Faithful Butterflies

Yesterday, I was walking back to my dorm. My backpack filled with binders and school supplies bounced against my spine, straps secured over my shoulders. The summer heat and classic southern humidity filled the atmosphere, making me hurry towards the air-conditioned building: Ridgecrest South. It loomed in the near distance – students exiting and entering in the always moving throng of a college campus. As my feet transitioned from grass to pavement, a fluttering movement caught my eye. Flitting across the grounds, were tiny, adorable little butterflies. Their cheery neon-yellow color bestowed of their vibrancy for life, drawing a smile onto my face.

I hope the title of this post is beginning to make sense.

Today, it was like all of the things that have occurred – which I will go in more detail to – came together in a perfect masterpiece and a lightbulb hit me. Sometimes in life, changes happen, and you’re thrown into it wondering how am I supposed to do this? That’s sort of the season I’m in now. College is a huge difference, going from a homeschooled-Christian environment to a large, secular university; an introvert entering one of the largest colleges. Kind of crazy.

The past week or so, several events have happened. Little things, that you might not assume were connected if you weren’t looking for it. For me, even though I did not realize it at the time, the connection started one afternoon. I was walking and suddenly, one of my professor’s called my name – saying she wanted to speak with me. She assured me that I was not in trouble, before referencing a piece of work I had done.

“Have you found a church home yet?”

I shook my head. “No, I’m still sort of looking around.”

With my response, she told me about the church she and her husband have been attending for the past few years. “They have a great college program,” she said, suggesting I should come and visit. I thought it was amazing that she was a Christian: even though her class is my hardest, she’s my favorite teacher. After I learned all of this, I instantly knew why she has been my favorite.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God,” ~ 1 John 4:1

Even though I did not know it at the time, I believe subconsciously the Holy Spirit was telling me that the same spirit that was in me, was in her. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty AMAZING. SO. COOL.

After class, I headed to the Student Center so I could pick up a package. There were a couple of students in front of me, though not many. When my turn came, I handed them my Action Card and signed off on it, during which they went to get my package. They handed the cardboard box, and I walked past the glass doors to where a gray shelf/table jutted out from the wall. Placing the box on it, I grabbed my cellphone and checked Facebook (as every good millennial would do xD). That’s when I saw I had a notification.

Take a wild guess as to what the overall message was about…God’s faithfulness. My friend, Ane, was going to be sharing in my mom’s Bible Study about how God had been so faithful to her (side note: Ane, you seriously need to start a blog! Your story is amazing). Obviously, I’m not in my hometown right now, so I couldn’t be there. I was so glad she had sent what she was going to say to me! As I finished reading it, all the pieces clicked and I realized how faithful and loving God has been to me.

And when God does something like that, you have to tell. I mean, first of all, it’s SO COOL, and secondly, it can help encourage others! Or God can use it to prompt them as Ane did for me 🙂

“I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!” ~ Psalm 40:10-11

Where do I start?

This past weekend, I went home. On Sunday, I headed to church (albeit very late SORRY, thank goodness God can work through all of our faults!), and saw Mrs. Jane. I greeted her with a wave and hug, before heading into the sanctuary. When the service was over, she approached me and we started to talk. I told her about college, and some of the changes I was having to get used to. Honestly, I can’t really explain the friendship I have with her. I suppose the simplest way, would be that it is completely brought together by God. He has made us kindred spirits. She prayed with me, before I left.

One of my mom’s friends, Mrs. Elizabeth, has been so sweet to me. This past summer I had the opportunity to house-sit her home and watch her silly, cute pets while she and her family were away. I was really grateful for the chance, and as I’ve started college, she has been faithful in praying for me. Knowing the wisdom she has, I’m so grateful for that! She sent me two packages and a letter, which I was gratefully surprised by! The package I mentioned earlier, was from her and contained beautiful, delicious sugar cookies in the shape of Dogwood blossoms/flowers.

Then there’s the cards from my grandparents and aunt with Starbucks gift cards (I’m pretty sure I live off caffeine nowadays xD) – a wonderful surprise that brightened my day. On Tuesday, I met with my English teacher and she was so encouraging to me! She strongly encouraged me to consider majoring or minoring in creative writing. Yesterday, someone from BamaCru – a Christian organization – texted me, asking if I would like to get lunch or coffee.

Isn’t it amazing, how God orchestrated everything? I’m so humbled that He loves me like that!

If you’re experiencing a time of change or are in a place where you don’t know what you’re doing, I would encourage you to ask God to pray for Him to show His love to you, for you to experience kisses from the Prince of Peace. Sometimes we forget, but as believers, we are His children! He delights in giving us good gifts!

“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” ~ Luke 11:11-13

~ Southern Dreamer

And Everything Was Still

“Be still and know that I am God,” ~ Psalm 46:10

Know: be convinced or certain of, have understanding of, perceive directly, have knowledge of.

Still: free from noise or turbulence, devoid of or abstaining from motion.

Last December (I know…a long time ago, but I’m a senior so 😉 ), I felt God reminding me of this verse. I’ve never really fully understood it; I’ve always thought of it as being really serious. But I think that the Holy Spirit revealed to me, at least, part of what it means.

“I am God…”

I am…LOVE: an assurance of affection, unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the Cutest thing I have ever seen: good of another, warm attachment/enthusiasm/devotion, strong affection for another.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” ~ Romans 5:8

I am…PEACE: freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions, a state of tranquility or quiet, a state of security.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid,” ~ John 14:27

I am…GRACE: a special favor, unmerited divine assistance, a state of sanctification Easter Sessions with a lamb and cross, in a beautiful field of wildflowers! www.expressionsbybrandy.com: enjoyed through divine grace.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” ~ Hebrews 4:16

I am…COMPASSION: sympathetic consciousness of others distress, together with a desire to alleviate it.

“When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things,” ~ Mark 6:34

I am…HOPE: to expect with confidence, trust, to cherish a desire with anticipation.I remember days like these, young and at my Grams. Such cherished memories of how magical I remember my childhood. Children are such blessings. And their lil voices have so much to offer ☀️                                                                                                                                                     More:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope,” Jeremiah 29:11

I wrote out these definitions to remind myself, yes God is holy, but He is also our father…daddy. And sometimes, or most of the time, I forget that and struggle with thinking that God is out to punish me.

1 John 4:18 addresses this. For all my fellow perfectionists out there, this is a good verse to remember 🙂

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love,” ~ 1 John 4:18

So when God says, “be still and know that I am God,” I do not think He is only referring to the literal meaning. I think this is also referring to being still, resting and soaking in God’s love, grace, and compassion.

God is righteous and holy and omniscient, but He is also our father, dad. And like any good parent, He does not want us to fear Him. We should have a respectful “fear,” of course, in the sense that He is God and it would be foolish and idiotic to mock, test, etc…Him.

JESUS on Pinterest | Greg Olsen, Son Of God and Pictures Of Jesus: With that said, we do not have to fear the Lord. Using the verse again from under the definition of grace, it says:

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” ~ Hebrews 4:16

With confidence. Not terrified or worried about coming to God. He says that we can come to Him with confidence.

Confidence is, “the quality or state of being certain, a communication made in confidence, a relation of trust of intimacy.”

The next time you and I begin to fear punishment from God, I hope we can remember His great love and the invitation to come to Him with confidence.

~ Southern Dreamer

Note: The definitions for love, peace, grace, hope, and compassion along with confidence, came from Merriam-Webster.

Love

Love: a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties

barefoot Summers - mine were dirty but not THIS dirty...as I recall??: “Mommy.”

A mother looks down at her three-year-old son. Dirt is smeared across his face, though a brilliant smile shows his baby white teeth. His once yellow shirt, is now covered in splattering’s of strawberries, purple paint, and something else that she decides is better left unknown. “Yes, sweetie?”

The toddler raises up his chubby arms – asking to be held.

She complies, settling him onto her hip.

Golden curls giving him an angelic appearance (perhaps she is biased, though, she concludes humorously, her little one would certainly be one of the most mischievous of all the angels), he wraps his arm around her neck and lays his head down with a heavy-breathed sigh. “I love you mommy.”

~~~

Love:  the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration

“No.” The college undergraduate frowns at the poor, pitiful looking faces. She shakes her head, Baby Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies! (Breeder: Chadwick Cavalier King Charles Spaniel's):: brown locks falling over her face. Pushing her red-rimmed glasses back up the bridge of her nose, she sighs. Why did they have to look so utterly adorable? Cute little cinnamon rolls…she thinks.

Two puppies, bounding over each other in their haste to get her attention, wag their tails impatiently. The smaller one’s chocolate eyes look up at her as if to say, pick me! I’m right here! The bigger one, not to be outdone, puts its white paws up on the glass – head cocked to the side as though it knew this made it look priceless.

“Oh who am I kidding?” mumbled the twenty-year-old, “I love you both!”

~~~

Love: warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion

Tutu Dress Yellow Princess Belle: “Daddy.”

“…”

“Daddy.”

The father drags his attention away from the newspaper he had been reading, turning to look at his eight-year-old. She has on a yellow gown with a cut, pasted, and crayon-colored paper crown on top of her head. Sassy as always, one hand is on her hip – lips pressed tightly together. “What is it Bella?”

She comes closer, placing both hands on top of his forearm. Her facial expression is utterly serious as she leans in to whisper in a not-so-quiet way. “You’re supposed to dance with me. Since I’m the princess, you’re the prince.” Tone confident, she waits for his reply – dark eyes blinking.

He chuckles to himself – though quickly stops when he remembers how seriously she takes this. “Why, I would be delighted to princess!”

A bright grin stretches itself across her face, and she has to use every measure of eight-year-old self-control to retain the dignity of royalty. Minutes later, when the music from Beauty and the Beast drifts through the kitchen, and she is held in his arms – head upon his shoulder, her childish voice says, “Love you daddy.”

~~~

Love: a beloved person

“How could you do that?”  he yells, dragging a hand down the side of his face. What on God’s A grey and white kitten resting on its owner's bed.: good green earth had she been thinking? She could have been killed! Not to mention, that her car was pretty much totaled.

She huffs in annoyance. “It was nothing, and I am perfectly fine.”

“You almost weren’t!”

“But I am!”

“THAT’S BESIDES THE POINT.”

“WELL, I WASN’T GOING TO LET THAT KITTEN GET RUN OVER.”

He groans loudly, running a hand through his black hair. “How are you such an idiot….”

She glares furiously at him, blue eyes sparking despite the fact that a gash of blood is still dribbling onto her skin. The gray and white kitten, held securely in her arms, makes itself smaller as though it realizes it is the topic of this…unfortunate conversation. “Why do you even care!?!?”

Before he even realizes what he is saying, his mouth is already open. “Because I love you!” 

~~~

Love: an assurance of affection

senior photography. twins. laura benitz photography. senior portraits. st joseph mo. country: “I swear if they ever – ” The eighteen-year-old grits his teeth together, infuriated by the fact that some people seemed to think it was a peachy  idea to make fun of his sister. He had several choice words for them, and all one-hundred-percent of them were words that were probably better left unsaid.

His twin sister, glanced at him, sad smile on her face. “It’s fine, we’ll both be gone next year anyway.” She tucked a red curl behind her ear, the afternoon sun casting a glow onto her freckled face.

Suddenly, he wrapped her in a tight embrace. “Don’t believe them, ok? You’re the best person and friend I know.”

She nodded against him, pushing back the tears. “Thanks…you’re pretty awesome yourself,” she stated, adding softly, “I love you.”

“Love you too sis.”

~~~

Love: the fatherly concern of God for humankind, unselfish loyal and benevolent, concern for the good of another, an assurance of affection.“Let Me Sing Your Goodness & Greatness In Thankfulness To Your Name. In Jesus Name. Amen”:

Psalm 116:1, “I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.”

“I’m sorry Lord, I should not have disrespected You like that.” Her eyes filled with tears, fear wanting to grasp hold. Why had she said that? The peer pressure…she should have been stronger. And now, what if He did not want to forgive her? Sure, she knew that the Bible said He forgives…but this? She was not certain, why would He want to forgive her when she had disrespected Him, even after He had died for her?

“You are forgiven.”

Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ”

He was angry. Angry at God. Angry at Him for taking his mother. How could someone who claimed to literally BE love do that? He sure as heck did not know. And he was hurt, pained, and angry over it.

“I know you are angry, but I see past that. I see to your hurt, your tears, your struggle with wanting to know why. My child, even if you do not want to talk to me, I am here with you – amidst your pain, amidst your struggle. My love is still here.”

1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

Stupid. Ok. Sure, she had been at school all day and then rushed to work her job after that, and then needed to complete all of her schoolwork, and maybe it was midnight…and most people would probably call it quits (or think she was crazy), but she had not read her Bible at all today. Actually. She had not read it in three days, and boy was she feeling guilty for it. Never mind the fact that she was doing her best.

My daughter, I see how hard you are working – and how much you desire to please me. Your high expectations and perfectionism are wearing you down. Rest in me and let my peace become the rhythm of your life.  

Isaiah 49:15-16, ““Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.”

He threw his books down, having just returned from work. Shaking his head, his heart felt God's love for us is unconditional and undeserved. Because He truly loved us and knew that we were worth it, He suffered and died for us on the cross. All of God's children are of importance! Trust in Him, and let Him lead the way.: lonely…empty…forgotten. He felt like no one really saw him for HIM. He was just another face in the crowd. Another number.

You are not forgotten, my son. Even if other people may pass over, neglect, or cause you to feel insignificant, you are not. You are my child, part of a royal priesthood with a legacy of brothers and sisters who have gone before you. You are mine, and I love you.

Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

She was excited! And happy! For one, she had been surprised with an adorable black kitten with white paws (already named Mittens, of course) by her boyfriend. Yep. He was the best. Secondly, she had been praying for a while that she could manage to find a job – and TADA, this morning she had gotten the call. Today. Was. Awesome.

I love to give my children good gifts, daughter. Take care of Mittens, he has a bit of a mischievous streak.

John 15:9, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”

For some reason, the past few days he had been feeling depressed. He shouldn’t be – by all worldly standards at least. He had a wife, two children, and a good job. What was wrong with him? “God,” he prayed, “I-I’m not sure what’s up with me lately, but I just need to know you are here.”

My son, I am here. You have been worrying and fretting over the future. Rest in my love. You are safe.

maybe I can get my brother the blacksmith to make some of these ❤ for me! #OliviaGarden #BeautyTools: 1 John 4:9-10, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

 

 

Family. Friendships. Pets. In our world, there are so many wonderful, different forms of love. Yet, the greatest of all of this is the love of our Savior, who loved us unconditionally without receiving anything in return and to such an extent, that He died on the cross – still knowing that many would choose to reject Him.

This Valentine’s day, let us remember the true meaning and definition of love: Jesus Christ.

Note: the definitions for “love” came from Merriam-Webster.

Prison of Fear

Everyone has fears. Some are small, others are big, and then, there are those that completely and totally overwhelm us.

fight song2

Fear is a tricky thing. It can creep up slowly and over time; perhaps subconsciously, until it rears its ugly head in our face. In other cases, it can come suddenly and without announcement. Maybe you’ve been through something traumatic and suddenly things that you did not fear before, are now quite terrifying.

I think, sometimes, we visualize fear in a one dimensional picture: snakes, the dark, experiencing change. But fear can also be the root cause of other issues in our life. Perfectionism (I fall into this category :p): fearing that you must be perfect, fearing the punishment or reaction if you are not. Being a people-pleaser: fearing that you have to make everyone happy, fearing the reaction of others if you say something that contradicts their own beliefs.

In the Bible, there are over a 100 references where it says, “fear not” or “do not be afraid” (http://www.openbible.info/topics/living_life_to_the_fullest). By that sheer number, it’s apparent that Jesus knew we were going to have fear – BUT, that we do not have to be afraid.

John 10:10 says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

God wants us to live life in the freedom of our salvation. He does not want fear to keep us from experiencing the blessings He offers. Of course, this is easier said than done. I know in my own life, its very easy to say, ‘oh, I’m not going to be afraid. I’m going to give this to the Lord,’ but quite another to actually follow through with it.

2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Yet as the verse above says, God has given us a spirit full of power, love, and self-control. All components that help to combat fear.

Power is the Holy Spirit. If you really desire to be free from fear, this is where everything starts. The others are important too, but without the Holy Spirit, we’re trying to drive a car without gas.

The Bible says in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” Think of a time when you felt completely safe and secure. Was it when you were wrapped in the arms of your father or mother? Watching a movie in bed with your brother or sister? Similarly, God’s love is our security. We do not have to worry whether or not He will love us one moment and stop the next. His love is perfect, unfailing, and encompassing. Jesus demonstrated the greatest form of love there is: dying for us when we were still stuck in the mud of sin and unrighteousness. His love overcomes fear

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Jeremiah 31:3 and Proverbs 8:35

 

Self-control is the last one mentioned in 2 Timothy. This is where our ‘homework’ comes into play. You have to want to be free from fear and be willing to do the necessary work. Self-control does not include only physical actions, but the discipline of the mind – which can be harder in many ways since it is not a tangible thing.

And Jesus does not expect us to fight our fears or anxiety alone! Sometimes I completely forget that I can ask Him to help me to not be afraid; I’m so set on how can I solve this or how I can work through this, that I neglect the one being who can help me through anything.

Being willing to ask for help – tell a close family member or friend. Expose light onto the fear so it cannot continue to ravage around in your mind, rely on God, and put in the effort are all important parts of overcoming fear. Fear doesn’t go away on its own. It must be a conscious decision to defeat it.

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Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

~ Southern Dreamer