At 20//What I wish I had known//Brooke & Steph

Image-1 (5)

Brooke Barnett: There are so many things I wish I had known.  The first thing though that came to mind is how much time I wasted.  It seemed, in college, with every guy I met[that was a “good” guy at least] I would start to wonder, “Could this be him?” I would dream and pray and pray and dream. My journals were f-u-l-l of prayers about specific guys or just general prayers about my future husband. I was so self focused.  I was leading Bible studies and discipling girls but if you read my journals you would think that the point of life was to get married. And not to love God and love people and reach the nations.  I made an idol out of marriage & guys. I wish I had chosen more to be present…to serve…to treasure time in the Word..and to share my faith…

However,  don’t get me wrong–praying for your future husband can be a good thing! I do feel that God honored some of those prayers because I now get to share life with an incredibly loving, humble, strong, funny, perfect-for-me man! However, in my case it was consuming. I thought too much about marriage–& not the people that God had put right in front of me.  Can you relate?  Ask God to help you use your time in a worshipful, purposeful way.

Steph Lamb: I wish I had known at 20….
1) Just because I was single at 20 (and even at 25 for that matter) did not mean I was going to be an old cat lady who was doomed to be “single forever” like I once thought. I met my husband at age 25, got engaged when I was 26, married at 27, and became a mom at 28. While being a wife and mom is beyond wonderful, life didn’t start with finding a man. Between graduating college and meeting my husband I had adventures I would not have experienced if I was already married. I enjoyed living with other single friends, going to parties in D.C., eating out way too often, and taking road trips with friends. Oh the road trips! I learned to depend on God instead of a man, took a group on a missions trip to Venezuela, built deep friendships, and more. I would like to say I lived life to the full but the truth is instead of enjoying each day I often longed for what was next. I wish I had known to live life in the moment and enjoy the gift of each day.
2) In spite of my fear of being single I have learned that singleness really is a gift. I have single friends in their 30s who live full, happy, and meaningful lives. They are impacting the Kingdom, traveling, and loving life. They can do things I can’t do in this stage as a mom. Singleness is easier in some ways and harder in other ways. It’s not better or worse, just different. I wish I had seen singleness as a gift instead of a curse.
3) Purity really is worth striving for. God’s plan for you and your body is better than anyone else’s plan for you. It is a battle (often daily) and you will have to fight. Don’t give up. “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God.” 1 Thess. 4:3-5
4) Jesus is better. I think I “knew” this one without really believing it. And I still struggle now to believe it in some ways. But Jesus is better than any relationship this world has to offer. He is more satisfying. He knows you completely and loves you anyways. If you let Him in, like really let Him in, He will change you and satisfy the desires of your heart. When you are satisfied in Christ you can be in a relationship centered on Him. A dating relationship centered on Jesus is the only kind worth having.
Check back tomorrow for day 3 of 3 in our loveeee series…

The Christmas Struggle//Brooke//Day One

I always feel a little twinge of disappointment about this time every December.  You see when the calendar flips to December 1. I am 100% all in on this Christmas thing. I dream and plan!  I can’t wait to settle into my daily advent devotional, bake and serve cookies to my neighbors, and be extra kind and Christmas cheery.  Well, it’s already 12/14.  I’ve done 3 days of an advent devo and zero baking for neighbors, and probably zero extra Christmas cheer.  The days fly. One after another, so fast.  and here we are 11 days til Christmas.  ahh.

But I can’t escape the reminder that this season brings. God came near. God is near. He is with us. at all times. Even in our non-advent devotional reading times and non-baking time and all the other things that life brings. He is near and wants to be near to us.    
He entered this life to be with us(through a girl named Mary).  He came to heal, mend, and restore us. He came to weep with us and walk with us.  He came to Save.  He is Incredible. Truly.
And yet this December I feel so distracted.  I want to be available to His nearness, His presence. But I keep myself too “busy”. 
So this Monday I am re-surrendering my December.  I am praying God would help me be WAY MORE aware of His presence.  
Here are three ways that I am going to try to be more aware of His presence over the next 11 days[and prayerfully onward]:
1.Be Still, s l o w down.  This will be a fight–but the very best best thing!  It is essential to let the Word wash over your heart and mind each day.  It will really change our perspectives.  Praise God.
2. Actively remember that He is here. With me.  “And surely I am with you always til the end of the Age.” Matthew 28:20. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ–the Spirit of Christ lives in you.  Isn’t that a miracle in and of itself.  God in us.  He softens our hearts and prompts us to love and good deeds. He is the best best best part about us.  You can go nowhere over the next 11 days (and beyond) where you can escape Him.  He is with you always. I want to remember He is with me and invite Him into all the parts of my day. If I did this I would live with much more courage, bravery, and purpose.
3. Respond quickly to His promptings.  Since Christ lives in us and is with us, He whispers gently to our spirit to do things, to remember things.  I am praying to respond quickly to those whispers. What a wonderful, more fulfilling life that would be. “Spiritual maturity is when you hear God and respond quickly.  Spiritual immaturity is hearing from God and making excuses.” –Steve Carter, pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago.  I couldn’t agree more.  
God,
Thank you for sending Jesus.  It’s truly made all the difference in my life.  Please forgive me for not valuing stillness and for filling my days with a lot of extra busyness and idleness.  I desperately want to slow down over these next two weeks and remember you.  Help me to delight in stillness and delight in your Word.  I pray I would remember that you are indeed with me no matter what joy or heartache or mundane moment happens. And God speak to my heart. I want to obey your promptings and walk in the power of your Spirit, full of faith.  You are good and kind and full of grace.  Thanks for wanting to be with us.  Thanks for being constant.                              In your Sons name, Amen
[for more thoughts on this listen to this talk by Steve Carter, so good]

Stay Awake Monday//Immutable God//Brooke

I can’t stop thinking about the fact that God is 100% unchanging in His character. I feel like my life is one big change right now in so many different areas. Nothing seems to be staying the same in my life or in those dear to me.

But God.  He is who He says He is. again and again. over and over.

immutable.
unchanging.
consistent.
fixed.
l a s t i n g.

God is the one thing in our ever changing lives that holds. that sticks.

“The Lord is immutable–it is impossible for His character or being to undergo any mutation.  His power can not be augmented or diminished.  He never learns or forgets, and He can not be anything other than perfectly holy.  Human beings can change in a multitude of ways, but our Father remains ever the same.”  —RC Sproul

Our health changes.
Our friends change.
Our majors change.
Our feelings constantly change.
Our families change.
Our status changes.
Our finances change.
Our moods change.
Our interests change.

Our changing scenarios here on earth bring joy-aches-questions-answers-loss-hope-pain.

And even though we don’t know what change the day/month/year may hold I have found that the consistency in the character of God has brought much stability to my life.

He is faithful. always will be.
He is true. always will be.
He is peace. always will be.
He is love. always will be.
He is just. always will be.
He is grace. always will be.
and on and on and on and on it goes.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today & f o r e v e r.” Hebrews 13:8

Rest in His consistency & share this Good God with others.

//Please listen to this song.  I got introduced to it today and it put words to the things going on in my heart and mind.  [It’s a song called You never change by Austin Stone worship.  It’s off their brand new album This Glorious Grace]//

Also, if you are going through a season of change I recommend this book–Girl Meets Change by Kristen Strong.  The tagline says, “Truths to Carry you Through Life’s Transitions”–super helpful book that points you straight to Scripture.

Stay Awake.