“I Get Along Better With The Guys… I Don’t Make Girlfriends Easy.”

I was the really tall, awkward, skinny girl you grew up with. I didn’t get “pretty” until I got to high school and boys didn’t like me before my high school days because I was “one of the guys.” I was super athletic, played basketball, tennis and track in junior high and soccer and tennis in high school. I was always wearing jeans and a t-shirt, wouldn’t be caught dead in a dress and absolutely DESPISED pink. To this day I own 1 coral dress and one pink Johnny Cash t-shirt (only because they didn’t have any other color.) Ruffles, hair bows and knee high socks made me want to vomit and my hair was always in a pony tail. Needless to say, I didn’t really have many “girlfriends.”

Actually, girls kind of annoyed me. I couldn’t relate to them, I didn’t enjoy talking about boys because I didn’t have boys to talk about. I didn’t want them putting make-up on me or fixing my hair and heaven forbid if the words “dress up” were involved. I could fake it pretty good when I needed to but I usually tried to avoid situations where I had to fake it. So, in order to justify my distaste for females I used the excuse most tomboy girls use – “I get along better with guys.” It was partly the truth because I did relate more to masculine things, but the real truth was I didn’t really want to try to get along with the girls.

Throughout college I had 2 girls I leaned on for everything. But that was it, they were my “best friends” and I wasn’t trying to find any new ones to add to the list. When I moved back to Dallas after a really bad breakup I knew I need to break away from the “I get along better with guys” excuse and try to make some girlfriends. So I searched for girlfriends and met some through a Christian meetup group. You can read my beautifully talented friend Julie’s blog to get the full story about how we met, here.

When I met these girls and realized girlfriends weren’t all that bad I continued to seek girls who were like minded who loved the Lord and I now have a plethora of amazing women surrounding me. You know what I’ve learned, it’s easy to make good girlfriends, and girlfriends totally rock!!

Girlfriends write you e-mail prayers when you are having a bad day and they can’t call you because your cell phone is considered contraband at work. Girlfriends pray to God and ask him to “take all the cookies away” because she knows you struggle daily with body image. Girlfriends stick by your side for 15 years after you’ve exposed all your dirty laundry, called them 10 times in one day to cry about the same boy who you continue to take back time and time, heart ache after heart ache. Girlfriends drive to Dallas from Killeen to spend a day and a half with you for your birthday. Girlfriends take a day off work and drive to your house to pick you up and take you to the doctor knowing you will say no up until the very second they knock on the door of your apartment. Girlfriends sit there and listen while you cry to them in the middle of Starbucks for no other reason than because you are physically and emotionally drained and can’t hold it in anymore. Girlfriends travel through state parks to look for dinosaur foot prints with an Iphone flashlight just to create a new fun adventure for you to laugh about later.

Girlfriends are amazing. You should get some!

The Power of the Over Analytical Mind

Currently in my community group we are reading a book about the lies and deception we believe from Satan. The author of the book starts by taking us back to the first lie, the story of Adam and Eve. She speaks about Genesis and how the serpent tempts Eve. We’ve all heard the story, probably many times. But something stuck out in my mind this time, something I hadn’t really paid much attention to in the times I’ve read this passage in the past. Take a look and see if you can find it.
Genesis 2: 15-17 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Genesis 3:1-3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’? ”The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
Did you see it?? Look closely. Satan uses the tactic of planting a seed of doubt in Eve’s mind, “Did God really say?” Eve begins to think back on what God said, and as her mind is processing she beings to question whether or not God said what she initially thought He said. She replies to the serpent “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it.” But God never said that! As I read this passage again I could feel the Holy Spirit speaking to me about how often I, like Eve, “misinterpret” what God is telling me. How many times, I, like Eve, have justified my own decisions by saying God said something He didn’t really say.
Fortunately, God continues to grow me in my walk and the lies I believed in the past or the things I justified in the past are no longer a part of my story but I know this is not an area Satan is going to just bow down to and leave alone. He knows I have an over analytical brain, and he knows I process through things way too much and second guess myself and he uses that area of weakness to cause me to second guess my convictions.
That is not okay. God promises to give us a helper who will convict regarding sin, righteousness and judgement (John 16) and when that helper lays something on our hearts we need to STOP and LISTEN. Don’t think about it, don’t over analyze it, don’t try to figure it out. Just be still. If God is stirring something in your heart, He is going to reveal to you in complete clarity, black and white, what He wants you to hear. When we allow room for our own interpretation of the word, we are also allowing room for the father of lies to squirm his way in and begin to deceive us.
Pray that the Lord will help you see in black in white and not gray. Pray that he will take self out of the picture because our human nature will always deceive us. And remember when you get an instinct that you should say/do/believe something. Don’t ask yourself “Did God really say” just remember that He did!
Psalm 139:24 – See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Who Will Be Your Plus 1?

I am no stranger to inviting people to come events I know about. In fact, many of you probably get annoyed with all the invites I send you.
While the eagerness I have to connect people “within” the church is great, I’ve been feeling convicted lately about why I no longer have that same eagerness to connect people “TO” the church. There was a time, not too long ago when I was constantly inviting people to come to church with me. One week, I invited almost everyone I knew from one particular group of friends I had and 7, (yes 7!!!) people came to church with me that night. We took up an entire row at the Porch and I was so excited to have them there to hear the message. 
This past Thursday I showed up to play tennis with a friend of mine. There was a big group of us and they organized people according to their skill level. I was super excited to play, and as I eagerly awaited the organizer to call my name, he went through the entire list and accidentally left me off! At first I was a little upset, I had driven all the way out to the court and thought I wasn’t going to be able to play. Just as I was getting ready to leave, I realized there was another woman there who had been left off the list.
I offered to play singles with her and the gentleman who was organizing said “I don’t think that’s a good idea, you are a 4.0 player.” That was his nice way of letting me know this other lady was not quiet at the same skill level I was. We got on the tennis court and I quickly realized we weren’t going to be playing much tennis. So, I started talking to her and getting to know Ms. Thelma, and boy was she a treat 🙂 Such a sweet lady. We started talking about Jesus and I ended up inviting her to church with me. We didn’t exchange contact information, honestly I didn’t even think twice about it until I showed up for the 530 service at church this past Sunday and there she was! How exciting it was to see her. God used that opportunity to help me realize that I have been lacking, big time in the department of growing his Kingdom!
Jesus urges us to “Go into the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16), to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28). I know when we think about witnessing sometimes we feel insecure or inadequate. I’ve been there before, many times. I definitely hope we can all get to the point that it just comes so naturally to us that we don’t even think about it. But until that time comes, there is one thing I’m sure we can all agree is not to difficult to do… Invite them!! Invite them, and they will come! 
So, I encourage you friends, set a goal for yourselves to invite 1 person to church with you this week. Seek God and ask him who He wants you to reach out to this week, and be faithful when He gives you an answer. Because trust me, He will give you an answer.
Happy fishing!!

You Have Planted Much, But Harvested Little

So, I’ve kind of been in a funk lately. Funk = a time of laziness and feeling unmotivated to do anything. I have been searching to find my motivation and just haven’t had any luck until recently. This weekend was Half Price Books 50% off one item sale. I am embarrassed to confess to you that I went to 3 different Half Price Book stores in one day in search of a particular book and ended up buying 5 books total. And yes, I used my 50% off at each store! One of the books I got was a book called Made To Crave. It is a book about how we should be craving the Lord and not craving food (something I struggle with, as evident by my current weight). While reading this book the author shares a passage in Haggai that opened my eyes and stirred conviction.
Here’s the passage if you would like to read it first;
Haggai 1:2-9
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house. ’” Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin? ” Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored, ” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 
In the book of Haggai, the Jews began building an alter and foundations for the temple, but their enemies made it difficult for them to continue building so the brushed the task aside. 10 years later, the Lord’s temple still hadn’t been built. In verse 4, the Lord speaks through Haggai and says “Is it a time for you yourself to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” This verse really opened my eyes. The Jews had made building their own homes a priority and completely abandoned the task the Lord had set before them. Each year something else seemed to be more important, something else was always a higher priority. They had time to do the things they really wanted to do, they had time to put paneling up in their own homes while neglecting the home of the Lord.
How many times in our own lives do we choose to do the things we want instead of investing in the Lord? How many times do we choose to sleep in instead of waking up to do our quiet time, or watch TV when we could be spending time praying to the one who created us. How many things in our life are taking priority over our relationship with the Lord?
For me this passage woke me up in more than one way. First, being reminded that God absolutely needs to be first priority in my life and those things that are so trivial should never be placed before him. I love that the Lord reminds us that no matter how much effort and energy we put into things in life we will not be fulfilled unless we put him first (verse 6). And secondly, as I continue to work on honoring the Lord with my body. Things like exercise and eating healthy should not be pushed to the side or saved for tomorrow. Just as things consume my mind and my attention and take me away from spending time with the Lord, Satan also uses those things to distract me from being active and eating healthy. This is an area in my life I have been investing so much time in and Satan knows that, Satan isn’t going to just lie down and play nice, he is going to fight, harder and harder every day to distract me and make other things seem more important. 
What things in your life are you pushing aside that the Lord has called you to invest time and energy in? What things in your life are you investing time and energy in when you should be focusing more on Him?

Don’t Stop Believing

Lately, there has been a reoccurring theme in my life… If you want something to happen you have to BELIEVE it will happen and it will! I don’t understand why that concept is so hard for us to grasp. God has been tugging on my heart about the importance of changing my thought process, the power of positive thinking if you will. I think often times, we defeat ourselves and allow Satan to use our own insecurities and self doubt to make us think we don’t deserve the things we desire in life. Guess what?? That is a lie!! You absolutely deserve everything you desire and the Lord promises to give us our desires if we are committed to Him (Psalm 37).
The Lord tells us over and OVER again in his word how important our beliefs are. In Mark He tells us that whatever we ask for in prayer if we BELIEVE that we will receive it, it WILL be ours (Mark 11:24). Also in Mark he tells us that EVERYTHING is possible for him who BELIEVES! (Mark 9:23) In Matthew He says that faith, as tiny as a mustard seed has the power to move mountains.
Here is a recent example of how God helped me connect the dots and really understand what this means…
Many of you know that I recently took a test to get certified to teach. Several of my friends and family were praying for me as a studied and prepared for the test and almost everyone I talked to said the message, in very different ways, “You’ve got this,” “I’ll pray, but you don’t need it I know you did good,” “I know you passed, why are you worrying about it,” “God wouldn’t have brought you here if this isn’t where He wanted you.” Everyone in my life seemed to have complete confidence that I passed the test, except for me. I studied so much but the day of the test I just didn’t feel confident at all, I knew the only way I was going to get a passing score was because that is what the Lord intended. Because of my doubt, I prayed, daily, over and over and over again and as I was driving home from work I was just praying again to the Lord…
Me: Lord, I pray that you would continue to prepare my heart for the results that are to come, I pray that you would continue to remind me that you have control and you have a plan. I pray that if the results don’t go the way I’m hoping that you would just help me be at peace about it.
God: “If the results don’t go the way you hope?” Why are you doubting me? Just thank me Brandy!
Me: Just thank you???? What are you talking about, I don’t have the test results yet.
God: Exactly!!! I know what my plan is, you need to trust in my plan. Just thank me!
I was suddenly filled with excitement and confidence that I had passed this test. God lifted all the anxiety and the doubt I was feeling and replaced it with joy, peace and contentment. And the next morning I got the test results, PASSED!
God reminded me of the verses in Mark and Matthew that I had read before and I just kept reminding myself of His promise that if I believe I have received it, it will be mine. So now I’m implementing that in all areas of my life.
–    I believe that I have passed this test because God wants me to be a teacher and I believe that even though I haven’t gotten a job offer yet I WILL be a teacher.
–    I believe that God has a man waiting and faithfully praying for me daily in anticipation of meeting me one day.
–    I believe that the changes I have been making in my life will soon reflect the outwardly beauty that I possess on the inside.
Do you believe the things in the bible are written because the Lord intended us to read them? I do! I believe every word written was intended to be read, meditated on and applied, so I will make an effort to continue to apply these truths to my life. I hope you have been encouraged by this blog and will also begin to meditate on the verses above and start to wholeheartedly believe the things you are asking God for in prayer.