4 Resources to Start Your Year

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4 Resources to Start Your Year

I have the privilege of being connected to so many amazing writers, teachers, and leaders in the faith community. I gathered up some (not all) of the amazing work they are doing. If you are looking for a study, a devotional, or a resource— KEEP READING.

Space- Amanda Carpenter

Amanda and I go to church together and she’s one of those people that just keeps getting better the longer you know her. She writes from such a genuine place and really loves the Lord. If you need more space in your life…grab this devotional. ASAP.

Guarantee - by Lacey Rabalais

Lacey and I are instagram friends and have connected deeply over conversations on race, parenting, singleness and more. I love her heart to learn and grow in Christ. Lacey walks you through the prophetic words in the Bible and what they all point to. Grab her devotional here!

The Push Guide: Elizabeth Strickland

Elizabeth Strickland is one of the most powerful women I have ever encountered. She has a lock on teaching women about finding and walking in their purpose. If you are looking for direction, clarity, and most likely a kick in the butt- she’s your girl. Check out her devotional here:

Ashley Morgan Jackson - Soul Reflection Workbook

Ashley is such a gift to anyone who follows her. She is so authentic and shares such beautiful revelation from the Bible. She is a true heart to heart girl and if you are in need of some deep work internally, she is your girl. Check out her Soul Reflection Workbook HERE.

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Stuck In the Middle

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Stuck In the Middle

By Rachel Clair

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

Here I am, stuck in the middle with you

Yes, I’m stuck in the middle with you

-Stealers Wheel

 

Have you heard that song before? It’s kinda weird, but it popped into my head today because that’s where I find myself - stuck in the middle, likely with you.

 

I’ve recently found myself looking for a blog or a devotional from someone who’s also stuck in the middle. Someone who says, “Hey, I got you. I’m stuck in the middle with you. I really have no idea when we’re going to get to leave, but I’m here. I’m with you, and I fully believe God is here too.”

 

While I’ve found a lot of stuff to read, most of it has come from people who are past their messy middle. They’ve learned some lessons and ready to share them. It’s all been good, but it’s just not offering up that, “I’m in it with you” encouragement I need right now.

 

A writer friend once said that when she’s searching for something to read and she can’t find what she’s looking for, it’s probably because she’s searching for herself. She’s looking for her voice and her perspective. She’s got a story to tell that’s bottled up inside, ready to burst, so she better stop looking and just start writing.

 

So here I am - coming at you from right smack dab in the messy middle - with a letter, a story, written just as much for me as it is for you.

 

A little set up for you before I jump in - these last two years have been characterized by loss for me and my husband. His dad died in the summer of 2017. A few of our really close friends moved out of state. We suffered some deep hurt and betrayal from another friend. My sister lost a baby, and I left a job that I had hoped would become my long term calling. As 2018 draws to a close, I sense little glimmers that we might finally be rounding the corner, that hope and joy might be possible again. But for the most part, I feel like we’re still swimming around somewhere in the middle, looking for direction, mourning loss, and begging to be healed.

 

This summer, while directing a kids’ camp at Soul City Church in Chicago, God handed me the story of Joseph. Joseph was a man more than familiar with the middle. He had 11 brothers, and he was his father’s favorite. I’m sure that put him in the middle of quite a few family feuds.

 

One day, while Joseph’s brothers were out tending the family’s flock, Jacob (the father) sent Joseph out to check on his brothers.

 

Go and see how your brothers and the flocks are getting along,” Jacob said. “Then come back and bring me a report.” 

 

Sounds like a recipe for disaster, if you ask me. The favorite son gets to stay at home while the rest of the brothers work. Then, he’s sent to check on them and report back to the father on how they are doing. Can we say, “Perfect storm for pride and jealousy to collide?”

 

Sure enough, Joseph set out to find his brothers, and when they saw him coming, they made plans to kill him.

 

You can read the whole story in Genesis 37. In fact, you should because of the twists and turns happen, and by the end of it, Joseph is sold to a caravan of traders who then sell him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.

 

Can you imagine what this must have been like for Joseph? His day started out at home with his dad and ended as a slave in Egypt. Joseph suddenly found himself in the middle, just past the loss of a life he knew and loved, but quite far from the blessings and success God had in store for him. 

 

You and I have the benefit of reading Joseph’s entire story in the Bible. We can easily find out that things end well for him: he becomes a successful officer in Potiphar’s household; he saves the entire region of Egypt from famine; and he is reunited with his family.

 

But at this moment, when Joseph’s riding in the caravan, when he’s being sold to Potiphar in Egypt, he has no idea how his story will unfold. All he knows is that he’s not where he once was, and he desperately wants to get out of the situation he’s in. 

 

In his book, “The Land Between,” Jeff Manion writes that the period of waiting, the time between one thing and the next, is a land ripe with potential growth. But we get to choose what will grow. Will it be bitterness and resentment towards the Lord? Or will it be faith and trust. Will we grow an attitude of complaint? Or a posture of surrender?

 

“The habits of the heart that we foster in this space—our responses and reactions—will determine whether the Land Between results in spiritual life or spiritual death,” he says. “We choose.”

 

I’ve read Joseph’s story several times over the last few months. Unsurprisingly, it also popped up as the subject matter of a small group I was in this fall. Joseph’s middle lasted for a really long time. 

 

Scholars believe somewhere around 13 years passed between the time Joseph was sold into slavery and the time he was made an overseer in Potiphar’s house. An additional nine years passed before he saw his brothers again, and another two years past before they were officially reunited. That’s 25 years! Can you imagine? And as if being sold into slavery wasn’t enough, Joseph was also accused of a sexual assault he didn’t commit and thrown into prison for several years during this time. Talk about a messy middle.

 

Joseph didn’t know how his life was going to turn out. He didn’t know he would become wealthy and successful, and that he would be the one to save his brothers from starvation. But God did.

 

Genesis 39:2 tells us that, “The Lord was with Joseph so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master.”

 

Genesis 39:21 says it again, “But the Lord was with Joseph in prison and showed him his faithful love…”

 

God was with Joseph, even in the messy middle. The writer of Genesis doesn’t fill in all the details of how Joseph reacted to his situation, but since he is human, I have to imagine it was struggle sometimes. I’m sure he cried out to God, doubted God, got angry with God and angry at his situation. But the fruit of his life shows us that overall, he trusted God in the middle, and God used the middle to grow Joseph in ways he couldn’t grow before.

 

So let me ask you this, what messy middle currently defines your situation? In what “land between” do you find yourself? Do you feel stuck? Have you just arrived? Are you kicking and screaming? Are you seated in prayer? 

 

In the same breath that God gave me Joseph this summer, he also gave me Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight.”

 

That was in July, and it is now December. 

 

My situation hasn’t changed much. I still have a growing desire to find success as a writer and creator, but have no idea how it will happen. I’m still asking for a full time job, while learning to thank God for the financial provision he is giving, even if it’s less than what I want. My husband was diagnosed with depression earlier this year, and we still haven’t found a medication or a rhythm of communication that will let us live in peace. The conflict with our friends that hurt us so deeply is still bruising on our hearts, and we find ourselves wrestling in the middle. Everywhere we look, it's the middle.

 

I’ve written a lot about waiting, about existing in the place between where you were and the place where you want to go. Waiting is hard; most of us don’t like it. But I’m finding that as I pull my gaze away from the past and stop focusing so hard on the future, God’s light burns bright right here in the messy middle with me. He is present. He is here, and he longs for me to be here with him.

 

I want you to know I see you. I’m right here with you in the middle. I have no idea how long it’s going to last or when we’re going to get to leave, but I’m here. I’m with you, and the best part is, I know God is here with you too.

You can read more of Rachel’s incredible work over on The Sunday Afternoon Blog

 

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2018

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2018

I cannot believe it is already time to start Christmas shopping!! I am so excited to share with you my favorite things. Comment and let me know what you end up getting for yourself or a loved one!

Fre Skincare

This cruelty free vegan skin care line has drastically improved my skin! I use their products DAILY. My favorite thing they have is the DETOX ME Mask. This line is perfect for the girl who works out. Every product gently exfoliates AND hydrates. Use code FAITHFEAST on BLACKFRIDAY to get 50% off!

Chicago French Press Coffee

My favorite way to start my day is with Chicago French Press Coffee. Gift yourself or your favorite coffee drinker with some delicious flavored coffee in ANY grind. This coffee is great for anyone who is looking for a healthier option for their morning cup of Joe! Check out their Black Friday deals to snag some Holiday Flavors! Use Code FAITHFEAST!

Val Marie Paper Prayer Journals

Do not underestimate the power of a prayer journal. If you want to share with someone you love the beautiful gift of prayer- START HERE. They have a journal for just about everyone in your life. The beginner, the seasoned, the parent, the child, the man and more. They even have other tools and devotionals to help you grow in your faith in 2019. Shop SOON because they have some great Black Friday deals.

Wholeheartedly Devotional

truth be told, I am not a huge fan of singles content. That’s a blog post for another day. But THIS devotional is one I recommend to every single woman in my life. Natalie does such a great job of helping single women dive in and experience their single season FULLY and JOYFULLY. Grab this 21 day devotional for yourself or someone close to you of any age!

Shop Jackie Subscription Box

Know a lady looking to elevate her wardrobe?? Shop Jackie subscription boxes are a MUST. They select high end pieces specific to your style needs and ship it right to you. I have LOVED being styled by them for work and life. You can even do a one time box for $40 bucks!

BOOKS & BIBLE STUDIES

There are TOO many good reads and bible studies that I think would make phenomenal gifts this year. So…Just head over to my amazon affiliate page and scope out the goods. I personally love getting a new book under the tree so gift someone you love with a MUST read!

Classpass

YES. I put class pass on here! Don’t judge me. Sometimes all someone needs to stay consistent or get consistent is a gym membership. Class Pass is so fun because you can hop around to different types of studios and never get bored with your workouts. Treat someone to some health this Christmas, amen?!

I can’t wait to see what you end up getting this year for yourself or your loved ones. Please note that many of these links are affiliate links which simply means that when you use them, I get a percentage of the sales at no cost to you! HAPPY SHOPPING!

The beautiful planner was gifted to me by Faithful Moms. This planner is SO nice. It’s starts off with sections to help you define your purpose for the year. Then you set quarterly intentions, a verse for the month, a prayer list and more. THEN you’ve got a place for scripture notes, a memory verse, a spot fo ra testimony and even ample space for quiet time notes. On the weekly page there is plenty of room for the days to do’s and even a section for daily habits. This is one of the most thoughtful planners I have ever seen. I LOVE IT!! Grab yours for 10% off with code thefaithfeast until Tuesday December 4th. This gift is PERFECT for ANY woman in your life!

xo

Linds

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I Made A Mistake

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I Made A Mistake


I made a mistake and it was haunting me. About a year ago I was presented with an opportunity. It appeared to be the exact opportunity that I had prayed and fasted and cried out to God for. And it felt like it was put right in my lap. To be honest I was surprised. Shocked. It felt unexpected despite the fact that it had been constantly on my mind and a desire in my heart. And as I begin to step into this blessing that I believed was from God, I started to get nervous. Really really nervous. Was I ready for this? Could I actually handle it? Was I going to mess it all up? And the more nervous I got the more tense I became. I never got a chance to delight in the blessing because I was all too consumed with making sure I didn’t LOSE it. 



Have you ever done that? Maybe you played sports or love to watch them. If you do, you can always tell when a team goes from determined to win to afraid to lose. If you watch closely, you can pick up on this subtle mindset shift. Playing to win comes from a place of confidence. There is a certainty there that winning is possible and achievable. When a team shifts from trying to win to trying not to lose, they are playing from a place of fear. They often seem scrambled, less focused, and flustered. 



That was me. I went from excited to afraid. It was too good to be true.  Being myself as I stepped in to this blessing seemed a little risky. I had to be perfect in order to maintain it. The only way to win was to avoid losing at all costs. 


That mindset sent me into a downward spiral. A downward spiral that ended in this door to be closed. I couldn’t believe I had exactly what I wanted and then let it slip right through my fingers. I felt like a huge failure. How could I have messed this up when God put it right in my hands? All I had to do was…receive it. 


I spent the better part of the year disappointed in myself. Beating myself up for this stupid failure. My dumb mistakes. My wrong mindset. I spent a lot of time praying for healing, clarity and of course another shot.  I begged God to just open the door one more time. I wouldn’t mess it up. I could handle it…just give me one more shot. 


 And then God led me to the story of Joseph in the Bible but this time from a different perspective.


When Josephs brothers threw him into that pit, they made a huge mistake.  A mistake they thought resulted in his death. A mistake they could never take back. A mistake that shattered their father Jacobs heart. Some unfortunate circumstances lead them directly to the palace here Joseph was now living.  Long story short, Joseph ends up asking his brothers to bring their youngest brother before he helps them. In Josephs mind, they will have nothing to bring because HE is the youngest brother.  But little does he know…there is now a Benjamin in the picture. 



The brothers go back home and have to face their father Jacob. They tell Jacob that in order to get what they need to survive…they have to bring Benjamin, the youngest brother, back with them. Jacob, clearly, is like uh NO.  Last time you took my son…he disappeared forever.  But Judah begs and pleads for Jacob to allow them to take Benjamin. 


The brothers needed a second chance. They could never get back what they did to Joseph. They could never undo their mistake. But they COULD do the right thing with Benjamin. & if you keep reading you find that Jacob did eventually say yes. 


I read over this story again and again until finally I realized I was the brothers. I had mishandled something very precious to my father just like them. But Jacob, Just like our Father in heaven, was willing to give them another shot. And this time they were not the same. Some time had passed and they were now ready to handle the responsibility. They could handle it. 


We will make mistakes. We are going to royally screw up. I know I have before and I will again. But a second chance will come. It may take days  or months or it may take years. Another chance will come. It may not be when you thought or what you thought, but it will come. 


You are not your last mistake. You are not defined by your failures. You are defined by the promises of God. You got fresh mercy when you woke up this morning. You are wiser than you were when you messed up. Move forward in courage.  You are defined by the promises of God.  Your second chance is coming…and All of heaven is cheering you on. 

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All My Single Ladies

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All My Single Ladies

All My Single Ladies

By: Abbey V. McMillan

Long ago, on Facebook, as a single woman, I posted a comment about how I looked forward to the day I’d have my husband to love and lean on. At the time, my heart felt like it would burst because of how much I longed for the companionship of my husband. I was in my late 20’s at the time and I had never really dated.  (There was this guy in my youth group that held my hand for three weeks…but he would have dated a gnat…so it’s not worth counting.) One acquaintance, we will call her Rae, made a comment that I will never forget.  She stated I “shouldn’t have rose colored glasses when it came to marriage” and “it was no walk in the park.” If I were to be completely honest with you, I would admit I almost lost my Jesus for a second and really wanted to punch her square in the throat.  Instead, I just pointed out that she wouldn’t give it up if she had a choice so it couldn’t be all bad.  She agreed…and I felt vindicated!

The truth is I didn’t think I had any rose colored glasses regarding marriage.  My parents divorced my freshman year of college after being married for 20 years.  I saw the ugliness of marriage.  I thought that most of it was because Jesus wasn’t at the center of my parent’s relationship, but I knew it was difficult regardless.

Another truth: Rae wasn’t wrong.  Her approach and her wording were wrong. Fast forward to almost a decade later when I was walking in her shoes as a wife, I realized her heart was in the right place; I couldn’t see it before.  Her words just hurt and seemed unnecessary.  I learned later though that the message she was trying to impart to me was absolute truth.  I pray that as you read the remainder of the post that you know my heart is for you- in every season.

I have two disclaimers before I begin.  The first, you read above that I am married and some of you may be closing out your browsers because of it.  Remember when I said I never really dated?  My first real boyfriend didn’t come along until I was 31 years old. I met my husband when I was 33 years old and I became his bride just before my 36th birthday.  This coming February we will have been married for three years.  I share this to say, I was single for much longer than I have been un-single! Sometimes, although brief, I have to remind myself that I am not still one of you.  When I say my heart is for you…trust me…my heart is for you.

The second, I realize there are those of you that are absolutely ROCKING singleness; you totally have it all together, your eyes are on the Lord and you are SOLID! I prayed often to be you and, at times, I was you, though not for very long.  Truthfully, my contentment and focus on the Lord waxed and waned.  May this post, if nothing else, encourage and spur you onward!

Here are two things I’ve learned while being on the “other side” of singleness.

If I’d known then what I know now, I’d spend ZERO time pining and longing for my husband and would’ve set my sights on Him alone!  As a single woman, I would cling to Psalm 37:4 (NIV) “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  I spent so much time focusing on the “desires of my heart” without realizing it, tried to figure out how to manipulate the “delighting in Him” so that I could get my desires fulfilled.  Maybe He wasn’t giving me my desires because I didn’t delight in Him in some particular way.  Ladies, there is so much goodness, SO MUCH GOODNESS in just delighting in Him!  Take some time to write that part of the verse down somewhere and keep it where you can see it.  Write Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord” and stop right there.  For most of us, I’m willing to bet, that is enough to keep us busy for eternity!  (Lord, may we delight in You for no other reason than the fact that You are delightful!)  He is prize enough.  The sooner we see that, the sooner we stop striving, the quicker contentment will find us.  If music speaks to your heart as it does mine, look up Natalie Grant, “More Than Anything.”

As a single woman I often felt that being married and having a loving, Godly husband would solve so many problems!  Car troubles?  Husbands can deal with that so you don’t have to.  Stinky trash?  Husbands can take it out so you don’t have to.  Feeling lonely?  Husbands can cuddle, hug, and spend time with you so you don’t have to be alone. Truth is, as a single woman I had 99 problems but as a married woman I have 99 different problems.  There are two of us now…and we are both imperfect humans. I used to get so irritated at Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:1 when he says it is good for man not to marry.  Now I understand what he is saying.  Marriage is good and holy, but it does bring huge distractions.  The enemy has been most successful in getting me spiritually off track since getting married.  It is so easy to be hyper-focused on my husband and his happiness instead of on the Lord.  Also, those 99 single lady problems that I thought would be solved, there have been times in my marriage where I have never felt more alone.  Marriage was supposed to solve my loneliness.  I also had so many insecurities as a single woman.  I expected that when I got married those would all go away.  After all, this man chose me.  He must love me and think I’m the most beautiful woman on the planet!  I was so wrong I’ve never been so insecure in my life.  It is not because of my husband.  These insecurities are my own.  I thought marriage would cure them but my husband is not the cure that I need.  It’s Jesus.  If you are looking for a husband to solve your problems, chances are you aren’t focused on the Lord.  He is truly sufficient to meet your needs and your desires.  A husband is not God’s design to do that for you; he could never be your Savior.  That is too much pressure and your marriage will suffer if you look to your husband to save you from your problems.

There is much I have learned that I wish I knew as a single woman.  I wasted so much of the Lord’s time!  Who knows what He would have had for me if I directed all that longing to Him!  What an adventure we would have had.  I’ll never get that time back, but you still have it.  You are not a lady in waiting.  You have purpose right now that can only be accomplished during this season in your life.  Embrace it; embrace Him!  Ladies, delight in Him and then HE will be the desire of your heart; just as it should be.

Soli Deo Gloria

(Only for His glory)

Abbey



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