Anorexia: It’s Not Just For Your Body

Anorexia and other eating disorders are and have been a serious issue in our world. Although I haven’t struggled with this myself, I’ve had friends who have. Watching these people that I love so much hurt their bodies was absolute torture for me, but this has gotten me thinking about spiritual bodies. Mental health and the physical body are very clearly affected by anorexia, but your spiritual body can suffer from anorexia as well.

Imagine trying to survive on one meal per week. It wouldn’t go very well, or very long. The funny thing is, so many of us are only getting one spiritual meal per week, maybe even less. Just like we can’t survive on one physical meal per week, we also can’t survive on one spiritual meal per week. God requires so much more of our time than that. He longs for us to seek Him each and every day. Now I don’t know about you, but I get extremely hangry when I haven’t eaten in awhile. Anyone who knows me knows that it is not pretty. Our spirits hunger and thirst for the word of God. We begin to see our lives and our spirits fall the longer they go without the spiritual food they need.

If we are starving ourselves of Christ, how are we suppose to attract others to Him? Many believers are guilty of this, including me. There are too many excuses to count for not spending time with God. We were put on this earth to be disciples and share the love of God with others. If we are starving ourselves, we will never have the spiritual energy to complete this mission. When we feed ourselves spiritually, we will look joyful and full of life.

I challenge you to start your day with God each morning. Keep track of how your life changes and you will be amazed! We must make time to spend with God. Just as my friends’ eating disorders hurt me, it hurts God to see his children starve themselves of the bread of life.

Our Time Isn’t Really Ours

It seems as though life is a constant struggle against time. There isn’t enough time in the day, things aren’t going to schedule, or maybe you thought you would have your life figured out by now. We all feel this way, trust me! It’s incredibly frustrating and tiring to have to constantly worry about time. We think that we should be able to control everything, but the truth is, we will never be able to do that and we will never be satisfied in trying to do that.

I have been struggling recently with figuring out what I’m going to do after college. Yes, I know, I am only a freshman, but this is a serious concern for me. I truly don’t have a plan and many things have changed in my heart since coming to college. I realized that all this time I have been trying to control this part of my life when I have absolutely no idea what may lie ahead.

A verse that has really helped me through this is Ecclesiastes 3:11, “yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” It is super common for people, especially at my age, to worry about their lives and what will come of them. What we don’t realize is that God sees the whole picture. We can only see little pieces, but God has already put everything together. He knows each and every part of Your life and has His sovereign hand in everything to guide You. If we follow Christ, we will be able to lead the life God has intended for us. That life is perfect in His will. That’s right, perfect.

As ordinary people, we try to make things happen exactly when we want them and then freak out when that doesn’t happen. We don’t know how to not get our way. But as Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” This means even sadness, heartbreak, and mourning. Times may get difficult, but everything is made beautiful in God’s time.

We want everything to be instantaneous, but the journey to achieving our goals is what leads us to discover and seek God. My prayer for you all this week is that God gives you the patience and understanding to trust His plan for you life. Everything will happen in His time. So just relax and enjoy the ride.

Wake Up Call

Last semester, I woke up late. My new 6 week chapel series was starting that day and most of my friends had decided to go on Thursday mornings at 9:45. I heard my roommate leave for her 8 a.m. and told myself that I had a half hour left to sleep. I woke back up awhile later and realized my alarm still hadn’t gone off. Curious, I sat up and looked at my phone. My phone must have turned off during the night and was stuck on the opening screen. “Sprint” flashed across my phone screen, but I couldn’t get it to do anything else. Let’s just say, I was not very happy about this. “I just got this phone over Thanksgiving break!” I thought to myself. I hurried up and got ready and miraculously made it to chapel on time.

When I got to chapel, we found out that the topic we would be focusing on for the next 6 weeks was seeking God. Our chapel leader told us a story about how she used to wake up in the morning and read her paper filled with bad news and drink coffee before getting ready for the day. She would push off spending time with God and tell herself, “I just don’t have time.” She later discovered that seeking God was the most important thing in life and if she had time to read the paper every morning, she certainly had time to spend with God.

I was in shock. I thought about how every morning I spent about a half hour on my phone before I got out of bed and often pushed God off for days when “I had more time.” I then thought about my phone and how it had stopped working. God was certainly trying to get my attention! Instead of spending all that time on my phone every morning, I could be spending time deep in His word and starting my day off with some spiritual breakfast.

There are exactly 41 verses in the entire Bible that talk about seeking God. Each and every verse holds promises for those that seek Him. And let me tell you, these are some promises that you don’t want to miss out on! Deuteronomy 4:29 says, “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” A reoccurring theme that I found throughout these verses was the fact that if we seek God, we will find Him. It never once says that someone went searching for God and couldn’t find Him. God is waiting patiently for us to reach out to Him, and if we do, He will 100% guaranteed be found! 

I know what you’re thinking, “Lauren, this post is super long.” I know, I know. If you are reading this still, I hope that you will take a look at these verses and read about God’s promises for you. Don’t save God for later. Pick up your Bible right now and start reading! If you don’t, God might just shut your phone off! (In case anyone was wondering, my phone worked fine the very next day).


Verses:

Deuteronomy 4:29; 1 Chronicles 16:10-11, 22:19, 28:9; II Chronicles 7:14, 12:14, 14:4, 15:2-3, 15:12-13, 15:15, 19:3, 26:5, 30:18-19; Psalm 9:10, 10:4, 14:2, 22:26, 24:5-6, 27:4, 27:8, 34:10, 40:16, 63:1, 70:4, 105:3-4, 119:2, 119:10, 119:58; Proverbs 8:17; Isaiah 45:19, 55:6; Jeremiah 29:11-13; Hosea 5:15, 10:12; Amos 5:4-6; Zephaniah 2:3, Zechariah 8:12; Matthew 6:33, 7:7; Acts 17:27; Hebrews 11:6

Finding Peace in A Split Society

It’s pretty much impossible not to notice the tension, hatred, and downright turmoil that is happening not only in our world, but specifically in the United States (and if you haven’t noticed, you’ve been staying off of social media for the past few months, and for that I applaud you!). Now I know I’ve only been alive for 18 years, but I have never witnessed this much opposition amongst our nation. It truly saddens me when I think about it. During my devotions this morning, I read about peace. This got me wondering about what God thinks of all of this separation amongst his people.

Psalm 133 is a very short chapter, but the message is very clear: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” As believers, we are called to live out our lives in peace. Now, this is much easier said than done. As you have probably seen on various Facebook fights and Twitter rants, passions are deep with these certain issues and everyone seems to think they are right. There is truly no openness to opinions that aren’t our own and no willingness to listen to the opposing side. I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to this. It is just so challenging to bite your tongue when you believe so strongly in something!

Unfortunately, many people look at the church and expect perfection. They think to themselves, “aren’t Christians suppose to have all the answers?” or “if they were true Christians, they would/wouldn’t be doing ___.” I’m sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but the church never has, and never will be perfection. The church is flawed because it is run by man, and we all know that man is flawed. Sin has existed ever since Adam and Eve. So using the excuse “I am a Christian so I know more than you” is not at all a valid excuse to engage in a political fight with anyone. Not even your most beloved pastor, rabbi, priest, etc. is a perfect human! 

Instead of seeing perfection, the world should see the reflection of Christ’s love when it looks at the church. Joy should be found within the walls and peace should be felt from within the people and their relationship with God. If there is fighting amongst God’s people, then how are we suppose to find unity within our country? The world is full of chaos, but Christians were made to be set apart.

To be at peace, we must find humility within ourselves and let go of our pride. Surrender your will to the Father and turn away from your selfish desires. When you find yourself wanting to make a nasty comment (even if your intent is to inform that person), or refusing to talk to one of your life long friends or family members based on a different view, take a moment to pray and ask God for guidance. We have been so busy trying to defend what we think is right, when all along God just wants his people to live in peace.

Peace must start in your heart and mind. Peace must be daily sought out through Christ. Without finding peace in Christ, we will never find peace with each other. 

The Gift of A Father

I would like to dedicate this post to my dad for his birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you so much and am so thankful for everything you do for me.

There are so many people out there who do not have good relationships with their fathers for various reasons. I feel so lucky and blessed to have such an incredible father in my life. I truly don’t know or understand why some people have great relationships with their fathers and some people don’t. I don’t know what I did to deserve this, but I know I am grateful. Having a wonderful father is truly a gift in more ways than one.

1. He Truly Wants to Spend Time With Us

My dad will do anything to spend time with each of his four children. He has coached at least one sports team for each of us, is always willing to talk with us about anything, but my favorite thing he does is take us each out on dates. Dad usually takes us to a really fancy restaurant and lets us order whatever we want. We get to sit there and talk one on one with him and it really means so much. He truly values spending time together with his family above all other responsibilities.

2. He Never Stops

My dad has never been, and never will be, one to just sit around and relax. He likes to constantly be active. Even on his day’s off, he is working hard to do something around the house for our family, helping out another family member or neighbor, or taking my brother hunting or fishing with him. My dad works incredibly hard for our family and wants us all to have the best lives possible.

3. Sharing Interests

Although my dad and I don’t really share the same interests, he always makes an effort to try to learn more about what I’m currently involved in. He is open to learning about whatever I’m interested in and likes to teach my siblings and me about fishing, hunting, and the outdoors (although I don’t always share the same open-minded attitude).

4. Perfect Model of What to Expect From a Husband

When Valentine’s Day comes around, my dad makes sure to make it special for not only his wife but also his children (especially his three daughters). He does sweet gestures for my mom all the time and writes us heartfelt notes at unexpected times. My dad would do anything for each of us and is constantly reminding us of how much he loves us. He sets the bar high but is the perfect example of a great husband.

5. He Taught Me The Importance of Faith

The biggest thing I will ever take from my father is the importance of faith. My dad takes his faith very seriously and he is a wonderful example of a Christian father. He encourages me to pray and have an intimate relationship with God. This has been such a big influence on my life and I am so grateful that he has taught me about God’s plan and sacrifice.

Being Content In Your Own Life

Let’s just get everything out in the open to start: being content with your own life all the time is hard.There is always someone out there who seems to have it all together, is prettier than you, healthier than you, more organized than you, and the list goes on. Getting jealous of others and what they have accomplished is easy to do. We are constantly comparing ourselves, our jobs, and even our own families to other people’s, especially these days in the age of social media.

I’m as guilty as anyone. Recently, I have been really struggling with this as I begin my second semester of college. I look around at all of my classmates from high school and my friends from college and see these great and wonderful things they are getting involved in, or their 4.0 GPA’s from first semester, or this incredible opportunity or job they have been given. I have began to compare myself to them and put myself down. I have taken a look at my own life and am unsatisfied. I have blamed myself for not being “on track.” I have worried about my life and my future day after day.

Clearly, this is a huge problem. First of all, by comparing my life to everyone around me, I am overlooking all of the countless blessings God has put into my life and most likely have even missed some of His incredible works that were right in front of my face. I’m so caught up in other people’s lives, that I forget how incredible my own is. Second of all, what even defines one’s life as being “on track.” God places obstacles, revelations, joys, and hardships in our lives all in His perfect timing. Just because you aren’t exactly where your best friend is in life, doesn’t mean you are off schedule! We can’t plan our own lives. That sentence is so important, I’m going to say it again. We can’t plan our own lives. That’s a hard fact to digest, trust me. We can tell ourselves we want to be married by 25, but God’s plans can totally override our own plans for our future. But the best news is, His plan is so much better. 

Each and every one of us are doing great and wonderful things. They are all on totally separate scales and they will all happen at totally different times, but we all have the ability to accomplish something great. Focusing on the Lord will bring peace and satisfaction back into your life. So here’s to us, my friends. May God allow our eyes to be opened to the wonderful opportunities surrounding us in life. Cheers!

The 5 Love Languages

I took a class over the month of January at Messiah called The Foundations of Marriage and Family. Now when I tell people the title of my class, I get one of two responses.

A: the person looks intrigued and say something to the extent of, “That sounds interesting!” or B: they look at me strangely and ask if I’m preparing to get married and start a family. I’ve always been incredibly interested in different aspects of marriage and family life and how to improve my relationships and communication skills with others.

My class started talking about Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages. I discovered the 5 Love Languages website this summer when one of my friends suggested that we all take the test and find out what our love language was. The way this works is, you take a questionnaire and at the end, it ranks the 5 Love Languages (words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch) into the order in which you receive and give the best and most often.

Not only is this a fun activity to do with your friends or with your partner, but it is also super important when it comes to understanding any sort of relationship. People give and receive love so differently and sometimes we can make the mistake of thinking that someone is upset with us or doesn’t love us as much as we love them. Most of the time this isn’t the case, it is just the fact that the other person gives and receives love differently than you do.

1. Words of Affirmation

The first love language is words of affirmation. People with this love language need to be verbally encouraged. Compliments mean the world to these types of people. This person is empathetic and tries to see the world from their partner’s perspective. Verbal acts of forgiveness are important to these people as well. How often do you tell those you love in your life how much you appreciate them? How about verbally apologizing and trying to make things right? Being an encouraging friend or partner is so important in a relationship and provides a sense of trust to all involved.

2. Quality Time

People who have this love language value meaningful time with the people they care most about. Making sure the time is focused and there are little to no distractions is key. It doesn’t necessarily have to be doing an activity together. People with this love language are also a huge fan of quality conversation. Finding an activity that both you and your loved one can enjoy together is not only tons of fun, but healthy for a relationship.


3. Receiving Gifts

This love language puts a huge value on giving tokens of love. It is usually not the monetary value of a gift, but the sentimental value that is the most important to this type of person. Giving the gift of yourself and your time is another way to show love in the most effective way to this love language. Everyone loves to be appreciated and gifts are always nice. It is truly the little things that matter most.

4. Acts of Service

This one is actually my personal love language and I believe it is the most misunderstood. In many cases, people don’t think of doing something such as doing the dishes one night or picking up something at the grocery store an important demonstration of love. But for the busy mom, dad, or college student, checking anything off of our to-do list would be hugely appreciated (and may even bring us to tears). Thinking of things you can do to make someone’s day a little brighter is never a bad idea.

5. Physical Touch

Touch is a super powerful thing. It can be a great way of communicating feelings as well as love for each other. Touch shows faithfulness and commitment towards one another. When this person has a bad day, something as simple as a warm embrace can be a game changer.

http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

God Calls Us To Be Salty

Last Sunday at church, my preacher was giving an interesting message out of Matthew Chapter 5. Over and over again, my preacher kept telling us to be salty. This really made me laugh a little because for anyone who doesn’t know, the definition for “salty” that the millennial generation has come up with is to mean, “bitter, angry, or upset about something (Ex: He was salty because he lost the game).” So for my preacher to be telling me to be salty was rather amusing to me. But of course, we have the meaning all wrong (as we usually do).

Verse 13 says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Salt is created to preserve things and to add flavor. Spiritual salt is kind of the same thing. Eating potato chips or french fries without salt would not be a very enjoyable experience. If a seasoning has no flavor, it is pretty much pointless. The same goes for us! We are called by God to be the flavor and the preservation of the earth. This means that we must share the good news of Christ and add flavor to the lives around us. This is our job! If we as Christians make no effort to share the Gospel, what good are we? We are about as useful as that one guy at work who does absolutely nothing.

We must make an effort to effect the world around us. Everyone complains about how bad the world has gotten and how we must make a change, but how many people actually do something about it? Here’s our chance! Christians should not blend in with the world, for we are not of this world. Instead, affect others in a positive way. So go ahead; be salty. Bring out the best in others just as seasoning brings out the best flavor in our food.

Stop Trying To Do It All

I have a lot of days where I try to do WAY too much. I’m pretty sure everyone out there can relate to trying to take on more than we can handle. It is incredibly difficult to try to balance too many activities and obligations, but I think it’s even more challenging to say no and turn things down and make time for yourself. We feel bad and like we aren’t good enough or strong enough to get through each day. Here’s my advice: Let’s stop trying to do it all.

When we come home after work or classes, we are exhausted. The last thing we want to do is start hours of homework or run our kids to soccer practice or do the mountain of dishes sitting at the sink, but if we don’t start our homework right away, we always tend to feel guilty. We must stop feeling this way. Guilt is a good thing to feel when we are lying or doing something wrong, but needing a break is the opposite of wrong. Often times we will be much more productive if we take that twenty minute nap instead of starting our work right away than we would falling asleep while doing it. Taking breaks is absolutely okay and much needed. Taking the time to do one thing you love during the day should not be something to feel ashamed of or put off. Do it for the sake of you sanity.

In this day and age, social media makes it incredibly easy for us to compare ourselves to others. We scroll through Instagram and see that mom who made a perfect dinner for her family before they head off to practices. We look at Facebook and see people getting perfect scores on tests and looking like they get a full eight hours of sleep each night. Here’s the truth, no one posts on social media when they are feeling broken or not enough. Everyone feels this way and it is okay. You don’t have to be able to look great everyday, get all of your work done, eat healthy, make a great living, and have time to relax at the end of the night. Cut yourself some slack and celebrate your little victories.

Most importantly, know that you are enough. Bad day are inevitable, but so is the love God has for you. There may be days where you feel like God has abandoned you or if He cared about you He wouldn’t let these terrible things happen. I believe that this is His way of saying, “hey, slow down and rest in me!” We get so incredibly busy trying to do it all that we don’t take time to be spiritually filled. We forget that God wants us to turn to Him with our problems and He wants to hold us when we are broken. Every single day is precious and every single day we get a brand new start. Please remember that you are enough in my eyes and most importantly in God’s eyes. Encourage each other on the hard days because we have all been there. Remember that it is okay if you can’t do it all. We are only human.

My Struggle With Going to A Christian College

I absolutely love going to a Christian college. There were many factors that made me decide to attend a Christian college. The parties would be very slim and difficult to find (I haven’t found or heard of one yet), the people are all around just nicer and more welcoming, and I am able to, and even encouraged to share my faith and speak openly about my faith on a daily basis. I thought a Christian college would be a great way to dive deeper into my faith, which it has been, but I didn’t realize the struggle that I would face with this being so prevalent.

In my high school, there was decent sized number of students who were proclaimed Christians, which is awesome! But there’s also an even greater sized number who aren’t Christians, or who don’t proclaim their faith. With this being said, I always felt school was a good place to be able to not only share my faith, but simply act like a Christian through love, forgiveness, and even temperament. People looked at me and respected me for being a Christian and I actually could feel myself making a difference in my community and I felt like I had in purpose in faith.

Being at Messiah sort of changed that. Since pretty much everyone there is a self proclaimed Christian and is already living a life full of faith (or seems to be), I felt my job had changed. Since we are required to attend a certain number of chapel services per semester and there are so many Bible study options available, I felt myself becoming a lazy Christian. I no longer felt the need to spend one on one time with God because my classes start out with prayer, etc. Essentially, I felt God was just something else I could check off of my to-do list.

I also experienced the challenge of feeling the need to compete with other Christians. I wanted to be looked upon as the person everyone wanted to be like. But this past week I realized the huge mistakes I was making in my walk with Christ. I was living my faith out for all of the wrong reasons! I was trying to act like a good and glorious Christian for my benefit when all of the glory should be on God! I was acting like a Pharisee! I should want to tell people about God because of how amazing God is, not because of the glory it gives me as a person.

I also realized that just because everyone around me seemed to have it all together didn’t mean they really did. Christians need help too! God placed me in a Christian college so I would be surrounded by like-minded people and we could support each other and encourage each other through faith, not compare ourselves to each other.

This realization has taught me so many incredible things about faith and through spending one on one time with God again, He was able to reveal to me what I needed to change in my life to keep from feeling empty and far away from Him. I will never be a perfect Christian. There is no such thing as a perfect Christian. But through each experience, God is able to help me become one step closer to this heavenly goal if only I open my heart to Him.

“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” -Romans 11:36