Sunflower and Sunshine Celebrate One Year Today!

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Today marks one year that we took one of our biggest risks and responded to God’s call for us to display a relationship, a sisterhood, and a friendship that surpassed the world’s norms.  Was it safe or comfortable? No! We knew the criticism and backlash we’d probably receive, but we also knew God’s voice was bigger. Although we are just two ordinary sisters, God wanted to reveal an extraordinary plan through us – not because we were anything special, but because we would simply say yes! Yes to Him and yes to each other!

In the past year, we have grown and been stretched in ways we never expected. We have seen the Word of God illuminate like never before and witnessed well known verses literally come to life! This journey of our friendship hasn’t always been easy. People on the outside may look and think we just have it all, and while we feel we do, it came with a cost. The only difference between the world and us is that the cost has always been worth it to us. The more we have fought for our friendship, the more valuable and deep it expands.

My sister and I place a high value on our Covenant. We nurture, protect and guard it. We make time for each other and put in the work any committed relationship entails. And through trials and valleys, we have only grown stronger, wiser and able to reflect what God has asked us to.

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Sissy and I share every holiday, birthday and in between time with each other. We enjoy double date nights with our husbands and family time with our families, and of course, our sister days! From Anjelah Johnson comedy shows to Jazz festivals in the summer, Disneyland trips and Worship Conferences, even Dr.’s appointments. We definitely remain in awe at what God has blessed us with and cherish each moment.  

Not too long ago, Sissy and I caught a story on the morning news about two Christian guys who share a very similar covenant friendship. Both married men have children of their own, but share a friendship bond unlike any other. Justin, who suffers with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy is confined to a wheelchair and paralyzed throughout most of his body. His best friend, Patrick, who they were born in the same hospital just hours apart committed to pushing Justin over 500 miles through the El Camino de Santiago in Spain. Their story inspired us and we even got to go see their documentary, which was beautiful to say the least.

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This year, we have attended several conferences, including Evangelist Cheryl Salem’s “We Who Worship” and her newest Women’s Conference “Rise!” We have been blessed to be a part of her Women of the Nation Organization and glean from her wisdom and prophesy. We also attended “Hearts Ablaze” at our home church that was life changing. My sister and I are committed to our home Church, but have visited other churches just to experience the love of God, His hands and arms in action with other worshippers. We never take a moment for granted and seem to experience a new depth and height with each passing day. Most recently, we were asked to join the HSBN-TV Christian Network and host our own Show, “Heart to Heart.” This was something we never saw coming, never thought we’d be doing, but we also never thought we’d have a blog or be doing all of the amazing things we are now, too! And all this in just 1 year! We are thrilled to greet each new sunrise with the anticipation of another day in our journey and the paths before us, knowing that this next year will take us even further! We thank you for being a part of our story and pray for relationships to be renewed, healed and restored in your lives.

What my sister, Vanessa has taught me in one year: Me_kiss

She has taught me the value of time, that no matter how insignificant I may feel I am, I am worth her time. My sister has taught me that I can be me, be free, even in my untouched chaos because no matter how ugly, insecure and fearful I can be, she still loves me deep. I learned from my sister that perfect love isn’t without faults, but encompasses a grace and committed loyalty that surpasses our shortcomings, and thus thrives in a vast ocean unexplored and beautiful. I learned from my sister that I don’t have to do, just be. I don’t have to impress or entertain, just breathe. I learned from my sister who God created me to be just by looking in her eyes. I learned how to skip rocks at the beach and I learned that I actually won’t die of boredom shopping. I learned that silence can be filled with more emotion than words. But most of all, I learned that it’s ok to let your guard down and risk everything for that one friend who will stick closer than a sister, because at the end of the day, she is your mirror image reflecting every possibility and dream you never thought was yours!

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What my sister Michelle has taught me in one year:

There is so much she has taught me. I don’t even know where to begin. From the beginning, she has taught me that I was worthy to be fought for. Friendship is costly! She taught me what fierce devotion looks like. When I didn’t believe or thought I was capable of writing, she taught me that I was. My sister has taught me that it’s the little things that matter most; letters, notes, phone calls. I have learned that it’s about quality not quantity. She has taught me that I have a voice and to not be afraid to use it. I’ve learned that I don’t always have to be strong, to admit when I can’t and lean on her. We weren’t meant to do life alone. She has taught me what vulnerability looks like and how to express my feelings, and not discredit them. I’ve learned that Disneyland isn’t that bad after all! My sister has taught me to be bold and not fear others opinions. There will always be those who judge. The most important thing to me is to take risks. No risk, no reward and she has been the reward worth the risk!!!

What friendship is this committed, this loyal, this protective? Hell or high water, thick or thin, good or bad, we protect, cover and defend each other with an incomparable fierceness.  We have never experienced a friendship like this, but see that this is what God intended relationships to be. We are excited for where our story is going. Each chapter brings a new enthusiasm and joy! This is our story and it’s the grandest of loves! Here’s to another year of laughter, tears, joy and covenant!

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Image Bearers

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“Don’t be concerned with your outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious to God.”

1 Peter 3:3-4

This verse lends itself to women. We know that because it speaks of fancy hairstyles, jewelry and clothes, the essence of what we assume women to be. But what is beauty? Is it not these things? According to the verse above, beauty is inward. It’s the position of our heart and soul. Beauty is a soul that is “gentle and quiet,” or a soul that is at peace, not striving. Quiet doesn’t mean a woman has no voice, but rather that she exercises restrain on when to use it. She knows who she is and WHOSE she is! She is confident and comfortable in her skin. Beauty flows from the inside out and exudes the Glory of God. I’m sure we can all say we know or have met a woman like this. Her presence draws you in; you want to be around her. Unfortunately, these types of woman are few and far between. I imagine Eve before the fall, radiating in all her beauty, stripped down, completely bare physically, spiritually and emotionally! That leads me to a thought. Beauty is not a putting “on”, but rather a taking “off “. It’s not the putting on of make-up, clothing, or jewelry that make us beautiful, but baring our true self, being vulnerable. Don’t get me wrong! There is nothing wrong with makeup and wanting to look good. We enjoy that as women! But somehow along the way, we as a society have put so much emphasis on our outer appearance, that it is beginning to strip our souls of who we were truly created to be, and it’s affecting our daughters and the generations to come that are looking to the media and the world to define who they are suppose to be.

We struggle with our self-worth. We ask ourselves “Am I beautiful?” The world has devalued beauty, sexualized and perverted it. We have traded what God created beauty to be for some counterfeit illusion handed down to us from the world. If everything in the natural realm speaks of the spiritual realm, then look at nature. Nature is Beautiful! I for one, love sunsets. To me they are breathtakingly beautiful. What about snow covered mountains in winter or fresh blooming flowers at the onset of spring? God put all of that here for us to enjoy, to take in and breathe the beauty all around. Nature just is! It functions as it was created. We as woman bear the feminine heart of God. Woman is beauty, yet we are striving to bear an image of a beauty we have allowed the world to define; a perfect figure, the right clothing, make up, etc. But if we can just BE, not striving, but truly be at peace, then we can be breathed in like nature. We as woman would draw others to the God in us. We would be pleasant, enjoyable and desirable to be around.

Now what does this have to do with Covenant Friendship? Let me get personal and vulnerable with you . I, Vanessa, struggle from time to time with my skin. I have always disliked my skin. A few years ago, I started to develop hyper pigmentation, dark spots on my skin. I became insecure and felt the need to always wear make-up, and most times did not want to show my face. I opened up to my sister about my struggle and she immediately took it on as her own. She began to write out scriptures for me and told me to speak them over myself and she spoke them with me, as well. One of the scriptures is from Song of Solomon 4:7, “You are all together beautiful, my darling, there is no flaw in you.” The crazy thing is, God put that scripture on both of our hearts earlier this year. We would recite this scripture to each other almost daily, as if we knew He had a bigger reason because let’s face it, He usually does! It’s truly amazing how God began taking us first through helping each other with inward struggles, then to the outward. We felt God telling us to remind each other how beautiful we were. It is still hard for us to accept for ourselves, although we both truly know how beautiful the other is. So, we began reminding and confessing to the other how beautiful and stunning our sister is. Little did we know what God was doing through us for the other. This is why we need each other! This is what Covenant Friendship does – it goes above and beyond casual friendship. Covenant is loyal and committed in the big and little. Covenant covers, protects and it carries the burdens of our sister.

My sister chose to do what most wouldn’t. She decided to not wear make up until I was comfortable without wearing any, no matter how long it took! She didn’t just pray for me, give me scriptures and send me on my way. She got in this with me. I have never had anyone do for me what she has done and continues to do. It has been about a month since she decided to do this, and everyday it becomes easier for me. It took me a few weeks for me to finally go without make up in front of her. I still struggled. I could still see the flaws and blemishes, but she continues to remind me that she doesn’t see what I do. One particular day that I decided not to wear make-up, I got up to use the restroom and as I washed my hands, I looked up and the first thing I noticed were the flaws. I came out of the restroom and my sister could tell something was wrong. I opened up and told her I was struggling. Time and time again she speaks the truth to me in love, encourages me and gets me right back to how I should see myself. Today, I can say that I am definitely becoming more and more comfortable with my skin. I remind myself that my outward appearance doesn’t define my beauty, but that my inward reflects on the outside, however I AM beautiful on the outside and that’s how our Father wants us to feel!!

We began with the question, what is beauty? When beauty flows from the inside, it reflects on the outside. We often reverse that and rely on looking beautiful on the outside first and forget to nurture the inward root. Beauty is not merely outward appearances, but a confidence and sureness of oneself that protrudes radiance, joy, peace, love and invitation. When you have covenant, you are covered and loved enough to face your fears and know you are not in them alone. I hope and pray that by my being vulnerable, it will encourage anyone who struggles with this problem to step back and look at what our Father says about us. Remember, “You are all together beautiful, my darling, there is no flaw in you.”

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Helpful Scriptures:

Genesis 12:11 – “As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to (INSERT YOUR NAME), “I know what a beautiful woman you are.”

Genesis 24:16 – “The women, (INSERT YOUR NAME) was very beautiful.”

Esther 1:11 – “In order to display (ONSERT YOUR NAME) beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at.”

Job 42:15 – “Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as (INSERT YOUR NAME)”

Psalm 45:11 – “Let the King be enthralled by your beauty, (INSERT YOUR NAME), honor him, for He is your lord.”

Psalm 50:2 – “From Zion, (INSERT YOUR NAME), is perfect in beauty, God shines forth.”

 Song of Solomon 1:8 – “If you do not know, O most beautiful (INSERT YOUR NAME)

Song of Solomon 1:15 – “How beautiful you are my darling (INSERT YOUR NAME), Oh how beautiful! Your eyes are like doves”

Song of Solomon 2:10 – “Arise my darling, my beautiful (INSERT YOUR NAME) and come with me.”

 Song of Solomon 4:1 – “How beautiful you are my darling (INSERT YOUR NAME), Oh how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves”

Song of Solomon 5:9 – “How is your beloved better than others, most beautiful (INSERT YOUR NAME)”

Song of Solomon 6:4 – “You are beautiful my darling, as (INSERT YOUR NAME), lovely as Jerusalem. Majestic as troops with banners, turn your eyes from me. They overwhelm me.”

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A New Season…

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It’s been a while since we posted. With the kiddos home over Summer, the conferences Sissy and I have been attending and the exciting new opportunities we are working on, we took a little break from our blog to refresh, BUT WE ARE BACK and stronger than ever!

It may look on the outside that we are just always out having fun, and while we do a lot of that, there is so much more to who we are! Our commitment as sisters is something we live together daily; from grocery shopping and doing errands together, to lounging at home watching movies or just doing absolutely nothing! We do it all together. Our friendship is far from casual! It’s a DAILY pursuit of fierce passion, intimacy and vulnerability! It’s loyal through trials! You didn’t think you could have that in friendship? Did you know Jesus refers to US as friends? How much more passionate does it get!

Over the summer, we attended a few Worship Conferences with our Spiritual Mama and Mentor, Cheryl Salem and we have been very blessed to sit under her feet in her home and glean from all she is teaching us on leading in this generation and all God is calling us to. From there, the Lord is opening doors of opportunities for us we never in a million years thought we’d be embarking on as two ordinary sisters from the Inland Empire, but here we are running hand in hand through life’s greatest adventures.

We also had an exciting summer enjoying each other deeper and our family as it grows and matures with us! Covenant was never something we put on the back burner, but something we committed to nurture each and every day of our lives and has been the best decision we made. To have someone who knows you better than you know yourself, that can understand your joy or pain before you ever open your mouth, fiercely protect and defend you beyond comprehension – it’s something no dream or money could ever buy. What Sissy and I have learned these past couple months about our friendship, covenant and the plan we believe God has for this generation is becoming clearer to us. What we want to do this next season with this blog and our social media sites is to be more transparent with our everyday life, to truly display what dedicated covenant looks like and the many ways God uses us together to change the world around us. We hope you will stick around as we embark on a new season and please let us know your stories, thoughts and suggestions!

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Look out for new blogs this season as we share new topics and go even deeper! And stay tuned for an exciting announcement coming soon!!!

 

And I Call her Mine…

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Although our blogs usually discuss Biblical topics and Christian op-ed., this is also our forum to just talk, to just be open, raw and simply us! We also like to share our lives together and sometimes it’s not always a general topic, but just how we feel about the summer heat or the star-lit sky, something fun we just did together, or in this case sharing on a personal, raw level what my Sister Vanessa, my Best Friend’s covenant means to me today.

By the way, this is Michelle, one half of Sunflower and Sunshine! It is with tears I can barely contain, that I wake up and realize just what God has given to me in my Sissy. I would not be who I am or where I am right now without her. We go through life thinking we know what a best friend is, but this girl challenged EVERY ideology and “normalcy” I ever thought friendship to be! She stood in the gap for me, forsaking her own truths to adopt mine, sacrificing her own ways to choose me. Her love has been nothing but fierce, intimate, passionate and relentless as she pursues me like the Father and the paths God has asked me to take. We take them together. Never have I seen someone more committed, loyal and devoted. I don’t deserve her, but she has taught me that there IS a friend that sticks closer than a sister because she is more than my best friend, more than my sister. Although we read that we are to love like He loves and lay our lives down for our friends, how often do we see that displayed so relentlessly? Well I see it every day. My sister is selfless, modest, humble, graceful, merciful, sacrificial- I could go on. She tirelessly does everything for me, yet asks for nothing in return. She IS the hands, feet and heart of Jesus to me and although some think we’re “different,” although we’re often judged and most have never seen a relationship like ours, we boldly walk hand in hand with this once-in-a-lifetime bond we have-unafraid, unashamed, unyielding, unshakable, unbreakable. I’d do anything in the world for her and she has done everything in the world for me! We’re there for each other in a way most will never understand.

Vanessa2We share clothes, shoes, secrets, laughs, tears, joys, ups and downs. We finish each other’s sentences and know each other’s thoughts. We’re inseparable and we live a bond unlike anything we have ever experienced. My sister doesn’t run away from my scars or even the things I do that hurt her-she loves me deeper. I’d be incomplete without her.

I call her my Twin, my Sister, my Best Friend- the list goes on, but my favorite thing to call her is mine and I love her with my whole heart!

Be Fruitful and Multiply; Generational Covenant

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“And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…” From Genesis 1:28, we see that God has mandated Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. The Hebrew word for fruitful is to blossom and increase, while the Hebrew meaning for multiply is to increase and become many. God is adamant about growth and expansion and this verse tells of that longing in the repitition of that sentence. From the first two people God ever created, came a world full of people. Did God just want Adam and Eve to have more kids? Was that a mandate for all of God’s children? As we grow closer to God and become more in tune with His heart and His Word, we see that scripture is multi-faceted. There are levels and depths we find each time we read, like more pieces to the puzzle awaiting us the deeper we dive in.

As my sister and I sit here on a beautiful day outside at the park with our family, I can’t help but think how we got here. You see, we started out as two people, two ordinary girls who were in love with our Father and knew there was more for us, two ordinary girls who were best friends, sisters, but knew we were so much more. We knew we were called for something big, but how far were we willing to sacrifice, risk, lay it all down? Without hesitation we did, for Him and for each other, and the rewards have been too many to count. Our family over time became our “tribe,” as we call them. We aren’t just two girls anymore. We are two sisters, a part of the same family, having made vows to each other long ago that “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.  Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16). Our vows weren’t just superficial and we don’t know many, if any other friendships that live as radically as we do, but there’s no other way for us. We see blessings that only came with our covenant. The vows we made to each other extend and flow into our families, our children. We love each other’s children as our own and our vows include taking care of each other’s families if heaven forbid, anything ever happened to us. We are there to celebrate birthdays, holidays, family movie nights and barbecues, Summer’s Winter’s, Springs and Falls for as long as we are here. Sissy and I are the first generation to pass covenant down to our children. We believe this is the best thing we can give them-committed, loyal family and the bond we share with each other for them and their generations. We are not just two families anymore, we are one.

1 Samuel 20:41: Jonathan told David, “Go in safety, inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my descendants and yours forever.’” We look up now and we have produced fruit, multiplied. Only with the Covenant vows we made was that possible. Now as a tribe, we have protection, covering, more power and freedom to go out and fight the principalities of evil with our backs being covered and our children and their children blessed and covered, as well.

 

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Jonathan died, but David’s friendship lingered. In II Samuel 9:1 we see that David did a favor for Jonathan’s son in honor of Jonathan and his life. He brought Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, to the king’s palace (though the son was crippled) to live as one of his own sons in honor of Jonathan.

Face to Face…

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Face to face…Hand in hand…Heart to heart…Soul to Soul…My sister and I tell each other this every single day- they aren’t just words, but a gift our Father gave specifically to us on how we walk through trials, storms, fire and even joy.

FACE to FACE

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In today’s generation, face to face gatherings almost never happen. With technology so advanced, we don’t hand write letters anymore (although my sister and I still do that, too), we don’t talk on the phone and we rarely get together face to face with people. Technology has been of great benefit, but also debilitating. It’s so easy to be so very “social,” while being a complete hermit at the same time. We honestly feel like we truly know those around us because we see their posts and comment back and forth. Technology has slowly caused humanity to be disengaged, disconnected. We’ve exchanged deep meaningful relationships for convenient relationships. Our relationship with God requires face to face. No, God may not physically be here, but we still need that face to face, alone time in His presence and it lifts our spirits. The same goes here with those closest to us. We can’t keep our relationship with God on track without constant face to face. We couldn’t keep our marriages going without constant face to face, so why are friendships any different? Where’s the care and concern anymore for face to face communication? Without the face to face, we are losing so much in relationships. Technology is robbing us of intimacy!

HEART TO HEART

Who do you call in your time of need? When you need to talk to someone, whether to share exciting news or need a shoulder to cry on – is there someone there you can pick up the phone and call without a doubt or do you have to scroll social media to see who’s available? My sister and I have a relationship very different than most. We talk every day on the phone to hear each other’s voices. Yes we text and keep communication open that way, but without hearing her voice, how do I truly know how she’s feeling? How do I truly sense what’ going on in her heart? We are very fortunate to be able to see each other quite a bit and we definitely take advantage of that. We can sit and just talk about any and everything, no TV, no radio or outside influences distracting us. When you have that face to face with someone, the heart to heart connection almost comes simultaneously.

HAND IN HAND

We often sit and talk about why our friendship is so different from others we have seen, and while there are several things we have learned and do differently, hand in hand is another vital component we live by. We are hand in hand physically, but also spiritually. In life, we all need that friend to be hand in hand with. Through life, who’s hand do you have to hold when afraid, in sorrow, in moments of joy? My sister and I, when in each other’s presence, often just put our hand on the other. When we pray, we always hold each other’s hand. When we are in moments of disagreements and fights, we grab each other’s hand. There is a powerful connection being hand in hand. When we are out with our husbands we are hand in hand. It doesn’t feel right walking beside them without being hand in hand with them. I often will grab my children’s hand when walking. When I do, there is an immediate connection. Boy, do we underestimate what human touch can do! Godly friendship inhabits the same intimate connection.

SOUL TO SOUL

This leads me to mention that while we may have other friends, there is always ONE that sticks closer than a brother. For my sister and I, we only go to each other. We have learned that it is much harder to maintain several “friends,” and we decided that what worked for us was only allowing each other in on this level. In order to have deep meaningful relationships, it takes time and effort and that isn’t something you can do with multiple people. As we stated in a previous blog on Covenant, you cannot maintain several relationships in covenant. It’s impossible to be fully dedicated to multiple friendships to that level. Former Miss America and Evangelist Cheryl Salem mentions that “We are the temple of the Holy Ghost and we are made up like the temple, outer court, inner court, doorway into the holy of holies and then the ultimate where covenant is made, Holy Of Holies. Not everyone can be in our holy of holies. Only a few have this kind of ability and trustworthiness to be allowed this deep in our hearts and lives. It’s up to us to keep the unholy out of our holy lives.” We live by this. There is freedom and liberation in covenant friendship. Knowing there is ONE who always has your back no matter what time of day or night, that they aren’t distracted with anyone else is completely freeing. I believe we as women all need that… But it starts with the face to face…

We understand that while the standards my sister and I set for our friendship may not be what others desire, we have learned through hardship that this was the only way for us. Nonetheless, we do believe complete intimacy and freedom comes with just having that ONE Best Friend/Sister. It’s risky, it’s judged and may even seem odd. But we have never felt more free and covered, protected.

“And he called the twelve and began to send them out TWO BY TWO, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits,” Mark 6:7.

Over the Rainbow; Conflict Resolution

Where do you go when you and your best friend get into an argument, not just a disagreement of opinions, but a complete clash of personalities? What about you and your spouse? Do you go to another friend with it? Vent your feelings and frustrations out to them to make you feel better? I did that for years…but it will start to make you think the grass is greener on the other side if you’re not careful.

No one enjoys conflict, but it is inevitable. We will face conflict everywhere – in the workplace, school, church, marriage, friendship, etc. Conflict is anywhere two or more people are in contact. However, we have not been taught how to resolve conflict, therefore witness an unprecedented number of relationships being broken in our generation. My sister/best friend and I have had to face numerous conflicts and through each one have learned so much about each other and ourselves. We pray that as we share what we have learned, it will help others as well.

What is the cause of most conflict?

I believe the main reason is pride. “Pride leads to conflict….” Proverbs 13:10. The middle letter in pride is “I” and that’s what pride is – it’s all about me, myself and I. Pride is our ways, our views, our opinions etc. Pride is dangerous and lead to the fall of Satan. Pride manifests in many ways. One can be haughty and arrogant or insecure and shy. So, if pride leads to conflict, what will sway us from conflict? The answer is humility. Humility is the opposite of pride. Instead of saying “I” first, it’s you first. Your ways, your views, your opinions and feelings, etc. Pride divides while humility heals. Humility is simply putting the other person first and therefore creating peace, harmony and unity.

Peacemakers

The bible tells us “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God,” Matthew 5:9. I, for one thought of myself as a peacemaker, but soon learned that what I was actually doing was peace at any cost. I would avoid conflict, sweep things under the rug, or appease everyone around me. The way I grew up handling conflict was not beneficial and created disharmony with others and within myself. Conversely, my sister’s ways are different. She is very forward with her feelings and facing conflict, however she tends to be way more emotional and rash when confronting conflict. Can you see our problem here? We had to learn what peacemaking looked like on our own THROUGH our conflicts. Peacemaking is being willing to confront an issue and caring enough about the other person to both recognize and resolve it. We must be willing to admit faults no matter how embarrassing or ashamed we may feel. We must also be willing to understand instead of being understood!

Putting two VERY different people together will most certainly welcome conflict. However, through each storm, we have learned so much on how to resolve conflict. We learned a lot about ourselves and changes we had to make within. We’ve talked about iron sharpening iron in a past blog. Most times, we see that in the midst of these trials, the other is sharpening us. My sister will often tell me things that I hate hearing! It rubs me the wrong way and doesn’t feel good to hear. But if I stop and realize how much I trust her and how much she loves me, I realize that she’s showing me my errors and helping me overcome them. Relationships are work, but the reward is worth facing the conflict head on instead of avoiding it. I think that’s why so many marriages and friendships dissolve-the two people are too different, not “compatible,” don’t want to put in the work and just don’t feel it’s worth it. We don’t believe in the word incompatible. In that case, no one is compatible. Differences are how we grow! When we are at our wits end with each other, ready to throw in the towel, it’s then that we CHOOSE to push through despite our feelings! We lay ourselves down for the other, no matter how hard it is-and it is THEN when the miracles flow, when blessings reap and God’s hand rests on us and the reward when we walk through is greater than we could imagine! How many marriages and relationships could be salvaged when this is practiced!

My sister and I, no matter how different we are, we change and choose to adjust and accommodate the other’s needs first because our love is bigger than any problem we’ll ever face! This should stand true in our marriages and our relationships! The grass is greener where you water it! When we fall out, we don’t turn to other friends or anyone else. We pray and we work it out with each other, even if it takes a while! It’s worth it! One thing we can say FOR SURE is that after EVERY single conflict we rise out of, God blesses us more abundantly than we can imagine! As my sister and I always say, there is always a rainbow after the storm.Rainbow_Conflict_Resolution

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bonds of True Friendship

“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” – Ruth 1:16-17, NIV

IMG_2915This popular verse in the Book of Ruth is found on so many Pins, quotes, posts – and it is almost always used to illustrate a marriage union. However fitting that may be, that wasn’t the original context. It was a pledge between a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law. This bond expressed a committed and devoted love between two women that today’s society might find abnormal and unusual. How many times have you seen two women devoted until death to each other? Completely committed to the betterment of the other before themselves? Choosing for eternity to remain together, not knowing what the future would hold, yet risking, sacrificing and laying it all down for each other? That reminds me of another scripture on friendship, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” John 15:12-13. Why is it so crazy to see this kind of fierce committed friendship displayed today when that was God’s plan for friendship all along? He laid His life down for us, calling us friends and we are to also nurture that same kind of commitment here. The Lord put quite a bit of emphasis on friendship in the Bible, yet we often bypass those scriptures, not really understanding or maybe wanting to recognize that we were created to need this type of covenant with each other.

“The relationship between Ruth and Naomi is a reflection of the faithful love of God offered to Israel and to us in the gift of covenant. Their story illustrates the power of mutual commitment between persons. When we choose to surrender to loving another person, we form a relationship that testifies to God’s faithfulness and not just our own,” www.dolr.org.

True covenant is the face of God. Committed, loyal, devoted, fierce relationship/friendship reveals the thread of God’s love on earth and what better way to witness that communion than in the bonds of two women. Women are known to be caddy, gossip, competitive, backstabbing and definitely not loyal long-term. We may say to our best friend that we are going to be here forever, that no matter what, we have their back. We say all the things that sound good, but at what limit do we bail? How many mistakes can they make before they hit their limit with us? I don’t know many women who would even use the word covenant to describe their friendships. “Faithful love is an abiding mark of the covenant. Few stories capture that lesson better than that of Ruth and Naomi,” www.dolr.org.

IMG_2916_GreaterWe all need that one! That “ride or die” person that we KNOW beyond the shadow of a doubt will stand by us, right or wrong, hell or high water, rain or shine. I never knew that kind of friendship existed on this side of heaven. Then seemingly out of nowhere, God brought my best friend/sister into my life, like the sweetest gift I had never seen. Instantly, we both knew this was different and my sister and I took our biggest faith walk, to enter into something we had never seen displayed before, to say yes to covenant and begin the greatest adventure of our lives. Yes, it was scary at first. Neither of us ever knew women to be committed, loyal and long-term. Heck, I was never that to anyone myself. But somehow we just knew this was different. We took it to Daddy and at every turn, received all we needed to go forward, as we still do to this day. Covenant is something we live daily. We communicate daily. We choose each other daily. Like our marriage covenant with our husbands, we also put time into our friendship and make it a priority. We love deeper through conflict and we take risks other friendships may not. We sacrifice for each other before ourselves and we lay or lives down for each other purposefully. We literally would die for each other and like Ruth and Naomi, we committed to lodge where the other lodges. So much so, that we turned down a house almost an hour away to stay close to my sister. This may not look normal to other friendships, but we are committed through and through. Our families have united as one and we celebrate holidays, birthdays and all we can together. We do things as sisters, families, and couples. We nurture every part of our covenant because it has led to the formation of our “tribe,” our families coming together as one.

Covenant is liberating. I remember years ago, joining a women’s group at Church. After a while, although it was refreshing being around so many like-minded women all married with kids like myself, I began to feel more of a pull to be accepted socially that I felt the need to always be available when plans were made, stretch myself to fit in and make sure I was doing, saying and wearing the right things to be included. It was tiresome to say the least and don’t ask what happened to my spiritual walk at that time. Being in covenant with my sister changed everything. I realized that need to be accepted, loved, appreciated, needed, even secure in knowing that you’re always included in plans, came with covenant. Knowing that I have a sister now who has my back no matter what, I can bleed on her. She knows every secret and everything about me and loves and accepts me-this allows me the freedom to fail. I feel free to step out into new things because I know my sister will catch me if I fall. Covenant with my sister gives me the freedom to be involved in groups at church or wherever because that need to be accepted which we all carry, has already been fulfilled for us and we can laugh and enjoy the company of other women now without the strains of expectation and stress.

Some may say we are too exclusive. Some have said we are unhealthy. Some just look. My sister and I are aware that our friendship doesn’t look like anything anyone has ever seen, us included, yet we can stand here and tell you that through the throes of conflict, ups and downs, loss and valleys, that next to salvation and marriage, this was the best decision we have ever made! It does require time, commitment and most of the same demands of marriage, yet the rewards outweigh anything we feel we have ever put in. Without risk, there is no reward and the reward of friendship covenant is something so grand, we pray women in this generation get a hold of how rewarding and fulfilling it is. My sister is my best friend. I don’t question her loyalty, commitment and devotion to me. Covenant, through the good and bad is something we live every day of our lives. Our friendship isn’t something we ever put on the backburner. It’s what we naturally do daily from the time we wake up until we go to bed. You’d be surprised at some of the obstacles we have already overcome, but our trust and loyalty is solid and we both know that there is absolutely nothing on earth either of us could do that would turn the other away. Covenant is eternal and like marriage, there are consequences for breaking covenant and we take it seriously. Our covenant may not look like any one else’s, but it’s ours. What we choose to live by in our friendship bond works for us and we are very proud of what God has given us.

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“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it,” Malachi 3:1-, NIV. My sister and I always thought this verse only pertained to money, but for us, the windows of heaven were opened when God brought us each other, absolutely THE blessing so big, we still can’t contain!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Misunderstood

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As my sister and I often talk about God and delve into the depths of His soul, we discover more of Him and receive these beautiful revelations He lavishes on us. Jesus was the most misunderstood person. Religious mindsets put Jesus in a box and anything outside of that box is considered wrong. It’s judged, ridiculed, mocked. The world misunderstands because they lack the Spiritual eyes and ears to see and hear Him clearly. The world is at war against the things of God. As worshippers, we realize that as we begin to carry more of His nature, we too will be misunderstood, judged, and disliked.

My sister and I learned a hard lesson – that not everyone will like us as we move more into the calling and ministry He has put on our lives. God spoke to us and showed us that not everyone liked Jesus either. In the beginning, that was extremely hard for us to grasp. Naturally, we desired to be liked by everyone, no enemies, no conflict, but that just isn’t reality, especially when you follow Christ. Your story won’t look like anyone else’s story, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t uniquely designed just for you. You may be the first one to walk a new adventure unfamiliar yet and we need to be a brave people willing to take risks we’ve never taken to allow God to take us where we’ve never been. When we truly stand for something, it’s natural to have people oppose us. As our Pastor once said, “we are ruined for the ordinary.” Isn’t that the truth!

God has not called us to a life of comfort, security or ordinary tasks. He has called us to a life of extraordinary measures, supernatural risks, and unfortunately discomfort, which means we must step out of ourselves and everything we know, to truly follow where He leads. It’s a life that many will not understand, but one that should never stop us from discovering all there is to discover. May we be a people willing to cross dimensions and boundaries, step out of our boxes and explore what we’ve always been too afraid or insecure to explore! God is more than we can fathom and He has so much for us to experience. We limit God with our finite minds. We set parameters with God. We need to see the beginning, the end and the in between, but we have to give that up to walk in faith. For far too long, the church has been too religious and afraid to step into the unknown. What stops us? Fear! We may be looked at as weird, out of our minds, deceived – the list goes on. However, it’s in these times that God wants to pour out so much more of His Spirit. Who is willing to be fearless in what others may think?

My sister and I believe we are truly living in a season that has never been seen before. God never does anything the same way. He is doing a new thing and it doesn’t look like anything we have ever witnessed before. He is searching for hearts that are willing and open to dive off the cliff and trust His wings to carry you to new heights, to understand that the task you may be given may set you up for ridicule, judgement and criticism. May we be a people who are willing to walk in righteousness and holiness, despite what we think to be “normal.” May we walk worthy of our calling, full of confidence and a fierce boldness that comes from Christ alone. So will this life He is calling us to live be misunderstood? Yes! Oh, but it’s worth it. The cost is worth being misunderstood, ridiculed, mocked and judged. Our prayer is that God’s daughters would be willing, just like Mary. Imagine what was spoken about her. The ridicule she must have endured, being misunderstood and judged, but she knew what many others did not. That the Savior of the world would be born! Many people judge because they just don’t know the whole story.

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When my sister and I were called to walk this journey together, we instantly lost friends. Many we thought would support, encourage and understand fell off. But we knew in our heart of hearts that what God called us to do may leave us alone, however we would always have each other and our families and we were willing! We never look back or regret saying yes to this! Two best friends, two sisters, two ordinary girls called to risk and leave the ordinary behind to dive into something much bigger than us, and while we don’t know where He is taking us, the journey becomes more thrilling and exciting with every passing day! God is longing to impregnate His daughters with the extraordinary. Who will He find?

Valentine’s Day

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Love shouldn’t just be celebrated on a particular day once a year. Love isn’t candy and flowers. It doesn’t consist of cute red and pink hearts, nor does it always come disguised as kisses under a much too perfect moonlit night. Valentines Day speaks of longevity through storms, choice through fire and commitment through conflict. It’s impossible to fall out of love when you become aware falling into something was never a good idea anyway. We love because we choose them over us. We love because He first loved us. We love because we finally understand what risk and sacrifice were really about and it wasn’t what the world thought.

Love isn’t just a word or a feeling. Feelings come and go. If love was a feeling, Jesus wouldn’t have laid His life down for humanity. In the garden, He asked the Father, if this cup could pass Him, but He didn’t operate off of His feelings, but rather the will of the Father. So, what is love? Love is a person and that person is Jesus! He is our example. Love died on a cross. It wasn’t anything beautiful. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Love bled! Love emptied itself! Love is dying to self. Love is sacrificial, committed, risky, vulnerable, loyal, and devoted! We, as children of God are called to love like Christ, but do we really? What would our world look like if we truly and genuinely loved like Christ? We can confess our love , but love is to be demonstrated by a life living and flowing in the love of Christ, for words are cheap.

Our world tells us to take, which is the opposite of Gods kingdom. The world offers the counterfeit. It tells us to take when we are called to give. We aren’t to be just recipients of love. We are to give expecting nothing in return. What is love without risk and sacrifice? What is love without challenge and conflict? It would be devoid of meaning. We think love should be easy and not require work. But love IS work! As Pat Benatar puts it, Love is a Battlefield!

Without risk, there is no reward. Jesus risked and His reward was you and I, and all those who would make Him their choice. As you celebrate Valentine’s Day, it shouldn’t be a day to go out and make up for anything, rather a day to recognize the love we are allowed and should be giving every day to those we love!