By Chanale Propst
Purity. A word that we have ripped and stretched to conform to our lives, no longer has its shape. It has been molded to fit the comfort of our actions. No longer do we adjust to its standards, but we take matters into our own hands and maneuver around edges and boundaries, ensuring that we are close yet still far away.
I had been there, shaping and conforming purity to how I wanted it to be defined. Judging my actions to those on television, and believing that no one followed biblical rules that were established over 2000 years ago, I mean its 2013 (2011 at the time)! I began to convince myself that those rules were meant to evolve and transform to fit our world today… Some things you just don’t see until you take a step back and focus, wake up with that hangover-like mentality (what did I do?!), or you stop doing YOU… and realize that you should be doing what God wants you to do. I thank God that all three happened to me. Although I wished I could have realized that my definition wasn't the one that I should have been following before I put it to use, I now recognize that his definition was created to bring me closer. A pure life closes the gap, and it gives me the opportunity to ultimately be more like God and have an intimate relationship with him. I need to be close to him, and leading an impure life is like holding God’s hand while you are on one side of the fence and he is on the other.
Webster defines purity as unmixed with any other matter, being this and no other, and free from what vitiates, weakens, or pollutes. We cannot get as close as God would like for us to because of the pollution and ‘mixed matter’ that we bring into our lives. It weakens us and pulls us further away from where we should be. However, purity is the sledgehammer that destroys the fence that separates us from our father, and brings us closer to him. Although it is 2013, we must still abide by the rules that our Heavenly Father has set. No matter what the television says about a 3-month rule, or what songs say about feeding into the urge of “getting some” outside of marriage, we will NEVER grow out of his rules, or get to a point to where we can advance to where we can create our own.
Psalm 119:9 says, “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word”
Leading a pure life begins by first following God’s word. It is his word that gives us the guidelines for purity. Without those guidelines our own definition will be formed, quickly causing a tear in our relationship with God. His word tells us that we must purify ourselves from EVERYTHING that contaminates body and spirit (2 Corinthians 7:1). This verse brings into focus that purity does not only relate to sexual purity (before marriage), but it covers our thoughts, actions, and words. We must constantly ask ourselves are we walking in purity, and are we aligning to God’s Word and not our own.
Mark 7:15 says, “What goes out of a man defiles him.” We must choose to produce actions, thoughts, and words that glorify God, and break loose from the holds of our surroundings. By exercising self-control (a fruit of the spirit that dwells within us) we can choose not to curse, not to have an attitude, and not to engage in sexual activity before marriage. So often we give into our feelings and let our emotions take control. I have been guilty of saying, “I can’t help it”; which is always a bold face lie. I could help it; I just didn’t choose to do so at the time. Just because we feel a certain way doesn’t mean that we have to act on it. Forcing our emotions to take a back seat is tough, and we can’t do it using our own strength. We must admit that we’re having trouble and ask God to help us through. If we desire growth and a relationship with God we will be willing to set some things to the side.
Take a look at your definition today. Has it changed or been rearranged to integrate the views of this world, or your own actions? God wants so much for his light to radiate though us, and not be dimmed by “mixed matter”. Let us fall back on his word and enjoy the beauties of a pure life. Know that it’s going to be tough, and you won’t always get your way...but it will most definitely be worth it.
Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”
I turned 37 this year. Being a blended family of eight, having six teen-agers, sometimes you can feel a grey hair sprout just from being the passenger in the car that my daughter is driving. When I am out in the public with my family, at track meets or at a PTA meetings and I am introduced by our children as their mother, the response is always funny as well as flattering. Responses like, ”No, way…You look so young!” or “You look like a teenager yourself” and of course, ”Did you have them when you were ten?” It never gets old. The funny thing is that I seem to look younger with each year passing instead of older.
But it wasn’t always that way.
With cosmetic surgery on the rise, over $1.6 billion spent on it last year alone, the mainstream media and airbrushed images on the cover of Cosmo will have you over-analyzing your image in the mirror. You think, “Maybe a quick lift here and a tuck there won’t hurt.” But the best youth serum out there is not cosmetic surgery nor is it “10 minute abs.” It is the Holy Spirit…and it’s free.
Before I was saved, I was insecure and broken. I always wore dark clothing and make-up and I looked down when people talked to me. But since I gave my life to Christ, the transformation that has been going on in the inside has been working it’s way on the outside, like a ripple. I slowly became more confident, secure in my identity and began to have more joy in life. Once you begin to feel better on the inside, it will be apparent on the outside.
From the way you walk, talk, dress and smile. I now look at my wardrobe and see a rainbow of pinks and yellows, my make-up is fresher and my smile is brighter. I cultivated the art of learning to love myself.
But don’t get me wrong. There is a big difference between vanity and loving yourself.Vanity v/s Loving YourselfVanity is investing so much in yourself that you have no room for others.
It is focusing merely on your surface by exhausting all of your efforts on your hair, make-up, clothes, shoes and physical attributes. But that is limited to your surface. We see many examples on social media. Thousands of self-portraits of young women who have been programmed to believe that they are only as good as they appear to men. But God reminds us of the kind of beauty that He delights in as told in 1 Peter 3:4 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” And then again in Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is decietful and beauty is fleeting. But a woman who fears the LORD shall be praised. ”Loving yourself is accepting your human condition; that we are flawed and imperfect but like a flower that needs soil to grow, you use those dirty things in life to push you through the dirt to get a taste of the sun.
It is cultivating the beauty that flows from within by extending the same grace to yourself that Christ extends to you so that in turn, you may extend it to others. You cannot possibly give what you do not possess.
Loving yourself is also letting go of the need to be in control of every aspect of life and learning to just BE.
It is the difference between Independence and Dependence.Independence v/s Dependence
In my new book called Independent No More that is releasing on Mother’s Day, Independence is defined as “relying on no one but yourself.” That is such a sad way to live. When you attempt to control every aspect of your life, it will most definitely spill over in others lives and you will soon begin to try to control others.
That is such a heavy burden to bare. The stress and anxiety will cause you to have health issues and age. Again, what is going on in the inside will eventually make it’s way on the outside.Dependence is learning to put your complete trust in God and opening yourself up to Him and others as we are not our own.
We were not created to carry the heavy burdens that God can. In attempting to do so, we throw ourselves into autopilot. Dependence is casting all of those cares, worries and anxieties to Him and leaving them there, trusting that He will intercede on our behalf. We can get burden with worries, that we forget to live in and embrace the moment. It is also opening yourself up to recieving help as well. That is circle and beauty of interpersonal relationships.A huge part of transforming from independence to dependence on God is that you relax.
Relaxation tends to bring your inner glow to the surface, like a co-worker just returning from a long vacation in the Carribbian. We may attempt to justify our need for control by looking at women in the bible like the Proverbs 31 woman and think, “Now there is an Independent Woman.” But no. She was not an independent woman, she was a woman you could depend on.
One of the most beautiful stories of the glow that you recieve from God is the story of Moses after he came back down from Mount Sanai. “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD.” Exodus 34:29
After Moses spoke to the LORD, his face was no longer burdened with his past. His face became radiant. It is the same glow that we recieve after we accept Christ by recieving the Holy Spirit. If that still does not convince you of the everlasting youth serum, refer to Psalms 34:5 where it tells us “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”
Even though I am closing in on my thirties and entering my forties, I refuse to turn to Cosmo for beauty tips. I will look to HIM as His glory and majesty brings a glow upon my face that cannot be duplicated with cosmetic surgery, MAC or Oil of Olay.To pre-order a copy of my new eBook, Independent No More for only $5.00, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive your invoice.
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Katrina Smith is a simple mid-western girl from the inner city of Indianapolis, Indiana, where she is married with a blended family of six children. After teaching financial literacy in underserved communities for eight years, she is now the author of The Butterfly Movement, Evicting Jezebel and Independent No More. She is also currently working on the release of her next books, Bride of Christ, Child of God and Wisdom is a She due to release in Mid 2013. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter or contact her by email at email@example.com
By Johnnesha Parker
With Summer on the horizon, now is a good time for a thorough cleaning. Warmer weather always makes me want to shed a few layers of winter clothing and that extra winter fat. The extra padding may have come in handy on those chilly days and freezing nights, but I discovered that my fat stores more than warmth. Our bodies are designed to store the toxins we accumulate in our fat cells. To really cleanse the body and eliminate those toxins, it’s best to eat foods high in antioxidants and fiber. Here are five of my go-to detox foods:
It may be bad for your breath, but garlic does a body good! Garlic has antibacterial and antiviral properties and is a time-tested herbal cold remedy. Eating garlic helps increase liver function and boosts the immune system.
2. Green Tea
I’m a southern girl, and I was raised on fresh brewed, black tea with lemon and at least one cup of sugar. Now that I’m older, I know better! Green tea has a delicate flavor, but it packs a powerful antioxidant punch. The drink has special antioxidants that increase liver function. Our liver is the main detoxification organ in the body, so it is crucial that we keep the liver healthy.
3. Green Vegetables
Collard greens are an old favorite of mine, but they’re not the only green veggie I’ll eat. Kale, broccoli, cabbage, and asparagus are all high in sulphur and chlorophyll that helps rid the liver of harmful toxins. Cabbage has the added benefit of being a natural diuretic, so eat plenty if you’re looking to eliminate that excess water weight and bloating.
4. Chia seed
Chia seed is a tiny little powerhouse of fiber and protein. Fiber is essential to help move toxins and waste through the body, but the protein in chia seed also gives a boost to the liver. The tiny seeds do not look like much on their own, but mix a tablespoon [or two or three] into your smoothie, oatmeal, or yogurt and enjoy!
Maybe water isn’t technically a food, but it is one of the most important detoxification agents you can use. Water keeps your body hydrated and flushes out those nasty toxins. In addition, water cleans out the kidneys and the liver.
By Kris Bush
So how many times have you thought to yourself that you just wish you could hear from God on a situation or circumstance? I’m fairly certain; I’m not the only person that has longed for a Samuel encounter (1 Samuel 3). One in which the Lord himself is calling you to commune with you on a situation.
Now here’s a book which longs to bridge that gap by telling us ways in which we can draw ourselves near to God to hear His voice. One of the main things Priscilla Shirer points out is the fact that we cannot hear from God if we do not 1 have an active relationship with God, 2 we need to spend time learning God’s character, and 3 we need to realize the reasons why He speaks. Whenever God speaks, He has a reason why He speaks. There is something He intends to accomplish whether it is to correct us so we can walk in the correct direction or to inform us on a decision we are to make.
The main thing I have learned while studying this book…because yes it is one you will study, it comes with the questions to prompt you to study…is that we cannot hear from God if we don’t make ourselves known to God. In John 10:27, Jesus says, “my sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.” So to be the Lord’s sheep we need to take the time to learn God by spending time in the Word and spending time with Him in prayer. Then we need to hear His voice…heed His voice…and FOLLOW HIM.
I think that is where we tend to mess up. We may hear the Lord’s voice…we may receive His prompting in the Spirit and then we disobey because we don’t like what we hear, what we are told, and we do not follow as we are told. So we have to die to our flesh so that our spirit can be obedient. For the Lord says, the Spirit is will but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41).
As you take the time to read this book, take the time to STUDY it. Really understand what Priscilla Shirer is saying, what she is teaching, and if you really want God’s voice guiding you: OBEY and FOLLOW Him.
By Salem Afandigeh
From batting eyelashes to dressing to attract, little girls are subtly encouraged to use their feminine appeal to manipulate and get attention. Sadly, this doesn't get any better with age, as we see a trend of teenage girls that are perfected in the art of flirting who later grow up to be women that constantly draw attention to themselves.
Flirting is not solely about getting the attention of a certain guy, it is about drawing attention to ourselves.
First time I ever considered that maybe this wasn't an example of biblical femininity was about 3 years ago when I was reading through Proverbs 7 and 8 and I heard the Holy Spirit's conviction in my heart that I was more of a proverbs 7 woman that I was of the proverbs 8 woman (ouch!) A little background about those two passages of scripture; Proverbs 7 describes the adulterous woman who seduces with her words and gets men to pay attention to her because of all she is on the outside, while Proverbs 8 describes Wisdom as a woman who is a little less obvious on the outside but so very rich with power, insight, and beauty on the inside.
I remember immediately arguing with my Spirit that I would never ever do what the Proverbs 7 woman did! But was reminded that it was more about who she was than what she did. The Holy Spirit convicted me about how much in my every day life I drew attention to myself instead of the LORD and I was convicted, humbled, and led to my knees.
See ladies, the LORD tells us what should attract people to us, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4). Having a “gentle and quiet Spirit” doesn't necessarily mean we are reserved and quiet all the time because some of us have more “loud personalities”, but it does mean that we know when to speak and when to be silent. It means our words are used to build up rather than to tear down. It means that there is a certain mystery about us that intrigues people and makes them want to know more. The very fact that we are ladies means God took a little bit more time in creating us with curves and all so we could be inherently beautiful (even on those days when we don't feel like it) but if our exterior is all that people notice about us when they spend time with us, then we might need to re-evaluate our hearts. Jesus within us never stays bottled up! He shines through us and makes us so beautiful and magnetic to a world that doesn't know what true beauty is.
One of my favorite verses about anti-flirtatious lifestyle has been “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” Songs of Solomon 8:4 and for me it applies not only in relationships with guys, but in friendships and every time I am surrounded by people. I love how practical it can become because I know at the exact moment I am about to say something for the sole purpose of making people like/love me more (we all do). Jesus shines through us and people see that. The more time we spend with Him, the more we reflect Him, and like Jesus who never sought to draw attention to Himself but always pointed back to the Father, we ought to do the same.
By Carmen Beckett
The one thing that I love about confidence is that it’s something that each and every one of us can have and wear well!
Although this is true, confidence is something that we’ve all battled with at one point or another. Sometimes this battle can feel like it never ends from comparing ourselves to the perfect looking models on television to the superwoman of Proverbs 31.
The truth is, confidence doesn’t come over night. It takes practice and the best way to practice is with real tips that work. So it is my hope that you try out and enjoy these 6 tips to more sassy and classy confidence! 1.) Play up your beauty
– What’s one of your favorite physical features about yourself? If it’s your eyes then wear eye shadow colors that highlight them. If it’s your gorgeous set of pearly whites then smile more often to show them off. Paying attention to the features that you love can be an instant confidence booster. 2.) Embrace change
– We all have areas of ourselves that we would like to improve. I encourage you to identify these areas and start making changes to them. These changes can be both inward and outward. Below are two examples.
Inward change: If you know your decreasing faith and constant worrying are wrecking havoc on your self-esteem, map out a time in your day to start reading your Bible more. As you begin to get closer to God, your confidence will skyrocket in him.
Outward change: If you don’t like your body then start a healthy diet and get on a good workout regimen to shape it the way you desire. There are tons of ways to look gorgeous without going to extremes. So pick a few and wear them with all you’ve got. 3.) Positive Friends
– Confidence is contagious so go get a power circle of girlfriends who are happy and secure in their own skin. You can’t be confident if you are surrounded by “Debbie Downers
” who are always putting you or themselves down. This is why I love being a part of networks like Pinky Promise
; it’s a great way to meet fabulous women from different walks of life. 4.) Dress up
– The saying is true: when you look good, you feel good. So have fun with your wardrobe and only wear clothes that you are proud of. Wearing clothes that go well with your body type as well as fun pops of color can do the self esteem quite well. 5.) Treat yourself
– Every once in a while, it’s good to treat yourself to something nice. This could range from buying those cute new pair of heels that you’ve been eyeing to simply taking a day off to relax and cater to yourself. It doesn’t matter what you do just make sure you enjoy it! 6.) Good role models
– Powerful women who hold their heads high are inspiring. I encourage you to find a couple of women that you like for role models. I personally look up to women like Jennifer Lucy Tyler and Heather Lindsey. Both women are classy with hearts after God so their confidence radiates from within.
So there you have it – 6 tips to more confidence! I pray that these tips help you to become the beautiful, confident women that God created you to be.
By Kris Bush
This is a photo of our small homeschool classroom. Right now it’s set to fit one maybe two children. Our daughter uses it mostly, however our son will join in every so often for art activities.
Homeschooling. Many people that I know tend to give our family the side eye because we home school our daughter and will home school our son when it’s his time.
So why do we homeschool? Well for two reasons, it is what works best for our daughter and more importantly we believe it is what God has led our family to do. I'll be honest I like having a job and being able to soundly contribute to our family financially, however since our daughter turned five, working outside the home has NOT been an option for me. And Lord knows that I have tried.
When it comes to following the prompts God gives us, we try to always adhere to what God tells us. So, one thing that has definitely been on this list is me being home; taking care of our family, our home, and homeschooling our children. I am quite aware that this arrangement cannot work for every family, I'm just thankful that it does work for our family. I'm aware of the families that need both mom and dad to work so the family stays afloat. I write this to the families who CAN afford to home school or have thought about it. I promise you, it is WORTH the headache, the constant answering of questions and becoming your children's teacher.
Now the great part about home schooling is the fact that when my daughter excels, guess who is front row and center to see and cheer her on? ME. And that is an awesome feeling to know that I am the person who got to help her learn to read, add and subtract. I enjoy watching my daughter flourish. I also homeschool her because there was a time when we suspected that she have ADHD/ADD because of how hyperactive she could be, but instead of going off the deep end, we just endeavored to really learn her and what works best for her. One thing we have done is cut down on sugar drastically, which has helped with how hyper she is. We've also given her a daily routine where she knows what's coming next so she doesn't put up too much of a fuss.
The program we use with homeschooling Kaylee, is Florida Virtual School Full Time. It’s probably not your "traditional" method of homeschooling, but it works for us. It allows us to keep Kaylee on track with state standards and still allows me to have an active hand in her education. I am able to add in bible devotion every morning and I try to do a person profile or family profile at least once a month. For example last month we learned about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob's family. I have heard of programs like Abeka, Charlotte Mason, etc… and I think they are probably really nice. I just know those can be expensive and when you don't particularly have a lot of money to shell out on a curriculum; it doesn't hurt to check to see if your state has a K-12 virtual online school since its FREE and they send out ALL of the materials your child will need...including a computer if you qualify.
Now if you choose to come up with your own curriculum or want to do it at your own pace picking what curriculum you use, I can definitely recommend a couple different websites; you can find free worksheets and workbooks. Of course, you will need to print them out, but other than that they're FREE.
- KISS Grammar
- The Crafty Classroom
- Spanish Lessons
- Free Homeschool Deals
If you are thinking of homeschooling, I hope this helps you understand. Remember that homeschooling is about what’s best for your child, in regards to how they learn. Take the time to study your child(ren) and see what their best mode of learning is, or ask them if they’re old enough.
By La Toya Wells
An angel came to me one night I could not sleep,
Told me not to worry or hold my head down and weep.
Angel does not know how the pressures of life can sometimes be,
Told me to renew my mind and reminded that The Lord is always with me.
The angel told me that I've come too far to give up now,
And to find it in my heart to go one more round.
Through the test, you may feel like you have no friends,
But always remember that with God, you will win!
This is not the time to fret, sit and doubt,
But to give God the praise because He is bringing you out.
You must keep the faith while you're in this race,
Stay in prayer, letting The Word of God keep you at a steady pace.
And when you pass this trying test, be willing to tell your story;
All while giving God the victory, thanks and glory.
By Ashley Flores
Finding a balance between chasing your dreams, and honoring your Faith can be tricky at times.
More often than it should be, the appeal of fame can cause us to turn away from God’s plan for us in exchange for the temporal fulfillment of earthly gain. Our name scrolling across the marquee can overshadow the pleasure of making His name famous. Praise from our colleagues and those we admire can expose our hidden thirst for applause. The false sense of security that comes along with financial wealth can lead us to believe God’s protection is no longer a necessity.
But the moment that snaps us back into reality is not always done gently.
Sometimes, it’s downright painful.
Gospel music recording artist GIEL is someone who truly knows the gut-wrenching kick we sometimes must endure in order to be reminded of why God has given us our particular talents and gifts. Though many have grown to love her through her latest single “NOW”, there was a time when this melodious powerhouse was once blinded by the selfish gleam of the secular music industry.
GIEL, the quintessential “preacher’s" kid”, sought to rebel against what she saw as the chains of Christianity in order to pursue an R&B music career.
Many mainstream music labels and producers were immediately interested in her song-writing and vocal abilities. Her unique sound and passionate prose seemed to have the potential to make them wealthy off her dream to share her story the masses.
"At that time, I couldn't see that I wasn't just rebelling against my earthly father, but against my heavenly Father as well," she said. "But after I truly developed a relationship with God for myself, I knew that singing for His glory was the only rightful way I could use the talent He'd given me. I had to have my own 'Damascus moment' where Jesus became real to me."
Then, all of those opened doors suddenly shut without warning. She went from being thought of as the up-and-coming artist who would one day “replace” neo-soul queen India Arie, to nothing more than an afterthought. Major showcases she had booked were suddenly cancelled; contracts were dropped. She was shocked.
“No more trips, meetings, or special treatment. I was crushed,” she recalls. “Needless to say, I didn’t see much of a future in music. I became pretty depressed.”
This sudden change of events humbled her led GIEL reevaluate her current path. She soon saw the same life that she used to feel was full of restraint, now contained the only real freedom she’d ever known. Battling criticism from those closest to her, and her newfound difficulty to find producers who were willing to work with her on her new mission to share the Gospel through her music, she turned to God for direction and for, most importantly, His forgiveness.
Finally, understanding how she’d misused her talent, GIEL made the decision to begin to fully dedicate her life and career to glorifying God.
This decision not to wallow in the disappointment that came along with God putting the breaks on her secular music career allowed her to experience the beauty of when He bestows His blessings on those who submit to His will. GIEL’s gospel career has now included her releasing her first EP, Message Behind the Music
, touring Spain as a feature artist with the Alabama Gospel Choir, and opening for artists such as The Ambassador
and Jai on the M.O.V.E. Tour. In 2013, she has already been touring Florida and opening for Christian rap legend Da TRUTH
God’s word tells us in John 12:43 that gaining more pleasure from the praise of man than we do from pleasing God will lead us nowhere other than to our own destruction. It's important to make sure we never allow the plaudits of others take our eyes off of our responsibilities as Christians.
“Truly seek God! [Don’t] be anxious about anything, but trust God,” GIEL advises to all who are looking for guidance as they work to intertwine their passion and their occupation. She also encourages others to spend serious time contemplating whether or not they are ready for the physical and psychological commitment required to survive in whatever career they choose, but especially in the music industry, which she now knows quite well.
To stay connected with GIEL, be sure to check her out at http://www.gielmusiconline.net.
By Kris Bush
So I decided to request this book. In recent times I've been prompted on numerous occasions to pray more, pray about everything. Get consistent with prayer. And what's a better way to become consistent with prayer other than a 40-day prayer challenge?
Draw the Circle 40 Day Prayer Challenge is already changing the way I view prayer. I like how Mark Batterson pairs each daily challenge with scripture and a person's personal story of what happened when they became consistent with prayer. This is crucial, because one, you become consistent with not only praying, but also listening to God after you unload, you become more adept to hear God's voice. Once you begin to pray for what you want and ask God to give you the desires of HIS heart, you begin to pray for what HE wants and then you are on to something special. You’re on to fulfilling God’s Will and His purpose for your life. I think every Christian has a goal of knowing God for themselves and serving God; they long to hear “Well done my good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21,23)
So this is my challenge to myself, I want to pray consistently and with purpose. I'll be honest I pray every day, multiple times a day in fact. And I'm getting to the point when I can hear God prompting me; I also want to get to the point when I can hear HIM speak through someone else. In other words, I want to develop discernment; I want to be God's true sheep, knowing HIS voice no matter who or what HE chooses to speak through.
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me from the publisher (Zondervan) in exchange for my HONEST review.