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I have read many articles about Christian dating.

Believe me, I am a hopeless romantic. I have lost count how many times I have watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and I still become giddy when Emma Woodhouse finally realizes she loves Mr. John Knightly.

Just this morning I was reading another article about Christian dating and you know what came to mind? I reflected on some of the best dating advice I have ever received. It went something like Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The best dating advice I have ever received:

FIX YOUR EYES ON JESUS.

 

My Mom deserves a shout out here. There have been many times when I go to someone else instead of my Mom because I know she isn’t going to gush with me about the young men I meet. Rather, she is going to genuinely point me back to Jesus. Even though I roll my eyes, my Mom counsels me in the most loving way I could ever be advised. Thanks Mom! ❤

The older I become, God’s grace becomes sweeter. The outpouring of His lovingkindness is incomprehensible. His light shines in the darkness. And yet, I still turn the other cheek, turning away from Christ’s adventurous pursuit for my heart. I ignore, hide, and distract myself until I become a teary-eyed pity party of self-centeredness. It’s super attractive, I know (sarcasm added).

PRAISE THE LORD that even in our mess, He loves us. Because of the blood of Jesus, God the Father compassionately looks at you and me sympathizing in our weakness (Hebrews 4:15).

 

All that to say, as a young single woman who has committed her life to Jesus, please do not tell me anymore stories about how your granddaughter snatched up that nice Christian man once she became content in her singleness.

I need you to tell me about Jesus. I need you to remind me about the Lord’s faithfulness. I need you to listen, rather than continue preaching cliché Christian dating tips. Pray with us when we feel inadequate and lost in the unknowns of young adulthood. In humble vulnerability, I need you to share with me that marriage is beautiful, but it isn’t always a sunny walk in the park. I need you to lovingly remind me that our marriage status doesn’t define our identity. I need you to share your life with me in authenticity, including some of the times when you and your spouse fail each other. I need you to encourage me in my unique gifting’s, reminding me about the multitudes that yearn to hear the name of Jesus. I need you to pray that I will taste and see the Lord’s goodness. I need you to encourage me in the Truth of the Gospel.

I need you to tell me to fix my eyes on Jesus.

In some circles, a godly marriage with three kids in the suburbs has subtlety become idolized as a church body, bringing distress to Christian singles… “I’ve tried the dating thing, am I not worthy enough? Am I not adequate unless I am married?”

I may just be speaking for a select group of singles, but I also know I am not alone in this response. Please, for the sake of Christ’s name and His love for you and me, talk to us about Jesus, not about this “perfect” person you met at your church last week.

On the other hand, I also believe the Lord uses people in our lives to bring about a marriage between two people who love the Lord. Just also know, I do not want to marry a “nice, Christian man”. If the man you want to set me up with isn’t absolutely passionate about the Gospel and the nations coming to know the gracious love of our Savior, he isn’t worth my time.

When it comes down to it, yes, I long to be married. But, by God’s grace, I have also experienced the unfathomable riches of His love. And through the Holy Spirit’s supernatural work in my heart, I want Jesus more than marriage. There are people starving and thirsting to hear about the Gospel. Encourage me in that pursuit, and let us do life together fighting for Jesus’ Name to be made known.

Hugs,

Naomi Rose

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Sitting in simple seated, I looked at the mirror in front of me. Frowning, I stared at the awkward place where the waistband of my yoga pants landed on my belly.

It took me a couple minutes in this space to realize the lies I was believing about myself. It began with accusing myself of looking frumpy, spiraling down to a space of falsehood comparing myself to women on Instagram. This spiraled even further into believing the lie that I’m never going to be enough for any man.

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Recently in a Matt Chandler sermon, he shared the following from a Brené  Brown TED Talk…

“Brené Brown is a researcher at the University of Houston…She says men and women experience the pressure of achievement in very different ways. Here’s how she says women experience an achievement-based culture:
‘[Women are] expected (and sometimes desire) to be perfect, yet we’re not allowed to look as if we’re working for it. We want it to just materialize somehow. Everything should be effortless. The expectation is to be natural beauties, natural mothers, natural leaders, and naturally good parents, and we want to belong to naturally fabulous families.’ Brené goes on to argue in an achievement culture with perfection as the standard, a woman is forced into impossible either-ors. Here’s her list.
‘Be perfect, but don’t make a fuss about it, and don’t take time away from anything, like your family or your partner or your work, to achieve your perfection. If you’re really good, perfection should be easy.
Don’t upset anyone or hurt anyone’s feelings, but say what’s on your mind.
Dial the sexuality way up (after the kids are down, the dog is walked, and the house is clean), but dial it way down at the PTA meeting. And, geez, whatever you do, don’t confuse the two.
Just be yourself, but not if it means being shy or unsure.
Don’t make people feel uncomfortable, but be honest.
Don’t get too emotional, but don’t be too detached either. Too emotional and you’re hysterical. Too detached and you’re a cold hearted [witch].’
She uses different language, but she’s a researcher, and I’m a pastor, so I edited that quote. This is what Brené Brown says women feel in an achievement-based culture. ‘You have to do… You have to be…’ They feel the weight of perfection, that they have to be perfect. Not only do they have to be perfect, but in that perfection it has to look like they’re not working at it.
Ladies, does anybody feel any of this?”

 

As I sat on my yoga mat looking at my reflection, various statements of the following came to mind: “Naomi, you are only beautiful and desirable if you have a flat stomach, voluminous hair, flawless skin and perfectly shaped eyebrows.”

Y’all, I have to laugh at how self-centered, petty and ridiculous that sounds!

Seriously, those lies are crap.

We live in a society that has distorted God’s definition of beauty and where we find our identity.

Thankfully, God’s Word says otherwise.

~ “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27

~ “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'” 1 Samuel 16:7

~ “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!” Psalm 8:3-5

~ “They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed.” Psalm 34:5

~ “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139: 13-14

~ “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.” Proverbs 31:25

~ “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

~ “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

~ “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

~ “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” Philippians 3:20

~ “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…” Colossians 3:12

 ~ “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7-8

~ “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are…” 1 John 3:1

 

How easily it is to be deceived by the lies of our culture.

Darling, please hear me.

You are intelligent.

You are strong.

You are capable.

You are enough.

You are desirable.

You are captivating.

You are chosen.

You are loved.

Next time you find yourself in a place of unbelief and feeling confused by the lies of our culture, remember what your Creator says about you.

You have a Father in Heaven who is the King of Kings. He gently holds you in His fond embrace,  lovingly looks into your eyes and says, “I chose you. You are mine. And you are loved.”

 

 

 

 

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You know I love talking about the desires I believe God has laid on my heart. The Dreamer within me will have days when I am productive in nothing else except producing up twenty new ideas about how to minister to teenage girls.

It has been a very long year and a half. However, for the first time in a long time, I have begun to feel as though I have some direction again.

Just last month I completed my training to became a Certified Holy Yoga Instructor. This included 225 hours of  intense, online training for 9 weeks and a week of hardcore training in the mountains of Arizona.

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The gorgeous ladies in my cabin at our Holy Yoga retreat!!

If you would have asked me in high school where I thought I would be at twenty-two years old, a certified yoga instructor would not have even made it in the list of possibilities. God does have a sense of humor.

What to know something even more ridiculous?

I am about to begin six more months of online Holy Yoga training.

Some may not understand why I’m so surprised about where I am in life, but I am. And the only way to explain it, is by giving credit to the Holy Spirit, guiding me on this map-less journey, taking me the road less traveled (Robert Frost).

I am one of those people you could sit down with over coffee and I could clearly describe to you who I am. My interests, passions, quirks, fears, pet peeves, strengths, even list out all of my weaknesses. But, I cannot give you any logical explanation about why I became a Holy Yoga instructor other than the fact that I know this was a step of obedience into God’s grace.

If I had said no, it would have been out of fear. And in Christ’s love, there is no fear (1 John 4).

Henri Nouwen writes, “Over the years we have developed the idea that being present to people in all their needs is our greatest and primary vocation. The Bible does not seem to support this. Jesus’ primary concern was to be obedient to his Father, to live constantly in his presence. Only then did it become clear to him what his task was in his relationship with people.” 

For a few years now, I have consistently repeated to my Mom, “I do not care about a college degree. All I want to do is love God and love people.” In the midst of the darkness that filled my life last year, God answered the prayer I did not even know I had been praying.

Please let this be an encouragement to you. I have NO IDEA where I am going to be in years to come. But, I believe in the faithfulness of the Father who created you and me.

We serve a mighty God. He knows us deeply and intimately, and yearns for us to turn to Him with revered obedience.

In what area of your life is God asking for obedience? Where is He pursuing you?

God has created you specifically with purpose and beautiful intention.

What is it? Do you know? Why don’t you ask Him?

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C. S. Lewis Believed in Faiytales - Self Portrait

Busy day at work? Yeah, me too.

One lesson I have learned in my young adult years is the importance of self-care. God has given us one body while on this earth and we are called to serve Him to the best of our ability; which includes prioritizing self-care. One of my recent loves is establishing a nightly routine prior to falling asleep.

Here is a list of some of my favorite activities to do before bed.

  1. Read my Bible
  2. Diffuse essential oils
  3. Relaxing yoga postures
  4. Light a candle and journal my thoughts
  5. Drink herbal tea with almond/coconut milk
  6. Take a bath with epsom salt and essential oils
  7. Read Fiction (Currently: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson)
  8. Think of 10 things I was thankful for that day and praise God for them

When you have a chance, take the time to read the following article via  The Eco Blog ! It is an informative and inspiring post about the necessity of sleep and sleep-routine ideas!

Sweet dreams and have a lovely sleep! : ) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Camel Pose!

This morning I sat in church tearing up out of awed gratitude.

Matt Chandler interviewed Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs about the testament of God’s faithfulness in their marriage and their story reminded me about how faithful God has been in my life over this past year.

Those of you who have experienced or have had a loved one experience the cloud of clinical depression, you know how dark and grueling the cloud is. The cloud enslaves your inner world and you are trapped inside a shadow of indescribable sadness, where hope seems unreachable. The person you once knew disappears and you wonder if you will ever be yourself again. Days and nights I cried wondering where “Naomi” went? Where did the joy go? Where is God in the darkness? I need saving, because I am confused, scared, angry, and sad.

I can now honestly say that for the past few weeks I have been feeling normal and the cloud of depression is not hovering anymore. My life has been on pause for about 11 months and I am thoroughly excited to have the stamina to begin committing to various activities again. Yes, I am still in counseling, taking two different anti-depressants, eating nutritiously, staying active, attempting to sleep at least 8 hours each night, and trying to keep in mind my social energy so I don’t spread myself too thin. I also do not know what the future holds, and I may have another breakdown in the years to come. However, for now, I feel fantastically Naomi. I feel like myself again. And I feel free. No, that does not mean I am chipper every single second or that all fears have passed away. But, the dark cloud which hovered for a number of months is no longer shading me from the sunny days and new blossoms.

This past Spring I participated in a Bible Study with the women in my home group and we studied the book of 1 Peter. The verses which stood out to me then also continues to stand out to me now as a reminder of God’s faithfulness over the past year.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10

As children of God, Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross for our sins and brought us into the Light of His Life. Similarly, God has used depression in my life as an illustration of the Gospel, bringing me out of the darkness and into His marvelous light.

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Working on my Mermaid pose!

Even though I am currently feeling fantastically Naomi, depression is tricky and every individual battles with this mental illness a little bit differently. Plus being a human being with lots of emotions can be confusing. Who knows, tomorrow something may occur and my depression is triggered. Yet, Matthew 6:34 reminds me not to let tomorrow be a worry. So, I will end it here sharing with you how free I am now feeling after being under the bondage of depression, something which I never expected to experience.

 God is faithful in the midst of the cloudy and the sunny.

How is God working in your life?

 

 

 

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Tears roll down my face as I Facetime one of my dear friends. She looks at me in kindness, listening attentively as I share all the emotions swirling around in my heart.

Pain.

Sadness.

Confusion.

Grief.

I took a mental health day yesterday and sat on the couch for hours binging on Netflix and Blue Bell. Today I’ve tried not to stay on the couch, but I’m still weighed down.

 

This past week has been heavy.

The injustice which exists in this Genesis 3 world is sometimes too much for my soft heart.

I become frustrated with God for my emotional and sensitive personality. I wish I did not care so deeply. I wish I did not love so deeply. It is too much sometimes.

As I share with my friend the cause of my tears she smiles at me and encourages me to do something that makes me happy. I tell her my plan of happy, and we say our goodbyes.

There is one rule I have began to include in my day to day life:

“Buy yourself flowers.”

I have also recently developed a love for sushi.

So, I drive myself to Whole Foods and peruse the flower selection and watch the sweet man make my sushi roll.

I am now at my local coffee shop drinking iced green tea, and about to continue my latest read: Ruthless Trust, by Brennan Manning…

“Unwavering trust is a rare and precious thing because it often demands a degree of courage that borders on the heroic. When the shadow of Jesus’ cross falls across our lives in the form of failure, rejection, abandonment, betrayal, unemployment, loneliness, depression, the loss of a loved one; when we are deaf to everything but the shriek of our own pain; when the world around us suddenly seems a hostile, menacing place — at those times we may cry out in anguish, ‘How could a loving God permit this to happen?’ At such moments the seeds of distrust are sown. It requires heroic courage to trust in the love of God no matter what happens to us.” – Brennan Manning

When life hits hard, give yourself permission to cry. Give yourself permission to hurt.

And when the pain is confusing, remember that our God is not a God of confusion.

We serve a God who has already won the battle.

“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

Psalm 27:14

Here’s to God’s sovereignty, loving friends, heroic trust, and the roses that make us happy.

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This past week I was so negative.  I blamed it on my body hormones and possibly my anti-depressants not working properly. That could have been true, but I am also trying not to use my depression as an excuse for sin or even using it as an identity fallback.

My identity is found in Christ. Praise God for reminding me of life giving hope and reigniting my soul with the Gospel that drives me forward.

As some of you know, God has me in a season of healing.

Last semester  was dark, hopeless, lonely…and God has transitioned me into a season of uncertainty. A season in which all I can answer sometimes is, “I don’t know”, wondering when the “good ‘ole days” will come again.

This past week  I was in tears off and on fighting the battle of self worth.

I am twenty-two, barely a sophomore in college, trying to figure out what the heck I am even suppose to be doing.

I have changed so much since last August. I am trying to learn who this new Naomi is. My battle with clinical depression has taught me a depth of pain I had not experienced prior. God has also taught me how important it is not to lose sight of the Hope we have in Him.

God has used various conversations in the past twenty-four hours to remind me that I am in a good place. God reminded me that is it my relationship with Jesus Christ which drives me forward, not my circumstances.

I have recently been fighting the lies of rejection, approval, expectations, insecurities…and all the while trying to live for Jesus.

Something that weighs on my heart regarding Christian culture is the fear to be honest about the crap.

Y’all. Earth is not our home. Life is hard. And it is okay to say it.

People die. Family members are chronically ill. Break-ups suck. Divorce is common. Babies are murdered. Lies are spoken. Materialism steals our paychecks. Marriage becomes an idol. Self-righteousness turns our head the other direction. Friends move away. People are fired from their job. Smiling tolerance is expected. Our body weight turns us into vomiting robots…

And at some point we begin dreading going to church for fear that someone will find out how deep we are genuinely hurting.

It is okay to hurt. It is okay not to be okay. Grieving is healthy. However, we cannot stay in the pain. Let’s encourage one another onward. Even in the small moments, God’s ways are big. God is constant. His love is steadfast. He is King of Kings. He is the Creator of everything. He knows our deepest fears and our deepest desires. He knows how no one else understands how you feel. He knows how much life hurts.

So, life on earth is going to be crappy. Life will be uncertain.

But can we please learn how to be honest and encourage one another back to the truth of the Gospel?  The Gospel is not a matter of self disciplined quiet times and college degrees. The Gospel is this:

“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 (ESV)

No matter the season you are in, you are in a beautiful place.

God has you (and the whole world) in His hands.

Let’s dwell on that Truth together.

 

 

 

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