Financial Freedom

 

by Jen Ramlet

I remember the first time I ever rode a horse. I was in the 2nd grade and a friend of our family was the director at the Humane Society here in Colorado. She had asked if we’d like to come down and ride a few of the rescue horses. I could not wait! I was so excited. During a time in my life where animals and Shaina Twain was basically my everything, riding a real life horse was more than a dream. So in true cowgirl fashion I got on my Levi’s, black cowboy boots, blue jean button up shirt, cowgirl hat and was off to the races. My parents, brothers, and I made the trek down to Elizabeth, Colorado, a beautiful farming community just southeast of Denver. As we drove by the tractors facing large red barns and horses running wild through tall green and gold grass, I began to dream. Could I have all of this? A horse, a house with a white porch swing, and a red barn? Could I have all this land to run and play and ride my horses? Could I have a home where we had enough room to rescue every dog that needed a place to live? Even at a young age I dreamed of being a cowgirl or my idea of one anyway. As we spent the day on that 200 acre farm, filled with horses and goats and dogs, my dream only grew. This is what I wanted. This is what I would have when I was older.  Little did I know that this kind of dream did not come cheap, especially in Denver, one of the fastest growing cities in North America. 

I married an incredible man who also desired to live on land. Although that was never his childhood dream, our time living in the city and the suburbs only confirmed that we both longed for space. As soon as we began our search, we were quickly disappointed when we realized that we could not afford our dream; at least not in the areas that were pseudo-close to civilization. I was devastated. After three years of looking I realized that I needed to let go and stop the search.  I mean what was the point? I was only going to continue living with disappointment when I saw the price tag. As friends began to get married and buy homes, a few of them were blessed to find homes with land. While some of them were in areas outside our search, it didn’t help my struggle. I’d often asked my husband why we weren’t finding anything. We wanted to adopt animals for goodness sakes! Help those who didn’t have a voice and care and love them with a love they had never seen. I mean I had even written these things in my wedding vows! I was a woman who knew what she wanted and wanted to make sure the man looking at me on the other side of the aisle knew it too. Yet it didn’t matter what I wanted, I couldn’t have it. 

We have all been there. We want something then that little thing called “finances” comes into play. We want a new car, a house to call our own, to vacation somewhere warm. We want new clothes or to get our hair done or even go on a date at a restaurant that doesn’t have a drive through line next to it.  And it doesn’t help our situation when we see other people getting the things we want.  All of a sudden the jealousy bug hits us. We are bed ridden often times with not only the jealousy aspect but insecurity, comparison and frustration as well. We don’t understand how some people seem to have it all; or at least we think they do. The interesting thing about the enemy is that he doesn’t discriminate when it comes to insecurity. He will hit us in any way he can. With some of us, it’s our financial state and what we have or don’t have.  He and society tell us to acquire more, have more, and get more . . . but honestly, when we take a step back and look, do we really need it? The answer is No. We don’t NEED it, we just want it. The Bible talks a lot about us longing for things. I love how Jesus explains it in Luke 12. He is asked by someone to have him tell his brother to share the inheritance. Jesus goes on to explain “… Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.”  He goes on to say in 22-24: “Don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body”.

This is a hard concept for us to wrap our heads around. At least is it for me. I like to dress up. I love makeup and curling irons and pink and sparkles. I like to cook and often spend days preparing food and decorating when I throw dinner parties or game nights at my house. For Jesus to tell me not to fuss, well to be honest, is hard for me to put that into practice. But what I honestly think he is saying here is that so often we obsess over how we look and what we have, when in reality we need to be more focused inwardly. I don’t believe the Lord wants us to walk around looking like slobs, I just think he wants us to spend a little less time and money on the things that fade, and more time on what doesn’t. Our heart!

When we spend more time working on our heart, our human desires begin to fade and we long for the spiritual things in life than earthly possessions. And while vacations and homes and cars are great and I truly believe the Lord wants to give us the desires of our hearts, our desires begin to change more towards God's desires when we search for him more intently. In Matthew 5:5 it says: “The meek inherit the earth.” However, the Message version of the Bible puts it this way: “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.” I love that! I want to encourage you ladies this week in asking yourself these questions:

  1. What things in your life are taking you away from your time with God?
  2. What material thing can you eliminate from your day and replace it with a little more of Jesus? Is it time shopping? Time looking at homes or cars online? Is it the extra time you spend doing your hair or makeup or second workout at the gym? What extras can you do a little less of for a little more of Jesus?

 


Jen Ramlet is a hilarious, fun, wise woman who will have you laughing till you cry one moment and bearing your soul the next.  She is a writer and speaker with a passion for mentoring women and helping them find true freedom in Christ.  Jen lives in Denver, CO with her handsome husband and super cute pup.  You can find more of fabulous Jen at her blog, Rustic Glory (seriously, check it out, you’ll love it).

Friends Forever

by Jen Ramlet

I remember the first time I received a friendship necklace. I was in second grade and my best friend Ashleigh had just gotten home from the mall. Ash and her mom were often near the mall as that was where their hair salon was located. They both seemed to have a love for their bangs being just right and for good reason; they both had seriously perfect bangs.  As I sat on her bed near her blue see-through Mac computer and posters of N’sync and Hanson, she got out a Claire’s bag from her jean backpack and handed me the other half of a heart necklace. I was so excited. It was pink and purple and although I knew Ash didn’t like either of these colors I concluded they must have been the only ones left and she was forced to settle. The chain was that of a dog tag, small little popcorn seed balls of metal at just the perfect length. Ash and I had a thing about matching. We were never fully “matchy matchy” but I wore EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING Tweedy Bird and she wore EVERYTHING Bugs Bunny. Our other best friend Maggie was also in on this strange animated train and wore EVERYTHING Sylvester the cat. We were kind of weird little girls, none-the-less, we started a trend and before you knew it the entire grade school was like a walking Looney Tunes ad. Looking back it was pretty incredible and impressive.  

However, the most amazing thing to me about this story is that Ashleigh, Maggie, and I are still best friends, 25 years later. Ash and Mag are both therapist and have their own practice here in Denver. They are still to this day the most amazing, beautiful, passionate and kind women. They have a love for people, both children and adult alike, and aim to help them find true healing in their life. I know this is not the norm; most people don’t experience friends for 25 years, let alone when you’re in your early 30’s. And although I have moved a lot and have not always been as close in distance and emotion with them, they still remain the ones I can count on for unconditional love, support, and friendship.  These women I know will be my friends forever. But this isn’t the case with other friends in my life. And I’m guessing it might not be the case for you either.

Friends, especially women, can be hard to read and understand. We are a complicated people group with all sorts of emotions and outbursts. One day you’re getting Pedi’s and lattes and the next day their not only not speaking to you but gossiping to everyone else about you. WHAT IS THAT?!?! I mean seriously ladies!! What is wrong with us as women that we, and I mean all of us, can switch that quick? I used to tell my mom this is why I had guy friends. It was easier in my college days to be friends with dudes. I could be my outgoing loud self, tell them why they ticked me off, they’d do the same to me and it was over. We’d go on playing Guitar Hero. But with women it is so much more complex. Half the time we don’t even know what we did to make someone mad. Most of us won’t just come out and tell another woman what they did wrong or how they hurt us. Either because we do not like confrontation, were worried it won’t go well or simply we may just not care about that person enough. This however tends to ruin not only our friendships but us personally as a whole. Many times the struggle is not even about us. It comes back to the word we all dislike and many despise; Insecurity! We are annoyed, threated, frustrated or envious of each other.  We find ways to get upset, cause an argument or simply ignore one another due to that insecurity.

Beth Moore often speaks of insecurities, not just in regards to ourselves but when it comes to other women. She made a few points that truly impacted me:

1. “You can’t out-love someone’s insecurity.”

Your see no matter how much you love your friends and want the best for them, you personally cannot emotionally nor verbally change how they view themselves or how they view you. While you can encourage them and challenge them in that self-doubt, only they can to come to the conclusion before change will truly transpire.

2. “Competition and Comparison breed insecurity. “ 

When we compete with one another wither it is competing in our work, in our relationships, financially or physically, we feed into the enemy’s scheme. He wants us to be insecure. He wants us to be jealous of one another. He wants us to all fall on our face when we’re racing around this life trying to compete and compare. We as women need to STOP DOING IT!  What if we all decided together, even if it’s just in your friend group to say “NO MORE”!  No more mom-competitions.  No more physical competitions. No more one-upping or getting the last word in edge wise and especially no more making each other feel uncomfortable in the beautiful skin God has given us. No more! 

In Proverbs 24:17-it says: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice” This does not have to be just an “enemy”. You see, we live in a society that says, “they can be doing well, but we better be doing better.” Last summer my mother-in-law and I saw a sign in an antique store while driving home from camping. It said “Lord, if you will not make me skinny, please make my friends fat.” And while we got a good laugh out of it, the truth of the matter is, part of the reason we were laughing is because it is true. It is how society tells us to think about one another. And it can and should stop with us.

Now many insecurities transpire when we try to cram too many friends into our lives. Friendship is more than just an acquaintance. It is something that is special and should be saved for those who truly know you and still love you. This has always been a hard thing for me to comprehend. I have always been the type of person that wants everyone to like me; to approve of me. I wasn’t amazing at every sport, didn’t get straight A’s or kill it every month at work but I had a lot of friends. However, each year as I get older and experience a little more pain and disappointment, it becomes clearer. You don’t have to let everyone into your life to be well liked and approved of. Seeking validation from everyone will only lead you to frustration and regret. 

 A few days ago I was on the phone with my mom frustrated with yet another case of “girl drama”. When I asked her when the drama would end she said, “Honestly babe, it never does. Even women in their 70’s can carry drama and cattiness. The goal is to look for fewer friends. Find the ones that understand you and love you for who you are. Invest in those friendships. Surround yourself with friends that are not easily offended but will help you be the best women of God you can be.” As I hung up and contemplated our hour long conversation I realized that God did in fact create us to have community. To have a group of people in our lives that uplift us up, who ask us the hard questions and challenge us. Who love us with an unconditional love and who we love right back with the same fiery passion. And while we’re not always going to get it right every single time, creating a community with other believers is so vital in our walk with the Lord as well as in our life as a whole.  We need friends that are soul food. Who are constantly sharping us. 

In Proverbs 27:17 it says: “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend”.  True friends are meant to sharpen one another. Unhealthy friends will make you spiritually dull.  So I want to ask you today ladies two questions:

Who in your life is making you sharp when it comes to your fire for the lord, your relationships, your career and your overall well-being?  And who is making you feel spiritually, emotionally and physically dull? Decide today who you want your community tribe to be. That close knit group that loves unconditionally and judges not, but lifts you closer to your relationship with the Lord and shows you how the Lord truly sees you. 

Also ladies, I want to challenge you with this: Start today with saying NO MORE! No more to the competitions and comparisons. It starts with you. You can make a difference in your family, in your friend group and in your community if you just make a stand to say NO MORE. 


 

Jen Ramlet is a hilarious, fun, wise woman who will have you laughing till you cry one moment and bearing your soul the next.  She is a writer and speaker with a passion for mentoring women and helping them find true freedom in Christ.  Jen lives in Denver, CO with her handsome husband and super cute pup.  You can find more of fabulous Jen at her blog, Rustic Glory (seriously, check it out, you’ll love it).

Wisdom

BY RACHAEL SIBCY 

I remember the moment I met my lack of wisdom. God gave me this prophetic picture of a little girl and her Maker. She was holding up a broken and ugly mirror dissatisfied with her reflection. Her Maker was presenting her with a shiny, silver and perfectly put together mirror longing for her to see what He saw in her. If she would only look into the reflection He was extending, it would unleash in her a wisdom of the more He had for her. This wisdom would catapult her to her purpose. But until she put down the shattered pieces she was viewing herself through, she would always judge her purpose with distorted eyes instead of His eyes that burn with a flame of fire for her.

Wisdom - this word we totally need to be praying for. It’s so much more than having intelligence. It’s so much deeper than just knowing what decision to make, what place to move to, or what job to take. Wisdom is the ability to discern divinely, to walk aligned with The Spirit and to fully see with His eyes. Wisdom is what will awaken you to your destiny and the power of your story.

One of my favorite stories in The Bible of seeing someone unlock their destiny through wisdom is Moses. Let’s just look at Exodus 4:10 (MSG) for example. “Moses raised another objection to God: ‘Master, please, I don’t talk well. I’ve never been good with words, neither before nor after you spoke to me. I stutter and stammer.’” Moses was standing before His maker with that shattered mirror unwilling to pick up the perfect view God was revealing, and therefore, unable to see what his King actually destined him for. 

We love to tell God who we are, what our limits are, and what we have margin for don’t we?

Thankfully God puts us in check just as He did Moses in Exodus 11 (MSG). 

“And who do you think made the human mouth?” 

Ouch! Pretty sure God won that round.

By limiting ourselves with our tainted lens, we are robbing ourselves of the wisdom He loves to give. All the while we have the opportunity – no, the INSANE ABILITY to unravel the intimate and intricate vision the Creator of the universe has fashioned for us. It’s like God was telling Moses, “Don’t you tell me what I made that mouth for and what it can do! I have the original blueprints. I knew what it was going to speak into existence and proclaim before I even put that thing on you, son.” Imagine all the miracles, the provision, the deliverance, the MORE, Moses would have missed out on if he wasn’t willing to give up his finite view of himself.

I can’t help but to think – what was His original blueprint for your vessel, for your story, for your purpose?

The king of the universe is inviting you to a beautiful unveiling of who you are. He will not settle for a lesser version of His daughter. The limits we place on ourselves leave us with distorted vision while He desires for us to unlock His supernatural perspective as we walk in our calling.

So let’s get real. This all sounds great, right? But where do we actually find this wisdom? In 

James 1:5(CEV) it says “If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won’t correct you for asking.” 

Here’s the truth sister – you were created to walk in the fullness of God’s design. You were put on this earth to make God’s dreams come true. Now, go ahead and ask your Maker! Tell Him you’re ready to see - to really see. Curl up on His Abba lap and look into His reflection. The longer you gaze at Him, the more you’ll get to know your truest self. The closer you get to Him, the more of His original design and dreams you will uncover. The deeper experiences you have with Him, the more insight you will gather. 

Grab ahold of the free wisdom He is extending to you. Put down that shattered mirror and see that you were made for more. So much more than shattered vision, unfulfilled dreams, broken pieces and a partial picture of your story. We serve a “more than” God! And I cannot wait for you to discover all the more He has for you!


Rachael Sibcy is the Elementary Director at The Crossing Church in Las Vegas. Her heartbeat is for the next generation to discover their truest identity, and for families to awaken to the redemptive and powerful work God wants to do through their households. Wherever she goes, and whatever she does, Rachael wants to influence and encourage the Body of Christ to embrace our role in every family’s journey to eternity.

New Year. New You?

by Jen Ramlet

So it's a new year and what's the first thing I do? Sign up for weight watchers! Why you ask? Because it's the New Year and that’s what I always do. I fast, I juice, I take supplements and always end up signing up for some expensive program promising results in two months. After all, that's what we women do right? I mean what kind of American women would I be if I didn't try to lose the holiday love handles? Know what I mean!?!?  Then it dawned on me; “What if all the time I spent weighing myself, counting points and drinking water was replaced with Bible studies, alone time in the word and blaring worship music while in my car? How much of my life would change emotionally and spiritually?” You see it's easy for us ladies in the New Year to say, “This year I'm going to ________." (You can go ahead and fill in the blank with your own answer) Honestly, how many times are our New Year's resolutions centered on looking better physically? It might not be just losing the weight. It could be to take better care of your skin, dress nicer, change your hair color or style. I wonder if we put at the top of our New Year’s resolution list to study the Word more or get on our knees until we heard Him speak, how much better we would be, not just spiritually and emotionally, but physically. You see the thing about me and my weight is I can lose and gain weight like nobody's business. I mean seriously my whole life I've been like Oprah’s twin.  I can gain 20 pounds just as easy as I can lose it; I just need to put in the work. The problem is is that I never have looked at my relationship with the Lord like I look at my weight. I've never said, “Oh I can get to know the Lord better or grow in Him just like that.”  The truth of the matter is, the more I'm in the Word, the more I know the Lord.  Just like the more I'm at the gym, the more weight I lose. It's so hard for us to comprehend, as women living in a society that is so focused on looks and how we present ourselves, that what we do in our spare time with the Lord actually affects us more than the time we spend at the gym or boiling our chicken.

Now I’m not saying that we should not take care of our bodies. The Lord clearly states that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit.  When any of my girls that I mentored who were struggling with eating disorders came to me, I’d always tell them that the Lord doesn't want to live in a ghetto, he wants to live in Beverly Hills.  Meaning, always treat your body with love and respect. Take care of yourself, for that is where your Savior dwells.  The question I am simply asking here is: “What if we changed our resolution list to have Christ be at the top and everything else below him?”  I wonder how different you would feel. How much more beautiful and attractive you would be if you let the Lord shine from you instead of you letting society shine in you? The answer is simple. You would feel much more beautiful and attractive because you would finally see yourself the way the Lord sees you.  And in that, you would naturally start to love yourself the way He does, which would change your appearance.

I was in a Bible study a few years back with a couple of girls. I knew all of them but one. The newbie, who was invite by my best friend, was just as beautiful inside as she was out. She was tall with beautiful brown hair and long legs. She had a killer smile and a fun personality. One night the topic of weight came up. I was interested in hearing what she had to say as I couldn’t imagine her ever struggling. She looked at me after I ranted and raved for about 10 minutes and said, “You know Jen, I used to be 100 pounds heavier” My mouth almost hit the floor! There is no way!  I was in shock. She went on to say that everything about her weight loss journey began with her mind. She was not a believer but had joined the study to make some new friends and see what this God thing was all about. As I began to ask her questions she went on to explain that every day she would make herself say 5 things she liked about herself. As the days went on she began to believe some of those qualities which gave her enough courage to start walking. She never went hard at the gym or counted every single calorie. She simply began with the root of the issue, which was the mind.  Joyce Meyer says, in the book Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind, “Remember, you become what you think. Think discouraging thoughts, and you’ll get discouraged.”  And in another chapter, “Satan frequently steals the will of God from us due to reasoning. The Lord may direct us to do a certain thing, but if it does not make sense - if it is not logical - we may be tempted to disregard it. What God leads a person to do does not always make logical sense to his mind. His spirit may affirm it and His mind reject it, especially if it would be out of the ordinary or unpleasant or if it would require personal sacrifice or discomfort.” 

You see it is uncomfortable for us to think we are beautiful. It is uncomfortable for us to look at our bodies without clothes or our face without makeup or our height, whether short or tall, and be completely satisfied and content with who that women looking back at us is. This stems from the insecurity within our mind. As I mentioned in my last blog, insecurity comes in many shapes and sizes. It does not discriminate within one person or type. It attacks us all and the root of that insecurity comes from lies that the enemy is feeding us. Reread the quote by Joyce Meyer again, she says that our mind will reject logical sense if it is out of the ordinary or uncomfortable. You telling yourself you are beautiful and being content with your physical being is uncomfortable for a lot of us. So what do we do? Fast, diet, juice, take supplements and sign up for expensive weight loss programs. 

But I wonder if we did what the girl in my Bible study did and began to affirm ourselves and actually go to battle with the thoughts that are not from the Lord. How much stronger, confident and beautiful we would become as a child of the Lord? So Long, Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us by Beth Moore is one of my top 5 books. It has kicked by booty far more than I’d like to admit, in a good way of course. It is something that has stayed with me and helped many times throughout the past 6 years or so.  She says: “We're going to have to let truth scream louder to our souls than the lies that have infected us.”  The enemy has won enough when it comes to how we see ourselves. He has conquered our thoughts and ideas of who we are for the last time. It is time for us to stand up against him and proclaim the truth of who we are; of how God sees us.

You see in a world that is full of rejection, judgment, superficial and narcissistic people telling you to be one way or another or look this way or else you’ll be rejected, The Lord says; “I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” -Isaiah 41:9-10. 

As 2017 begins, start tackling your mind. Begin to renew your thoughts. Tell yourself the things you like about yourself, even if they seem small, they will begin to make a deep impact on how you view who you are. And yes, drink water, take a walk and treat your body with respect. Those things will always help, but the battle you are fighting is not solely at the gym or in the food pantry, it’s in your mind.

I want to challenge you to ask yourself these two questions “What are three things I love about myself?” and “What are three lies I have believed about myself?” Go to the mirror and tell yourself that those are simply lies. Then speak the truth about who you are! How you are chosen and not rejected. Only you and the Lord can renew that which was destroyed. Now go to battle!


Jen Ramlet is a hilarious, fun, wise woman who will have you laughing till you cry one moment and bearing your soul the next.  She is a writer and speaker with a passion for mentoring women and helping them find true freedom in Christ.  Jen lives in Denver, CO with her handsome husband and super cute pup.  You can find more of fabulous Jen at her blog, Rustic Glory (seriously, check it out, you’ll love it).

A State of Insecurity

By Jen Ramlet

It's 11:00 am and as I peer out my window admiring the beautiful Irish countryside I can't help but think: "This is what the Garden of Eden must have looked like." Everything is so green and plush. The trees, the bushes, the rolling hills... every inch from the grass all the way up to the tallest tree is perfect. In awe of the scenery set before me as the bus to Belfast presses on, I begin to think "this is how the Lord views us," beautiful, perfect, amazing. Yet how many of us can actually say we feel that way about ourselves? Many of us would admit, even if only to ourselves, that we feel insecure, unattractive, even inadequate in many ways. Whether it is our physical appearance, education level, our career choice or lack their of, our significant other or social status, we live our life in a constant state of comparison and frustration. Why don't I look like her? Why haven't I gotten that promotion at work yet? Why did she get to go to college and not me? Why does she get to have the good marriage filled with love and respect? When do I get to get out of this apartment and buy a house? When will my children see all I have done for them? The list goes on and on. And if we're honest with ourselves, asking these questions at times can feel good, while slowly destroying us a little bit at a time. I have had so many of my girlfriends ask me while over coffee questions like this. All the same question just a different context. The truth is, even though each one of those amazing women had different insecurities, the root of those insecurities came from the same place. It came from a place of not knowing their true worth and not being able to be secure in who they were as a women and as a child of God. Some of you may be saying; "Jen, my situation is deeper or more complex than that, you don't understand." And while you’re right, I don't know each and every one of your situations I can tell you that when I have challenged friends and other women that I have mentored to begin to ask themselves the "hard" questions with an honest answer, those situations, no matter how small or big, ended up changing.

I mentored a girl a number of years ago who was an adult dancer. She became a Christian only a few months before she approached me asking me to mentor her. The first few weeks I simply got to know her. Her story, her life, her family and how she got involved in dancing. Come to find out her boyfriend was a bartender there and when they began to date he not only encouraged her to continue dancing but to do more personal dances for more money. As a new Christian, she struggled with the choice she was going to have to make. Many of us may be saying, “that's simple, stop dancing and break up with the guy.” But it wasn't that simple for her. She would not only be breaking up with him, she would need to find a new place to live, find a new job, new friends. Everything she knew would be turned upside down. And for her, that wasn’t something she was quite ready for just yet.

When I first moved to Denver, I had a girlfriend who struggled with insecurity within her relationship. He had been unfaithful in prior relationships and constantly feared she would experience a similar situation. Every day she would question him. What he was doing? Who he was with? Who he was texting? The questioning never ended. When they first started dating, he was understanding. He wanted to prove his faithfulness and love for her. As the years pressed on, it began to wear on him. Would she ever trust him? He began to feel as though he could never win. After three years together, he got frustrated and left. She came to me in tears, in disbelief as to what happened. "How could he do this to me? He said he loved me? Jen, can you believe him?" Looking at my friend in pain, I wanted to be sympathetic, I wanted to be the supportive friend who said; "how dare he, you can do better! Forget him!" But the truth of the matter was that I knew this situation all too well. This had been me in every relationship I had had from high school all the way through college. While I didn't exactly pick the most faithful and honest men, I sure didn't make our relationship any easier. I was constantly questioning, constantly asking about past relationships, constantly checking in on them. And while I knew this was a crazy thing to do, I didn't know what else to do at the time. I wasn't secure enough in myself to simply trust a man nor was I secure enough to love myself despite the choices they'd end up making.

So there I sat with a girl I had been friends with for many years and simply asked her one question. "Do you love yourself?" It was the very question I had asked my dancing friend when she said she wasn’t ready to change. Both giving me the same answer, they replied; "What?" An answer many of us use when we don't want to answer the question honestly. I asked again. Both of them, in time, admitted that they did not. Both of them said they had never loved themselves. They had never told themselves they were beautiful, that they had never felt confident. That they both, in different ways, were chasing the impossible. One chasing a man’s love that was simply based on sex and money all the while praying he would change and the other for a man’s utter and complete confidence that deep down only God could provide.

As Christmas approaches in just three days, I think about the beautiful birth of Jesus. What Mary and Joseph must have been thinking around this time. What God had planned when He sent His son to save us. How He would come to shatter and transform the ways we worship and experience Him. 

In Luke 19:10: it says that He came to save which was lost. Joyce Meyer said once that Jesus cares about every aspect of your life. Not just the spiritual realm. He wants you to enjoy your life. It's one thing to be a miserable sinner, it's another thing to be a miserable saint. If you’re saved but still feel empty, you’re not living the whole life God wants you to experience. In Psalm 63:5 it says: “My whole being is satisfied.” If we're honest, How many of us can say that? That every piece of our being is satisfied? 

You see, Joyce made a good point when she said, "God is abiding in you so when he comes into your life it is like a seed living in you. As you water it with the word and the sun (son) shines on you, you will begin to experience complete transformation not just spiritually but emotionally, physically and mentally." How you being to change the state of insecurity in your life is by watering yourself with the word. Understanding what the truth is about your insecurity and then begin to speak biblically over your life. I’ve never felt more confident and beautiful than when I'd wake up, read the word then spend some time looking at myself in the mirror speaking those truths over my life. The truth that I was beautiful and lovely and made for a purpose. The truth that I am confidence and strong and able and worthy of love.

If you want true breakthrough from your insecurity, you have to be willing to put in the work. For me, it was understanding that no man was going to be perfect, that we all have a past and have all made mistakes, including myself, but that only I could control my actions, my words and my thoughts. That when I began to see my worth and love myself for all that I am, my insecurities began to slowly fade away and a newfound confidence arose. You can spend all day blaming other people for the reason you’re insecure or you can get off the couch and put in the work. The question I want to pose to you ladies is:

"Are you willing to stop complaining, comparing and blaming everyone else for what's wrong in your life and finally experience true breakthrough and freedom?" If your answer is yes, then let's get to work! 

In the coming weeks we will take a deep dive into breaking the chains of bondage and what true freedom looks like. From physical insecurity, financial and educational insecurity as well as relationship insecurity we will begin to work through all of the struggles we have together so we can begin to transform ourselves into the women God called us to be. 

 


Jen Ramlet is a hilarious, fun, wise woman who will have you laughing till you cry one moment and bearing your soul the next.  She is a writer and speaker with a passion for mentoring women and helping them find true freedom in Christ.  Jen lives in Denver, CO with her handsome husband and super cute pup.  You can find more of fabulous Jen at her blog, Rustic Glory (seriously, check it out, you’ll love it).

 

SHE GETS UP BEFORE DAWN?!

by Melody Hernandez 

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“She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the days work for her servant girls….” - Proverbs 31:15 

             SHE GETS UP BEFORE DAWN?!  Why God? Why would you even put this in the Bible for me to compare myself to? In my head this woman is a combination of Sheryl Sandberg, Beyoncé and Mother Teresa. She is a beautiful woman with fierce business skills who is also multi-talented and has a heart of gold. She is disciplined, she is virtuous, she is charming, she is wise and if I wasn’t a believer she would probably be the girl I would love to hate.   I used to think of the “Wife of Noble Character” described in Proverbs 31 as the unattainable standard that I was to work towards during my entire Christian journey, but recently I discovered that I could not be more wrong.

            I recently learned that it is Jewish tradition to sing Proverbs 31 as a blessing over all the women sitting at the Shabbat table.  It is seen as describing of daughters of God, the proverbs 31 women is actually who we were all designed to become.  We are blessed with the ability to be a virtuous, noble woman who is “energetic and strong and a hard worker”(verse 17). As sisters IN Christ, this is actually another blessing we have IN HIM.  We have the Spirit of God abiding in us and all of its fruit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5). The spirit of God empowers us to be the pretty boss lady described in proverbs 31.   The discipline we need, the kindness we need, and the love we need to seek God above all else. 

If you're interested in linking arms with other women who are wondering how to become more like the Proverbs 31 woman - if you are a woman of influence who wants life-changing teaching and life-enriching friendships - join us at our Bible study.  We start back on January 9th and we'd LOVE to have you!  Sign up here! 

Crisis Averted

by Jen Ramlet

As I sit here at my kitchen table with my 3rd cup of black coffee and favorite candle from Anthro lit, I try to recall my first identity crisis. I have had so many of them throughout my short 30 years of life; it’s hard to remember where it all started. Then it dawned on me. It was 6th grade and I had just gotten back from living in Oxford, England. There were three girls, who for some reason intrigued me. Their all black and metal chokers were the complete opposite of my Old Navy wearing friends that I had connected with throughout elementary school. They were different. Not better or worse, just different: what they liked and did outside of school; how they dressed; and what they listened to musically was nothing like I had ever experienced before.  Although it was just a short period in my life, that is where my identity crisis first formed.

I have always been the outgoing kind; the one who speaks her mind and tells people how it is. The one that takes over a room when I enter simply because my loud mouth is too hard to ignore. I thrived off making people laugh and being around large groups.  However confident I appeared to the outside world, inside I was just a girl who was trying to make a name for myself in a family of outspoken and humorous individuals that are loved by all. It took me a long time to find out who that girl was.  Although I’m thankful for the pain I went through that got me to this point, I often wonder what would have happened if I sought the Lord sooner on the matter.

You see, 6th grade was just the tip of the iceberg. I went on to move to New Jersey, a place that couldn’t have been more different than Colorado, Ohio, and Oxford, England. It was a fast paced, family oriented, in-your-face kind of state. This was the place that began to transform me into the women I am today . . . but not before I went through a few phases. In 7th grade I was led to believe that I was “uncool” and “poor” if I didn’t wear Abercrombie and Fitch, therefore my sweet parents had to find a way to support that incredibly ridiculous “ask” because Amanda, the “popular” girl at Kinnelon Middle School, told me that’s what I had to do in order to be cool. Then in 9th grade I fell for an incredibly good looking boy that reminded me of Sean Patrick Thomas.  And in an era where, for me, Save the Last Dance and Love and Basketball were on constant repeat, I transformed into a girl who played basketball, wore cornrows and lived in pink Timberlands. Looking back at those photos I can’t help but laugh. One, because I still think I look good in cornrows, but also because I was so insane to think dressing and acting like someone else was going to get me a guy who probably would have liked me even if I didn’t go to those extremes.

However, I didn’t learn. I went on to date a guy who listened to emo and scremo music, and if you’re asking yourself what those are, don’t feel bad, I had to look it up the first time he told me what it was. I began to wear band t-shirts and skinny jeans before they were cool and went to concerts where I was in complete misery in entire time ohhh….. and I dyed my hair black… Talk about a crisis!!! I looked RIDIC!!!!!!! Aka ridiculous! However, it didn’t take me long to get over that phase. I quickly joined the band. And I don’t mean the school band; I mean “I’m with the band.” The Urban Outfitters wearing, vinyl listening, surfing galore free birds from SoCal. This was the first time however that I started to feel free. This was one phase I felt comfortable in. I felt loved by my friends and accepted. A good friend of mine, Josh, was constantly challenging me on my beliefs and my worth. Being a strong Christian from Santa Cruz, he was the first friend that truly met me where I was and encouraged me to seek Christ in the midst of my crisis. He was a constant strength, all the while, being the closest thing to a hippy I ever met: chill, relaxed, and always a good time.

It was at the age of 21 I finally began to challenge my identity and ask myself who I was. My senior year of college I did briefly go back to Apple Bottom jeans and weaves, yes weaves, not extensions… like legit weaves that, by the way, are not ideal for someone who has been bleaching their hair for a decade, yeahh… definitely went pseudo-bald and learned my lesson the hard way there. However humorous and silly my past was, when I look back at my life, I believe that I was just a girl trying to find out who I was without truly seeking the help of the Father. I can’t remember ever asking God who I was as a person. I mean I knew what God said about me and how I was called fearfully and wonderfully made, but I never asked him who JEN was, not when it pertained to my identity. 

An identity crisis is said to be: “a period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person's sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society”.

Half of my life I lived in an uncertain, confused state where deep down no matter how confident I appeared, I really was just an insecure girl trying to find something that ended up being right in front of me. Jesus was the answer. And yes it is that simple… Deep down it is that simple ladies.  Was the process that simple? No. Was the battle between what society says and what the bible says easy to win every time? No. But it was and still is the greatest decision I ever made. The moment I stopped asking everyone else what I should be and I began to ask God who I was, the women God made me to be finally appeared. And let me tell you something ladies, she’s pretty great. I’m nowhere near perfect and I still have struggles that tend to pop up daily, but I love who I am. I love the women God made me to be and I love that when those identity struggles pop up, I now know how to fight them; How to speak against those thoughts and desires and seek the one who designed me to be me. Colossians 3:1-4 says:

 “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory”.

I love a lot of things about this verse but the two things that stick out to me are this: 

First, it challenges us to set our minds on things above, NOT on things on this earth.  So when you’re on the brink of an identity crisis or in the middle of one, challenge yourself to think on the promises that God has given you. Remember what He has called you. He has said you are fearfully and wonderfully made. He has anointed us and put His seal on us. He has given us His Spirit in our hearts. He has called us to not look at people’s appearance but at their hearts. Therefore, to be like Christ, we should be looking at the hearts of people and heart that beats inside of us, not just at the women on the other side of the mirror.

Second is that Christ is our life. Not just IN our life, but OUR LIFE. Meaning, all of the things that allow us to become foggy are not of Christ, but of this world. This should be our constant reminder day in and day out. When Christ truly becomes our life, we will see His glory all around us. We will not have to wait till we are in heaven, because His glory and love and confidence are completely surrounding us.

Today I challenge you to say goodbye to all of the different women you have been trying to be and go meet the one that is burning inside of you.

Walker Hayes has a song called Halloween.  It goes: “High school was like showing up at a costume party. I was a comedian, an athlete, a golden boy, a black sheep, whatever I had to be to make the world throw candy at me. College was the same act, different play. It was October 31st every day and the real world was an all too familiar street. Another trick, another treat.  Then I knock-knock-knocked on your door, every mask I ever wore shattered like glass on the floor. It was like Halloween ended to all the people I pretended to be. Rest in peace.. Rest in peace.. Rest in peace...” 

The day you take off the masks of all of the people you have been trying to be and finally knock on the only door that matters, you will experience such a beautiful freedom you will, like me, wonder what took you so long. The process might be scary, you might go through times where you feel lost and confused as to who this woman truly is but the Bible says in Isaiah 43:1:  “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine”. 

Today’s challenge: Look at your life and ask yourself two questions. Are you the women God has called you to be? If so, how are you living it out to shine on other women? If not, what next steps will you take to become an even more beautiful, magnificent self?


Jen Ramlet is a hilarious, fun, wise woman who will have you laughing till you cry one moment and bearing your soul the next.  She is a writer and speaker with a passion for mentoring women and helping them find true freedom in Christ.  Jen lives in Denver, CO with her handsome husband and super cute pup.  You can find more of fabulous Jen at her blog, Rustic Glory (seriously, check it out, you’ll love it).

#SISTERNEEDSTOWORKOUT

by Melody Hernandez

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own…” 1 Cor 6:19

            We live in a day and age where media, entertainment or sometimes even our peers seem to have an opinion on what the perfect body is.  Paleo this, Atkins that, I also heard of a strange diet consisting of Cayenne pepper and lemon water (ummmm no thank you!).  The world has gone to extremes to try and crack the code of what it means to have the ideal body.  This is an area that the world clearly needs the light of Christ, not only to provide clarity on what an “ideal” body is, but also the why behind why we strive to look a certain way.

            Did you know that our body is a temple?  It is this beautiful, intricate, perfectly designed entity that God has chosen to house his spirit. His HOLY spirit. This fact is absolutely mind blowing.  In the Old Testament people fought wars over where God would house his presence.  People spent years shedding blood, sweat and tears to make the tabernacle of God as perfect as they could!  Yet God, in his wisdom, chose to make his home in us through Jesus.  He found a way to make us righteous before him regardless of what we have done. He made a way for us to be holy, so that he could put his holy spirit in us!  

            When you meditate on what a privilege it is to be his temple, it becomes easier to make healthy choices.  You begin to want to take care of yourself.  Who would want to put garbage in a temple? We work out so that our temple can be strong and endure!  Our focus is to be vibrant and able to glorify God in everything! This is the real reason why sister needs to work out and make healthy choices. Sister, you are a holy temple that houses the spirit of God. You were beautifully and wonderfully made for him to make his home in you. 

It Came Without Ribbon

By Melody Hernandez

“It came without ribbons
It came without tags
It came without packages or boxes or bags
‘Maybe Christmas’, he thought
‘Doesn’t come from a store….
Maybe Christmas
Perhaps, means a little bit more!’ – Dr.Seuss

            The holiday season stirs up something special in the hearts of people.  You don’t have to be a Christian to notice that people will go out of their way to be compassionate and kind during this season.  Perhaps the down time causes reflection, or maybe it is the holiday cheer in the air that makes people long for MORE. This “more” that we all crave roots back to what we were made for, to be children in the kingdom of God. In the past two weeks I feel like the Lord has highlighted to me Luke 12: 32, “it is your Fathers good pleasure to give you the Kingdom”.  

As children of God, I propose that there is a Christmas tree for us year round.  This Christmas tree is the Kingdom of God, and underneath it are all the gifts our souls will ever want. Love, joy, peace, righteousness, acceptance, gentleness, comfort and hope, all waiting for us to unwrap and receive!   Maybe Christmas is just a picture of what we get to partake in all year round.  This season is filled with songs of joy, but maybe there is a reason David said in the psalms, “I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.”.  David had a reason to sing everyday and we do too.  The Grinch was on to something when he said the poem above, because the kingdom of God is among us.  Indeed, “it comes without ribbons, it comes without tags, it comes without packages or boxes or bags”.  This kingdom is at hand.   Let the joy of this season be a reminder and set a standard of how we get to be all year round. 

But God, I want it easy

by Merisa Leatherman Downs

It had been a long week: work, kids and hadn't been sleeping great, just life in general. But here I was, running my third Spartan race in less than two months. I set out on a mission to earn this "Trifecta" medal that requires you to run 3 different races within a calendar year to earn this cool medal. Of course when someone told me the year was almost over and it would be nearly impossible to earn my medal, I knew I had to do it. I started training and never looked back.

As I was running today, I knew all I had to do was finish the race to earn my medal. But, when the race started and girls took off, passing me, my competitiveness kicked in. What started as "I'm just gonna have fun," quickly turned into, "I can't let these girls beat me."

I went out hard, really hard. I passed mile two marker and remember being able to see the top five girls out in front of me. This motivated me to try and keep these elite girls, who do this professionally, in my sights. Mile marker four came and that hard start I had, began to catch up with me. The hills got steeper and the obstacles got harder. "I'm only half way done, I don't know if I can keep this pace and keep those girls on my tail, behind me."

My lungs were burning from the combination of the cold air and the heavy breathing, my long week was starting to catch up to me and my legs were turning to jello. It was too late to relax a bit and "make it fun," like I originally planned. Now I was waist deep in the battle. Slowing down wasn't an option, I'd fought too hard and didn't want to give up the ground I'd gained.

"But God I want it to be easy." I began to think to myself, "Why does everything have to be difficult?" Now it wasn't just my body wanting a break - my mind had begun to play tricks on me. "Just slow down, take it easy." The battle I was fighting quickly moved from my body to my mind.

For the next two miles I continued with this thought, "But God I want it to be easy." After thinking this thought at least 50 times God lovingly spoke back, "Yes, child, I know... but then it won't be worth it."

I instantly knew, I had to suffer to get the victory. God assured me, the discomfort and mental battle was preparing me for something I couldn't see, but He could. My mental state changed and I went back into battle mode, fighting, harder than I had been.

I picked up my bucket of rocks and started my climb up another steep hill. Quickly into carrying it, my back and grip began to burn and I was ready to set it down. I came over the top of a hill and saw two girls resting with their buckets. Instantly I decided to push through the pain and gain some ground. I passed both girls on that obstacle, dumped out my bucket and took off running.

Motivated even more now, that voice in my head that almost convinced me to slow down was a distant memory. I passed the 6 mile marker and then "Pop!" I dropped instantly and realized I had just stepped in a hole and rolled my ankle. My first thing was to look back and see where those two girls were, and they were coming. Fast. I got up and tried to continue to run normal, but it wasn't happening. I could hardly put pressure on it so I began to run with a limp, quickly being passed by the two girls.

I looked back again and didn't see any other girls so I knew I had to try to finish strong. In that moment, God reminded me of my thought, "But God, I want it to be easy." I quickly realized if God would have made it easier, two miles earlier, I wouldn't have been prepared to finish the last almost three miles with a sprained ankle.

I continued to run that race. I finished. My top 10 finish didn't matter because I learned a lesson today. Whether it's a physical, mental or spiritual battle, the pain we endure is for Gods glory and purpose to be revealed in us. He is constantly preparing us for what only He knows we will be facing in the future. It's human nature to want things to be easy and many times we beg, "But God I want it to be easy." Our loving Father knows the strength He is developing in us is for a much greater battle that will require that strength. Embrace the pain, fight the battle and don't for a second let the enemy take the ground you have fought so hard for. "Child, it will be worth it."

I Got It From My Mama

by Melody Hernandez

I like to describe my mother as a spicy combination of Lucille Ball from “I Love Lucy” and your favorite high school cheerleader.  She is passionate, bossy, generous, and someone who I am convinced secretly runs the world after all the kids have fallen asleep.  Over the past few months I have begun to realize, even more, the kind of woman my mother truly is and the kind of legacy she will leave behind one day.  I recently attended an election party with my mother and brother where at least 7 people approached me saying, “Wow, your mom is such an incredible leader” or “You can always count on Teresa to get things done” or, my personal favorite “I would never want to debate your mother!"

In the Word of God, “honor your mother and father” is the first commandment the Lord has given us attached to a promise. Our Father is a father of generations, the God of “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. Legacy is a gift that we all have the option to give and receive; it is a privilege to receive traits, gifts and anointing’s from those who have walked before us. Perhaps there is a reason He tells us to honor our mother and fathers beyond simply receiving a long life in return. Maybe through honoring and esteeming them, we get an opportunity to behold attributes that we may benefit from.  Maybe their ceiling is our floor, and maybe the baton of legacy they have worked hard to acquire could be swiftly received by us if we were simply aware of it.

My hope is to become the kind of woman whose daughter will look at her and think I secretly run the world because she thinks I actually could.