June 26, 2017

Captivating: Chapter 12 – “Your Irreplaceable Role” – “In Your Relationships”

We are not all cut from the same cloth, we do not have the same background, we do not have the same personality, and we don’t always see things the same way. Some of us may be more outgoing; some of us prefer to be center stage while others of us would rather stay behind the scenes. Women come in different shapes, sizes, personality type, demeanors, etc. We are a creation of variety and of differences. Yet despite the various aspects of us and our lives that make us different there are things that we as women share; and one is “a heart that is alive and passionate.”

God desired and designed women to have this heart, a heart that “keeps relationships a priority.” At times this may seem like a burden, especially when the relationships seem one-sided, or the relationships seem to cease to exist. And these relationships are not only romantic relationships, but friendships and family relationships. I’ve said before that when I study a book like this I try to find one or two things that stand out to me and touch my heart, today it was this: “No one can be to the people in your life who you can be to them. No one can offer what you can offer there are many things God calls us to do, but loving well always comes first.”

Sometimes what God asks of us can seem that it “requires more of our heart and soul than we thought possible.” Sometimes being who God is asking us to be in our relationships can seem overwhelming.  By saying “yes” to God, and by going where God is asking us to go, and doing what God asks us to do, we are also acknowledging that we have faith in His covering—faith that by saying “yes” to Him, He will take care of everything else.

Ladies, don’t ever doubt that we are “unique feminine” don’t ever doubt that we are “designed differently,” and that we are beautifully and wonderfully made.

Ps139_14

Let us remember that we “need to be as cunning as a Rahab, an Esther, and a Tamar.” We are captivating, we are beautiful, and we are created by the Creator of all things; we are made on purpose, for a reason, and made with love.

With Love, Tonya

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You, thank You, thank You. You have made us uniquely feminine and  You made us for a reason. Sometimes these reasons can seem overwhelming, sometimes they can seem too much to handle. But thank You for being there, thank You for Your covering, thank You for Your unique design.  In Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen.

Your Assignment:

Look at the stories of Rahab, Esther, and Tamar again. Look at their characteristics. How can we learn from their cunning; how can it apply to our world today?

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Our next Women’s Online Bible/Book study has begun!!

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To join us, click on the picture above and complete the registration form.

Once we receive your registration, we will email you further details!

We hope you will join us!

 

Captivating: Chapter 11 Warrior Princess – “Fighting Back” – “Emotional Attacks”

Sword and RosesWhen I’m working with new clients or patients one of the things I make sure to stress from the beginning is that when it comes to life and the things we go through in life, our mind, body, and soul are all connected. What we are going through does not just affect one of these areas and one area cannot be affected without the other two areas being touched also. These three aspects of our lives are interconnected, and make up who we are.

Emotional attacks in life are very real.  These attacks are not limited to our minds, or our hearts, but are aimed at our bodies as well. The example Stasi uses of dizziness made me think. This was something I knew, but also something that I didn’t think of on a regular basis, it was one of those “oh yea” moments for me. I learned a long time ago not to put anything past satan. He is out to hurt us, and he will do so at any cost. “Demons smell human brokenness like sharks smell blood in the water, and they move in and take advantage of our weakened soul”. Yes, satan has his ways, but God also has His, and His ways are stronger, more powerful, and made specifically to protect us.

In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

Ephesians 4:26-27

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

James 4:7

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

1 Peter 5:8-9

He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you”.

Luke 10:18-19

For reasons I have yet to understand, society makes it seem as if mental health is a taboo subject. The need to seek out the professional help of a counselor to the need for medicine such as anti-depressants has been made to appear as a negative “out”. This is far from the case. The act of verbalizing your thoughts and feelings to a Christian counselor or trusted advisor can be one of the best decisions made by someone. If God is leading you to speak to someone, then please do. God has given individuals in this world a gift to help us through our struggles in life. There are a lot of things in our life we overlook because we see them as “normal”, and even if they are not as “normal” as we would like them to be, we are hesitant to talk to someone about them. My favorite quote from these two sections was this one, “It’s amazing what we will live with because we think it’s normal when it’s not”.

What if I don’t know what should be normal and what shouldn’t be normal?

 PRAY

Constantly talk to God, if something feels less than normal to you then talk to Him and ask.

The title of one of these two sections is “Fighting Back”; it’s time we fought back, it’s time we told satan, “no more”. But we can’t do this alone. Let God “began to train our hands and heart for battle”. Let Him touch our hearts, minds and souls

1 Thessalonians 5:23

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

With Love,

Tonya

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, normal is a word that has taken on many meanings, and can be hard to figure out. Please touch our hearts, minds and souls and show us what you have intended for us, what is normal Lord? What do we need to bring to you? Lord remind us that our body, mind and spirit are all connected, we cannot address one without the others. Thank you for caring for all of us Lord. Lord, I pray that when we question normal, or when we question ourselves that we automatically come to you, Lord I pray that we make praying without ceasing a normal part of our life. Thank you for your tools, and thank you for your protection.  In Jesus’ name we pray,  Amen.

Your Assignment:

What are your thoughts on fighting back? What does it mean to you?

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Our next Women’s Online Bible/Book study will begin March 24th!

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To join us, click on the picture above and complete the registration process.

Once we receive your registration, we will email you further details!

We hope you will join us!

 

Captivating: Chapter 10 – “Our Last Year Together” – “The Cost” (pgs 173-176)

The true repair of a relationship is an indescribable feeling. Some have experienced this and some haven’t; some haven’t had the need to rebuild a relationship on this level. But God will restore a relationship lost through simple miscommunication or deep hurt. The one point that has rang true to me through this entire book has more to do with not what God can do for us.  It has to do with what we will allow Him to do.  He has written in His word that He is capable, willing, and does great and wonderful things in our lives. 

Will we let Him into our lives and hearts and open ourselves to the healing He has ready for us?

I’ve worked as in the hospice field for a little over 3 years now and as a Bereavement Counselor for a little over two. The story in these two sections is one that I have seen many times, and each time it becomes more and more beautiful. The redemption and healing of a relationship is possible. Through some of the most difficult situations and circumstances God will rebuild ties we thought were severed forever. He will mend together the pieces of our heart that we thought were not able to ever be fixed.

“I tell you this story because I want you to know that redemption is possible. Healing is possible. Ask Jesus to bring it to you and it’s yours.”

 

Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of healing and restoration that You offer. If any of our hearts are hardened in this area please soften them, Lord. Please open our hearts and eyes to see the work that You want to do in our lives. Help us to bring the relationships in our lives that need healing to You, Lord. Thank You for this precious gift! It is a gift to us and to those we love.

Your Assignment:

Do you have an example of a relationship restored? Journal your story, and if you feel compelled, please share your story with us. Your story may encourage and inspire another.

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GWS

Our next Women’s Online Bible/Book study will begin March 24th!

To join us, click on the picture above and complete the registration form.

Once we receive your registration, we will email you further details!

We hope you will join us!

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 If you are interested in sending a private message to Tonya about this blog, please email her at TonyaEllison@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

Captivating: Chapter 9 – “How Does a Woman Love A Man?” – “The Holy Scandalous Women Of The Bible”

Throughout my life I have heard that there are many ways to a man’s heart, many ways to make a man happy. Sex and food being the main two theories or methods, tools, feeding his favorite hobby, or being submissive. I’m sure if a survey were taken it would be found that there are as many answers as there are people polled, and that the answers differ greatly between men and women.

“Femininity is what arouses his masculinity. His strength is what makes a woman yearn to be beautiful.”

”The beauty of a woman is what arouses the strength of a man.” 

The first thought that popped into my head was “hmmm….” But it makes sense, there are many other complimentary relationships in life, this just happens to be a very important one, past the peanut butter to my jelly, past the ink to my printer, it is about a man to his woman and a woman to her man, strength to beauty and beauty to strength.

But what if I’m single. What does that mean for me?

What I write next applies to all women. Before God sends our husband, and even after God has blessed us with the man we are to marry, we need to make Him Number One in our life. The strength of God is what makes us beautiful. The hand of God in our life is what prepares us for life, it’s what teaches us how to be beautiful, it’s what teaches us how to be good women. It’s been said before that a man doesn’t complete us, God completes us. Yes, a man’s strength is what makes a woman yearn to be beautiful, but until that man comes along, and even after he has been placed in our lives, the Number One man needs to be God.

The strongest women in the Bible displayed courage, cunning, and stunning vulnerability.  When we display these characteristics in our relationship with God it will only allow His strength to shine through more.  When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to Him, then our beauty will shine through more.

 

With Love,

Tonya

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord,

Beauty is a word strived for by all women, beauty is also one of the things in life that seems impossible to feel at times. But when we allow Your strength to take hold of our life that beauty shines bright; when we are vulnerable to You, Lord, our beauty is magnified because of Your strength. Please prepare us for our husbands by teaching us how to let masculinity and strength shine through because when this takes place our beauty does the same.  In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

Your Assignment:

 “Femininity is what arouses his masculinity. His strength is what makes a woman yearn to be beautiful”…”The beauty of a woman is what arouses the strength of a man.”   

What does this mean to you? Or what else stood out to you? Share your thoughts; they may bless someone more than you know.

 

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Our next Online Bible Study

“Girls with Swords” by Lisa Bevere begins March 24th.  

To join us for this amazing study, click on the picture above!

Once we receive your registration, we will email you further details!

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 If you are interested in sending a private message to Tonya, please email her at TonyaEllison@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

Captivating: Chapter 8 Review

Girlfriends, this week we learned about our true beauty!  Please join me as I go over some vital points of this last week with you.

On Monday, we learned from Jackie that Beauty that comes from the inside is what this world longs to see from us. It is such Beauty that speaks and people listen; it invites others in and makes them want to stay forever; it nourishes, comforts, inspires, and it is transcendent. It is this Beauty that draws us to God.

On Tuesday,Tonya said that, despite what life and others may say, God created all of us for a reason. He knew what character traits we would have, and He placed them in us for a purpose. Through Him and His love we can all embrace who we are and open our hearts to rest.

On Wednesday we were challenged by Carissa to think about our ‘ugly’ moments. Our ‘ugly’ moments have one thing in common: OURSELVES!!!!! Let us change the ugly into beauty by reaching out to those in need. We offer joy and beauty when we serve.

On Thursday with Michelle we learned that unveiling our beauty is not just a simple matter of putting on a nice outfit and some makeup. Unveiling our beauty is our greatest expression of FAITH, HOPE, and  LOVE.

Girlfriends, for the last couple of months I have been on a life-changing journey. Although I have been deeply hurt and wounded, I decided to trust God with every fiber of my being. Instead of focusing on the ugly and the disappointments, I focused my attention on the beauty that will come out of this experience.

Let’s Pray:

Father, thank You for Your beauty that lives within us. Thank You that we don’t have to allow the ugly of this world to consume us and to change us.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Captivating: Beauty Flows From a Heart at Rest – Beauty is Inviting (pp 132-138)

When I read the description of the two women, I saw a lot of what I am in Janet and a lot of what I wanted to be in June.

Despite our various personality traits or where we may feel in our lives, despite how we feel about our journey, or how successful we feel we have been on this journey, it is reassuring to know that we are beautiful. In every woman lies a God-given beauty. A beauty that we hide through our striving to be what we feel we should be, a beauty that we hide after hurts in life have caused us to question this beauty.

“Beauty indwells every woman…So the choice a woman makes is not to conjure beauty, but to let her defenses down.” 

Right there, that’s the key—our defenses. The book describes these defenses as our normal means of survival. We set up these defenses around our hearts and minds and keep others out, while at the same time keeping ourselves in. These defenses stop us from being who God designed us to be. But how do we let our defenses down…how do we embrace this God-given beauty?

Rest. What is rest, and most importantly, what is a heart at rest. In today’s busy world, rest is not a word we hear very often. But rest doesn’t mean an opportunity to relax in a quiet room without interruption from others. In this sense, rest means the opportunity to be who God created us to be without striving to be what we think we should be, without having to hide who we are. “That the more His we become, the more ourselves we become; more our true selves.”

I always try to find a line or two in each section that speaks to my heart. In these sections it was the following two lines:

You are free to be you, it’s one of life greatest gifts.

Despite what life and others may say, I know deep down that God created me for a reason, He created all of us for a reason.  He knew what character traits we would have, and He placed them in us for a purpose. Through Him and His love we can all embrace who we are, and open our hearts to rest.

 

Cap_Ch8_TonyaE

We do not have to be a ‘June’ to be at rest, or to have an inviting heart towards others. Like so many other discussions we’ve had, we need to simply let God in, let Him in to heal us as we walk in faith. Let our true selves come out as He shows us just how beautiful we are. Let Him in to show us the reality of 1 Peter 3:3, 4

 1 Peter 3:3 and 4

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

We need only to put our defenses down to let Him show us that we are inwardly beautiful.

Zephaniah 3:17

17 The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.

He will quiet us with His love. He will lower our defenses with His love. He will allow our hearts to rest with His love. And He will make our hearts inviting with His love.

With Love,

Tonya

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Let’s Pray:

Rest, open, inviting, these are words that may not resonate with us, Lord, for we do not always see the beauty that You have placed in our lives and in our hearts. Our defenses and strongholds that we have created to protect us are stopping us from being the women You created us to be. Lord, please break our strongholds and help us to bring down our defenses through Your love. Thank You for Your love; a love that quiets, a love that heals, a love that allows us to see our true beauty through Your eyes.

In Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen.

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Your Assignment:

We so often overlook our beauty because in our eyes our flaws stop us from seeing it. Today we are all going to post a trait that makes us unique, that makes us who we are. God has placed so many beautiful characteristics in each one of us. “We are free to be us. It is one of life’s greatest gifts.”

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 If you are interested in sending a private message to Tonya, please email her at TonyaEllison@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

Captivating: Chapter 8 “Beauty to Unveil” – Reading Assignment

Women are the essence of beauty.  Doesn’t that sound amazing?  There are days we may not feel like that…the flu takes hold, that overnight shift at work, it happens to all of us.  But isn’t is great to know that God sees us as beautiful no matter what?  He created us to be a beauty. This week we are going to take a look into seeing exactly what that means for us.  Here are our reading assignments for the week:

 

Monday: Jackie – Beauty to Unveil – The Essence of a Woman

Tuesday: Tonya – Beauty Flows From a Heart At Rest – Beauty is Inviting

Wednesday: Carissa – Offering Beauty – Of Course it Feels Risky

Thursday: Michelle – Letting Our Hearts Be Deepened – Faith Hope & Love

Friday: Edwina – Weekly Review

Saturday: Diane – Love Letters from God

LET’S PRAY

Lord, I ask You to come alongside each woman this week as we continue the study of Captivating.  As we look into what makes us beautiful, let us be open to the message You have for us, the lesson You want us to learn and the growth You want to see.  Thank You so much for Your love and grace, because without that we would be nothing.  In Your Name we pray.  Amen.

Captivating: Chapter 7 – Cultivating Intimacy (pp 127-129)

We live in a very busy world.  I know I can personally attest to that.  We look at our schedule or our smartphone and we see “the list.”  We wonder if we will have time to get from work to appointment A on time, and then will there be time to eat before class B starts?  There is work, friends, family, ourselves…oh! and God.  Where do you put yourself on that list?  More importantly, where do you put God?

The key to enhancing your relationship with God is a simple one.  You need to spend time with Him.  Think about it, it makes perfect sense.  If you have an acquaintance you want to get to know better, what do you do?  You talk to them, hang out with them, get to know them, and possibly become friends.  If you have a man you are interested in, you date them, talk to them, learn more about them, and it can possibly lead to a more intimate relationship.  Isn’t that what we want?  Intimacy with our Lord?

What exactly is intimacy?  According to Dictionary.com intimacy is  a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.”  Yes!  That is what I want!  I want an affectionate, loving, personal relationship with God!  And the amazing thing is that it is ours for the taking!  He offers it freely and with no strings.  All we have to do is spend time with Him, and it’s ours.  Wait.  Spend time with Him.  Time?  Who has that to spare?  That in it’s essence is the problem.  God doesn’t deserve our “spare time.”  God deserves to be a priority.  He should be coming first on that daily to-do list.  No exceptions, no excuses.  I know…I get it…I am a single mom.  I have to-do lists as long as my arm and leg.  I run my home.  I run ministries.  I have my own business.  Trust me, I get it!

Sometimes we have to get creative with our time, and sometimes we need to get out of our comfort zones.  I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination.  But at the same time, I am exhausted by the end of the day, so I had to make a decision.  What I do is get up at 5:30 in the morning so I can have my quiet time with the Lord before I have to get my son up for school and the craziness of the day begins.  Do I LIKE getting up that early?  No.  No matter how long I have been doing it, it’s still no fun when that alarm goes off.  But is the tradeoff worth it?  Without a doubt!  That quiet time with God is what sets my day straight.  There may be a day I miss, and it may not seem like too big of a deal, but let that one morning turn into 2 or 3, or even more, and it only means trouble.  I can feel a difference.  Something will be nagging at me, or I will feel burdened and I won’t know why until I realize that it has been 4 days since I spent time with God, and then it’s like “Duh! No wonder!!”  It makes a difference.

So now I ask you to look in the mirror.  Where has God been on your list of priorities?  No matter the answer, there is a beautiful reality.  It’s ok.  Whether He has been at number one, or He has been relegated to “if I have time,” God is still there, He is still waiting for you.  He is not mad, or standing with a checklist checking off how many days you have spent with Him. He is just waiting for you to come back.  He loves you! He longs to spend that time with you, and He will delight in you the very second you return to Him.  That is so comforting to me.  If you don’t already, I hope you will set aside the time you need to spend with Your Father.  The change you will feel will be worth it.  Intimacy with Our Savior?  What could be better?

 

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LET’S PRAY:

Dear Lord, we long for an intimate relationship with You.  Please help us to clear our schedules and make the time we need to spend with You.  Sometimes it seems too hard in the craziness of life to set aside time.  Help us in our weariness, in our busyness, even in our laziness to realize that You are worth it, and that intimacy with You is timeless.  We love You, Lord, and we thank You for Your never-wavering faithfulness.  In Your Name, we pray.  Amen.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT:

Share your routine for spending quiet time with the Lord.  Do you have a specific time each day?  Does it change depending on the day?  If you haven’t been spending time with Him regularly, share some strategies you can implement to make it more consistent.

Captivating: Chapter 7 God as Lover – Opening Our Hearts to the Romancer (pp 113-119)

Yesterday in church our pastor spoke of a love so deep and passionate that it saves lives, it saves hearts and heals the wounded. It changes the course we are on; it sacrifices itself for us and places our best interest above itself. This love gave His life for us. He died on the cross for our salvation, so we wouldn’t have to pay for our own wrongdoings. A love that chose us, a love that is available at all times, day or night.

This love does not come from a man.

This love comes from God.

I can relate to the analogy used of a wilting flower. When we feel loved, desired, and pursued we seem to come to life, we perk up, and we feel beautiful. “Her (our) heart begins to come alive, come to the surface, and her (our) countenance becomes radiant.” Our heart comes to the surface; that thing we have tried so hard to build walls around and protect comes back to life.

When God pursues us, which He does passionately our hearts come back to life. The hearts we tucked away so long ago begins to desire to become what it once was, it begins to talk to us again, to share our desires again, and all because it is being pursued. This only happens when it is pursued by God. When we allow our hearts to truly know God, and when we seek that intimate relationship with God our hearts will begin to grow into the heart God intended for us to have all along. 

Potter and His clay

Shepherd and His sheep

Master and His servant

Father and His Child

His friends

Bridegroom and His Bride

All of the roles God plays in our lives are meant to guide, love, and protect us. They are meant to offer protection and caring. A potter knows the clay he is working with, he knows what it is going to be in the end. A shepherd knows each sheep by name and does everything to guide and protect them. A master knows his servant and accepts them into his family. A father knows his child and loves them unconditionally. Friend’s support and offer companionship. And a bridegroom loves his bride to no end.

Like the book says, God has been passionately pursuing us since before we were conceived. He knows our heart better than anyone, even ourselves, and He has been here from day one, loving us!

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, Your pursuit for us is what makes us feel beautiful. Your love for us is what awakens our heart. You have been passionately pursuing us since before we were born; You alone know what our hearts truly desire and what our hearts truly need. Thank You for knowing what our heart can be; thank You for molding it into that image. In Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen.

Your Assignment:

This assignment has 2 parts:

Part 1: God plays many roles in our lives; they’re listed in the post. What are some Scripture references that refer to these roles?

Part 2: God shows us His love and His presence through things that romance us. What has God used in your life to show you that He is always there?

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 If you are interested in sending a private message to Tonya, please email her at TonyaEllison@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

Captivating: Chapter 7 Reading Assignments – “Romanced”

Ah…romance!  The sound of that word can cause different reactions in different women depending on where you are in your journey.  That is completely normal but deep down inside I think we all long to be romanced.  Let all your preconceived notions go as we hear about what it means to be romanced by our One True God.  Here are the reading assignments for the week:

Monday: Jackie – Romanced – Longing for Romance

Tuesday: Tonya – God as Lover – Opening Our Hearts to the Romancer

Wednesday: Carissa – What Does God Want From You – Adoring Hearts

Thursday: Michelle – Cultivating Intimacy

Friday: Edwina – Weekly Review

LET’S PRAY:

Dear Lord, I come to You today, heart in hand.  I ask You to reach out to each and every woman reading this.  Comfort them, love them, romance them as only You can do.  I pray that through reading this chapter we will trust in that love completely and live in the knowledge that You are the love we most need.  In Your Holy Name I pray, Amen.