Don’t Give Up

Have you ever been told that you cannot achieve anything? Have bullies told you that you are a loser and worthless? Have people mocked your dreams and tried to stop you from bringing your dreams to reality? Or, have you allowed fear of failure or fear of rejection stop you from moving forward?

I have!

Bullies have called me names, told me I was a loser. People who were supposed to be my “friends” mocked my dreams and what I wanted to achieve. I have allowed fear of rejection to stop me in my tracks. But, not anymore! It doesn’t matter what people say about me. Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world-1 John 4:4. No longer will I be sitting on the sidelines, but I am getting on the field, ready to play the game. I am ready to do what God has called me to do.

The same thing goes for you. Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world. It is time to stop sitting on the sidelines, being a benchwarmer…it is time to get on the field and be all God created YOU to be. It is time to look at the opponent (the enemy) straight in the eye, and tell him to get behind you because you are moving forward with full force, not looking back. With God on your side, who can stop you? What may seem impossible to you, is possible with Him! You are meant for so much more.

Sure, getting on the field will be challenging at first. When you walk in the calling God has for you, it is great and exciting, but nerve-racking at the same time because of the unknown. That is why we have faith and trust that God will work out all things on our behalf. Romans 8:28 [NKJV] says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God…” In junior high and high school, I played basketball. I remember the first time I got on the basketball court facing our school’s rival. I was excited to be one of the 5 starters, but I was nervous at the same time. I was usually the one who started the game. I thought, “What if I mess up?” “What if I knock the ball out of bounds?” “What if I get hurt?” Then, the referee blew his whistle, I looked up at the ball, jumping as high as I could to slap the ball to my teammate…those first 10 seconds, I was a nervous wreck…but once the game got started, I loved it.

I believe that is the same with all of us. We are excited to do what God has called us to do, and sure it can be challenging; but, we don’t have to let it stop us. God would not lead us somewhere that would bring us harm. He would not put us in a situation we cannot get out of. God would not make us do something if we could not handle it. What kind of father would do that to his child? The Bible says in Psalm 84:11 [NKJV], “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

Never allow fear to stop you in your tracks. Don’t allow the naysayers, the critics, the judgers, the bullies, the hypocrites stop you from achieving your dreams. I truly believe that Jesus’ return is so near, closer than we think. Let that be your motivation to do what God has called you do. Let that be your motivation to accomplish all that you can. Don’t hide your talents and gifts from the world because of what people said about you. Jesus mentioned in a parable about the master giving his servants talents (Matthew 25:14-29). As the master left, he gave each servant a certain amount of talents. They didn’t know when the master would return. When the master returned, he asked the servants what they did with their talents. Two of them invested their talents and the third one buried it in fear, not investing at all. Woe to the third servant! Don’t be like that servant, hiding the gifts and talents that God has deposited inside of you. You are capable because God will give you the strength to achieve it.

I am preaching to myself too! There have been times where I have let fear stop me, but I am dusting the dirt off my shoes and I am going ahead full force, walking on that field! Regardless how many rejections, no’s, judgments thrown my way…I will not stop! We would not have Disney World if Walt Disney gave up because of the multiple “no’s” he received. We would not have “I Love Lucy” if Lucille Ball quit theater because she was told she lacked talent. We would not have Physics if Albert Einstein accepted his teachers calling him stupid. Do you get my point? Don’t give up. Ever. You are here for such a time as this. You are God’s masterpiece created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them-Ephesians 2:10. God has great things in store for you that you cannot imagine. 1 Corinthians 2:9 [NKJV] says, “But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those love Him.” God has great things prepared just for you!

Will you join me on the field?

 

 

 

You Are Victorious

Do you know that you are victorious? Do you know that God has a purpose for your life? So often, we can become consumed with our life and the circumstances that surround us, we can easily feel defeated. When we focus on ourselves, then it robs us of the opportunity to be a blessing to others. But, what if I were to tell you that when you face bullying, you are still victorious. That probably sounds impossible. You might be thinking, “How on earth can I be victorious when people are being mean, calling me names, saying hateful things about me?” Well, you are!

In my book, “Bullied Yet Victorious: How I Overcame Fear with Faith”, I share the bullying incidents I went through and how God helped me to overcome. I am telling you, there is power in standing on God’s Word. He is faithful, just, and true. He honors His word. God has truly protected me. There is power in prayer. God hears your prayers. Our prayers may not be answered right away, but that doesn’t mean that God is in denial. We are overcomers! Why? Because of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. If God is for us, who can be against us? He promises in Hebrews 13:5-6 that He will never leave us or forsake us.

 

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”” –Hebrews 13:5-6 [NKJV]

 

In the eighth grade, I was severely bullied by a classmate who also happened to be a teammate. We were on the same basketball team. Lilly had so much going for herself. She was smart and athletic, the teachers and coaches absolutely loved her. However, she began to follow the wrong crowd at school. She began to believe the lies that were said about me, she joined in on the bullying, and became the main bully. For example, in math class, Lilly sat behind me and whispered to me, “Your hair looks so perfect, I hate it. Snip, snip.” She pulled out scissors from her backpack and placed them on her desk. She began moving her scissors in an up and down motion as if she were cutting my hair. I didn’t trust her! I turned around in my seat, watching her. “Snip, snip” she said. “Ashley, turn around and face the front of the class,” the teacher said. As soon as I turned around, I felt my hair move and the class began snickering. “Snip, snip” Lilly said. I don’t think she actually cut my hair, but the psychological torment was hard to handle. Five days a week, I had to face this girl. She was mean and ruthless to the point one time during basketball practice she punched me in the nose.

I say all of that to say, that I overcame those harsh words that were spoken over me. I overcame the attacks and managed to persevere. One of the greatest lessons I learned is that it doesn’t matter what people say about me, what matters is what God says about me. Same thing goes for you, it doesn’t matter what people say about you. What matters is what God says about you. While people are calling you names, God is calling YOU His child, blessed, priceless, worthy, valuable, beautiful, overcomer, and victorious. The reason I titled the book “Bullied Yet Victorious” is because even though I was bullied, I was/am victorious because of Jesus Christ. God’s purpose for my life is far greater. I am a victor and not a victim. God’s approval is worth more than man’s approval.

Know this today, that regardless what you are facing, God has an incredible purpose for your life. Dare to dream big. Don’t allow what people say about you stop you from fulfilling the purpose God has on your life. Don’t allow fear to creep in but boldly declare His word, that He “has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind”-2 Timothy 1:7 [NKJV]. You are a blessing looking for an opportunity. You are more than a conqueror. Dare to believe what God says about you. Be confident, throw your shoulders back, and know that you are here for such a time as this. You are victorious! 1 Corinthians 15:57 [NKJV] says, “But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

You are victorious!

 

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Called To Greatness

Did you know you are called to greatness? Have you ever felt like there is more to this life than what is going on now? I believe that we are all called to greatness and to do extraordinary things in this world.

To better understand what greatness means, I Googled the word ‘greatness’ to see what the definition would be. That’s right, I used Google…because you know, Google knows everything! The word greatness means: the quality of being great, distinguished, or eminent. To break it down further, the word distinguished means to be successful and great respect, while eminent means being famous or respected, the presence of a positive quality. God can use us in extraordinary ways. I am not saying to try to be famous, but we should have a positive quality about us that people see Jesus and see His goodness. But, never sell yourself short. God can use you in extraordinary ways. I believe God wants to use His children in great ways. Why? Because He loves us and wants the world to see His goodness through us.

However, never allow doubt, fear, or inadequacy stop you from fulfilling the purpose God has for your life. You may feel like you are inadequate or can’t be a world changer. You may feel like your past is hindering you from moving forward or you may be thinking, “How can God use me?” But, this I know, God doesn’t remind you of your past; rather, He reminds you of your future. God likes to take the ordinary and turn them into extraordinary. He uses the ordinary in extraordinary ways. The Bible is full of examples. Take Moses for an example. In Exodus 3-4, Moses was tending flock and led the flock to the back of the dessert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. An angel appeared before him, and behold, a bush was in flames but not consumed. The Lord spoke to Moses and called him to lead His people (the Israelites) out of Egypt. God showed Moses various signs and reassured Moses that He would be with him as he spoke to Pharaoh (ruler of Egypt). However, Moses tried to make excuses as to why he couldn’t talk to Pharaoh. He felt like his speech wasn’t good enough. Even though God told Moses He would be with him, Moses still felt inadequate. In Exodus 4:10 [NKJV], it says, “Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but, I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”” God reassured Moses by saying (in verse 11 & 12), “…Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

Never doubt your abilities. God showed Moses His power, and used Moses in significant ways. What God did for him, He can do for you. With God on your side, who can stop you? God will help strengthen your abilities and will not give you more than you can handle. Expect God to do great things in your life. You are destined for greatness. 1 Corinthians 2:9 [NKJV] says, “But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” Philippians 1:6 [NKJV] says, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

God has an amazing purpose for your life, what He started in you, He will complete. People may not understand and may be jealous of where you are headed. There may be people or friends in your life who may try to bring you down to their level. There may be some naysayers who will use their words to bring discouragement and bully. But, always remember this, God holds your destiny. Don’t allow what people say or do stop you from moving forward. You are a blessing looking for an opportunity. God’s favor surrounds you like a shield according to Psalm 5:12. My grandpa (who was a pastor) taught me from a young age that when saying my morning prayers, declare that I would not let people, things, circumstances, or worry rob me of my joy that day. Same for you, don’t allow people, things, circumstances, or worry rob you of your joy today! You are called to greatness! Let your words and actions show it. Instead of making excuses like Moses, know you are able to accomplish what is before you. It is in our weaknesses God is made strong. Instead of walking around all doom and gloom, walk confidently and victoriously, for you are a King’s kid!

You are Called To Greatness.

 

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Character>Appearance

Does Character matter more than appearances? Think about it. In America, I believe, we have become so focused on people’s appearances, we judge others without actually getting to know them. We judge people based on their skin color, their size, their hair, their clothes, their speech, their money, or their abilities. And shockingly, Christians do it too! That’s right, I said it. At some point in our lives, we have all judged someone based on their outward appearance. But, what if we stopped judging people based on how they look, and started to see their character? What if we stopped listening to Hollywood as to what beauty should look like? What if we chose to look for the good in others? What if each day, we chose to be kind and be a blessing to someone else?

When I was a senior in college, I had to write a senior paper. Since I was a Communication major, I was required to write something communication related that tied into what I wanted to do with my life. Therefore, I wrote about how bullying effects the way students communicate and why churches need to be involved. While I was doing research, I came across a story where a boy was bullied because he wasn’t wearing the “popular” shoes. Apparently, he didn’t have current, trendy shoes; therefore, students bullied him. Isn’t that tragic? Unfortunately, that is not uncommon. A boy was bullied because he didn’t have the right kind of shoes. Isn’t he more important than a pair of shoes? Of course! Life is so much more than the clothes we wear or the shoes we put on. What if those students looked at the boy’s character rather than judging him solely based on the shoes he wore?

In the Bible, there is a perfect example that specifically mentions it is about the heart and not the outward appearance. In 1 Samuel, there was a king named Saul, who started out following the Lord and then decided to turn away from Him. While he was king, God told Samuel to look for another king. Samuel obeyed the Lord, and went to Jesse’s house to see his sons. Jesse’s sons were masculine and looked like they would be fit to be king, but God told Samuel no…none of these men were the one. In 1 Samuel 16:7 [NKJV] it says, “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”” Therefore, Samuel refused to leave until he saw all of Jesse’s sons. “Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen these.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.” So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one…”-1 Samuel 16:10-13.

This passage of Scripture is so encouraging! God told Samuel that He doesn’t focus on the outward appearance like man does; rather, He looks at the heart. It is about the heart! David was known for loving the Lord so much. He is also known as the young man who went up against a giant and killed him with his slingshot and a stone. But, before becoming king…he was a shepherd. He watched sheep. Talk about starting in humble beginnings! Someone who was absolutely ordinary, God turned extraordinary. God used an ordinary man in extraordinary ways. “For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

What if we stopped being so focused on our own appearance, and checked our heart? Is our heart after the things of the Lord or the things of this world? Or, what about other people? Obviously we cannot see people’s heart…but we can tell a lot about a person based on their character. What if we chose to look for the good in others, look at the person’s character rather than outward appearances?

Today, I want to challenge you to think and watch your words before labeling someone based on how they look. Remember, beauty doesn’t make the person. It is their character. Choose today to make a difference and be the change. Show others God’s love and the hope we have in Jesus Christ.

Character>Appearance

 

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You Are An Overcomer

Growing up, my parents taught me to keep my focus on Jesus. When circumstances and obstacles came my way, they encouraged me that Jesus was with me. When I was bullied, I strived to keep my focus straight ahead and remember that God has a purpose for my life. My life is truly a testimony of perseverance. I share my story of overcoming bullying in my book, “Bullied Yet Victorious: How I Overcame Fear with Faith.”

In times of struggles, we can either focus on the negative or look at how we can grow from it. During the time I was being bullied, it was a faith building time for me. It was a time where I chose to believe what God says about me and stand firm on His Word, trusting that God is with me. I relied on Him during my time of trouble. However, more importantly, God helped me to overcome. Whatever you are facing today, know that you can overcome too.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, overcome means: to get the better of; to prevail. To dig deeper, I looked up the meaning of prevail. Prevail means: to be victorious, triumph; to succeed, etc. How is it that we are overcomers? We are overcomers because of Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross for us. We don’t have to walk in this world alone. We don’t have to be fearful or face struggles alone, for He is with us wherever we go. John 10:10 says, “The thief does not come expect to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” We have life because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. God loved the world so much, He gave His only Begotten Son to die for us on our behalf. He bore our sins and shame. Even though we don’t deserve His mercy and grace, God’s mercies are made new every morning according to Lamentations 3:23. We are victorious because of Him. We don’t have to believe the labels people put on us; rather, we can believe what God says about us which is: blessed, precious, worthy, valuable, priceless, beautiful, smart, overcomers, and victorious.

You can prevail. You can overcome. You can triumph and succeed. Believe me, I have been there and here I am today encouraging you. Regardless the circumstances that surround you, you are victorious. God is with you and He will bring you through. Maybe you are worried about finances due to the economy…trust in Him that He will provide and bring you through. Maybe you received a negative doctor’s report…trust in Him that He will heal you. Or, maybe you are dealing with bullying at school…trust in Him that He is with you, even when you feel like you are alone. As a Christian, we are victorious because we have God Almighty on our side. I mean think about it, the Creator of the Universe has you in the palm of His hands. Is there anything too big for Him? Of course not! Therefore, your struggles, pain, hurt, obstacles, regret, circumstances…whatever you are dealing with, God can help you to triumph over your problems. He can bring you through!

Our world is so fast paced, it can seem overwhelming at times and lonely. But, know this, that you are not alone. If you are struggling today with loneliness, fear, bitterness, depression…you are not alone. God is with you, He hears your prayers and cries. I heard a pastor once say that God never wastes a hurt. He knows what you are going through and even when it seems tough, God will make all things work together for your good. He did for me! I was bullied and it hurt. However, I chose to stand firm on God’s Word and believe in Him that He would bring me through. This I know, my hurt was not wasted. God turned things around on my behalf. What the enemy meant for harm, God turned it around for my good. Now I get to share my story and testimony of God’s goodness and help others. Know today, that God is working on your behalf. He will make all things work together for your good. Stay faithful and hopeful, your brighter days are head. You are an overcomer!

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Tormentors Have No Hold On You

Sunday morning before leaving the house to go to church, I was sitting at the kitchen table sipping on coffee and reading the Bible on my phone. While waiting for my parents to finish getting ready for church, I had time to read Psalm 56. As I was reading the passage, I noticed that Psalm 56 was titled “Prayer for Relief from Tormentors.” In case you are wondering what translation I read, I read from the NKJV. When reading Psalm 56, it made me realize just how applicable this passage is today.

“Be merciful to me, O God, for man would swallow me up, fighting all day he oppresses me. My enemies would hound me all day, for there are many who fight against me, O Most High. Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust, I will not fear. What can flesh do to me? All day they twist my words; all their thoughts are against me for evil. They gather together, they hide, they mark my steps, when they lie in wait for my life…In God (I will praise His word), in the Lord (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 56:1-6, 10-11 [NKJV]

King David was crying out to God, asking Him to deliver him from his tormentors. Even though there were people after David and they wanted to take his life, he remained confident in the Lord. When reading this passage, it reminded me of bullying. Do not bullies hound their victims all day, twist their words, think evil toward the victim, mark their steps, and gather together? If you are dealing with bullying, I believe you can learn something valuable from this passage. Or, if you are dealing with difficult people in your life, maybe you can benefit from this too.

Regardless of what the people were doing, saying, or planning to do toward David, he kept his faith in God. Even though the circumstances around him appeared overwhelming, David kept an attitude of praise and trust. David praised God’s word.

Often times, it is easy to talk about the problem. And yes, when bullying occurs it is good to talk about it. But, have faith and trust in the Lord. David trusted that God would bring him through. Do you trust God to bring you through too? I have heard the saying that when a door closes, continue to praise God in the hallway until the right door opens. I believe the same thing should happen even when life isn’t too peachy. Praise God and thank Him that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. Praise Him and read His word…get to know what God says about you. What God says about you is far more valuable and precious than what bullies say about you.

David kept his focus on God. In the good times and the bad times, David praised God and kept his focus on Him. Are you praising God in the good and the bad times? Are you keeping your focus on Him? I know that this is easier said than done, believe me, I know. It is so easy to get caught up in the moment and focus on the problem, rather than focusing on God. However, overtime, I learned that I don’t need to tell God how big my problems are but to tell my problems how big my God is. Don’t think one moment that God doesn’t care or has time for you. He shows no partiality. Whatever you are facing, He wants you to know that He is there for you every step of the way and to call out to Him. He wants to hear from you and trust in Him. What does trust mean? According to Webster Dictionary, trust means: firm belief in the honesty, reliability, etc. of another; faith; confident expectation. People fail all the time and it can be so hard to trust people. However, isn’t it reassuring to know that God will NEVER fail us? We can trust on the reliability of God. Why? Because He is the Creator. He created you and has a purpose for you according to Jeremiah 29:11. He has wonderfully and fearfully made you according to Psalm 139. He has sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for your sins. Why would you not want to trust Him?

Whatever you are facing today, remember to be like King David. Regardless what you are going through, praise God and trust in Him. When people go after you, twist your words, mark your steps, or gather together to plot against you…remember, God is greater. Keep your focus on Him because tormentors have no hold on you!

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Fear Not!

There are times in life where we face fear. Whether it is fear of failure, rejection, perfectionism, life, etc…we have all faced it. Maybe you are dealing with fear right now. Today, I want to encourage you not to be fearful. 2 Timothy 1:7 [NKJV] says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” How comforting is that?

Lately, I have noticed on my Twitter feed numerous Tweeters who have been dealing with fear. I, myself, have been overcoming fear lately too…the fear of failure and rejection. I want to share with you all that regardless what fear you are facing, you can overcome it. The enemy likes to create fear in us which causes us to stop in our tracks. It can prevent us from moving forward in the direction God has for us. FEAR means False Evidence Appearing Real. Don’t allow fear to stop you, rather keep persevering and moving forward. I read one time that the words “do not fear” is in the Bible 365 times. Do you know what that means? There are 365 days in 1 year, and each day God is saying, “Do not fear.” When we focus on Him and how much He has blessed us, there is no room to think about fear. Instead of dwelling on the fear and letting it magnify in our minds, we need to hand the Lord our concerns and trust that He will make a way. One of the greatest things we can do during tough times is to praise and honor Him, regardless of the storm we are in.

In the Bible, a great example of someone who faced fear was Peter. I am sure you probably have heard of the story of the disciples being in a boat and caught in a terrible wind storm. The winds blew, waves crashing, and they saw someone walking on water. The disciples panicked thinking it was a ghost. Jesus told the disciples to be of a good cheer because it was Him. To make sure this person walking on water was really Jesus, Peter wanted Jesus to command him out of the boat. Jesus called Peter out of the boat. Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, and when he crawled out of the boat, he was walking on water too. However, the moment he took his eyes off of Jesus, he panicked and became fearful…sinking in the water.

“Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous,he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” ~Matthew 14:25-33 [NKJV]

What created fear in Peter? The winds and waves. He took his focus off of Jesus and began to focus on the fear. I can imagine Jesus being so gracious, smiling at Peter as he reached down to pull him out of the water. I believe the same thing for us, Jesus smiling and pulling us out of our situation saying, “I will help you, why do you doubt?” Fear is something everyone faces in their life, but it is what we do with it that matters. Are you going to dwell on the fear or keep your focus on Jesus?

If you are dealing with fear, replace those fearful thoughts with God’s Word. What does the Bible say about the situation? God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strength you, yes I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  How comforting that God is for us and is with us. “Fear not, for I am with you.” God, the Creator of the Universe, is with you. Remember, you are a blessing and victorious. Fear not!

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