Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Singleness is NOT a season, people.

I mean, you know: I get it.

The majority of humans will marry.I get it, I really, really do. But, not all will marry.

In Scripture we are never told Singleness is a season or stage. (Actually, we're told it's a gift, but, I digress.)

So why do we walk around saying and sharing that? To make people feel better? Because it may flatter in the moment, but it does not build someone up in love and encouragement.

And I know that from experience.

And here's the reason why saying "Singleness is just for a season" bothers me to the core: What you're not saying is, "You were made for more. You are not complete - yet."

Dear reader: This is so incredibly a.) untrue and b) unbiblical that I can not be in a conversation, overhear this and stay silent anymore.

And here's how this is untrue and unbiblical: EVERY HUMAN IS MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD: the Imago Dei. He may be triune (Father, Spirit, Son) but HE IS ONE.

Dear friend, you don't need marriage or a partner to complete you: and neither do I.

If you ARE married then know this: that itself is a gift! But it in no way completes you. Only the Lord can do that.

The term "soul mates" comes from Greek mythology (aka, not real life) where in there was one soul which was split in two as a consequence and had to spend the rest of their days searching for each other to be whole.

That is not you, me, or any other human on this planet.

Ecclesiastes (3:11) tells us that God set eternity into the heart of man: He is the one who completes us.

So do you see how that alone should stop us from using the term "season" or "stage" when it comes to singleness vs. marriage? In seasons and stages we're always planning ahead. Trying to predict the future. Preparing for it. Very, VERY rarely are we ever in it fully and presently. This is not healthy.

And let me give a personal example of that: I grew up during the "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" years. (Which as a side note: I don't think Joshua Harris needed to apologize for writing those books. But again, I digress.) I've read all the other books that came out in the 90's and 2000's... always trying to "prepare" for marriage.(I went to a 4-year Bible school: Believe me- there was a lot of teaching on marriage. ha!) And as I live now in being 35 and single, I can honestly say: that to read and go to those seminars and conferences (on marriage, etc): it hurts my heart more than it helps it. Because why? Because God may not have marriage for me and that is beautiful too. Do I have desires that I pray for God to fulfill, like marriage? Yes, I do actually.

But do I think He has to give it to me?
No.

Do I think marriage will complete me?
Probably more than I should, but weren't you all naive when entering marriage? Besides, I've seen and encountered more marriages that I wouldn't want mine to look like than what I would want. So no, I don't think marriage will complete me.

And what if we follow that mind set--what do we say to widows and widowers? "Oh, don't worry, this is just a season." Absolutely not.

So please, please don't say it to us.
Only God knows the plans He has for someone.


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I was interviewed for a podcast by Hey Girl, and the 2nd half of the interview is on the topic of Singleness. (The first half being on Bullying.)  If you'd like to hear it, head on over to the Hey Girl podcast or you can listen to the interview on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzMdAY2dXQA&t=1s

Saturday, September 16, 2017

35 Blessings.

Today I've officially lived 35 years. (Technically longer because of that whole 9-months-in-the-womb-thing.) 

Whoa.

Anyways, here we go, my annual number-of-blessings-according-to-how-old-I-am. [In no particular order.]
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35. God's whispers. This year God has whispered so much to me- and/or- I've finally been listening. Some of my more recent blog posts will tell you more of those conversations.

34. Subaru Imprezas. I leased my 4th Subaru this past Spring- MY GOSH I LOVE THESE CARS. *Also note: paddle shifters

33. Chiropractors. My life is forever changed. Last year I was not on antibiotics ONCE since working with kids. Bloating went down. Health was the best ever in 34 years. 34 YEARS. 

32. 10,000 Fathers. This is the worship school that I'm a part of. If you know me via social media or in person, I probably seem to never shut up about "them". I don't idolize the school. (I think.) However, my being supports them 1000% because they teach discipleship, hospitality and the Bible in the most genuine, Biblical way I've ever encountered. 

31. Podcasts. I still barely listen to any, but my top few are: Hey Girl (the Christian one), Passion City and Mike Rowe. (Yes, he's a celebrity crush of mine. ;)

30. The Gym. Gosh, I just started working out (in a gym) for the first time since I left Boston in June... I'VE MISSED IT OH SO MUCH.

29. Hallmark Movies. Yes, I'm a hopeless romantic and yes they have a way of wayyy over-simplifying love and attraction and commitment. However, some of them have helped encourage me to keep my standards high and my perseverance in standing up for myself. (Also note: They help shut my brain off when I need to.;)

28. Georgia. I think God created me to live in the South. 

27. Books: Two books I read this year that God used to help transform my life: *The Life You've Always Wanted" by John Ortberg & "Keep Your Love On" by Danny Silk. And by life transforming I mean: #LIFETRANSFORMING

26. CoWorkers: Three months ago I left a set of workers that I love and had to hold in the floodgates while saying goodbye to them and then had to say hello to a new set. And they welcomed me with open arms. <3

25. This laptop. So you don't know it because you're not sitting next to me, however: This laptop has a touch screen. IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS IN LIFE YA'LL.

24. My former dentist. So in moving a 1000 miles away obviously, I had to leave my former dentist (and his brother who also helped me out). It took about 3 years and I still have some work left to be done-- but I am so much healthier due to having healthy & happy teeth. Don't take it for granted guys. I had mild fevers and chronic headaches due to teeth issues. DENTAL HEALTH IS SERIOUS.

23. Friends who have taken me in. My friend Katie and her husband took me in for the summer, and then my coach/friend Verna and her husband have taken me in as I try to get some things together because of the move and pay cut. Both couples are incredibly hospitable and loved on me. #ForeverGrateful

22. Mary Kay. No, I don't sell it. I do, however, use their Clear Proof line... and I'm SO THANKFUL. Also- their mask? AMAAAAZING.

21.the Enneagram. LISTEN INTERNET: THIS IS A PROFOUND PERSONALITY TEST. and No, I am NOT joking. And especially if you're a believer/Christian... knowing yourself, strengths, weakness, healthiness & vices are vitally important- along with knowing how to discern others so you can relate and work with others with respect and wisdom. <3 [Also note: I'm a 6. LOYALTY. My vice is Fear and my Strength is Courage and if you're in my life I will fight for you and defend you- physically if need be. Also, I hate it when people don't follow through with what they say.]

20. When the sun shines through the trees. These moments that I catch - God whispers affirmation, beauty and reminders to me. 

19. Karaoke. Gosh, so. much. fun. <3 #girlsnights

18. Best Friends. Life-changing conversations. Accountability. Investments. Family. Dog sitting. Bethany: I love, love, love and miss you. <3

17. Church Family. Chapel of the Cross: It was an amazing 8 years. You support me in prayer, finances and encouragement. You supported me through all my awkwardness in growing as a worship leader. I could not have asked for a more amazing church family to walk with. 

16. Solitude. When was the last time you spent even just 5 minutes alone- quiet? DO IT.

15. Courage. "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear."~Ambrose Redmoon ---------------------------------------I've written a bit about my journey this past 12 months, or, honestly, my life... so fee free to check out my previous posts. However, I heard this quote from Matt Chandler and it is JUST SO TRUE. So many of you have asked me "What's Changed?" or "How are you able to move your entire life?" - Because of the words in this quote: At some point you have to realize there's something more important than whatever is trying to hold you back. 

14. Blankets. But really guys. Curling up with a blanket (and good book or movie and/or coffee is just. so. amazing.) *Especially in the air condition ;) 

13. Voxer. Listen, if you do NOT HAVE THIS APP ON YOUR PHONE: GET IT. It's like a walkie-talkie and you can bypass the whole calling and leaving a message. You can leave a message longer than a voice mail and you can listen and reply whenever you want. #lifehack

12. Chick-Fil-A. Listen, don't judge. You know aalllll about it. #chickfilasauceiseverything

11. Dancing. And by dancing, I mean, when doing the dishes or making dinner. (I'm sure I would love dancing on a night out, buuuuut, that never happens. ;)

10. Instagram: Thank you Instagram for making me feel (and look) like I could be a professional photographer. (Okay, okay, or for at least making my mom think I'm a professional photographer. ;)

9. Katz Donuts. Dairy Free. Gluten Free. AND TASTE JUST LIKE BUTTERMILK DONUTS. Gosh, many weekends' breakfast made amazing. 

8. Aldi: So thankful that this grocery store is everywhere down here. 

7. Yum-Earth Organic Lollipops. OH MY GOSH AMAZING. <3 

6. Seltzer. This year I gave up soda as a New Year's Resolution. Now, in reality, I really only drank soda's with an evening meal on the weekends. Anyways, a study on Diet Soda's (I don't like the taste of Coke or super sweet sodas) and their ingredients are terrifying.

5. Amazing Landlords. My former landlords back in Massachusetts were amazing. Lev would shovel and/or plow my spot and get my car out with no complaining.... fixed things in our apartment super quickly. Don't take amazing landlords for granted.

4. 5 am wake up times.  Okay, so this one is MORE that I miss this wake up time. Because of my new starting time and work hours (7-3 instead of 9-3) I now wake up at 4:15ish. *ROUGH* 

3. Taking out gluten. My former chiropractor encouraged me to do so upon learning about some issues of mine- despite testing negative for Celiac's. As hard as it's been- and extremely inconvenient, I feel OH so much better.

2. Non-Light Gel Nail Polish. Super superficial, and I only have two colors, but I love love LOVE them, because I can go about a week and it makes me feel feminine without the cost- or putting a lot of effort into it. <3

1. Coffee. Now really: Are you surprised by this?

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Hope you've enjoyed reading & perhaps even read of some things that you yourself could and should be thankful for. 

One of the biggest lessons I learned this year: Life-changing moments aren't always in the lightning strikes or revivals... They come in seeing God in the little moments, things and people He puts in your paths. Don't underestimate the power of a conversation over coffee, an author's words or cheesy movie. If you do- you might be limiting God.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Limiting God

I used to believe that God only really worked a certain way. That God didn't speak through prophetic word, heal through people or raise people from the dead. I believed that God is an unchanging God. That He worked one way in the past, and now only works in one way.

Then God whispered.
He stirred.
He brought books and people into my life to challenge that thought.

*Books like, "The Heavenly Man"- the story of Brother Yun.
*Friends who train underground pastors in China who say over a cup of coffee "Shauna, you know God still raises people from the dead, right?"
*Friends who while praying for others have visions or pictures when praying over someone.

So slowly, in the course of a few years, God has stirred and moved and showed Himself to me [and of course others] in a way I never thought possible.

And one of those moments was recently.

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When I sensed God stirring and moving me to Atlanta, He reminded me often in those days (and to quote Matt Chandler), "God gives His command, you obey in faith, and then God will show Himself."

So I did.

I knew I was to tell my roommate God was moving me to Atlanta. Now, I was terrified.... I had never been the roommate who moved first, and I have a strong dislike of disappointing people when I can do the opposite. But I couldn't not tell her: I knew with every fiber of my being I would be disobeying God if I didn't tell her.

So I did.
(It went amazingly, by the way.)

Then I went back into my bedroom, picked up my coffee and continued watching the movie I was watching... when my phone went off. A text from my friend Christy Lee that I hadn't talked with in a few months. "Hey lady... had a vision of you living in Atlanta... Can't wait to hear that testimony!"

She had no idea that God was stirring a move,  never mind my having taken my first step of obedience in this journey.

And then I heard His whisper again... "Well done, Beloved. Here's a gift for your step of obedience."

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Today I want to challenge you and encourage you: Are you limiting God in how He works, not just in the world, but in your life? Can you name a time or situation in the last year that in a moment, you saw God in that situation? If not, you may be limiting how He's working in and around you.

Steps of faith and obedience are scary, and not for the faint of heart. But God is GOOD, and He is GRACIOUS and He is FOR you.

My coach told me one night a life-breathing truth: "God never prepares His people by instilling fear. He gives courage."

Repent of your unbelief, ask God for courage and the eyes to see Him.

That is a prayer He will not ignore.

Try Him.

<3


Saturday, August 5, 2017

God's Whispers.

At some point I'll share the [honestly, fascinating] journey that God has led me on the last few months, but I can't do that yet because I haven't even had a chance to tell one of the main people of that story... well, the story.But until then, I'll share lessons and stories as they come. This one is... recent. Like D A Y S recent.

So God kept whispering to me and guiding me and nudging me throughout my most recent journey, including the job I've now had for 3 days. <3 [A categorical (1:1) para professional in a special ed preK classroom.] I knew from the first email re: an interview that this was where I was supposed to be. THE FIRST EMAIL.

So the couple of weeks come and go... God heard my (and yours!) cries and expedited paperwork and credits and honestly, just EVERYTHING for me to start on the first day as every one else. I WAS SO EXCITED.

Then, all the HR paperwork (W4s, insurance) was taking forever to find online -- nevermind, to fill out and send in.

Then I asked the coordinator, "So... when is my first paycheck? It's before the 30 day deadline, right?"

Coordinator: "Oh ma'am.... I honestly don't know."

CUE TEARS.
CUE HEARING GOD WHISPER, "I've got this Shauna, I've got this."

I walk back to the classroom saying to myself, "God's got this Shauna, He's got this. He's led you this far."

The next few hours as friends text or call, I say, "Hey, will you pray... I don't know know when I'm getting paid..."

Finally, in texting a friend and hitting "SEND", I can't do it anymore, as the tears are running down my face... I quickly text her right back, "I'm sorry. Forgive me. God keeps whispering to me that He's got this."

Fast forward to the next day, I check the mail when I get home.
There's mail for me.
That mail?
A check.
And notes of encouragement from so many of my camp family and friends.
They had taken an offering for me.
And I just happened to have received the check that day.
The day after God whispered to me.

See, the number one question I've received (actually, that's a lie, it's the 2nd most asked question) re: my journey South has been, "How did you know?" My response is almost always the same: it's a "gut thing"- and hearing His whispers. [Note: See my IG post re: God using our entire beings to speak to us, including our "guts".]

See, I think too often we view God and His working as all lightning bolts and big shouts, when honestly, I don't think He normally speaks that way. Has there been some of those moments on this journey or in my life in general? Absolutely. But have I heard His whispers in the sunset, journaling, emails, prayer time, car rides, conversations, music, silence and tears? Absolutely.

Believe me, I am no expert in hearing the voice and whisper of God.  I can probably give to you the equal amount of stories in which I ignored or couldn't hear or see Him. However, two observations that I have noticed through the years and even in this journey is: 1.)We surround ourselves with noise to the point that silence is deafening and 2.) We have lost our reverent awe and fear of God.

I'll leave you with a list of questions, a checklist of sorts.

*Do you always have the radio/music on in the car?
*Is the tv/ipad always on?
*When was the last time you just sat on the chair/couch/bed with no technology, book or distraction?

*When was the last time you read Scripture for more than 10 minutes per day?
*When was the last time you cried out to God? Or in front of Him?
*When was the last time you got on your knees or the floor to Him? Either out of despair or awe? (Both approaches show humility.)

I would love to have expanded from those questions, but this is it for now. And before you even think of it: don't contact me and flood me with "my kids are everywhere! My kids are loud!": I am a firm believer of seasons of life. But do I think these questions do a tremendous job of probing where some pride may need to be broken or let go of. In fact, I would push you further: if any of these questions caused a flare up in you, either of wanting to push back or say, "nah", I would challenge you to ask God to search your heart and reveal it to you. It could be you are right- and I believe you could be.

Or it could be that your life is too loud to hear God's Whispers.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Lesson on Honoring God.

God's been challenging me on something the past...mmm year?

 And the issue is this: Am I being who God has called me to be? Or, am I trying to be what others (or I think others) want me to be?

And to be genuinely honest in this, my most recent/common area of this is being single. And the backstory to this is, well: I've had several men tell me (Christian and non-Christian) phrases like, "I would've never date you... you would've intimidated me" or "Well, I can see how you would intimidate men...." [Insert palm-face emoji here.]

Not only is that just what every single woman wants to hear- what we actually hear is what is NOT being said:

*"You're awfully tall in heels." (actually, wait: that HAS been said to me. Also, sorry, I can't help it God designed me to be 5'8".)

*"Guys really love feeling a lot taller and stronger than their girlfriends/spouses."  (Again, I can't help the height thing and sorry that I played sports when I was younger and that I love lifting weights.)

*"Guys are too shy to approach the quiet ones..." (Sorry I'm an introvert and only on rare occasions when I first meet someone/people does an extroverted me show up. That's usually reserved for friends/family.) [But she's really fun when she does.]

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And then, enter the Christian Bubble and you hear, either from the pulpit, books or "culture",

*"Women should be like the woman in 1 Peter 3. Quiet, submissive and modest." (I'll refrain from my rant on the word "modest.")

Well, you know what: That about summarizes it right there.

And for years I became "her"... You know, the 1 Peter 3 woman (that we take WAY out of context, just an FYI). I was afraid to laugh too loud because a man might think I was drawing attention to myself. I didn't give my opinion or thought [on spiritual things] even though a.) being a daughter of God gives me that right and b.) being a 4-year Bible school graduate taught me one or two things.

And then I moved, and God ushered in a new community of friends and job- and He begin to breathe life into those fearful and insecure areas. But insecurity still had a hold on me, and it's grasp was strong at times.

A few years later, I walked away from the Lord, but by His grace, I ran back. And it wasn't until after that that I began to truly SEE, FEEL and KNOW that God loves me. Showers me with grace. And He gives His children good gifts. And then two years ago I came across a Matt Chandler sermon... and he said life changing words. [I'm summarizing].... "And to you single women, I urge  you, STOP DUMBING YOURSELF DOWN. Because this is what happens: You love the Lord but you find you're still single and not getting asked out. So you dumb yourself down, then a [dumb] guy feels bold and strong enough to approach you and so you settle. And then two years later you wake up married to a dumb guy and you're trapped... STOP DUMBING YOURSELF DOWN. It is truly better to be a strong and godly woman with a 100 cats who's doing more for the kingdom then it is to be trapped in a marriage to a dumb guy...."

And that began to set the course for walking in the freedom of being me. 5'8". strong. lover of heels. lover of study and lover of weight lifting. worship leader and dreaming of teaching women (uh, hello Christine Caine, can we chat over coffee sometime?)

But I almost battle sharing it in the perspective of being single, because, well, like most of life: our spirit and being don't compartmentalize well. So in my professional life and relationships with friends- I was that insecure, never-stood-up-for-myself, I'm always wrong kind of woman. And you know what? That's not Godly... that's not being who God called me to be.

And guess what? It's an ever-learning lesson. Just this past week I sat in Starbucks, really battling this and I began to write, "Lord... just help me to learn the balance between being me and...."--- and I realized I couldn't finish that sentence. I heard the Father whisper, "The only way to honor Me is for you to be who I created you to be. And she is tall, strong, wise and a leader."

So dear friend, know this: It only brings honor and glory to God to be the you He's created you to be.

Monday, June 19, 2017

What If?

What if?

What if showing God to someone looked like not speaking one complaint to a fellow employee? For one year? Or, one week, heck: one day?

What if showing God to someone looked like asking, "How are you doing?", even to that person who's hygiene is less than pleasant?

What if showing God to someone looked like cleaning the bathroom without complaining?

What if showing God to someone looked like letting the person in line before you even though you may be running late?

What if showing God to someone looked like volunteering at a homeless shelter? Even if it is only because God loves the poor?

What if showing God to someone looked like not giving a piece of your mind even if you may have the right to?

What if showing God to someone looked like not getting mad you got pulled over for speeding?

What if showing God to someone looked like pressing into a conversation even if you are exhausted?

What if showing God to someone looked like not posting your political opinions on social media? But instead, chose to only have political conversations in person?

What if showing God to someone looked like washing a woman's feet? A woman who had just had an abortion?



But also:



What if showing God you love Him looks like getting on your knees and praying for Trump?

What if showing God you love Him looks like you with your palms up saying, "God, everything good I have is from Your hand... show me how to bless You and others with it."

What if showing God you love Him looks like more time in His Word than watching the news?

What if showing God you love Him looks like an extra 2% in your tithing?

What if showing God you love Him looks like refusing to snap back at your kids tonight?

What if showing God you love Him looks like palms up, humbly asking, "Am I wrong about this Lord? Show me if I am!"

What if showing God you love Him looks like cancelling Netflix because that's what you look forward to the most at the end of every day?

What if showing God you love Him looks like praying for the family member who drives you insane?

What if showing God you love Him looks like...... just being with Him? No agenda. No time limit.

What if showing God you love Him looks like..... whispering thank you's to Him throughout your day?


What if?


"If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you... and if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same..... but LOVE YOUR ENEMIES.....be  merciful."


Love sounds a lot like rooting for those not like you.





Tuesday, February 14, 2017

God Doesn't Use just Marrieds.

Contrary to popular belief, I'm actually pro-Valentines Day.

I love watching couples try to make the other feel important (and often, embarassed, ha!). Sometimes even us Singletons get noticed... such as the older man in the grocery store who stopped me to say, "Do colors really make a difference in the roses? Do they actually mean something?" So after telling him, "Don't get yellow: those mean friendship!" I went on to say something like, "But don't take my word for it: my favorite flower is a carnation! That's probably why I'm single!" (As I am laughing out loud by this point.) To which he responds, "Which is hard to believe, such a pretty girl like yourself!" #complimenttaken

That said, if you find yourself with someone, either married or dating and you think, "I hate Valentines Day. I love them every day: why do I have to go out of my way to show them one day a year?!" If you say that to me, I'll respond, "Why NOT go out of your any day- EVERY day to show them? Even if it is just flowers? Or a candy bar? Or doing the dishes?! WHY NOT?!"

For those of us that are single, however, depending on where we are mentally, spiritually, etc: Valentines can be a really, really hard day. I look back on my life and I'm just so grateful for the grace that God has poured over me... for even the work that I have done to get to where I am today.. that today, February 14, 2017: I am not bitter that I am single.

Some of you reading this may be divorced or separated. Some of you reading this may be a widow or a widower and for you, dear reader: I have no words. I can not imagine the pain that you have gone through, the thoughts you hear and have had to conquer or push away. But there is always hope. But not the hope you immediately think of.. you know, the-meeting-your-future-spouse-sort-of-hope... but the deep-rooted, God-inspired hope that He is for you, not against you (Psalm 56:9)... the hope that reminds you God has a purpose and plan for you (Psalm 139; Philippians 2:12,13) and that God is not done working on you (Philippians 1:6).

My best friend has encouraged me in the past to perhaps do more writing on explaining to marrieds/society what it's like to be single in today's culture.. especially, the Christian Culture. Perhaps someday I will, but for now, to you married's, I will exhort you to know and realize: Marriage is NOT a stage of life. God does NOT have marriage for everyone... including but not limited to, those who have the deep desire for it. Desires are not necessarily from God- neither are they evil if not: they are sometimes, just that: human desires. So again, please know that marriage is not a stage. No where in Scripture do we find, "When you turn ___ age or When you hit this level of maturity then you'll get married." But also, for the record, neither will you find, "If you just have more faith, if you just keep asking" or my [least] favorite, "If you just forget about men [or women], then that person will come into  your life.  SIDE NOTE: IF YOU DARE SAY THIS TO MY FACE, YOU MAY END UP WITH A BROKEN NOSE. End Note. (And also, because Scripture would push us to press IN to those desires and to ask God to fulfill our petition and need, but, that's another blog for another time.)

But dear Singles, we TOO have a responsibility: TO LIVE THE LIFE HE HAS CALLED US TO LIVE: RIGHT NOW. (Marrieds: this goes for you as well, as we all know that "the best is yet to come" thought does not end with "I Do's".) We can not live our lives in the future- we can only live them right now. We can not be entrusted with future responsibilities (get marriage out of your mind) if we are not being faithful where we currently are. If we are not grateful now with what and Whom (and whoms, that's right, I made up a word) He has given us NOW, then we will never be grateful later in life, even if/when you have them.

Have you ever come across an ungrateful person? A person who is always complaining? A person who sours your next few minutes to hours after coming away from them? Then know this, dear reader: you will become that very person if you do not check yourself.

So maybe tonight dear reader, you need to grab your Bible or watch a sermon online to distract yourself from watching a Hallmark movie. (Or just write a blog post like I've just done;) Or maybe you just need to hit your knees and pray for God's peace to wrap you up tonight. You know what, maybe you just need to throw on a war movie (like I do nearly ever Valentines Day)... and you know what? That's okay. God has you in His hand. He knows your heart, your desires-- and He knows how and when He'll fulfill or even change those desires.

Rest tonight, beloved. For He gives to His beloved rest. (Psalm 4:8)