Tag Archives: love

Darling, there ain’t nothin’ magic about Mike (Wait for Me 2 of 7)

24 Jul

Let me start by asking you a question: What do you think is the most important attribute of a future spouse? I’ve been thinking on this a lot lately…and, unfortunately, it likely has something to do with the ever-so-popular book Fifty Shades of Grey and the hit movie Magic Mike…and all their hype.

Honestly, I didn’t know what either of those titles were until I’d heard them mentioned enough times to pique my curiosity. So what did I do? I Googled them both.

And I. Was. HORRIFIED.

Pause. Listen up for a second before you run away. I’m not standing on a pedestal and thinking I’m so holy and the people who watch/read these things are the devil. No…I just want to stand up for what I believe in, and I have two thoughts regarding these types of entertainment: 1) Viewing/reading them is the antithesis of guarding our hearts, minds and eyes, and 2) Just like pornography, these types of entertainment give people an unrealistic view of both love and what to look for in a mate.

I want to share with you a few quotes from Chapter Two of Rebecca St. James’ book Wait for Me that address these issues. (After all, this is part two of my seven week series. Missed part one?)

Let’s start with this section on what Rebecca calls “Perception Protection”:

“My nanna (grandma) has passed on some great advice that has helped in my pursuit of purity of mind, heart and body,” Rebecca writes. “Here is some of her practical wisdom: ‘in the area of purity, television doesn’t help. At one stage double beds weren’t even allowed to be shown on TV, and now you see people making love! As soon as I see an R-rated movie coming on, I turn it off. Don’t watch movies that display immoral activity because we learn through seeing. You might say you can “handle it,” but Satan is sneaky, and he creeps in, conditioning our minds to accept wrong things. Before we know it, these things become actions in our minds.'”

I don’t know about you, but I’m not perfect. Sometimes I like to think I’m strong, but the truth is that I am weak and helpless without the strength and wisdom God gives to me when I seek his face. Without him in my life, I probably would be watching movies like Magic Mike and reading books like Fifty Shades. And I would be terribly lost, because Scripture calls us to purity (Ephesians 5:3).

As Christians, guarding our hearts–which can start with our ears and eyes–is so incredibly important. It can be the difference between being in the world and being of the world. I truly believe Rebecca’s nanna! Satan IS sneaky, and he starts with the little things. After all, the little things make the big things more acceptable to us and cause us to fall more easily.

If you know me at all, you know I’m totally in love with these movies and the valiant hearts of their heroes.

And, okay, I am NOT saying you should shut out all romantic movies or books! I would be nuts if I did that. In fact, I’m a huge proponent of a good love story, either on screen or in print. Two of my favorite love stories of all time are Pride & Prejudice (book and movie), and yes, Pirates of the Caribbean. Both are clean, witty, funny and very romantic. Rebecca even shares some of her favorite chick flicks in this chapter: The Wedding Planner, While You Were Sleeping and Emma. Check out all of these and you’ll see that romantic does NOT have to equal dirty.

Lastly, I want to share this other quote from Chapter Two regarding the effects movies and books like Magic Mike and Fifty Shades have on us.

“When we choose to look at things that are damaging to us (pictures, videos, movies and CD covers), it distorts our perception of reality,” Rebecca writes.

When it comes to Magic Mike, let me tell ya, ladies, Channing Tatum IS gorgeous, I’m no idiot. But guess what? A man’s HEART matters way more than his appearance. His heart for God, his desire to serve you, his selflessness and his faithfulness are what will make him a good husband and father. The speaker in the song “Lead Me” by Sanctus Real is the type of man we should be watching for! Appearances fade away with age! And guys, I’m talking to you, too. A Godly wife is worthy of praise! In fact, check out Proverbs 31 if you have a moment.

If you’re reading this right now and you have high hopes of getting married one day, I want to challenge you to pray for your future spouse. I encourage you to ask God for someone with a biblical heart and not just a pretty face. It might seem like common sense that a person’s heart is more important than his or her appearance, but it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves.

And, one more thing, if you’ve found yourself viewing and reading things that wouldn’t honor God, Rebecca shares that Ministry and Media, Cinemain Focus and Nappaland are some of her favorite sites that give reliable entertainment reviews from a Christian perspective. Why not give them a shot before you agree to hit the movies with your friends next time around? I know I’m going to try a lot harder in this area, because it can be so easy to agree to seeing a movie and then wind up thinking halfway through the show, “I should’ve researched this before I wasted 10 bucks.” Not a fun situation to be in!

Jen

P.S. To all the ladies out there, married or single, please purchase Rebecca’s book. Chapter Two has some great insight into why modesty is important. It certainly challenge me!

Someone may need this today

6 Jun

Alone and confused, your heart is bruised from sin;
Your joy is gone from love gone wrong
And you’re longing to start again.
I know that you’ve been hurt,
And you don’t know whom to trust;
I won’t pretend I understand your pain.
But I can see repentance in your eyes,
And I know it’s not too late.

White as snow, He has made you white as snow;
The moment you confessed, His heart forgave.
You might think you’ve ruined all the plans He had for you,
But it’s for that very reason Jesus saves.
White as snow, He has made you white as snow;
Pure an innocent like a dove,
Though you have done nothing to deserve His pardoning,
You’ve been purified by Jesus’ blood–
White as snow.

The guilt and shame, keeping you chained,
Not wanting to let you go;
It’s not how you dreamed, not how you planned,
And you can’t see that still there is hope.

Receive His healing for your bruises,
Receive His riches for your rags.
You cannot imagine all the plans He has for you,
So take His hand, and don’t look back.

(White as Snow – Eric & Leslie Ludy)

Jen

Meet Bear

20 Apr

While skimming through my past blog posts, I realized that I don’t share too much about my personal life: my friends, my family, my job, etc. Perhaps that’s because I don’t want this blog to be about Jen. I want it to be about what GOD is doing in my life, and I want to encourage others along the way.

But what this post will accomplish is two-fold: you’ll get to know me a little better AND I hope you will be encouraged as a result.

So, without further ado…

Meet Bear

Image

If you noticed the masculine name AND the pink on the collar, do not be alarmed. This is indeed a female dog. With the wild personality of a Bear.

Bear is a 50 percent maltese and 50 percent pomeranian. She is loud. She is slightly undisciplined. She’s an ankle-biter. She’s spoiled. She has allergies. She’s slightly overweight. She loves to go for a walk, but if you tell her you’re taking her for one beforehand, she’ll run and hide. She hates her harness. She despises all of the cute, pink, adorable clothing and Halloween costumes I’ve purchased for her. Her least favorite clothing item is her red Christmas pajamas. She barks at the television whenever a dog or horse appears and makes noise. Sigh. She’s a rebel.

But do you want to know what else she is?

She’s a lover. If I’d let her, she’d lick all of my tears dry. She loves to cuddle. She constantly pants/smiles. She brings me her toys and bones to greet me. She “lets” me rub her tummy several times per day. She knows how to comfort me. She makes me LAUGH.

She is a blessing.

Yes, I know, she’s only a dog. She’s not eternal. She won’t live forever. But she came into my life at a perfect time. I’m so glad that we made her a part of our family in 2009. She has been around for three years of serious growth in my life and a time of being thrust into adulthood. A time when I would need my puppy.

She is a beautiful example of faithfulness that mirrors (even just a little) God’s faithfulness. No, I don’t mean to liken the Lord to a dog, but she never leaves my side. And she loves me, even when I mess up.

She is a gift from God that he brought into my life to bring me joy, however silly that may seem to any of you who aren’t pet owners.

She isn’t my only comfort, but she sure can turn a bad day into a good one. I thank God for her every day. I also thank God for HIS faithfulness every day.

Can anyone else relate?

Jen

Fruitless?

9 Mar

I’m sitting here drinking my morning protein shake and one word comes to my mind: fruitless.

Yep, we’re all out of fruit in the house. No strawberries or bananas for my smoothie. It still tastes okay–a decent mix of peanut butter and chocolate protein powder–but it lacks the nutrients I need that I normally get  from the fruit I put in it.

This makes me think about my life.

Am I bearing fruit in my life or have I been fruitless? Am I adding to the kingdom? Am I using the gifts God has given me to do his work and bring him glory? Have I been more like Christ with each day?

Or am I sitting here, selfishly trying to be a perfectionist so that others look at me and think highly of me? Am I reading my bible every day just so that I can tell my youth group students that they need to read their bibles every day without being convicted myself?

On the outside, I think a person can very well look like they are doing great works for the kingdom. But it’s all about what’s in our hearts. It’s about a desire to have a biblical heart. To be humble, to surrender, to allow the Word of God to speak to our hearts so that we change, we grow and we become more like Christ.

More on fruit

The Word tells us very clearly what the fruits of the Holy Spirit are in Galations 5:22-23.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to enter in, we are wholly surrendering ourselves to becoming more like Christ and bearing these qualities. But it takes work. Hard work. A lot of effort. It’s hard to have self-control, patience and kindness. But this is our calling.

Will you be challenged with me today to bear more fruit?

Jen

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My first love, my identity, my before and after

13 Feb

As I sit here in a dim living room on a cold winter night with one of my favorite Pandora stations playing, I realize we’re just hours away from the most romantic holiday of the year: Valentine’s Day. As I think about this holiday, I notice that some people consider it the perfect occasion to show the ones they love just how much they are loved, while others shrug their shoulders in bitterness and call it “just another Hallmark holiday.”

My original idea for this post was to write an encouraging blog for young women who don’t have a valentine, but honestly, what single girl wants to hear, “it’s okay, maybe you’ll have a valentine next year”? Nope. I certainly don’t. So let me tell you this: you DO have a valentine.

What?

While some of you reading this might think the phrase “Jesus is my valentine” to be tacky, that’s basically what I’m about to tell you, in less child-like terms. So get ready.

I’ll start by pointing out the (to some, not-so) obvious. We should consider Christ to be our first love (guys reading this, this is for you, too) because he gave EVERYTHING so that we could be saved. He rescued us from eternal destruction by dying on the cross. He loved us in a way that no one else could ever even attempt. Ever. While I believe in true love on this earth, I also know that we are to love GOD above everything and everyone else. And he’s the one who holds the characteristics that we should look for in earthly love anyway! Characteristics such as trust and faithfulness (Psalm 40).

One thing I have noticed in observing others, and even in my own life, is that when couples begin to date for long periods of time, they tend to find their identity in the person they are with–the person who loves them. But if we call ourselves Christians, our identity is in Christ alone and how he loves us. (Have I already mentioned that he loves us?) When we put our trust in the One who loves us more than any person ever could, we can be completely secure! Before love–and before Christ–we were just wretched sinners. Because of Christ we are saved and perfectly loved. Check out these examples of how Christ’s love has transformed me and helped me to find my identity (in HIM)  in the process. I hope you will read these before and after’s and begin to see how he has worked in your life, too!

I once was bound, but now I am free.

Before realizing how much my God cares for me, I felt that I had to be a certain way. To look a certain way. Then maybe I would feel a certain way, maybe I would feel happy or pretty or lovable. Just because Hollywood sets an example for how women, and even men sometimes, are supposed to look and act doesn’t mean we have to follow suit. It’s a pretty common insecurity for girls, but many hold onto it for their whole lives and they don’t have to.

Maybe you’re bound by insecurities or maybe you feel bound to a relationship in your life that you shouldn’t be in. Maybe you are even bound by addiction. It doesn’t matter what it is. God is bigger than that thing. Remember in 2 Samuel 11 how David had an affair with Bathsheba and even killed her husband? Later on, the scriptures describe him as “a man after God’s own heart”! He was transformed. He was bound by his sin, but he found freedom in Christ.

I once was worried, but now I have peace.

There have been many times in my life where I have felt the need to plan and control everything I do, especially when it comes to the future. Not knowing where I’ll be working next year or even next week is a scary thought, but trusting God with my post-graduation job hunt has been the biggest burden reliever! I am still actively looking for a job, but I am no longer worrying about how I’ll pay my next bill. He is faithful and he will provide. (Luke 12:22-24 is an example I mentioned in a previous blog, and one worth revisiting.)

I once felt lost, but now I know who I am.

This is the most important before and after of all. Before Christ, I was lost. A sinner headed for an eternity in hell. But now I am a sinner saved by grace! Who I AM is a follower of Christ. Nouns such as “daughter,” “sister,” “friend,” “aunt,” “writer,” and “leader” are just things I DO. They do not define me. I have been found in Christ and HE alone defines me. (John 1:12 tells us we are children of God and Isaiah 43:1 also tells us that we belong to him and he has called us by name!) Everything else is just the icing on the cake and roles I am blessed to be given.

As you think about the ways Christ has transformed you and as you put together your own before and after’s, I hope you realize how much you are truly loved by your creator. It’s better than any Valentine’s Day gift, even a box of chocolates.

I was caged in, then You opened
Every door that held me bound and You gave me the key
No more pressure I can just breathe
The girl I tried so hard to be, has always been me

My strength alone will never be enough
But Your arms keep lifting me up

You tell me I’ve been made free
You give me everything I need to walk in my dreams
You whisper words that free my soul
You’re the reason I have hope
You’re everything I need and more

(Free – Dara MacLean)

By the way, Happy Valentine’s Day.

Jen

When I just don’t feel like loving others.

7 Feb

Today I rediscovered something that I learned the hard way when I was 17 years old and about to graduate high school: first of all, people can be mean. But most important, love and forgive your neighbor, your brother and even your enemies always.

A few weeks before the end of my senior year, I went to a CVS to pick up some makeup. After paying for my items, I went to walk out of the store, but I set off the security alarm. Confused and not sure what to do, as always, I took a few steps back and made sure it was okay for me to proceed. After all, the woman who had just rung me up was still at the cash register and I didn’t think I had any items with security tags on them. To me, it was no big deal.

But this older woman didn’t seem to think the best of the situation like I did. She accused me of stealing and told me that if I didn’t empty my oversized purse, she’d call the manager to come to the front of the store. I told her over and over that I didn’t have anything in my bag, but she continually said to me, “if you don’t just confess now, this will get worse.” Needless to say, it was the most horrible experience of my teenage life. Although I hadn’t stolen anything, I was scared to death that something was going to happen to me! Most of all, I was really upset at this woman for jumping to conclusions and thinking the worst of me, whom she probably saw as some teenage brat trying to steal hair color or something. Anyway, she went through my purse and found nothing, so she let me go. Later that night at home, I discovered that I had a magnetic chip clip in my purse that had set the stupid alarm off.

So why am I sharing this seemingly insignificant anecdote? That night I came home crying and thinking to myself, “why are people SO rude and just plain mean?” I was a naive little high schooler who hadn’t yet discovered how mean the world can be. I, little goody-two-shoes Jen who had never told a lie, would NEVER have stolen anything from anyone, yet this woman thought the absolute worst of me. I just couldn’t fathom it. But then I realized that I myself was judging the woman who had judged me.

You see, she thought I was stealing, so I automatically wrote her off as a cranky, bitter old woman who probably hates kids and teens. She had jumped to conclusions about me, and at the very same time, I jumped to conclusions about her.

I haven’t seen that woman since that day, but today I had an encounter that reminded me of that day. Today at Speedway, I was slowly driving around trying to find an open pump. Once I discovered the only open pump, I had to step on the brakes to allow two pedestrians to walk in front of my car before pulling into the spot. As I waited, a black mustang whipped around from behind me and took the open pump. I didn’t even have a chance to hit the gas once the pedestrians had walked by. He beat me to it. Then, after he pulled into the spot, he didn’t even get out of his car. He sat there, talking on his cell phone. I was pretty ticked, but another spot opened up. However, as I rounded the corner to ease into it, a young woman in her SUV whipped into the Speedway lot from the busy street and stole it right before my eyes. Running on fumes, I decided to give up and risk running out of gas to just get home.

It’s taken me a few hours to really see the whole picture and be able to sit here and write about it. For some reason, this really irritated me more than it should have today. While I didn’t outwardly show my frustration, deep inside I was thinking unkind things about those people, and I certainly wasn’t thinking like a Christian.

You see, we don’t know everyone’s story and we never will. Maybe the man in his Mustang got an emergency phone call after he pulled in to the open pump. Perhaps that woman was rushing to get gas so she could go buy formula for her hungry, crying baby. I don’t know their stories, and I probably never will. But here’s the point: it doesn’t matter. Even if there were no excuses for their behavior, I still have to see them the way Christ does and love them, even though it’s hard.

There are tons of scriptures in the Bible that tell us how much we should love others and put them before ourselves. Philippians 2:4 tells us:

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Another great one is Luke 6:35:

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”

I guess what I’m trying to prove is the importance of not judging others, jumping to conclusions or thinking we’re always in the right. And, even after we are wronged, we must not want to wrong others in return. Instead, it should make us want to show them the love of Christ even more (1 Thessalonians 5:15).

I have to remind myself of this all the time. Even though we all know we’re supposed to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” it really isn’t just some little memory verse from kids church. It really is what we’re supposed to do! Remember that Christ died for your sins and loves you without condition. Don’t you think we have to learn to love and forgive others just as Christ loves and forgives us? (Colossians 3:13)

Our sacrifice is little in comparison to his.

Live it today.

Jen