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What does it mean to be a person who “stands strong?” These type of people have many admirable traits and qualities, yet above all they have unwavering faith. They have determined in their hearts that no matter what the storms of life may bring their way, they will still choose to believe for a brighter tomorrow. Hannah is one of those incredible, inspirational individuals who despite great hardship chose to stand strong in the face of great adversity.  By doing so, her dream of becoming a mother came true and she has provided a stellar example for many to follow. Unable to conceive a child, she was heartbroken, and desperate. Her empty arms ached to cradle and nurture a child of her own. For years Hannah struggled with infertility and the cry of her heart was for the Lord to bless her with a child. 

In the Bible times, having many children was considered a sign of God’s abundant favor and special blessing upon a family. For this reason barrenness brought great shame and heartache especially on a woman. To make Hannah’s situation even more painful and humiliating, her husband Elkanah’s other wife Peninnah had many children and took great pleasure in flaunting this to Hannah on a regular basis. Hannah was discouraged, but not hopeless. She was anxious but not lost with no direction. Hannah knew that her hope was in God and she refused to allow doubt and fear to extinguish this hope she held so close to her heart. 

One day she journeyed to the tabernacle in Shiloh to pray and earnestly seek God’s blessing for a son. Not only did she pray for a son, but she promised God that one day if He granted her a baby boy that when the time was right she would give him back to God in faithful service. The priest Eli overheard her praying with such intensity that at first he was confused and thought she was intoxicated. As Hannah explained her situation, Eli was touched by her story and immediately blessed her and prayed fervently that God would grant her request. It is understood that this encounter was a true turning point for Hannah as she left with a renewed assurance that the dream of having a son was very soon to become a joyous reality. If her faith had ever wavered during weak moments, it was now steadfast. 

God looked with compassion on Hannah’s situation and blessed her with a son whom she named Samuel which means “I have asked for him from the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:20) Samuel brought Hannah great joy and personal fulfillment as a mother, yet she did not forget her promise to God. When Samuel was weaned which was described as being typically between the ages of two and five at that time, she took him to the temple to be raised by Eli the priest. I cannot imagine that journey and how her heart must have been breaking to know that this was her last moments together as mother and son. When she arrived at the temple the Bible states that she shared “I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him, so therefore I have lent him to the Lord. For as long as he lives he is lent to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:28) The Bible speaks of Hannah returning each year to visit Samuel at the tabernacle to present him with a special cloak that represented priestly status. Hannah stood strong in her belief that she served a God who answered prayer. She stood strong that he would bless her with a son. She stood strong that when the time was right God would provide her with the strength to fulfill her promise to God and give Samuel back to God. Just imagine how hard that would be to finally have a child and to know that you must eventually give him up. What a bittersweet time for Hannah, yet God honoured her for her faithfulness. Hannah stood strong in the knowledge that the God who loved her enough to answer her prayer would be with her in her heartbreak when she had to give Samuel up. The Bible speaks of God’s blessing and compassion for Hannah’s selfless sacrifice as the once barren woman went on to have five more children after Samuel. 

Of all the women in the Bible, the story of Hannah has always struck a strong chord with me. Infertility is a very common problem in today’s society and Hannah is to be admired for many reasons. She like many women had a strong desire to have a child, yet rather than suffer in silence she took her heavy heart to God. She refused to focus on negative influences but envisioned a different reality for herself. Like Hannah, I had always dreamed of being a mother and spent much of my childhood playing with dolls and imagining the big family I would once have. In my mind it was an expectation and assumption. It had never even entered my mind that having children could be a challenge for me one day. My husband Phil and I had been married for two years and decided to start trying to have a baby. We were filled with excitement and great anticipation of all the joy this little person would bring to us. Excited chatter filled our home about the precious gift from God who was soon to occupy not only our nursery but also our hearts! Never would I have imagined that not once but three times, we would conceive a child and it would tragically end in miscarriage. I like Hannah would cry out to God at the altar at church and petition him for a child. Our nursery remained empty and although I believed in God’s faithfulness, I remember one very discouraging day sitting in the lonely nursery and crying. My husband found me there and I voiced my greatest concern that a baby would never occupy that room. We cried and prayed agreeing together that a baby would come into our lives and that fear and doubt would be forever gone. A turning point occurred for us that night, and just like Hannah’s encounter with Eli, we felt encouraged and hopeful. 

Several months later we found out that I was pregnant again. Excited yet nervous we received special care due to my history and to our relief my pregnancy progressed without incident.  On January 10th, 1996 my dream came true! I became a mom to a baby boy just like Hannah and we named him Tyler Matthew. Two years later we had a daughter named Shannon Nicole. God is so faithful! 

I remember at Tyler’s dedication service I read the scripture that Hannah had shared of how she had prayed for this child and how like her we were now giving him back to God. I also sang to Tyler and it was a very emotional and powerful moment for me. My heart was so full of thanksgiving for the precious son that God had given me. I really connected with Hannah. 

We never imagined that our lives would be forever changed by pregnancy loss. Sadly we are not alone as miscarriage and pregnancy loss is widespread.  Fortunately however, there is good news too as we also live in an era of incredible medical technology. Many couples who previously would have had no hope of conceiving a child, have now been able to realize their deepest desire of  becoming parents and that is so incredible. God brought Hannah through this trial and she stood strong. God brought my husband and I through infertility and miscarriage and we stood strong. This trial has allowed us to minister to others in ways that we would never have thought possible. I even wrote and published a book on grief and loss that others have shared has been very instrumental in their healing process. It is true as it says in God’s word in Psalms 126:5 that “He turns our tears to joy.”  

Be encouraged. Maybe your struggle is not with infertility but something very different. Be assured we serve a God that knows our needs and desires and He wants to answer them. The Bible says in Hebrews 13:8 that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” That means what He did for Hannah, He can do for you for whatever you are facing. Stand strong like Hannah. Don’t let others get you down. Refuse to give up and keep on praying until something happens. We serve an awesome God and He is able to meet your needs today. Rest in that assurance and anticipate the wonderful plan that God has for you. Just like Hannah God is birthing something in you and your story has only just begun.

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About the Author :

Dana Romualdi is a christian elementary school teacher and former clinical social worker. She has recently written and published her first book called Magic Kisses A Grief Journey From Heartache to Hope which has been created to assist bereaved families in their recovery process. It is available on her website with her weekly blog at: www.littlelessonslearnedbydana.weebly.com. She is happily married to Phil and is the mother of two awesome teenagers, Tyler and Shannon.

Can I be honest with you? As a young girl I had no problems making friends. I could get around a crowd of girls and just fit right in. But as I got older and experienced hurt and betrayal from other women, I became less quick to fit in. I will admit that at times I still tend to pull away with the fear that a friend may hurt me.

What I looked for in my worldly friends was completely different from what I want and desire from a godly friendship. I believe that the gift of friendship was one of God's greatest ideas. I also believe that just how God picks our our husbands to compliment us, He does the same with our friends. It has been said about marriage that where one lacks the other makes up for it. I know Jesus made friendship to work the same way.

I spent a good part of my life searching for genuine friendships. I always would get sad when I would hear women say, "We have been best friends for over 15 years." I thought, wow. That would be nice to have. I had close friends, but those were all worldly friends. Things happened that caused us to go our separate ways, and with others we just grew apart. Temporal friendships don't stand a chance when they are built on a temporal foundation. The slightest disagreement can wash away even 20 years of what you thought was an unbreakable friendship if it was not built on solid foundation. God, The Rock.

But when you are blessed enough to find a friend that loves you enough to point out your sin even when you do not recognize it, or a friend that just knows when something is off with you and instead of asking questions they take it to God. . .That is a real friend. When times are hard a real friend will not take you to the club to get drunk and "forget your problems," they will take you before the Lord and cry out on your behalf. Your burdens will become their burdens (Galatians 6:2).

This year I was blessed with a friend like that. It is funny really. Leah was raised very differently than me. She came from godly home, yet in her family they didn't hug or show their love to each other. I, on the other, was raised in somewhat of a Catholic home. We went to church on Sunday, and that was it. God was not spoken of in our home, however we hugged and kissed everyday and not a day went by that I ever doubted my mother's love. My siblings and I have never fought or argued either.

My point is that I know that God put Leah in my life, because I needed her just as much as she needed me. She knows I love her, not only because I tell her often, but it is also evident in how I care about her spiritually. I pray for her, and I let her know when she made a bad decision, and she does the same with me. We have a friendship that is built on honesty, trust and accountability. More importantly our friendship is built on Jesus Christ. This type of biblical friendship is very rare. It is a relationship that requires transparency and trust. It is not easy to be honest and vulnerable about our deepest struggles, fears, and hidden sins. It takes crazy faith to put ourselves out there like that. Especially if you have been hurt by friends in the past. But it is a wonderful feeling when God gives you a peace about someone. When He whispers to your heart, "It is okay. You can trust them."

So, what does a godly friendships look like? 

  • They rejoice in your accomplishments. There is no room for jealousy in a God-breathed friendship. As a matter of fact your accomplishments become their accomplishments because more than likely you were a big part of that success. Your prayers, your support, and your accountability was crucial during this season. 

    "But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic." (James 3:14-15)

  • A true friend speaks the truth in love. . .even if it hurts. My friend Leah has one of the most honest people I know. I know that I can always trust that what she tells me is for my own good, even if I may not want to hear it. She is a woman of prayer and I know that she goes before God for me to seek wisdom even in my situations. She will tell me if I have acted out of character whether I want to hear it or not. 

    Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness. (Galatians 6:1)

  • Godly friends will not gossip about you. The Bible has a lot to say about gossipers, and it is not good. So, a gossiping friend is not good either. Can you comfortably share something private with your friend and know without a doubt that your conversation will stay private? True friends are are honest and trustworthy with matters of the heart. A real friend will defend you in public and confront you in private.

    Whoever goes around as a gossip tells secrets. Do not associate with a person whose mouth is always open. (Proverbs 20:19)

  • True godly friends are natural givers. You will find in godly friendships that both parties give sacrificially without hesitation. A real friend makes sacrifices. I admit I have sacrificed some sleep to sit up with my crying girlfriend at four in the morning, and so have others for me. I have had friends bring us groceries when we didn't have much. Friends who take from theirs to give to ours our some of the most blessed friendships.
  • “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Do you consider yourself a true godly friend? 

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About the Author :

Carmen Miller is happily married mother of 5 and wife to Jarrad. As Founder of Whole Magazine, and Co-Founder of God Over Porn; Carmen's heart's passion is to see broken women made whole through the power of Jesus Christ.

Recently, I came across an interview from a year ago with Grammy-nominated Christian artist, Kari Jobe.  For those of you who may not know who she is, she is a very well-known Christian worship singer.  In this interview she was asked about being a single young woman and a Christian and how she walks that out. “He’s had me wait. I’m in my thirties now because His timings perfect,” Kari stated.

The interviewer responds, “Is it hard?  Is it frustrating to be like, ‘I’m thirty and this was not the plan?  I was supposed to be married at twenty-four and I was supposed to have three kids by now.” 
Kari replies, “I think God is really faithful in knowing what He’s called us to. I don’t know that I would be doing what I’m doing right now, you know it would look different so there’s a grace for what I’ve been doing and I’ll be excited when God brings that next phase of my life.

Those words were so profound. This is a woman of God who is sharing her gift of worshipping the Lord across the world and yet at the age of 32 (my same age at the time of this interview) she was still a single woman. Those words she spoke caused me to examine the reasons that God may be deferring marriage for myself and many of you beautiful single ladies.  

Defer: put off (an action or event) to a later time; postpone.

Why does God defer marriage?

  • To pursue our God given purpose outside of marriage.  If you were married right now would you be able to fulfill what God has called you to do? Would we have the time, the energy or the focus?  
“If you’re single, and you want to know who to marry, run as hard and as fast toward Jesus as you can and if, out of the corner of your eye, you see somebody running in the same direction, take a second look.” —Pastor Tommy Nelson
  • There may be things that God wants to accomplish in you outside of marriage first. We need to see the ministry of being single as a purpose not a punishment.  It is a privilege to be used by God, even outside of marriage.
  • So we may be fully healed and "whole." We are not yet fully prepared for the ministry of marriage if we are not whole ourselves.  If we are not healed ourselves or devoted to God first than we will not be devoted to our marriages. One is necessary before the second.  Forgiveness, mercy, grace, trust, love, commitment, loyalty, compassion, patience, gentleness and perseverance must be developed within us prior to marriage.
"All too often, people marry before acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to take care of their mates: to meet their emotional, mental, and physical needs. One of the ironies in our society is that a person has to have four years of training to receive a plumber’s license, but absolutely no training is required for a marriage license. Our educational system doesn’t even require communication courses basic to the meaningful development of any relationship." —Dr. Gary Smalley
  • To learn to fully trust and lean on God first. The only real way we will learn to trust God is by having and watching Him work in our lives on a daily basis.  If we were to just get what we want or ask for every time we asked for something, God would be a genie and not a Father and Savior that died at the cross for our sins.  We would not trust Him, we would be demanding from Him, and honestly, we would not need Him if we got whatever we wanted  all the time. God shows us every time He shows up, that we need Him and that without Him our lives turn into empty shells of just existence. Trust in God is the foundation that our lives are built on.  “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians  3:11 NIV).

  • So that we may grasp what marriage is really about, not what we have fantasied it to be. So many of us our longing to get married and it seems as if that is starting younger and younger. Why? It seems as though we are all in a rush for a commitment that I am not even sure many of us are entirely ready for until later in life. The older I get the more I realize how much of a commitment and sacrifice marriage truly is. For so many years my eyes were only fixated on the dreamy images of what marriage looked like. I am convinced now that if God would have allowed me to get married years ago, I would be divorced by now. Praise God for His wisdom and deferment! 
"Marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God. When you consider marriage in these terms, you may wonder how two relatively immature individuals can make such an awesome commitment. Too often, we tend to focus everything on the wedding ceremony and little or nothing on marriage. We see the beauty of the ceremony but miss the beauty and wonder of the covenant. We sometimes also miss the fact that we are embarking on one of the most difficult journeys of our lives, one that does not begin on the wedding day"  —Kay Cole James, Author of What I Wish I’d Known Before I Got Married"
In conclusion, Kari Jobe got engaged a year after that same interview and this past weekend married her worship colleague and best friend, Cody Carnes. Remember that God’s delays are not His denials.  

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, ‘He who is coming will come and will not delay.’” (Hebrews 10:36-37 NIV)

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About the Author :

Leilani is a single mom to a beautiful 4 year old little girl. She is in love with the Creator of the stars. Her mission is simple yet so big, to encourage and bring Jesus to all in need. To bring hope by loving people, writing, photography, music, poetry/spoken word and meeting people right where they are. God's Grace is her air.

One of the greatest advantages of being a follower of Christ, is sharing His Word with everyone. He is the Word. Sharing Him and His love with the people you encounter every day, is a blessing in and of itself. God chose you. God chose you knowing that you have what it takes to do good works for the sake of His name. Think about that. He knows
you have what it takes to be a vessel for Him, His Word, and His abounding love.

I truly do believe that our purpose on this earth is to shine light on Jesus and His Kingdom. Whether it is birthing or leading your own ministry, completing mission work, spreading kindness to those who need it, or just simply following the path God has laid out for you—make sure it is all to shine light on the Almighty.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NRSV)

It is one thing to say that you will be a light, but it is completely different when you actually go out into the world, and boldly proclaim the Word of Jesus. Are you witnessing to the person sitting next to you on the train? In school? At work? Now remember, you dont have to be shouting Scripture from the top of the rooftops to be a light to people. It can be through your every day actions. Simply being happy and joyful, can be a witness to people.

As a child of God, it is your job to be His voice. It is your job to speak for Him. And not only speak for Him, but speak for Him proudly. Speak for Him boldly. Fearlessly. Courageously. Valiantly. Eagerly. And never stop.

Proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” (Acts 28:31 NRSV)

But remember, nobody said taking on this task would be easy, because it will not be. You are going to get teased for it. You are going to be ridiculed for it, and you are going to be persecuted for it. However, it comes with the job. You just need to remind yourself that a persons opinion is not the opinion that matters. Gods opinion is the one that matters. And His opinion is good. He will reward you for all the work you are doing on this earth. When you are sitting with Him face to face one day, He will call you by name, and He will make sure to let you know just how proud He is of you.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:12 NRSV)

It is hard to do, but being bold about your faith and sharing it with others is a part of taking up your cross and following Jesus. While you will have your ups and downs on your journey sharing His Word, it is important to have an unlimited amount of faith. This faith will help you along and remind you that everything you are sharing is so real and so powerful, that it could change someones life.

Be bold. Be brave. Be daring. Never let anyones negative comments bring you down and stop Gods plan for you. Keep pushing through.

If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you.” (John 15:18 NRSV)

If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24 NRSV)

When you do get knocked down and encounter some kind of obstacle, pray about it. The Lord will reassure you that you are on the right path.

It took me a bit to get used to witnessing when I was starting out in my faith. I worried so much about what people would think about me and how it would affect my future. But God has started a fire in me to never stop sharing His Word with people. The flame continues to grow day by day. It is something that I can not fully explain, but I know that, thanks to God, I have a demeanor of boldness and fearlessness within me that nobody can change. And while I may have lost friends over it and been made fun of for it, I have had various people approach me and tell me that my confidence and pride I take in Christ and His Word, has helped them and inspired them.

Blessings, like the ones I have received, can be given to you, too. It is not all bad. When you have someone credit you for your work or tell you that you have had an impact on them, that is God talking to you and letting you know that He is aware of what youre doing, and that He could not be any more proud.

We are all vessels. We are His Voice. His Children. As you take up your cross and set out on your personal journey with Jesus, I highly encourage you to speak out for Him. Be bold for Him. He loves you. He has chosen you to be a voice for Him. Use that voice wisely and be bold about it. You are a warrior protected with the armor of God. Nothing can stop you.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist,and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-17 NRSV)

God believes in you and is waiting for you at the finish line. Keep going. Youve already won the race.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12 NRSV)

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About the Author :

Haley Phelps is an energetic, care-free girl with a tremendous heart for Jesus and open arms that welcome everyone. She is the Vice President of Hope 4 Tomorrow, an organization aimed towards helping youth in Africa using The Gospel. She aspires to spread the love and light of Jesus everywhere she goes to everyone she meets through her everyday actions.

We are so excited to introduce to you our new friends over at Faithfully There. I discovered their hip and edgy clothes line while perusing on Instagram recently.

The name Faithfully There came from the never ending love, grace and mercy that the Lord continues to pour out on our lives. Faithfully Their purpose is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ through fashion and outreach. 

The aim is to create fashion that encourages conversations that lead to the Gospel, thus opening up a door for sharing the Gospel to others. We pray that Faithfully There will be a vessel to inspire others to live and share the Gospel.

The Faithfully There Story:
The majority of my life I gave all my attention to everything except God. When my mind and heart were wrapped up in the world, I always knew they didn't belong there. In the winter of 2011 I approached a period in my life when I was searching for something--I began working on my relationship with Christ. I was making progress but I knew I was not giving Him my heart, mind, and soul. So, He sat me down ... literally.

I’m going to take a few steps back. I'm a hooper! I have played basketball the majority of my life and continued to play after college. I spent a lot of my time in the gym practicing and playing basketball. Sometimes, I would put basketball over spending the much-needed time with God. Like I said, he sat me down. I tore my Achilles in the spring of 2012 and I couldn't play basketball for months. To say this was the easiest thing I've ever been through would be a lie. I was torn, not just my Achilles, and even had bouts of depression. I realized that I found my identity in basketball rather than finding it in Christ. But it was during that time that I was able to put everything aside and truly see who God really was in my life. This ended up being the most rewarding trial of my life.

Towards the end of the summer 2012 the Lord really put on my heart a passion to spread the gospel and to help the community I live in. I had no idea that Faithfully There was in his plans. There has been one common thread throughout my life, The Lord’s faithfulness, and that’s exactly what Faithfully There is about. To spread the gospel and to be faithfully there for our community, family, homeless, and people who we come across every day. And our hope is that The Lord uses Faithfully There as a vessel to point people to the cross. - [Kevin Perry, Owner]

The Compassion Part:
Since the establishment of Faithfully There in June 2014 we have grounded ourselves on spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and encouraging others to do the same. If people ask questions or make comments about Faithfully There’s apparel, share the gospel with them. Our apparel has an eternal message.
We are currently in the process of partnering with The House DC based out of Washington D.C. whose aim is to transform and empower the lives of inner city youth and their families through Christ, by giving them hope, a productive future, and a changed community.
We have had a great opportunity to go out into Washington D.C. this past October and hand out clothing and talk to the homeless in the community. We not only want to cloth them with clothes but also with an eternal message. We are looking to expand this aspect in the near future and continuing to grow the outreach in our community.

The Fashion Part:

All of our designs are created with the intent of spreading the gospel. With that being the center of our approach we aim to create unique, thought provoking, and eye catching designs, which will encourage people to ask questions or make comments about our apparel. And when the questions are being asked or comments are being said it opens up a door to share the gospel with that person. All of our designs have a deeper meaning than what first meets the eye. For example, our Die Daily shirt has the “i” lying down like it’s dead, the Don’t Obey People’s expectations shirt is referring to Acts 5:29.

How can our readers connect with Faithfully There and where can they go to shop?

Our website is FaithfullyThere.com. To keep up with new apparel and promotions you can find us on Twitter and Instagram @FaithfullyThere. And you can also subscribe to our website to receive monthly updates on promotions, blogs, and events.

Get some Christmas shopping done today! Faithfully There is giving our readers 15% off your entire order until November 30th. Go shop and enter discount code: MadeWhole to get your discount.

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About the Author :

Carmen Miller is happily married mother of 5 and wife to Jarrad. As Founder of Whole Magazine, and Co-Founder of God Over Porn; Carmen's heart's passion is to see broken women made whole through the power of Jesus Christ.

Throughout my walk as a Christian, I have heard various versions of the saying "Your ministry comes from your misery." Many people have said it. I am not quite sure who coined the statement, but it is powerful and truthful from my experience. I have had the opportunity to meet many beautiful young women over time that God has allowed me to mentor. These women's lives are a mirror image of my own life in so many ways, and it is simply mind blowing. God placing a reflection of who you are in front of you and magnifying your entire life completely takes the focus off of you.

I truly believe the things we struggle with the most can serve as a blessing to others. There are always going to be situations in our lives that take place and serve as nothing more than hurtful or tragic. But if our hearts are still beating after these shaping experiences, it is important to share them with others. Our experience can factor as a guiding light at the end of a dark tunnel for someone in need. This light becomes our testimony or the evidence of overcoming the adversity that could have left us damaged or no longer here to tell our stories. Going from victim to victor is a huge deal.

I often encounter artists or people in many different vocational fields that say they are ready to be out in the world sharing their gifts, but they do not fully understand what this means. It means you have to share yourself with others. Sharing means that a part or portion of who you are is divided among a number of people, as well as showing a willingness to be open with the people who contribute to your life. Many times we only like to give of ourselves in a way that is convenient to us, but that is not how it works. The question I always ask them is, “Are you ready to share your story? Because it is no longer about you."

Recently, I was on the train and I saw a man eating. I did not want to stare too hard but I do enjoy observing people in their own element. As I was watching him, I could feel tears welling up in my eyes and I said, "Lord what is going on?" I realized that what I was witnessing, was not just a man who was physically hungry and eating but instead I was watching a man eat whose soul was hungry. You may be wondering, "How can you tell the difference?" I have struggled with overeating long enough in my life to know the difference. It was as if I could see this man’s spirit or soul extending and reaching beyond what he was physically doing. He wanted intimacy or simply someone to just talk to. What I saw was confirmed when a woman turned to him to ask a question and he leaned in towards her very quickly to answer. I even noticed that when she was done talking, he kept asking questions to engage her, and when she shared with him, his whole demeanor transformed. I was happy that, in some way, it seemed as if his soul was being fed.

This made me think of the lyrics from India Arie’s song “God is Real,"

Smaller than the eye can see,
Bigger than the mind can conceive…
That’s how I know that God is real…

We never know what people are hungry for. If we have been blessed to see another day or have the ability, we should be sharing our lives with others. It is tough to do when we are layered with hurt and pain of the past and searching for answers that will sooth our souls, but with God’s guidance it is worth it. Sharing the life that has been gifted to me is where I have encountered God the most.

God shared with me this week that His word is the framework for which we experience Him. It is where He reveals Himself, and it is this revelation from the Holy Spirit that sheds light on everything else I read and encounter in life. If we truly know and have a relationship with God, no matter where we go, we will find Him.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever," (Psalm 23: 4-6, ESV).

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About the Author :

Francine E. Ott is truly thankful to have a relationship with God and is seeking Him daily for guidance and any opportunities to walk closer with Him in truth and love. Francine is a choreographer/dancer, teacher, and soon to be counselor who has a heart to see God's transforming power, renew, restore, and heal the minds, souls, and bodies of people's lives.

In life I have found that the old saying is true, “If it weren’t this, it’d be that.” This phrase means that in life things and issues are always going to arise. Things are going to happen and how you deal with these immediate issues and challenges is a direct reflection of your relationship with Christ. When things are happening, when the going gets tough, when it all hits the fan what do you do? Do you complain? Do you yell? Do you blame your anger on others? Or do you quiet your mind and silence your raging emotions and call on Christ? Are you roused easily or do you choose to not be easily moved by the occurrences and day to day events in life? Do you rest in God’s promise for your life, believing that regardless of the circumstances, that God will always bring you through the valleys and deliver you onto your mountain top?

To not be easily moved is to discipline our emotions and rely on the truth of God’s word in all situations. In a sense, you must seek and pray for contentment in any situation that life presents. Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22) Christ knows that life is hard and he empathizes with us, He lived through the hardships and overcame the world. Instead of stressing out and worrying cast every care and anxiety on the Lord. With God in your corner, He won’t allow your spirit to be easily moved and affected by negativity and its purpose to conquer and destroy you. 

The apostle Paul tells us, "I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24) Even though Paul experienced times of great trouble and tribulation he recognized that nothing could keep him from his purpose that God had called him to.
Sometimes in life we finally recognize our purpose, we begin our work with God’s plan in mind, and we feel the guidance of the Holy Spirit at work in us constantly renewing our minds, bodies, and spirits. Yet it is at this very time when you truly begin your work for the Lord, that the devil is most busy. It is at this time when things will arise to throw you off track to convince you to quit. He wants your emotions to overtake you and become your sole motivating purpose rather than God’s purpose for your life.

Being easily moved also takes into account allowing our emotions to get the best of us. In order to take authority over our emotions we must first.
  • Recognize what triggers you to make emotional decisions, identify them, and list them.

  • Write down scriptures to carry with you to use as a defense against these attacks and thoughts. Memorize them if possible. 

  • Decide that whatever your triggers are that you won’t allow those emotions to get the best of you using positive self-talk.

  • When you fall short, ask God for forgiveness and then immediately begin trying again through faith to persevere.
I encourage each one of you to discipline your emotions. Do not rely on them as your spiritual compass; instead rely on God’s word and the Holy Spirit that lives within you to give you direction in life. Know that God is always the first and last answer to any of our concerns and practice daily speaking and quiet times with Him to learn His voice and to keep your spirit grounded. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) Keep this scripture on your heart today, and know that even when things are good God is working in your favor and when things are bad God is still working in your favor. Stand firm in faith and your spirit will not be easily moved.

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About the Author :

Cortnee is a 26 year old TV Host, for her television show, City Savvy based in Philadelphia. She enjoys going to the beach, cooking, shopping, traveling, and visiting with her family that lives out-of state. Cortnee is best described as bubbly and outgoing. She works by day as a substitute teacher. Jesus is her best friend who provides for and protects her.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches the rush that accompanies this season begins. But even through all of the craziness this season brings, we must never lose sight of the special meaning behind it.

Thanksgiving is more than just a holiday. It is a day of reflection. Reflecting on the goodness of the Lord and His blessings, and more importantly expressing gratitude towards Him for all that He has done and continues to do in our lives.

There are so many ways to celebrate God's goodness and His many blessings, and I wanted to share a few tips I gathered while perusing the internet.

Tree of Thanks – Take advantage of the fall leaves to build a Tree of Thanks. Send the kids to the back yard for a tree branch and some fallen leaves. Plant the branch in a pot filled with craft sand. As family members arrive for Thanksgiving dinner, let the kids give each person either a real leaf or a cut out leaf from paper and ask the guests to write something on the leaf for which they are thankful. Use either paperclips or Christmas tree ornament hangers to hand the leaves on the branch.

A Servant's Heart: Spend the Day Volunteering – Nothing will remind us more of how much we have to be thankful for than spending your day at your local homeless shelter or food kitchen serving Thanksgiving dinner.

Adopt a Family - This one is similar to "A Servant's Heart, but with a a more personal and heartfelt touch. Get together with friends or your small group and find a family, a widow, or single mother currently struggling with unemployment, unplanned emergency bills and other hardships. Adopt the family for Thanksgiving, and bless them with food supplies, thanksgiving dinner, clothes, and toys or even help with unexpected expenses. Want to make it extra special? Prepare the entire Thanksgiving dinner at your home or theirs and spend Thanksgiving with them.

Blessing Book – Start a blessing book by buying a simple journal and have each family member write down one blessing from the past year. Keep the journal from year to year and have family members add new blessings every year. For those children that are not yet able to write, a simple picture will do.

The Wall of Gratitude - Pick out an entire wall for posting words of thanks throughout the Thanksgiving season. In your church or in your home, clearing out some wall space for “family” members to contribute thoughts, show gratitude and express thanks in writing and is perfect for cultivating an environment of thanksgiving as well as a place to reflect on some good news, for change. Get creative!

A Family Cookbook - Create a family cookbook by asking family members to bring their favorite recipe to Thanksgiving dinner. After you have finished your family cookbooks, give them as gifts to your family for Christmas.

Thanksgiving Communion - Have a family Communion on Thanksgiving to give thanks by reflecting Christ's life, death and resurrection.

A Thanksgiving Offering - Collect a Thanksgiving offering for a family in need or one of your favorite charities.

Make Thanksgiving Dinner Together – Give everyone small tasks like cleaning and peeling the potatoes, setting the table, and rolling out the crust for the pumpkin pie. Remember kids love to help, so use the opportunity to involve and enjoy them. The Thanksgiving meal may not end up meeting your standards, but the time well spent as a family is definitely well worth it!

Make a Memory Video - This year for a fun Thanksgiving activity, break out the video camera or camera phones. Have each person at the table talk about their favorite event, memory or blessing from the past year, as well as a hope or wish for the upcoming year. Be sure that every person at Thanksgiving dinner participates. You can even send a copy of the video to any family members who weren't able to share the day, or upload the video to your family website or digital scrapbook. Next Thanksgiving, play the old video and make a new one. Keep the tradition going!

Day After Thanksgiving Brunch - Host a brunch the morning after Thanksgiving. It's a great way to get rid of all those yummy leftovers, and enjoy a little extra time with family and friends.

Create a Gratitude Tablecloth - Create a plain tablecloth transformed into a family heirloom that will be cherished for generations. Place fabric markers around the Thanksgiving table and encourage guests to sign the tablecloth. They can also write a short blessing or message, and be sure to include the year. Each Thanksgiving, add more to the tablecloth and read over the notes from the previous years.

Share with us some ways you celebrate Thanksgiving with your loved ones?

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About the Author :

Carmen Miller is happily married mother of 5 and wife to Jarrad. As Founder of Whole Magazine, and Co-Founder of God Over Porn; Carmen's heart's passion is to see broken women made whole through the power of Jesus Christ.