Free Webinar This Weekend: The Christian Women’s Guide to Self-Love

Who here likes free?

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MRP had an awesome conversation this week with therapist Nichola K. Brown (which you can read by clicking-> here). Nichola is also hosting a FREE webinar this Saturday, February 10th, “Loving Me: The Christian Women’s Guide to Self-Love.” Click the link to RSVP and find out more about it!

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MRP Interview: Nichola K. Brown

This year, the Modern Ruth Project will feature occasional interviews with specialists and professionals who are experienced in each month’s topic. This past week, I had the pleasure of talking with therapist, author, and founder of Keilah Restoration Ministries, Nichola K. Brown. Nichola specializes in empowering individuals and deeply desires to help women understand what it means to be loved by God.  

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MRP: In your experience, what are some of the most significant mental challenges faced by women?

Nichola: Statistically, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, the most common mental disorder for adults [overall] is depression and anxiety.  And the church isn’t really equipped to deal with anxiety/depression, which starts in the brain. You can’t really tell people to pray. It needs to be taken more seriously.

MRP: In your opinion, where do insecurity and low self-image stem from?

Nichola: There can be so many factors. It can go all the way back to your family origin, your household, or school. For example, if a teacher didn’t think highly of you or you were bullied or if there was verbal abuse in the home. It varies from person to person and could be triggered by anything.

A woman goes through about 7,000 to 9,000 thoughts per day. So let’s say, you make a mistake. [Now] you have a whole story you created from that action. Whatever an external encounter was, we [mentally] create a narrative and elaborate story that’s not even true.

MRP: Can a negative view of oneself be easily overcome?

Nichola: Anything is possible through Christ. We are so resilient and God made us in such an amazing way. As easily as we learn, we can unlearn.  But it will take energy, effort, and intentionality. It’s not impossible but not easy.

MRP: How can women start to improve their self-image?

Nichola: You can listen to sermons. Put words of affirmation on your mirrors. Flood your minds with words that counter those negative thoughts. Focus on and memorize affirmation Scriptures.

Usually, people come to therapy when they’re in crisis. [But] I’m a huge advocate of everyone going to therapy once a year, just like a physical exam.

Proverbs 20:5 says “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” Connect with someone who can really help you. You aren’t alone in this feeling. There are a community of people struggling with the same thing and there are counselors who are willing to work with you.

MRP: What’s one thing you’d say to a woman who is struggling with crippling self-esteem?

Nichola: I’d say “God loves you as you are.” He is not less pleased [with us] when we are in a place of brokenness for He sees us in such a different way. Sometimes, we push God away because we think we need to be in a healthier place. But that doesn’t make Him love us any less. God is still present in the despair.

The decisions I made were so different once I really understood that love is not based on perfection. And once you receive His love, you’ll understand why identity is so important in our faith. It’s the core foundation of everything you’ll build on.


MRP thanks Nichola for sharing her wisdom with us! Nichola is also hosting a FREE webinar this Saturday, February 10th, “Loving Me: The Christian Women’s Guide to Self-Love.” Learn more about Nichola and her ministry at https://www.keilahrestoration.com. Also, check out her book, Sabbath Season: A Call to Rest on Amazon.

If you’re interested in seeking therapy, please visit https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists, http://www.christiancounselordirectory.com/FindATherapist, or https://www.therapyforblackgirls.com/ for a therapist near you.

MRP 2018 Focus: Identity Crisis

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Happy New Year!

If you’re like me, a resident of the Eastern coast of the United States, this is a frigid Friday and you’ve curled up with either A) soft and fuzzy warm blankets or B) mugs of varied hot beverages or C) all of the above.

But for all of us, it’s also the first Friday of 2018. Two thousand and eighteen. I know it takes a few recitations for the foreign accent of a new year to melt into normalcy. But 2018 just looks and sounds futuristic to me.

So with that in mind, I’d like to ask you a question.

Who were you on the first Friday of 2000?

Yep, 2000, eighteen years ago. That period of time when Y2K was the biggest of deals, theories and questions about the new millennium ran amok, and a time when most of us were wee bitty teenagers.

Who were you then? What was your life like? What did you want and who did you want to be? What did you expect your life to be like in your 30s, like say, in 2018?

Do you remember?

I’ll go first.

The first Friday of 2000, I was a painfully insecure high school sophomore who loved writing stories and poems. I spoke softly, not to appease those who heard but to avoid their rejection as much as I could. My life was domestically peaceful. My parents loved me and provided a great and wonderful foundation. Yet internally, I consistently felt like I wasn’t enough. What I wanted was to be enough and to feel enough. I wanted to be pursued and loved. So my mind would eagerly throb with daydreams of Thirty-Something Jen. Thirty-Something Jen would have been happily married for 10 years to a handsome and adoring husband. Thirty-Something Jen would be a witty conversational butterfly. Thirty-Something Jen would eat confidence for breakfast and wrap power around her wrists like the wonder woman she’d be.

Now let’s fast forward to today. Who are you now? What is your life like? Based on your expectations in 2000, are you comfortable with where you are now?

I can go first again.

I’ve changed some and changed none. Through Christ, I realize how loved and valued I really am. But I still struggle with confidence. I am not a conversational butterfly and I married my handsome adoring husband only 2 years ago. On this first Friday of 2018, I am a 33-year-old who still speaks softly at times because the security I expected at this point never fully arrived.

How about you? Are you where you thought you’d be?  It’s OK if you aren’t. And the truth is not many of us are.

Life after the age of 30 is presumed to be when women are more confident, more secure and more phlegmatic about themselves and their state of being. But that’s a mistaken belief, one that a lot of us have swallowed whole.

What happens when you thought you’d be a wife and mother by 30, and you’re single at 42? What happens when you thought you’d be an award-winning journalist by 29 and you’re a data entry clerk at 35? When our hopes and aspirations don’t match the reality of our circumstances and we can’t figure out how to join them together, an identity crisis is formed. Our sense of ourselves leaves solid ground and we can drift into uncertainty and resignation.

In 2018, the Modern Ruth Project will focus on the tension of discovering who you are in Christ, who He made you to be in this world, and how to get to and enjoy where you want to be. Throughout the year, we will be posting stories about career growth and transformation, spiritual endurance, marriage/dating experiences and counsel, and maintaining a healthy mindset about who and how the Lord made you.

I can’t wait to go on this year’s journey with you!

 

Strength in Scripture

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In the past 3 months, I have undergone too many life transitions to even list here. Certain situations in life felt hopeless.  I was unsure if they would ever change; there seemed to be no change to the patterns.

In the midst of my uncertainties and mind battles, the Lord is planting certain Scriptures on my heart. These Scriptures are giving me strength to press on. When I felt hopeless and as if those aspects of my life wouldn’t change, Psalm 118:17 sprang into my heart: “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.”

I began to recite the verse to myself often, especially when the difficulties reared their head. No matter how difficult life seemed, I will live through it. Even greater, I will live to testify to God’s great works! Someday, I will be able to tell how God’s mighty hand turned my circumstances around.

This is just one example of God’s Word being strength to me. There are other verses that have been given to me during other difficult situations. God’s Word is “alive and active.” (Hebrews 4:12)  The Word is becoming nourishment for my mind and heart in each circumstance of my life.

I am coming to a greater appreciation of Scripture, especially for life’s difficult situations. If we are rooted in Scripture, we can dig deep and find power in God’s Word when trials come.  It is working for our good and can provide whatever we need. But like any superfood, it can’t take effect unless we have taken it into our body!

At all times, we need to make Scripture reading a priority. In the times when life is great and we believe we’re super successful…To God be the glory! Praise and thank Him, and make sure you’re reading His love letters to you. When difficulties inevitably come, you’ll be able to dig deep into those times of reading Scripture. By God’s grace, you will have a store of spiritual “vitamin C” to keep you strong. Your remembrance and continued reading of Scripture will sustain you.

It’s easy to put off reading the Bible, or to only listen to it at church once a week. But it is strength to our lives. It is a big aspect of what roots us in the Lord. We keep our focus on Christ when we are reading the Word, in both good and bad times. When troubles come, we will find great strength in being rooted. The Word teaches us God’s goodness and faithfulness to us. Make learning and loving Scripture a priority. You won’t regret it.

What passage or verse has helped you in a time of difficulty?

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lianna-headshot Lianna

Hello! My name is Lianna. I am 28 years old and live in Cleveland, Ohio.  I am a Master’s student studying to become a counselor.  My favorite things are traveling, learning other languages, singing, and journeying with others. I blog and hope to inspire others at sunflowersojourn.wordpress.com.

Cookie Cutter Faith

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As a child, I remember marveling at the explanation for the term, “one size fits all.” A sweatshirt that can fit anyone of any size? What sort of enchanted fabric is this and where can I get it?

Of course, when I matured, I realized that the term is terribly specious. It can indeed fit all but it may be very baggy on one person or too tight on another. 100% perfect fits are the aberration, not the norm.

I was reminded of this during a Bible study session recently. During one particular section, my pastor imparted that there is no unanimous method for spiritual growth. Author Gary Thomas says it this way: “[There are] four elements essential to worship: adoration, communication with God, Scripture reading and service….But here’s the key: How we pray, how we worship and how we study God’s Word will differ.”

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. God did not use cookie cutters to create us.  We were created using a medley of varying gifts, desires, personalities, and idiosyncrasies.  And we were all made to fulfill a different purpose for Him.  So if no one person is exactly the same, why would we relate to God and Him to us in the exact same way?

The diversity of worship and relationships with God is present throughout Scripture. David wrote psalm after psalm filled with praise and exaltation for the Lord. Martha provided care and served the Lord. Elijah routinely and vocally opposed all work against the Lord and His purpose.  And though He loved them both, in John 20, Jesus deals with Mary and Thomas’s contact with Him in different ways.  In verses 16-17, Mary’s motion toward Him was gently denied. According to commentaries, Mary’s joy would have caused her to cling too long. She needed to understand that Jesus was not ascending immediately.  In verses 24-27, Thomas was urged to touch the scars in His flesh. Thomas’s doubt needed to be irrevocably destroyed. He needed to see and feel proof that Jesus is alive. Different people with different relationships with the same God.

When you take time to pray and study the word of God​ ​this week, I encourage​ you​ to also take this spiritual temperament quiz.  Discover in what ways you relate to God and how it can help pave your path to spiritual maturity.

Which spiritual temperament are you? How do you see it influencing your relationship with God and how you worship Him?

Managing Conflict Through WhatsApp?

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Recently I had to visit the U.S. Embassy here in Kuala Lumpur and scheduled an early 7.30AM Wednesday morning interview as part of my U.S. Visa application. As such, I had to arrive very early at about 6.30AM to park my car at the office precinct where the office building is to catch an Uber to the Embassy.

Prior to all these practical arrangements i.e. a day before my interview, I texted someone from the workplace (let’s call her Jane) who has the parking attendant’s contact number in order that I may arrange to pass my car key to a trusted colleague to re-park my car into the office building as the entrance to the car park only opens at 7AM.

So the day came, I still have not received a reply. Fortunately, I met one of the many security guards of the building whom I am familiar with, and knew I could trust that he would pass my car keys to the intended person.

The whole day went by; I still have not received any response from Jane. While I know that Jane is of a senior citizen age, she was probably busy and maybe outstation, I decided to wait for a response. I still wanted the parking attendant’s contact in view of any necessary arrangements in future. Long story short, in the evening I saw that my text was read (thank you WhatsApp), but there was no response. I then politely replied by asking Jane if she was busy as I also saw that she posted some WhatsApp messages in another chat group.

Well, being the lawyer that I am – and a bit of a risk taker, I proceeded to let her know in a nice way that it was not encouraging (my precise word) to have read my text and not give a reply. Behold, Jane’s response was rather disappointing. She did say that it was not easy to have wifi access (fine) but (surprise, surprise!) managed to response with limited wifi access reprimanding me that I lacked respect, furthermore that I only respect people in ‘higher authority’. Whoa!

Taking a step back in this whole scenario, I reminded myself of a few things.

#1 To first address the ‘plank’ in my eyes: although I took the route of addressing the fact that Jane did not reply my text. I reminded myself to not do the same to others to give the benefit of doubt just in case the individual genuinely sought help or information. To have some self-reflection to avoid being bitter and judgmental. Instead prayerfully to allow God through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit or through scriptures to give insights on my own heart (basically to search my heart).

#2 To give grace and envision what kind of ‘older woman’ that I want to be: no matter how old or young we are, it is always an emotionally healthy practice to get rid to the superiority or entitlement attitude. Moreover if we are in the community of Christ – Jane is someone who attends our office Christian Fellowship, thus I thought I could rely on her to assist not only in providing information – if not, to have at least the courtesy to leave a short reply.

#3 To build and not tear down: instead of actually providing the parking attendant’s contact, Jane’s reply was an accusatory sweeping statement, not encouraging at all, which I vehemently reject. The focus was not to assist but to reprimand, which I thought was such a waste of time.

#4 People are weird (and yeah, you may think that I am too): but this does not justify for us to be discourteous, especially to people that we meet on a consistent basis (as a matter of fact to everyone).

Reflecting on this particular scenario got me thinking about how we are to carry ourselves.

  • Do we put others first in our thoughts, words and deeds?
  • Instead of waiving your index finger at others, why not take the approach of leading by example?
  • Instead of demanding respect, why not consider that others want to be respected too – that it goes both ways?

In conclusion, I hold these verses close to my heart. Philippians 2: 3-4 (NIV)Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

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timmie-liew Timmie

Hello, my name is Timmie and I’m from Malaysia. I am a lawyer by profession. I am a charismatic, passionate person and enjoy beautiful things in life such as travelling to different cities to appreciate the culture. I love fashion and appreciate ‘coffee time’ with people to talk about life and build meaningful relationships. I’m passionate about the things of God, the Church and authentic leadership. My deepest desire is to embrace all that God has called me to be and be a blessing to whoever that God has placed in my life past, present and future. Our God is a GREAT God, and the best is yet to come !🙂

The Absurd Stages of Anger

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So ladies. It’s time we had a talk. Just a little, tiny talk about our anger. Or maybe it’s just a talk about my anger. Who knows. Either way, follow along.

You know those times when you’re super mad at your man-friend? When you’re absolutely boiling hot over the way they’ve hurt you or done you wrong. Whether big or small. Life changing or petty. You will have some sort of reaction.

Well. I know myself. And my self reacts in what I’ll call The Absurd Stages of Anger.

First, comes The Calm. It is capitalized like a cheesy book title because it’s about as dramatic and silly as straight-to-DVD movie. I get all worked up on the inside about something (in)significant – a quiet despite the internal storm. You might even call it the silent treatment. It is the appearance of thinly veiled peace with a hint of sarcasm and shade.

It is Stupid. With a capital S. Because most men you’re getting to know through dating have no idea you’re even mad in the first place. Which serves to make us madder. And then leads to the next stage.

The Verbose Volcano. Basically this means that after I’ve stewed over the (in)significant event for a considerable time, I spew all the words and anger and feelings and thoughts that I’ve had about them dating back to 1989. A time before I even knew the man in question.

I tell them how I hated that one time they didn’t open the door for me on December 12, 2016. And of course the time they cut off all of Holiday Barbie’s hair when we were in the 2nd grade. That’s a collector’s item for goodness sake!

Wait. That wasn’t even him.

It doesn’t matter. In The Absurd Stages of Anger, he is still at fault for all bad things that come to mind.

And this, ladies, is where the stages culminate. In confusion. With no solution. You’re still mad. He still hasn’t figured out why. And he’s also possibly questioning your sanity.

You’ve all seen The Absurd Stages of Anger. You may have been victims of it. You’ve all done it. And if you claim you haven’t done it, you’re probably lying. Because we all know it’s easier to harbor conflict within ourselves than it is to deal with it head on, in the moment.

In-the-moment conflict management is hard work and effort that I just don’t want to put forth as an adult. I have enough things to manage in my daily life. I’d rather not add conflict to my list of things to manage at all if you know what I mean.

That would require doing things that most humans don’t like very much. You know. Really hard things like letting go of our pride, admitting our wrongs, walking in gentleness and meekness, and relying on the Holy Spirit to tame our tongues.

And this makes conflict management even harder because we’re so used to relying on ourselves, on how society tells us to manage conflict.

We’ve been told our egos are what have protected us, our faults are the equivalent of weakness, strength means death to meekness, and winning the argument is all that matters.

But doesn’t God tell us that He is our protector and our shield? That His strength is made perfect in our weakness? That the fruits of the spirit are gentleness and self control? That He is in literal, spiritual, and physical opposition to the proud? That He will fight our battles for us and we only need to be still?

And what a relief that is. What freedom there is in knowing that a terrible quarreler like me doesn’t have to quarrel at all. That if He’s on my side, I can face conflict head on or even choose to let insignificant things go in love.

Because some things just don’t matter as much when your ego has left the building. What’s left to bruise or offend? And the things that do matter can be handled with grace and vulnerability to show the other that even if they’re wrong for cutting off all of Holiday Barbie’s hair, you still care about them. And vengeance is the Lord’s.

Just kidding. Don’t actually say that.

Can you recall a time you gave someone you were dating the silent treatment? What was the result?

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roz Roz

Hey there!  My name is Roz.  I’m a full time working, single, homeschooling mother to the world’s funniest 5 year old on the planet.  I’m an introvert who is obsessed with bacon.  I like to play music extremely loudly in my car and will keep singing at full voice even when you turn to stare.  I also blog occasionally over at beautyfullyflawed.com where I write words about Jesus, homeschooling, and the beauty of imperfections.  I look forward to sharing my imperfections with you, as well.