get on solid ground that won’t crack. It will help you be whole and full and complete without that person and not just to prove to them you are, but to actually BE. 

 

  1. Surrender. It starts with surrender. Surrender to His plan and not yours. Surrender to His timing for a relationship and release your before-thirty mentality. Surrender of the ideal mate, and the dream wedding and the timeline that looks so pinterest-y and flawless. Give all of your plans up. ALL OF THEM. and Ask Him to fill you back up with the desires He has for you. Surrender the opinions of others on your singleness, your relationship and anything else. Release it all. 

 

  1.  Heal. As you surrender, you also have to come face to face with your beliefs about yourself. You have to really think about what it is you’re believing to be true about what you deserve and who you are. Coming face to face with our unhealthy beliefs about love is BRUTAL. Probably almost as painful as the actual break up but this is where the actual healing process begins. Where are you seeking validation? Are you looking for a relationship so you can feel worthy? Are you living loved or waiting to see romantic love before you believe it? Are you still hurting from childhood events or previous relationships. Friend, I have BEEN THERE. Talk to a mentor, a trusted friend or even a licensed counselor as you dig things up and process them. And pray pray pray your way through. I know you may bethinking “Linds, it’s over, I don’t want to go back and dig up old stuff?” I said the same thing. But a broken bone that hasn’t been properly set, is still a broken bone. Proper healing often requires additional breakage. The same way doctors often have to break a bone further to get it in actual alignment for healing, we have to go back and re-open old wounds that never got resolved.

 

  1. Rest. And then you rest. Once you’re healed, the tendency is to jump back out there. But sometimes we just need to REST. Stay in that place of surrender we started in. God is the Lord of our lives broken or whole and we need to maintain surrender when we are on the mountaintop and in the valley. We move, operate, date, and mingle from a place of rest. Not desperate for a new thing because we know now that it doesn’t validate us or define us. But we can rest knowing that even if we are single for another 1 year or 10, we are healthy and whole on our own because of WHOSE we are. And if someone comes along, we are capable of surrendering it to God and trusting his leading.

 

This break up may feel like the worst possible thing that could happen. But I know from experience, if you surrender, heal, and rest, it could become the best ground for a new, healthy beginning. Don’t resist the valley seasons. Learn, process and thrive when you are low and you will be equipped and empowered, and wise when you reach the next mountaintop.

 

with love,

 

Linds

 

Lindsay is a law student in Chicago with a passion for food and faith. She has been blogging since 2016 and attends Soul City Church in Chicago. She loves business law, fancy toasts, and is a mix between Christina Yang and Rachel Greene. Find her @FaithFeast on Instagram. Watch her live interview below.

For the Women Who...  Feels Like She Doesn't Belong   

AlexHoover

Since I can remember, I have always been the women who just wasn’t enough, always overlooked and had to fight for it all. I have always seen everything, as too far gone. Maybe you can relate, or maybe not.  I have always been the one to feel everything really big, you know- the really emotional girl. Like I could walk into a room, and feel the tension and heaviness, and or also the peace and joy. As a child and even some as an adult, someone's words to me were either the best of things or earth-shattering. I would be moved and rocked to the core by the rejection of someone and would keep allowing again and again, to be belittled and mistreated.

 

I am also the women,  that laughs too loud, can be seen tripping and falling over my own two feet, and spilling her coffee on herself almost, every day of the week – no matter how hard I try. So you can see, how my list of insecurities accumulated throughout the years, as I’m sure yours did too.

 

As I grew, life only added to the weight of my junk, sin, and mess to all of my insecurities. But it wasn’t just that, it was the fact that, the more I looked for affirmation and acceptance, the more I got cold and harsh words, and back to back experiences that changed the course of my life forever. That narrative had played in my life since I can remember- you are just too much, not enough, and don’t belong.

 

Belonging was always a fight, a power struggle, and never felt safe. It was never about being my self or being at peace. It was about just being enough, to fit in. All our heavy and broken souls sometimes feel like it’s all just too much, and or too far gone.

 

Gosh, the burden was heavy. I was sinking deep, in depression, in my brokenness. And I hid and ran.

 

Years had gone by, and I found my self, a grown woman, mother of two, more broken-hearted than ever. Not because something had happened, but because as the years went on, my hope to ever feeling like I had a home, drifted with it.

 

I had a conversation with a good friend- that lead me to say words that I thought I had already dealt with – “I think God thinks I’m too broken and don’t think he’ll ever really bless me because of it- because there is so much work to do. Why would he fight for me? It’s all too broken, I don’t have a place of belonging anyways.”

 

 As if I had to be perfect, and put together to really come to the cross. I had forgotten, that he wants us to come as we are, not so that we can stay the same, but so that he can make us new.

 

 As if the world was the giver or originator of my belonging.

 

I got really good at that- Hiding my broken pieces had become one of my best talents. Hide the pain and mess, put away the worst parts. Put on a face, for the crowds. Make sure that everyone looking in sees peace, and put-togetherness.

 

I had believed the lie, that all of my sin and mess had to be cleaned up before anyone would ever love me. Especially, that the God of the universe could choose to accept me and use me, the broken girl. That I would never, ever belong here. That surely, I would be better off, gone.

 

It was all too much. And I became accustomed to that feeling, that lifestyle. We all want to belong, we all want to feel loved, accepted, and seen as enough. We want to feel valued. And here’s the thing, we were created to feel this way, to be in need- but in need of Him, not them. Our desires and heartbeat for love, is there to be filled by the one gave it all for us.

 

But, throughout the years-  He showed me that we don’t  have to ever allow our feelings to take us back to that place, where the love of Christ didn’t dwell. See,  faith is followed by a verb- faith without works is dead. We choose it, by faith. To believe who He says we are in Him.

 

Our identity is found in Him, our belonging is with Him.

 

 If we knew, just how much God loved us- if we really understand how deep and how wide His love was – we would know, to fight those thoughts in Jesus Name. We would see them and know where they are from, and how God has said and called us the complete opposite.

 

There’s a pattern to see in all of this, those who don’t feel like they are enough, usually don’t feel like they belong, or are enough, or vice versa. 

 

It all comes down to who we believe we are.

 

And if we don’t know who He is, then we won’t ever know who we really are.

 

God, in His faithful and relentless pursuit, is and was after my broken and weary heart. He was after me, just as He is after you. To rescue us, give us new life, and send us off to tell others, of this incredible God who saved us about the Good news of our new home, the home that was ours from the moment Jesus died on the cross. Where I belonged, where we belong.

 

We have a job to do, with our words and our hearts, to love on those around us. To make sure we are building up, not tearing down. Telling them, reminding them, that they have a home.

 

Where He longes for all of His children to be.

 

God is gentle and faithful and good, and He would never give up on us. He says in Luke 15:4 "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?”

 

He leaves the 99 for the one 1. We are the one, the one that drifted off and felt forgotten and misunderstood. We are the one, the unbeliever that was pursued by a God who whispered to our weary and heavy hearts- "daughter, you were fearfully and wonderfully made."

 

Let’s remember sisters, that the God of the Universe values us, so much so that He sent His Son Jesus, to wipe clean the sin, the crimson stain, and leave us white as snow. Clean, with a new home. What a gift.

 

And also remember, you’re a warrior, and not because you have fought the best fights- but because you are allowing God to fight them for you, and have said yes time and time again, to Him. Because you have overcome adversity, grief, and pain, and have chosen to get back up- because in our weakest His power is made perfect, and we choose to believe that in the worst of days, in the worst of times.

 

You are Victorious- daughter of the King of Kings, and you have a home.

 

A home where you are valued and loved more than you will ever know-           

 

In His arms. 

 

Watch the live interview with Alex below...