By Brenda Yoder
“You hem me in, behind and before and you lay your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:4
God is the author of boundaries. He creates them for our protection. As you grow in independence and develop relationships, it’s important you create healthy boundaries with people. Here are a few truths about boundaries.
- Boundaries define what your property is – physically, mentally and emotionally. It defines what is yours. You have control over your body, mind, and heart.
- Boundaries protect you. They keep the good in and the bad out. They establish the rules of the yard for your life and person. You have the right to say “No” to others who violate your boundaries. You have control over how others treat you physically, emotionally and mentally.
- You have control and choice over what boundaries you set. You deserve to be valued, respected and free to be yourself.
- In any relationship, you have the right to be treated with respect. In romantic relationships, this means your date or boyfriend:
⁃ Is willing to compromise.
⁃ Allows you to feel comfortable being yourself.
⁃ Is able to admit being wrong.
⁃ Tries to resolve conflict in healthy, appropriate ways.
⁃ Is honest with you.
⁃ Respects your feelings and opinions.
⁃ Respects your family and friends.
⁃ Accepts when you say “no” to things you don’t want to do.
⁃ Accepts you changing your mind.
⁃ Respects the boundaries you set.
⁃ Respects your wishes if you want to end the relationship.
These are basic rights of any relationship. If you’re in a relationship and your boyfriend doesn’t accept the boundaries you set, those are red flags that the relationship isn’t healthy and that you’re in danger for physical, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse. Here are more warning signs of being in an unhealthy, harmful relationship.
⁃ He says he can’t live without you.
⁃ He breaks things to intimidate you.
⁃ He threatens to hurt himself if you break up.
⁃ He pressures you into any type of sexual behavior by saying, “If you love me, you will….”
⁃ He humiliates you and belittles your opinion.
⁃ He is jealous or possessive about the time you spend with friends.
⁃ He’s constantly checking up on you, texting you, asking where you are and what you are doing.
⁃ He wants your relationship to get serious too quickly, and he refuses to take “no” for an answer.
⁃ You’re frightened of him and worry about how he’ll react to the things you say or do.
⁃ When he gets angry, he calls you names, kicks, hits or pushes you.
⁃ He wants you to be available to him at all times.
⁃ He forces you to choose to be with him over family or friends.
⁃ He makes you feel afraid to express your thoughts or feelings, to make decisions about where to go, what to wear, or who to hang out with.
⁃ He constantly threatens to break up with you or accuses you of planning to break up with him.
⁃ He insults you in front of your friends or peers.
⁃ He physically hurts you.
⁃ He doesn’t respect boundaries you set for sexual behavior regardless if it’s through texting, social media, photos or in person.
If you’re in a relationship where any of these boundaries are crossed, seek help with a trusted friend, adult or a professional. You can also call or link to:
National Dating Hotline – 1-866-331-9474
National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE
Broken and Beautiful: Brenda has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and a BA in Education. As a Parent, Counselor and Educator her ministry is helping moms and daughters navigate the tough stuff of life. Have a question for Brenda?
Email her at [email protected]
Join Brenda at Whatever Girls Live. Brenda will tackle the issues “Blurred Lines: Who Do You Say I Am?” and “10 Ways To Be Real In An Artificial World” Whatever Girls Live 2015: Feb 20-21 in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho.
By Kim Chaffin
God has a sense of humor! He woke me up last week with “she wakes before her family.” As I lay in bed, bits and pieces of Proverbs 31 were rolling through my head. I tried to close my eyes and ignore it but God was persistent. I heard “she is up before the sun” in my spirit. I climbed out of bed, let the dogs out and fed them, got a coffee cup for myself, grabbed my husband’s hot chocolate, and had it waiting by the coffee pot with a cup for him. A warm blanket was beckoning me from the couch so I grabbed my Bible and my Bible study and dug into the Word.
When my husband came out of the bedroom to grab his coffee, I laughed as I said, “God woke me up and told me that I am a Proverbs 31 woman.” Not part of a specific ministry, but God wanted me to understand how the concepts of this chapter applied to my life. I shared my rationale with my husband.
I was up before my family, I was up before it was light (daylight saving time helped make that possible), I had tended to the animals (that got a chuckle out of him), and I had his coffee cup all ready for his mocha.
For years I have felt inferior to the woman written about in Proverbs 31. If I could get a show of hands, I wonder how many other women would feel the same way. At times, I am a train wreck in the kitchen. I burn things; I add the wrong ingredient – only some of the time. If you read my Thanksgiving post you heard about the turkey that was steamed, baked, and set on the barbecue before it made it to the table. Just last week I had a pair of my undies stuck to a dishtowel from static cling. Thankfully my grown son who was helping clean the kitchen did not see the undies in the towel he was holding. The woman described in Proverbs 31 would never have her unmentionables in the kitchen!
For a whole week, God continued to wake me up early speaking the words of Proverbs 31 in my spirit. Yet I tried to avoid reading the chapter. Recently I have been studying who I am in Christ. I find it easy to believe that I am redeemed in Christ, adopted into the Family of God, and a needed part of the Body of Christ. Those were just some of the things I found to be true in my search of the Bible, and yet for some reason I continued to be hung up on being like the woman described in Proverbs 31. She seems to be everything I am not.
One morning after my study, I was feeling a bit defeated because I could not get that perfect lady out of my head. God began to push back with His Word. Bits and pieces of the chapter I had been avoiding for years began to come to mind. He showed me what was written in Proverbs 31, doesn’t describe just one woman. The “she” is every woman who walks with the Lord. In my heart, God was showing me the qualities of many godly women. “She” is every woman who puts God first. Being the kind of godly woman shown in the chapter may look different for each of us based on where in the world we live, whether we work outside the home or at home, or if we are married or single. What each of us has in common is that we bring honor to God in all we do.
I began to realize why God brought me to this chapter. I was studying who I was in Christ and God was trying to show me that He saw me as someone I never thought I could be. I wonder if I am striking a chord in the hearts of others who feel the same way. Maybe even your heart? For years I thought she was some super woman that I could never hold a candle to. Again I wish I could see a show of hands. I know I am not the only woman to have thought, “Me? The woman in Proverbs 31? Yeah, right.”
I decided to read the chapter with an open heart and God showed me that I was worth more than rubies. I have virtue and a huge heart filled with His love that I want to share with others. He showed me that I was choosing to honor Him in my walk. As I read further, I was reminded that I have a healthy fear of Him and that I seek His wisdom and wait on His timing.
I am like the woman in Proverbs 31. Yes, I make mistakes. My house is not always perfectly cleaned. I order pizza at times because my day was crazy but my walk honors God. My works are for Him and are done because of His love in me.
God looks at your heart not the dinner you put on the table. He would rather have you serve a PB and J sandwich made from a heart of love than a gourmet dinner made from a place of bitterness or obligation. My hope is that you will see who you are in God and never compare yourself to someone else like I did.
God loves you and you are worth more than rubies. You were bought with a price and it is the blood of Christ. You belong to the Body of Christ and you matter. You, my sister, are fearfully and wonderfully created and if you struggle with seeing yourself as God sees you, I hope you press into the Word of God and find God’s truth for your life.
Is there a scripture or scriptures that you cannot believe to be true for you? If there is, please take it to the Lord and ask Him to show you His truth and who you are in Him. You might be just as surprised as I was to find out that you too are like the woman described in Proverbs 31.
Join me at Whatever Girls Live
By Lynn Cowell
Why have you said, “no”, God?
The whole situation didn’t make sense. The job opening fit me perfectly. Lining up with the same passions I had, I just knew God made me aware of this opportunity so I could move forward in my plans for ministry. Yet now, all the doors were closing and I couldn’t figure out why.
As years passed, I continued being stuck. I kept looking back, wondering why God had kept that opportunity from me. Maybe there was something more I could have done to make it work? Why didn’t I try harder? Even though time went by, I wasn’t any closer to seeing my dreams come to pass or understanding why God kept me from the seemingly perfect position.
I think Sarai, Abram’s wife, felt stuck too. God promised her and Abram offspring as many as the stars in the heavens. (Genesis 15:5)Yet time is ticking. Sarai is growing old and she has yet to have a child.
Finally, she reaches her breaking point; she won’t wait any more!
“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Genesis 16:1-2 (NIV)
Maybe Sarai felt God had forgotten her and it was time to take matters into her own hands. She’d get a child without God and maneuver whatever she needed to in order to get what she wanted.
She got it all right. A pregnancy and a whole lot of trouble. When Hager became pregnant, she also became haughty, looking down on Sarai. Now Sarai was more miserable than before.
If only she had waited instead of manipulated.
Like Sarai, I had a hard time waiting on God. I couldn’t understand what was taking Him so long! Yet, when He did answer my prayer, opening the perfect position down the road from my home instead of a thousand miles away, it all made sense. So often, as I take that short drive, I find myself very thankful. I wasn’t waiting for nothing. I was waiting for Him to make the move, not me.
If we can wait and not manipulate, God promises us He is always at work for our good and His glory. We can trust, even when the situation seems to be going the wrong way, His way will be best. We must simply wait and trust.
When we wait and see God’s goodness come to pass, we create a history with God. These collections of faith moments, when we have seen God come through, build a foundation for our faith. They build us up so we can trust Him again and again.
These stories, these faith-building encounters with God, are the same stories I share with my kids, helping them to trust God with their dreams for the future as well. Helping them to also learn to wait and not manipulate.
Think of the situations you find your girls in? Wanting to date that guy in first block? Trying to get on the theatre teacher’s good side to get the lead role? Doing everything the coach says so he’ll move her up to varsity?
Share with your daughter your stories of when you waited and saw God’s faithfulness. Also, share those times when you have not waited, and like Sarai, it turned out all wrong. Together, we can help our girls learn it is best to wait and not manipulate.
Need a tool to help your daughter learn to wait on God? Check out Lynn’s newest release: Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants. Connect with Lynn more on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at Lynn Cowell.
By Susan Norris
Who will steal your child’s innocence? It’s a hard question for any parent to answer.
I spend the majority of my day fighting the growing sex industry in our country. Day after day I read articles or hear personal stories from survivors of how lives have been destroyed by our nation’s growing appetite for sexual perversion. It can be a bit overwhelming at times. Just when I think I’ve heard the absolute worst out there, I learn of another story or case that blows my mind.
Prior to joining the anti-trafficking movement, I worked in student ministry and women’s ministry. I spoke at several church youth groups, youth camps and in the schools as a speaker for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. It is because of my work with students that I became wrecked by some of the current statistics:
- Polarisestimates the average age of entry into the sex trade for female victims is 12-14.
- Studies show the average age of entry for boys into the sex trade is 11-13.
- “As of October 2014, the CyberTipline has received more than 8 million reportsof suspected child sexual exploitation since it was launched in 1998. Suspected child sexual exploitation can be reported to the CyberTipline at www.cybertipline.com or 1-800-843-5678.”
- “1 in 7 endangered runawaysreported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 2013 were likely sex trafficking victims.”
- Shared Hope International states at least 100,000 American children are being exploited through pornography or prostitution every year.
I couldn’t just walk away and go back into my quiet little suburban bubble. I had to speak out. I had to raise my voice for those who have been silenced [Proverbs 31:8].
I know there are many parents who push back when someone suggests they share my book, Rescuing Hope, with their child. Some youth pastors are concerned that parents may not want them to address this topic in their churches. Some school administrators want to shy away from presenting this message to their students for fear of parental backlash. My response to these parents is always the same:
Someone is going to steal your child’s innocence and it is probably going to happen sooner than you would like. It can be you, in a controlled environment, such as your child’s school or youth group, or it can be the trafficker trolling social media looking for his next victim. Either way, it will happen. One way you get to choose, the other you don’t.”
I can totally relate to the fear this topic brings to the table. I’m a parent. I fully understand. However, sticking our head in the sand and wanting to look the other way will not make this issue disappear. Trafficking is the nation’s fastest growing form of organized crime. It is not a respecter of persons. Victims and potential victims come from every demographic imaginable. Pimps also don’t look like what you’d expect. In many cases, a child trafficker can be a fellow classmate. You can read about such cases here, and here.
A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”
This crime is often called the crime hidden in plain site. The way we shine a light on it and uncover it is by talking about it. We need to discuss it with our children and those around us. We need to raise awareness so our conversations become catalysts for action. God entrusted our children to us. It is our responsibility to educate and equip them for the world they’re growing up in, even if it means stealing their innocence.
Who will steal your child’s innocence? Will it be you or will you leave it up to a stranger?
Join me at Whatever Girls Live
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
By Ginger Ciminello
Most of us have plenty of friends on Instagram and contacts in our phone, but how many of us can honestly say that we have deep and authentic community right now in real-time? It can be easy to want to stay with the familiar relationships from childhood, but what happens when we feel God calling us to love the people we interact with on a weekly basis? What if that feels uncomfortable? How do we move from acquaintances to friendship?
What brings authentic community? I’m sure there are a ton of answers to this question, but I’m just going to touch on three today.
- A humble heart.The opposite of a humble heart is a prideful heart. When I have judgment in my heart, I stop listening and begin doing all the talking.I have all the answers. Or I shut down and begin making my grocery list – determining that I’ve heard this before, thank you very much.
Instead, I should focus on listening. A good listener…
-asks intentional questions
-leaves space for an answer
-responds with interest
Are you struggling with how to move a friendship from surface level to one with depth? Try out this set of 5 questions below:
-Who are your Heroes? (Who do you admire? Who has shaped you into the person you are today?)
-What is your Heritage? (Tell me about your family, your life growing up and your heritage of faith.)
-What are your Highlights? (What are the high points in your life story? – the things that thrilled you, still put a smile on your face)
-What are your Heartaches? (What has hurt your heart in this life?)
-What are your Hopes? (What are your hopes, dreams, goals, or vision for the future?)
- A willingness to share.Sometimes I just don’t want to describe the blackness in my own heart. Five other people have already spoken and I find myself thinking, “Ginger, no one needs to hear what you have to say.”And yet, I know that in order to feel connected to my groups I am going to have to be vulnerable with my heart. I can’t live in the land of “I’m fine.” The best times of community that I’ve experienced this past year have come about when someone is willing to say, “I’m not fine and I need you guys to pray for me.” Vulnerability hastens connection with others.
- A patient spirit.I want things to run on my timeline. They should begin and end as I see fit. This leaves little room for God to move in HIS timing. This also leaves little room for connecting, listening, and growing closer as a community. This can also refer to how quickly I want community to be created. When things don’t happen the way I want, I begin to think thatmaybe this group isn’t for me. False. Maybe I’m the very reason that things don’t feel complete!
These three items tend to be huge roadblocks for me when it comes to deepening relationships. Relationships are messy and require a lot of effort and energy. I’m not going to get super close to ten people all at once, but I can take steps to know more about the people in my small group than just who is flying out-of-town this weekend.
Random suggestions for making friends…
1. Ask someone to lunch.
2. Be intentional when you see them. “How was your trip to see your family? I remember you mentioned that the last time I saw you!”
3. Compliment and encourage.
4. Take the first steps to share in your small group.
5. Text or call someone from your Bible Study and follow-up on mentioned prayer requests.
6. Offer up an “extra” ticket to something. “We just happen to have two more tickets to the ball game on Saturday and wondered if you guys would be interested in going?
7. Find common interests and run with it. You better believe that the next stranger to mention their love for Public Radio is going to be my new BFF. 😉
8. Pray that God would bring important relationships into your life this year.
9. Be AUTHENTIC.
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good. (Romans 12:9-21, MSG)
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