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You Can Outgrow Them…It Is Not A Sin

When it comes to people, I am a pack rat. I want everyone to come. Every season of my life, I make room for anyone connected to me to come along for the journey. It took becoming an adult and facing a heartbreak in friendship to realize that every season of my life is not for everyone I happen to know.

For five years after the heartbreak, I was processing the loss of a friendship that had spanned six years of deep sisterhood and decades of acquaintance. As soon as I thought I was over it, I would run into the former friend and my heart would break all over again. Every milestone in either of our lives felt like something was missing because I could not celebrate it as I would if we were still the sisters we once were. I blamed myself for five years, wondering how I could have been stupid enough to jeopardize such a sacred connection. I fought back resentment in my heart because it seemed I was the only one mourning the loss of our connection.

Losing that one friend (and the friends connected to her who chose sides) gave me a burden for sisterhood done right. I cried, prayed and lamented for God to send me sisters who would see me, accept me, love me, correct me and hold me up, spiritually. And let me tell you what, God outdid Himself in the answer to my prayers. As I encountered and grew in relationship with new friends, the Holy Spirit would open my eyes to which part of one another’s purpose we were meant to support. I had friends who sharpened me or whom I would sharpen. I had friends who challenged me and friends who needed my perspective to open up their own once-limited worldview. I had friends whose convictions mirrored mine and friends whose preferences were worlds away from mine. But somehow, I had exactly what I needed in each sister that came into my life.

Over the last four years of writing my latest book, I went through a transformation that changed me physically, emotionally, spiritually and even financially. When I hosted the first live book-reading event in honor of this latest work, there was a moment of reverential awe and dawning for me. In the room were twenty-five women who had supported, encouraged, witnessed or directly impacted the transformation that gave birth to my book. These women loved me deeply, supported me unconditionally and had traveled across hundreds of miles from varying states to be present at my moment of celebration. God blessed me beyond anything I could have asked, think or imagined when it came to sisterhood.

The women in my life are perfectly suited to God’s purpose and plans for me as a daughter who speaks truth to power, an unapologetic encourager of others and a transparent story-teller. My previous friendships fell apart because I had written transparently from a desire to share my own journey to encourage others. My words were the sword that severed a cherished sisterhood. But eight years later, my words and my book were the cord that God was using to bind me together in love and covenant friendship with women who “got” me. The same storytelling and truth-speaking that killed one sisterhood gave birth to dozens of others that God has used to heal and grow me over the last eight years.

I had been so anxious to keep friends that I completely missed the fact that the connections I cherished were not necessarily compatible with the growth I desired. Had I insisted on keeping the friendships that have now faded, I would be constantly stuffing down my desire to speak (and write) the truth about my life and journey with God. My desire to not offend and to be accepted by friends whose outlook on life differed so fundamentally from mine would not have allowed me the freedom to do what I do today. In all honesty, if I had the same friends I did eight years ago, my journey would look every different than it does right now.

One of the reigning themes in my journey with the Lord is the continuing deliverance He is working in my life to rid me of the fear of man. A part of me honestly believes that without God severing the ties from my past friendships, I will be living with just a teeny-tiny bit of idolatry in regards to those friends. A part of me knew without asking that my friendship with these previous sisters was very much conditional on my good behavior. So, I did my best to not disappoint them. I guess deep down, I knew that if I did something that was deemed wrong enough, I was the disposable portion of our friendship. So, I always did my best not to ruffle any feathers. Now, imagine trying to obey God unapologetically while being genuinely afraid of offending others? At some point, obedience to God and the offense of man will butt heads, and one will have to bow.

“We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Acts 5: 29 NKJV

I struggled for years with the thought that perhaps I had sinned in some way by letting these friendships go. They died a violent death that felt very much like my fault but no matter how much I apologized and what olive branches I extended, we just could not seem to find our way back to what we had prior. It took me years to make peace with the fact that these connections came to a necessary end; and an even longer period of time before I could stop blaming myself for the connections that did not survive this new season of my life. The friends who saw me through singleness seemed like they should also be there to witness my life as a wife and mother. I am just now making peace with the truth that every season of my life is not for every person in my life to access.

I am deeply grateful to God for the friendships that have spanned twenty years, fifteen years, ten years and even those that are only months old but have grown deep and godly roots and bear fruit that pleases God. Every person that has invested in me in this season of my life is a gift from God. But I am learning to be okay with the fact that some friendships that fed me in past seasons may not be appropriate for this one. It is not a sin to allow seasons to end or change. I am learning to honor what fed me in the last season without cursing it for being unavailable in next season. God will always provide.

If you are in a difficult season with any friend, I encourage you to seek peace with all men. Reconciliation is the heart of our Father. But, if God has shown you that a season of friendship is transitioning or coming to an end, embrace the change – painful as it may be. If it is God’s will for your season with certain connections to be over, He will not leave you empty. He will make provision for you to have life-giving, godly and abiding friendships to go with you in this new season. Outgrowing friends is not a sin. It happens. Lean into what God is doing. Keep your heart free of resentment or anger. Seek peace whenever possible. Pray for your friends, both former and current. And keep your heart tender towards the instructions of God. He is too good to fail.

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Money Matters

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There was a time in my life when I was scared of money. I remember it vividly. It was only four years ago (and all the years prior to 2016). I did not realize it was fear that was operating in my life. I just thought I was living out the premise of Philippians 4 where Paul told us that he has learned to be abased and to abound and he (and us) can do all things (like living with little or with much) through the strength of Christ. I encourage you to go read that chapter and verse in the proper context. Despite what we believers have decided to make the verse mean, it is not a verse about our ability to do EVERYTHING. Apostle Paul was literally talking about the fact that as believers who carry the grace of God, we can be content with life in whatever state we happen to find ourselves.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. I thought I had learned to be content with little. Wasn’t that the goal of every believer’s life? I took a spiritual gifts test during that time and my highest scoring goal was poverty.

Yes. Poverty.

The cycle of struggle in my household had become so repetitive that I was convinced that God was keeping me poor to keep me holy. Yup. Money was nothing but trouble and God wanted to make sure that I had just enough to almost cover my expenses but nothing more. So, I embraced the cycle of lack. We did our best with my husband’s wages and I did not attempt to make any more money from my fledgling business. I just focused my attention on our young children and comforted myself with the thought that if I could not be a income earner, I was at least a good wife and mother. That had to be enough.  I never fully admitted how much my fear of failure, fear of success and fear of money were driving all of my decision making during that time. I really thought I was doing what God wanted of me. God told us not to love money right? So if I did not do anything to get any more money, that had to be proof that I was not money hungry, right?

But do you know you can be poor and still have an inordinate amount of affection for money? I sure didn’t. I thought that as long as I was living paycheck to paycheck and not looking for more than covering my basic necessities, I was safe from the love of money – the root of all evil.

But I would come to find out that the LACK of money was fully capable of ruling my life just as much as having several fistfuls of cash, and the outcome was just as destructive. My fear of money built an obstacle against my faith in God. I did not trust God for more – if He wanted me to be poor what was the point of me applying for new jobs or trying to create new opportunities for myself – they were not going to work anyway. So, I spent years running away from new risks and challenges because my fear of money had morphed into a fear of failure and success.

Changing my mindset about money took several interventions. I had dozens of conversations with my parents that did not quite do the trick. I had ongoing conversations with my husband that finally helped me breakthrough my fear of failing at new things. And I had a session with a money mindset coach that absolutely transformed my thinking (shoutout to Toyin Crandell; if you don’t know that name, Google her!). Changing my mind about money and getting God’s perspective was a work of deliverance that God had to do in my life. I am so deeply grateful that the Lord opened my eyes to the ways I was shooting myself in the foot all while crying out for Him to rescue me, bless me or provide for me.

Money is a terrible master but a wonderful servant. Money is supposed to serve us believers as we endeavor to bring the Kingdom of heaven to earth. Heaven lacks nothing good, so why should the life of a believer who God has blessed with the power to make wealth and fund kingdom projects be a life wasted in worry about the basic necessities of life? God will provide for us – just as He feeds the birds, and clothes the lilies. But God has also given us an extraordinary amount of gifts, talents and wealth-generating ideas for us to sinfully sit and do nothing about them while the world languishes in lack, waiting for the manifestation of the sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:19). Children of God (creative, educated, intelligent, with an extraordinary amount of privilege in a world where the vast majority lives on less than a dollar a day) whose means are able to answer the needs created by poverty, disease, famine and many more world crises. We are created in the image of God to be problem-solvers on this earth. If the only problem we ever solve is how to feed and clothe ourselves and our own household, then I honestly believe we have not even scratched the surface of the abundant life that God intends for us.

Money answereth all things (Ecclesiastes 10:19, KJV). That does not mean money is the only thing you need in the world. Because as believers, we know that without Christ, all the money in the world is meaningless. But does it not make the most sense for children of God, who operate with God’s wisdom to be the one with the means to solve the problem in such a way that brings the Kingdom of God to earth? It does to me.

This post is a very #FirstWorldProblems centered post. Obviously, if you are in the same boat as a majority of the world that has no guarantee of their next meal or a roof over their head, you are not the one being charged with funding the solutions that I truly believe already lie in the hearts, minds or hands of children of God. But if you happen to live in the Western Hemisphere of the world and you know you are privileged in some ways (educated, housed – meaning not homeless, able-bodied, etc.), you have a duty to spend your privilege wisely. And one of the best ways to do that is to make the most of your opportunity rather than discounting them (and spending your entire life only consumed with you and your household).

There is more for you to do in the world than work, pay bills and die. Money matters. Find out what yours is supposed to do in this world for the sake of the Gospel.

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Stewarding the Vision

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In 2009 shortly after giving my life to Christ, I had a deep desire to mentor and minister to teenage girls – so I started a bible study and titled it “Daughters of Destiny.” I gathered a handful of girls between the ages of thirteen and sixteen at the time and mentored them weekly for over two years. When most of them dispersed for college and adulthood, it felt like my work was done. But the desire to continue to get in the trenches with young people and offer them this level of intensive one-on-one discipleship never went away. As I grew, my desire to minister to young people began to focus more on college aged and post-graduate women between the ages of 18 and 25. And as I have grown in the place of marriage, that desire to “do life” with other women has grown once again to include young wives, newlyweds and engaged women.

Over the last eleven years of my life, the unrelenting desire that I am supposed to be partnering with women in a way that eases the pain points in their life has never left me. I did not always understand that this was what people meant by a “calling.” I just knew that I enjoyed this work, I was good at it, and having hours long exchanges with younger women where I literally pour out everything God gives me to share with them did not leave me drained, they left me energized and ready to do it again as soon as my body was physically able.

I always thought it would take money to do this kind of work on a regular basis. If I wanted to meet with women, I needed money to travel to them or gather them together in some sort of meeting, right? I did not immediately realized that I was already doing the work that I felt called to do – by speaking one on one with young women around me, making myself available for phone calls that sometimes stretch into the night as I try my best to get them to understand how God sees them and their situation.

I was already hosting sleepovers for college-aged women in my home. I was already spending hours on college campuses in dorm rooms teaching and fellowshipping with other women. I was already joined in sisterhood with women younger than me whom I have taken into my heart as little sisters. I was already sharing whatever felt pertinent and necessary about my journey with women who connected with me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I was already living the vision I had in my heart of ministering to, encouraging and mentoring other women.

But because it did not look like big stages, conference invitations, and perfectly branded flyers and headshots, I thought I was being left behind while other women – those whose platforms were visible and identifiable – did the real work. I know better now. God did not call me to have the most amount of engagement on social media (although, I am still doing my best to do better with those numbers lol). God never asked me to get the best and most updated headshots. He certainly did not tell me that I needed a certain amount of money in the bank to qualify to minister to others. Those were restrictions I placed on myself because I was too afraid to call myself a minister of the gospel without all the trappings that often comes with public ministry.

My life is ministry. My obedience to God is ministry. My authenticity in Christ is ministry. And it is well past time to embrace it as such. I do not need to “do ministry” by having a following, a tour calendar and assistants galore. I needed to minister by recognizing those around me who are in need of what God has graced me to carry.

I get joy out of holding another wife’s hands and declaring her worth in her home and in the marketplace and letting her know that her paycheck or lack thereof do not determine her worth in her marriage or to God.

I get joy out of speaking words of life over a young person who is at a crossroads in their growth towards adulthood and letting them know that God is literally interested in the details of their life and their obedience to Him is the only determining factor by which they should measure their success.

There are things that come naturally to me, that give me joy and glorify God that I have minimized in their importance because I was not being paid or asked to do them. But that way of thinking is insulting to the God we serve. Is God only required to answer prayers when honorariums are given? Or does He hold back breakthrough and deliverance if there’s nobody there to introduce the guest preacher?

Many of the things I counted as “doing ministry” are just the practical necessities and sometimes the outer trappings of someone who operates on a worldwide stage. The size of the platform is not what qualifies a minister before God. Clean hands and pure hearts are what God looks for in those who call His name. Regardless of how I earn my bread and butter (currently as a consultant), I do not need to be paid for anything I do as a follower of Christ before I should call myself a minister of the Gospel. Jesus Himself called me to spread the gospel. I have no greater allegiance than to answer His call and steward the vision He placed of my heart – that every daughter of God who calls the name of Christ will live a full and authentic life, free of the bondage of the enemy and brimming over with the promises of God.