What To Do When You Feel Discouraged

Ugh! Seriously? Are you kidding me? Again? I can’t do this anymore. I’m so tired. How much more can I take before I give up? Is it really worth it?

Any of these sound familiar. Well, for most us, they do. These are questions and thoughts that we have all had when we feel discouraged.

Discouragement is an absolutely normal part of life. Look at King David, he had everything he owned stolen from him by the Amalekites during a raid, including his wife and children. Look at the Prophet Elijah, after killing hundreds or false prophets during a confrontation, he hid in a cave because the evil queen Jezebel issued a death threat against him. What about Jesus, his own disciples abandoned him during the hardest moments of his life. Yeap, it happens to everyone.The defining characteristic though, is how we react to discouragement.

Discouragement is an absolutely normal part of life.

So, I’m writing this to you. To the one who has felt like perhaps it’s not worth it. It’s not worth it to sacrifice everything for the Lord anymore.

You decide to take a leap of faith, and trust that Jesus will have your back, and that’s when everything starts going downhill. You finally choose to go for that one dream that Jesus placed in your heart, and it seems like the doors of opportunity won’t open.

You don’t get that one scholarship that would allow you to continue school this semester. Maybe, the people that promised to be with you until the end, in the good and the bad, are nowhere to be seen. Or perhaps, those applications that you sent in, keep getting denied.

Well, let me tell you; it’s going to be alright. If you are like me, this is the point in the story where discouragement begins to creep up on your heart like a shadow. It slowly begins to spread over your heart until it’s so heavy that you give into it.

The word discouragement can have two meanings. I want to go over these two meanings because there is something to be learned here. See, discouragement is not so much a feeling but rather a tool. It is a tool that our enemy likes to use to stop the purposes of God that have been placed in our hands. If we learn to see discouragement for what it is, then we will no longer be deceived.

If we learn to see discouragement for what it is, then we will no longer be deceived.

First of all, discouragement is “a loss of confidence or enthusiasm; dispiritedness.” It’s what happens when things don’t go as we expected. It’s when our efforts don’t yield results, and we begin to loose enthusiasm for what we want to accomplish. This is the definition that most of us understand. Discouragement is a feeling; but wait, there is more.

Discouragement is also “an attempt to prevent something by showing disapproval or creating difficulties; deterrent.” This is the definition that I really want to emphasize.

See dear friend, the enemy likes to use discouragement in this sense. He likes to use his influence over the hearts of others, to deter what the Lord is using us to do.

Maybe you are writing an amazing article that you are so excited to post. You know that this article will impact the lives of so many young women. Excitedly you type the words as they pour out of your heart. Then it’s time to post, but wait! There is no Wi-Fi and the hotspot on your cell phone is so, slow that the computer won’t work. Literally, you drive to the nearest Starbucks and it’s so full that you can’t even get out of the car. Then, you try going to the public library, but it’s too late, it’s closed. I know, I know, this doesn’t sound like the biggest opposition in the world. But it happens to me all the time!

Whether it’s the laptop suddenly not wanting to work, or my flash drive getting lost with all of my work, or not having any signal for the internet; these things get to us. Worst, it’s when others tell us that our dreams are too big, or that there aren’t enough resources. It’s frustrating!

Fortunately, I have some good news. God has promised us that if we would be faithful until the end, He will give us a reward. Look at this bible verse:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23, ESV)

If God has promised you something, he is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19, ESV). He is God, and He sticks to His words. He promises us protection, provision, and blessing. If we are loyal to His words, He will fulfill them.

God promises us protection, provision, and blessing.

If you have been facing discouragement lately, whether it is at work, ministry, or life; know that God is watching. His eyes are on you to strengthen you in this journey (2 Chronicles 16:9, ESV).

Dear sister, God is rooting you forward. This is just temporary; this season will pass.

A few weeks ago I was speaking with a few friends, and I shared this biblical analogy with them. It is found in John 16:21. Jesus is speaking about when He will have to be crucified, but that he will return. I believe that this can also be applied to our season of discouragement.

When a woman is having labor pains, she is not happy. She is miserable. Fortunately, when she sees her baby’s face, she forgets all about what she had to suffer.

The same thing happens with discouragement, if we stick with the plans of God, at the end we will be so glad we stuck with his promises. If we would stay loyal through the pain, we will see the glory of God at the end.

If we would stay loyal through the pain, we will see the glory of God at the end.

The journey is tough, but it is worth it. Remember that joy comes in the morning, but you must get through the night.

 

 

 

By Carla Lopez

 

Why is Everyone So Insecure?

I am insecure. I am insecure about a million things. About the way I look in those new jeans I bought, the way my voice sounds when I sing higher notes and even the way my curly hair frizzes up on rainy days. Sometimes I am even insecure about whether I am…enough.

Sometimes I am even insecure about whether I am…enough.

As girls, it is absurdly easy to tear ourselves down. Once a thought enters into our minds, it lingers and festers, leaving us frustrated. We allow ourselves to be controlled by what we believe others think about us. We fear rejection and being alone. It may feel that we are the only ones that feel the way we do, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

Throughout my few young adult years I have learned invaluable lessons about the power of insecurity. Insecurity causes us to become self-absorbed, focusing all our attention on what we fear others think about us.

We begin to obsess about the way we look and present ourselves to others. Sometimes, it even causes us to place a wall around us, so that others think we are strong and flawless. Brick by brick, pride is built up and a throne of fear is edified. “No one will ever know how afraid I truly am.”

Brick by brick, pride is built up and a throne of fear is edified.

I have seen insecurity manifest itself in several ways. Some people try their hardest to stand out while others try to fade into the background. Some try to gain everyone’s favor while others pretend they don’t care.

What would our world look like if we allowed perfect love to rid us of fear? 1 John 4: 18 says:

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18, ESV)

I only know of one true, pure, perfect love. His name is Jesus.

Growing up, I was the most shy, timid and nervous teenager on the planet. And this is no exaggeration. I could not look at people in the eye when I spoke with them. My voice shook whenever I tried to have a conversation with another human being.  I was so lost in my insecurity, that the view of my own worth was completely corrupted. I thought I was nothing.

I only know one true, pure, perfect love…Jesus.

When I met Jesus, and I mean truly met him, I was floored. Literally. I spent hours on the ground, face to the floor, simply hearing the sweet voice of the Holy Spirit revealing to me who I truly was. I realized my true worth and value, and it all began with perfect love. The love of God overwhelmed my young, timid heart, and I was never the same again.

I know that this sounds like a far off thing but, truth be told, the love of God is readily available to those willing to receive it. You no longer have to be insecure about the way you look, how others see you and even how you see yourself. You have nothing to fear. Perfect love is waiting for you.

 

With much love,

Paola Lopez

Why the Millennial Generation Can Change the World

If you are reading this, there is a huge probability that you are a millennial.

Yes, that’s right. You were possibly born anywhere between the 1980s or the 2000s. You might like coffee and absolutely love internet. You think about flip phones and wonder how we ever managed. To you, The Parent Trap and the old Jurassic Park movies are the best movies ever made (okay, that might just be me). Anyways, you have never really known a world without easy access to communication or information. As a result, the world seems smaller and accessible to you. And…

Now, why do I start off this article by saying all of that? Well, the thing is that I think besides many things, that our generation is quite remarkable. I was born in 1994, and I’m proud of all the amazing technological advances I’ve gotten to live through. I got to see the end of one century and the start of another. I’m proud of the season I was born into, and as a result I feel that God has called us to greatness.

Dear millennial,

I am writing this to hopefully awaken a desire in your heart to see change come about.

See, we have been painted as a generation that knows not how to honor. We have been possibly marked as a generation that does not know how to interact with others yet values socialization. I mean, we have made social media a craze, but use it as an excuse not to speak to the person across the table from us who also has their nose buried in their iPhone.

Either way, many among the adult generation find our obsession with coffee and key necklaces ridiculous, but I have something that I need to say about all of this.We have been chosen by God!

We have been chosen by God!

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9, ESV)

I can still remember the first time I read that bible verse. It was about five or six years ago. I remember the exhilarating feeling I got from realizing that God had taken time to pick me; to show me that I wasn’t part of the crowd. That I was a soul chosen to go against the current. Chosen to carry the greatest love ever known, the love of God. It changed me, and I’m never going back!

For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:14, ESV)

In this part of the bible, Jesus is telling a story about a wedding feast held by a king. A servant was sent to fetch all the wedding guests, but they would not come. The guests went as far as treating the servant messengers rudely. Yet again the king sent more messengers, and no one would come.

In an anger, the king had all the original guests killed, calling them unworthy to attend. He had his troops go out into the streets and find anyone who would come, whether they were bad or good people, he did not care.

Finally, the wedding hall was full of willing guests.

See, the king invited many worthy guests. These people were sent beautiful invitations, written on parchment paper with beautiful embroidery, but they didn’t care. They were so busy with their own issues, that they didn’t care that it was the king who was personally calling them.

Eventually, the king had to send out troops to choose anyone who would come. Now, the people who received the best honor, weren’t those invited, but those who were quickly hand-picked to attend an amazing feast they were never intended nor invited to attend.

This story tells us our destiny!

You have been chosen, if you choose to accept (insert Mission Impossible reference here), for such a time as this. All our abilities, available information, and technology have a purpose. We weren’t meant to survive, but live abundant lives of purpose.

You have been chosen for such a time as this!

Millennial, I want you to understand how remarkable our generation is. We have access to technology, information, and the nations because we are worthy to carry the love, the glory, and manifestation of God.

We could possibly be the generation to see the return of Jesus. There are so many who have not heard that God loves them, but you can be the living, breathing message that they need to hear.

Stop feeling insignificant, because you are not.

Look, I’m on a journey. Empowered Beauty is a journey for us. It’s a challenge to leave our comfort zone and chose to spread the message of the Gospel. We have chosen to put ourselves out for all to see, to see that we can’t no longer be afraid of sharing what we have experienced with Jesus Christ.

I want to be challenged by the voice of my Maker. I want Him to lead me into the darkest and scariest places in the world to sow the light of heaven. I’m hungry for revival. I’m surrendered to His cause. I’m desiring His glory here on earth. Heaven on Earth.

Choose to act differently. To not join in on mockery or gossip. To respect authority and honor those who are older. To be wise women (and gentlemen) even if it looks odd. To be kind, wholehearted, passionate and hard working. Drop the sarcasm for five seconds, and look a stranger in the eyes with genuine interest for their heart. If He has chosen you, then choose Him in return.

So, you are getting a wedding invitation from Him in this moment. Do you want to attend the most adventurous, exciting, beautiful feast ever held? You are getting personally chosen to change this world. To establish a kingdom far greater than any kingdom that has ever ruled this world. It’s His kingdom, and you can be a part of it.

All you have to do is genuinely and faithfully ask Him to take your heart. Surrender all your issues, all your fears, and ask Him to be your personal Lord and Savior.

Now, go and change this world!

 

By Carla Lopez, Co-Founder of Empowered Beauty

carla

 

 

Breaking up with Apathy

The word apathy means a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. We are all interested in certain things to a certain point. For example, we all worry about the clothes we’ll wear, the places we need to be, or our grades in school. It would be weird if we didn’t show any concern for even everyday things. But, have you ever noticed that even though we have so many things that we worry about, we show apathy for the spiritual?

There was a certain point in my life when I began to look around me, and I grew disappointed. I was just starting out in my beautiful relationship with the Lord. I could spend hours praying, speaking with Him and not get bored. I would run to the altar and fall to the ground crying my eyes out during worship, because I was so grateful for His love (in the meantime people stared as if I had lost my mind). I literally was falling in love with Jesus!

Unfortunately, it seemed like others around me had no concern for God and or what God was doing. It surprised me how some would show no interest in the time of worship. There was no enthusiasm for the words being spoken by the pastor. They attended church, but did know the One who instituted the church. That’s when a youth pastor taught me this prayer, “Lord, may I always  be uncomfortable. 

Lord, may I always be uncomfortable.

I mean, who even says that to God?!

Either way, I have been praying this prayer every day. It’s the desire of my heart to never grow apathetic about seeking God with all of my strength. Not only that, I always hope that my passion for Jesus is so great, that others around me get uncomfortable as well.

Young women, we need to be uncomfortable in our walk with God. Now, what do I mean by this?

What I mean is that if we don’t feel challenged in church, then perhaps we aren’t digging enough into the word of God. If we don’t feel convicted, then we aren’t asking the Holy Spirit to change us daily. If we aren’t feeling passionate to receive more of who He is, then we aren’t contending to really know all He is. Bottom line is, if we don’t really care anymore, something is wrong!

If we aren’t feeling passionate…then we aren’t contending to really know all He is.

At one point in the bible, a lawyer asks Jesus in order to make him look foolish, what is the greatest commandment. I love what Jesus teaches this man in Matthew 22:37.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37, ESV)

 

In some versions of the bible it says to love the Lord with all of your strength!

Passion for God is an everyday decision. Everyday I wake up, open my eyes and say, “God, I choose to want you more than anything else.”

 

So, it’s time to tell apathy that it needs to go! There is no place for it in your heart anymore. You have dreams to fulfill, this world to conquer with the love of God. You don’t have time to lose interest, rather you are ready to get up and follow Jesus. Jesus has been calling you deeper, and this time you are leaving it all behind to follow. You know that you are hungry for more, and now you are making the decision to go. You heart is fired up, God prepares your hands for battle. You can do this!

Apathy, you have cheated me out of God’s blessings enough times. You have hidden the voice of God from me. You lied to me when you told me you would make me comfortable. You told me everything was alright, when truly I was dying in the inside. You told me if I had you close, there’s was nothing else that I needed. You told me that things would never change, but it wasn’t true. You broke your promise of making me happy. Instead, you left me feeling empty.So here’s what we have to say to you: Apathy, we are breaking up with you!

Apathy, we are breaking up with you!

 

By Carla Lopez

 

 

 

 

 

How do I know if I am in God’s will?

“How do I know if I am in God’s will?”

Now this was a question that I asked myself often. I was about to go into by second year of college and I had to figure out what I wanted to major in. I felt unsure, and many times I felt confused. I felt like I had to figure out my entire life, and that I needed to have a perfect plan laid out. Was I meant to be a missionary in a foreign country, or a science teacher in my country? Was I meant to work in ministry, or pursue another college degree? How did I know God’s will for my life?

That’s when I came across a Beth Moore preaching on YouTube, and God spoke to me as clearly as I needed Him to. One phrase stood out to me in her message, “You can’t fall out of God’s will.” That’s exactly when it hit me; if God wants me to be in His will He won’t let me miss the mark. He knows my heart, and He will guide me to where He wants me in every season.

He knows my heart, and He will guide me to where He wants me in every season.

Sister, I know I’m not the only one that has ever felt like decisions in life can be pretty tough, especially when you want to please God. That’s why I want you to look at what the word of God says:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)

Something I have learned is that God many times won’t give us blueprints or a play by play for our lives. Pleasing Him simply means doing everything we do for His glory. He already has great plans for us, all we need to do is follow the Holy Spirit’s promptings and move in faith.

If God were to give us every detail about what will happen in our lives, then we wouldn’t really be living by faith. We would be living a life without risks and trust in the Lord, because we would already know the outcome.

If God were to give us every detail..then we wouldn’t really be living by faith.

A few years ago, I went on a missionary trip and absolutely fell in love with the people of that country. I fell in love with the red dirt roads and the kind hearts of the locals. The people treated us like family even though we were foreigners from the “other side,” as they called it. The presence of God there was so powerful, and I literally didn’t want to come home at the end of the trip.

I fell in love with missions on that trip. When I came home, I almost felt out of place. It was something like reverse culture shock. I was amazed by our smooth roads and air conditioned buildings. I compared everything to that country, and it took me weeks to adjust back to my life here in the U.S. At a certain point I even began to feel guilty for everything that God had provided for my family and I. We had a beautiful house, multiple cars, and scholarships for our education. To most of the world we would be considered rich!

Eventually, I began to compare myself to these great missionaries. I felt like the only way that I could possibly be doing God’s will would be to give everything I had to the poor. I was to give up all the comforts I had in order to bravely go live among “the least of these.” This sacrificial lifestyle was the only way that God could be pleased in me. If I was suffering, then I was in His will.

I couldn’t be more wrong! For some reason, I didn’t feel at peace with that decision. Even though it sounded so romantic, the idea of leaving my great life and going to the poor, it wasn’t God’s will for my life at that moment. He knew my heart, and I kept feeling like the Lord wanted me to go to nursing school, and so I did. When I enrolled for nursing school, I felt peace, and God began to open doors for me as I fell in love with this profession.

He showed me that there was people in my own country who needed God’s love, and through nursing I would be able to touch many lives. God began to show me that I had much work to do in my own community, and began to give me a burden for my own people.

If there is anything that I learned from this experience, it was that God’s will may not be what we think it is. His plans are always greater than ours. He will always know what is best for our lives. Our lives don’t have to look like anyone else’s because we each have a unique calling.

Daughter of the Most High God, I invite you today to trust that no matter what may happen, He has a beautiful plan for you. If you would just commit your ways to the Lord, you will be in His will.

And we know that for those who love God: all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, ESV)

Don’t stress so much about God’s will, let Him reassure you that you have already pleased Him. All He wants you to do is to trust Him.

By Carla Lopez

 

3 Reasons Why Every Young Woman Needs Wisdom

As a twenty-one-year-old, I have often looked around at my generation; a coffee loving, authentic living, and traveling obsessed generation, and have felt proud to be a part of it. We grew up with touchscreen phones and iPods, and have never known a world without the internet. We are considered to be the most intelligent generation ever born. Unfortunately, with all our access to knowledge, we lack something way more important.

Wisdom.

The bible is filled with countless stories of men and women whose failures and successes were characterized by their use of wisdom. We can look at the life of David, a man whose heart was so pure that God said it mirrored his own. Yet, it took a woman, Abigail to use wisdom in order to calm David’s anger and keep him from sinning against God (1 Samuel 25). If Abigail hadn’t stepped up we might not have had a King David.

The bible is filled with countless stories of men and women whose failures and successes were characterized by their use of wisdom.

Wisdom is more than mere knowledge, it’s the ability to yield knowledge correctly. It’s the ability to keep quite even when it is hard to do so. It’s been able to understand that the Lord can take care of it much better than we ever could. If knowledge is power, then we must use it with caution.

So, here are three reasons why every young woman needs wisdom:

1) Favor and Success

Who doesn’t dream of success? Every young woman wants to succeed whether it is in a career, ministry, or having a beautiful family. Here’s the thing though, you can’t do that without God’s help.

I have the bible app on my iPhone, and when I saw Proverbs 3 pop up in my daily reading notification, I decided to read the entire chapter. I was amazed when I read the first few verses.

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. (Proverbs 3:3-4, ESV)

Wisdom tells us that success isn’t found through how well we can push others out of our way, but in how well we love. Being steadfast means determination, and faithfulness means integrity. That is the perfect recipe for success; determination and integrity.

If you have ever felt that God isn’t really concerned with your success in life, well let me tell you that He is. He shows you exactly how to use wisdom. If you want success in life, this is how you do it!

2) You will find peace

There is nothing worse than living with anxiety. Trust me, I know. There have been multiple times in my life where I have refused to listen to wise leaders and have gotten myself into some pretty worrisome situations.

Every young woman feels the need to grow independent and begin making her own decisions, but friend, let me give you a piece of advice. The best thing that you could ever do, is to seek wise counsel from those who love you the most. The book of proverbs tells us:

Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:7, ESV)

There was a moment when I wanted to date someone that my parents didn’t approve of. Eventually, that relationship brought anxiety and heartache. I finally decided to listen to my parents and leaders who were seeing warning signs that my blinded self could not see. Finally, I broke it off. I had never felt so much peace in my life before. It was like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders.

When we choose to follow the biblical model of seeking wise council, instead of trusting in our own intelligence, we can spare ourselves so much heartache. Trust wisdom.

3) A wise woman is a beautiful woman

Have you ever found yourself looking at how pretty a girl is, and as soon as she opens her mouth your opinion of her changes? I have. Wisdom is truly what makes a woman beautiful, not just her outward appearance.

The book of Proverbs dedicates an entire chapter to describing a pretty remarkable woman. The Proverbs 31 woman is business savvy, and is always prepared for whatever may come. My favorite description of this woman is that “she laughs at the time to come.” (Proverbs 31:25, ESV)

Nothing fazes her. The chapter describes her as always prepared, unwilling to be lazy, and as a woman who makes her husband proud. Now that’s the kind of woman I want to be! She refuses to be unkind or speak words that do not edify. She is remarkable because she is wise.

Hopefully these three reasons encourage you to seek the most precious of jewels, wisdom. Trust me, one of the best things we can ever have in life is wisdom in decisions, plans, and relationships with others. God promises that if we ask for wisdom, we will received it.

God promises that if we ask for wisdom, we will receive it.

By Carla Lopez