Won’t Be Defined

Photo by makunin taken from pixabay.com

Photo by makunin taken from pixabay.com

What if we viewed ourselves through God’s eyes? Imagine the peace we’d have. And what if, maintaining that vision, we then zeroed in on what He was calling us to do, and pursued that with everything within us.

What might we accomplish?

This is something God has been encouraging me to do. If we’re Facebook friends, you likely read my post this morning with the quote from Real Women Leading With Proverbs 31 Values (an awesome book!). I’ll post the quote I pulled from the book here:

Speaking of influencers, the author said, “They are driven to do something that matters. They seek God for what His call is on their lives, and they are focused on what He created them to be.

Focus. Unwavering. Obedient. Surrendered.

Todays post, by a sweet sister in Christ who is pursuing God’s call with everything within her, shares her journey from the beginning of a dream to full pursuit.

GIVE-AWAY ALERT! As a special bonus, Jessica is giving away 3 of her albums. Winners will be randomly selected from the comments and shipping is only available to those living in the continental US.

But first, I want to announce last week’s give-away winner. Jennifer Hallmark, congrats! You won a copy of Cherie Burbach’s latest release, 100 Simple Ways to Have More Friends. I’ll message you shortly to chat about getting that to you.

Won’t Be Defined by Singer/Songwriter Jessica Angelique

“I won’t be defined by what other say. I won’t be confined. They won’t get in the way of God’s love and His perfect plan. I won’t be defined in His strength I’ll stand. I won’t be defined.”

-from the title track “Won’t Be Defined” on 14-year-old Jessica Angelique’s album “Won’t be Defined.”

When I was a young girl there was this inner joy inside of me that made me happy. I never could imagine my life without God. I always remember believing in God. In the years before I started school I had no trouble being defined by God and not what others said about me, even through challenges I faced.

I have an eye condition called Duane’s Syndrome and I have trouble seeing and reading. The good news is that it’s hardly noticed, but I still struggle even today to read, but I am overcoming it.

photo taken from freedigitalphotos.net by Ambro

photo taken from freedigitalphotos.net by Ambro

My first few years of school were challenging. I was in Dual Language spending half the day speaking English and the other half speaking Spanish. Halfway through third grade I went to a different school without Dual Language. At my new school, I was bullied at the young age of nine and I had no friends, no hope. I felt alone like an outcast. I was being me, and that wasn’t accepted.

In school you’re supposed to like sports and dance, but I loved to sing and instead took piano and guitar lessons.

When I went into fourth grade I moved schools again because of the extreme bullying. I left the school so I would never have to see that bully again.

I was the new kid again. I felt excluded, but not as bad as at the other school.

When I started middle school in fifth grade, it got a lot easier and I made friends. I felt like the same kid I was before I started school, remembering I’m defined by God and not by what others say. A huge bJessica Angeliqueurden was lifted. I did not have a care in the world– except math class.

I’ve always loved music and singing. When I was very young I would sing songs at the top of my lungs and my brother would scream at me to shut up, but I never did. I always knew I wanted to be a singer, like every other girl in my class. Instead of just daydreaming, I decided to do something about it.

I started doing talent shows and playing for family and friends. Participating in a national talent competition gave me the inspiration to do this for the rest of my life. One day I attended a Christian concert featuring Moriah Peters. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to be a Christian singer. I started in the Christian music field and I don’t think I could do anything else.

I was encouraged to write songs and then wrote enough to make an album. My dream became a reality. Your dream can too with God’s guidance and with the help of those who nudge you in the right direction.

If I didn’t know God, my life would be hopeless. I’ve just started, and I have a lot more to do to make a difference and inspire people to be defined by God, not by what others say. My goal is to inspire one person at a time, follow God, and see where He takes me.

Like Brandon Heath sings, “He’s not finished with me yet.”

Jessica Vogt_021
14 year old, Jessica Angelique has a God-given gift beyond her years to write music that helps others going through doubts and insecurities, inspiring people to love Jesus and love themselves.
Through her own struggles with bullying she wrote the title track to her debut album,”Won’t Be Defined,” telling the story of a young girl learning that God defines us, not what others say. It’s a story every Mom will want their daughter to embrace.

Visit her online HERE.

Let’s talk about this! First, for those of you who joined me at Reality Church’s Women’s Connection Weekend last weekend, hopefully,  you’ve been prayerfully asking livingbygracepic.jpGod to help you do as Jessica encourages, which is to allow God and God alone to define us. (For those who weren’t able to come, I may be posting all three main sessions online. I’ll let you know…)

In what ways have you allowed others to define you? What inner lies are you clinging to, regarding your identity, and what Scripture can you meditate on and pray to center your heart and mind in God’s truth? Are you pursuing God’s call on your life, and if so how? If not, what’s holding you back? Share your comments here below or on Living by Grace on Facebook.

 

A Happy Helpmate

Cheri_portrait-2Today we conclude our two-month Proverbs study with an insightful post by devotional writer, Cheri Salwall.  I like to think of the Christian marriage in terms of it’s missional purpose. We are our spouse’s helpmate not merely to make their life easier or to help them find intimacy, as important as those things are, but instead, God pairs us with our spouse so that we, combined, can fulfill a portion of His eternal plan.

In today’s post, Cheri speaks specifically to us wives, reminding us to encourage and uplift our husband’s daily, but I believe the overall principal–seeking to bring out the best in our spouses–applies to both husbands and wives.

The Happy Helpmate 

“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31: 11-12).

 

I love marriage and family and all things related. When I was in second grade, I wrote an essay entitled, “When I grow up, I want to be a housewife.” I wanted to have a small farm and while my husband went off to work somewhere I would grow our vegetables, feed the animals, take care of our children, and keep the house clean.  In my seven-year-old mind, that was the perfect job.

Thirty-three years later, I am living my dream.  My husband grows a vegetable garden that I help maintain and eventually we will raise chickens for fresh eggs.  I’m privileged to work from home and take care of the kids while my husband goes off to work.  In our family, the children are very well aware their dad is the head of the household and their mom is his helpmate.

The Free Dictionary by Farlex describes a helpmate as “a companion and helper, especially a wife.”   Proverbs 31: 10-31 gives great guidelines of how to achieve the role of helpmate God placed inside the heart of women to fulfill.  Strong women are condemned at times in today’s society for emasculating their men, but I think it takes a strong woman to be the helpmate God designed us to be. Being a helpmate doesn’t mean never expressing an opinion; it means trusting your husband to make the final decision after you both have had a chance to discuss the issue together.  It means you use the resources God has given you, your strengths and talents, to come alongside your husband and help him be the best protector and provider he can be.  It means that you work together to help your family succeed.

Being his helpmate means that you intentionally seek to bring out the best in your spouse.  Being his helpmate means being his number one cheerleader, even if he makes a bad decision or two.  If the roles were reversed and you were in charge of leading, do you think you choose correctly every time?  When you blow it, what kind of a response is more likely to help you get up and try again – nagging and “I told you so” or the kind, gentle reminder that “I believe in you.”?

A helpmate is someone who will actively look to see what she can do to make the life easier for the one on the frontlines.  That could mean offering to pick up his clothes from the laundromat even if it’s out of your way, keeping the house “company ready” if his job is one that has people dropping by unexpectedly, or volunteering to balance the checkbook, keep the family calendar organized, and make the list of phone calls that keep a family running smoothly.

I have one friend in particular who willingly and lovingly steps into this role with her husband on a regular basis.  She casually mentioned one Sunday that she woke up early to fix her husband a hot breakfast before he left to perform on the worship team.  She supports his role in ministry and wanted him to have extra confidence by doing what she could to help him perform at his optimum instead of being jittery from too much coffee and no real sustenance.  Even though she is not actively participating on the team, in essence she is performing an act of service to God as well.

When I think of the Proverbs 31 wife, that is my mental picture.  She wakes up early, when necessary, to perform the duties she can in order to assist her husband in providing for their family – whether financially, spiritually, emotionally, or physically.  She sometimes goes out to work and earn money for extra expenses, without complaining, and makes sure that she wisely uses the income her husband provides to teach the next generation the importance of a budget and also to show her husband how grateful she is for his hard work.  She takes care of herself spiritually, physically, and emotionally so that she can perform at her optimal best, encouraging her husband to take time to do the same.

The last and most important part of being a helpmate is to have the right attitude.  When we lovingly doing our part to take over some responsibilities in order to lessen the load our husbands carry, we’re making his job easier.  Not just physically but emotionally.  When they knows we have come alongside them and truly want to help, they can then leave confidently, knowing they will be welcomed home and appreciated for their contributions to our families.  I think we would all agree that we perform at our best when we’re supported by those we love.

I want to encourage all of us to strive to be loving helpmates to our husbands.  When we all work together to please God in our actions and attitudes, everyone wins.

Cheri Swalwell is a wife, mother, and avid reader, but first and foremost she is a Christ follower. She has a degree in Psychology and has been blessed to be a guest on a variety of blogs including Christiandevotions.us, Circle of Friends, and Crosswalk.com/family. She is a regular contributor to book fun magazine. If you want to hear more about the heart she has for marriage, parenting, and relationships from a Christian perspective, feel free to visit her website at http://www.cheriswalwell.com where you can connect to her blog or “like” her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell. She loves to interact with her readers, so feel free to connect with her at clSwalwell99@gmail.com.  In addition, she has written two devotionals, A 40 Day Habit Between Friends: Because They Need You and A 40 Day Habit Between Friends: Taking it to the Next Level, available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

flatecover_1_ (3)A 40 Day Habit Between Friends: Taking it to the Next Level:

Do you ever feel like life is out of control and you just need a chance to stop and catch your breath? If you wrestle with questions such as fear versus faith or how to find balance in such a fast paced society, then A 40 Day Habit Between Friends: Taking it to the Next Level is a great solution.  Get ready to relax with a series of 40 devotionals taken from the author’s blogs where she just talks to you, friend to friend, about life’s challenges with a spiritual perspective.  It’s small enough to fit in your purse or briefcase, great to give to a friend who needs some encouragement, and reasonably priced so you can pick one up for yourself at the same time.   Available at amazon.com.

A 40 Day Habit Between Friends: Because They Need You:

A set of 40 devotionals taken from the author’s blogs where she enjoys talking to you, friend to friend, about the joys and trials of raising children.  It’s small enough to fit in your purse or briefcase, great to buy for a friend who needs a little pick me up, and reasonably priced so you can buy one for yourself as well.  Get ready to be encouraged and challenged in a lighthearted way while taking a deeper look at the heart the author has for her own children and those she loves.  Sit down, grab your favorite beverage, and get ready to be uplifted while journeying together as parents.   Available at amazon.com.

What is one way you can show your spouse you’re their cheerleader today? In a typical day, do you tend to speak more words of encouragement or condemnation? If the latter, what are some ways you can actively guard your words?

Take Time to Remember

Today’s reading: Proverbs 3:1-8

Today’s focal verse: Proverbs 3:1

Today’s focus: Remembering what we’ve learned

This week’s memory verse: 
Proverbs2memoryverse

This morning, as I was thinking over my spiritual goals and what I’ve learned through Proverbs 1-3, I was tempted to add more to my goal list. After all, if I’m developing a habit for Scripture memorization, why not also develop goals and habits for cleaning, and exercise, and diet, and … 😉

They say most people abandon their New Year’s resolutions after three weeks. I suspect one of the reasons for this is people set unrealistic expectations and overload themselves with too much change without giving themselves time to really develop new habits. This is why I am purposefully going quite slow through my Proverbs reading. I know if I attempt to make too many changes too quickly, if I focus on too many things without giving myself time to really absorb what I’ve already learned, I’ll likely fail. So today, I’m going to really pray about and meditate on what God has already shown me. As you read the following devotional, written by Beth Farley, I suggest you do the same. 🙂

GE DIGITAL CAMERABeth Ann Farley is a dear friend of mine and one of our Yahoo Bible Study group members. She is married with three grown children. She lives in Kansas City, MO where she serves as librarian. She loves to read, write, decorate and spend as much time as possible outside with her Peek-A-Poo. Beth is a lover of the Lord. “He is my-everything and I can’t start a day without visiting with Him.” Beth came to know the Lord when she was 30 years old and has served Him on committee’s such as Missions Outreach, Local Missions, Diaconate Committee, Youth Committee, and was a church secretary for several years. Beth loves Women’s Bible Studies, has hosted several in each one of her homes that she has lived in and has led a few as well. Beth is now taking time in life to move forward with her writing in whatever way God directs her.

Visit her online at: http://firsthalfday1.wordpress.com/

Proverbs 3:1 NLT
My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart, for they will give a long and satisfying life.
My son, don’t forget my teaching, but let your heart keep from my commands (HCSB).

Many years ago I was called to home-school my children. I had no idea what I was doing other than being obedient to God’s calling.

I began each day with reading, writing and memorizing scripture with my kids and then giving them some time to reflect in their journals. That was the most rewarding time of my life, not only being with my children, teaching them my values but knowing I was being totally obedient to God.

The above verse is one that I remember so well because in teaching my kids the Ten Commandments, I also tied in Proverbs 3:1. I explained to my kids that you can’t have the Ten Commandments without remembering what God has taught you. You can’t have the Ten Commandments without storing them in your heart. We can memorize scripture all we want but if we don’t store them in our hearts with God’s commands then it’s just a scripture memory challenge.

What do you think? Can you memorize scripture without storing God’s commands in your heart?

How do you encourage the believer who appears to be keeping the commands that might be very ill or has lost a job or loved one about living a long and satisfying life?

In joining this group, I am really challenging myself to really take the scriptures and not only memorize but meditate and applying them to my daily life.

***

What about you? What has God shown you this week? Are you applying what you’ve learned? How might He want you to do just that *today.* Find some time today to prayerfully consider this, then write down a few thoughts.

Here are some questions to ponder as you write:
1) How has your relationship with God grown this week?
2) Have you noticed a difference in your attitude? Do you feel more at peace? More joyful?
3) Do you find yourself thinking of God and the things of God more throughout the day?

On January first, we talked about discipline and creating routines. (You can read Jan. 1st’s devo here.) What new routine have you created in an effort to become more disciplined? I’m working on memorizing Scripture, and in my effort to do so, have begun reciting my week’s memory verse as I cook dinner.

One of our Yahoo group members mentioned time was a big limiting factor for her, and she suggested multi-tasking as a way to solve this. I think this is true for most of us. Thinking of the benefits of establishing a routine, I’d like to propose a few suggestions. I suggest you choose *one* to try. By choosing one new activity rather than many, there’s a higher probability this will stick and become habit.

1. Make your shower time your prayer time. If you need help remembering to do this, attach a sticky note to the outside of your shower door with the reminder to pray. Or, if Scripture memorization is your goal, use packing tape to attach a notecard with your verse either in your shower or bathroom mirror. (where it won’t get wet. 🙂 Or you could perhaps use dry erase marker, lipstick, or something else that will easily come off to write the verse directly on the shower glass or wall. As you shower or get ready, recite the verse aloud a few times.

2. This suggestion is similar to the first. Is there a mundane/mindless task you complete each day? Make that your prayer or verse memorization time.

3. Program alerts in your phone, perhaps to go off over your lunch break or every three hours. If your goal is to be more consistent with prayer, pause to pray for five or ten minutes (whatever is manageable for you), whenever the alert goes off. If your goal is verse memorization, pause to recite the verse three times when the alarm goes off.

If you do this enough times, they should become habit, with your heart reminding you to do the action.

On January 2nd, we talked about seeking and waiting for God’s wisdom. You can read the post here. In our Yahoo Bible study group, we also talked about “doing life” with God, or, in other words, of being conscious of His presence, talking to Him throughout the day, and asking Him to align our thoughts, hearts, and will with His.

And today, we are remembering all we’ve learned as we seek to live out God’s truths. We will be camping out in Proverbs 3 for a while–through Jan. 10th, to be exact. I encourage you to read this chapter each morning over the next couple of days, allowing it to really sink in. I also encourage you, when you have time, to go back and review chapters 1-2. Keep a notebook at hand and jot down thoughts that arise as you read.

Let’s talk about this! You can share your thoughts in the comments below or in our Yahoo Bible Study group. We can continue this discussion in the comments below or at our Yahoo Bible study/verse memorization group:
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Click to join ProverbsStudy