Archive of ‘Social’ category

A fresh start

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Texas forgot about winter. She just skipped over it as if a good frost wasn’t necessary. Here we are in March with temps reaching the 80’s and flowers blooming like it’s May. As a native Colorado girl, I’m not so okay with this. But it seems Texas didn’t take my opinion into account when she mapped out the forecast.

There’s just something about approaching spring and summer that brightens my day (no pun intended). Maybe it’s the feeling of embarking on something new, the hint of change, the expectedness of something great. The longer days can never hurt either (is it just me, or does your productivity increase ten fold in the summer too?). Somehow I eat better, I work-out harder, I am more consistent with my quiet times – it’s like Spring kicks me in the bum and tells me to ‘get in gear’.

Spring is the perfect picture of a fresh start. It is a reminder to take a close look at the different areas in my life — finances, health, relationships, hobbies, commitments, spiritual growth — and evaluate. Do I need to improve? Do I need to scale back? Do I need to work harder? Do I need to change my methods? How can I be more efficient? How can I be more effective? It’s a moment to refocus, to revamp, and to revise. It’s a time of the year that brings about renewal.

A couple of weeks ago, the GLOW team had a virtual meeting to connect with one another and discuss our vision, answering a few of the questions listed above. We all agreed that Lord was doing great things with this blog and each of us are as passionate about writing as we were when we launched in Fall 2014. But as with any good thing, there are always ways to improve.

From day one, we have been committed to consistent posts containing quality content that encourage women to grow closer to Him in the every day. We have posted five days a week for over a year and a half, and while we are very thankful for this opportunity and platform, we have decided to take a step back, even if it’s just for a time, to refocus. After prayer and thoughtful consideration, we decided it would be best to post three times a week – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – for the next few months. Our goal moving forward is to publish longer, content-rich posts that place an emphasis on Scripture and relate to women in various stages of life.

Amanda, Kelsey, Andi and I will continue to post every other week. Our monthly writers will also continue with monthly contributions, and of course, we still welcome guest submissions. From the busyness of life, coupled with several of our writers undergoing major life transitions in recent months, we agreed that this change would allow everyone extra time to write a thorough and thoughtful post, and would give some of us the break we need to sit back and reflect on what it is the Lord is prompting us to share.

Spring is a reminder of God’s ability to make things new. But according to the Bible, His mercies are new every day.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:23-23 (ESV)

Each day, it is our prayer that GLOW brings you closer to Him. Whether we remind you of His goodness, prompt you to dig deeper in Scripture or encourage you in a difficult time, our goal is to give God the glory. We look forward to all that the Lord has in store for GLOW in the coming months. Know that we are thankful for you, our readers, and are praying for you as you walk through life daily pursuing Him.

5 Questions I Ask Myself Before Getting on Social Media

I tend to be all-or-nothing with things.

When I buy a new CD (yes, I still actually physically do that from time to time) and I like it, I play it on repeat for three weeks straight until I have every lyric memorized. (Sorry, Stud. Blame Adele.)

If I realize we’ve been consuming too much sugar lately and our family needs to be eating more nutritiously, I go into a blind panic and raid the kitchen until everything I’d be ashamed for my doctor to see peeking out of my purse has been tossed into the trash. (Sorry, Stud. Blame Whole30.)

I either wake up with a spring in my step to conquer my to-do list and get so much accomplished by the end of the day I’m giddy-high and completely spent…

or I stay in my pajamas and get off the couch periodically only to walk around aimlessly wondering what it is I’m supposed to be doing that day… what day is it again?

All or nothing. Told you.

In light of this, it’s no surprise that I’ve majorly struggled with maintaining balance with the beast we call social media. I’ll get into ruts and keep my phone in my back pocket 24/7, pulling it out constantly at the slightest sign of a lull, and essentially spend the day scrolling, clicking, stalking, pinning, liking, sharing, and posting like it’s my job (and while it actually is for some, it most certainly is not my job). Then I’ll suddenly realize I’ve let myself become addicted to my apps, and I’ll delete them all and go on a social media fast for a week, month, 40-day lent period, whatever.

There are clear problems with either extreme here. When I let social media be my immediate go-to throughout the day, I find myself feeling distracted, untethered, self-doubting, and dissatisfied. When I retreat from social media entirely, I end up feeling like a cross between an ostrich and a monk, and miss out on major life news, prayer requests, and opportunities to keep up with friends and family.

Where the tarnation is the in-between?!

Slowly, clumsily, I’ve started to find that illusive middle ground. It’s taken a lot of prayer, a lot of accountability, and a lot of trial and error. A breakthrough came one day when I opened up the “notes” app in my phone and started cultivating the list below. It’s not rocket science, but it has been hugely helpful to me, and I hope, will be for you.

5 Questions I Ask Myself

Before Getting on Social Media

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1. Would it be better to be fully present right now?

This one usually stops me in my tracks. Often I never even get to questions 2 through 5, because this is all I need to set my phone down and move along.

For me personally, in this season of life as a stay-at-home mom of four, my days are full, to say the least. There are always sticky fingers to wipe, sibling brawls to break up, books to read, boo boos to kiss, and sandwiches to fix. It can be overwhelming, and the temptation to retreat into social media can be great, to feel a little more “normal” for just a few minutes.

The problem is, a few minutes quickly becomes an hour, and usually by the end of that hour my kids feel neglected and restless, the house is a wreck because the kids were unsupervised, and immediate regret for that wasted time kicks in. Top that off with a heap of jealousy at so-and-so’s vacation pictures, and sprinkle on some anxiety about all the ways I could be better (thinner, craftier, more spontaneous or witty or organized)… and there you have a recipe for a crappy attitude and a day that is quickly snowballing out of control.

The day is redeemable, of course, but most of the time if I just stop and ask myself in the first place, “would it be better to be fully present right now?” the answer more times than not is “yes,” and I can save myself the detour by focusing on the here and now.

But when they’re napping, or in bed for the night? I absolutely love catching up with friends on Facebook. Or when I’m Sabbath-ing and taking a break from the housework and just want to insta-stalk for an hour or two? I go for it, guilt-free. With intention and in moderation, I can enjoy it guilt-free.

2. Am I getting on social media because I’m procrastinating something?

There’s not too much to elaborate on here… let’s just say the answer is a resounding “YES” 99.9% of the time, and when I’m real with myself and get whatever “it” is done first, I save myself from a future panic attack, and that is just a good thing for e’rybody.

3. Am I getting on social media in an especially emotional state?

You know how sometimes, when you’re scrolling away on your newsfeed, a post leaps out at you? And your stomach turns because “wow is that person clearly feeling very _____ (angry, sad, spiteful, confused)… and man are they going to regret saying that tomorrow”?

Well I really, really, really don’t want to be that person.

I have before and I’m sure I will again. But God has given us a whole other way to live, and it looks like this:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:22-26

I just love that, that mental image of keeping in step with the Spirit of God. It’s so much more purposeful than simply letting my actions be driven by the rollercoaster of my emotions. So I do my best to make sure that I don’t get on social media until my emotions are under His control, or else I know that those last lines, “provoking one another, envying one another” will become true of me.

4. If I get on social media right now, can I practice Philippians 4:8?

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

Here’s another beautiful and convicting passage that can be applied to social media in so many ways. I replace “think” with the technical vernacular… “tweet these things,” “post these things,” “comment these things,” and have the perfect yardstick for whether or not my time online is being spent to His glory.

5. If I get on social media right now, can I handle the people?

“…he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth…” 1 Timothy 6:4-5

I fully realize this passage is specifically talking about false teachers in the time of Christ, but as we enter an election year, I can’t help but feel like this is straight-up prophesy for the comment sections of articles about the presidential candidates of today. UGH. Y’all, I’m sorry, but most days I just can’t handle it.

People can get ugly online, shielded by their screens and tricked into thinking their words don’t make that big of a difference amongst the masses… well, they do. Words are powerful. Proverbs 18:21 says that “death and life are in the power of the tongue,” and Matthew 12:36 tells us that “on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.”

So if I log onto social media, I have to recognize that in doing so I’m about to be bombarded with people and their words. Yes, a lot of them will be my friends and my family, and many of their words will be inspirational and loving. But a lot of them won’t be, and a lot of them won’t be. I can choose to give grace or I can choose to hold back, but as a believer, I will not join the “constant friction.” I must cling instead to those fruits of the Spirit, those “whatevers,” and if I know that I can’t? I LOG OFF. Simple as that.

This particular post is one that is near and dear to my heart, because these self-posed questions have brought me so much freedom in the last couple of years. Social media is not inherently evil or good. As much as I prefer things in black and white, my favorite apps and blogs are neither things to cling to nor flee from. They’re simply tools. When used with carelessness or evil intent? They can destroy. When used properly, with intention and in moderation? Social media can connect us, inspire us, and bring us great joy.

Hostess Fail

It was a Saturday night and Mike and I were hosting our first dinner party with some friends since we had been married. We lived in seminary housing in a tiny apartment, but we were excited to share our new life together with friends. We spent the day tidying up the place, returning our last few duplicated wedding gifts and spending the remaining money on Target gift cards on home decor. I planned out the meal, fine tuned my recipes and went to the store for the final ingredients. I was making my mom’s parmesan chicken, mashed potatoes, a salad and pazookies for dessert (if you haven’t tried a pazookie, go to BJ’s and order one – it will change your life). Nothing could go wrong from here. The house was sparkling clean, the ingredients were bought and Mike and I were planning to impress our friends with our “perfectly perfect” new life together…

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Our first married-life apartment.

…Until I looked at the clock. Somehow time had gotten away from me and our guests were going to arrive in just 30 minutes but I hadn’t even started cooking. I seasoned the chicken, rolled it in flour, and stuck it in the oven. I peeled the potatoes, put the water on to boil and, mistakenly, put the potatoes into the monster pot of water before it was boiling. Oh well, it will boil quickly. I tear up the lettuce, by this point I’m sweating, Mike sets the table… WHEW. Our guests arrive…

The only thing left is the potatoes.

We greet our friends, offer them some sweet tea, they take a seat. And wait. And wait. And wait… what is taking the potatoes so long?!

I had not used our stove more than once or twice and turns out, water takes a VERY long time to boil on this particular stovetop. After waiting nearly 45 minutes after our friends had gotten there, I frustratingly took the potatoes out before they were finished cooking, threw in the milk and butter and whipped them up to not-so-perfection. They were as lumpy as a 85 year-old-mattress, they were mushy from soaking in sitting water, the chicken was now cold, the salad soggy and our bellies were roaring with hunger.

I spent too much time cleaning and preparing and not enough time on the thing that really mattered – the meal that we were going to eat. The whole reason we invited our friends to our home. The food that would give our bodies the nutrition we needed (plus a little sugar and carbs). Too worried about a sparkling house, I missed the whole point.

Don’t we do that with a lot of things? Don’t we spend too much time on things that don’t matter and fail to focus our attention on the things that matter most? We can be so much like the Pharisees.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Matthew 23:27-28 (NIV)

The Pharisees spent so much time fixing up what was on the outside that they neglected to focus on the heart issue – what matters most. Like Jesus said, they were like polished tombs with nothing more than dead bones on the inside – lifeless.

God doesn’t want you to clean your life up like I cleaned up my house. God wants you to give your life to Him – focus on what matters – and let Him clean up the house for you.

When we focus on good deeds, the things other people see, and our outside appearances, it’s like cleaning the house before we cook the meal. And a clean house at a dinner party doesn’t matter if the food we eat doesn’t taste good.

A Proper Send Off

How was your Christmas, ladies? I hope it was full of joy, laughter, and memory making. Mine sure was! We got to eat all kinds of yummy food, open thoughtful gifts, and see joy and excitement shining out of our kid’s eyes. For us, it was a holiday filled with TONS of family celebrations and all the people we love.

In the midst of all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday though, my parents were so intentional about creating space for reflecting on the last year and then taking opportunities to send us all off into the next with blessings. We sat around their house, my kids, my husband, my siblings and spouses, nephews, everyone, and listened as they not only imparted words of life, encouragement, and inspiration into our hearts, but they asked us what our favorite part of this last year was.

We went around the table that was full of roast and potatoes and hearts lit with Christmas and spoke about our favorite part of the last year. It was different for everyone, but what my seven-year-old nephew said was the best. When it was his turn, he looked up at all of us with the brightest green eyes you’ve ever seen and said “I like that we’re all sharing our thoughts.”

And he meant it.

That’s just who he is, how his sweet heart works, but I think he’s on to something that all of us like. Somehow, he knows that it’s good for all of us to sit down sometimes and share our thoughts, to talk about the memories we made, the things we lived, the things we hope to do next. Sometimes, especially when we’re on the cusp of newness, it’s good to look back and reflect on the blessings, trials, and triumphs of the old.

If you’re like me, or my nephew, and your heart finds joy in just sharing your thoughts on this last year, here are a few ways that you can look back and reflect on all that happened this year so that you won’t forget the blessings you lived through.

  1. Journal about it.

We like to think that our memories are better than they are. We convince ourselves that we won’t forget all of those moments that made an impression on us this year, but the fact of the matter is, we can’t remember everything.

So pull out a pretty journal, a notepad, a word document, or notebook paper and just get it all out. You could write it in pretty little paragraphs or a nice, neat list, but somehow, just get all of the moments from this last year down on paper. That way, when you want to remember all that God has brought you through or if you want to remind yourself, your friends, or family of the memories you made and all the things that happened, you have it all right there.

  1. Actually print off some pictures.

With cameras on our phones, we are always standing by, ready to document every little moment. We take pictures of everything but then they live on our hard drives or in the Cloud never to be seen again. Why not do something with those pictures for once? Print them out, make a photo book on Shutterfly, or make a scrapbook at home. Get those memories out of cyberspace and put them physically in your life so you can pull them out and hold them and reflect on the goodness of God with their glossy, rectangular goodness.

  1. Share your memories with others.

There was something special about talking about this last year with my family over Christmas. I loved hearing about the highlights of their year and their hopes for the next. You can do it too. Maybe over coffee with you friends or during a quieter moment of your New Years celebrations, ask the people in your life what stands out to them about this last year and what they hope for in the next and don’t forget to share yourself! Let your stories feed each other’s faith and then remind each other of your hopes and memories throughout the next year. It’ll be good for your soul!

  1. Tell us about it!

We would love to hear all about the amazing things that God has shown you, done for you, or done through you this last year! If you have some great moments to share with us, write it in the comments or submit your story to us! Just click on “Submissions” at the top of our page for more info!

These are just a few ways to cap off this last year, a few ways to tie a pretty bow on all of the moments that you lived in 2015. Don’t forget to reflect on all that’s happened and to share the good memories and even the bad with those you love because through all of it, a story is being told that bears witness to all that God is doing.

Newness is coming, a new year, a new beginning, but don’t forget to send off the old with a proper goodbye. Enjoy your reflecting, friends, and Happy New Year!

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iPhone Graphic FREEBIES

As you are packing up Christmas and stuffing boxes in the attic, I thought your phone wallpaper might need a little New Year’s update. Uplifting Bible verses can’t hurt anybody, especially as you are saying “no” to sweets, “yes” to simplifying, and checking things off your 2016 bucket list before the year officially begins.

My post today is short and sweet and here is my excuse: A chunk of my time this week was taken up by a few technical difficulties with GLOW (sorry for being absent yesterday, and thank you all for your patience and kind words as we were getting everything figured out!). The good news is that we are BACK and everything is working good as new. YAY.

The links to the graphics are all listed below. Tell us which one is your favorite!

Psalm65DOWNLOAD GRAPHIC ONE HERE

Isaiah40

DOWNLOAD GRAPHIC TWO HERE

2Corinthians

DOWNLOAD GRAPHIC THREE HERE

 

A Simple Way to Remember

Is this day going the way you’d hoped?

Because if it isn’t, I can guarantee you, you are not alone.

Perhaps it’s the home you’re in. Maybe you’re in your own home when you’d rather be at your parents’, but money was too tight this year to travel. Maybe you’re at your in-laws when, let’s just say it, you’d rather be celebrating with your side of the family. Maybe you’ve recently moved and you’re “home.” But this “home” doesn’t feel like home just yet, but rather a collection of empty walls reminding you of the pictures you haven’t hung because the people in the pictures are far away now and it just hurts too much.

Or maybe it’s not the place, but the people. Maybe relatives are arguing and you’re trying to play peacemaker but your words fall on deaf ears and loud mouths and is it really going to be like this every year? Or maybe you’re the one starting it, the snipping and the passive-aggressive jabs, because you’ve been working yourself into the ground making sure the baking/decorating/shopping/wrapping are all done just so, and for heaven’s sake, you’re TIRED.

For those of us with little ones—maybe you’ve done everything right! You’ve kept your cool through the frenzy of this week, clung to simple, tried with everything in you to lower your expectations and just enjoy this season. But because life is life and motherhood is motherhood, the baby woke up screaming at 4 am and the toddler’s running a fever and your older two are fighting, and everything you did to foster peace today is running like sand through your fingers.

For some of us, our hearts are simply aching this Christmas.

Maybe you’re mourning the recent death of a loved one, or still missing one who passed long ago.

Maybe you’re pushing with all your might through an impossibly difficult time financially.

Maybe you’re facing illness yourself, or carrying the burdens of those who are fighting for their lives.

Maybe the news has haunted your dreams as of late. The weight of the world and the millions in it who are suffering today is on your shoulders, and how can you celebrate? What’s fair about that?

Here’s the simple truth, the bare bones of the Gospel: this is why He came.

Two thousand years ago, the world was exactly as it is today. Maybe not externally, sure, but internally? People were the same. Struggling, burdened, aching. Discontent and restless. Searching for answers to questions too big for their own logic.

The Father looked at the world, and out of His incomparable love for it, for us, He said to Himself: it’s time.

And a precious baby boy was born in a filthy stable, and flipped the whole world on its axis.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17

He came for those longing to be home… and longs to give them an eternal home beyond what they can imagine.

He came for the angry arguers… and fights to become their ultimate Peacemaker.

He came for the little children… and craves for them to call him Father.

He came for the broken, aching, hurting, hopeless masses. He came to heal, comfort, restore, and bring Hope—BE Hope—for each and every one of us who needs Him. And let’s face it. We ALL need Him.

So if this season of Advent has gotten away from you, or if this day hasn’t gone as you’d imagined, may I offer a suggestion?

Instead of shrugging it off and vowing to do better next year, let’s do something about it. Let’s take twenty minutes to reorient our hearts. Let’s stop and remember that He is the Light that the darkness will never put out. This candlelight drama is simple, short, perfect for all ages, and is one of our family’s favorite ways to push pause and remember.

Remember that whatever you are facing, you are loved by a Father who gave his only Son for you and for the world. Remember that He came not to condemn but to save. Remember: you are not alone.

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A Christmas Candlelight Drama

 Preparation (takes 5 minutes!): gather all the candles in the house. On a table arrange three candles to represent Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, respectively; a group to represent the shepherds; a group to represent the wise men (doesn’t have to be three, the Bible doesn’t specify); and a group of the tallest candles to represent the angels. Then distribute copies of this script, a candle each for every person in attendance, and designate roles: someone to lead in song, someone to light the candles, and the narrator roles.

(everyone sings a cappella)

O Come, All Ye Faithful

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant

Come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem

Come and behold Him, born the king of angels

O come let us adore Him

O come let us adore Him

O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord

Narrator 1: And it came to pass in those days, that a proclamation was made by Caesar Augustus that the entire inhabited world should be registered. This was the first census undertaken while Cyrenius was governor of Syria; and everyone went to the town of their birth to be registered.

Joseph (light Joseph candle) went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the city of David, Bethlehem, in Judea, because he was a direct descendant of David, to be registered with his future wife Mary (light Mary candle) who was pregnant.

O Little Town of Bethlehem

O little town of Bethlehem

How still we see thee lie

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

The silent stars go by

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

The everlasting Light

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee tonight

Narrator 2: And while they were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to be delivered. She gave birth to her first child, a Son (light Jesus candle). There was no place for them inside the inn, so she laid Him in a manger.

Away in a Manger

Away in a manger, no crib for His bed

The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head

The stars in the sky looked down where He lay

The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay

Narrator 3: There were some shepherds living in the same part of the country, keeping guard throughout the night over their flocks in the open fields (light shepherd candles).

The First Noel

The first Noel, the angel did say

Was to certain poor shepherds in fields where they lay

In fields where they lay keeping their sheep

On a cold winter’s night that was so deep

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel

Born is the King of Israel

Narrator 4: Suddenly, an angel of the Lord stood before them, the splendor of the Lord blazed around them, and they were terror stricken. But the angel (light tallest angel) said to them, “Do not be afraid! Listen, I bring you glorious news of great joy that is for all the people. This very day, in the city of David, a Savior has been born for you. He is Christ the Lord. Let this prove it to you. You will find a baby, wrapped up and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a vast host of the armies of heaven (light all angel candles). They were praising God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among those with whom He is pleased!”

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hark! The herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King

Peace on earth and mercy mild

God and sinners reconciled

Joyful, all ye nations rise

Join the triumph of the skies

With angelic host proclaim

Christ is born in Bethlehem

Narrator 5: The shepherds said to one another, “Now, let us go straight to Bethlehem and see this thing which the Lord has made known to us.”

So they went as fast as they could and found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in the manger. And when they had seen this sight, they told everyone what had been said to them about the little Child.

Go, Tell It on the Mountain

While shepherds kept their watching

O’er silent flocks by night

Behold throughout the heavens

There shone a holy light

Go, tell it on the mountain

Over the hills and everywhere

Go, tell it on the mountain

That Jesus Christ is born

Narrator 6: Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, (light wise men candles) “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?”

And now the star, which they had seen in the east, went in front of them until at last it shone immediately above the place where the little Child lay.

The sight of the star filled them with indescribable joy. So they went into the house and found the little Child with His mother, Mary. And they fell on their knees and worshiped Him. Then they opened up their treasures and presented Him with gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

What Child is This

What Child is this, who laid to rest

On Mary’s lap is sleeping?

Whom angels greet with anthems sweet

While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing

Haste, haste to bring Him laud

The Babe, the Son of Mary

Narrator 7: Then, since they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, the wise men went back to their own country by a different route. (Extinguish wise men candles.)

And the shepherds went back to work, glorifying and praising God for everything they had seen and heard. (Extinguish shepherd candles.)

And the angels returned to heaven. (Extinguish angel candles.)

            And many years later, Mary and Joseph, being flesh and bone, came to the end of their earthly lives. (Extinguish Mary and Joseph candles.)

But the Light that began in Bethlehem was life. And this life was the Light of all humanity. The Light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out. (Light first person’s candle from the Jesus candle, then begin passing the light.)

And it all began on a silent, holy night, long ago….

Silent Night

Silent night, holy night

All is calm, all is bright

‘Round yon virgin Mother and Child

Holy Infant so tender and mild

Sleep in heavenly peace

Sleep in heavenly peace

(Everyone’s candle should now be lit.)

Joy to the World

Joy to the world, the Lord has come

Let earth receive her King

Let every heart, prepare Him room

And heaven and nature sing

And heaven and nature sing

And heaven and heaven and nature sing!

Should Christian Women Join Multi-Level Marketing Companies?

I want to talk about this because it… because I…

…actually, honestly?

I don’t want to talk about it.

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It would be so much easier not to broach this subject, not to stir these waters. I wish I could close my laptop right now and go about my evening, all calm and quiet and kid-free, as ALL FOUR of our children are asleep and it’s not yet 8 pm (which is, let’s just say it, a miracle of God). I would so much rather crack open a new book, or Netflix Gilmore Girls for the twelfth time (can you say REBOOT *praise hands*).

The thing is, I have heaps of friends to potentially offend with this post.

And not just any friends. Friends whom I love and respect and admire. You, reading this, are more than likely one of them. I have been gifted with incredible friendships in all of my circles—church, MOPS, seminary, social media—and fully recognize that I am surrounded by some of the most kind-hearted, whip-smart, talented, passionate, amazing women this world has ever seen. You cherish Jesus, you love your families fiercely, and you teach me so much about the Gospel every single day. You have prayed me through some dark postpartum days; supported me through an adoption that knocked the breath out of me countless times; brought me meals, watched my kids, let me cry and vent and process. You have stayed my friend when I wasn’t being a very good one to you back, and I fully recognize what a gift that is. The last thing in the world I want to do, is hurt you.

Please hear my heart. Please don’t forget this as you continue reading. Please reread this last paragraph if you get the urge to wring my neck in a few minutes.

There’s just this nagging feeling in my gut, and it won’t let me close my laptop. The Holy Spirit won’t let me go on this one, so I’m diving into this out of concern for my sisters in Christ. I believe this is too important an issue, affecting too many women, for me to sit on my hands and say nothing.

So here I go.

Over the last few years I have been increasingly curious about all these business opportunities I’ve seen my friends join and promote on Facebook. Because that’s where it began for me, curiosity: “where’d she get those cute tote bags?” and “I wonder if those oils actually work?” and of course “DANG she’s lost a lot of weight, how on earth did she do that?” But because my husband is currently in seminary, and because we have several small children, and because I’m currently staying at home with them full-time (a true blessing that I am grateful for)… money is TIGHT. I’m talking Spanx, ladies. So I never signed up for anything, never bought any nails or candles, because no matter how cute they were or how persuasive my friend was, if I could barely afford diapers for my babies that week, I sure as heck couldn’t afford a manicure (even if it did promise to last for weeks!). I’m just being honest here.

Over time, I admit, my curiosity grew into annoyance. My Facebook feed became flooded with pictures of neon lettering over products and hefty claims, even promises, that drew out my inner skeptic. I just wanted to see how their Christmas was, ya know? Wanted to check up on those cute kids of theirs, or see if they’d graduated yet. What I didn’t want was another thing to say “no” to.

Then I discovered the “unfollow” button. Cue sunbeams shining through the clouds accompanied by angelic harmonies here. I could keep all my friends and even stalk check up on them when I wanted to, without any bother to them or me. Simple. Harmless. Click. Done.

Except it wasn’t “done.”

I still got private messages and invites to groups and parties on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. And I couldn’t shake my questions about MLMs (Multi-Level Marketing, or Network Marketing, which I’ll just refer to as MLMs from now on for simplicity’s sake). How did they really work? I casually Google-d around a little and got massively conflicting info. Were my friends actually making money, or was it just a hobby? I asked a few and got generally positive, but always vague, responses. Was I missing something here? Was I missing out by not joining in? Was my skepticism unfounded?

One dear friend and I talked about it for hours one trip this summer, just two girls pro and con-ing the night away, swapping stories and our limited understandings. One of her friends had recently made legitimately large amounts of money after signing up and becoming a distributor through her chosen company, one that specialized in health products including supplements that my friend had personally tried and liked. “That’s it,” I thought, “I’ve got to get to the bottom of this. I’m tired of being confused.”

So I started researching. I read huge chunks of books full of business terms I could barely comprehend. I listened to hour-long podcasts of conversations between finance experts. I stayed up late digging through dozens of articles and documents on websites both proclaiming the “opportunities” and the “dangers” of MLMs, respectively. I even posted a status on my personal Facebook page in order to test my theories and better understand my MLM-loving friends’ points of view. And in order not to leave a stone unturned, I specifically did research on the MLM that had most intrigued me personally, and on supplements and probiotics and gut flora and immune systems, even talking to my doctor and getting her take on the whole thing.

I’ve listed my strongest sources at the end of this post, but here’s the bottom line of what I’ve found:

  • Less than 1% of MLM participants make a profit. That means over 99% end up losing money instead of making it. This doesn’t even factor in the number of hours worked and effectively wasted by lack of compensation.
  • This is because MLMs are inherently flawed by design to purposefully over-hire salespeople, who then attempt to recruit even more salespeople, all selling the same products to a quickly over-saturated market. They are designed to exploit vulnerable people to become buyers and distributors so that those in the far upper tiers make the money while those in the bottom tiers work with little to no success… because most likely, by the time they sign up, the market is well past the point of over-saturation (in other words, people have long since heard about the product and are no longer interested).
  • And in order to keep over-saturation at bay, MLM companies continue to formulate new products for the express purpose of stirring up new interest and keeping their lower-tiered distributors from leaving. Most of the new products are unnecessary, untested, and/or overpriced, but people keep buying because of the newness factor and loud-but-unsupported claims and promises.

Now, I do not have a business degree, and I am no expert, not by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not pretending for one second that I have all the answers. But this fundamentally flawed business model, as limited as my understanding of it is, deeply concerns me, especially as a Christian woman. Especially as a friend to so many Christian women who have signed up to be a part of this business model, who are investing precious time and money. And while MLMs tend to target women’s emotions, Scripture is clear that the Lord desperately wants us to use the minds He’s given us to make wise decisions to please Him.

“Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,” Proverbs 1:5

“Be sober-minded; be watchful.” 1 Peter 5:8

“Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8-10

These are just a few of many, many instances in Scripture where we are told, commanded even to be wise. To be prudent. To be discerning, constantly learning, ever humble in our search for the truth in all things.

So instead of rattling off answers I do not have, may I ask you some questions instead? May I simply challenge you to think about this, really research and dig for yourself, perhaps for the first time? Whether you’ve been a part of an MLM for years or have never even really heard or thought about them, I believe you’re reading this for a reason.

As a Christian woman, is being a part of this MLM…

 …a wise investment of your time? Whether you’re a distributor, consumer, or have just been invited to a Facebook party to learn about a product, have you prayed about whether it’s something God wants you to spend your time on? As women today our time fills up so stinkin’ quickly with the many relationships and responsibilities we juggle. And as Christian women, our time is God’s, ultimately—so we should carefully consider every invitation, activity, and opportunity that comes our way.

…a wise investment of your money? Again, all that we own is the Lord’s. Scripture says we are merely stewards of everything He’s given us, including our money (Psalm 24:1-2). Have you researched whether or not the MLM product you’re already involved in or are interested in is worth the financial investment? Have you weighed whether it’s worth the financial risk? Have you asked God whether or not He’d prefer that money to go elsewhere? Perhaps you’ve found yourself wishing you could help a ministry, help fund a mission opportunity, help support a family member or friend in need, but are unable to do so currently due to the portion of your budget that goes toward the MLM. Or have you asked yourself if the product is all that it claims to be? Have you distinguished between your needs vs. desires?

…worth the risk of potential alienation of others? Have you thought about how many friends might have “unfollowed” you since you began network marketing, or will if you join? Are you willing to risk friendships because they feel you value their money and their network more than you value them? Have you thought about whether or not your involvement could potentially hinder your witness for Christ? Is it worth the risk of potentially alienating others when 99% won’t ever see a profit?

…worth the temptations it brings? Have you found yourself mentally spending the money you’ve been promised to make before you’ve actually gotten a paycheck? Have you found yourself simply concerned with yourself more? Have you experienced any guilt or doubts along the way? Have you gotten to the root of those feelings? Have you found yourself finding your identity in the MLM more so than in Christ? Are you making sacrifices for the MLM that you think you’ll regret?

…the best way I can help support my family financially? I know from experience how hard it can be when times are tight. Have you prayed about whether or not God actually wants you to help support your family? Have you asked Him whether instead He may want to grow your faith and teach you full reliance on Him to provide? If you know you do need to help support your family, is joining an MLM the best way to do that? Is it the most dependable, immediate source of income you could be bringing in? Is it income you can be proud of?

For me, personally, the answer is no; MLMs and the products they sell are not a wise investment of my money or my time; they are not worth the risk of alienating others, or the temptations they would bring me; and in this current season God has made it abundantly clear to us that my husband’s income, while modest, is sufficient for us to live on. I don’t believe MLMs represent an honorable business model. The vast majority of the products they market are unnecessary to my life, and the few that I would be interested in, I have found equivalents to elsewhere that suit me just fine.

After months of research and prayer, questions and confusion, I am grateful to finally have clarity and peace concerning my own decision not to join any MLM.

I am concerned, however, for my sisters in Christ. I am broken-hearted for the regret some of them have over what they’ve sacrificed. I am discouraged when I think of all their good intentions ending in frustration and waste. Yet I believe we are a brilliant, talented, wise generation of women that God has incredible plans for, and that He works all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

I genuinely hope you have clarity and peace concerning these things as well, whatever your conclusions. I pray you pursue wisdom and truth above all.

Recommended resources:


 

Family of 6 portraitAbout the Author

SARAH TARLETON

I am a disciple of Christ, wife to a handsome M.Div. student who loves to preach, and momma to four 5-and-under precious, feisty kiddos who each have their own hashtag on my instagram (#nerdalert). The hubs and I actually met as MKs in Moscow, Russia, and the six years I spent living overseas in Europe and Asia gave me an unquenchable love of traveling, as well as a fierce desire to live my life looking at people through His eyes and loving them with His compassion. In this season of life my days are spent quizzing my husband with Greek flashcards, playing dress-up with my kids as a stay-at-home mom, cooking homemade meals for starving seminary students as dorm mom, and helping lead the MOPS group at my church in Fort Worth, Texas. In between I read a lot of books, take a lot of pictures, and constantly rearrange our furniture.

Humbled Hearts Daybook GIVEAWAY

Today we are taking a mid-week break from the hustle and bustle. Jillian Dolberry of Hazel Berry Design is giving away a Humble Hearts Daybook to one winner. You may recognize the Daybook from a giveaway earlier this year, but this Daybook is the new and improved edition, plus, it has pretty flowers on the front cover.

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Jillian and I go way back. And by way back I mean we met online in January. :) I first contacted Jillian in hopes she would be of help in rebranding my photography business. It only took a couple of emails to realize that we were the perfect fit and I was confident she would do a remarkable job on creating a new look and feel for Alyssa Martin Photography (didn’t she do a GREAT job?!). One of the first steps to the branding process was a face-time meeting to get to know each other more and figure out the next steps. What I learned about Jillian during this meeting was that she 1) is awesome and 2) has a heart for the Lord that I admire greatly.

After taking a step back from the insatiable corporate world, Jillian started an online shop that “houses gifts to harvest a fulfilling life through faith and prayer.” Among many pretty Scripture prints, Jillian designed and created the Humbled Hearts Daybook – a 6 month journal for prayers & spiritual growth (available in multiple cover options!).

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This 100% linen cover/saddle stitched journal features a variety of topics including: Humble Focus (new topic each month that goes with the monthly verse), prayer requests for family & friends, struggle + fears, forgiveness, goals + dreams, intentional living, joy stealers, don’t give up, on my heart, & gratefulness.

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The Humble Heart Daybook sells for only $15.00, but Jillian has graciously provided discount codes for those of you who want to buy in bulk. Go in with some friends or stock up for Christmas gifts for your girlfriends!

QTY 3-9: use code “DAYBOOK1” / $14.00 ea
QTY 9-20: use code “DAYBOOK2” /13.50 ea
QTY 20+ please contact for pricing quote.

But wait…there’s more. Purchasing from Hazel Berry Design Co. gets even sweeter because your giving keeps on giving. As of April 1 of this year, Jillian decided to donate a portion of the Hazel Berry Design Co. shop sales to Compassion International‘s program to purchase bibles for children in extreme poverty in other countries. Why? Here’s her answer:

The more I was blessed with this business the more I began to see how much more it could do for others through it. I am excited about being able to give back and giving you the opportunity to be apart of it as well. 

Read more about why she gives and how you can too, here.

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It just wouldn’t be in true GLOW fashion to do a giveaway without showing you the story behind the product. Take a moment to read a piece of Jillian’s heart – it’s worth the .34939 seconds.

Before I started Hazel Berry Design Co. , I was living in a state of mind where I couldn’t get anywhere fast enough. It was a season of life where I was only focused on “MORE”. Blessings were all around me, but I wasn’t enjoying them because I was always moving, always working, always searching for the next big thing. I was greatly inspired by women who seemed to do it all – Chasing their dreams, finding time with the Lord, keeping a balanced home life… and their sanity while doing all of those things. So with rose colored glasses I strived to be just like them, spreading myself way too thin just trying to keep up with what I felt was an obtainable goal. I mean if they do it, why can’t I?! I quickly realized that I had it all wrong. My “drive” was working against me. So, through deep thought and prayer I realized that my calling wasn’t to climb a corporate ladder, make sure I had dinner prepared every night, or even always keep my self together, My calling was to sit, be still and allow God to speak through me, my thoughts, and my talents.

Hazel Berry Design Co. and every product we create and sell is designed to nurture the concept of being still in the midst of a go-getter, fast pace world. Often times we get lost in the details of everyday life. Run this errand, do this chore, make this payment, etc. But rushing from task to task distracts us from what we are being called to focus on… People, relationships, and doing things that fill us with joy. Taking time for your self and with the Lord can lead to more inspiration. In an effort to nurture and grow that concept in each of your hearts, Hazel Berry Design Co. Shop was created. 

And, in case you don’t remember… here is a brief peek into a day in the life of “Jillian”:

DOLBERRY-3JILLIAN DOLBERRY

I am a wife to an elementary PE teacher, momma to our sweet son Crew and our golden retriever Stella, and an avid tea drinker with a heart for Jesus. I own the graphic design and paper goods shop, Hazel Berry Design Co. My faith plays a big role in my everyday life and how I operate my business. I believe that design is a calling to bless others with creativity just as our Lord, the Master Designer, has done for us.

To learn more about Jillian, visit here. You can also check out her blog and I know she would love to hear from you as well.


THE GIVEAWAY

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY: Follow @glowliveaslight AND @hazelberrydesign on Instagram. Then, tag three friends in the comments of the photo that looks like this:

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If you don’t have instagram, don’t worry! Post a comment on this blog post telling us about a topic or two you would like to see covered on GLOW in the coming weeks.

The winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday and will be notified by GLOW. In the meantime, be sure to show Jillian some love and visit Hazel Berry Design online at http://www.hazelberrydesign.com.

This giveaway is for US residents only. Participants may only be entered for the giveaway one time.

 

Fall iPhone Graphic FREEBIES

Happy Friday! I don’t know about you, but I think today calls for a freebie…or two or three. Between travel, midterms and church activities, things have been B-U-S-Y for Mike and me. My house is a mess, I have one more midterm to finish up by Saturday and I have our church homecoming event coming up on Sunday. BUT, His grace is sufficient. He will get us through just like He always does and we will keep on keepin’ on…if you know what I mean. AND, on the bright side, I got to see my family in Colorado this week. That’s always a highlight of my year.

I love fall…and I get the vibe that most of you do too. So today, because it’s Friday and because we can, enjoy a little Friday fun and download a new iPhone graphic wallpaper. I included a few of my favorite verses, and the theme is fall because…priorities. It’s October after all. My hope is they will serve as reminders to look to Him throughout your day.

If you are reading this from your phone, simply click on the photo you want below, hold, and select the “Save Photo” option. Otherwise, you can click the link indicated and download them in full resolution off of Dropbox.

Have a great weekend and we will see you back here bright and early Monday morning!

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Click here to download

A Year to Remember

Sometimes I hate TV.

You are probably thinking that I am going to go off on some rant about how the Kardashians, I Am Cait, and the Real World are bringing about the demise of the country, but I’m not. You want to know what I hate more than all of those dramatic reality television shows? (Truth: I’m guilty – I often get caught up in dramatic reality shows. People can be so entertaining!)

The Christian Ministry channels. That is, the liberal preaching that’s so far from the Gospel spelled out in Scripture that I could throw up.

I understand that this is an exaggeration – a generalization if you will. Before I dive deeper, let me first explain that I do appreciate some televised preachers such as one of my personal faves, Billy Graham. However, the majority of televised sermons are full of un-biblical feel-good messages that not only confuse people spiritually, but frankly, lead people straight to hell. Yep, I said it.

“God wants you to be healthy. God wants you to be happy. God wants you to be rich. And, with enough faith, God will give you whatever you want.”

I’m not quite sure what Bible these prosperity gospel preachers read before they go on stage and lie to millions of people, but their words couldn’t be more…wrong.

God does loves you. He does care about you. But, this doesn’t mean that your life will always be full of rainbows and puppy dogs.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)

Sometimes, dare I say it, following Jesus means we aren’t always happy and healthy (not to mention the fact that there is sin in world). Simply put: God cares more about your holiness than He does about your happiness.

The thought that many people are being told, day after day, that they lost their job because they didn’t have enough faith, they are struggling financially because they aren’t trusting Jesus enough and their brain tumor diagnosis was, clearly, because they have a sin issue in their life is infuriating to me.

What about Biblical inerrancy? What about Biblical infallibility? What about Christian theological doctrine that is based on the Bible? It could be argued that the societal tolerance for loosened theology could be largely due to Christians lacking the theological doctrine necessary to rebuke these preachers, but whatever the reason, people that teach others something that is contradictory in any way to God’s Word are literally doomed to destruction.  His words, not mine. In Galatians 1:8 (shown below), the word “curse” is the Greek word “Anathema” which means, “a person or thing doomed to destruction.”

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” Galatians 1:8 (NIV)

Matthew 7:15-20 says it like this:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:15-20 (NIV)

It is my prayer that we as Christians be knowledgeable enough about Scripture to pluck out the wolves in sheep’s clothing. We need to use discernment when listening to preachers, comparing their words to God’s words to make sure they align properly. We need to hold the view of Biblical inerrancy (meaning the Bible is without error or fault in all its teaching) and Biblical infallibility (the belief that the Bible is incapable of error). Our standard should be nothing short of what’s written in Scripture. There is only one true Gospel – the Gospel spelled out in God’s Word – and that, friends, is what should be heard by all.

Imagine what could happen if people spent their weekday afternoons watching and listening to preachers who preached the true Gospel. National revival? Maybe.

We as a GLOW team decided that this week we would each talk a bit about what GLOW has meant to us. After all, TODAY is GLOW’s one-year anniversary! The first part of my post may seem to have swayed from the discussed topic, but for whatever reason this topic was heavy on my heart. I almost bumped it to next week, but then I got to thinking… Biblical inerrancy and theological accuracy is the foundation of what we are about. I couldn’t think of better timing than on our one-year anniversary.

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While GLOW may not reach millions and while we don’t have a televised platform, our view aligns with Biblical inerrancy. Take a moment to read what we believe:

Glow is Christ-centered and believes that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. We believe that Christ came to earth, died for our sins on the cross, and rose again on the third day. We acknowledge that we are sinners and need to accept God’s grace and mercy, asking Christ to forgive us for our fallen ways. We understand that God wants to have a relationship with us, and our goal is to encourage one another in this constant endeavor to be more like Him. We believe that the Bible is the Lord’s manual for our lives – it is infallible, incapable of error and inerrant in it’s entirety.

Exactly one year ago today, on September 29, 2014, GLOW launched. Oh how far we’ve come. We weren’t exactly sure what in store for this blogging community, but one year later, we have successfully:

  • Posted 5 days a week
  • Added three new members to the team
  • Developed a deep and loyal following
  • Grown in our personal spiritual walks with the Lord

Blogging once a week has not only challenged me in the discipline of actually sitting down to write once a week, but it has also kept me accountable for daily time with the Lord. I quickly realized that writing creativity was directly correlated with the current state of my relationship with Jesus. When I’m not spending enough time with God (or any time at all), I have nothing to say. Writing also forces me to think critically about the topics I write about. Yes…some topics are on the lighter side, such as last week’s Bible Study Tools post, but some topics have stretched to me to think hard and actually research what I think about an issue…and why I think that (such as this post). If we at GLOW are going to hold tightly to Bible inherency, Biblical infallibility, and true and accurate theological doctrine, it is my responsibility to ensure that my writing aligns with our standards (insert intimidated emoticon).

I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each and every one of our readers and in more ways that I can describe, I am excited about the future and honored to be a part of such a wonderful team of ladies. Since this blog is a product of the hard work of many, I have asked all the girls on the team a few questions – some regarding their experience with GLOW and others regarding life in general to mix it up a bit. Take a moment to read what Kelsey, Andi, Amanda, Lauren and Sarah have to say. We’ve already read Amanda’s post yesterday, but be sure to stick around the rest of the week to hear more from Kelsey, Andi and Sarah about their experience with GLOW, what God is doing in their lives, and how you all, our readers, have been an influence on us as we go through life together, daily pursuing Him.


 

KelseyKelsey

We’ve all experienced writer’s block. What do you do when you are in the midst of it and how do you overcome it?

Oh, writer’s block is my faithful friend! There’s usually not a week that goes by where I don’t have at least a little bit of it! I’ve come to see it as a blessing in disguise though. A few months ago, I started to get writer’s block in regards to my writing for GLOW really frequently and I was getting pretty frustrated by it. I began to realize though that my writer’s block was directly correlated with my quiet time with the Lord i.e. the less time I spent with Him the more writer’s block I would have. This realization was very humbling but very comforting at the same time because it reminded me that it should be His message flowing through my fingers and not my own and it wasn’t up to me to figure out what to say, He wanted to tell me. So, in answer to your question, what I do to overcome writer’s block is this; I pray. A lot. Then I listen to worship music and sing along. A lot. Then I get in the word and see what I can find and try to look around my everyday surroundings and happenings for things that illustrate the love and goodness of the Lord. Finally, I wait in silence for all of it to sink into my soul and for Lord to whisper something and, let me tell you, I think He’s always got something to say.

What words of advice do you have for someone who is considering writing consistently and/or  starting a blog of their own?

Just do it! Write consistently I mean. Every writer should have a unique voice and yours will never be developed if you don’t speak up and share it. My husband (who is actually the real writer in our family) always tells me that you should write because you have something that only you can share with the world whether that’s through the message itself or the way you say it and you just couldn’t imagine keeping it to yourself. If that’s you, if you are passionate about something that you feel like the world needs to hear like we are about Jesus at GLOW then go for it!

What has been your favorite memory or aspect about GLOW in the last year?

I am a very social person so I have absolutely loved meeting such amazing women through GLOW. God has blessed each of us with such unique talents and I love seeing his handiwork showcased through all of the different women involved whether they are readers or contributors. I’ve also been so very humbled by the different comments, shares, emails and texts from women who tell us what God is doing in their lives through the stuff that we post! I’ve loved being used by Him to encourage women in their faith! Thank you for letting us do that and please don’t stop telling us about the goodness of the Lord in your lives!


 

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What led you to say “yes” to being a weekly writer?

I’ve known Alyssa since college, so I already had the upmost respect for her. When she approached me about being a weekly writer, I needed to take some time to process and pray because I had just had my first baby! I began to pray, and it became so clear that the Lord was leading me to be part of GLOW. I had tracked my pregnancy through my own blog and enjoyed it so much, so I thought “why not?! Let’s give it a go!” And I’m so thankful I said yes!

What is one thing that you have learned about yourself or others through your experience as a weekly writer?
I have learned that none of us have it all together. I hope none of you ever read our posts and think, “Man if only I had myself together like these people.” Because we certainly don’t have it all together. We all have our struggles and I try very hard to be transparent as I write. I’ve also learned that you should give all opportunities a chance, even if you feel incapable or “less than.” I don’t feel worthy to be posting weekly, but God has used some of my words to encourage people in their every day. It makes our day when we read comments like, “That’s exactly what I needed to read today!” If God’s leading you to do something, jump in! He will give you the tools you need! He is going to use your abilities for His purpose if you let Him.
 

As you read other’s posts, what have been some of your favorite topics and what do you hope to hear more of in the coming months?

I SO enjoy some lighthearted posts every now and then! Some remodels, funny stories, glimpses into people’s homes, recipes, etc. I LOVE getting in depth with you ladies, but some of the lighthearted posts are FUN and make me feel like we’re sitting around chatting while we paint our toenails. It’s great to talk about the deep topics, but it’s also great to talk about FLUFF! :) I have enjoyed each and every contributor’s posts. GLOW has truly been a blessing in my life!


 

WeddingPhotoAmanda

You started writing for GLOW shortly after moving across the world away from your family, friends and the life you knew. How has the Lord worked in your heart through this transition and what advice would you give to someone who is planning to embark on a similar journey?

The Lord has literally rocked my heart in a million ways, and I am thankful for what He is doing, but it has certainly been hard. It sort of feels like my heart was this big sponge full of all the things I thought I knew and thought I was good at…full of all the things I found my confidence in apart from Christ. Through this transition, it feels like God is twisting and ringing that sponge out and constantly reminding me that I need to find my worth in Him.

To anyone who is about to embark on a similar journey, I say go for it! Do it with all of your heart. You know it will not be easy, and it is certainly not going to be easy. Cling to Jesus even when you don’t feel like it. Reach out to others if you are struggling and challenge them to keep you accountable. Give yourself grace to make mistakes, and allow God to make the best out of your circumstances instead of trying to fix things in your own strength.

In what ways can we support you and Drew that would be helpful to you in your context?

This may sound typical, but of course we could use the prayers and encouragement of this community. I love blogging once a week and hearing how what God is showing me impacts other people in the world. I also LOVE reading the other blogs the rest of the week on GLOW. It encourages me to write every week when others are also writing about what God is teaching them. I love getting feedback on posts, and I love hearing from our weekly and guest writers. Keep sharing what God places on your heart and it will challenge me to speak authentically from where God is speaking to my heart in our context half way across the world.

You can also support us by listening to, sharing and commenting on Drew’s music on iTunes and follow his band Oneheart on Twitter and Facebook. Before we left the states, Drew put together an EP of four songs he wrote during our last year there. Although we came to Zambia for Drew to go to seminary, his goal is to have a better understanding of the God, the Bible, and the church in order to enhance the way he feels God has called him to serve, through music. Zambia is full of wonderful, amazing people, and many ways for NGOs and churches to meet physical needs, but Drew has a vision to help meet people’s creative needs through art, music, and other methods of expression. We would love for you to support Oneheart and our journey here to help people through music and the arts. Spread the word, listen to music, and connect with us if you want to get involved!

If you had to name one thing, what is your favorite thing about GLOW, and weekly blogging as a whole?

I love the challenge! GLOW is an amazing network of beautiful people running after a common goal. I love the challenge of listening and seeking to find ways for God to speak through me, and each week I have a tangible opportunity as I write a blog for GLOW. Some weeks are much more challenging than others, but it is humbling to experience through this process that as I come to my lowest point, it allows Christ to shine brighter as my greatest strength.


 

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetLauren

You are the Editor in Chief of the campus magazine at California Baptist University. Tell us more about your responsibilities and what you plan to do with your experience.

As the EIC of Pursuit magazine, I am responsible for running a staff of copy editors, photo editors and designers in the production of the magazine throughout the year. We publish twice a semester and each issue tells stories of individuals on our campus, the ways God is working, fun generational trends and even societal issues that affect our students. Our fall 2015 issue is scheduled to be back from the printer on Oct. 19! We are beyond excited for that day and, let’s just be honest, I will probably shed a few tears when I am holding it in my hands for the first time. The vision that I have for Pursuit this year is to truly raise the bar in our excellence. We have had very strong staffs go before us and I know it is now my responsibility to help Pursuit become even better this year. Ways that we are doing this include, more thought-provoking articles, a higher level of photojournalism/visual storytelling, and a design fusion of trendiness and timelessness. As a publications staff at a Christian university, we believe that in order to reach more people with God’s love and refine our God-given talents, being relevant to the current trends and generational changes can be balanced with godly excellence and Biblical lifestyle. I have been, and continue to be, thoroughly humbled by my new experiences as a leader and every day I am learning to cling to my Lord for His guidance and grace. I pray that each issue of Pursuit this school year will shout His glory to a campus that has both the reached and lost.

What was it about GLOW that made you want to jump on board this summer?

Alyssa Martin. Meeting her this summer, working with her at SWBTS for a few days and having the opportunity to learn from her as a journalist and godly woman was HUGE for me. When she mentioned GLOW, I knew that jumping on board would not only allow me to continue to learn from Alyssa, but also from the other wonderfully godly women who are a part of it. I hope that I can be a help to GLOW, but the truth is that they have each been a help to me. In GLOW, I saw a genuine love for Jesus and a deep desire to encourage others. I also saw it as a unique discipleship opportunity, whether that is through blog posts, uplifting emails or a godly digital community.

As a college student, what types of issues are Christian women in their young twenties dealing with that challenge our Christian values? How can GLOW be a support system for this age group?

The main thoughts that come to mind with this question are, boys and direction.

Boys: Does this surprise you? From what I have seen at CBU, and am guessing is the case for many other young Christian women, is a desire and even pressure to find “the one.” This manifests itself into a skewed identity, a lack of affection for our Savior (our truest love), and even sexual immorality. The pressure is huge. There is also a feeling that the amount of solid, godly men in this generation is declining, mostly because the godly men of this generation do not know how to ask us out. At the same time though, solid, godly men who do pursue us are turned down if they are not a cookie-cutter, hipster, worship leader. This is a major, double-sided issue. The ladies of my generation need prayer. Prayer for their confidence, their identity, their godly standards, and their hearts. We also need older, wiser women to disciple us and convict us of getting too caught up in finding a husband or the perfect husband. Jesus should be our first priority. If being single means that we can reach more people for His name, then Amen! But that is so difficult to be okay with sometimes.

Direction: Trying to discover direction for our lives is a struggle as well. I think that our generation also puts pressure on this area of life because we get so caught up in what we are “called” to do. I am sure this is true of all generations and ages, but many different societal movements are gaining momentum, and I think sometimes we feel pressure to jump on the bandwagon of each of those causes. This in turn creates a feeling of  being “called,” and if you aren’t feeling called, then you feel left out or unimportant. A specific example of this from CBU is the pressure that you can only serve God best if you are overseas and/or have a global studies degree. I think it is important for my generation to simply be open and adamant about following Jesus anywhere and serving Him through whatever talents He has given usSome social causes are important– but let’s get involved for the right reasons and let’s not change our majors simply to fit that criteria. Pray for us to have discernment, but mostly pray that we would listen to God and look for the doors he is opening in our lives. Pray that our talents and education would be used specifically for the furthering of His Kingdom and that we would not be afraid to be different and unique in that.


 

Family of 6 portraitSarah

What excites you about being a consistent contributor to GLOW?

Man alive, so many things! I passionately believe that social media is a tool that we’re to use to encourage one another by speaking truth. And I know firsthand what an incredible gift it can be to come across an article or post from a blog like GLOW and have it hit home. Words have such power to uplift and inspire, to change our perspective and spark action. I also simply enjoy words, always have—books, lyrics, movie quotes—and believe God has gifted me with the ability to communicate clearly and effectively. Writing for GLOW is a tangible way for me to stop neglecting and start using that gift in this season of life. So if just one sentence I throw out into cyberspace can change the trajectory of one person’s day… if it can spur them on to love their people better, to think differently about a hard issue, to understand more clearly Christ’s great love for them… all while I’m having fun using the talents God’s instilled in me? Well then put a fork in me, ’cause I’m done. That excites me for sure.

We’ve seen your first post, but what other types of topics can our readers expect from you? 

Real talk? I’ve got a list going in the “notes” app on my phone entitled “things I could maybe possibly write about if I get the guts and God says ok.” Said list includes some of the following: adoption, puzzle dates, that seminary wife, cussing, postpartum depression, the punching bag, simplifying, network marketing, picking humans, forgiving when you can’t, what I’ve learned gaining 4 kids in 3 years, to own or change your quirks, and heart refrigerator list. I know, I know, such a tease! Now I guess I better put my money where my mouth is and find those guts.

You are very involved in your church, as dorm parents at Southwestern Seminary and a mama to 4. How do you manage to juggle all the responsibilities?

This question made me laugh, because I couldn’t help but picture a literal clown surrounded by a mess of fallen rings, shrugging with her hands up like “I can’t, I can’t even.” That’s the most honest answer I can give you: I can’t juggle it all. Recently I memorized 2 Corinthians 9:8, which says “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” If we could sit down face to face over a gorgeous brunch I could literally talk for hours about all that the Lord has been teaching me through this verse, and I’d encourage you to dissect it for yourself—read the context, grab a commentary, Google the Greek root words with a tool like blb.org (it’s way easier than it sounds!). But the bottom line is that a rich promise lies in these words, that when we give—of our resources, our time, our energy and our hearts—He will abundantly replenish and sustain us. Practically speaking, this means that in this season of giving often and a lot, I am praying all the live long day, constantly talking with God as things come up asking for wisdom on what to do next and the strength with which to do it. I also have an incredible support system including my family, girlfriends, and prayer warriors I can text at any time, and the Lord has been teaching me a lot about community and what the church can and should be… but that is another post for another day!

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