I’ve always been my own biggest critic. I often hold myself to unachievable standards, and blame myself when I cannot reach them. I like to do things for myself, and often don’t ask for help because I think that’ll make me weak. Of course I know in my head that God did not create me to achieve perfection by societal standards, or to be able to do everything by myself, but I often forget that. Does that sound like you? The lies of self-sufficiency and perfection are challenging to conquer, but they’re just that: lies. One of my favorite Bible verses, 2 Corinthians 12:9, has served as a reminder of this:
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
When I mess up and sin, God’s forgiveness is more than enough.
When I need help, God’s design of community is more than enough.
When I don’t meet my own standards, the way God created me is more than enough. When I am not enough, God is more than enough.
The beauty of 2 Corinthians 12:9 is that I am free from bondage to perfection and impossible standards. Not only is my weakness permissible, but it should be gladly welcomed. My weakness highlights His strength, and isn’t my purpose in being to bring glory to God?! Therefore, when I fall short, I should not be ashamed. Rather, I should rejoice in seeing God’s power at work in my situation and boldly point the glory to Him rather than haphazardly attempting to hide my own shortcomings.
My inabilities are covered by His abilities. When His glory is on display, my inadequacy doesn’t matter; it fades into the shadows. In such a self-centered society it’s hard to understand that someone else can make up for my weakness, and to point glory away from our own selves. But what I’ve learned over time and through Scripture is that anything I may think I deserve glory for is a result of a gift of God. God’s power covers me in more ways than I know. All I am is dependent on all of Him.
When you notice your own weakness, look for God’s strength in that facet of your life and bring the attention and glory to Him. Our weaknesses are not something to be ashamed of; rather, they can act as a tool in witnessing. Think of a time recently that your weaknesses have stood out to you. (Did you blow up at a friend? Did you fall back into a pattern of sin? Did you act against something you read in Scripture?) Rather than trying to hide or compensate, how could you or did you focus on God’s perfection and power?
Written By: Emily
When it comes to scripture, it is hard to pick just one verse that stands out above the others. I personally have dozens that I could quote and pinpoint how they helped me through a specific time in my life. However, there is one verse for me that stands out above all the rest: Isaiah 43:2.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” NIV
This verse has meant so much to me over the years in so many different seasons of life. This verse speaks greatly into the constancy and power of our God. He emphasizes here that no matter what the circumstance is, He will never abandon us, He will always be with us. He also declares that not only will he be with us, He will not allow us to be overtaken. I can think of so many times in my life where the waters have felt like they were getting too high, or the fire was getting too hot, but the Lord took my hand and walked me through it each and every time.
I challenge you to reflect on this verse as you go throughout your week. Remind yourself that no matter what comes your way, the Lord is with you and for you. One of my favorite things to do is to write verses down in places where I can see them. Put it as your phone lock screen for the week! Remind yourself of the relentless pursuit of our God, in the deepest and darkest moments He loved you. He is with you and for you. Ask the Lord to make these words real to you this week.
What are some of your favorite verses? Leave them in the comments below!
Written By: Adyson
I don’t know if you are like me. I love God. I’ve known Him most of my life. I spend time with Him getting to know Him better and I love to tell others about Him. But I have to confess that sometimes I forget WHO He is.
When I worry, I forget that God is in control.
Jeremiah 29:11-For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Philippians 4:6-7-Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus
When I am scared, I forget that God is my protector.
Psalm 3:3-But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
When I have negative thoughts about myself, I forget that God is my maker.
Psalm 139:13-16-You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
When I am overwhelmed, I forget that God is my guide.
Psalm 48:14-For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever, and he will guide us until we die.
When I am in need, I forget that God is my provider.
Philippians 4:19-And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
When I am exhausted, I forget that God is my sustainer.
Hebrews 1:3a-The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command.
When I am in a hard point in life, I forget that God is my refuge.
Psalm 46:1-God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.
I’m not proud to say I forget about God sometimes. I don’t’ really forget about Him but I fail to trust Him in all things. These promises show WHO God is. He is not just around. He is not just someone to learn about on Sunday’s. He isn’t just someone to be thankful to in the good times. He is someone who I need to trust in all of the seasons of life. I need to give up my control and give it to God because He is the one who holds me in the palm of His hand!
Written By: Heather
When i think about what I think about God, so many things come to mind. The one thing that sticks out currently is how God is my refuge! Last year, I made the biggest decision of my life to move to California. I left everything I had known for 20+ years and made this big adventure to the other side of the country. Packing up everything I had known and coming to a place where I knew no one was a daunting yet, exciting adventure. It has been an adventure of true joy because I LOVE my job, but the hardest part of this whole adventure has been making friends.
This season of my life currently friendship is not coming easy for me. It has been a season for me of loneliness and hardship of not having a solid community of people my own age. However, the thing that remains is that no matter where I go, God is my REFUGE! He has truly been my refuge in this season. He has held me up when I was lonely on a Friday night, he has been my refuge when I have had to go to an event and put myself out there. He has been my refuge through it all!
I want to share with you this verse that has been my favorite since I was in 5th grade.
Psalm 18:2 " The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold"
This verse has helped me so much because I can know that no matter what I go through God is going to be my REFUGE! He is going to be my ROCK and he is going to be my DELIVERER! I want to encourage you, if you are in a hard time to cry out to God. Let Him be all of these things to you! He waiting for you to make Him your REFUGE! So make him your place of safe keeping today.
Written by: Rebeccah
When I ponder the question of who God is to me, many different names come to mind. He is Redeemer, Refuge, Savior, Father, Protector, and Provider, just to name a few. But when I meditate on the question more deeply, and take into account the particular ways in which I’ve sensed His working in my life most deeply, one name stands out above the rest: Healer.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
I’ve never had a life-threatening condition or been through a truly traumatic event, as you may have experienced. But I have battled for several years with diagnosing health issues, and as you have almost certainly also done, I’ve faced pain from friends and relationships numerous times. Throughout these times in my life God has revealed many of His characteristics to me, but more than anything He has shown me that He alone is my Healer. Modern medicine is incredible, and girl talk is just what the heart wants sometimes, but nothing compares to the healing God offers. He doesn’t just slap a band-aid on and call it a day; He offers true soul healing. I don’t know about you, but when a friendship ends or I’m sick and discouraged, I need true soul healing instead of a quick fix.
“Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the One I praise.”
When we try to let the world to heal our problems, the fix is always only temporary. And oftentimes the fix creates new problems. If a boy breaks up with you and you go straight to the most willing, easiest-to-find guy to feel better, chances are you will run into trouble and pain with him down the road as well. If a friend hurts you and you talk badly about her to another friend, chances are that will come into the open and magnify the issue eventually. Everything in the created world is inflicted by sin, so it is incapable of truly mending a broken soul. God, however, in His perfection is capable of healing any hurt in our lives. Not only is He capable, but He also desires to heal us. Sin is the root of our pain, so anything or anyone infected by sin cannot also be the solution. I’ve experienced this firsthand in my life. An author and speaker I look up to, Annie Downs, recently spoke on the idea that we must remember what God has done, and that to remember Him we must know Him, and we must know Him through His Word and/or life experience.
At numerous times I’ve looked to the world, whether it was people or material comforts, to heal my pain. I’ve looked to friends, guys, medicines, doctors, and come on ladies, chocolate has had its shining moments as well. But none of that truly healed me physically or spiritually. It gave the illusion of healing, but did not last. It was not until I remembered that God is my Healer, and surrendered all to Him that I found healing. God has healed health issues that stumped multiple doctors. God has taught me to be satisfied with Him rather than falling to pieces when friends let me down. God has taught me valuable lessons through hurtful situations with friends, rather than leaving me feeling less than enough.
“He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’”
God doesn’t always take away the pain immediately, and it’s not always an easy process. Sometimes doctors have to cause more pain to fix the issue. It takes needles and surgeries to fix diseases and broken bones. But God promises that He will heal us… just not always in the manner or timing we expect. To me God is not just a Healer that listens to my orders and fixes me. That gives me far too much credit. God has shown me that He is a Healer who diagnoses even the issues I do not see in myself. When I have no idea what the root is, He reveals it to me and fixes it along with all the other consequences it places in my life. God has shown me that He uses my pain and the healing process to teach me more about Him, and grow my dependence on Him. Situations that need supernatural healing remind me that I am not self-sufficient. To me, in this very time of my life, God has revealed that He is Healer. And in that, He is also showing me His power, love, and perfect timing.
How has God healed your heart, body, or mind recently or in the past? Where are you looking for His healing now?
Cling to Him, who is your soul’s only true Healer.
Written By: Emily
Dear Younger Vanessa,
Once upon a time, you were seven and sat at your desk pretending you were a New York Times best seller. You wanted to write to change the world and point others to Jesus. Now, here we are.
I write this letter to a younger, much louder, spunkier you. You are currently states away from your familiarity in California, in Tyler, Texas. You got this life changing opportunity to get to pour the gospel into younger children through boys and girls club for the summer. Once upon a time you once were that kid who wanted to learn of Jesus at any cost. What happened to your hunger for more of Him daily? Just being real with you. Find it again. This summer will challenge you in every way. Try and see the lesson Jesus is teaching you to build your character. Jesus can't move you to your next step in life until he knows your character and heart matches your calling. You don't believe me, Vanessa, but, you have this crazy, adventurous life ahead of you. Your family won't stop you. You will more than have survived your childhood. You will have thrived.
Those dreams of seeing the world. I promise you they'll come true. Believe in those dreams. Oh, the places you’re going to go my friend. By the time your 21, you will have lived in New York for three months, visited South Carolina, lived in L.A. a year, driven from California to Ohio on a road trip with friends, seen half of California and spend a summer in Texas. You’re going to travel and fly alone for almost all of these trips and travels. You'll like the idea of being independent. That my sweet, friend is only the start. You’re going to live life to the fullest. You'll find who you’re called to be as you live life in your travels. You’re going to create your own journey. In the end, you really will be okay. Knowing how strong headed and independent you are, you probably won't listen to what I have to tell you until after you realize you made a mistake. Listen anyways. Please, listen!
* You’re going to experience things and have offers come your way at a young age only others can dream of. Humble yourself. You'll find out that those dreams of yours aren't about you. There about impacting those around you for Jesus' glory. Check your heart and motives once in a while. You’re in the people business.
*You are talented. Don't believe other's when they say you'll never amount to nothing. "You’re just a dumb kid. A dreamer." In the end, you'll be the one who is successful. You will get an opportunity to be part of your own online ministry, "Worth More Ministries" and you will travel to share your testimony. People are going to fly you out to hear you. It’s true my friend!! Your days of day dreaming of being anywhere but, home will be over. You will no longer write in your hello kitty journal to be heard or feel safe. You will have a voice for others. Hang in there. I know it’s tough. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
*Be vulnerable. That saying, "Sometimes a person is hurt so much they stop hurting at all." Yes, it's true. Don't let it stop you from love and learning to be loved. This concept of accepting love is one you'll always struggle with. I'm not going to lie to you and tell you it will be fixed. You'll always be searching for love. The damage done as a child was tough, but don't let it stop you from learning to trust other's. Love Jesus first and then learn to let others love you.
*No, not everyone leaves. Some people really do stay. Don't push other's away. I know, your parents both leaving you was tough. You made it thru a lot of emotional damage. As you get older, you'll see things from a different perspective. Here's what I've come to understand within this last year in L.A. Some people are in your life till the day you reach heavens gates. Some people are seasonal. Some people are life lessons. Some people become friend's than mentors. Some friends become family. Some people use us. Some people hurt us. Some people build us. Some heal us. Some love our brokennesss. All people we meet teach us. They become life lessons. All people we meet leave an impact. Some people, actually most people come and go. A select few stay the course on your journey with you. Maybe I've matured or gotten older, but as I grow I see it's not who's on the journey with me. But, what's their purpose in it. Either way whoever does or doesn't stay on my life journey. My question for you is what kind of impact do you want to leave on people during your season in their life. Make it good. Impacts last a lifetime. Have fun along the way. Make intentional friends. Find peace in knowing some people weren't meant to stay in your life, but only for a season. Embrace that. Thank God, for their season with you. Find peace in knowing who's in your life is meant to be.
*Ask for help every now and then. It's okay to not be okay. It really is. Let your guard down. Learning to ask for help, really is just a stepping stone to your healing journey. It also, shows humility.
* You will have different friends than you have now, and some of the same. It’s okay. The ones who aren't as close with you anymore are still with you, and it doesn't undervalue the wonderful time being spent with them right now. You'll learn that you can love people from 1,000 of miles away and not be afraid of people leaving you.
*You don't have to be the cool kid. Stop mouthing off to your teachers, getting detention every day. Also, stop smoking weed, getting drunk and high. All that won't feel that empty void in your heart. Only Jesus will do that. Listen to your teacher's. They love you, they really do. They just want to save you heart ache they went thru as a kid in the party life. You’re probably laughing now, rolling your eyes as you’re in detention. But, years from now when you travel and end up in Texas, those very same teachers are still going to be your biggest fan. They’re going to text, call and face time you all the time. Remember they really do love you. The detention is just tough love and to be honest you need that love.
*Forgiveness to others and yourself. I can't tell you that you'll forgot all the bad, or fully move on. Your still on a forgiveness journey. Just remember, you are braver than you give yourself credit for.
* It's okay to cry. Frankly, you didn't start learning to cry until a month ago. But, it is okay. Tears mean you care and you’re on a new journey of restoration and freedom.
*Keep making your mistakes. Take full responsibility for them as well as full credit for your breakthroughs. You’ll be fine.
*Be patient. You don't have patience. Learn to be still and rest into the lords will for your life. Not yours. Your stubborn. Just listen, be obedient. Your obedience is going to open up some life offers. Know that with every mistake, there is grace to be found. Make mistakes, but don't stay there. You will go thru dark periods of anxiety and depression, know that it will pass. Lean into Jesus and good friend's in those times. Don't ever lose your passion for people and heart for the lost. If you lose that, you will have lost some of your best character traits.
Oh, younger me… You were so special. You still are. You are valued. You are loved. You are worthy of love. You are worthy. You deserve those parent's you never got. Your life has purpose. You’re going to change the world kid. You don't even know it. I'm half laughing and crying now, if you only knew. You have such... A journey ahead. Fight, keep fighting. Your fight for your future will only show how much your preserved in the end. You'll thank me one day.
I love you, Vanessa. Don't let all those years keep you from learning to accept love like it did me. It's my biggest regret and struggle to this day. Your worth it, kid. It really will be okay. See you later. Enjoy the best years of your life.
All my love,
The older college you
P.s. Hot Cheetos aren't a full meal, even thou think you so. Yes, it’s okay to be in college and still wear footie PJ's. They're comfortable. Stay a kid at heart. Stay true to you.
Written By: Vanessa
It is difficult to answer the question, “Who is God?”, there are hundreds of things that come to mind and it seems rather impossible to formulate any arrangement of words to describe the Creator of the universe. I have also found that the attributes of God that have meant the most to me have continuously shifted as I have grown up and experienced different things. I am not sure there is a correct answer to this question as God is so incredibly personal and each individual would have a different way to answer the question of who He is to them.
Who is God? God is an unrivaled King, who has loved me at my darkest of moments and has relentlessly pursued my heart. These are the things that I think of when asked who my God is. Let’s dig into it.
Unrivaled King: Our God is unmatched; He has no rival. There is no one or not thing that can ever touch Him. One of my favorite Bible verses comes from James 2 and it says that “Even the demons believe [that there is one God] and they tremble in terror.” (James 2:19, NLT). Even the demons in the pit of hell know the name of our God and shake in fear. How powerful is that? It reassures me greatly that there is nothing in existence that can overcome my God. We can live in freedom knowing this truth. One of my favorite lines from the song “Great I Am” says, “there is no power in hell or any who can stand before the power and the presence of the Great I Am.” Make this your anthem and in times of great oppression remember that you are the child of a King who will never be defeated.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…”
Psalm 23:4 NIV
Loved Me at My Darkest: My God has seen me at every moment of my life. He has heard my every thought and held every tear that has ever fallen from my eyes. He loved me even though I gave him nothing. He loved me when I ran from Him. He loved me when I cursed his name. He loved me through every doubt. He loved me when I couldn’t love myself. He loved me when it seemed like nobody else did. He loved me through my eating disorder. It brings me to tears to know that He will never stop loving me. He loves me in spite of me: my filth, my guilt, my shame, my inconsistency, my pride, my doubt, my fear. He will never stop. I think this is one of the most beautiful things about Our God.
“But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8, NIV
Relentlessly Pursues: Did you know that God pursues us? Growing up, I don’t think I ever really knew that. Our God pursues us. He knows us, He is near to us, and He is consistently working in and around us. The song “Fierce” by Jesus Culture says it perfectly, “You chase me down, You seek me out, how can I be lost when You have called me found?” Isn’t that beautiful? No matter how far we run, our God continues to seek us out and pursue our hearts. It brings me such comfort to know that even when I feel far from the Lord, He is constantly drawing near to me.
“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life…”
So, who is God? The list could go on for days, but these three attributes have been the closest to my heart in this season of life. I am overwhelmed when I think of all that my God is. Who is God to you? I challenge you to take the time and reflect on this over the next week.
Written By: Adyson
Dear Younger Me,
You are in the midst of a hard season, fun but hard! You are learning responsibility and balance. You are learning how to fit it all in and do your best at the same time. You are learning about others and about yourself. You are learning to work and handle money. You don’t know what life is going to look like in 4 years but you know big changes are coming. There is so much to figure out that you don’t even know where to start.
Here are some things I want you to know:
Written By: Heather
Dear Younger Me,
Goodness, girl at the current age I am I did not think you would be struggling with how people think of you. I remember when it all started for us, in high school we wanted to change our self to fit in with the cheerleader crowd. It started with changing the way we talked, changing the way we carried ourselves. The pattern continued into college for us where we exaggerated our experiences because we wanted to fit in with people. I challenge you to change your future! Choose to love yourself now!
Girl I wish you knew how those moments have affected us. One thing I wish you would know is that if you could know that your identity is in Christ and not the opinions of others. It is so important for you to ingrain this in your heart at a young age. In the book of Galatians, Paul writes about his very thing. He points it out that we are not to focus on what people think of us but simply only be concerned about what God thinks.
"Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant" Galatians 1:10
I challenge you to not change who you are! Look in the mirror and be proud of the young woman you are becoming. Don't try to change the unique things that make you different. Embrace the uniqueness God has given you. Embrace your love for travel, your love of books, writing and your obsession with fashion and The Bachelor! Embrace your heart for helping others. Don't be ashamed of who you are! You are Worth More than people's opinions. I challenge you to conquer this now and not wait until you are older.
Your Older Self
Written By: Rebeccah
Dear Younger Me,
It’s okay. It’s okay that you don’t have everything figured out right now. Guess what? Those plans and expectations you have right now are going to change, and it’s okay. The friends you have right now are going to change in the future. You may still talk to them or you may not, and it’s okay. That boy that you have the biggest crush on right now? He may not be around in a few years, and it’s okay. I know you feel really unsure of yourself right now, it’s okay. I know you are so worried about what everyone else thinks of you, but know what? It’s okay to be yourself, in fact, being yourself is all you can do. The people that love you for you are the only ones that matter. Things are going to fall apart, and it’s okay. Bad things are going to happen, and it’s okay. It’s okay because it is only going to make you stronger and it is going to teach you lessons that you may have never learned otherwise. It’s okay to laugh too loud. It’s okay to eat that extra cupcake. It’s okay to dance like crazy. It’s okay to get your hands a little dirty. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay. It’s okay to live in the moment. It’s okay to put your phone down for the night. It’s okay to binge watch that Netflix show. It’s okay to take a 45-minute bubble bath. It’s okay to not be okay sometimes. All of these things are okay because when it comes down to it, life is short. We don't get to choose what cards we are dealt, but we do get to choose how we respond to them. It’s okay to take a step back and take a deep breath. Remember that no matter what happens, your God has you, He loves you, and His plan for you is so much bigger and better than you could ever imagine. Your life is not going to be perfect, you aren’t perfect, and that is completely okay. Just remember to look to Him always and keep pressing forward.
Your Older Self
Written By: Adyson