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The Heart Of Valentine’s Day

The Heart Of Valentine’s Day

Urban Dictionary’s definition of valentine’s day is this; “Holiday maliciously created to make lonely people extremely depressed.” And you know what guys, that just makes me really sad. It makes me sad, because I don’t think that is what Valentine’s Day is about at all. I don’t think it is about single people. Nor do I think it is about married people. I don’t think it is about engaged people, or those who are dating. I think Valentine’s day is for all people, because I would like to think that the heart of Valentine’s Day is not relationships, but that the heart of Valentine’s Day is love itself. A day where the whole world acknowledges and is intentional about the way that we love.

However, we cannot change the way that the world thinks. Well, I guess we can because we the people make up the world. But my point is that we do not have to go parading around telling the world to not have such a shallow view of Valentine’s day. Instead of spending our time trying to change the world, let’s just look inside of our own individual hearts and change our heart to get off the Valentine’s Day Sucks campaign and make our heart align with the word of God. The truth is, as a Christian, a day focused on love should be the day that the church and the people who follow Jesus THRIVE – regardless of your dating status.

In Matthew 22 the Pharisees put their heads together to try to ask Jesus a question that would stump him. One of them who was an expert in the law decided to test Jesus with the question, “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” I want us to look at what Jesus said, because I am sure that the last thing this expert was thinking Jesus would say as the greatest of all the commandments would be to love.

Jesus replied:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39).

If I were to start a new campaign slogan for valentine’s day it would be those words right there listed as the second greatest command – love your neighbor as yourself today. Give your neighbor chocolate, give your neighbor a hug, give your neighbor a letter, show your neighbor you appreciate them, bring your neighbor dinner, and know that by loving your neighbor you’re fulfilling your purpose. Also, it does not actually have to be your next door neighbor – just show love to a friend. And as you start living out your purpose you yourself will start feeling more loved. As you love others you may just also fall in love with who you are, too. What a better day you would have fulfilling purpose, giving love, and receiving love instead of wallowing in the fact that you’re single or the teddy bear your husband got you was not as big as the one you saw on Instagram.

A big thing I see people talking about in religious Christianity is that people fear they are not doing enough for God. That they are not reading their bible enough, giving enough, singing enough, praying enough and so on. The truth is God’s love is not measured on what you can do for him. But if we did look at it as a measure I want you to see that beyond anything you can do for God what He ultimately desires of you is that you have love in your heart – for him and for others. Let’s read in 1 Corinthians 13:

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

These words have pierced my soul many times, “If I don’t have love then I am nothing. If I don’t have love I gain nothing.” I do wonder sometimes if the reason we struggle so much as a generation not knowing our purpose and not feeling fulfilled is because we bypass the very thing that would give us our identity and worth, love itself. Christians, you could feed the poor, you could prophecy over thousands, you could have wisdom beyond anyone you know, and you could even have faith big enough that it would move a mountain, but it is nothing without love.

So now that you are challenged and maybe even convicted by the lack of love you have had in your heart you may be wondering where to from here. Well below is a guide for you on how to love well from 1st Corinthians 13. But even the guide could feel overwhelming as you wonder how in your humanity you could muster up the love we have been called to. I want you to know that you by yourself cannot do this perfectly. 1st John 4 tells us that God is love. As you read this description of love instead of reading it as a guide for what you need to be let it be a description of who God is to you. You have to know that the perfect form of this love is who God is. The beauty of it all is that the only way to follow the commands of God is learn from God.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Go out and LOVE today. Find your identity and purpose in that love today. If you don’t know where to start, I wanted to give y’all a practical way you can love today.

I’m excited to share that I’ve team up with Erica Woolston for a very special bracelet for a very special cause this Valentine’s Day.

Together, we’ve created the “Imprint Bracelet” a 14K gold beaded bracelet and with your purchase of the bracelet, we will be donating 50% to the A21 Campaign – a Campaign fighting human trafficking through reach, rescue, and restoration.

To purchase the bracelet, click HERE.

And for more information on this cause, visit A21.org.

May we live in a world where men, women, and children are no longer exploited for their bodies. A world where we are all free. Thank you for making your imprint – one that is helping fight to see the end of modern day slavery.

Finding Jesus In the Discouragement

Finding Jesus In the Discouragement

Note from Team LO: We are SO excited to bring you this month’s post from our LO sister member, Kailee Elise! If you want to be a part of this incredible community, you can join today and get your first week FREE! Find out more about this online sisterhood HERE. And for more info about what LO sister is all about, visit our Instagram Page!

Now, enjoy today’s post from Kailee 🙂 

 

Wake up.

Turn off the alarm.

Scroll through my phone.

Get up.

Pick up my to-do list.

Go through the motions.

And watch the next day roll around.

What day even is it? Monday? Friday? Sunday?

The days used to have such distinction, but now they simply roll together. Plans used to be made, but now they’re all canceled. Friends used to get together, but now it’s a risk to even do so.

It seems as if the world went on pause. But at the same time, it keeps moving. Time keeps passing. The to-do list still manages to fill up. And the emotions definitely don’t stop coming.

Fear.

Anxiety.

Waiting.

Loneliness.

Do any of these feel familiar? Truth is, we’re all in this together. Yet separate. As I was driving the other day, I passed a sign that was promoting to stay at home to stop the spread of covid. At the bottom, it read: #AloneTogether.

We’re all in this together. Yet ironically more alone than ever. Community can still be found over our phones. But in person? Very little so.

I’m going to be honest. This season has been lonely for so many, and I’ve been right there too. Longing for community. For friends to hang out with. To see people I haven’t in months, or even a year at this point. It’s normal. God designed us for community from the start. After forming Adam, He said that it’s not good for man to be alone. So no wonder this isolated season has been so challenging.

However, in the midst of this, I’ve realized that we’re genuinely not alone: Jesus is with us. Jesus is longing for a relationship. To be your friend. To be your Savior. To be able to pour into your life as you pour into Him.

Psalms 5:11 says, “but let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.” Even if the situation is less than desirable, take refuge in Jesus. And He can fill you up with gladness and joy.

Yesterday the weight of this entire season was weighing down on my heart. I was drained. I had little energy, or motivation to do much. Yes, I had a to-do list. But I questioned why I even needed to complete it. What the point in doing so was. If the things I had written down really, truly mattered, or if they were just written to have a sense of business. It felt like all purpose was nowhere to be found.

In hope for a little boost, I listened to a sermon, which usually fills me up with a newly found energy and centers my heart to Jesus, and the fullness He provides, again. The pastor pronounced that God is still moving even when you can’t see it. This is easy to say when you’re not experiencing slowness or discouragement. But in the midst of it, the true test arises.

Is your faith firmly in Jesus?

Do you trust that He’s still there, loves you, and has a plan intact?

Think of it as a spiritual muscle. When the discouragement, waiting, and questioning come, that’s when the muscle can be strengthened. It takes going through the uncomfortable to reach true growth that makes an impact. Just like with working out, it takes the exercises that aren’t necessarily loved at the moment to see progress. It may seem tough at the moment, but afterward, knowing you pushed through, is so rewarding. And over time, progress can start to show.

A muscle can’t grow overnight, or even in a week. It can take months or years. The same goes for spiritual growth.

When you feel the most purpose-less may be the times when God’s trying to grow your heart the most. When He’s truly trying to show you that in the mundane, you already have so much purpose. Because your ultimate purpose already rests in the fact that you’re a beloved child of God, made in His very own image. Our purpose isn’t found in how much we’re accomplishing, or whether our dreams are coming true or not. It’s found in resting in Jesus alone.

So in the questioning or feelings of purposelessness, take that time to challenge your faith. To remember Jesus is still there. He hasn’t forsaken you, and He’s still moving. In this day of doubt, I continued to listen to sermons, read the Bible, and books on people’s faith, and what God has brought them through. I worshipped. I focused on recentering my heart with Jesus’. And I did find a newly found sense of peace and fullness.

Discouragement may try to seep into your life over and over. But sometimes it simply takes letting the Savior fill you up again, to truly realize that He is there. And that He is all you need. Even through the losses. Even through the mundane.

When all purpose or motivation seems lost: remember God still has a plan. It may be slow. You may feel alone. But you’re absolutely not alone.

God is with you, has gone behind you, and is going before you.

He wants you to press into a relationship with Him when you feel alone.

He wants to work in your heart when you’re discouraged.

He wants to love you right where you’re at.

He’s on the move, my friend.

Every slow or difficult season is carefully crafted with a beautiful plan and blessing in store. It may not be now: it may be found in eternity. But in the midst of our struggles, we can place our hope and joy in Him. For in Him alone we will find refuge, joy, and rejoicing.

“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as a shield” (Psalm 5:11-12).

The Gift of Celebration

The Gift of Celebration

“Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” John 2:7-11

I love weddings! Each of the weddings in our family have had their own special touches, some big, others small, some at our home, others at a distant location, but my favorite thing about weddings ands the one thing they have all had in common is that there is nothing sweeter or more special than having all of your favorite people in the world come together in one place, under one tent, to celebrate, honor and bear witness to the marriage of one of your children. It is truly one of the most sacred, and also most fun moments of life!

The morning after Sadie and Christian’s wedding I woke up and thought how fun would it be to somehow give that gift to someone else. I know weddings while being joy-filled occasions can also be stressful, overwhelming and let’s face it…expensive! So I decide then that we would “give away” a wedding to someone that needed it. I didn’t know what that would look like, just determined that we would, and then 2020 came, our world went into a global pandemic and all of a sudden there were thousands and thousands of brides who had dreamed and planned, prayed and saved and put deposits down for weddings that would have to be canceled. I could only imagine how devastating that would be! Sadie and the LO team immediately began dreaming about how they could help this group of “Covid brides” feel a little less alone, and I along with my awesome assistant, fellow dreamer, and ultimate party planner, Lindsay, immediately started planning how we could gift a wedding to a special bride!

I loved getting the opportunity to help Elizabeth and Adam celebrate their love story in such a special way, even if it looked different than they had originally imagined. I think we can all agree that 2020 has been far from normal, but to be a part of the beginning of a couple’s life together, and to help them to celebrate when every thing seemed lost and turned upside down was a complete joy. I hope this inspires you to find ways to celebrate, even in the midst of whatever setbacks or disappointments life brings. Two becoming one is always something to celebrate! Enjoy Elizabeth’s Story…

P.S. Don’t you love that the very first miracle that Jesus performed was at a wedding! Isn’t it so beautiful to see that the savior of the universe listened to his mother and turned water to wine so that a wedding celebration could continue? Our God is always about the business of bringing beauty out of the ashes!

From Elizabeth:

Let’s talk about wedding planning. It’s a subject that every bride from past, present, and future knows all too well. It’s a little crazy, stressful, and can even be dramatic at the worst of times. Now let’s make it interesting by throwing a little bit of 2020 into the mix and see what concoction we can come up with. Here’s my story of how my wedding went from being something I always dreamed about to a complete nightmare and then circled all the way back to being the most magical, perfect day a bride could hope for. It’s a bit of a journey so bear with me.

I met my husband, Adam, back in 2016. We started dating about 6 months after meeting and got engaged Christmas 2018. I could not believe how perfect the proposal was! He even picked out the ring himself and let me tell y’all – he didn’t just do good. He did great! We immediately began wedding planning by picking out the date – April 4, 2020. We knew we’d need some time to save up and we were about to move to Texas, so we gave ourselves plenty of breathing room.

We moved and got our lives started in the Lone Star State with a new job for me and a job transfer for Adam. As an event planner for the past 7 years, I was in familiar territory or at least I thought I was. We had everything finalized and then the world turned upside down.

I was sitting in a conference room at work in March when my boss made the announcement that we were cancelling our annual conference due to the pandemic and the thought suddenly occurred to me that I needed to start looking at a contingency plan for the wedding.

I’m not going to lie and tell you that I kept it together. I cried for maybe a week on and off about the wedding. I was a mess and full of panic. Adam and I had to make a decision and we had to make it quickly since our wedding was less than a month away.

We decided to postpone the reception indefinitely and have a small intimate ceremony with 10 people at my Dad’s house in Shreveport, LA. We would try to get back as much as we could from vendors we no longer needed and keep the ones we did need. We had a plan, and it was all going to work out! Except it didn’t – my Dad, stepmom, and little sister were all exposed to someone with Covid-19 and their 2-week quarantine wouldn’t be up until April 5. Did I mention we learned all of this after getting back home from getting out marriage license in Louisiana?

And then the tears were there again. We put things on hold for a while until I could work up the courage to make another plan. My amazing florist, Brianna Belton, was seriously a godsend. She was the one person who helped keep me sane and didn’t make me feel crazy as I asked her question after question about what her other brides were doing and what dates she had available.

From there, we set on a new date and venue – October 3, 2020 in Bossier City, LA at Brianna’s own workshop. We decided to keep things small with 70 people and go for it. Honestly, I was sick of wedding planning at this point. It was supposed to be the greatest experience and it just wasn’t anymore. But then something I can only describe as a miracle happened.

Brianna called and said she had a vendor reach out to her who had a previous client that was wanting to do something nice for a bride and groom affected by the pandemic. Brianna asked if she could give them my contact information for them to reach out to me and I said yes.

About a week went by when I received a Facetime call from Korie Robertson. I was in complete shock. Korie offered for Adam and I to get married at their family farm in Calhoun, LA at no charge. It immediately felt like such a blessing that we really needed and a sign from God that this was really going to work itself out for the better.

We kept wedding planning and the blessings kept pouring in. Glass Chapel Videography who was looking to get back in the game after moving back to the area and wanted to be a part of our wedding at no cost to us. Bash Booth (and the original vendor contact) offered their services free of charge. A Element Event Rentals based out of New Orleans who wanted to be a part of this by giving us rentals to use. Not to mention the Robertson’s who not only let us use their property, but also paid for the food for the wedding, gave us their tent to use, and opened up their home to us the day of to get ready.

We are forever grateful to the Robertson’s for this amazing opportunity and for making us fall back in love with our wedding. They gave us the best day we could have ever dreamed of.

I am extremely honored to have been chosen for this and to have worked alongside the many amazing vendors who made this day possible. Your kindness will be something I never forget as long as I live. In more ways than you can imagine – thank you.

Venue – Willie and Korie’s Farm, Korie Robertson @bosshogswife

Florals, Styling, & Catering – Brianna Belton Designs @briannabeltondesign

Photobooth: Sarah Jeffords @bashbooth

Photography – Kayla Hall Photography @kaylahallphotography

Videography – Glass Chapel Motion @glasschapelmotion

Hair & Makeup – Grace Coyer Trahan

DJ – HollyTrees Weddings & Events @hollytreesweddingsandevents

Cake – Uptown Down @udruston

Dress – A & Be Bridal Shop Dallas @aandbe_bridalshop

Explore Elements: @exploreelements

Finding Jesus In the Discouragement

In the Meantime…

Note from Team LO: We are SO excited to bring you this month’s post from our LO sister member, Madeline Kellas! If you want to be a part of this incredible community, you can join today and your your first week FREE! Find out more about this online sisterhood HERE. And for more info about what LO sister is all about, visit our Instagram Page!

Now, enjoy today’s post from Madeline 🙂 

________

A few days ago I was led to read chapter 29 from the book of Genesis which contains the story of Jacob and Rachel. To give some context to the story, Jacob and Essau were the sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Jacob and Essau were twins, and when they were born Essau came out first, making him the eldest son. It was traditional in Jewish culture for the eldest son to receive a birthright blessing from their father. The abridged version of what happens next is that Jacob tricked Isaac into giving him Essau’s birthright blessing. Once Essau found out he was furious, so Jacob fled his homeland in order to escape Essau’s wrath, and that, my friends, is where Genesis 29 picks up.

During his travels, Jacob came upon a well and saw a group of men standing there who, as it turned out, knew a relative of his, Laban. The men at the well informed Jacob that Laban’s daughter, Rachel, who worked as a shepherdess, was approaching the well. Jacob was instantly captivated by her beauty and she was equally captivated by him.

Jacob asked, “Do you know Laban son of Nahor?” “We do.” “Are things well with him?” Jacob continued.“Very well,” they said. “And here is his daughter Rachel coming with the flock.” Jacob said, “There’s a lot of daylight still left; it isn’t time to round up the sheep yet, is it? So why not water the flocks and go back to grazing?” “We can’t,” they said. “Not until all the shepherds get here. It takes all of us to roll the stone from the well. Not until then can we water the flocks.” While Jacob was in conversation with them, Rachel came up with her father’s sheep. She was the shepherd. The moment Jacob spotted Rachel, daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, saw her arriving with his uncle Laban’s sheep, he went and single-handedly rolled the stone from the mouth of the well and watered the sheep of his uncle Laban. Then he kissed Rachel and broke into tears. He told Rachel that he was related to her father, that he was Rebekah’s son. She ran and told her father. When Laban heard the news—Jacob, his sister’s son!—he ran out to meet him, embraced and kissed him and brought him home. Jacob told Laban the story of everything that had happened.

The chapter goes on to say:

When Jacob had been with him for a month, Laban said, “Just because you’re my nephew, you shouldn’t work for me for nothing. Tell me what you want to be paid. What’s a fair wage?” Now Laban had two daughters; Leah was the older and Rachel the younger. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was stunningly beautiful. And it was Rachel that Jacob loved. So Jacob answered, “I will work for you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” “It is far better,” said Laban, “that I give her to you than marry her to some outsider. Yes. Stay here with me.” So Jacob worked seven years for Rachel. But it only seemed like a few days, he loved her so much.

Okay, so, this is one of the main sections of the text I want to focus on because there is so much information here to unpack.

Once Jacob started working for Laban, Laban desired to pay Jacob for his labor. However, instead of choosing to acquire wealth, Jacob asked Laban if instead of wages Jacob could be granted the privilege of marrying Rachel in return for his work. Laban agreed and determined Jacob would need to work for seven years before he could marry Rachel. Seven years!! I don’t know about you but waiting for long periods of time goes against every fiber in my being. I would like to note though, that in the Bible the number seven symbolizes unity and completeness. We see earlier in Genesis that God created the world in seven days, and on the last day God rested because his work was finished, or complete. Here, in this section of Genesis, we see that Jacob’s work will take seven years to complete. It was right here, the Lord whispered something new to me.

Before I delve into what the Lord shared with me, it is important to note that in Jewish society at this time of this story it was customary for women to give up their profession once they were married so that they could tend to the home and any children who were born. When we are first introduced to Rachel we are told that she was working for her father as a shepherdess, meaning had Laban granted Jacob his blessing to marry Rachel right away she would have had to abandon her work as a shepherdess.

It was right here that the Lord reminded me of something so important. In the seven years of waiting for Jacob to complete his contract of working Laban’s land, Rachel also continued to work as a shepherdess. While my initial reaction to reading that this couple had to wait seven years before they could get married was one of sadness and frustration, the Lord whispered in my ear “maybe Rachel wasn’t done with her mission.” Perhaps Jacob had to work those seven years so that Rachel could continue walking in her purpose. Maybe during her work, Rachel interacted with people who needed what she had to offer. Maybe, just maybe, Rachel wasn’t done serving the Lord and fulfilling her God-given purpose.

The scripture goes on to briefly describe Rachel and her older sister, Leah: “Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was stunningly beautiful.” Friend, I am going to put a pin right here and we will come back to this verse later.

Genesis 29 goes on to say:

Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife; I’ve completed what we agreed I’d do. I’m ready to consummate my marriage.” Laban invited everyone around and threw a big feast. At evening, though, he got his daughter Leah and brought her to the marriage bed, and Jacob slept with her….Morning came: There was Leah in the marriage bed! Jacob confronted Laban, “What have you done to me? Didn’t I work all this time for the hand of Rachel? Why did you cheat me?” “We don’t do it that way in our country,” said Laban. “We don’t marry off the younger daughter before the older. Enjoy your week of honeymoon, and then we’ll give you the other one also. But it will cost you another seven years of work.”

Unfortunately, after working seven years for Laban, Jacob was tricked by him and ended up marrying Rachel’s sister, Leah. While what Laban did is not right, maybe Jacob missed the signs that he was being tricked. Perhaps in his rush to finally be out of his season of waiting Jacob followed his flesh rather than God’s Spirit. Friend, I don’t know about you but I have learned from my own experiences that the ways of the flesh always lead to destruction, but the ways of the Spirit always lead to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

We so often view waiting as a punishment that we become so fixed on moving past our season of waiting that we do everything we can to try and run down the clock. However, in doing so and focusing only on what we want we often miss what God has intended for our season of waiting.

Maybe some of you are waiting to meet a boy, or waiting for your boyfriend to propose so any amount of time feels too long. Friend, I am there with you, I am in my own season of waiting right now, so I know firsthand how hard that can be. But can I suggest that maybe you haven’t met a boy yet because the Lord wants to be first in your life and heart. Or maybe the Lord wants you to use your season of singleness to fall in love with yourself and grow as an individual. Perhaps you’re not engaged yet because your heart posture isn’t right, or the Lord is currently working in your partner’s life and that takes priority over your desires. Or maybe, like Rachel, getting into a relationship, or marriage would distract and call you away from your purpose.

Friend, I know it is hard, but I want to urge you slow down and seek the Lord’s timing and purpose over your own because, as Jacob showed us, when we chase our own desires and flesh we often end up in a heap of trouble, and usually end up waiting even longer.

Later in Genesis 29, after Jacob worked another seven years and married Rachel, we see that his first wife, Rachel’s sister Leah, was really hurting. After all, Jacob worked a total of fourteen years so that he could marry Rachel. But then there was Leah, who the Bible described as having weak eyes. Remember that verse I said to put a pin in and we would visit it later? Let’s delve into that now. To my understanding, “weak eyes” means what it does today. In other words, Leah needed glasses.

While this part is slightly off-topic, I think it is important to note as the Lord highlighted it to me. When someone has weak eyes, and no access to glasses or any other corrective lenses, they have to take more time to focus, exercise precision, and be extremely intentional in order to do the task at hand because it is harder for them see clearly. Although many of us may want to be more like Rachel, a woman who is known for her beauty, friend, let me suggest that we strive to be more like Leah – intentional and faithful in everything we do, despite the circumstances or environment around us.

We go on to read that despite being unloved by Jacob, Leah remained faithful, and God blessed her for it:

When God realized that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb. But Rachel was barren. Leah became pregnant and had a son…

So, friend, in closing, I hope this spoke to you as it did me. I hope that instead of rushing to be out of your season of waiting that you take the time to slow down and act intentionally like Leah, while shifting your perspective and choosing to view this as time to walk-in your God given purpose like Rachel. I hope most of all, that during your season of waiting that you draw even closer to God.

What Does It Mean To Be Content?

What Does It Mean To Be Content?

Note from Team LO: We are so excited to have one of our LO sister ambassadors, Summer Otwell, on the blog today! Want more from Summer? She is one of many sisters who you can find on our brand new app, LO sister. Founded by your girl Sadie, LO sister exists to equip, encourage, and gather sisters and friends from all over the world for community. LO sister’s doors are currently open but closing soon! To start your free one month trial, click HERE and get started today! Now enjoy today’s blog from Summer 🙂 

“Content people don’t always have the best of everything, but they make the best of everything.” 

Let’s just face it, life can be crazy sometimes! At times it can be hard to find peace and feel content in times of uncertainty. This can be related to a lot of different things… maybe you’re going through a death in the family, or a tough breakup, times are just uncertain with everything going on in the world right now if we are being honest! All of this to say, every person IS going through something no matter what it may be. 

My life has been pretty crazy in the past year, not going to lie to you about that one. It has been filled with loneliness, uncertainty, breakups, and a lot of unknowns. Throughout all of it, I realized the true importance of being content in whatever season of life you’re going through. 

In our world today, I feel like there is a huge expectation put on us as women to have to be in a relationship, or have to be married by a certain time in order to feel complete. But y’all, our time of singleness is just as important as every other season of life. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the MOST important seasons. It’s times of singleness that teach us to be completely dependent on the Lord and content in where he has us at the moment. Over the past year I’ve seen this first hand. For so many years I found my identity and contentment in guys. Starting around 16 years old, I ALWAYS had to get attention from them no matter what it took. A few years later I entered into my first serious relationship, and I quickly realized even a serious relationship wouldn’t complete me. There was still something missing, I just couldn’t pin-point what it was. After 3 years of being in this toxic relationship with him we finally broke things off for good. It wasn’t until I finally let him go that I realized that no guy could complete me, only Jesus can. He’s the only thing that can fill me up. Ever since the breakup, the Lord has taught me so much about being fully content in who he is. For the first time in my life I’m finally to the point where I don’t have to have a guy to feel complete. I’ve realized just how beautiful our time of singleness really is and I’ve learned to let the Lord complete me. “An insecure single woman will become an insecure married woman.” If we can’t be secure by ourselves in the Lord alone, then how will we ever be content while in a relationship? Another quote that my friend recently shared with me is “singleness is not a season of waiting for somebody else, it’s a season of becoming all that God wants you to be in the midst of waiting.” How true is that y’all! Singleness is such a blessing, let’s find our contentment in the Lord alone!

In Philippians 4:10-13 it says “I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Now you may be wondering what is helping me get through this season, and I believe it’s when I shifted my focus from looking at the negative side of singleness to now focusing on becoming instead of waiting. I’m starting to see this season as a transformation season instead of a waiting one. Although the Lord showed me what contentment looks like through my time of singleness, contentment should not only be found in singleness but also in every other area of our lives. My advice to you is to rest in knowing that you’re enough in Christ. Whatever season of life you may be going through right now is preparing you for the future that God has in store for you. 

Summer Otwell is from the sweet town of West Monroe, Louisiana. Sumer sees herself as just an imperfect girl that’s crazy in love with her savior, Jesus Christ! She loves spending time with friends, sipping coffee, sharing about Jesus, and talking about enneagrams!

Follow Summer on Instagram @summerotwell

The Perfect Mother

The Perfect Mother

Through years and years of blogging, I almost always avoid the topics of motherhood and parenting. The question is, why? I have four children, for crying out loud! You would think I would know a thing or two about motherhood, yet time and again, I avoid the topic. The reason I avoid that subject is that I am afraid to speak into such an important role, especially in a time when it seems our culture is quick to cancel you. What if I rave on about my parenting skills, then my kids make a mess of their lives? What then? Will I be considered a phony?

One thing I am learning about myself as a mother is the temptation to make an idol out of the “righteousness” of my children.  I am tempted to make “their” righteousness or lack thereof a reflection of my own. The struggle with perfectionism easily becomes a virus that spreads from one generation to the next if one is not careful. It is easy for us as moms to “cover” for our children in the name of “saving face.”

What do I mean by this? Well, I don’t know about you, but I struggle with wanting to be respected by others for being a good mother. I struggle with this because somehow, I am convinced that if others view me as a “good” mother and they view my children as “good” kids, then that must be the reality. Never mind that I am placing my worth and value as a mother in the hands of flawed human beings.

I recall attending a weekly Bible study with other moms and toddlers when my kids were much younger. It was hands down the most stressful part of my week; I  know that sounds terrible. Before I even arrived at the study, anxiety began to stir up within me because I just knew that my kids were going to misbehave. And sure enough, they did. It was always my kids — yep. They were always too rough, too loud, too mischievous, too destructive, and way too toddler.

Anybody in the house feeling me yet?

I got in my car sweating and overflowing with anxiety, mad at my kids because they did not behave, and even madder at the moms who insinuated that it was “my kids’” fault. How exactly could they tell between prayers and scripture reading that it was, in fact, a Dasher that was at fault? Girl moms blame everything on boy moms! Did they have eyes in the backs of their heads? I am laughing as I write this, but some of you are “amening” and “shouting hallelujah” like there’s no tomorrow. You’ve been there. You know what those settings can be like. Everyone is trying to outdo the other. Mom groups can get about as competitive as a county fair pageant in July, and no, I am not downing county fair pageants; I was, after all, Miss Cherokee Capital Fair back in my day. Ha, I just had to throw that in there for kicks.

Now before you get all hot and bothered and ready to call it quits with your Mommy and Me group, just hear me out. The greatest lesson I am learning through being a mother is found in one simple word, applied all over my life, every day of my life, and now more than ever. The term is GRACE. GRACE ON ME. GRACE ON MY KIDS. GRACE ON HER.

GRACE ON ME (YOU) – YOU AND I ARE NOT PERFECT MOTHERS. We never have been and never will be. You can search Instagram over, and you will find a whole lot of amazing moms. You will find a whole lot of trendy moms, creative moms, talented moms, but a perfect mother, you will never see. One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children is just that; that they would know we are a continuous work in progress. I strive to confess as comfortably as I praise within the walls of our home because I genuinely believe I experience the most praise through confession. Not the kind of praise that says, ”Wow, you are an awesome mom!” Nope; instead, the type of praise that says, ”Wow, you are an awesome God!” So awesome that I could screw up that big, yell that loudly, overreact  to that extent, and yet, through confession, God begins to heal my family once again. And again, and again, and again. Give yourself the grace that God so graciously gives to you.

Therefore, confess your sins to each other, and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (James 5:16)

GRACE ON MY KIDS (YOUR KIDS) – MY KIDS/YOUR KIDS WILL MESS UP. Their rap sheet will include sin; there is no way around it. None of us likes to think about our children as sinners, and we certainly do not want to advertise it; nonetheless, it is true. As you begin to learn to give yourself grace as a mother, it allows you to dispense it to your children more easily because you are not trying to maintain an image. Dispensing grace is NOT covering for your children; rather, it is the opposite. Grace is exposing the truth and loving them despite it. That does not mean it is easy. I will confess to you, as a mother, I do want my children to be perceived in a beautiful light. But way more than that, I want them to be men and women of integrity. This will not happen in a vacuum. If I desire that of my children, then that is who I have to be as a mom — someone honest about who she is, the good as well as the bad.

GRACE ON HER – Let’s be honest, motherhood can bring out the worst in us at times. Yes, it is true. If you are a mother, and you are reading this, you may very well have the mom or moms in your life who just always seem to have it out for you. With passive-aggressive words, they critique your children, your parenting, your lifestyle, or your style for that matter, and you find yourself bending over backward to try to earn their favor. Don’t. Quit going back to the well of man’s approval. Show them grace and seek the wisdom that comes from above. Ask the question, is this a God-honoring friendship?

God forbid, you may have actually been that mom, oh, hey, now. Well, I, for one, was on both sides of this coin, and I can say for sure that many times, the moms I most set out to destroy, even if only in my head, were the ones I secretly admired the most. Why are we so quickly prone to see the worst in others? I think it is because we believe the lie that for someone to be great at something means we must be less than. This is simply not true. In fact, God created us each different, possessing specific gifts for the purpose of building up the entire body.

… from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:16)

 God meant for us to thrive in community with one another, building up each other in the gift that God gave to us for the benefit of us all. Become a champion of others. Satan may thrive in the battle of comparison, but we do not have to step foot on that battlefield. We can choose to be different. What if, instead of our children hearing what is wrong with everyone else, they heard what was right? How might that change the way they learn to interact with their friends? How might that change our hearts if we truly understand our need for the body to work properly to grow in love?

GIVE GRACE. RECEIVE GRACE. BECOME A CHAMPION OF OTHERS.

At the end of the day, in our attempt to be the best mothers we can be, the key to remember is this. It is not about the righteousness of your children (they will mess up). It is not about the virtue of your motherhood (you will mess up). It is about the righteousness of Jesus and His finished work on the cross. It’s the understanding that, as believers, we already are canceled. His blood canceled our debts, and for that reason, we should be all the more eager to lavishly and regularly dispense GRACE. TO OURSELVES, TO OUR KIDS, TO EACH OTHER.

Jill Dasher is a blogger and speaker who is passionate about sharing the message of being known through authentic community with God and each other. She resides in Asheville, NC with her husband Zach and four children. In between sunset hikes and camping weekends she works alongside her husband running a media company.

Follow Jill on Instagram @jilldasher

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