Stop Claiming Promises God Never Made

Jer.29.11.jpgChristians. Church people. Jesus followers. Please stop claiming promises that God never made to you!

Many of us have gotten in the very bad habit of telling ourselves that because God CAN do something, He WILL do that thing if we pray and ask for it. This is a lie. Yes, God is omniscient and omnipotent, but just because He has the power to do something does not mean that He will.

Just because God can heal your illness does not mean that he will do so. God may be brought more glory through your sickness than your healing, and you may become a more sanctified version of yourself by walking through prolonged illness. Have we forgotten that God cares more about the state of our eternal souls than our temporal, physical bodies?

Just because He can bring your future husband into your life this very week does not mean that He will. Your future husband may not be ready for marriage, and you may not be, either. It’s possible that it is for your greater good (and God’s greater glory) for you to continue waiting. Have we forgotten that God’s ways are higher than ours? He sees the bigger picture and has our best in mind.

Monday night was my first evening of Women’s Discipleship at my church. I love my church – the pastor, the worship band, the kids’ ministry… we have great people and sweet, Spirit-filled time together on Sundays. But I tend not to be a fan of women’s ministry events because they tend to be such Estrogen-Fests. And an Estrogen-Fest it was.

Once we made it through the touchy-feely, emotion-packed first lesson, the twenty or so women in our group partnered off for a time of prayer. I ended up coupled with Kristie, the leader of not only our small group but Women’s Discipleship as a whole at our church. Unsure what to expect from her, I was stunned when she shared her prayer request:

“Will you pray for an increase in the measure of my faith? That I would not just believe that God can do anything but that He will? I want to pray and believe He will do what I have asked of Him. When I ask Him to provide a job for my mom, I want to believe that He will and not just that He can.”

Although I wanted to be kind and encouraging to Kristie, I disagreed with the premise of her prayer request at a theological level. And she is the head of our women’s ministry. She is the one who is teaching over sixty women at our church for the next eight months. And I am concerned that she is going to spread her unfounded doctrine and poor theology.

Disturbed, I simply prayed for an increase in the amount of Kristie’s faith. After all, that part was biblical. Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2), and it is certainly acceptable to pray for God to increase our faith (Mark 9:24). But I have noticed that in our church – and Kristie’s request aligned with this – several individuals in leadership skew toward a level of “charismatic” that is not biblically sound. And I was about to be faced with another example.

As soon as Kristie and I had finished praying, one of the women in our group announced that she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s a pretty young thing – late 30s I would guess – and asked for prayers of healing. I was getting ready to pray that, if God willed it, He would heal her completely, but before I could start, Evangeline – the head of our prayer ministry at our church – jumped up and declared in a loud, authoritative voice, “Girl, we are not just going to ask God to heal you. We are CLAIMING healing over you. We believe not just that God can heal you, but that He WILL. We declare it! We speak healing over you!”

Eyes wide, I silently prayed for God’s will to be done. Whether He wanted to heal her or not, I prayed for peace and supernatural joy regardless of her circumstances. And then I went home and prayed for our church. Because our leadership has got it wrong.

These women in Discipleship are supposed to be older, wiser women who are meant to mentor the younger women in their faith. But they are clearly tossed around by their emotions and not grounded in the truth. God is not a genie, granting every wish of people who pray to Him. He is not a puppet god who moves in whichever way we want if we pull the right string. They need to stop claiming promises that God never made to them. Stop telling people they will be healed if they just pray hard enough and believe God is going to do it.

God’s ways are higher than ours (Isa. 55:8-9). Many are the plans in the heart of a man, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Prov. 19:21). Yes, if we pray anything in God’s will, we have what we have asked of him, but let us not forget the “in His will” (1 John 5:14). Sometimes God says no, and it’s not because of a lack of faith on the part of the supplicant. Have we forgotten that Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done”? (Matt. 6:10) Have we forgotten the example of Jesus at Gethsemane?! Pretty sure Jesus had the faith to move mountains, and he still received a “no” from the Father.

Sometimes we do not receive what we desire because we do not ask (James 4:3), so by all means, ASK! But remember that God is not obligated to respond with “Yes”. And He is worthy of our praise no matter what He answers.

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are Your ways higher than ours. 

Authentically Aurora

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The Frugal Woman’s Shopping Spree

shopping

My mom and I share a CVS Pharmacy card, so we double up on our points, meaning that I occasionally get a huge printout of coupons for use on my next visit. Last week I hit the coupon JACKPOT:

  • $3 off $15 lip or eye makeup
  • $3 off $9 Revlon cosmetics
  • $1 off $5 candy or chocolate
  • $1.50 off $4 body wash

Candy? Chocolate? Cosmetics? Yes, please! And BONUS! Body wash was on my shopping list already since I’m almost out!

It was like the stars aligned. The pharmacy fairies sprinkled some of their white powdery angel dust on me, and suddenly I was a pillionaire with coupons galore to save on all of a woman’s favorite things!

All day long, I looked forward to my shopping spree at CVS Pharmacy, and lo and behold, the bounty was indeed plentiful:

coupon-purchases

All told, I saved nearly 25% on my indulgences (and items I needed to buy anyway)! Seth is a value shopper and, last time he heard about my frugality, rewarded me with a kiss. After hearing about my purchases at the pharmacy, I wonder what he’ll prescribe this time. 😉

Authentically Aurora

Aurora Paleface

pale-sickPeople need some serious help with their commentary on my attire.

On Monday, I woke up late and only had time to brush on some mascara before dashing out the door for a meeting. When my (female!) boss saw me that morning, she asked, “Are you feeling alright?”

Knowing exactly where this was going, I remarked heartily, “Yep, I feel great!” I gave her a pointed look, warning her not to say what I knew was coming, but it came anyway:

“You look kind of pale.”

Ugh. Come on! I groaned inwardly. Why do women always make comments like this to other women?! We should really know better. (Actually, knowing my boss, I should know better than to think that she knows better.)

What I wanted to say was, “Actually, this is just my face. Like, naturally. Without makeup on. And comments like yours are the reason women feel like they can’t leave the house without makeup. So thanks for that.” But instead, I just forced a sort of grimacing smile and went back to work.

annoyedfaceThen today, I was walking to the bathroom and ran into another female colleague who remarked cheerfully, “Aw, you’re wearing the company colors! That’s so cute!”

“It was unintentional, I assure you,” I replied dryly. Great. Now I’m going to hate my outfit all day.

Just call me Aurora Paleface, company mascot.

Authentically Aurora (Paleface)

Sense & Sensitivity

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Seth and I have been dating for a few months now, so we are entering that season of trying to find our groove; to figure out the new norm for our relationship now that the “getting to know you” season is coming to a close.

Over the past three months, we’ve learned each other’s backstories as well as one another’s hopes and dreams for the future. We’ve experienced one another’s hobbies and have explored our (thankfully shared) political and religious views. We’ve met each other’s families, friends, coworkers and have started double-dating with now mutual friends.

There aren’t a lot of “softball” questions left to ask (“What do you like to do for fun?”), so conversation tends to either be about the present (“How was your day today?”), the near future (“What are you up to this weekend?”), or a topic that is deeper, more intense, and suggestive of the longer-term future (“What are your thoughts on adoption?”). We try to keep that last one to a minimum for now. After all, Seth’s longest relationship ever is only 4 months, and I am all too aware we are creeping up on that timeline.

Seth has become a student of me, and I of him. We are still learning each other, but we have just enough knowledge to be dangerous. He has moments of being indescribably sweet and moments of being a stereotypical man. I’m sure he feels the same about me in all my womanliness.

Just yesterday, we were talking after work on our way to meet some friends for dinner. Seth had spent the weekend in the pasture, and his time in the sun had dotted his tanned face with a sprinkling of freckles. Enjoying the look of them, I smiled at him suddenly and said with a soft smile, “I really like your freckles.”

He looked back at me and said with a straight face, “I really like your pimple,” nodding to a new blemish that just showed up on my left cheek. About five minutes earlier, I’d been telling him about the rough day I’d had at work and had confessed I was feeling a bit defeated and insecure. So I laughed, but I also added through the laughter, “Uh, didn’t I just get finished telling you how insecure I’m feeling today? Please tell me more about how ugly I am.” He took the hint and wrapped me in a hug, saying, “Oh, Aurora… you know I’m just teasin’ with ya.”

Two hours later, driving back from dinner, I got a (perhaps needed) reminder of what a great guy Seth is. We were at a red light and got stuck behind a beat-up, old car that wouldn’t start when the light turned green. Rather than honking and veering angrily around the stalled car like some of my exes would have done, Seth turned on his hazard lights, told me to sit tight, and hopped out of the truck to knock on the door and see how he could help.

The driver ended up being an elderly woman, and Seth got her to put the car in neutral while he pushed her to a corner gas station. Meanwhile, I slid across the bench seat to Seth’s driver seat and followed behind the stalled car in his truck, shielding them from traffic.

That is the kind of man he is. That is the kind of team we make. So when he teases me about my acne or ogles at the number of brownies I eat or tells me my laugh sounds like a turkey, I just remind myself about his kind heart and stalwart character.

He is a typical, occasionally oblivious man, and I am a typical, occasionally sensitive woman. So as I tell Seth all the time, I am learning to hear the words of his heart and not his mouth. And he is learning not to say stupid things.

Authentically Aurora

Girls’ Day Out

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There are plenty of people I see on a weekly basis – coworkers, choir members, my local Starbucks barista – but there are few people I actually want to see on a weekly basis. Ashley is one of those rare people whose company I never tire of.

Usually when my best friend and I get together, we just go out for coffee. Between my boldness (i.e. social awkwardness) and her acerbic sense of humor, the two of us are all the entertainment we need (along with our lattes, of course). But today we decided to change things up; get a little wild and crazy. So we got our coffees to go (gasp!) and went shopping at an outdoor mall in the beautiful sunshine.

Normally I loathe shopping. I know, I am a freak of nature who may be asked to have my woman card revoked (Do we even have woman cards, or is that just a man thing?). Fortunately, shopping with Ashley is more than tolerable. Ashley doesn’t make me to go those designer jean stores whose toothpick jeans mock my ensuing muffin top. We don’t shop at fashion-forward boutiques where tummy-bearing camis are all the rage. We don’t go to high-end shoe shops where the hoity-toity clerks eye my very practical, comfortable black heels that I wear to work almost every single day.

Shopping with Ashley is fun. Today we went to Sephora, Kendra Scott, a bookstore and a chocolate shop. For a moment, I was tempted by some beautiful opal earrings at Kendra’s, but they were $130. I found a lovely fragrance at Sephora, but $40? It’s not that lovely.

Ashley and I shopped together for five hours, and I spent a grand total of $18. For my $18, I got a tall latte, a small cup of chocolate ice cream and five books. I feel like this is very telling. But to all you leopard-print high-heeled shoe lovers out there, I say: Coffee, books and chocolate? A woman’s got to have her priorities! 😉

Authentically Aurora

Vulnerable Girls

India

On Wednesday after work, I went to the headquarters of a nonprofit orphan care ministry that rescues, empowers and protects vulnerable girls in India. A few of my friends are on staff with the organization, and they needed help writing Christmas cards by hand for all of their volunteers and donors.

We bought pizza and Mint Oreos to snack on while we worked, and we put on “White Christmas” in the background, occasionally singing along to the movie as we wrote out our cards. It was actually a really fun and peaceful evening, surrounded by kind-hearted men and women who chose to use their weeknight to serve an organization that is making a beautiful difference in the lives of some sweet young girls halfway around the world.

We laughed a lot, too – more so when some of the men left and we got to start in on “girl talk” (which may have ultimately resulted in us addressing a few rogue cards to the likes of Tim Tebow and J.J. Watt, asking them to partner with the organization).

As the evening began to wind down and I gathered my coat and purse to head home, I paused, looked around the room at the four compassionate women still seated around the table, and suddenly asked, “Hey, would you guys mind praying over me?”

All their heads popped up, and immediately there were arms and hands everywhere, gesturing for me to sit down, rubbing my back, pulling chairs over so that they could all gather around me. “I’ve been struggling a lot lately with rejection. I have a revolving door of men, and I want to stop finding my identity in what men think of me.”

As most of my readers know, this is an ongoing battle for me, and sometimes I feel silly asking for prayer about the same thing over and over again, but it’s my struggle. And prayer helps. Being vulnerable and transparent and confessing our sins to one another helps.

I felt absolutely safe and loved as Katie, a strong, godly, single woman in her thirties who I respect very much began praying over me. A couple of the other girls chimed in, and these were my key takeaways as I prayed their words along with them:

  • Thank you for her boldness to be vulnerable. May that authenticity and transparency continue.
  • We pray for healing of her heart and her mind. Heal her way of thinking, that if there is any lie from the Enemy, You would speak Truth over that lie. Tell her what her true identity is; the identity You speak over her. Heal her heart. Sing over her in her sleep. Remind her who she is in You.
  • Put up a guard around her, such that any men she has been in past relationships with would stay in the past and not come back. Guard her such that any man who is not in Your will for her would not approach her. Block his way before he comes.
  • Give her a clarity of mind. Sometimes thoughts can get muddled, but we pray for clear thinking. May it be easy for her to say no when she needs to say no. And may it be easy for her to say yes when Your answer is yes.

Katie ended the prayer “in Jesus’ name, Amen,” and then looked up, paused, studied one of the other girl’s faces, and said, “Was there something else anyone else wanted to say? Does anyone else have a Word from the Lord?”

The girl Katie had been studying nodded, and we all bowed our heads again. This is what she prayed for:

  • If there was any part of her heart that died from her broken engagement or other hurts, we pray for restoration of that part of her heart that she has shut off. If there is a broken, shut off, deadened part of her heart, heal it, God. Turn it back on. Bring it back to life. Heal and restore her whole heart.

I wasn’t sure at first what this was referring to. I clearly still am capable of loving people deeply (just read about Cory if you haven’t), and I am not afraid of loving again. I desire connection more than just about anything. But as I drove home and mulled it over, asking God which part of my heart had died, I believe He showed me that, while it is true that I haven’t shut myself off from love, I have changed the way that I love.

He showed me that, although it was easy for me to be vulnerable with that room full of women, I don’t ever want to be vulnerable in a romantic relationship. I don’t want the other person to know how deeply I love or how invested I am because, inevitably, I love deeper and more intensely than the other person in a relationship. So to protect myself, I have become… not brash exactly, but bolder. Confident. I put on airs of being strong. I try to make dates feel casual and grand gestures seem like no big deal. I minimize in order to protect myself.

As a result – or, perhaps, in order to achieve this result – I have shut off the part of my heart that used to flutter with excitement. The innocent, giddy eagerness and anticipation of falling in love is something I have not allowed myself to experience anymore. Because it hurts too much when that kind of love comes to an end. When I am able to convince myself that my interactions with dates are not as meaningful as I actually, deep down, feel them to be, I can kid myself into thinking I’m not going to get as hurt as I would if I let the butterflies in.

So. Here’s to wistfulness and innocence; hope and anticipation; eagerness and excitement. Pray with me that this part of my heart comes back to life, with the right person and in God’s perfect timing. ❤

Authentically Aurora

“Interesting”

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 9.21.37 AMEveryone these days knows “interesting” doesn’t mean interesting.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary may still define interesting (adj.) as “holding the attention; arousing interest”, but the Urban dictionary (which is obviously far superior) explains that interesting has come to mean “something which arouses no interest at all. Used to politely avoid admitting this, which indirectly expresses your indifference.”

In my experience, “interesting” also means weird, peculiar or awkward.

“Why yes, Grandma, this apricot pork casserole is… interesting.”

“Yeah, I thought Miley’s impersonation of a wrecking ball was… interesting.”

“I find Trump’s strategy to win voters… interesting.”

I recently sent a follow-up email to one of my colleagues who attended the Women’s Leadership Development Program with me. I’d really enjoyed talking with her and told her so. “I am so thankful that we ended up sitting next to each other that first day. You have so much wisdom and such an encouraging spirit! Thanks for all of your insightful comments both during the group discussions and during our casual chats between sessions.”

She just wrote back to me. “Hi Aurora! I feel the same about you… You are truly an interesting person!”

Ha. Truer words were ne’er spoken.

Authentically Aurora