Burnout, Growth, and New Beginnings

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Burnout, Growth, and New Beginnings

Emily Taylor, Hannah Beers, Cassie DeClerc, and Kaytee Mitchell are pictured at the Daughters of the King conference in Van Buren, Missouri.

Have you ever experienced burnout? I'm talking the kind of exhaustion and disappointment that lasts through a bad day and into a season. Burnout is living overwhelmed. I am writing to you today from the end of the burnout season. 

Two years ago this week, Insecurely Movement launched. I was a college freshman, living in a bright new world plagued with insecurity that affected everything around me. On a late night in February 2013, for the first time in my short life, I saw a way out of living a life of insecurity.

I lived 18 years with a voice questioning my validity as a woman, friend, daughter, leader, and a follower of Jesus.

As you read this, it is important to understand the war that insecurity waged against me. I am ambitious, brash, and driven to a fault. I pride myself on my ability to push through any crisis with a brave face. I like to succeed . . . all the time. I am the oldest child in my family and a fiercely protective sister. "She is intimidating" is a far greater compliment to me than, "She is beautiful." 

Josh Buckner, spoken word artist, and Nii Abrahams, writer, are pictured at the You Are Loved conference in Strafford, Missouri. 

That being said, I don't like showing emotion or weakness. Tears don't fall in public and jokes are a remarkably simple defense mechanism. My battle with insecurity did not present itself in off-handed comments about how I look or social media posts asking people to rate my appearance.

Rebel: Insecurely Day was a day that encouraged people find a plain white shirt, write their biggest insecurity on it, and wear it for a day. At Insecurely Movement, we believe that once you admit your insecurities, they lose power. 

No, that was never my battle. If it is yours, I join with you in pursuing freedom. 

My battle presents itself in relationships. "What do they think about me?" "Why do they even want to be around me?" "She obviously isn't (insert name here)." I lived 18 years with a voice questioning my validity as a woman, friend, daughter, leader, and a follower of Jesus.

When Insecurely launched, it was a series of these photos and weekly blogs. These photos illustrated that we are the same person regardless of how we look. 

Here I was, in April of 2013, with a lifetime of insecurity and a new mission to abolish it entirely. In a whirlwind of a year, people came alongside me, dedicated to sharing the message of Insecurely Movement. My dear friend Joshua Buckner wrote a spoken word that inspires everyone from YouTube commenters to prison inmates. Our social media grew and we planned and executed events. The website got a makeover, our staff reached eighteen people, and we were invited to speak at conferences around the state. We were doing exactly what we were called to do. But, it was not enough. 

I let myself believe a very simple lie. "I can't do it." Insecurely couldn't file for tax exempt status.  Insecurely couldn't create a business bank account. Insecurely couldn't gain thousands of Twitter followers. Insecurely couldn't devise a series of resources. Insecurely could not do it. 

I became so focused on what Insecurely could not do, I forgot what we could do.

Jon Hamilton, a pastor at Central AG in Vero Beach, Florida, spoke the words that illustrate the fault with this concept. "God did not tell us everyone would respond well to our ministry. He called us to be faithful." 

That brings me here. Insecurely Movement is back. We are back to share in the journey. We're back to do what we were called to do. We're back for you. 

That's what this whole thing is about anyway, right? We're here to make the trek together. The twenty-somethings that make up Insecurely are no experts. We live life just as you do. We spend Friday nights watching Netflix and complain entirely too much about Mondays. We go to job interviews and take final exams. We wait too long to do laundry. We eat Taco Bell when we shouldn't. 

The girl I was, immersed in insecurity, is still in here. I hear her voice all too often, but she reminds me of something new. Today, that girl reminds me of the struggles that so many of us deal with, of the guilt and pain that saddle themselves to you. She reminds me that there is a whole population of people who are still too deep in insecurities to break the surface of speaking up and out. She reminds me that each person is susceptible to insecurity, and to love people with a compassion that only Jesus could have mastered. 

We're here to come alongside you in the journey. Will you let us join?

God did not tell us everyone would respond well to our ministry. He called us to be faithful.
— Jon Hamilton, pastor

Hannah Beers is the founder of Insecurely Movement. She is a senior advertising and public relations at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri. After graduation, Hannah plans on entering into public service. To connect with Hannah, follow her on Twitter. 

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Chelsea Watkins: Not Christian Enough

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Chelsea Watkins: Not Christian Enough

What do young Christians find attractive?

Guys that sing and play acoustic guitar (those guys can worship like no one else), and girls who like deep theological discussions (they really dig coffee and the word). Don’t fit the criteria? Well then, “You aren’t spiritual enough.” Not spiritual enough? You don’t fit the high standards that many of today’s Christian men and women have of what Godliness is. If you don’t pray to Jesus in a certain way, talk about God every other conversation, and fall to your knees during every worship service, then you aren’t very godly. Don’t get me wrong, a guy that truly loves the Lord is attractive, but should that kind of Godliness be the limit of what we consider “attractive”?

If you think of what Godliness is (taken from Galatians 5) being Christ-like, or loving others like Christ comes to mind. It’s a basic biblical definition. Once it is applied to a possible dating partner, it becomes more of a cultural definition than a biblical one. In our current Christian culture, Godliness means someone who worships dramatically, loves talking about God, or always in prayer. It doesn’t sound bad on the surface, but we tend to have a narrow idea of what exemplifies those definitions. We end up picturing the extremes. We picture someone who jumps and shouts during worship, talks about God all the time (you know what I mean), and someone who prays really really intensely. Is it wrong to do those things? Not at all, but when it becomes a standard that we hold ourselves, and others to, it becomes a problem. Now that it’s a standard, the mindset becomes “If you don’t worship Jesus in that exact way, then clearly you don't follow Christ" and that’s ridiculous! What gets overlooked is that not everyone expresses their relationship with Christ in the same way. Some people are loud and outspoken. Others are quieter, with a softer voice, but that doesn’t mean one is more Godly than the other.

Godliness shouldn’t be a quality we use to attract a mate, but rather to lead others to Christ.
— Chelsea Watkins

How does this apply to dating and attractiveness? It seems that many possible suitors are turned down, because from the outside appearance, they aren’t as close to Jesus as some would like. Well if someone doesn’t meet this ridiculous new standard of Godliness, it doesn’t mean they aren’t on fire for God. It also doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of a date just because they worship a little differently. This whole thing distracts us from what Godliness really is, prevents us from truly understanding someone, and ultimately distracts us from God himself. A man or woman of God is way more than how much they talk about Jesus, or how extravagant their worship style is. Their Godliness can be seen through their character, how they treat others, and how they treat you. It should be every Christian’s goal to be like Christ, but in this we also need to keep ourselves in check. Ask yourself: “Do I worship the same in public as I do in private? Am I trying to impress others or exalt God?” Godliness shouldn’t be a quality we use to attract a mate, but rather to lead others to Christ. It’s important not to lose focus of that. Don’t start lifting your hands because some guy or gal might be looking. Lift them to worship the King who is already after your heart! When we start to view Godliness as an attractive quality rather than a goal we should be striving for, we shift our focus from God, and instead focus on ourselves. Then it’s not really Godliness at all. So while knowing that someone loves Jesus is an attractive thing, it shouldn’t distract us from Jesus.

In reference to someone being spiritual, instead of saying “that’s attractive”, say “that’s awesome”. Awesome that someone is unashamed to share the love, proclaim the love, and accept the love of Christ publicly. We shouldn’t judge how Godly someone is before we know their story, and we shouldn’t use our praises to bait someone into dating us. That’s not what it’s for. So even though the guy in the bro tank and snapback looks even better for having his bible with him, it’s only an outward appearance. Whether it’s for show or something genuine, it shouldn’t sway my opinion of how spiritual he is, because I don’t know him…yet.

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What Jesus, Nutella, and Harry Styles have in common

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What Jesus, Nutella, and Harry Styles have in common

Transient

Hi! I bet you found the sound of this article interesting! You must either:

  • Be one of those people that read every Christian article/blog and share it on your Facebook or Twitter
  • REALLY like Nutella (which I found out sells about a half-billion pounds to more than 70 countries per year and sells over $240 million per year in the US alone)  or
  • Be a hardcore “Directioner”.

I could make up this bogus article on how these three completely random things have a common bond.  And I bet if I make it sound super spiritual, you might even share it on social media. Now this isn’t coming out of pride, and I’m definitely not condemning you by any means—it’s just a trend I’m noticing. As information becomes more readily available, coupled with the new era of social media, we ALL have become journalists. We each have the ability to get on a wordpress, write a blog, post it online, and if we are lucky (assuming it has to do with dating or love), it could blow up.

I’m infatuated with understanding people and how we communicate our lives, thoughts, and emotions, which is why I have a degree in Communication. Lately, while I’ve been doing my daily social media stalking, I’ve noticed a huge increase in blogs/articles being shared on everything from finding love in your twenty-somethings to how Canada was behind 9/11. Since I am a connoisseur of this stuff, I’ll usually take a gander at what these people have to say—but what I find is simply alarming! Christian men and women are sharing posts that quite frankly are terrible pieces of advice. These pieces of advice and commentary on social issues have allowed God and Biblical principles to be misconstrued and misused to the point where the Gospel is no longer clear. The issue gets bigger because by sharing these articles, we essentially endorse it.  This has been on my heart for a long time because I understand the incredible power that communication has on our society. As Paul says in Romans 1, we have traded the truth of God for a lie, and have worshiped (and shared) created things rather than the creator. Our thoughts, actions, and opinions are literally shaped by everything we consume. So I guess the question is… are you consuming the right things?

At the end of the day, everything we do—the lives we live, the actions we display, the attitude we exude, and the things we support—are hanging on this question. Does it point people to Christ?
— Nii Abrahams

So where do we go from here? Here are 4 tips to help you evaluate the information you consume and show.

Check the source. 

Before you read any article, this should be the first thing you do. It doesn’t matter if it’s for leisure or for academic purposes. The source says it all! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Facebook arguments ERUPT over an article from The Onion—the most nonfactual, satirical, fake news site in the history of the world. Checking the source of your article or blog allows you to first filter the credibility of the subject at hand. At some point in our lives, we’ve all had that one friend you couldn’t trust a single word that came out of their mouth. They could say things like “Bro, I SWEAR I saw our librarian riding that bull at the rodeo this weekend!” or “No, I PINKY PROMISE he likes you and wants you to text him”, but you knew better. You knew not to trust whatever they said—let alone spread it. Don’t let a bad source make you look bad! You can save yourself a lot of time by simply checking the source beforehand.

Is it scriptural? 

I’ve mentioned this other times in my other articles, but I am a part of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries at Missouri State University. Recently, we had the director from Central Arkansas Chi Alpha come speak to our staff to offer some advice since we are doing some reconstruction of our ministry and their Chi Alpha is extremely successful. However, before he gave his own opinions, he immediately referenced scripture and showed how the scripture dictated his personal opinions. I will never forget that. He had the opportunity to market himself and his opinions supreme, but he made sure that the words he said were a clear representation of his dynamic relationship with the Word of God. The advice we are allowing into our lives, the things we are sharing on social media, are they based in scripture? Otherwise, what truth are we endorsing? The Word of God is the foundation that we set our lives on. I dare you to read the Bible for yourself and discover the Truth that lies within. As a close friend of mine says, “There is such a thing as absolute Truth, but it won’t be found in every blog.” 

Is this advice I would share with my kids?

If you know me, I love thinking of the future—I even have a list of what I think are cool names for my future kids on my phone (make fun of me if you want, I have accepted it). Although you might think this question is awkward or premature in your life, just think about it… why consume advice for your life, if you wouldn’t even want to give it to your kids when that time comes? Some of the blogs and articles I see (especially when it comes to dating) circulating around Facebook make me cringe! If I know Zion and Jayden (that’s a sneak peek at my list) aren’t going to be reading that stuff, I shouldn’t fill my own life with it. It’s funny how when we objectively take the mindset of a parent, everything changes! 

Does it point people to Christ?

At the end of the day, everything we do—the lives we live, the actions we display, the attitude we exude, and the things we support—are hanging on this question. Not every article has to have a written alter call or a “come to Jesus moment”, but does the article or blog come from a place of love or arrogance? Servanthood or selfishness? Does it speak truth or does it have the power to deceive? As Christ-followers, the rhetoric we allow to manipulate our thoughts, actions, and opinions should always point toward the cross.  What we read and allow others to read should edify and uplift each other!

 1 John 4: 5-6 says “They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.  We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”  

Now this may sound intense, but Peter is adamant when speaking to his audience about false teachings. I want you to understand that I am by no means saying that you shouldn’t read or share anything that doesn’t come from Relevant Magazine, Boundless, or Focus on the Family (that would get so boring), but understand that the viewpoints of the world will always inherently be distorted truth. Seeking advice from people is cool and all, but I know a place where the advice is always free and never wrong. You just read four pages of an article by a 22 year old who has a lifetime of spiritual growth still to do, but have you even read 4 pages of the Truth today?

Maybe I’m crazy… Maybe I’m being too critical… Maybe there really is a connection between Jesus, Nutella, and Harry Styles.

Nah….

Nii 


Nii holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication. He is currently an intern for the City of Springfield, Missouri and is pursuing his Master's degree in Communication. In addition to writing for Insecurely, he's known to do a fantastic President Obama impression.

To know more about Nii, follow him on Twitter. 

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Jessika Martin: The Beauty Battle

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Jessika Martin: The Beauty Battle

It really bugs me how the world portrays beauty. They tell us that we need to be their version of beautiful so that we can succeed in life. If we don’t look the part, well, we won’t get the part. They feed us this made-up definition of beauty until it is engrained into our minds.

The grocery store turns into a walk of shame for young girls who have yet to find a sign that they really are beautiful. Because everywhere they look they see flattened abs, gorgeous hair, and seemingly flawless women. They see everything they are not.

This turns into fear. At 12 years old, girls are already feeling inadequate, needing more than the body God has given them. She’ll think that, since she doesn’t look like that model she saw on the magazine in the grocery store that she will never be worth anything in life. She is already worried that guys won’t like her, that the pretty girls will never invite her into their circle.

They are teaching her that if she isn’t the world’s standard of beauty, than she will never measure up to anything so she may as well give up now. She doesn’t want to give up though, so her life becomes a battle. An everyday struggle to become their kind of beautiful. She’ll starve herself, she’ll cover her face up with make-up, all the while simply trying to find a ray of hope that she, too, can be some sort of beautiful.

They are deceiving us, ladies. They tell us to believe the lies, that we need to strive to be beautiful, that we need to buy their products and their clothes so that we can begin to look like them.

The only true beauty comes from a life fully surrendered to Jesus Christ, where we have gotten out of the way and He can be seen in and through you

It’s so wrong, and I am so passionate about this because I believe women could do so much more with their lives if we were not constantly fighting the beauty battle. If we were not concerned about making sure our hair looked flawless before we stepped out of the door, maybe we would’ve been out in time to catch that old man on the street who needed a simple smile to help him carry on. Your simple smile.

Are you getting my drift?

We were made for more than this, ladies! We were made for so much more than fighting to be an airbrushed version of beautiful.

This is why God reassures you and me. He says,

“The king is enthralled with your beauty; honor Him, for He is you Lord.” (Psalm 45:11)

He says,

“You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” (Song of Solomon 4:7)

Don’t you see? If you want true beauty, I’ll tell you a secret. It comes from a life surrendered to Jesus Christ. It never really was yours to achieve, it comes from reflection of the Perfect One.

So are we going to rise up, women? Are we going to realize that there is more to life than the beauty battle?


I don’t care if I don’t fit your standards of beauty. The beauty I want to reflect is of the Heavenly King, not some airbrushed model in a magazine.


About the author: 

Hey! I'm Jessika. Just a young girl in love with Jesus and living to tell the story that He is writing throughout my life. I hope that my life constantly reflects the One who created me.
I hope I share Him in everything that I post, in everything that I do and say, everything. I want to become a missionary someday, actually, I hope I’m a missionary today. I just want to tell people about Jesus and make a difference in this world, however small of a difference it is.

I don't want to be average, because I wasn't created to be average. I was created to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to save the broken, and to love the unloved.

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Casey Callison: You are Ravishing

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Casey Callison: You are Ravishing

You are Ravishing.

My name is Casey Callison. Nice to meet you. I am 23 years old, taking the scenic route through college (unintentionally), and love the outdoors. I'm here to tell you how in the world I ended up writing for an organization that I found out about in a completely random way.

My Christian background is not very extensive. I have really only been a “Christian” for the past 5 years of my life. I always believed in God, I went to youth group when I was younger, but never actually cared to put any effort in until I was about 18.

When I was a senior in high school one of my friends invited me to youth group one night. I said I would go because I used to go in middle school and knew all the tricks to make it seem like I was interested without actually participating until the dodgeball game after the youth pastor spoke. About 25 minutes before I was about to leave to meet my friend at church I was wracking my brain trying to figure out a way to get out of it. The ONLY reason I went with him that night was because I had bailed on hanging out with him the night before. 

So there I am, 3 rows from the front (there were only 4 rows of chairs), trying my best to just get through service without texting my girlfriend at the time. I made it until the end of service and the youth pastor told everyone to split up to pray… on their own. “Ok, easy enough,” I thought. So there I am, just minding my own business when one of my good friends and youth pastor come up and start praying for me. I don’t remember what they prayed. All that I remember is the overwhelming feeling from God that I was called to more.

From that point on the only time, I was all in. Upon graduating high school, I moved on to helping out with the group. The youth pastor at that time got an offer from a church in his hometown where he always felt like God would eventually want him to go back to. This was devastating to me, but I knew I had to push on and step up and be a leader for that group.

You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride; you have ravished my heart, with one glance from your eyes.
— Song of Songs 4:9

About 2 years later, the lead pastor of the church asked if I would apply as youth pastor. I got the job. I was so excited. I knew this was where I was supposed to be. After ministering to this wonderful group, I felt like God was telling me that season of my life was over. It was very difficult, but I moved on.

So here I am. I know I have a calling in life, but God called me away from youth ministry. I had been praying for God to show me my next step, but nothing came for weeks. Then finally, I was at Potter’s House – a coffee shop in Springfield, Missouri, and in a completely random moment, met this group of young people who were super passionate about God. They began to tell me all about their ministry: Insecurely Movement.  I was hooked. This crazy idea inspired me, and I had to become a part. That’s what brought me here, writing to you. Here I am, sitting in my studio apartment, giving it my all because God showed me his power to answer prayer.

I finally figured out after all these years why I never cared to know God. It bugged me all through my life that I could believe in God, but never feel like I “loved” God. My friends all seemed so passionate, but I couldn’t get that feeling. Then it dawned on me.

I never KNEW God. I had heard people talk about Him, but I never took the time to get to know Him! Think about it this way. You would never commit to a relationship with someone for eternity just from what someone had told you about that person. You need to get to know that person for yourself. You would want to hang out with them, talk with them, and just spend time with them. That is what I never did with God.

Here’s the deal ladies and gentlemen, Song of Songs 4:9 says this, “You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride; you have ravished my heart, with one glance from your eyes.” This is how God feels about us. Every love you’ve ever felt can’t possibly measure up. Butterflies are nothing compared to the love of God. Roses and chocolate don’t stand a chance.  

                God thinks that you are ravishing. He loves you and wants you to give him your all. Get to know Him. Read your bible. Pray. That is the way that God speaks to us. The Bible has every emotion that God has ever felt and every description of who God truly is. That is how you get to know God. That is where the passion comes from. Speak to him. Give time to him. I promise you, it is worth your while.

I love you all,

Casey Callison


Casey is a new blogger for the His Side blogs. Welcome him to the movement! If you'd like to write for the Insecurely Movement, email us at team@insecurelymovement. 

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Bradley Coleman: Catch for us the foxes

Critical - Expressing adverse or disapproving comments or judgments. I know the meaning of the word critical all too well. Always being the shortest person was my life story. I even received a nickname throughout my younger academic years, Simon Birch. You see, Simon Birch was a movie that hit theaters when I was in fourth grade. It was about an individual who had a birth defect of inadequate growth; he was literarily 2 foot tall. Being the shortest of my class was not that bad during this time though, so I embraced the identity. Even in middle school I was the shortest individual.

Still yet, I clung to athletic activities so that I could prove my worth to others. I was actually decent at sports. I was a part of the starting roster in every activity. However, in high school things changed. No longer was I physically able to start in athletic activities. This affected my view of my self and I began to become very critical towards my image.

As if it was not enough for me to be critical on my image, I also had upperclassmen bullying me. The constant threats of being shoved into lockers or into trash cans haunted me every time I walked into the doors of the school. I, however, was clever. Instead of constantly being made fun of by my peers, I began making fun of myself. In return, my peers began to laugh at me and eventually became my friend. I became quite popular. While these remarks seemed to be a joke to my peers, there were so much truth to each of the remarks. The critical remarks left scars, that still to this day, are not completely healed.

Being critical about your physical image literally tears you apart. In the end, you are left with the feelings of brokenness and being unwanted! Whenever we become critical of our appearance we also start to destroy ourselves. A great illustration for this is talked about in the Song of Solomon 2:15.

“Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” I like to think of every critical thought towards ourselves as a little fox. Our image is the vineyard that is in full bloom, beautiful. Yet with every negative thought towards ourself we begin to destroy the vineyard that is our image. The fox is cunning. Sometimes we do not even realize we are tearing down our image. We must be mindful of our thoughts throughout the day. Are they building us up or tearing us down?

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
— Psalm 139:14

I believe that most of everyone is critical about their appearance. We have a mentality that if we could just change this one thing about us, then we would be beautiful. It is almost like an artist. Have you ever met an artist? When my artist friends show me some of their pieces that they have worked so exhaustively on, I often reply that the piece of art displayed to me is absolutely incredible. Despite my opinion, the artist usually says it is ok and maybe even reply, “I could have done this part of the piece better.” Artists are their own biggest critic. In the same respect, we are our own biggest critic.

We see ourselves as a painting. We labor on the piece of art, that which is us, thoroughly. Then we look at the painting and critique it, saying, “If only I could change this about me, then it would be better.” There is a huge problem with the mindset that we are painting the image we want for ourselves.

You see, we are not even the true artist. The true artist is the One who was knitting you together while you were in your mother's womb. The true artist is the One of which you were fearfully and wonderfully made. The true artist is the One who designed you to be a masterpiece, completely unique, an original design. The true artist is God.

The psalmist would agree. He says in Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Hold on, time out. What does, ‘fearfully made’ mean? It simply means that God, the artist, used caution in making us. He used precision in forming us to His image. He did not use precision in creating us just so we could carelessly degrade us. That is not our purpose, the paint brush is not in our hand. The psalmist also says, “...all of God’s works are wonderful I know that full well.” Do we know that full well?

Please understand when we are critical about our appearance we are essentially saying that all of God’s works are not wonderful. If we say, “If I can just change this about me,” we are basically saying, “All of God’s works are wonderful, except for this.” Do we not understand that every single work from God is wonderful and not just most works? You are the work of the almighty God. You are wonderful.

So what can we take away from all this?

1. Every negative thought is like a fox that tears away at the garden, of which is our image. Be mindful of these thoughts, sometimes we do not even know we are doing it. I know for the longest time I would say negative things about my self. It was not until a close friend asked me why I did these things did I even realize that I was doing it. Be cautious of your thoughts throughout the day, especially when they regard yourself.

2. Build yourself up in the Lord. Instead of having negative thoughts towards yourself, find out your strengths and dwell on them. We do not do these things so that we can become prideful, but so that we can ultimately reach God’s creation with the love that he has shown us.

3. We are not the painter of our lives, God is. Allow him to have the paint, leave the critiquing of your appearance to Him. You are made in the image of a beautiful God, you are beautiful. By allowing him to have the paint brush, we also allow him to continue to work on his masterpiece. Allow God to form His painting to the image of his son, Jesus Christ. This is the overall goal when we hand the paint brush to God.

How can we be more like Jesus? How can we continue developing our relationship with Him? Allow some time for just you and Christ. I recommend spending time talking to Christ, but more than just you doing the talking, also listen to His voice.

4. All of God’s works are wonderful, not just most of them. You are the work of the almighty God. His works are wonderful, you are wonderful. I firmly believe that we do not serve a mediocre God. His works are not mediocre, You are wonderful.


Bradley is our newest His Side blogger. Welcome him to Insecurely! If you'd like to write for Insecurely Movement, email us at team@insecurelymovement.com.  

 

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Joye Walton | Not A Mistake

I’m pacing around my long driveway yelling at God, asking the question I have asked several times, “Why did you create me like this?”

I kept my most painful secret hidden until I was eighteen—I was molested for three years of my life.
— Joye Walton

This was a normal sight for me in high school. I was convinced that I was a mistake. My emotions were all over the place, and I took the blame for the hurt that my friends felt. I was a disease.

This lie made up the foundation for the belief that I held. God can use me to help people, but I am beyond help. When I think about that now, I almost laugh. How can I show someone else the healing power of Christ when I have yet to accept it? I came to Evangel University in the fall of 2011 unaware of what God was going to do. I knew that I was called into ministry, but I still lived in the darkness of self-hate.

I kept my most painful secret hidden until I was eighteen—I was molested for three years of my life. This took place during the ages of six to nine. I didn’t tell anyone until Fall break my freshman year at Evangel. I kept this fact hidden for so long because I was convinced that if I told anyone, they would think I was a freak or a weirdo.

My story is not the stereotypical one. I was molested by someone who was only three years older than me and the same gender I am. The awesome thing about this is God’s timing. I told someone after I was already in counseling at Evangel. This way, I had already built a trust with someone who had the tools to help me with this hurt. Dealing with this hurt is what gave me the tools to recognize the lies that Satan had told me for so long.

Now, I have a passion for people who see themselves as mistakes. My goal is to let people know that they are valuable. My heart is for the broken and rejected.
— Joye Walton

In the Spring of 2012, I forgave the girl who molested me. This act was what broke the chains of self-hate. I was able to say the past hurts, but it is only the past. God gave me joy in that moment. The ironic thing was I didn’t have joy before, and my name is Joye. God knew that I would wind up being joyful, and my name was his promise that it would happen because now I embody my name. I can relate to those who believe God had an off day when they were created because that was me.

The cool thing is that is not me anymore! Yes, I still struggle with these thoughts from time to time, but they no longer have power over me because I know that they are lies! I am called by the most high God who has amazing things in store for me. He uses what the enemy intended for evil for good. He has transformed me!

Now, I have a passion for people who see themselves as mistakes. My goal is to let people know that they are valuable. My heart is for the broken and rejected. I can truly say I understand, but I can also say this doesn’t have to be you forever.


If you need to talk to someone regarding sexual assault, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673. 

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Nii Abrahams | The Pop-Culturalization of God's Calling

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Nii Abrahams | The Pop-Culturalization of God's Calling

“I’m called to be a youth pastor!”

“I’m called to be to a worship leader!”

“I’m called to be a worker against sex trafficking!”

“I’m called to be missionary to all the little kids in Africa!”

 Sound familiar?

 I have spent my entire life in the Christian bubble. Have you ever seen the movie Bubble Boy with the illustrious Jake Gyllenhaal? Yeah, that was me—but replace the actual bubble and add church camps, Royal Rangers (Christian version of Boy Scouts), Bible Quiz, “trendy” contemporary Christian Radio, and of course numerous True Love Waits rallies.

Ever since I could remember, there has always been this idea, this elusive mystery that was known as “God’s calling”. I can’t count the hundreds of hours I’ve watched my friends at camps and conferences fervently pray that God’s voice, which we all secretly hoped sounded like Morgan Freeman, would resonate in their head proclaiming they are “called to ­­______________”. If they didn’t get it, they would leave the alter defeated, as if it were stamped on their forehead that they were a nobody in the Christian faith, destined for a life of nothingness.

I, too, was one of those kids down at the alter. Although I can’t remember the specific time or place, I do remember feeling that I was called to be a youth pastor around the age of 12 (which back then meant I was going to be “cool” and all the good Christian girls would want to date me). Fast forward a few years later and a couple interesting things happened. First, I felt led to Missouri State University instead of a Bible College like Evangel University or Central Bible College. Second, it only took a semester for me to feel that my supposed calling wasn’t youth ministry but actually college ministry. Now, four years later, I am standing at the crossroads of my life, like many of you are now, quietly wondering what my friends and I meant the billions of times we claimed we were “called” to…

You don’t have to be called to vocational ministry to still be an incredibly impactful member of God’s kingdom!
— Nii Abrahams


 What does the Gospel Say?

Luke 5:10 “…Then Jesus said to Simon (Peter), “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 

Matthew 4:19-20 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.”

Mark 1:19-20 “When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.”

 

In all three of these instances we see something interesting. When Jesus called the disciples he never said, “Hey Peter! Come follow me as our song coordinator!” or “Hey James and John! We need a baptism specialist and a healing specialist! You down?!”  Jesus called these disciples for one sole purpose: to be fishers of men. Jesus, in the Great Commission (Matthew 28) left us with three commands and the first of which was to simply make disciples. I don’t know if it was ever Jesus’ intent for the modern day Church to be so exclusive in that.

In a sense, we have turned God’s greatest command to be fishers of men and make disciples into a department store. We have this section exclusively for this, and that section can only be for that—and heaven forbid that this thing over here accidentally lands in that place over there.

People still ask me what I feel called to do, and although their intentions may be pure, it almost feels like some sort of holiness gauge and my answer is a badge that highlights my spiritual level. This isn’t condemnation; we all are guilty of it! I don’t know about you, but I know I have been guilty in the past of looking down on someone who didn’t necessarily feel called to any particular type of ministry. Just because it isn’t “holy” to us, doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve a purpose in God’s beautiful tapestry!

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE CALLED TO VOCATIONAL MINISTRY TO STILL BE AN INCREDIBLY IMPACTFUL MEMBER OF GOD’S KINGDOM!

God’s calling has become pop culturalized in the church—it has become something of a fad to claim that you’re called to a specific type of ministry.

 

Our Response

So what happens when our alleged calling becomes our identity? There are a several things that could happen:

1.    We become mentally and spiritually pigeonholed into only serving in that type of specific ministry role

2.    We allow our pride to get in the way, and consciously or not, we judge others based on what “calling” they have or don’t have

3.    We even deny going on dates or moving forward in relationships because one person may be called to be a missionary, and the other a children’s pastor or businessman (because that couldn’t ever possibly work)

4.    We feel guilty if we ever leave or our desires begin to stray from that calling

5.    We get so focused on "the call" that we miss "the NOW".

 

The reality is, God has called us ALL to be fishers of men. Now don’t get me wrong, God has also given us incredibly unique talents and passions that gives us directions and a sense of purpose. I am by no means saying that if you have a talent for music that it is wrong to pursue worship leading or if you’re great at numbers that it is wrong to pursue accounting. But what I am saying is that if you let that calling define who you are, you’ll completely miss the bigger picture and what God has in store for you and those around you.

If you have a knack for accountancy, be the best darn accountant you can be—but don’t pass up an opportunity to be small group leader just because you don’t feel “called” to teaching. If you’re passion is music, don’t pass up an opportunity to be a Sunday School teacher just because it’s not on stage. The disciples literally set down their lives and what they were occupationally skilled at to follow Jesus.

 God called us to the moment we are in. If he opens a door for you, then he's called you to be as effective as you can right there. That door may be a season where you are a youth pastor, and the next you may be a middle school principal. But whatever door He opens, whatever season you are in, your biggest “calling” is to be a humble and obedient servant.

Many of you, including myself, are entering a new phase in life and I hope this helps. I hope this encourages you to not be discouraged if you feel like you haven’t been called to vocational ministry or feel as if you have to be called to a specific ministry. At the end of the day whether we are a college pastor or professor, a worship leader or businessman, a missionary to the little kids of Africa or beautician, we are all called to share the love and hope that is Jesus Christ!

 Nii 

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Kirsten Stricklin: Comparison

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Kirsten Stricklin: Comparison

I’m twenty-one years old, and I struggle with being insecure.

This still comes as a shock to me. I had always assumed that when I was “grown up,” I would no longer have to deal with accepting myself for who I am. Every day, though, is a matter of letting go of my own insecurities and finding my security in Christ.

I finally caught a glimpse of how much it hurts the heart of God when I wish to be anyone other than myself.
— Kirsten Stricklin

My insecurities began, like many people’s, in middle school. I was shy. I sported hormonal acne-prone skin, slightly greasy hair, and a large gap between my two front teeth, and my fashion sense was a bit – undeveloped (to put it nicely). I had just started a new school, so I was struggling to make friends. In my eyes, the girls at my new school were perfect – they had close friends, cute clothes, and even boyfriends. And then there was me, with no friends, old clothes, and very boyfriend-less. As a result, I felt much less than perfect, undeserving of close friends, and fairly worthless most of the time.

I began to compare myself to those girls whom I viewed as perfect. I would see girls with silky blonde hair and begin to hate my own brown locks; I would see girls with flawless skin and, consequently, coat my face with makeup to hide the acne bumps and red splotches. I wanted a model body and an outgoing personality and for people to love me, just like they loved those seemingly “perfect” girls. The comparison battle was an endless cycle. Slowly, without realizing it, comparing myself became an addiction. Every day, I would compare myself to girls at my school, in books, in movies, and in magazines, imagining exactly what I would change about myself in order to be more like them. I began to feel unhappy, disappointed with myself, and thoroughly insecure.

Truly, comparison is deadly. Once we begin comparing ourselves to other people, it becomes almost impossible to stop. Even after my skin cleared up, the oils in my hair disappeared, and my braces worked a miracle on my teeth, I continued to compare myself. I never felt beautiful. I spent all of my time wishing that I was someone else altogether. I desired – even prayed – for a personality transplant, for a supernatural plastic surgery, for whatever it would take to make me anything other than myself.

It was my senior year of high school before things started to change. I finally began to quiet myself before God, and that made all of the difference. He began to whisper to me the truth about who I am. His voice was never loud, demanding, or accusing. He said lovingly that He sees me as a flawless creation, whole and fully perfect in every way. My personality, my looks, and everything about me was designed for a reason, even if I can’t see that reason yet. I finally caught a glimpse of how much it hurts the heart of God when I wish to be anyone other than myself. His voice was a sweet undertone in my day, gently speaking truth to my heart and breaking my addiction of comparing myself.

I can’t say that things are easy now – they aren’t. Comparison truly is like a drug, and it is one that does not loosen its grip easily. Every day, though, I choose to walk in the fact that I was designed by a perfect Creator who does not make mistakes. I am perfectly and wonderfully made. I am chosen. I am called. It is those truths that allow me to be secure – secure, fully and totally, in Christ.

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David Krstevski: A Call to Integrity

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David Krstevski: A Call to Integrity

The call to live with integrity is a call to us all. It is a call to search our minds and our hearts. It is a call to examine our actions and to ensure that they are in alignment with God’s plan for ourselves and the world that we live in.
— David Krstevski

I know there has been a lot of talk about the lack of integrity or vice versa in many areas of both our private and public lives. It is of special concern in areas such as politics, economics, business, journalism the media, and even in church. It's often discussed in a psychological and moral sense. There must be integrity within as well as beyond in all areas of life. The thing is that there is no short cut to becoming a person of integrity. It is a journey with all the twists and turns that you could imagine. It is not a simple destination.

What is integrity? Integrity stems from the Latin word “integer,” which means “whole” and “entire”, “unbroken” and “consistent”. This definition calls us to look deeper within ourselves in an attempt to get in touch with the Divine source and foundation of who we are. By connecting with this Divine (GOD) we allow His Divine presence and His power to transform our lives from the inside out. Love, justice, peace, compassion, and wisdom begin to flow out and influence all areas of our daily lives. In this way we begin to live a life of integrity in harmony with our values based on God’s Word.

Now, talking about getting there is easier than actually getting there. We live in a culture that is saturated with false distractions of every kind imaginable. We are faced with transparent choices in the media wherever we go and there aren't many beacons that guide people to make choices in their lives that reflect a life of integrity. God's voice often gets drowned out by the clutter, noise and temptations in our everyday lives. But, praise God that his light is the brightest and stands out above all types of distractions that we have and will face.

The call to live with integrity is a call to us all. It is a call to search our minds and our hearts. It is a call to examine our actions and to ensure that they are in alignment with God's plan for ourselves and the world that we live in. This will never come without a cost, but it will surely pay off in the long run. Hey, nobody said success was easy. The reason why the majority of people are not successful in whatever area you want to talk about is simply because they did not do what it took to become successful. It takes a lot, but with conscious effort every single day it can be done.

Some of us may be foreign to this idea of integrity and some may already have a pretty good grasp of what it is. However, we can all look around ourselves to find some examples of lived integrity and be thankful to those who have had the courage to exemplify it. People often have “spoken” out courageously against war, nuclear weapons, abortion, abuse of power and greed. Many have questioned why two-thirds of the world goes to bed hungry every night when there is more than enough for all of everyone’s needs.

I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good motives, and I have watched your people offer their gifts willingly and joyously.
— 1 Chronicles 29:17


The thing is, when we choose to live integral lives we go from speaking to acting. Our lives will reflect and declare our true selves that are rooted in the Holy Spirit. Only in this way will we be able to establish a world of truth and justice for all to see. This is an ongoing journey of trials and growth; a lifelong constant examination of our values and making sure we live with integrity in our everyday lives.

With the help of the divine source from within (GOD) there is little that we cannot do. The task may look daunting but our God is greater.

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD.
— Psalm 119:1

David Krstevski is a senior at Evangel University. He recently acquired his ministry credentials with the Assemblies of God and plans on spending his life ministering the incredible news of God's word to others. 

You can learn more about David by following him on Twitter

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Heather Dickinson: It makes you stronger

I never thought rejection would be one of my biggest insecurities. And if you know me, you would never have thought it either.  Allow me to tell you the story of a third grade girl, who merely desired to change her world.  I grew up in church; colored coloring pages on the pews, used my brother as a road for Hot Wheels, and ate those cute little strawberry candies. A few months after I turned seven, I decided that I wanted to follow Jesus. At the time, I really didn’t know what that meant. That is, until I had a vision two years later. I’d had dreams before, but something about this one was different. We were on the playground. About five of my friends and I had formed some sort of Conga line, and we were marching around singing about Jesus. That may have been the extent of the mental vision, but divine visions never die.  I told my dad about this vision I’d had, along with how God was calling me to start a campus club called “The Disciple Train.” He was stoked, and helped by making me flyers and business cards to pass out.

I’d never been called to the principal’s office before that day in the third grade, and to this day it’s the only time I ever have been. As soon as I saw my parents, I began to rack my brain wondering what I had done wrong. I only remember one thing about that visit to the principal’s office. My principal holding up one of the business cards my dad had made, and her saying, “This is unacceptable.” I don’t remember her reasoning, but something tells me she was afraid of her school being rocked for Jesus Christ.

That day was where the insecurity of rejection came into my life. Rejection is the reason I didn’t even think about campus clubs again until the summer before my eighth grade year. For five years, I let it eat away at me, and still to this day I struggle. In seventh grade I attended a weekly bible club at my school, but waited until the end of the year to even get remotely involved. In eighth grade though, I took ownership of that club. I also began a weekly prayer meeting at the flag. And out of that prayer meeting came a weekly bible study. I was leading three bible clubs a week, and living in my vision.

I want to remind you that your insecurities don’t define you. In all honesty, they make you stronger.


When I entered ninth grade last year, I had one goal: rekindle the fire in my high school. There had been a campus club the year before, but was nullified due to low attendance. I had no clue how I was going to restart this club, but I knew I had to. Two months into the school year we had our first meeting in my Geometry teacher’s classroom. We had two meetings in his room, and then he started getting there too late for us to accomplish anything. We then moved to the Computer Applications classroom, and no one showed up. Filled with discouragement, I began to give up hope.  But one week later, I came home to some pretty exciting news. At the time, my dad was working with a local organization called Young Faith in Christ. He informed me that they had received a call from one of the coaches at my school, asking what he would need to do to sponsor a campus club. It took me a week to work up the courage to talk to him, but I am so glad I did. He helped us get the campus club off the ground, and this year it is an official club at my high school. This year I continue to be involved with that club. Last year and this year I also have assisted with a bible club on one of our elementary campuses.

This year though, I had the opportunity of a lifetime. Even though I was super excited, this opportunity made me strongly fear rejection.  It took three months after the idea was proposed to get a teacher to sponsor the club. After a lot of rejection I started a new campus club. The Insecurely Movement Campus Club began Friday, November 8th, 2013. The club, targeted at high school girls, is a place where girls can come together to discuss the things that are thrown at us by society every day. With eight girls in attendance at our first meeting, three months of rejection paid off. I can’t wait to see what else God has in store for the club, this incredible movement, and for the lives He will impact with both.

In conclusion, I want to remind you that your insecurities don’t define you. In all honesty, they make you stronger. My insecurity allowed me to start a campus club for other girls dealing with insecurities of their own. My insecurity also allowed me to know what God wanted me to do with my life, and maybe yours could do the same.

 

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31 Days of Difference | Resolute

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31 Days of Difference | Resolute

Congratulations, you did it! You have crossed the finish line for the 31 days of difference, but that doesn’t mean that it will end the revolution that you have discovered within you—it’s just the starting line to another journey that you’re about to take and see around you.

You see, everyday was a day to stretch you, to push you a little bit more out of your comfort zone, to encourage you to make a difference outside of you, which slowly created a change within you. There are some things you may have realized you LOVE to do, like helping out others or even discovering the beauty behind a stranger’s story; on the other hand, there are some things you may never want to do again, like talking to someone you don’t know may be a little too much, or writing letters is just not your “thing,” but at least now you know for sure a little bit more of who you are and aren’t.

Not only that, you know a little bit more about how stepping outside of your borders makes this beautiful difference in somebody else’s life, and how it gives every day a value that nothing can take away. Maybe by focusing on being more and stepping out, you were able to see God step in more than you ever have before.

Maybe you discovered something new about you, or found a part of you that you lost a long time ago, or even remembered how time is so valuable; but altogether, I hope from the bottom of my heart, that you will see that you were the difference all along. A movement doesn’t start around you, but within you—sometimes, it just takes stepping beyond your comfortable boundaries to discover a life without borders.

So, go make a goal for the future! After a month of discovering yourself and serving other people, make a resolution to continually make a difference daily. Just like change in your pocket, if we save up the small nickels and dimes, we will build up value to invest in a treasure. It’s the same with the small changes you have made this month. Each small change added up to make a huge difference to a new year, and the best part is that it didn’t just change your journey, but it impacted many others' as well. A small change will make a great difference, so keep discovering, and keep moving in securely.

Kaytee Mitchell, 31 Days of Difference Visionary

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31 Days of Difference | Surprise in Disguise

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31 Days of Difference | Surprise in Disguise

Throughout this journey of 31 Days of Difference, we've done a lot of things. We've discovered our hopes and dreams, grown to closer than God, and helped other people. We've done more in a month that most people do in a year!

As this is coming to an end, we can't forget why we did this. We didn't do this for credit. We didn't go out of our way so that we could be seen. We did this to discover the difference. 

So, today - on the second to last day of #Discover31 - we're asking you to do something secret. We're calling it "Surprise in Disguise." Some people call it "paying it forward." I'm calling it giving.

Give. Give where no one can thank you. Give so that you don't get credit. Give to someone. 

Go through the drive-thru. Pay for the drink behind you. Go to the coffee shop. Leave money for the person behind you. Go buy a little something for something and leave it in their room, their locker, or on their doorstep. Do something for someone else. Give. 

Hannah Beers

Because it proves that you don’t need much to change the entire world for the better. You can start with the most ordinary ingredients. You can start with the world you’ve got.
— Catherine Ryan Hyde, Pay It Forward
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31 Days of Difference | Time is Prime

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31 Days of Difference | Time is Prime

So far in life, one of my all-time favorite memories have been late-night rooftop conversations admiring the stars with my some of the best friends I’ve ever encountered. But even more so, one of my favorite pastime memories has been waking up at the crack of dawn for a week straight during my old home church’s high school summer retreat in Florida. There was nothing more motivating than the idea of getting to wake up, walk across the street, find my perfect place in the sand, just above the light morning ocean waves, stare at the breathtaking sunrise before me for a good ten minutes while my eyes are still opening, take out my journal, and write out my morning prayers and conversations with the God that has sculpted me. Sounds like a lot, and it is! That’s a lot to take in! On occasion, I take way too much advantage of the beautiful things that surround me. Sometimes I forget to look at the AMAZINGLY colored leaves Missouri produces until a tourist points them out.

I want to give you this image for a second. Think about all of the most amazing and talented photographers in the world, the most professional, experienced, and gifted. These photographers have an eye for beauty and when they come across the most beautiful tree they’ve ever seen, most beautiful lighting, the perfect time of day where the sunset hits just right, they just have to capture it and share it with the world. (And I thank the good Lord that they do!) But we sit here day to day flipping through photos on Facebook, photographers websites, looking at billboards, our own capturings, awing over how “great the pictures are that we took,” forgetting that someone actually created the things inside of those pictures. Realistically speaking… that’s insane. I think the coolest thing I have ever created was an invention I made in the fifth grade for an “invention convention.” And you know what my invention was? Scented socks… Ha. Yeah. Scented socks…. I literally just soaked them in this scented oil stuff and then washed them. Obviously, I did not win because you haven’t seen my product on As Seen On TV yet. But my point is that anyone could have done that. I mean, God created stars. STARS: Fixed luminous points in the night sky that are large, remote incandescent bodies (dictionary.com).

He didn’t just invent the sunrise so that five people could experience it and take pictures to show us on Facebook? He made it possible for each one of us to experience everyday if we wanted to. It’s almost like the sunrise and the stars are the most exquisite vacation homes built just for us. At no cost, whatsoever. It would be such a silly waste for us to not go on a free vacation every now and again.

Heather Beyer

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31 Days of Difference | Compliments vs. Complacency

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31 Days of Difference | Compliments vs. Complacency

Here’s one we’ve all been guilty of at least once or twice. There we are, walking down the sidewalk. We notice someone walking towards us. Maybe we've seen them around. We might even know their name. But we don't really "know" them. They pass by. We say a simple "hi" without looking up at them. We might not say anything at all.

It's called complacency. It's a mindset we have that their day doesn't depend on a compliment from someone they hardly know. The truth is that just telling someone they look nice today could change their entire outlook on the rest of the day. It can shift their negative thinking to positive thoughts or take their already positive thoughts and multiply them. It all happens in just a few shorts moments that so often are skipped over each and every day.

You can even take it one step further. Instead of simply complimenting them on how they look, take a moment and encourage them by telling them your favorite thing about their personality or the way they act. If you don't know them well enough, this could be a good opportunity for you to make a new friend. The bible tells us to encourage one another daily. When we do that, we show the love of Christ. That's why I'm going to make an intentional effort today. Words are powerful and you never know what kind of impact you can make in someone's life with just a few of them. Be blessed!

Dylan Nieman

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31 Days of Difference | Way Past Due

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31 Days of Difference | Way Past Due

Writing this, I think about all the wonderful things I have done, things I can honestly check off my bucket list, and also realize that life has gotten busy and the bucket list has been pushed aside.

Not any longer. Change and adventure can surely change your life if you allow it.  These adventures become your history. Don't you want to be able to tell a crazy story about how you went skydiving, or
wrestled a bear, or bought that make-up you always said you would try?

Winston Churchhill once said "History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it."  So allow your grandchildren to tell incredible stories, about you, to their children.  I don't know about you, but I want to be the most epic grandmother that will always be a giant and beautiful branch in my family tree.

Michaela Harris

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31 Days of Difference | Not So Normal

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31 Days of Difference | Not So Normal

With the holidays just behind us, you've probably recently heard (perhaps from some dear extended family member) the question, "what're your plans for your life?" in some form or another. It's normal as humans to attempt to map out our lives as we please, but the Christian life is designed to be lived in a different way. God, the creator of our being, also has created a plan for us. We will not know every piece of that plan now, but how often do we even take the time to ask? Or dream? 

The Bible says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!"(Psalms 34:8) so let's start tasting! It also says God will, "give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed." (Psalm 20:4)

In this physical world it's easy to think it's up to us to figure it all out, or know our limitations and stick to them, but we are call to live life in a not so normal way. Today take some time and dream! Ask God what he has for you, and allow your heart to dream, because He is limitless in power and loves to give good things to those who seek Him. 

Here are a few more promises to hold to as you dream today:

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps-Proverbs 16:9

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps-Proverbs 16:3

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will-Ephesians 1:11

Hope Hamilton

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31 Days of Difference | Step Out to Step In

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31 Days of Difference | Step Out to Step In

Decide to step out of your comfort today so that you can step into someone’s life. Make a difference in some way.

 “You probably don't remember me, and that's ok. I am pretty sure that you were a senior in high school and I was a freshmen. I will never forget one Friday morning I went to FCA and none of my friends were there and I was sitting alone and you were the only one to tell me good morning and that you were happy to see me there. I also wanted to thank you for that. That made my entire day. Not everybody will go out of their way to say that to somebody and I really appreciate it….”

When I got that Facebook message a month ago I was floored. That was over 4 years ago! Quite frankly, I barely remember the girl and definitely don’t remember that moment. But how incredible is it that a simple moment of stepping out and talking to someone we normally wouldn’t could be remembered years later. I didn’t preach at her, give her $20, or whip out my acoustic and sing her a love ballad—I just loved her. And please hear me out, I’m not saying this to brag about myself because trust me I’ve missed more opportunities than I have taken advantage of, but this is a really cool example of how God takes the little things we do in our lives and makes them mighty! When I got that message, I was at a point in my life where I really needed that reminder. God has a really unique way of turning blessings like that back around. Anyone can just talk to just someone—are you willing to shatter the walls of your comfort zone and go beyond what you’re used to? Be BOLD. Be COURAGEOUS. Be LOVE. 

Nii Abrahams

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31 Days of Difference | Half & Half

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31 Days of Difference | Half & Half

Don’t you just love that feeling you get when someone blesses you? What about the feeling that you get when you bless someone else? Well how about doing both?

I’m just going to have a cliché moment. Matthew 7:12 says “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” As much as we all have heard this scripture verse, it’s so true! This is exactly the theme for today. The concept is the same.

Today’s challenge is whatever you spend on yourself; spend the same amount on someone else, and I’m not just talking about money. Spend your time and love. You could go out to coffee with a friend and pay or give to a mission’s team. What about just simply asking someone how he or she is doing, and let him or her talk for as long as they want. Bless them with the gift of nonjudgmental listening. Anything you would appreciate, do it for someone else. I guarantee that you won’t regret it. Well lovelies, good luck with half and half! Go out and bless someone today, and you know what? Bless yourself as well!

Katie Stanford

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31 Days of Difference | Care for your Community

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31 Days of Difference | Care for your Community

Volunteer somewhere! It could be anywhere! Whether you have to travel to do it, or set up a date to do it, make it set in stone to step out for the people around you.

Think of the last time you handed out food at a local homeless shelter or walked a couple miles for a specific cause. Think of all the lives that were impacted by just a small amount of help on your part.  Even a smile can turn a day around.

I remember in high school, I would join my church youth group in volunteering at a neighborhood carnival. I can still see families leave with hands full of groceries and smiles on their faces who only hours earlier came in arguing and upset.  It's amazing how a couple hours in the sun could make such a difference in the lives of so many.  It was very hot that day but there is just something about putting the needs of others above your own; your worries seem to shrink.

Philippians 2:4 says, "Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too." God designed us to be fulfilled while selflessly serving others.  Is there a place in your area that is in need of volunteers? It can be a pregnancy care center or a local food pantry that is in need of a few more hands on deck.  Every little bit helps and you are appreciated more that you know!

Henry Ford said, "To do more for the world than the world does for you - that is success."

Lauren Deal

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