That’s it. That’s the post for today.
Now go out and do it.
That’s it. That’s the post for today.
Now go out and do it.
“What I am anxious to see in Christian believers is a beautiful paradox. I want to see in them the joy of finding God while at the same time they are blessedly pursuing Him. I want to see in them the great joy of having God yet always wanting Him.” – A.W. Tozer
Doesn’t that just hit you, tough girl? A beautiful paradox of content yet discontent. Of joy yet longing for joy.
Jesus. You can’t get enough of Him.
The thing is you know all about discontentment, don’t you? You know what it is to long and to want. To be consumed with the desire for something. Maybe it’s something new. Maybe it’s a change in circumstances. Maybe it’s wanting that new season of life. Whatever it is, we all identify with that feeling of wanting more.
Unfortunately, when it comes to contentment, we are typically content with far less than we should be. It could be contentment with average grades or a kinda clean room. You’re content with being just alright with your parents.
Worse is being content with our relationship with Jesus. Being content with a lukewarm faith or one that is moving at a snail’s pace. You figure it’s okay just going to church and reading your Bible every once in a while. After all, it’s better than nothing.
But to take our understanding of contentment and discontentment and apply them to our spiritual walk – well, that’s another story. It’s running after God full force, every day following Him and experiencing Him through His Word and through fellowship. It’s finding a joy that surpasses all understanding and comes simply from knowing Him.
But you don’t stop there. It’s like getting a sip of the sweetest most satisfying drink in existence – and all you want is more. So you keep drinking and keep savoring, each taste filling you with complete satisfaction, yet leaving you thirsting for more.
That, tough girl, is true joy in Christ. It’s the joy of having every want and need met in Him. It’s being comforted, cherished, and loved. It’s being treasured, protected, and blessed. It’s the joy that comes from being content…so content that you want more. More peace. More relationship. More knowing and being known.
Do you know that joy? Don’t you want to?
“Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” – John 16:24
Question: Is your joy truly in Jesus, or Jesus and something else? What are you discontent about right now? What would your life look like if you were truly content in Christ and the only thing you were discontent with was wanting more of Him?
Are you amazed at the power of words?
The written word is simply a string of characters chained together. The spoken word is a combination of tones and inflections. Yet all are laced with meaning, emotion, and heart.
Your words can make or break who you are.
Do you want to glorify God, tough girl? Do you want to be His light shinning bright everywhere you go? Do you want to be a better disciple, a better witness, and a better follower of Christ?
Watch your words.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” – Proverbs 18:21
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” – Proverbs 16:24
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” – Proverbs 12:18
Let me ask you this, tough girl – are your words bringing life or death?
Are you bringing life or death to your parents? Do the words you speak display the respect and honor they deserve (not because they’ve earned it, but because the Bible says so)? Do you build them up, encourage them, and love them with the love of Christ? Or do you cut them down, disrespect them, talk back, and argue?
Are you bringing life or death to your friends? Do you encourage them with Scripture, encourage them when they are feeling down, and make them feel special and loved? Or are you sarcastic, cutting, mean-spirited (though you try and cover it by saying, “I’m just kidding!”), and rude?
Are you bringing life or death to your teachers? Do you respect them, honoring them with when you speak and don’t speak? Or do you whisper in class and complain about them behind their backs?
Do you gossip? FYI – that whole thing about, “It’s not gossip if it’s true” totally isn’t true. It’s gossip and slander if it’s negative and mean. How can you tell? Check your heart. If you get joy out of saying something negative about someone, it’s gossip.
And speaking of heart, you may say to me, “Crystal! This is all fine and dandy, but really – is it that big of deal? Doesn’t God care more about my heart than my words?”
I’m so glad you asked!
“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” – Matthew 15:18
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” – James 1:26
You can’t claim to have a Jesus-loving heart and not have Jesus-loving words come out of your mouth. Sure, we all slip. But with that slipping should come conviction, repentance, and an apology. And a conscious effort to try and not do it again.
Do you want to glorify God, tough girl? Watch your words. Think about what you say. Think about what you don’t say. Think about what you think about saying!
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29
Question: What kind of words come out of your mouth? Are you speaking life or death to your parents, teachers, and friends? Do you make a conscious effort to build others up? How could you do it even more?
What was your response to that? Excitement and elation? Dread? Confusion?
The bottom line is, you are called to be a missionary for life – wherever you are.
It’s a real popular thing right now for Christians to feel the call to missions. There is something exotic and intriguing about giving up your comfortable common life and giving yourself completely to a people living halfway around the world.
And don’t get me wrong – I’m all about the call to foreign missions. I was a missionary for six months and had planned on being one for life.
Regardless of if you want to be a missionary for life in India or South Africa or you just want to live in your hometown till the day you die, you are a missionary. Right here. Right now.
“And Jesus said to them, ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Song and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
Go. Make disciples. Do it in all nations.
Do it in all countries, cities, and towns.
Do it in all schools, neighborhoods, and homes.
It’s easy to think about missions on a global scale. But what about on a personal, immediate scale?
Do you view yourself as a missionary, living right where you are for the purpose of sharing the love of Jesus?
Do you work just as hard as you would on the foreign mission field to tell people about Jesus and meet their needs?
Do you pray for people in your family and school like you would if you were a missionary in another country?
Do you see the work you do every day as being just as important as the work you would be doing as a full time missionary?
The bottom line is, tough girl, loving people and serving them in the name of Jesus is hard. It doesn’t get easier just because you’re a full-time missionary living in another country.
You are called to be a missionary. Right here. Right now.
Are you doing it?
Starting next week, you are going feel a lot less alone.
If not next week, maybe the week after. Or the week after that.
On Fridays, I am going to begin a new feature called, “Not-So-Average Girl.”
Who is the Not-So-Average Girl? It’s you. It’s me. It’s every single tough girl out there trying to live life, love Jesus, and figure out their place in this giant world. She’s in high school, college, or just out of college. She’s been a Christian for a long time and she’s pretty new in the faith.
I’ve contacted several tough girls I know who all have one thing in common: they love Jesus. Why do I want you to meet them? I want you to know that you’re not alone. I want you to know there is someone out there just like you. I want you to know you’re not the only one who feels the way you do, hurts the way you hurts, and loves the way you love. I want you to know it’s okay to be different, quirky, silly, loud, quiet, shy, or funny. I want you to know it’s okay to be single and it’s okay to date.
I want you to know it’s okay to be you.
So stay tuned! Read the Not-So-Average Girl profile each week. Be encouraged by tough girls who are just like you.
And always know that you’re not alone.
Sometimes the best way to make resolutions is to see someone else’s. Here are mine:
-Read the Bible in a year chronologically
-Write out the book of Psalms (an activity called “scribbing”)
-Memorize a Bible verse a week (even if I don’t remember it the week after, I want to at least try each week)
-Exercise once a week (if you know me, you know that even this would be HUGE)
-Meet with my BFF once a week
Is that it? Yup. Why so few? Well, I figure I can tackle these five for the months of January and February, maybe I can add a few more things in the spring
Question: What are your resolutions this year? Who have you told so they can keep you accountable?
Goodbye 2012 with your drama, disappointments, dilemmas and down right crumminess. Hello 2013! Year of….
Year of what?
Whether your 2012 was epic or an epic fail, there’s a real sense of anticipation as a new year rolls around. What will it be like? What will happen? Who will I be? We get excited, full of wonder and hope at what the new year will bring.
So, of course, we make giant resolutions. And we do really good…for a month or so. Then they slowly fade to a memory as 2013 starts looking a whole lot like 2012. And 2011. And every year before that.
How can you make 2013 different? Allow me to offer some different kind of resolutions.
Instead of just saying you want to “read your Bible more,” make an actual plan to:
-Daily read your Bible (find a plan to follow – here are some ideas), journal, and pray
-Weekly go to church and some sort of youth group, small group, or Bible study
-Bi-weekly meet with an accountability partner
-Monthly read a Christian book
Instead of just saying you want to “be healthier”:
-Make plans with a friend to work our two or three times a week
-Start eating a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner
-Give up soda for the year
-Do some sort of outdoor activity once a week, no matter the weather
Instead of justing saying you want to “be a better friend”:
-Create a prayer lists of your closest friends and pray for them every day
-Cut back on texting and Facebook and increase actual phone calls and face to face conversations
-Never eat lunch alone…and never eat with the same people two weeks in a row
-Pick one friend to intentionally go deeper with this year and make an effort to do something with them once a week
-Pick one person who doesn’t know the Lord and make an effort to do something with them once a week
Instead of just saying you want to “be more organized”:
-Simplify your closet by giving away a large chunk of your wardrobe
-Make your bed every morning and take 15 minutes to pick up your room every night
-Do your homework first thing when you come home
-Daily do something to help out around the house
In all of these resolutions and whatever else you come up with, always remember:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for men.” Colossians 3:23
Don’t set resolutions to make yourself a better person, to make yourself feel better, or to look good in the eyes of other people.
Do it for the glory of God.
Question: Where do you hope to grow in 2013? What’s your plan to help make that happen? How did you do on your resolutions from this last year and how can you do better this year? How does doing all of this for the glory of God change your attitude?
So, what’s on your Christmas list this year? An iPod or iPad? New clothes? Books?
As much as we try and keep the focus on Christ, it can be really hard when we’re bombarded with commercials offering deals on things that we just have to have. We want, want a little more, and then want a little more on top of that.
What’s a tough girl to do with all this consumerism and materialism being shoved down their throats?
Be content. “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” – 1 Timothy 6:6-8. Before you start thinking about all the things you want, focus on what God has already given you. Then ask yourself, “Do I really need this other stuff? Do I only want it because everyone else has it? I am seeking happiness in things?” A little contentment can go a long way at Christmas.
Be practical. Instead of longing for the latest tech or fashion trends, think about things that you really need. Things like a gas card, money for a mission trip, or new socks Don’t give the lame excuse of wanting something “fun.” If people are going to spend money on you but you don’t want it to just feed your discontentment (like if you get an iPhone 5 and, in 2 months, they come out with the iPhone 5.123), then ask for things you really need.
Be cheap. Set a limit. Tell your parents you only want them to spend $50 or $100 on you. This will keep you away from expensive things you don’t really need. And, if you’re feeling especially risky, do the homemade thing! Say you only want homemade gifts or reused gifts. Do you think you could manage Christmas without spending anything at all?
Be thoughtful. You could get a new Fossil bag. Or you could find an organization that sells bags and the proceeds go to help out women in Africa. You could get a cute new scarf in your stocking. Or you could get a card that says a chicken was bought in your name through World Vision and given to someone who needs it. There are so many gifts out there that not only give you something, but they help out someone you will never meet.
In our family, everyone gets three gifts: a book, a clothing item, and something fun. We try and keep the cost around $100 a person. We will never have piles and piles of presents under our tree, but this simplistic way of gift giving keeps the focus on Christ and the richness of family time each Christmas morning.
Wanting less can lead to you getting more this Christmas than ever before.
Question: How can you be more content this Christmas? What is on your list – and how will it draw you closer to Jesus? What can you do to want less?
This goes out to every single tough girl. From the one with the best dad to the one with the worst and everything in between, I hope you read this and take it to heart.
Love your dad. This is easier for some of you than others. But here’s the thing – loving your dad actually doesn’t depend on him.
It depends on you.
Love the dad that is a great, godly man. You’ve got it the easiest, let’s be honest. Your dad makes loving him a blessing, not a chore. So tell him. Show him. Serve him. Give back even a small inkling of the immeasurable amount of love he’s given to you.
Love the dad that is a roller coaster. Some days, he’s like that perfect TV dad who does all the right things in a hilarious way. Other days he drives you so crazy, you don’t even want to talk to him. Just remember – you aren’t perfect either, tough girl. Show him grace…the same way he does to you day in and day out.
Love the dad that is emotionally distant. Maybe you feel like you would love him more if he showed you more love, affection, and attention. But you shouldn’t let the love you give be determined by the love you receive. Can you imagine if God worked like that? We’d be in big trouble! Choose to do the mature, godly thing – love him even when he doesn’t deserve it.
Love the dad who has hurt you. He shouldn’t have, of course. But he did and there’s no changing that. Unforgiveness is the ripe soil for a root of bitterness that will make you afraid and unable to fully love others. Even if he doesn’t deserve it, forgive him – for your sake, not for his. Don’t let him hurt you more. Forgive and love him with the forgiveness and love that only Jesus can help you give.
Love the dad who is gone. Whether it was his choice or not, he’s gone. But what you can know is that God used him to bring you into this world. He will always be a part of you. So hold tight to that wonderful truth, even if he himself wasn’t wonderful.
Need some help on how to love him?
-Build him up to his face and behind his back.
-Don’t slander him or gossip about him.
-Leave him notes or send him texts telling him you love him.
-Go out to coffee with him.
-Take him on a daddy/daughter date.
-Tell him about some advice of his that you appreciated.
-Talk to him about the boy you like and ask his opinion.
-Cook his favorite meal.
Dads can be a tricky thing. But there’s one thing we can always know:
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” – 1 John 3:1
Let the love of your Father in heaven enable you to love your father on this earth.
Question: Is it easy or hard for you to love your dad? What Bible verses help you? What ways can you think of to show love to your dad?
Typically during the last week of the month I blog about boys – which, according to my statistics, you tough girls like the most. Well, this week’s blog will be a little different. I want to talk about dads.
Chances are, when you read that, you felt one of two things – excitement or dread. I want to talk to each one of you.
If you have an amazing dad – Thank God for him! And then tell your dad thank you! You have been blessed, tough girl, with a fantastic example of what a dad should be, what a husband should be, and – most importantly – a sample of how God loves you. You have a dad who cares about you, is there for you, is willing to sacrifice for you…what a gift! Please don’t take it for granted. There are so many girls out there who would give anything to have a dad like yours.
Always remember that the way he loves you is simply a mirrored reflection of how much your Father in heaven loves you. Your earthly dad is always there? God is even more faithful (Joshua 1:9). Your earthly dad makes you feel beautiful and loved? Your heavenly Father made you and rejoices over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). Your earthly dad disciplines you? God the Father disciplines you even more because He wants what’s best for you (Hebrews 12:7-11).
So do yourself – and your dad – a favor: thank him. And thank Him. And always rejoice in this wonderful relationship you have.
If you have a distant/uninvolved/absent dad – tough girl, my heart goes out to you. That relationship that was supposed to be so vital to your well-being, that protection you should have have, that sense of safety and security and belonging you were supposed to have either didn’t happen or didn’t happen enough. Maybe your lack of relationship with your dad has left you depressed or lonely. Or maybe it’s made you a people pleaser, trying so hard at everything you do to win the approval that should have come from him. Or maybe it’s left you feeling ugly and un-special, so you seek that acceptance and attention from any guy that will give it to you.
Here’s the thing – even the girl with the worst dad in the world has the greatest Dad in the universe. Your Father in heaven seeks to be all that your earthly dad should be and more. He longs to lavish you with His love, to reaffirm your special and beautiful self, to hold your hand in thick and thin, and always always be there for you. His heart is broken that your dad wasn’t the dad he should have been, but He is in heaven ready and willing to fill that hole that your dad left.
Your dad isn’t around either physically or emotionally? God will never leave you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:8). Your dad never built you up or told you how beautiful and wonderful you are? Your heavenly Father says you are His worksmanship and He has amazing things that only you can do (Ephesians 2:10). Your dad has hurt you in a way that you think you will never get over? Your Father says that you are a brand new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
So do yourself a favor – whenever you feel the hurt and the pain that comes from your relationship with your dad, lift it up to your Father in heaven and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is that Father you so desperately desire.
Question: How has your relationship with your dad helped or hurt your relationship with God the Father? How do these Bible verses help? What kind of qualities will you look for in a boyfriend that would point to him being a godly Father?