How To Know If He’s In Love With You

As a business graduate, there’s one rule I got out of my accounting classes that I continue to live by today: never assume unless otherwise stated. Being such a stickler for rules, I made sure to adhere to this one. Apparently, that one went down for better and for worse. I literally never assumed – even if my discernment already told me otherwise and even if I no longer needed discernment because the man’s intentions were already so blatantly obvious.

The good thing is that through the muddy process, I learned that more than holding on to that rule, it was even better to hold on to wisdom.

And it was wisdom that taught me when to confront and when to step back. It was wisdom that taught me when to put up walls and when it’s okay to keep them down.

I’ve noticed that females have this reputation for being assuming. I will in no way defend that because I have been so deliberate to not turn out like that, but I also want to say that to a degree, I get why most girls assume. We live in a world where muscles and ego have been given a premium over humility and where ladies are frequently treated like a commodity (cat-callers, anyone?). It shouldn’t come to us as a surprise that when someone acts like a gentleman, the receiving end can turn it into something more than it actually is. It has become difficult for us to believe that someone can actually take us home and feed us good food without requiring anything more than friendship in return. And since we have a culture that glorifies casual relationships and blurred lines, the difficulty in identifying when a gesture means something and when it doesn’t becomes even more intensified.

But beloved, none of these actually justify anything. I am here to tell you a simple truth: if a guy truly likes you, he wouldn’t lead you on. A guy who has it in his heart to serve you will let you know very clearly what he wants. Furthermore, he won’t just tell you or show you he likes you, he should then proceed to pursue a relationship with you.

I vividly recall writing a blog post on how relationships shouldn’t be tied down to a formula, because they truly shouldn’t be. There is no one formula. But when it comes to this part of the relationship, a man’s pursuit, there’s really no way around it: a man in love with you will love you.

Love does not dishonor you nor does he defraud you.

Love is not self-seeking. Love does not go beating around the bush because he might get rejected. Love lays itself on the line because he would rather get hurt now than hurt the beloved in the long run.

Love rejoices with the truth. Love is intentional, clear, and does not attempt to confuse.

Love always protects. Love guards your heart and does not force his way in. Love guards the eyes of others because he does not want to taint your reputation nor your testimony.

Love perseveres. Love pursues.

Love does not tell you he loves you just so he can get it off his chest, knowing that it might confuse you. Love does not show you he loves you if he’s not ready to back it up with clarity and commitment.

I’ve been in both the situations I just stated above. Men have told me they loved me just so I knew, without any intention to do anything about what they said they felt. Whether I was interested or whether I was not, it always ended up one way: me cutting the guy off for a season. Why?

Here’s the thing: if a guy really wants to be with you, then it wouldn’t have mattered if you lived halfway across the world, he would still commit himself to you. The fact that someone would tell you that he has feelings for you without any plan of action shows that he’s not ready to take responsibility for his emotions. As women, we can make as much excuses as we want regarding why he just can’t commit right now, but those are just mere facades to cover up the truth you don’t want to admit to yourself.

Don’t allow yourself to be kept on the hook. You wouldn’t want to spend your life waiting on a man who claims he loves you but has no guts to actually ask you out.

On the other hand, men have tried to “make paramdam” (drop hints) without actually giving clarity as to why they do what they do. Now please, make no mistake in this and don’t assume the guy is dropping hints about liking you when he’s actually just being nice to you.

But since you’re already on the fence about it, the best thing to do either way is to ignore. If you’re sure that a guy is trying to “damoves” and he’s not offering a shred of explanation, then ignore him and don’t give him the time of the day. Just stop entertaining him. If you think that a guy is trying to “damoves” but you’re not sure if he actually is, then ignore the thought and don’t give it the time of the day. Don’t dwell on it until he actually goes and says something to you. The last thing you want to do is taint a caring friendship that was offered to you in purity.

If this guy is a part of your spiritual community, it’s best if you get to talk to his leader or mentor about it just so he can be guided accordingly. You would want to serve him as a sister. I also highly encourage you to talk to your leader or mentor to give you another perspective because you wouldn’t want to cut off someone who has been nothing but an honest-to-goodness brother to you.

At the end of the day, you draw your line. Confront when you feel like it’s already necessary to. If he won’t be clear, then you be clear about where you stand – and make sure you both know it.

When It’s Hard to Let Go

“Why did you even let the relationship go on for as long as it did?”

I looked my friend right in the eye and refused to budge my line of questioning. Here was a man who fell in love with a lady he knew from the beginning wasn’t the one God had for him. He dove headfirst into the relationship, ignoring what he told me were frequent nudges from God telling him to let it go.

With a shrug, he met my gaze and said as frankly as he could, “I just gave in to my desires and before I knew it, I was in too deep.”

Just several weeks ago, I talked to a woman who knew she had to get out of a relationship and yet she couldn’t quite bring herself to. My heart broke for her because I knew exactly what it felt like to be in that position. Sure, this is a story I’ve heard from plenty of other people time and time again, but this is also a story I myself knew very well. I’m well acquainted with the turmoil that comes with knowing you need to let someone go and yet not wanting to.

I remember coming to the Lord and telling Him,

“I can handle breaking my heart over this. What I can’t handle is breaking his heart.”

The reply came immediately, quiet but certain.

“Would you rather break My heart then?”

So I chose to break his heart since what I truly can’t handle is breaking His heart. But while people at the time were highlighting the strength to obey as swiftly as I did, they didn’t see the plethora of emotions surrounding that decision nor did they witness the horrid mess that I was afterward.

The Lord had to deal with several fears in my heart, fears that may be hindering you from letting go of the person you know you’re supposed to as well:

1. Fear of hurting the other person

When you really care for someone, this fear supersedes your fear of hurting yourself. I know people who end up staying in a relationship for many months more simply because of this reason and while it may seem like a compassionate move, it always ends up hurting the other party even more in the end because he would have invested more time and emotion by then.

Let’s be completely honest here: there’s no way to break up with someone that will make him feel happy and fuzzy about it. It’s always going to hurt. So when you know it has to be done, just do it. You’re also robbing him of the opportunity of meeting the person you know is the one for him. This may be hard to stomach in the moment, but if your hesitations are really out of love for him, then you would want to serve him better by letting him go. It may be that the most loving thing you can do for him is to break up with him.

The world may have taught us that love means grasping on to something as tight as we can, but we have now found a love who would hold on to us. We can let it go.

2. “I won’t find someone like him again. I’ll never love anyone else the way I loved him.”

It sounds a tad melodramatic typed out like that, but this is a thought that is very common and very real. In actuality though, this is just an emotion that says it is the first time you’ve been this attached to a person. It doesn’t mean it will be the last nor does it mean you won’t find something deeper than that.

If I were being transparent, I would admit that it took me years to stop subconsciously comparing the men I meet with him. But eventually, I did. And I realized that I would never find someone like him because there is only one him and I don’t really want another him because there’s a reason the relationship didn’t work out in the first place. Now, I get to be found by Someone whom I love so much more.

3. Fear of being alone

The transition between talking to someone every single day to not talking at all is always very abrupt and it takes quite a while to get used to. The loneliness that hits afterward is understandable, but we don’t have to stay there.

The good thing is that more than having a good support system walk with you through it, the Lord doesn’t have qualms in proving that He is close to the broken-hearted. The intimacy I had with Him during that season of my life tasted much sweeter than the seasons before. In fact, sometimes I go back and revel in all the memories wherein He made sure that I never felt alone.

You may fear of losing the feeling of being loved but you are never not loved, not for a single second. And it is when you let that relationship go that you will experience a Love far greater than anything else you have ever known.

4. Fear of regret

Regret is such a tricky thing to deal with. See, there are two regrets that frequently arise from this kind of situation: regret of letting him go or regret of dating him in the first place.

There is always the could-haves and should-haves haunting us down and leaving us sleepless at nights. But reality is, things are as they are now. There is nothing we can do to change what we have done and the only way now is to move forward.

If you’ve made mistakes in the relationship before, then begin by doing what is right. If you’ve crossed physical lines, take action to be pure. If the relationship dishonors your parents, then make the decision to honor them. If there has been lies and deceit, then come clean.

God works for the good of those who love Him and we know that those who love Him follow His will. Trust that as you go with His plan for your life, God will be the One to work the story out into a testimony that brings Him glory.

Now, how do you know if the relationship is something that you should let go? I can’t quite give you a rundown of how to know. The truth is that you just know, but if I may kindly point out: the lack of peace in your heart should already be a tell-tale sign. Abuse, unhealthy patterns, and toxicity are also dead giveaways.

You may start to go on about making it work, and I am all about commitment, but here’s the thing: beloved, if the relationship is not of God, then it has already failed before it even got to begin. You don’t want to fight for something Jesus didn’t die for – and He died so you can have life to the full. Don’t be so consumed with holding on to what you think is good that you miss out on what God knows is best.

And when you do finally decide to let that person go, you need to stick with that decision. They do say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and the first few months truly are the hardest. You would probably be tempted to go running back to him, but stop yourself. Surround yourself with people who will not let you to second-guess yourself. You missing him and thinking about him does not mean you need to be with him. It’s an indication of the past, not the future.

If he does go chasing you around and continues to contact you, then draw the line. Don’t feed off the attention he is showering you. Him missing you does not mean he is the one for you.

I say this with utmost care and concern. The longer you leave yourself out of God’s will, the more consequences there will be. Let’s be frank here. You may be happy with him and he may emotionally satisfy you temporarily, but to your core you know that something’s missing. You can try to convince yourself that everything’s great, but you know something’s not right. Your relationship with God most probably took a hit as well because you can barely face Him anymore, knowing what He will say.

Do you really want to spend more time stuck in that limbo? Paul reminds us to throw off everything that hinders and to run with perseverance. That means determination to push through even when it hurts and even if it feels like you’re crashing to the ground.

I cannot promise you that you won’t hit rock bottom, but if you do, know that He is right there with you – He is the Cornerstone after all. Rock bottom can even turn out to be the foundation on which you are rebuilt and remade.

The best thing to do is to lift it all up to God in prayer. And I don’t mean the “God-please-let-us-end-back-together-after-we-grow-separately” type of prayer. I mean the prayer that acknowledges His will; the prayer that asks for His will be done no matter what that may look like. It is when you consistently place yourself in a posture of surrender that the regret about the past and the anxiety about the future become pretty much non-existent.

You may want to stay within what is familiar and hesitate at the thought of an infinite amount of paths sprawling out in every direction; you may balk at the picture of a future without the one person you thought was sure to be there no matter what road you take. But my dear, when doubt keeps us safe where we are, faith brings us to the pinnacle of living.

Let your faith become really real during this season of your life. Faith without action is dead and letting go may be the action step you need to take. God promises that the future He has for us is full of hope and while all may seem bleak in the midst of the turmoil, we have to be certain of what we do not see. We may not be able to peer into the fullness of the future but we have the only Light we need.

Oh, and my story?

Well I lived to tell the tale.

When I Say I’m Praying for [him]

I say a prayer every time I think of you. Every. Single. Time.

I pray that you’re allowing what the Lord is doing in you during this season.

That you are completely yielded to the Holy Spirit and where He is leading you.

That you are fruitful and growing in wherever you are, whatever you are doing.

I pray for you.

I don’t pray about us.

I do tell the Lord about what I feel for you and openly express my desire to be with you, but I do not want to nag heaven with cries and petitions of what I want and how I want you.

Not that doing so is wrong, but then is it really right? Am I even truly praying for you if my intentions revolve around me?

I refuse to highlight what I want and how I feel, no matter how incredibly tempting it is for me to do so. The last thing I want is to make this journey of praying for you about me.

If I’m going to passionately bombard heaven with relentless prayers about you, I might as well make them into prayers that are actually, well, for you.

For your benefit and for your good and for His glory in your story.

Whether that story includes me or not begs to be seen, but that doesn’t change a thing.

I choose to pray not with palms clasped tight but with arms open wide.

More than anything else, I pray for His will to come to pass in every area of your life.

I pray to see His glory shine ever brighter in and through who you are and who He is making you to be.

I pray that you live a life of His best; even if that means it’s a life that does not include me.

I don’t pray that you’ll be mine. Just that you’d be His.

Limang Maikling Tula Para sa Kanya

Disclaimer: I wrote this as a creative challenge to myself more than anything. 
(Putting that disclaimer up for my dad more than anything 😂).

Isa, dalawa, tatlo, apat, lima
Binibilang ang araw hanggang tayo’y muling magkita
Isa, dalawa, tatlo, apat, lima
Binibilang ang beses na sinabi sa puso, tama na

Isa
Alam mo bang ako’y nabighani sa iyong mga mata?
Alam mo bang ang ngiti mo’y nakaukit sa aking gunita?
Alam mo bang ang bawat galaw, bawat sulyap, aking itinatala?

Isa
Isang beses ko palang ito nagawa, nadama

Dalawa
‘Di makahinga, ‘di makaimik
Idinadaan na lamang sa nakaw na tingin
Sa loob-loob, nanalangin
Na balang araw, ika’y maging akin

Tatlo
Ang kathang isip lamang, pwede ba maging katotohanan?
Araw-araw nagdadasal sa Diyos na Siya’y gumawa ng paraan
Ngunit kung sabihin Niya na kailangan kang bitawan
Ako’y handang magparaya, magpalaya,
Lumisan

Apat
Sapagkat ayaw kong pilitin ang tadhana
Hihintayin na lamang ang nakatakda

Lima
Nangangamba, ngunit nagbabakasali
Gusto kita
Gustong gusto kita
Pero Diyos parin ang natatangi

Men, You Are God’s Gift to Women.

I’m not talking about the guy who arrogantly flaunts and flirts and personally tags himself as God’s gift to women.

(Hi. If that’s you, I’m telling you straight up: you’re probably not, actually. Sorry).

I’m talking about you who care so much about Biblical manhood that you’d invest time and money into learning how you can better serve others by being the best you could be. I’m talking to you who wouldn’t subscribe to the stereotypical basis of what a man looks like and would rather break the standards by following His standard.

I’ve told you before how much we needed more men like you, but have I ever mentioned how much we appreciated you?

When you lead and not dictate,
When you are tested yet stay committed,
When you graciously listen and communicate,
When you have vision and take action,
When you pray and obey,
When you take responsibility and not make excuses,
When you rise up and take initiative,
When you give and don’t require,
When you respect and don’t expect,
When you are passionate and compassionate,
When you affirm and correct,
When you protect and pursue,
When you fight for the wronged,
When you forgive what is wrong,

When you refuse to be passive and jump right in,
When you step back and choose to be patient,
When you go out of your way,
When you show up,
When you don’t leave,

You are God’s gift to women.

When your heart is in the right place,
When your eyes are fixed on His face,
When you seek Him always,

You are God’s gift to women.

Please, never, ever stop making an effort. Never, ever stop stepping into all that He has for you. Never, ever stop fighting for the calling He has placed upon you.

Even when it’s difficult, even when it’s tiring, even when it takes so much of you: keep at it. Never, ever stop using the gifts He has given you. Never, ever stop being the gift He has called you to become.

For when you humbly admit that you aren’t there yet, but you want to be,
When you deliberately take steps, no matter how slowly,

You already are God’s gift to women.

Thank you for all that you are,
And thank you for all that you will be.

You Deserve More Than Secondhand Love

To be honest, from the moment this blog blew up back in 2015, this has been one of the things I have always wanted to say. This was something I constantly expressed to my friends, but somehow had a difficult time putting it into words considering how ironic it would be to come from someone like me.

But even for the past two years as I wrote and stopped writing, this remained in my heart:

Beloved, you deserve more than secondhand love.

And I don’t mean that in the romantic sense. I’m talking about how you deserve more than secondhand love from me. I’m talking about how you have the right to access the source of all the love and knowledge that I get to share to you.

You know, my every blog post has been theologically searched out, because more than the advice and the extra-biblical stuff, I want to be faithful to what He has said first. Every word here that got to touch you, that got to minister to you, only came to be, only came to me, because God was gracious enough to enlighten me.

What you hear from your favorite Christian speakers and authors, you should know that all those insights came from God. And more than wanting to point you back to God through not-so-many-pretty-words, at this time, I want to straight out encourage you to go right to the source so that you will experience that kind of direct revelation as well.

Please don’t mistake this as me telling you to not read other books or listen to podcasts. I for one personally enjoy doing so. They really help and guide and God uses those things to bring to light and for people to see more of Him. I mean, really, I’m saying this as one who blogs.

It’s just that, more than anything, I want to tell you that rather than waiting on every word that comes from the mouth of a blogger, you can choose to wait and meditate on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Nothing could substitute that – no matter how seemingly well-written or timely. Every other source should be secondary.

Now, don’t even get me started on the famous speakers who gain so much acclamation because they say things that seem right, but are actually laced with wrong. That’s one of the reasons why numbers of Christians get into this, because we want to point you back to the right path, we want to lead you into the truth. But more than the “guidelines” through what we say, you’re going to need discernment for yourself to sift through what you get to hear even when it sounds nice. And that’s not something anyone can teach you. As much as we try, we can’t filter and sort through everything for you. There are things you have to personally hold His Word up to, so then you will see what is truly sound advice from that which is deceitful.

Maybe, the reason why there are still certain struggles with our identity and security no matter how many affirming articles we’ve read is because we only ever get to hear secondhand what God has said about us. Maybe it’s time you stop wanting to keep on hearing and hearing from others what God has already said about you and hear what He has to say for yourself.

Reading the Bible may sound daunting to you. Talking to God and learning to hear from Him may seem unfamiliar. It may seem boring. It may seem like it’s “too spiritual and that’s not for me.” You may not really know how to go about it. But if you want to, you can reach out to me and I can go through the process with you and help you as you figure things out. ☺

I promise you, as you stay faithful to that, you will hear Him speak to you in ways you never thought you will. You will experience how He targets specifically the situations you scour advice for, and you will find that His words are inexhaustible and still relevant. For far more than anything I ever get to say that touches you, it is keeping His words in your heart that will change you. More than me shining His light this way, I want to see you reflect His light too.

It’s about time you get to know Him and experience Him firsthand, don’t you think? Trust me, He has been waiting for you. He has some things to say – words handpicked and chosen especially just for you, directly to your heart and to your situation.

Note: I guess at this point, I can say I’m shifting gears about how I’m going to go about this blog. I won’t in any way stop sharing my revelations and insights and I won’t stop with my “pretty words”, but I will probably get more personal about this now. I want to look back to this one day as a testimony of His faithfulness in my life, a place where I can be reminded of how He has marked my every step with His fingerprints. It’s a new season for me and I’m still navigating it all, but I’ll let Him guide me every step of the way and I do hope you stay for the ride. ❤️

Break.

"It's okay. Break. It's okay to break. It's okay to be broken."

How many times do we have to tell ourselves that our brokenness is forgivable?

This, this is one of the greatest things He has taught me. That we can be undone, and it's completely okay.

Some pain could be self-inflicted. Some pain could be world-induced. Some pain could be completely out of your hands. But none of those actually changes anything.

Pain and brokenness will either demand to be felt or they will demand that we feel nothing at all.

So feel. Beloved, allow yourself to be broken. Maybe you've been holding it together for the longest time. But you don't have to, not in front of Him. Let the tears come. You don't need to be afraid of what is broken, what could be broken, what will be broken. Not when He is not afraid of broken things; not when He is redeeming and restoring everything.

Let His love re-define you and the meaning of your brokenness. Let Him love you in your most disappointed, hurt, confused places. He wants to. Rock bottom becomes your stepping stone if you decide to walk it through.

I remember this song by Leonard Cohen that says, there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.

Let the love get in. But you have to break first, fully.

Then let all the broken, seemingly scattered pieces fall into place. Let Him put your pieces back into place.You can press your scars against His nail pierced hands and know that this, this is Someone who is not afraid of broken, this is Someone who understands pain.

You may think that you can't afford to feel because you have to be a leader first. You have to be a parent first. You have to be a sibling first. You have to be responsible first. But it costs so much more to forget that before all of that, you were God's child first. And He wants you to be super real with Him. He isn't surprised by how low you could go. You'd be surprised by how His love can chase you down there, even deeper.

Didn't you know that your broken heart breaks His? Didn't you know that you refusing to break open your heart breaks His?

And the Father has His arms outstretched, Christ comes to us showing the scars in His hands, the Spirit whispers inside us, "it's safe here."

Why do we need to fear being messy when it's never more than what our God can handle?

Break. At His feet. Before His throne. Offer your brokenness. Then watch Him fight for you. Hear Him speak grace and truth to you. Listen to Him tell you, "go in peace" (Luke 7:36-50).

You may be busted, but you are beloved.
You may be guilty, but you are not condemned.
You may be broken, but you are chosen.

So rather than pushing people away because "you don't understand my pain and you have no idea what I've been through", why don't we let them push through our hearts and maybe then we'll see them pull through for us?

It's fascinating to me, how the bread we eat and the juice we drink during communion represents so much more than we think they do. Wheat and grain have to be crushed in order to make the bread we commune with. Grapes had to be squeezed and pounded in order for us to have the juice that we drink. All the sweetness, the oneness, coming from broken.

We share this together – all this broken, together.

And all this pain and suffering, they all do things to us. They make us defensive. Bitter. Mean. Because, as they say, hurt people hurt people.

But everyone's hurt. In ways we will never know and in ways we won't fully understand, everyone is hurt, has been hurt, and will be hurt. And if we don't start responding in love in the face of pain, if we keep putting up walls rather than allowing the cracks, if we don't start reaching out instead of slapping away, if we'd rather make people break than be broken together, then the cycle will keep going on.

Hurt people hurt people.

Someone, somewhere, has to be brave enough, humble enough, to break the cycle by being broken.

Let that someone be you.

The truth is, there will always be someone who has something bad to say about you, something bad to do to you. Love anyway. The moment we feel most appalled, most disappointed, most repelled is the moment we need to love anyway the most. The heart that repels us the most is the heart we need to love the most.

Because we all need love when we feel we least deserve it – and that's exactly how God loves us anyway.

It's two-way, a cycle, this circle of love and life and pain.

Rather than comparing and criticizing who has the right to be broken because "I've been through worse but I turned out better", why don't we break our self-righteous pulpits instead?

Do you really have to give someone a piece of your mind when they need a piece of your heart? What if that person is not necessarily being difficult, it's just that she's having difficulty? Because we know it gets harder before it ever gets easier, and people need someone to help them through and tell them that it will get better if they don't give up when it's hardest.

Beloved, we will be known for our fruits, not our judgments.

So the ground has to be broken to produce crop and the seed has to break open to produce wheat and the wheat has to be broken to produce bread.

And Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24).

We break ourselves open and we die to ourselves.

And then He puts us back together, the way we were always supposed to be. He binds us all broken people together.

Because, if anything, seeing how deep our brokenness makes us realize how deep His love is. And I deeply believe that what the enemy meant for evil, God will turn into good. I deeply believe that He can turn your bad broken into good broken. I deeply believe that no darkness nor evil nor spirits nor anxiety nor fear can keep you from His love and peace. When we are wounded by the world, we can find shelter in His Word.

And then we will know, truly, Christ was broken so we don't have to be.Our undoing will be our remaking.

The origin of the word suffer means "to bear under." To suffer means to bear under what we cannot control. Which is why we would rather avoid suffering at all. But we can bear under that which is beyond our control because we know that above all is the One who is in control. Whatever has been and whatever will be, we are being held securely in the hands of Him who is the Prince of Peace. We are held in the arms of the One who holds all things together.

Whatever we are wrapped up in, He sets us free.
Whatever we are accused of, He has taken the condemnation.
Whatever we lack, He will provide.
Whatever we have failed, He will redeem.
Whatever battle we face, He has declared victory.

For where we are weak, He is strong.

We imagine needing to go through things on our own, but in the darkness, in the valley of death, He is there with us. There's no season that we have been in, no season we are in, and no season we could be in that He will not go through with us. In the desert, in the valley, in the fire, He is right there with us. When everything is up in flames around us, He is right there with us in the middle of our burn.

It's not up to us to overcome our brokenness. We don't have to be okay before going to Christ. Rather, it is Christ who will have us overcome our brokenness and who will make us okay – even when things don't seem okay.

And now we who are broken, scarred, limping, we can be brokers of healing because we know where the wounds run. We know that compassion can heal what condemnation could not. We know that God will use all things for our good and His glory – from testing to testimony.

Taking it from apostle Paul, whose daily involved being stoned, flogged, persecuted, and imprisoned: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

He can say that because amidst everything, here is his mindset: I am not a victim. And you are not a victim. Beloved, we should stop acting and thinking and living from a place of victim. And I do get that – that it will take time before we get out of that slave, victim mentality. But we'll let His love lead us through.

We confront our brokenness and own our beloved-ness.

For everything, everything, everything will work together for our good and His glory – even if we don't see it just yet. There will be stories to tell on the other side because we were never meant to wallow in our pain, we were meant to overcome.

He puts all our broken pieces together to form His body and we find His marks on each other. Let it sink, balm through the cracks: Christ is in you. You have the hope of glory in you.

And if we trace every scar, we can find there written along the lines:

Wounds run deep, but His love will always run deeper; the world will fight you and your own self will contradict you, but He has won the war – this Scarred, Victorious Savior.

And His triumph is counted as yours.

Dear Future Daughter: “Am I Pretty?”

I can already picture it.

You at 3, in your favorite white dress all sparkly and poofy, coming up to me with eyes wide open with curiosity. A flick of hair here, a twirl there, and your heart begging to be delighted in.

"Mommy, mommy, am I pretty?"

I'm going to look you straight in the eyes and tell you the truth.

Yes, love, of course you are.

You might, at 5, walk up to me in jean shorts and your now-favorite "I love daddy" tee. You ask me if it's okay that you chose your own clothes, that you're not wearing the pinks I like dressing you in. You ask me if you're still pretty.

Of course you are, baby.

(And I might inwardly laugh at my failure to impart all my girly).

Then, at 13, you might run crying home from school. The boy you liked didn't like you back,
"Am I not pretty enough?"

I would look into your eyes stained with insecurity, see straight into your heart, and know now you're capable to receive the whole truth.

It's not that you're not pretty enough, maybe he can't handle all the pretty you have.

I'm not saying it to say it, I'm saying it because it's true.

This 5-letter word will never encompass all there is to you and it is even unworthy to hold all that you are. You are not "merely pretty", and you will never be.

You are pretty wonderful, pretty amazing, pretty intelligent, pretty artistic, pretty stunning, pretty mind-blowing.

I'll hand you a pint of ice cream, and I'll give you first-hand info:a guy who can't see beyond "pretty" will never be worthy of you.

I feel sorry for the lad who can't see past pretty – he who will never have the opportunity to see beyond the way you look to discover the way your mind thinks and your heart beats. He will never see the depths of your soul and the intricacies of your spirit.

So you will be the lady, at 15, flitting from store to store looking for the perfect prom dress, not so you could catch his eye but so you can celebrate and enjoy the beauty that you have in greater measure.

You will be the lady, at 18, reading books on femininity. And you might come across the ones that tell you that you have to be wearing dresses and skirts because it's the best way you can honor God with your beauty, but you would by then have already known the truth:

Femininity hasn't to do with dressing pretty; it has to do with becoming the woman who God created you to do be – stepping into your destiny.

You will never sit at a bar stool half clothed, desperate for a stranger to think your face is pretty enough.

You will never compete with women, pointed eyes looking up and down and trying to look for something to criticize in one seemingly too pretty.

You will never have to go lengths just to catch a man's eye, longing for affirmation that you're worth a glance.

For you know that there's One who has had eyes for you since the beginning of time; who, not for a single second, didn't love you. You no longer seek to be told pretty, you seek to reflect His beauty.

You risk every day to unveil this beauty to the world, bravely putting your heart on the line, refusing to allow the world and its cynicism to put a damper on your heart so filled with love, on your eyes always filled with wonder. And when it gets too much and when you get broken, you are the perfume bottle spilled at His feet.

Your life is the fragrance – enchanting, worship.

You will be the woman clothed with dignity, humility, joy, and fulfillment.

Pretty and so, so much more.

Dear Ladies: Guard His Heart

We hear a lot about how we ladies should guard our hearts and we tell men a lot to guard women, but how often do we think about guarding the hearts of guys?

I know we tend to have general boundaries, yet I think now would be a good time to remember to set our boundaries not just according to our weaknesses but also according to theirs. It helps to know that these men are wired differently as individuals and have different triggers, and I believe it is always good to gauge where a man stands in his emotions and vulnerabilities even as you examine yours.

I’ve said this before in a previous post, but it’s worth repeating. When Solomon wrote that one should guard the heart, he was speaking about having wisdom in his heart and protecting it. And so this is a lesson that we should probably never outgrow, keeping this wisdom and guarding it.

Ladies, we’ve all probably heard of the people around us warning us about guys, how they’re only “after one thing” and how they can play around with emotions of girls. And while it is true that some certain guys do that, isn’t it also true that we can be considered just as “dangerous” to them? There is a reason that Proverbs is full of warnings against “the vixen.” We may be aware or unaware of our charms, but trust me when I say that men notice and it is because of such that we ought to be careful. I'm not saying don't be friendly. I'm not saying don't care. I'm simply saying that we have femininity that is considered alluring, and we can choose to use it either as a Delilah or as an Esther.

I want to tell you not to “casually” bump into him on the street. I want to tell you not to do things and even post things on Facebook in attempts to subtly catch his attention when you know he’s not yours to keep. I want to speak about how it’s possible for a girl to play so closely near the line, for no other reason than to see if he’ll show any sign of attraction. I want to go on and on about flirting and leading guys on and body language and a million specific things, but I won’t. I won’t give you a list of dos and how tos. I don’t need to. The only thing I need to tell you is to love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself; to love the men in your life with purity and wish no harm – emotionally or otherwise – upon them.

Women, we have a part in inspiring, encouraging, and protecting the men in our lives, no matter how “big, strong, and capable” they already appear. They long for affection and love just as much as we do – and we may be unknowingly filling their tanks when we shouldn’t be. We have just as much power over their hearts as they have over ours.

In the same way, guard his heart from your tongue. Let’s admit it. We can be nagging and condescending and criticizing. We are able to build them up and tear them down with our mere words. Don’t use the power you have to demean, manipulate, or bash. Use your words to challenge, motivate, and set them free to become who they were called to be.

It’s so easy to say that it’s not our obligation and that it’s all up to them to fix their responses to what we do, but isn’t that extremely selfish? It may take a little more effort on our part to be aware of us and of others, but isn’t that what relationships are about? Isn’t that what loving is about?

Doesn't the fact that we're created from man's rib imply how we have a role in  guarding his heart?

It’s amazing to think that the Greek word kosmos translates to adornment in English. As a woman, your source of adornment comes from the source of the cosmos. You are most beautiful when you are immersed in His universe, filled to the brim with His love, grace, and joy, leaving a trail of stars wherever you go. And in the same way that people can feel either belongingness or loneliness as they stare off into the sky, you have the same ability to uplift and to bring down.

You can either pull people into your orbit and get them lost in sheer darkness, or you can show them galaxies of dazzling wonder and inspire them to get launched into worlds of possibilities.

Would you rather use your gravity to make them crash or to make them fly?

Beloved, Let Him Go

Just a little confession: I am in no way an expert at this. I have loved and I have lost and I have spent months and years in an emotional limbo, hopelessly stuck in a place I don't even think I want to move on from because it's the only place I can still find him.

But maybe that's exactly why I have to speak to you about it. Because, my dear, it's 2017 and my heart breaks just watching you bringing the pain and confusion into the new year. Just when you thought you can begin anew, you found yourself in the same cycle again.

It's ironic when you know that breaking up was what's best and the relationship was already doing more harm than good, and yet here you are still at the same place you began.

It's a tug-of-war, you see. Your hands grasp so tightly to the rope, fighting to hold on and at the same time fighting to let go. You push and you pull and you always end up finding yourself bleeding and calloused and oh so tired.

And you know what, it's okay. It's okay that it's hard. It's okay that it hurts. The pain is valid. It's normal. We all need to go through our own journeys, with our own processes. Please go at your pace for wounds take time to heal. Two steps forward, one step back, it's fine. As long as you keep moving.

But if you're honest to yourself and you know that you're not even going anywhere and you're just stuck there, then let me be honest here too. The battle isn't really between you and him. The battle is between you and yourself.

You have to actually want to get over it, sweetie. From deep within you, you have to decide to. It's impossible to help someone who doesn't want to be helped. It's you who gets to make the decision to stop replying. You make the decision to take captive every thought and stop imagining the 1,000 ways the two of you can reconcile and get back together in the far off future. Most importantly, you get to choose whose hand you're going to hold: his or His.

This isn't about actively getting yourself into church activities or finding laughter when you're out for fellowship. Those can help, and they're good, but they're not the answer.

He is.

I don't want to make it sound easy because it's not. It's actually incredibly difficult. However, it's also rather simple. I'm not saying that the moment you choose God, all your feelings will miraculously go away. It doesn't work that way. But beloved, He works.He will work through your emotions and He will work through your situation and you will see Him working this heartbreak for your good.

It's terrifying letting go of what you're so used to. Some days, you just miss having someone to love you. Some days, you wonder whether you'll find a relationship that great again. Some days, you get frightened once you realize that all your plans that always included him are now scrap. But then, that's a wonderful place to start again.

Endings make for good beginnings. 

I beg you, close the door. You need to. Losing him might mean finally finding yourself – and much, much more. Don't chain yourself to the past and miss out on embracing all the future holds. The world is waiting for you to fully step into who you are. You were not created to retreat. There's a million opportunities ahead of you, an endless array of open doors and chances, so stop holding yourself back. Stop holding on to a guy you always believed would die for you when there's One who already did. This Guy, He's not just a band-aid for your broken heart, He'll take all the broken pieces and put them back together. You shouldn't treat Him as a soothing balm when He is the cure. You may have thought love meant grasping, but now there's a love Who would hold on to you. And this Love, just a little tidbit, His hands bled for you too. 

Palms closed tight keep the shadows in. We capture the light with open hands.

Breathe in. Breathe deep. Exhale.

No matter how long it takes, no matter how difficult it is, no matter how stuck you feel sometimes, no matter how many times you have to decide over and over again.

Slowly, fingers uncurling, relinquish. Let go.

Not because he found someone else, not because you want to find someone else, but because now, you are found.


Welcome the new.