Sundays With Rae

a blog for women by a woman who is trying to get her life together while still loving Jesus

Promise Keeper

Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye. As children, we spoke these words showing our commitment to whatever it was we promised. Now that I think about it, that was a pretty harsh punishment for a 7 year old breaking a promise. But when we heard those words, there was a reassurance the person would deliver on their promise.

Recently, I was talking to God about some things He told me He would do in 2017 and I was reminding Him of His promises. I went through each item, reminded Him when He said it, how He said it, provided scripture as support. I felt like someone auditioning for American Idol who had been told they were going to Hollywood, and instead of jumping for joy, they stood there and kept repeating, “remember, you said I would make it to Hollywood? Don’t forget. We talked about it earlier. Remember, I hit that high note.” You made it to Hollywood, what is there to continue to talk about? God already told me what I desire is mine, what else is there to do or say but to rejoice?

As I sit to write this blog, I realize I was waiting for God to say, “cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.” I forgot that all I need is His Word. His Word is reassuring, its insurance, it’s hope, it’s peace, it’s true, and it’ll come to pass. I don’t need to add to it or allow my doubt to take away from it. I found myself telling God He didn’t have to deliver on the whole promise, if He could just do half or even a part of the promise, I would be happy with that. I became so impatient, I was willing to settle for just a piece of what God had for me. I can only imagine how God looked at me: “girl chill out and let Me do Me.”

God is a promise keeper so whatever you’re believing Him to do, keep believing, go ahead and start praising Him for it. Don’t let the devil trick you into believing it’s too late, there’s not enough money, you don’t have the experience, you’re not pretty enough, or that no one will listen. The devil is a liar and the truth is not in him; he’s the father of lies (John 8:44). If God said He would do it, know that He will because He’s not a God that He should lie (Numbers 23:19). That business, that degree, that spouse, that child, that book, that job, that church, that parent, that house, that financial aid, that healing, that loan, that car, eternal life; God, You promised. I want ALL of Your promises (2 Corinthians 1:20). And You don’t have to cross Your heart and hope to die or stick a needle in Your eye, to prove to me You will deliver on those promises. Your Word is enough because You’re a promise keeper.

Genesis 9:16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

Honolulu, HI (2011)

Let It Go, It Doesn’t Fit

I have a friend who likes doing puzzles. Not the 20 piece puzzles, but the 500, 1000 piece puzzles. She tricked me into doing one with her, and I kept trying to put two pieces together that just did not belong. I turned them every way I could and they just would not fit. My friend finally yelled, “Jocelayna, let it go, they don’t fit.” And today, I’m your friend yelling, “let it go, it doesn’t fit!”

It could be a relationship, a job, a major, a friend, a grudge, a dress: Let it go, it doesn’t fit. You’ve reached the end of the road, you’re at the end of the course, you’ve hit the glass ceiling, there’s nowhere to go from here. You can talk about it as much as you want, you can be as quiet about it as you please, you can turn it any way you want to, it’s not going to change the fact that it doesn’t fit and it’s time to let it go. Pharaoh refused to let the people of Israel go, no matter how much Moses tried to tell him it was in his best interest to do so. He allowed sickness, frogs, and even death to come upon the land because he would not let go. What have you allowed to come into your life because you won’t let go? Sickness? Financial hardship? Stress? Weight? Sleepless nights? Low self-esteem?

You know the saying, “If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.” We don’t want to let go because we know it won’t come back, we know it’s not supposed to, it’s not ours. Pharaoh knew once the children of Israel were gone, they would be gone forever, which is how his army ended up following them to the Red Sea and being swallowed up. You don’t have to get swallowed up, chasing something that doesn’t belong to you. That boy/girl doesn’t want you; if they did, being together wouldn’t be so difficult. That friend from elementary school does not want to see you prosper; she’s happy when you fail and y’all sin together. You hate what you do; I don’t care how much money you make (or don’t make), no one wants to deal with your attitude at 9am. You’re not over the situation; if you were, you wouldn’t imagine tripping the person every time they walk by. The dress is too small; if it fit, you wouldn’t feel light headed when you wear it. These are all signs you need to let some things and some people go.

We are under the impression that life now is as good as it’s going to get but I assure you that the lie detector test determined: issalie. If we would let go and let God and fit ourselves into His will instead of our own will, life would be better. I know you’re afraid because you’re not sure what life would look like without that person or without that thing. You’ve literally spent years of your life holding on and trying to make it fit but I challenge you to be free. It’s okay that you can’t see the future, God doesn’t ask us to. All He asks is that we trust wherever He is leading us and that the journey we’re taking to get there is for our good. Don’t be like the children of Israel and allow an eleven day journey to turn into forty years because of disobedience.

Isaiah 43:18-19 says Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Let go of the old stuff, the old people that no longer fit where God is taking you, so He can bless you with something/someone new.

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No matter how many times you try, sometimes it just doesn’t fit. I let go and returned these pants lol (March 2017)

Forgive AND Forget (Part 2)

My memory can be faulty at times, but if I feel I have been wronged, I remember every single detail like it happened this morning, doesn’t matter how much time has passed. So the idea of forgetting was (sometimes is) a hard concept for me to grasp. Even thinking about turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), has me side eyeing God. When I realized forgetting was a part of the process my conversation with God went like this:

“I’ve forgiven them and accepted that they’re just a horrible person and that’s how they choose to live life. Why would I forget that and end up in the same situation?”

“So forget and have people think I’m stupid?”

“Yeaaaa, not trying to do that.”

It simply did not make sense. But then I realized it did not make sense for Jesus to come down to earth to save us. It does not make sense for God to continue to love us in spite of all the wrong we do. It does not make sense for Him to show us grace and mercy. But He does. But Jesus did. And surely if God can forgive me and treat me as though I have never sinned against Him, for His own glory (Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins), I know I can do the same for His glory.  It’s not about me, it’s not about you, it’s not about the other person or the situation, it all comes back to God.

I know life is not like the movie Men in Black where we can wave a wand and erase our memory. Forgetting, just like forgiving is a choice you have to make daily. Forgetfulness will look different for everyone. In the Bible we have the example of the prodigal son, whose father welcomed him home with open arms after he had went out in the world and did whatever, losing all his money (Luke 15:11-32). Jesus instructed the disciples to shake the dust from their feet, if people refused to listen to them (Matthew 10:14). You have to figure out what forgetfulness looks like for you but it has to be from a place of love. You HAVE to consult God. And it may look different over time with different people.

People usually know when they have did us dirty and we’re feeling some kind of way about it. Sometimes it’s useful to have a conversation and let them know your feelings were hurt, and other times having a conversation with them, it’s like having a conversation with my 8 month old god daughter, who smiles at everything I say until she gets distracted by something else. Either way, it’s on you as a child of God to always choose to forgive and forget. You will be able to repair some relationships and bounce back like you never left, while other relationship may have reached the end of their season. The ending of this season will not be out of hate and anger, but it’s the path God has you both on. It’s okay to let go of things that are not good for your heart, and let me be the one to tell you, people who hurt you (physically, emotionally, spiritually), are not good for your heart (Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life).

So how do we forget after we’ve forgiven? I’m still working through this step but I attempt to live by the motto, “it’s not that deep.” Nothing is worth me missing heaven; no person, no thing, no situation, NOTHING! So if it takes me saying hello to the guy who never returned my phone call, “Hey! Hope all is well.” If it takes me liking a photo on Facebook because in actuality I really do like it, I’m click, clicking away. If it takes me “loaning” my cousin a dollar that I know I won’t get back, “just pay me back whenever.” If it takes me deleting a number and unfollowing them on Instagram, delete, delete, delete.

Forgiving and forgetting does not mean I trust that those who have wronged me will never do it again and we remain best friends while singing Kumbaya; it means I trust God enough to help me be able to treat them the way He treats them, with lovingkindness, meeting the need, doing good, and sometimes just letting them be. If a stranger were to see me interacting with this person, they should have no idea there was ever a situation. It’s not about being phony (even though sometimes I have had to fake it until I made it and I did make it) but extending the same grace that Christ offered to you; the same grace you and I might need from someone when we’re in the wrong.

I cannot be transparent enough on this post: forgiving and forgetting is still a struggle for me. I know some of my friends were reading this post thinking, “But you just called me last week about ____________.” Don’t do me lol. It is not very often that I feel wronged enough to start harboring unforgiveness in my heart, but when I do, I hold on tight. We don’t want God to hold on to our sins, so let’s start loosening the grip of others’ transgressions against us. In fact, let’s let go of it completely. Allow forgiveness to free you and forgetfulness to keep you free. And just a side note, Jesus said to forgive a person 490 times (Read Matthew 18:21-35).

Luke 6:28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

You can read part 1 here.

Forgive AND Forget? (Part 1)

I was the most forgiving person until I really had to forgive. It’s easy to go through the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors) until you have a face to put to that debtor. And not only do you have a face but you have a list of reasons why they don’t deserve your forgiveness and how right you are.

I may be the only one who’s ever experienced this but unforgiveness feels amazing for about a day. I go over the situation countless times, reinforcing to myself how right I am. I call a few people and we discuss the details, continuing to reiterate my rightness and how ridiculous the other person is. It’s awesome. Then the day goes by, and that awesome feeling fades away quickly. It becomes annoying. I obsess over the situation even though I no longer want to think about it. I go from not wanting to talk to the person to not wanting them to breathe the same air as me. People start avoiding my phone calls or if they pity me enough, they answer but keep the conversation short because all I want to talk about is this person and how wrong they are. It’s a terrible space to be in and unfortunately we let too many days, months, and years past by living in this space.

This was a hard pill for me to swallow because I truly enjoy being right; but my quest to be right was leading me to hell (Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses). And sadly I would convince myself I had forgiven a person but every time I got the chance to mentally respond to something they said, it would be filled with:

“Ask the girl who you were talking to while you were talking to me.”

“Go hang out with the friend you ditched me for.”

“Go ask your boyfriend, I’m sure he has all the answers.”

There was a point in my life where anybody could have caught this unforgiveness. Friends, family, guys I was talking to; I did not discriminate. And it wasn’t until recently that a situation had been annoying THE MESS out of me, and God finally asked me, “this is how you want to do life?” Did I really want to spend my life carrying the burden of unforgiveness and risk my soul on top of that?  Of course not!

For me, forgiveness started with praying for the person, like genuinely praying for their well-being. When I didn’t feel like it, when I remembered and got angry all over again, when I wanted to boast about how right I was, I prayed for the person. These weren’t, “God bless __________,” prayers. I prayed for their success, family, financial needs, goals, spiritual walk; I prayed for them like I would want someone to pray for me. And I really did want God to bless them but I also needed God to see my heart and break down this prideful wall I built. As time went on, I found myself not cringing when that person was around. I no longer thought about the situation as much and I was so proud of myself until I realized there was another step: forgetting.

Check back next week to read about forgetting!

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Let forgiveness free you (April 2017)

Kissing Frogs

So when I say frogs I don’t mean the guy you met at the mattress store, who seemed nice enough so you gave him your number and after the second conversation you realized it wasn’t going anywhere but you pursued the situation because you figured “why not.” No, he doesn’t count. Frogs in this sense mean the guy who you actually saw yourself with long term, in fact, you were pretty sure God told you he was the One. I’m talking, you prayed about it (you even took it a step further and added fasting), you were equally yoked, you had an accountability partner, and from your point of view, everything was going relatively well. Then all of a sudden you get hit with that:

“God is leading me in a different direction.” 

“You’re a really great girl but…” 

“I just need to focus on me and my relationship with God right now.”

I do a good job responding in these situations, coloring it with:

“Thank you for being honest.” 

“You definitely have to be sure you and God are good before trying to partner with someone.” 

But the conversation in my head is totally different and that usually consist of:

“God didn’t tell you this a month ago?” 

“I agree, I’m fantastic, there are no buts.” 

“You can’t multitask?” 

Then I have a conversation with God:

“I’m trying it Your way and it’s not working.” 

“Really, Jesus? So we out here wasting time and emotions.” 

“So You just don’t care.” 

I know, I know, not the Christian response you may have expected but it’s real life.

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March 2017

After I get out of my feelings, I really examine my relationship with God. Did I not hear clearly? Was I not in His will? Did I miss a sign telling me this wasn’t it? Should I have prayed more? And in all honesty, I usually come to the realization I put the cart before the horse. I get so excited to like and be liked, I don’t truly wait to hear from God. If someone checks off enough boxes of my requirement list (I don’t even need all the boxes checked at this point), I want God to make it work. Ladies unfortunately every nice looking saved guy with decent conversation is not your guy. They are not your Prince Charming. They could simply be a frog; not a bad frog, but a frog nonetheless.

So now what? You let the frog hop away, and you seek God. Yes that sounds cliché, but what’s the alternative? You chasing a frog that doesn’t want to be caught or catching a frog thinking you’re going to make him into a prince? No one has time for that. I constantly have to remind myself God is not avoiding this area of my life. Although it seems like He’s allergic to it, He really is crafting the best love story.

The world will tell you to kiss as many frogs as you can until you stumble across Prince Charming. As a woman of God, I’m telling you, it don’t take all of that. I say this as a single woman, so take it with a grain of salt if you choose, but I don’t believe God intended for us to suffer heartbreak after heartbreak. We can’t be mad at God when we’re the ones out here doing trial and error with every good idea. Good ideas come and go, in fact, they hop, we call them frogs.

Let God mend your broken heart. Delete the number. Unfriend them on Facebook. Take yourself out. Read your Word. Find a hobby. Let that slippery frog go, and allow your hands to get busy doing something great.

My Prince Charming is on the way and I would hate for him to find me kissing some frog.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

***I’m figuratively speaking of kissing. As my father figure says, “don’t be out here kissing everyone.”***

I’m Telling You, Not Asking You

As a teacher, one of my many pet peeves with students is when they treat a command as a choice. Example:

Me: Ok guys, we’re going to complete page 54.

Them: I don’t want to do that.

Me: I’m sorry, you seem to be under the impression that I was asking you if you WANTED to complete page 54. I wasn’t.

This experience reminds me of all the times we take God’s commandments as suggestions instead of directives.

“I know you said forgive God, but they’re not really worth it.”

“I should tell the truth but a lie won’t do that much damage.”

“You said don’t have sex before marriage but we’re in love.”

“I know I should love everyone as I love myself but I can’t do that because I don’t like them.” (my personal favorite)

We have a “but” for everything and in the moment we feel so justified in our decisions. Like, surely Jesus didn’t come down here so that we may have a right to the tree of life; we saved ourselves, right?

I laugh at myself because I become so annoyed when my students do this, giving me feedback as if their opinion somehow changes what I said. But far too often I feel the need to tell God what I’m not going to do, knowing what He’s already told me is required of me. It’s not a “if you want to” or “if you feel like it,” it’s required.

My students can come to school every day and do nothing I told them to do. It won’t stop me from getting my paycheck but it will certainly stop them from moving on to the next grade level. We are not doing God a favor when we obey His Word. He doesn’t stop being God because we choose to disobey. God has told us what we need to do, it’s outlined in His Word, so let’s just do what we’re told.

Revelations 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

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Me: But you can’t tell me what to do… Father Figure: Except I can, now fix your face. (November 2016)

 

Walk on Water

It’s been 3 years, 6 months, and 16 days since my father passed away, and I would be lying if I said every day was a good day. I can’t even say with certainty that the good and bad days balance each other out, but I don’t ignore the fact that I genuinely laugh most days and am excited about life. I don’t ignore that at one point in my life I could not enjoy good things and one day, fairly recently, I cried as I reflected back on the mental and emotional state I was in a few years ago. I constantly asked myself how I’m able to put one foot in front of the other and I suddenly realized, “Jocee, you’re walking on water.”

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September 2015

 

Over a year ago, I wrote a post about surfing through my sea of grief (here). Nowadays, I don’t find myself having to surf as much. I’m still out here in the sea, but the effort and strength I had to put into surfing, I no longer have to do. Call it progress, a step in the right direction, or whatever you want; I’m just happy I don’t have to fight to be alive anymore. But I walk very carefully on this sea. In Matthew 14:29, it says Peter walked on water to go to Jesus and many days that’s what I find myself doing: walking to Jesus. He is my hope (Psalms 71:5). He is my peace (Philippians 4:7). He is love (1 John 4:8). And these three things, hope, peace, love, are what I have needed most with the greatest of these being love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

So what changed? I started truly believing God was who He said He was and that I really could do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13), including deal with my feelings. I can remember telling myself, “God can help you with this.” And it was as though the scales fell from my eyes (Acts 9:18) and walking became an option. It literally took years for me to get to this point and I never want to give off the illusion that I’m so overnight success. God is definitely able but that’s not how it happened for me.

There are times I’m like Peter, and start focusing on everything around me (the sadness, pain, anger, longing) and can feel myself sinking; and just like Peter, I cry out to Jesus to save me and He does just that (Matthew 14:30). I can recall a specific time I felt myself sinking and I told Jesus I needed help. There was no elaborate prayer; I didn’t call on the elders of the church, but with tears in my eyes I simply said, “I don’t want to go down this road again. I need You to help me.” I didn’t know what that help was going to look like, I just knew I desperately needed it. The next day, my friend invited me to see a performance and in that moment, I could feel the water beneath my feet again. Jesus reached out to save me, showing me I could keep walking this walk.

Since the year has started, I’ve slept many days away, I’ve went to see my therapist, I’ve been so angry it scared me, but even in these moments, I walked on water to Jesus. With tears in my eyes, I walked on water to Jesus. I don’t know that I’ll ever get out of this sea of grief, it may be a thorn in my flesh, but I’m reminded that where I’m weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). You may find yourself still having to surf through your pain, and that’s okay. Stay there as long as you need to, but know that God can help you let that surf board float away and give you the faith to walk on water.

27 Hopes for my 27th Year

March 31, 2017

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JOCELAYNA!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!! Aside from Valentine’s Day, my birthday is my favorite holiday (yes it’s holiday, don’t debate me). School was cancelled today, so Spring break came a day early; what a great gift from God! When I turned 25 I wrote 25 things I had learned in my 25 years of living, which you can read here. This year I have decided to write 27 things I’m hoping for in my 27th year of life. Some are things I‘ve done before, some are personal, some are free, some are super expensive, some require commitment, some will be fun, some will scare me, but all of them will make me look back and say year 27 was everything and more. So in no particular order, here it goes:

  1. Buy a house
  2. Be near completion of my teaching certification class
  3. Visit Las Vegas, NV
  4. Ride a horse
  5. Bake an edible cake (it’s a long, dry story)
  6. Have an amazing Vacation Bible School at my church
  7. Blog at least once a month
  8. Dress like my Pinterest board
  9. Finish writing my book
  10. Visit Susan in Cleveland, MS
  11. Become an official godmother! (I’ll write about that soon)
  12. Do spoken word
  13. Get a massage
  14. Go on a roller coaster
  15. Fall in love
  16. Go camping
  17. Go to the beach
  18. Meditate
  19. Eat at local restaurants
  20. Attend Gina’s wedding
  21. Visit Louisville, KY
  22. Make pottery
  23. Buy my mom something she really wants
  24. Get a new phone
  25. Show up for a friend who needs me
  26. Say ‘I love you’ more often
  27. Inspire a child to be themselves

Psalms 71:14 But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.

Single Girl’s Guide to Valentine’s Day

For as long as I can remember I have always loved Valentine’s Day. Every year my mother would gift me with cute socks or a heart shaped something and lots of candy. Even as I got older, and was told as a single person there is nothing to celebrate on Valentine’s Day or it’s just a commercialized holiday that isn’t real (lies they tell), I’ve always looked forward to this time of year. Why? To me, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, whether that’s the love between significant others, between a parent and child, between siblings, between friends, or simply love for yourself. What can I say, I love love! Yes, we should show love every day but there is nothing like setting aside time to fully embrace something so important and special. As a single woman (or man), here are two ways to celebrate love this Valentine’s Day:

Do What You Want

Don’t allow this day to make you a hermit crab, shut off from the real world because you’re avoiding all the couples out there. If you want to sit at home and eat ice cream while watching “This is Us,” do that. If you want to hang out at Starbucks, do that. If you want to gather your single friends together and go out to dinner, do that. Do you! Life doesn’t have to stop because you’re single on Valentine’s Day. Lord willing, February 15 will come and more than likely you’ll still be single and still amazing and still worthy of love, so take February 14 to celebrate how amazing and lovable you are in whatever way you see fit.

Give

Use this day to give to the people in your life, whether they are near or far. Buy donuts for the people in the office. Smile at the stranger in the hall. Send your grandma something in the mail. So often, especially as women, we focus on what we can get on this day instead of what we can give. In previous years, I’ve asked my friend to be my Valentine and the homie has always came through for me. We send each other a gift and wish each other a Happy Valentine’s Day. No strings attached just love shown, which is what this day is all about.

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My Valentine Buddy (December 2011)

Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be a reminder of how single you are but it should remind you that love exists all around us so on February 14 choose to celebrate it!

1 Corinthians 13:2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (NLT)

Too Good to be True?

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend about successful women who were still single, when all of a sudden, my friend said, “yeah, like you.” And although I had this discussion with other friends and we came to the same conclusion, on that particular day, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I am that successful woman who is still single and I’m not alone in this; many other women are in the same boat.

A few months ago I went out on a date and one of the questions my date asked was, “why are you still single?” I believe I said something to the effect of, “I don’t make time for relationships” or “it hasn’t been a major priority for me” and blah blah blah. Although, some of that was true, it wasn’t the whole truth.

Even when I had given my best effort (I’m talking prayed and everything), put in the time, made space for a relationship in my life, guess who still remained single? *raises hand* And when I asked why nothing was going anywhere, I was met with, “you have so much going on for yourself and I don’t want to mess that up” or “I’m still trying to get myself together” or “give me a few years.” A few years? Boy, bye! The moral of the story ended up being, “you’re too good for me,” and it is a fact. I am too good and any other woman who may be in this position, you’re too good too.

You’re too good to have to convince someone you’re worth their time of day. You’re too good to have to dumb down your intelligence to make them feel comfortable. You’re too good to have to sin against God to make a relationship work. You’re too good not to be with someone who is fully committed to you. You’re too good to be put on the back burner. You’re too good to have your time wasted. You’re much too good for any of those things, so let’s all agree that in 2017, when we see the signs where this road is headed (a dead end), we’re running the other direction.

God has set us apart (Deu. 14:2; 1 Peter 2:9) so not just any man will do. You keep doing you and be reminded that the last shall be first (Lk. 13:30; Deu. 28:13). We may feel like we’re being looked over, but in actuality we’re being set up (Rom. 8:28). As much as I included God in my love life last year, I need to include Him more and completely trust the love story He is writing for me. And I know I’ve said almost every cliché thing people say when they’re talking to Christian singles but let me add in: this waiting game sucks! But I know it’s worth it. I’ll be “too good” because eventually someone is going to come along and my too good, won’t just be good enough, but it will be more than enough.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

 

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And I expect nothing less than a King (December 2016)

 

Click here, to check out my post about good men existing.