Our Loving Father

Our Loving Father

One of the most fundamental needs that we all have, as a human being, is to be loved. We all feel it. We all want someone to hold us close and tell us that they love only us.

Sadly, a fundamental truth about our great God is often overlooked. Our Father built us to love greatly. He also loves us greatly. Everyone needs to hear and know this, and many forget about it.

So, today, I’m here to tell you just how much your Father loves you.

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

Not only does He comfort and calm you with His love, God sings over you. Your Father’s lullaby is the best in the world. He holds you close and whispers to you all the plans He has for your life. And, trust me, they are all good.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:37-39

Because God loves us (YOU!), he made us more than conquerors. It isn’t enough that we come out victorious, He puts us in high places and never lets us go. No matter what gets in the way, He will push through all of it to be close to you. His love is so vast that it encompasses us even when we feel at our lowest.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

1 John 3:1

This is one of my favorites, so we’ll camp here for a minute before I end this post. First of all, let’s notice how it talks about His love being so great that we are now called the children of God. 

Guys, God adopted us into His family. He claims us as His. He protects us like a good dad protects his children.

Here’s what I love about this. Anyone who has a close family knows one fact: we can pick on our family all we want, but the moment someone outside the family starts in on a family member, all bets are off.

God is even greater than that. First of all, he doesn’t pick on us in the first place. (*middle child rejoices in this fact*)

Secondly, because we’re now His children, God is on our side. Anyone touches us, God is going to be all kinds of upset about it. Who doesn’t want our Loving Father fighting on our behalf? Takes the wind out of the sails of the bullies, that’s for sure.

If our Father is holding us close and loving us so epically, what’s stopping you from feeling all kinds of loved?

Is It Time Yet?

is it time yet

 

“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

Habakkuk 2:3

As I ended 2018 and began 2019, this is one of the scriptures that has spoken the most to me. Why? Because, as a single girl looking forward to married life, it’s hard to remember that God’s timing is perfect. No matter how frustrating it may seem to me, God knows why this isn’t the time yet.

Is that what I wanted to hear? Absolutely not.

Is it what I needed? Yes.

This scripture is encouraging to me — and hopefully to you, as well — because it isn’t a “no” kind of answer. It’s all in the timing. Even if the vision before me, the things I want so badly, aren’t here yet, they will have their time.

Timing isn’t my favorite subject because let’s face it, I can be just as impatient as the next guy. Waiting? What’s that? Why do I have to wait? Why can’t I have what I want, when I want it?

Why do I have to wait longer? Hasn’t it been long enough?

These are questions I’ve prayed and journaled over and over again. I’m a hopeless romantic, so why can’t I see some romance? (Can I get a witness, somebody?)

The truth it, God never said I wouldn’t see my romance. He’s just been telling me to wait.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

Psalm 27:14

Even in my period of waiting, God supplies the courage and strength for me to go on. To endure and to thrive in this time of preparation.

I know I’ve been talking a lot about timing lately, but that’s what God has been placing in my heart. His timing is best and He always asks us to do things that will benefit us in the end.

For example (STORY TIME!!!):

I write. Constantly. Mostly books, because I love to craft stories. So, when the beginning of December came and God told me to take a break from writing until January, I admit to balking a little.

Okay, so it was more than a little. I desperately wanted to just push on. To keep going while I had momentum and to start something new while I was at it. However, after a lot of prayers and arguing with Jesus (not my brightest idea), I did as I felt led to do. I stopped writing for the duration of December.

Of course, when I started, I didn’t know that my computer would crash a week later, leaving me without anything to write with. I didn’t know that during that time I wasn’t writing, I would discover a beautiful new idea for an awesome new book and be able to spend all that writing time fleshing out characters and scenarios and places in the story world.

But God knew. And His timing was perfect.

If I hadn’t listened, how stressed would I have been when my computer crashed? I would have lost so much work and been so upset. But I wasn’t, because all my finished projects were backed up.

If I hadn’t listened, would I have been able to hear the new ideas for this story I’m so excited to start? Maybe not. Because I would have been too focused on what I was doing.

God’s timing applies to each and every area of our lives. He knows what’s best for us and He wants us to live to our full potential. It makes Him exuberantly happy when we listen to the things He whispers to our hearts.

Which is why, today, I want to leave you with one last scripture.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time…”

Ecclesiastes 3:11a

If it isn’t His time yet, that thing you’re waiting for probably just hasn’t blossomed into something beautiful. It will, if you’re patient, and if you keep the faith while you’re waiting.

Keep fighting for the things you’ve been promised! I’ll be right here beside you.

Cultivating Kindness

Copy of WHEN HAPPY SEEMS FAR AWAY.png

 

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud”

1 Corinthians 13:4

I don’t think it’s coincidental that all these are in the same single verse of scripture.

I’ve been noticing lately, in the world around me, how much we lack kindness. A helping hand when someone is struggling. A gentleman to hold the door for the ladies. A simple “thank you” or “have a good day”. All these things are few and far between, but I don’t think they should be.

“So, Megan, what do you want us to do about that?”

Well, I’m so glad you asked! Today I want to talk about cultivating a culture of kindness. (Nice alliteration!)

As women of God and daughters of a King, we should live our lives above reproach and in a way that glorifies Him. Part of that is living our lives in a kind way.

When people think of kindness, they often think of saying please and thank you. That’s the easy part of being kind. Being mannerly. But people tend to fall short when it comes to going the extra mile. When scripture says that love is patient and kind, it also says that love is not jealous, boastful, or proud.

If love is kind, then showing kindness is showing love. Not to be recognized or to say we did something good, but because it’s the right thing to do. Because we love other people.

“But, Megan, what about all those jerks out there who are never going to be kind to me?”

Here’s the tricky part, guys. Jesus never put conditions on being kind. In fact, in Luke, He says this:

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”

Luke 6:35 (NLT)

If God is kind to the ungrateful and the evil, and we are His children, shouldn’t we follow in His footsteps?

You see, kindness isn’t about what we get in return. Kindness is about bringing Heaven to Earth. When we are kind, when we go that extra mile to help someone who needs help, our light shines bright and we stand out.

We aren’t a people meant to blend in with this culture, in this world. We’re supposed to be the shining light in the darkness around us. So what if that person may not thank you or give you a huge reward? Won’t your heavenly reward be that much greater for all the times you portrayed your Savior?

If God can show kindness to the evil, why can’t we show kindness to our neighbors? Maybe even that stranger in the grocery store. The short one who can’t reach the shelf. Or the one who looks completely lost. Toss a smile to people who pass you by. You don’t know how far your kindness will go or whose life it will touch.

Besides all that, did you know that most marriage failures can be traced back to a lack of courtesy to one another? If you’re looking to get married in the future, cultivating kindness in your life is an excellent habit to start now.

In my life, kindness has been my greatest means of witnessing Jesus to others. Because, honestly, who smiles that much? Who gives so much of themselves and expects nothing in return? Why would they do that?

Let’s cultivate kindness in our own lives so it can spread to others. Let’s be the start of a movement that brings joy back to a floundering generation.

Are you with me? I’d love to hear your thoughts on cultivating kindness in the comments below!

When Happy Seems Far Away

is god perfecting you_ (1)

There are so many things I could discuss with you guys. So many emotions that go through my mind and heart on a daily basis. So many hopes and dreams that I’m sure you all share with me. However, as we don’t have time or coffee today, I’m going to share with you one thing I’ve been learning recently.

As single women, we often feel that this is a time in life to “get through”. We long for the day our man sweeps us off our feet. We secretly plan our future wedding (don’t deny it, you know you do). We imagine what lazy days will be like after we’re married. How our hubby will treat us. And somewhere in the middle of all that dreaming, we lose our sense of peace and contentment.

We start to wonder why it’s taking so long. If only… 

It’s those thoughts that will drag you down into the quagmire of depression. Did you know that we’re stronger than we think?

So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.

2 Corinthians 12:10 (TPT)

Even though we may feel like it’s the end of the world. Like nothing will ever go right and maybe, sometimes, like God is keeping things from us, I can assure you that isn’t the case!

God sees all, knows all, and is all. He knows the timing that’s going to make your future relationship beautiful. He knows everything you need and everything you want. He knows your heart and He is willing to inconvenience you to bless you with everything He has in store.

Our job is to let His strength move through us. We can’t give up! Even if we’re taking it one day at a time (and believe me, I am), we have to live each day to God’s standard. We have to believe that He knows what he’s doing. There is no one who cares more about us.

So how do we stay positive when the world is looking bleak?

“for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.”

Philippians 4:11b

According to Paul, contentment is a learned art. So what do we do? We let God teach us.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines contentment as “feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation.”

So where are you feeling unsatisfied? If you can pinpoint that, it’s not as hard to turn it around and find a new perspective on it. Find the beauty in where you’re at right now. It may seem difficult at first, but trust me, it gets easier with time.

So what are you going to thank God for today? How are you going to walk down the road of contentment while you’re still in this season of preparation?

To Be Seen

City Real Estate

 

One of the worst feelings in life is the feeling of being overlooked.

Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve felt alone and unseen. I’ve cried those silent tears into my pillow at night. I’ve screamed at the sky and asked God why he isn’t using me the way I want him to.

And then I realized: this isn’t about me. It’s all about timing. God’s timing. Even if we don’t like it, God’s timing is perfect. Maybe (just, go with me here) He knows what’s best for us and maybe, JUST MAYBE, He wants the absolute best for our lives.

Many times in our season of singleness, we feel unloved or left out. Our friends may be getting married or having babies. They may have a “prospect” or a “guy friend” and you’ve got nothing. Trust me I can relate to that one. (Seriously, if that’s you, drop me a comment. I’m living it right now.)

If this is you, feeling overlooked and undervalued, I’d like to introduce you to one of my absolute favorite men in the Bible. The beginning of his story is found in 1 Samuel 16 and the first mention of him is very telling.

Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.”

1 Samuel 16:11

For those of you familiar with the Bible and the study thereof, you will have figured out that this passage is the first time anyone talks about David in the Bible.

I find it interesting that the very first mention of one of the most important men in the plan of salvation didn’t even mention his name. “There is the youngest,” Jesse tells Samuel. Almost like an afterthought. Like he hadn’t even remembered him until that exact moment.

And where is David while EVERYONE else is attending a ritual sacrifice to the I Am? David is left back at home. “Just” the youngest. Watching the sheep and the goats while everyone else is in the limelight, parading before God and the prophet.

How do you think that particular conversation went?

“David, your brothers and I are going to witness the prophet Samuel offer a sacrifice. Watch the sheep and goats okay?”

Do you think David wondered why he of all people had to stay behind? Do you think he felt a little left out and unloved? Unseen? Overlooked?

You see, not all grand plans have exquisite beginnings. Even though Jesse summons David to stand before the prophet and EVEN THOUGH Samuel anoints David as the next king, there aren’t any fireworks or a parade. There isn’t an announcement that “David will rule this nation next!” There is no press release or instant fame and fortune.

After Samuel anoints David, he leaves. David leaves. David goes back to his sheep and his goats. He continues to serve his father, to obey and listen and do what he’s told. And he waits.

Sometimes we take for granted the moments that happen in the waiting. We so badly want the end that we don’t take time to appreciate the little things. We forget to tend to our sheep and our goats. We forget to love ourselves and our lives even if we know there is more for us.

Today, let’s make a pact, you and I. We will live adventurously. We will not take the mundane for granted. We will pick up our callings and we will do what we can with what we have. We will wait for God to open doors and we will say yes when he does. Today, let’s agree to stop trying to make it all happen for ourselves. Let’s agree to let God be in charge and give us every good thing he has for us.

God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.

Psalm 18:30

Acts Of Obedience

 

Acts of OBEDIENCE

We’ve all been there. The place where God is telling you to do something. In my case, an act of faith. He doesn’t always tell us how, He just asks us to do. In my case, after a lot of prayer about what to do, God’s answer came in three simple words: prepare for rain.

Sounds easy, right? Except it wasn’t. The direct order was followed by a whole lot more prayer and a lot of questions to myself about what to do. How to do it.

You see, God’s instructions are always simple, but they’re not always easy. Take practically any direct order from the Bible, and you’ll see.

For example:

Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!”

Judges 6:14 (NLT)

See? Simple but not easy.

I love the story of Gideon, because I relate to him on so many levels. Gideon had the potential to be a mighty warrior, but he didn’t see it in himself. His own insecurities ruled his life.

He was hiding, a cynical man who didn’t think God would ever use him. Gideon wasn’t actually a warrior of Israel. He grew wheat. But he also feared God. He knew, deep down, what to do, but he was scared to do it. So he asked for signs right from the get-go.

Gideon replied, “If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the Lord speaking to me. 18 Don’t go away until I come back and bring my offering to you.”

He answered, “I will stay here until you return.”

19 Gideon hurried home. He cooked a young goat, and with a basket of flour he baked some bread without yeast. Then, carrying the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, he brought them out and presented them to the angel, who was under the great tree

Judges 6:17-19 (NLT)

And of course, everyone knows that after that, he asked for more signs. I so relate to this! Sometimes I find myself asking God “can you just give me something to work with?” when I should really just be trusting His plan.

Deep down, we all want to obey God. We think we really trust Him. We know He’s good and has good plans for us. But then, sometimes, His timing just isn’t as fast as we’d like. He makes promises, but they don’t come to pass as quickly as we expected.

It’s in these seasons of life that we learn how to obey even when we don’t feel like it. It’s here that we “prepare for rain”, even when we don’t see a cloud on the horizon.

I won’t say it’s been easy to obey this command. It took a solid two weeks for me to figure out what I could do as an act of faith. I procrastinated another week before I started working on it. I’m still in the middle of the project. And there still doesn’t appear to be an answer to the original prayer. But I’m obeying, despite what I see. Because I know my God is good and His timing is perfect. Because I know, if I follow His commands and obey what He says, the best is in store for me.

He Heals The Brokenhearted

He is Near to the BrokenHearted !

‘ He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow]. ‘PSALM 147:3 AMP

The ladies of VirtousBella and I were doing a devotional with scripture reading. One of our readings talked about processing loss and grief. After having a great dialogue with the ladies, I wanted to share my experience with processing loss and pain and hopefully encourage someone. 

Have you ever felt like the weight of the world was on your shoulders? Or maybe things have happened to you that you decided you would never relive, so you swept it under the rug and kept pushing forward. I’ve been there! I know for me personally I use to tell myself “you don’t have time to fall apart, you have bills to pay” and I would sweep it under the rug and go into straight hustle mode. No time and no emotion. I feared that if I allow myself to open up and grieve that I might not recover. I use to think “what if I don’t recover, what if I lose it?” “What if the pain of the situation is too much to bear?! Then what, how will I survive?” So my defense was always to sweep it under the rug. I would think about it for a bit, but when I felt the rushing waves of my emotions, I would shut it down and tell myself I had to keep it together because no one else was going to take care of me.

What I didn’t realize was that I was playing the role of god in my life. Over time I learned that this was unproductive. I began to learn about healing, deliverance and genuinely leaving it all at the altar. Once I allowed God to deal with me, I had to take a trip back down memory lane. I had to revisit situations I had blocked out. I had to process those emotions, but the good news was that God was right there with me. I got to cry on His lap, and once I released it at the altar, I LEFT IT THERE and allowed Him to heal my heart. The danger of not dealing with situations is that it will most likely lead to sin. Whether it be assault unforgiveness, rape, family issues, church hurt, anger, bitterness, jealousy, depression or any and everything in between. These emotions and the situations that triggered them, if left undealt with never end up good and become the devil’s playground. Now I’ll be honest my road to deliverance wasn’t pretty! BUT I trusted God and I survived. I was delivered and healed, and that’s honestly freedom I can’t explain. I encourage you to let go and trust God. Freefall into His arms and He will catch you! Recieve your deliverance and remember to walk in your deliverance!  God bless you, sister!

‘  Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4 KJV

Those Who Are Called

 

those who are called (1)

“Now to the unmarried and widows I say this:  It is good for them to remain unmarried as I am.”  1 Corinthians 7:8

Oh Paul, if only it were that easy.

Paul didn’t have to answer to his Great Aunt Bessie at every family wedding, who lamented over whether or not he would ever find the right girl and settle down.   Paul didn’t have a mother who kept hounding him about making her a grandmother.  Paul wasn’t playing house at preschool, didn’t receive Wedding Day Barbie for Christmas.  He wasn’t surrounded by Bridal Magazines on every check out shelf, nor was he feeling like he was “always the groomsman, never the groom”.  No, Paul’s greatest concern here was that if you were tempted to give into your passions… then you should marry, otherwise stay single.

It was the cultural norm to be married, have kids.  There are even denominations that encourage large families because the man who has a full quiver of sons is blessed (Psalm 127:5).   I want to think that Paul experienced the cultural pressure of marriage and family, but he seemed so very confident in his singleness.  I look to our own culture today, and I see there is still this unwritten rule about our timeline of life.  We are kids, go to school, get a job, get married, have kids, become grandparents, retire.

I’ve never pressed this on my children, and yet I remember my middle child being completely shocked when I told her she wasn’t required to get married.  I thought to myself, where did she even get the idea that it was a requirement in the first place?  It’s such a cultural norm, and marketed in television and movies, that I didn’t even need to talk to her about marriage for her to think it was an expectation of adulthood.  Women are building up Pinterest folders full of wedding ideas, bridal shower suggestions, and reception decor.  We are not just dreaming of our future wedding, we are already planning it… down to the very last detail.

There are those who are called to a season of singleness, and those who are called to a lifetime of it.  For those who are in a season of singleness… it can seem like a really long season (such as Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth experienced).  You may feel like you are floating in the ocean watching others catching all the fish, while you net comes up empty.  You may even wonder if there are as many fish in the ocean as people keep claiming.  But do not be discouraged!

  • Pray that the Lord would guide you through this time (Psalm 94:19).  That He would not only give you peace, but also guard the mouths of those around you to be encouragers.  Pray that He filters the words of those who would discourage you from your hearing.
  • Don’t worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34), but instead focus on what God has called you to do today.  Stand in obedience to that and know that whatever blessings He has in store for you will come at His perfect timing. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
  • Look for single mentors, those women who have been walking this road ahead of you. Along with other single women desiring to live virtuously for Christ. Seek their wisdom and comfort. (Proverbs 1:5) We Recommend Joining VirtuousBella’s Community of Single Women living Virtuously for Christ and The Purity Pledge.
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  • Turn to the Scriptures and let your desires be transformed into His desires (Matthew 6:33), you may find as you grow in this area that you become more confident about your singleness, like Paul was.

 

7  Scriptures To Overcome Worry

Overcome worry

 

Worry is when we allow our mind to focus on difficulty or trouble and we become anxious or fearful over actual or potential problems, rather than trusting in God. Not worrying would be focusing on God rather than difficulty, problems, or trouble.  When we worry we exalt the problem when we should be exulting God over the problem! 

Example: I know I lost my job BUT  I trust in God, He will never leave me or forsake me! Greater is He who lives inside of me than he that lives in the world. Though I lost my job, I know He is an all knowing God and He would never put more on me than I can bear! 

Just because we don’t worry does not mean we ignore the problem it means we know and trust that God is bigger than any problem we might face.  We keep our eyes focused on Jesus, so we don’t let to problem consume us! Trust me I know as simple as it sounds, this can be difficult to do while sitting in the situation. However, we must increase our faith in these times and remember who we serve and who we belong too! This is something WE MUST train ourselves to do.

The bible says we are to take every thought captive, so I want to share with you some scriptures that you can use when you find yourself becoming overwhelmed with difficulty or trouble. Memorize these verses and use them to pray over yourself strategically. This might take some effort, but in time, we will be able to take our thoughts captive and change our thinking.

Matthew 6:34 (NASB)-So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:27 (NASB)– And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

Luke 12:29 (NASB)– And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying.

Luke 10:41-42 (NASB)– 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Luke 12:25 (NASB)-And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?

Philippians 4:6 (NASB)-Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

1 Peter 5:7 (NASB)– casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

If you find yourself exhibiting signs of worry take it before the Lord in prayer.

 “Father, your Word tells me not to be anxious about anything but to make my request known to You. I’m faced with_________________, and I know that worry cannot add a single hour to my life, help me to cast my cares on you. I know I serve a God that is greater than ___________, so I lay the troubles of this world at your feet and ask you to have your way. In Jesus name, Amen!”

 

Hands Off

 

Hands Off (1)

There are times in life when you want something so badly it hurts, keeps you up at night, and pervades most of your thoughts, actions, and purposeful direction. I’m at that stage in life right now, aching for several things. Things I’ve been working toward for years and still seem no closer to achieving.

This morning, I opened my current devotional book and found:

“The LORD said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you’.”

Genesis 12:1

At first, it didn’t seem like this has much to do with this deep, aching, all-consuming desire within me. Until I looked past the surface and saw what God was really asking Abram to do.

Leave your country. The people you’re loyal to, the ones who influence your personal culture and tell you what is acceptable. Your people… The ones you’ve grown up with and value their opinions. And your father’s household… Your family, the ones who put expectations on you and advise you. Go to the land I will show you. 

God looked at Abram and told him; “Take your hands off this situation and let me handle it. Do what I say and trust Me to know what’s best for you.”

Girls, that’s hard. Sometimes it’s the hardest when we want something the most because a nagging little voice asks us “but what if God doesn’t want this for me?”

Let me tell you something. God is good. He wants what’s best for you, and he placed those desires in your heart. If it’s a Godly desire, he wants it for you! He wants you to have the best, and He’s willing to give it to you. Don’t doubt that He will give you the absolute best of everything. If what you’re wanting lines up with His word, there’s no reason for Him to say no.

“Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.”

Psalm 73:25

You see, the trick is to get so lost in God that you don’t care if you get those earthly things! He wants what is best for you, so why would you need anything but to love him? If my eyes are so focused on God that I don’t look around me, it seems so much shorter a wait when his plan finally unfolds before my eyes.

Girls, we don’t have to fret, because God has this! Throw your hands up and let it go, let him take it off your shoulders. There’s no need to fret and there’s no need to stress. Take your hands off and let the hands of the sovereign, beautiful God crush you to His chest. Get lost in Jesus and watch God bring you blessing after blessing, even things you never thought would happen!

I love you all, and I want only the best for you, just like your Jesus. Stick with me, girls! Hold on and keep the faith. I promise you everything will be so worth it in the end.