EVERYTHING IS CANCELED

Love is not canceled.

Sunshine is not canceled.

Relationships are not canceled.

Reading is not canceled.

Naps are not canceled.

Hope is not canceled.

Coffee is not canceled and thank the Lord for that.

Kindness is not canceled.

Imagination is not canceled.

Going for a walk is not canceled.

Laughter is not canceled.

Family is not canceled.

Above all else, salvation is not canceled.

A lot of things in 2020 have been canceled and we all can feel the weight of life, especially this year. Remember that joy and hope can’t be taken away, no matter the circumstance. Life is too short to worry about things out of our control. Do your best and give every day all you have. Be kind to yourself and your neighbor.

Let’s not aim to be perfect in 2021, but to be available. Be intentional. Really aim to actively hear what those around you are saying rather than being a passive listener. This world can be a dark place, but be the light.

Life will only get better, I promise.

Happy Thanksgiving week, folks!

WOMEN IN SCRIPTURE: Esther

More so than ever, women in scripture have fascinated me and captivated my time in scripture reading. Like all things in the Bible, these women all served a great purpose and do an amazing job of portraying a story to us modern-day women (and men).

With each woman, I will dive into their role as it plays out in scripture and how it can better relate to our lives today.

For my first powerhouse woman of the Bible, I chose Esther. Esther is the seventeenth book of the Bible and means “secret” or “hidden.” We know , however, that Esther’s story is quite the opposite.

Esther was born during a time of Israel’s exile and their disobedience to the Lord.

As a part of Esther’s story, she:

1. She lived in exile.

Esther and a significant number of the Jewish people lived scattered throughout Persia after the Babylonian exile. Although they had been granted freedom to return to their homeland, many of the Jewish people stayed in exile rather than go back to a war-torn Jerusalem.

2. She was an orphan.

According to Scripture, Esther had no parents. She had lost both her mother and father and was raised by her older cousin, Mordecai. (Esther 2:7)

3. She was taken captive.

The Persian King, Xerxes was displeased with his wife and sought her replacement. Naturally, he made a decree in order to gather to himself all suitable virgins in the region.

So when the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. (Esther 2:8)

We read in Scripture that Esther was young and exceptionally beautiful. We can also see that, from the language used here, Esther didn’t have much say in the matters that unfolded. She most likely didn’t submit a résumé or raise her hand excitedly to volunteer for the harem. She was young, she was pretty, and she was taken.

4. She was raped.

This part comes as a shocker to people, even to those who have read the whole Megillah as part of their yearly Purim celebration. But the Scriptures are pretty clear about what happened.

Now, when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women – when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.” (Esther 2:12–14)

The virgins, who were all quite young, were escorted to the king, who is said to have been approximately 40 years old at the time. They were taken one by one, for him to sleep with. They didn’t return to the other virgins, but instead were added to the number of the king’s other concubines (sex slaves without wife status). No other man could ever be their husband, and they never saw the king again unless he was “pleased with them.” In short, the king test-drove all the models before making his purchase, and he did so with Esther to replace his former queen.

5. She risked execution.

When Mordecai learns of Haman’s (the king’s advisor) plot to annihilate all of the Jewish people, Esther is pushed to center stage. Mordecai sends the queen a message, telling her to throw herself before the king and beg for mercy on behalf of her people. This wasn’t as easy as it may have sounded. Esther knew that anyone who approached the king without first being summoned was killed – unless the king was in the mood to extend his scepter and spare their life. What Mordecai was asking her to do could have easily been the last thing she ever did.

But Mordecai said: “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13–14). Hello, Jewish guilt.

Esther, Mordecai, and the Jewish people fasted and prayed. Then, Esther went before the king.

Thankfully, the king held out his scepter. He heard her case and granted her requests.

God used both Mordecai and Esther in a powerful way to deliver the Jewish people from obliteration.

Esther wasn’t a cheerleader. She wasn’t Mordecai’s sidekick. By spending a moment focusing on Esther as an individual and addressing the very real and horrible things this woman of God endured, we are able to more clearly see her character and courage and God’s redemptive love at work in spite of the sins of man.

He chose a woman who had everything taken from her – her parents, her freedom, her virginity – and He gave her everything. He used someone who, due to gender, culture, and circumstance, was powerless and invisible and made her the pivotal, formidable heroine. Let that sink in.

Esther’s story is a powerful reminder that God can bring about new life, redemption and freedom, even when it seems an impossible feat. We can also rest assure that especially in a time in major turmoil over the upcoming 2020 election, God is ultimately sovereign over the heart of King. He knows who will be named President, but rest assured in knowing that God appoints leaders and uses them to accomplish His plan––whether they are Godly leaders or not. 

“Behold, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”

Isaiah 43:19

Let us be more like Esther today. Let us remember that God uses ordinary people in major ways and to not allow difficult circumstances make us bitter. Let us be bold in all aspects of our lives and to go forth to make disciples of many.

Remember that God is working behind the scenes, even when we can’t see it or feel that He is close. He is fighting for His children, always. Lean into the promises of God today. He is fighting for you.


Alex in Asheville

RBG dies at 87

Whether you agreed with her politically or not, credit cannot be denied Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the determination, grit and exceptional work ethic which epitomized her life and career.

On Friday, September 18th, our nation lost a justice of historic stature and a women who undoubtedly paved the path for women across the country.

Architect of the legal fight for women’s rights in the 1970s, Ginsburg served twenty-seven years on the nation’s highest court, becoming its most prominent member and rightly so.

“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

As one of the very few women in her chosen path of education and law, she thrived at Cornell, Harvard and Columbia just after loosing her mother as a teenager. She managed to care for her own family all while supporting her her husband’s bout with cancer and maintaining his and her class load both. Mind blown…

Watching On the Basis of Sex opened my eyes to just how she single-handily catapulted women’s rights and forced for their voices to be heard. She fought to make the justice system and life beyond a level playing field. I would definitely recommend watching this movie if you haven’t already.

RGB made it possible for a woman to have
• the right to sign a mortgage without a man
• the right to have a bank account without a male co-signer • the right to have a job without being discriminated based on gender
• the right to be pregnant and/or have kids while still carrying a job

If you can’t count the number of rights that you have because there are too many to count, you have Justice Ginsburg to thank.

Every woman stands on the shoulders of this tiny, but mighty giant.
For every second of every day, there are not enough thanks in the world to thank Justice Ginsburg and the path you chose to pave for women everywhere.

I have admired her grit and example of perseverance. I pray those close to RBG find comfort in the days and weeks to come as the Lady Justice has now taken her final leave.


#RIP Justice RBG.

MY VISION BOARD + WHY YOU NEED ONE

Manifestation has always been a big part of my life. I have always been a visual person and personally do much better with achieving goals if I see them written out or have them hanging in a highly visible area.

We all know that 2020 has been a whirlwind and full of uncertainty. With that being said, I have often caught myself dreaming about the future and what it holds for my life. Although we are well over halfway through the year, I feel like it is never too late to start working on a new project or envisioning what our next steps are in life.

Why use a vision board?
If you are anything like me, you have goals and dreams that you are wanting to accomplish but aren’t always the best at having a plan in place to do so. Creating a vision board is a great tool because it allows you to conceptualise and visualise what’s rolling around in your head. Personally, creating a vision board was particularly useful because my brain is constantly running in a million differentiate directions and needs reminded of my thoughts.

They make you consider what you really want.
You might think you know what you want until you start creating your board. What you put on your board will make your goals come to life and seem that much more real (It did for me at least). It’s also okay to dream BIG. Allow yourself to create both small and lofty goals. For me, dreaming big has always been scary, but that’s okay. This was a space for me to do so and allow myself to think outside the box.

It helps to expand your creativity.
Creating a vision board can be a creative outlet and allow a space to do so. I have always loved crafting (spending hours in Hobby Lobby or Michaels is a skill of mine), so this was right up my alley. I chose to do a cork board so that I can interchange quotes, pictures and drawings pretty easily. There are so many methods you can choose from, so pick something that suits your style! You can create digitally online or draw something by hand. Your method is totally up to you and how you see fit.

Your board can provide you with daily reminders.
Consistency is key for achieving goals. Have a friend or family member help to hold you accountable by checking in every week. It also helps to know your own strengths and weaknesses in taking the appropriate steps in making your dreams a reality. Push yourself to do more than you ever imagined. Do something to make yourself proud. As you accomplish your goals or “visions,” highlight them and write down the date beside it. Allow yourself to see the hard work you’ve put in and have this also serve as a reminder of when they came to fruition.

For my board, I broke mine down into three categories: personal, spiritual and physical. For each category, I set three to four goals for myself. For example, reading five books (no certain genre) is one bullet on my personal agenda to finish before the end of 2020. Another is to get more involved in the community and to volunteer during my free time. How you categorise your goals are completely up to you.

DISPLAYING YOUR VISION BOARD
Display your vision board in a conspicuous place that will grab your attention throughout the day. The point of having a vision board isn’t to have it somewhere for you to forget about. Take a picture to keep on your phone. Put sticky notes on your bathroom mirror. Set it as your lock screen or put a list in your bible. Allow it to resonate your daily thinking and be thinking of ways to help accomplish those goals.

Above all else, remember that goals take time. Be patient with yourself and remember why you created this board in the first place. More likely than not, things won’t happen overnight. The beauty is in the journey and seeing how far you’ve grown along the way. It’s okay to reflect and see how far you’ve come, but remember to keep your sights set on what’s to come.

XO, ALEX

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