Self Love

Written by Hannah Kassahun 

There’s this enemy that’s after us women.
The Saul to our David.
She’s lurking in the shadows of many hearts and whispers lies of her own agenda.

Her name is Envy.

She is green with evil intentions.
She doesn’t want God’s daughters to be unified.
She whispers lies of inadequacy and comparison.
She sneaks in to trade the lenses of compassion for judgement so that when we see a sister win, we pick apart her character or even worse our own.
She highlights our lack so that we compare ourselves to the achievements and character of others.

She tells you you’ll never be as good as her. 

She tells you she is better than you.
This envy, I’ve divorced her long ago and she’s been after me ever since.
She has been seeking revenge against me for exposing her.
She’s been secretly setting sisters against me,
So that when they see me, her lies tell them they don’t have what I have.
Her lies create a barrier.
Her lies keep them down.
Her lies unintentionally sow ill will in their heart for me.
Do they not know though that it’s not me she envies?
Do they not know it’s His spirit in me she sees?

Envy, your lies know no bound. 

I wish my sisters knew they had access to the same Spirit at work in me.
Envy tells you it’s me. Envy tells you, I’m so much more *this* than you and I have more of *that* than you but she only shows you half the picture.
Envy shows you the surface, not the Spirit.
What she doesn’t show you is that nothing I have is from myself. I have nothing to boast in.
It isn’t me she’s actually making you jealous of; it’s His work in me.

You see: Jesus makes me beautiful. 

Jesus makes me shine.
Jesus makes me bold and fearless.
Jesus makes me strong.
Jesus gives me favor.
Jesus gives me a voice.

I had none of these things on my own.

If only you knew that you had the same access.
If only you knew you could shine even brighter, sis.
I wish I could show you the jewels He’s planted in you too.
I wish I could show you the beauty in yourself, that envy has been turning your eyes away from.
This envy wants you to focus so much on the beauty in the sisters around you that you never find the beauty in your own garden. So that you never water the seeds planted in you.
She knows that if she keeps your eyes off of God and onto the women around you, you’ll never become all that you admire in the women you see.
My beloved sisters, I want you to know, you were fearfully and wonderfully made by a God that makes no mistakes.

Everything about you is perfect in his eyes. He made it special that way.

Accepting yourself is accepting Him. Being envious of others is telling Him that what He created in you wasn’t good enough. We are hurting God’s heart when we don’t love ourselves; the woman He created in His very own image.

Self love is God’s love.

Do not allow this envy to lie to you anymore. Shut your heart and mind off to her tactics. Embrace yourself and the women around you. We are not in competition. There is a work set apart specifically for you. There’s enough recognition to go around. We are all running for His glory not our own. Be secure in the plans He set apart for YOU. He knew only you that could do it and until you finally look inward, that work will stay waiting for you. People are waiting on your calling to be fulfilled.

When I shine, it’s for Him.When you shine, it’s for Him.

It should bring us joy when another sister is shining because it’s not about her, it’s about Him. He deserves more daughters shining for His Glory.

So today, silence envy once and for all. No longer can she separate you from the women God set in your path. These women were placed to water the seeds of your destiny, let them in and kick envy out.

for more beautiful and inspiring content from hannah – head Over to her Instagram

Loza & Isayas

Written By Loza Theodros 

Six years ago, I met Isayas in the snowy mountains of a Christian camp. We met and didn’t think much of it. I saw him, and simply thought, “hmm, he’s cool.” That was it. We briefly engaged in a classic platonic conversation and went about our own ways.  Looking back at this encounter now, I find it wildly hilarious how God works.

I had no idea that God was only covering our eyes from truly seeing one another. 

One of the first lessons I learned through all of God’s doing is that the right thing at the wrong time makes it the wrong thing.  It’s imperative to trust God with His timing because His timing is perfect.

Four years later, I found myself in a transition. I had just graduated pharmacy school, and I was eager to see how faith could actually instruct my decisions. During this season, I was inspired to start blogging about the journey. Even starting the blog itself was a step out in faith. I wasn’t sure who was going to read the blog or if it was going to be well received.

This brings me to another major lesson – when God inspires us to do something, all that is required of us is our “yes.” Any related outcome is up to Him. 

What a joy it is to witness the fruit of faith. Before I knew it, people were reading and being encouraged by the blog. One person in particular who reached out to me was, of course, Isayas. He consistently was reading and encouraging me in my writing. I thought to myself “ wow, a brotha that reads and is engaging!” I later discovered that he was in a similar season of pushing past his fears and being led by faith and not by sight.  This brings us to another foundational lesson—faith works in every avenue of your life as long as you let it.

WHen you give God room to show up, He shows out. 

It’s easy to think that faith only requires us to believe that after death we will be united with our Maker. Even though this is true, there is so much more to trusting God here and now.  To be obedient when He speaks may lead you into uncharted waters but trusting that He knows best will soon reveal that you can actually walk on water. What a pity it would be to miss out on that type of adventure with God.  He proves Himself faithful to His word and the work He has begun in us.

We have to trust that He has the best in store for us even in our RELATIONSHIPS. 

Unearthing the knowledge that Isayas was God’s best for me was and is still a delight. After talking for a few months, we made it official and began dating. During the dating phase of our relationship, we learned one another and grew intimately.  Though amazing, the journey to where we are now wasn’t easy. We were challenged by the long-distance (he was in London and I was in Oklahoma), the desire to remain pure, and the need for more time with one another. Divinely, by the grace and help of the Holy Spirit, we made it through the distance, honored Him with sexual purity, and grew stronger together mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Eleven months later, Isayas proposed and here we are – 12 months into our marriage and learning to trust God in even greater measure.

More than any other lesson, we have learned that God truly has better plans for our lives than we have for ourselves.

When we live a life that answers “yes” to His will and His way, we will revel at all of His glory and all the good that is made of our story. He is God. He is good. And He knows what He is doing. Trust Him. 

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. 

Yodit & Dwight

Written by Yodit & Dwight 

Yodit’s Story: 

There’s a saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him YOUR plans.” That’s what I think of when I think about our story. I never thought or planned that I would marry someone I met during a work trip. Why? Because as a Christian young lady who loves God and was heavily involved in ministry, the only place you can meet a guy is at church or doing ministry work. Right? (Insert sarcasm) That sounds silly but our journey was one that showed me just how much I had created this fairy tale story line in my head of how my love story would look like, from where we met to how it would all play out.

And certainly laughed as He gently helped me realize that those expectations were more reflective of a heart that took more pride in the story than the good God who works out His good pleasures in our lives – in His time and in His way. 

Dwight and I met in 2013 at an annual conference that the organization he worked with put on. I worked for a company that was a sponsor at the conference and I went for my own personal development. We noticed each other but I didn’t think much besides, “Oh, he’s tall and handsome.”

During the end of the conference’s reception, he stopped by my table for “small talk.” You know the “Where do you live? What do you do at your company?” and how are you enjoying the conference?” set of questions. I left that conference and returned to life as normal. A couple of days later, I received a LinkedIn message from him, which I didn’t check until 3 weeks later. *yikes * and responded at my leisure. We went back and forth a couple of times until we became Facebook friends. Through that outlet, we both learned that we were Believers. The following year, Dwight reached out through Facebook to see if I would be attending that year’s conference.  He wrote, “If you are planning to attend the conference, I would love to sit and talk about your faith and calling.” I was NOT expecting that from him.

So in November 2014, I went and we finally connected. We experienced a moment where we tag-teamed to share the gospel with a girl at the conference. That moment suddenly made me see him differently. Then, towards the end of the conference, we sat down and talked for close to four hours. I sat there and thought, this can’t be happening. His poise. His story. His insights. His humor. His heart for seeking God—all in that conversation caused something in me to be intrigued, even though in the back of my mind I still thought, “this is work. I can’t like someone I met from work!”

This is where the imperfectly perfect journey all started

This is where God started to dismantle my idea of how I would meet “him” and what would follow, as our story would become one where surrender, obedience & patience would show God’s good work in our lives.

After that conference, we got to know each other more by consistently talking on the phone. He was in California & I lived in New Jersey. After about two months of talking almost every day, we decided to pray about moving forward in defining our relationship. After praying about it, I told him I didn’t feel God’s peace to move forward. I didn’t understand why but I had to trust that God knew what He was doing. Dwight didn’t understand either and even though it wasn’t what we both wanted to hear, we see now that God was orchestrating it all.  Our feelings for each other didn’t go away and about a year later (2015), we prayed about taking the relationship forward. Once again, I came back with the same answer: no peace to move forward. Now, this really hurt Dwight because He felt ready to go forward. Although it hurt me too, I had to choose to see God’s sovereign plan. We remained friends and respected the decision.

I share these specific details of our story because it’s easy to see a couple from afar and think it just happened perfectly. That’s what I thought would happen with mine. Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. They love each other and then they are married. Simple. (I think I just heard God laugh again) It’s important to know that as genuine followers of Christ, we have imperfect journeys that require us to be obedient to God when He says no, not now, or not ever. It’s relinquishing control of our feelings and trusting God with them. It’s remembering that His plan and timing is better than ours. And it’s also remembering that just because it doesn’t happen how you thought it should happen doesn’t mean it’s not God’s plan.

Had we not listened to God both those times He said no, it wouldn’t have turned out how God designed it to be. 

Little did I know that I would move back to Virginia from New Jersey in 2016 to be with my family. Surprisingly (not to God), it was during that time that God gave me the peace to move forward with Dwight (3rd time is a charm, right?). Ten months later he proposed and 6 months later we got married. Had I moved ahead of God while I was in New Jersey because of what I felt for him, I would never had the time to be with my family before entering into that season of my life (I moved to California after the wedding). God, in His loving kindness allowed those stop signs, so I could be where I needed to be physically but also emotionally and spiritually.

And because God challenged us to die to self even before our courtship and in our courtship, it’s been that same journey in our marriage. 

Of course it’s easier said than done, but it’s such a display of Christ’s love for His Bride-the Church. Dwight’s love for me astounds me. He is truly an example of Corinthians 13. He loves me and challenges me to live out Christ with the way I love. Are we perfect? Not. At. All. But we are striving to love perfectly as Christ has commanded us.  Five months into marriage and we have seen His beautiful mercy upon us and I am so excited to see how God will continue to lead us intricately as we continue to trust Him deeply.

Dwight’s Story: 

I’ve wanted to be married as long as I can remember.  

I am sure I found girls, relationships, and marriage to be foreign and gross at some point, but what I remember clearly is that from a young age, I was on the lookout for the young lady that I would make my Queen.  

I think this desire was ultimately given to me by God, but it was fostered and exemplified by my parents and their imperfect but WHOLEHEARTED display of spousal SACRIFICE, team work, patience and love, which they CONSISTENTLY modeled for myself and siblings.  

I remember snapshot moments in elementary and middle school when I would imagine the future, who the ‘girl of my dreams’ would be, how I would meet her, how I would know she was ‘the one’, and what the journey would be like.

By all accounts I was a highly imaginative child, but I never came close to dreaming up the show-stopping woman God had in store for me. I definitely never could’ve imagined the fantastic and redemptive journey of growth, learning and preparation that led me to first kneel before the Lord, surrendering all to Him, and then kneel before my now-wife, surrendering my life for her as well.

Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with the entire story in detail, but there are a few moments from my journey of courting and now being married to Yodit that I’d like to focus in on to support a central point which I believe every Christ-centered relationship, but especially the marriage relationship, displays with supernatural consistency. Here it is:

God’s plan, for His children, is INFINITELY better than any plan that you could dream up or imagine by or for yourself. 

God’s Plan for my life showed up throughout our courtship and currently in our Marriage in the form of 3 major ingredients: Surrender and Obedience, Patience, and Self-sacrifice.

Surrender and Obedience is God’s Plan

Surrender is always the prequel to embracing and receiving Gods plan. Obedience is always the vehicle that moves you to and in God’s will.  

I had to surrender every facet of my life to Jesus Christ. Without that the rest of this story does not exist.  On December 26, 2012 — a day I will never forget — God, in his mercy, brought me to a clear crossroads, and gave me the Grace to recommit all of myself to Him. What I was able to see, by God’s mercy, is that the ‘partial surrender’ equation is actually 100% surrender to sin. There is no middle ground. I think that I, and a lot of young men, try to rope off the “girls/dating/sex/situationship/relationship” corner of life and keep God out. Take it from me, that approach will never work, in fact, it will always and only result in pain, grief and regret. I thank God for delivering me from that destructive path and onto the redemptive path of 100% surrender.  My life became a journey of daily resolve to take all my thoughts, words, and actions captive to Christ. This included my dating.

When I got to know Yodit enough to realize that I was very interested, my first act of obedience was to bring this out into the open with intention. Being clear and honest from the get-go paid great dividends for us and taught us the value of communication from the early stages of our dating journey.

Patience is God’s Plan

After talking consistently for about two months, I knew Yodit was absolutely ‘wifey’ potential.

I wanted to date her! There couldn’t be any harm in that, could there be? Continuing in the lane of intentionality, I made my desires clear. I also prayed about it and sought counsel.

But, I got the red light – no go. Just friends.

Yep, you heard that right, I GOT FRIEND-ZONED!

As if once were not enough, when the feelings and desire were still there almost a year later, after prayer and counsel I decided to shoot my shot again – you guessed it,

I GOT FRIEND-ZONED AGAIN!  

Each of these times, my heart was crushed. In hindsight, I was excited and rushing a good thing before its time, thus causing myself some pain. It’s like a piece of fruit that you love — a peach, pear or a nectarine — and you want it so bad that you bite into it before it is ripe. That result is never as tasty as it would’ve been had you waited.

God was ripening and preparing me SPIRITUALLY in my IDENTITY and role as a man of God – called to lead as PROPHET, priest, and King in the home. 

Without that preparation and the time it took, I would not have been ready to embrace the responsibilities of Christian courtship, let alone the responsibilities of a Christian husband. I truly wasn’t ready. God knew it and his perfect plan was for me to wait on Him. In his rich mercy he did finally grant me the desire of my heart in allowing Yodit to be my wife – but He did it in his timing and taught us both the valuable lesson of patience along the way.

[and I don’t even have time to get into the major patience challenges of a long distance relationship, yea, she was in NJ & VA and I was in CA]

Dying that you may live [on repeat] is God’s Plan

I’ll keep this one short and to the point.  We are about 6 months into our marriage. The moments that we have, by God’s grace, died to our selfish pride and taken the road of humble service and love, even in the face of our imperfections – those are the moments where we have blessed each other. Those are moments where God has blessed us with glimpses into who we are becoming.  

I am called to love my wife as I love myself and as Christ loves the Church. 

This baffles me and challenges me every day as I reflect on how much Christ loved and loves his people — his bride — the Church.  The challenge to emulate that love both baffles and excites me. I know that by myself I cannot even come close. I know that only by working to kill my sin and by learning to love Christ more can I strive towards what He would have me be and live in our marriage. The same is true of what Yodit is called to live and be in our marriage.

We are striving absolutely imperfectly, but absolutely with our whole hearts filled with love for each other and for our Lord and Savior. We are learning, every day, to fulfill what I believe to one of the central goals of Gods plan for marriage – to give all of oneself for the other, and for the glory of God over and over again, with great joy.  

The Depth of Love

Written by Hannah Desta

Love hurts. 

A statement I’ve probably heard about a million times throughout my life. And to that I have learned, it is a lie. You see, through society and media we have been taught to believe that love should hurt, that it should be a struggle and hardship. That a man/woman should put you through some things in order for you to know that what you have is real. And that could not be further from the truth.

I’ve learned that love is not about the standards and expectations that we have been taught through society and these “romantic” movies to place on one another. Love is much deeper than that. But in order for us to understand that, we have to look at what the foundation of what love is. For me this has become my lifeline. It has changed the way I have seen relationships, whether that being friendships or intimate relationships. And that is… 

“Love is patient, love is kind. it does not envy. it does not boast. it is not proud. it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking. it is not easily angered. it keeps no record of wrong. love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 

With all honesty, this was not what I always based my standards on. I had gone through a long season of insecurities of myself and of what my worth was. I found it hard to understand that love shouldn’t be difficult, it shouldn’t be confusing and it definitely should not cause pain in my heart. I would tell myself that I am just “sacrificing”. Isn’t that what we are told? Except that type of sacrifice is not giving in to this fake type of humility but choosing to think less of yourself in circumstances. So, I would find myself going through different types of heartaches and pain thinking that I was lowering myself for the better of the other person. But at the same time, I was digging myself deeper in to this hole of hatred, depression and bitterness. It was so bad that I didn’t believe in love. I didn’t believe in a man after God’s heart. I didn’t believe that God would have someone who He had prepared for me.

And let me tell you something…not believing in love is taking away your hope in all things good. 

So, when I thought that all my hope was coming to an end, the Lord really restored my heart. My cry out to Him was to fully surrender all that I was and all that I run after. To give Him what I thought was very important and even the less important things. Taking time to grow and really root my identity in Him changed my standards to His standards. It gave me boldness that I never really had in myself. I began spending more time investing in myself, in the things I liked to do and discovering things I never knew I liked. My objective in life became about being victorious and a overcomer. I began to notice that the way I started viewing myself changed the way others viewed me. And slowly the Lord healed my heart of all things that were rooted deep in darkness.

And that led to me meeting my now fiancé, Samuel. 

It’s crazy because I joke with him on how Hannah in the Bible prayed for her blessing and the Lord gave her Samuel, and for me he is the blessing I’ve prayed for. I never met a man so kind, so loving, and so sensitive to the voice of God. He didn’t come with confusion or in a mindset of wanting me to give and put in more than he was willing. Instead he prayed with me, he made sure that my number one focus was the Lord and to better myself. His joy wasn’t seeing me run after him but after my dreams and what I was destined for. I knew that he was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. He brought such peace into my life. And one day it dawned on me that I could have missed out on what God had for me because I was caught up on what I thought was real love.

So, beloveds, all this to say be true to yourself and your worth. No one is worth you dumbing down who you are for something momentary.

Above all, love who God created you to be. 

It’s in that freedom that you will live to your full potential and discover all that God has in store for you.

If you want to learn more about Hannah’s incredible journey, make sure to check out her website The Beautiful Trails where she takes on life’s journey in discovering the INDIVIDUAL she is and becoming. 

Peppy & Tori Sisay

Written by Peppy and Tori Sisay

I am so lucky to be with Tori. She is a daughter of God who I am honored to be called her companion. She has unique gifts and passions that I get to help think through with her and push her to be the most impactful for God’s kingdom. She is also someone who gets a front row seat to my sin, who isn’t afraid to correct me while still being gracious and loving.

Pursuing Tori has and will continue to be the most impactful journey of my life. 

Getting to love her has developed me in surprising ways.

I have never been more intentional, bolder, more prone to take initiative, and also more apologetic, sensitive and forgiving. 

To me, a Godly romantic love is built on pursuing the Lord more then each other. It is super vital for us to have personal relationships with Jesus, so that we can be more like Him! That’s the only sustainable way for us to deny our natural selfishness and instead seek to love and serve one another above ourselves. It’s only through that we can joyfully do life together.

_______________________________________

Peppy and I officially met for the first time at a Bible study while we were studying at USC. At the end of each Bible study everyone would write a prayer request and shuffle them and than draw each other’s request from a hat. As cheesy as it sounds, I got his prayer request and used it as an excuse to talk to him. I didn’t think he remembered me because for the next four times he saw me he would say, “Tori, oh like Tori Kelly” (probably so he could remember my name). At an event we both attended he walked up to me and said, “nice of you to show up” and walked away. Apparently, I had left a big impression. We slowly got to know each other and began to awkwardly flirt like we were in junior high. Then Peppy asked if we could talk one night alone.

He explained, as a man of God, he felt it was important to be intentional and upfront about his intentions. 

I was preparing myself for an awkward “you’re great but I think God wants us to be friends” but instead, Peppy expressed he liked me and wanted to date to get to know each other more. I honestly didn’t know men could be intentional like this. Peppy continued to pursue me and make me feel respected and honored.

Peppy and I were blessed to spend most of our college years together. It taught us how to balance all the various areas of our lives including: friendships, church, ministry, schoolwork, and families. It was always challenging to steward all God had given us in that full, busy, stressful, and growing time. Additionally, we each came with our individual struggles and baggage. We learned how to communicate to each other with love, gentleness, and kindness. Our friends and church communities encouraged us to love each other well and bear each other’s burdens. God has always been the priority in our relationship.

We are two broken people that run hard towards Jesus and get to run the race by each other’s side.

The largest challenges in our relationships gave us opportunities to trust God more and grow in our relationships with him.

The past 5 months of marriage with Peppy have some of the best months of my life.

Marriage is the biggest blessing and opportunity for sanctification. 

He sees all my selfishness, pride, and quick temper. Peppy shows me the character of God by being quick to apologize and showing kindness and grace even when I don’t deserve it. He loves me well by reminding me of my identity in God, gently calling out my sin, and affirming the gifts God has given me.  I love being Peppy’s partner in all the areas of our lives. It is such a gift to be able to serve God together in our church, workplaces, and friendships. Peppy helps me become more of the woman God made me to be by always pointing me to the Lord and reminding me of his character and promises to me. I can’t wait to continue to watch God be faithful in our lives.