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After The Songs Over

October 28, 2018

HELLO YOU! My name is Reneé Douglas! Excessive coffee drinker here from Little Rock, Arkansas! I probably didn’t brush my hair today, and I’ve spent too much time on Pinterest, but hey, relatable, right? So honored and excited to share a little bit that’s been on my heart with you guys!!

But Y’all. 2018 is almost over. It’s mind-boggling to think how fast time is going by. As I get older, the decisions I make become more important and harder to make. Been there before? Or maybe that’s where you’re at? Well, I’ve realized there’s a famous question going around that everybody and their momma has to ask me… “what’s your college plans look like?” Or “what’s next Reneé?” & 9 out of 10 times, I don’t have a solid answer for them. But guess what. That’s okay. I’ve had to convince and tell myself, that it is okay if I don’t have it all planned out, in fact, there’s just something about the season of stillness that is so monumental. A season of stillness is what I want to touch on.

It feels like God is standing up in heaven holding a boombox. One of those big vintage ones, propped on his shoulder. And he’s blasting Taylor Swift (to get my attention (carnal, I know haha). He knows I’ll sing every word. And then in the silence when the song ends, like a loud promise, He tells me to remain. To remain who and how I am in a world that wishes so desperately I wouldn’t. That this is enough. That’s a hard cookie to swallow am I right?

Could there ever be a more bold promise? I’m convinced there couldn’t be.

I, myself, am strange. But so are you dude. But even though we are loud, we are brilliant. And we are broken beyond articulation. When God created mankind, He created us, trained us how to move, how to go & how to do so naturally we think we are doing something wrong when we aren’t moving, when we aren’t racking up enough footage for our Instagram page. I’m guilty as charged. We become humiliated. Maybe because we don’t feel like we have enough small talk material to fill a conversation, maybe because we don’t feel interesting enough, ambitious enough. We talk to each other in bullet point victories, we skip right to the big moments while barely scratching the surface of everything that HAD to happen for us to get there. Paul says not to boast in our victories but in our weaknesses. Because this is what’s gonna set you apart from the person sitting next to you.

We’re always looking for the loopholes to becoming something more, to reaching somewhere new. But what if we just listened to the bold promise that where we are is enough. What if we had one moment of insane bravery and we remained who we are. Right now. Because the person you want to be isn’t going to become that person by skipping over the person you are right now.

God is a brilliant poet. In each season, He writes the lines of our lives so artfully, so abstractly, that we cannot know the meaning until the season comes to a close. We can’t interpret his rhymes until we’ve learned to listen to our own. He takes things away and leaves us with nothing but what we are right in that very moment to grab onto.

Then He turns up the boombox volume to the max and hopes we’ll still be dancing when the song ends. I hope you will be.


ABOUT THE WRITER: Reneé Douglas

Reneé Douglas is a “woman of faith” from the great state of ARKANSAS. She is currently finishing up her Senior year in high school. She loves all things photos, capturing moments, Jesus, and of course is obsessed with coffee. She loves to travel and has been on an AYC trip! Just check out her instagram to see the moste beautiful pictures! If you ever get a chance to meet Renee you’ll feel so bright because she has the sweetest spirit. She loves others and always looks so CUTE!!!!

Go follow the BEAUTIFUL Reneé on Instagram @reneedouglas_

Thank you, Reneé, for taking the time to share your heart with 1998miss.com’s women of faith!

 

Alexa Sue-Anne Dudley

1998miss.com

@1998miss

Featured Writers WOMEN OF FAITH

Your unique ability and using it for God’s glory.

September 16, 2018

My music career began in fourth grade when we were privileged enough to learn how to play the recorder. As a nine-year-old, I figured playing the recorder would be a life skill I would rely on throughout my lifetime. I mean, it had to have been pretty important in order for our music teacher to delegate all this time for us to learn to play “Hot Cross Buns”… right? Wrong. Fortunately for everyone else, I have not had to utilize my talent of, or rather my lack of talent, playing the recorder. 

The truth is, playing instruments is not a God-given talent for me. I tried my best at playing the piano, but shortly I become frustrated and gave up. I also learned to play the clarinet in jr high. I didn’t get too far with that either… 

Actually, there are a lot of things that are not God-given talents for me: sports of ANY kind, quilting, yodeling, race car driving, etc. 

Rather God decided to give me weird talents: organizing items in alphabetical order in record time, organizing my room to be as efficient as possible, solving calculus equations, etc. 

Despite the strangeness, I am able to use the talents God gave me for His kingdom. 

In Matthew 25:14-30, the parable of the talents is given. This parable is pretty common so I won’t insult your intelligence by summarizing the entire parable. What I want you to focus on is how the last man took his talents and hid them. 

Verse 18 tells us, “But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.”

If you jump down to verse 26, the Lord calls the man a “wicked and lazy servant” for hiding those talents. 

God was upset the man did not use his talents, or multiply them, so He took the man’s talents away. 

This parable should serve as a lesson for us all. 

We are called to do everything as unto God, and that includes using our random, unique abilities. 

I sat in a split session at a BOTT PK conference. In that class, the speaker randomly asked us what our talents were. Some answered the typical “church” talents: singing, playing an instrument, preaching. However, it was those that gave uncommon answers that we discussed the most- those that were talented with children, administrative work, manual labor, etc. 

The speaker then took each talent the audience gave and offered a way it could be used for His kingdom. 

Are you good with your hands? Help with maintenance around the church property.

You know how to interact with kids? Help out in Sunday school.

You do well at organizing things? Offer to organize closets or drawers around the church, or offer your assistance with administrative work. 

You have neat handwriting and can do calligraphy? Offer to help decorate for events or holidays.

You’re great at marketing, or you have the best IG flow? Volunteer to help your church’s social media 

You’re adventurous and like to go to unique places? Help plan outings for the youth group. 

I found a quote the other day that caught my attention:

“The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.” 

-Fabienne Fredrickson

God was intentional when He created each and every one of us. Your unique interests and hobbies can be used for His glory. All it takes is a true desire and hunger to allow God to use all that you have for His purpose.

God needs YOU. When He created the Earth, He saw that His creation was good. Yet, He wasn’t pleased until He created man. 

You are vital to His kingdom. Your unique abilities, personality, and situation will put you in positions to make disciples that others, including myself, would never have the opportunity to minister to. 

Don’t shy away from the talents God has created you with. 

We are the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:12-31). Each person with their unique talents is needed for the gospel to reach the whole world. 

For the gospel to reach every nation, it requires you and me to not be envious of another’s abilities. Which means I cannot become overwhelmed with envy when someone is elevated because they are using their talents for Him. I can’t sit on a pew during praise and worship and roll my eyes wondering why I can’t sing like she/he can, or why I can’t speak as eloquently as him/her. 

Rather, we must thank God for the giftings we have. Then we must determine how we can turn and give those talents back to Him.

Our lives, our abilities, our giftings are all for His glory. 

 

ABOUT THE BLOGGER: SEANNA NICKEL 

Seanna Nickel is a “woman of faith” from the blissfully-Southern state of Arkansas. She is pursing a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Human Services at Urshan College. When she is not consumed with work or school, Seanna can be found either napping or trying out new coffee shops in the St. Louis area. She is a total nerd who enjoys math, stars and the solar system, and Taco Bell.

Follow Seanna on instagram @seanna_nickel

Huge thank you to Seanna for taking the time to write this article! She’s a very sweet gal with a big heart.

Featured Writers WOMEN OF FAITH

Answering your call will inevitably require sacrifice.

September 1, 2018

Answering your call wil inevitably require sacrifice.

Have you ever felt called to something you blatantly told God you never wanted? I have.

From a very young age I had made it very clear to anyone inquiring about my forming ministry that though I didn’t know exactly what my calling was, I was absolutely SURE it was not at all related to global missions. I actually remember saying at one point, “God wouldn’t call me to the foreign missions field because He knows I wouldn’t go.” I refused – not from a place of rebellion, but from fear of the unknown. I didn’t want to leave my family. I didn’t want to leave my church. And I c ertainly didn’t want to leave my country. It was great that some people would drop their lives to reach people far and wide, but that just wasn’t me – It was just way too far out of my comfort zone. And that was that… Or so I thought.

PAUSE: One thing you should know about me is I am an AVID planner. Like, it’s kind of ridiculous honestly. I make daily lists. I do intricate research on places I’m traveling to & create a detailed itinerary. I pack for vacation two weeks ahead of time. I mean, don’t get me wrong… I love a good surprise or a spontaneous road-trip with the girls! (And I’m also quite the procrastinator at times!) But at my core, I like structure – especially when it comes to my personal life. I want to know what’s going on. I want a plan that I can stick to and have it go… Well, according to plan!

So anyway, fast forward to 2015. There I was: a twenty-year-old who thought she had it all planned out, walking into the Nashville Music City Center for her first time at the UPCI General Conference. I had gone on a whim with a couple of friends of mine, and, if I’m being real here, I was initially just there to meet new people and hang with my friends. Nothing spiritual.

It just so happened that we had come on the Global Missions service night.

I stood in the middle of the large crowd of that convention center, overwhelmed as I watched missionary after missionary fall to their knees, weeping with joy because enough money was raised to send them back to their mission field. I was an emotional wreck. I realized that these people didn’t follow God’s call out of obligation, but out of love – love for Him and for people everywhere. They weren’t leaving their home to enter the field – the field had become their home. And they were heartbroken every moment they were away from it. They all gave up so much with no expectation to receive anything back. They just wanted to see others changed and God’s will fulfilled without regard to what would happen to their personal aspirations – all for His glory. And it was then that I found myself starting to feel a tug on my heart. No, not just a tug. A change.

By the time I reached the altar and stretched up my hands toward Heaven in total surrender to His will, I knew. It wasn’t an audible voice. It wasn’t a sweeping wind. It was just a complete turn of heart and mind. It was like all of a sudden, my thoughts were set on the country of France and all I wanted was to be a part of the revival happening there. All of a sudden, my

heart ached with a burden for the people of that country – a country so lacking in laborers. All of a sudden, the thing that once was my biggest fear became my deepest passion. And it’s only grown since that day.

You see, the funny thing about comfort zones is God really delights in pushing us out of them. All of the time. I’m pretty sure He actually laughs at our comfort zones. But He will only push you for so long before He expects you to make the leap on your own. And I’ve realized that there comes a point where if you are genuinely seeking to be used by God, you’re no longer allowed to have a comfort zone. You have to choose between one or the other: your comfort, or your unconditional desire to serve Him and His kingdom. They’re each too big to both fit into your heart.

I’ve had to learn to trust the Lord… t ruly t rust Him with every fiber of my being. I had to let go of my plans and aspirations so that I could allow room for His. And wildest thing is… The plans He replaced mine with are far bigger and more fantastic than anything I ever dreamed up for myself. It was because I invited God to take control that He revealed talents in me I didn’t know were there, and led me to opportunities I never thought I’d have. And three years later, God has so flawlessly orchestrated for me to minister to France at the most perfect time! I could not type all the ways made, promises come to fruition, miracles witnessed, or continuous heart changes within myself that have occurred over the past three years. All I can say is God’s unwavering faithfulness to me has been sweeter than I deserve, and I am SO BEYOND thrilled to answer this call!

Answering your call will inevitably require sacrifice – Sometimes a sacrifice of relationships. A sacrifice of time. Of finances. And always a sacrifice of self in some way. But any sacrifice we offer to God will forever be met by great grace and a much greater blessing – for we serve a most kind and loving Savior. But that’s not why we sacrifice. We sacrifice for God’s kingdom in whatever way we’re called so that we can see lives changed and His perfect will fulfilled – all for His glory.

And let me encourage you, friend… The moment you give your everything to Him, is the very same moment you find yourself more fulfilled than you’ve ever been in your entire life. Sure, there will be days when you have doubts and frustrations. But God knows our struggles and is quick to send peace and clarity into our lives at the time we need it most. And there is a constant joy in knowing you are living in the divine purpose God created just for you. If you stay in your comfort zone, you can still be used by God. But you’ll undoubtedly miss out on the very best that He has planned for you. Don’t allow fear or pride to dictate your choices, but instead, allow the Lord Almighty to paint a masterpiece of your life’s ministry. Rest in the knowledge that He is ceaselessly working for your good through His ways which are far higher than ours. And remember that if God has called you to something, He will not let you fail in your efforts to attain it. He deeply desires to see you succeed and will give you all the tools you need to do so.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 – “ Faithful is He who calls you, for He will bring it to pass.”
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 – “To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of Jesus may be glorified in you, and in Him, according to the grace of our God.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Jeremiah 29:11-14 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,”
Philippians 4:7 – And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

ABOUT THE BLOGGER: PEYTON B. JOHNSTON

Peyton B. Johnson is a “woman of faith” from Terre Haute, Indiana. She graduated in 2017 with a degree in Business Administration, and now works as a Hilton hotel events coordinator. She’s known for being an avid list-maker, drinking far too many hazelnut cappuccinos, taking spontaneous trips, and wearing all black more often than the norm. She’s in pursuit of living a life of passionate worship, gracious servanthood, and overflowing love in order to further God’s kingdom.

Follow Petyon on instagram @paytonbrianne 

P.S. Please join me in praying for a safe and wonderful time in France for Peyton. She is a sweet gal with a big heart for Jesus and will do wonderful things for the kingdom of God. -Alexa Dudley

 

Featured Writers WOMEN OF FAITH

Learning in Laughter and Pain

February 3, 2018

Learning in Laughter and Pain 

“I’ve learned in laughter and pain how to survive…”

It’s not just lyrics to “On My Knees” by Nicole C. Mullen, it’s a real challenge and life lesson. We’ve all made mistakes that have taught us so much. Some helped us make big changes, while others assisted in small changes. These mistakes have helped us get rid of toxic people & relationships, and others truly helped us see who we are meant to be. No matter what it is, we face challenges daily. Personally, through emotions, we fight against the things that cause us pain and some days, let’s just be honest, it’s hard to see the bright side or think positive.

It’s okay. Cry it out.

Let the pain completely release itself from your body every now and then through prayer, meditation, or any other event that helps purify and strengthen your mind. Dealing with self confidence can be a major daily struggle, (myself included) and sometimes we feel that confidence is controlled by the way others treat us or don’t treat us. NEWS FLASH : This is a tough pill for some of us (us…me…so me) to swallow, but your heart is controlled by YOU . You decide what is going to affect the way you feel each day in some aspects, and you should do your best to control the way you react to the way others can make you feel. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. It may be a process, but remember everyday is a milestone and you should be proud of your progress no matter how “unextravagant” it may seem. (I made that word up because I like the way it sounds. Call me Madam Seuss, but it works.)

Pushing through the pain with VICTORY in mind is the only way you’re going to see success. The end goal is where your focus should lie, but more importantly, the daily goal. How can you make your situation better in the present time? What can YOU truly do to help yourself? Who do you rely on for your happiness? Who you do rely on to feel comforted and at ease? Learn to depend on yourself and GOD by finding ways that work for you. This way, you’re in control. Take control & drive wherever you want!!! (I GOT THE POWA) & don’t lose it!!!

Learning in laughter carries us farther than we expected.

Being able to laugh through any painful, stressful, or difficult situation is always so relieving. Find ways to make yourself laugh & don’t be afraid of what others think because really… WHO CARES. “You do you, boo.” That’s what my friends used to tell me when I would apologize for something silly I did. That was when I realized there’s no longer any reason to apologize. Why change yourself for everyone else when you can change yourself to someone YOU love and feel happy with.

Purify your mind & heart with things that genuinely make you feel good inside.

Blessings,

ABOUT THE WRITER: HANNAH KATT

Hannah Katt is a 20 year old “woman of faith” from Arkansas. She studied at Indiana Bible College. She enjoys being a nanny (to 3 little boys), playing the piano and baking (just being in the kitchen)! Hannah’s biggest dream is to travel out of the United States “my toes will touch African soil, Hawaiian sand, and the steps of Machu Picchu in Peru“.

Instagram @Hannahkatt

P.S. This is my first guest writer for 1998miss.com and I couldn’t be any more thrilled to have my best friend writing! -Alexa!