Combating loneliness during the December holidays

The holiday season is wrapping up and as the new year begins, we tend to take stock of our life for the past 12 months. How far have we come? What have we accomplished? But also, where are we going? These questions can cause many of us stress as we try to measure our lives from one year prior. But often we tend to focus on the wrong things when thinking about our progress. We focus on how much money we made, or how much further in our career we have come, how much better than our peers we are doing. But those thoughts will often lead to feelings of inadequacy because we will always find the person who is doing better, looking better, or is wealthier than us. What we should be focusing on is our personal relationships; the rest is inconsequential in the end.

By focusing on the relationships in our lives, we are better able to combat the hardest part of life, loneliness. All of these thoughts about where we’ve been, what we’ve accomplished, and where we’re going doesn’t take stock of the people who were there for you along the way. Instead of looking at your life in an inward, selfish way, take a look at all of those in your life who helped you, who made your life better. Vice versa, you should also be thinking about who you helped and what you did that was good and godly. How did that make you feel? More connected to the world? Less lonely?

Maybe it’s hard for you to get out of your shell and ask others for help, or to find the strength to help others. That’s completely understandable! Mother Theresa wasn’t the saintly figure she became overnight. She toiled day in and day out. She worked hard, little by little, everyday. You just have to have the courage to take that first step. The Book of Deuteronomy (31:6) says it well, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” In this passage we are given strength from the Lord to take charge of our lives and do what is best for each of us. When we are lonely or sad, God is with us. When we are feeling inadequate or scared, God is with us. But we have to heed those words and be courageous.

When you’re lonely, you can’t isolate yourself; often our inclination is to hole up in our own world. It’s easier than making an effort to connect with people, but that’s the worst thing to do. Making friends and finding a confidant as an adult is not easy. But we all need someone to go to when we need help or reassurance or advice. We are not in this journey alone. Maybe it starts with you helping someone who you can see needs your help. You sharing that experience with another person and finding a solution to their problem creates a connection with them. These connections, however small, like helping an older person carry something heavy, or holding the door open for a mother and her child, can have a profound effect on your mood and theirs.

Often times loneliness has a partner, anxiety. Anxiety can be just as hard to combat as loneliness, but if you can learn to cope with one, the other will get better. In 1 Peter 5:7 it says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Even back in ancient times, people dealt with anxiety. You’re not alone. Anxiety can make you feel like you’re the only one in the world to feel this way, like there’s something wrong with you. But it’s an issue that humans have been dealing with for millenia. Peter says to cast you anxiety on God and know that he will take care of you. Let go, release those anxieties, and live your life one day at a time.

Remember to be thankful for the good, beautiful people in your life at this time of year. If you feel like you don’t have anyone to connect with just remember that you can change that. Put aside your worries and anxiety, give them to God and he will take the burden for you. Start small, one day at a time, and know that your rewards will come.

About the author

Jessica Faylor lives in California. She and her husband are expecting their first child in February, 2020.

Spreading Joy by Showing Gratitude

Gratitude. It’s such a rewarding and empowering feeling. If you take stock of your life and think about what you’re truly grateful for, it will put a smile on your face. That sort of positive mindset can do so much to improve your life. Though, it can be hard to focus on being positive when dealing with stressful situations in our day to day life; but it’s so important to take the time to remember what you’re thankful for.

If you look to scripture for inspiration, you’ll find that Ephesians 1:16 says it well, “Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.” That was Apostle Paul speaking to the church of Ephesus. He is saying that he will continue to pray for the followers of the church, as he is grateful for them. I think he’s also leading by example, telling others not to take the positive things in their life for granted. If you show others how to live a life full of thankfulness, they will take notice and follow suit. Apostle Paul knew how important and infectious gratitude was to his followers.

During the holidays, we tend to spend more time with family and are reminded of how much they mean to us. We reflect on who’s been in our lives and helped us through the tough times. When we focus on those positive forces in our lives, we feel good. We remind ourselves that someone loved us enough to help us through any problem or that trouble. It also helps to remember that people are grateful for you too. When you’re taking time to remember those who have brought joy to your life, don’t forget to remember how much joy you brought to others. Helping others, helps you too. It makes your day brighter and spreads joy.

I know it’s easy to say “Show gratitude everyday!” or “Practice thankfulness!” but how do we actually do that? One way to consistently practice gratitude is with a journal. Set aside time at least once a week (more often is great if you can) and sit down with your thoughts. Write down the positive things in your life and reflect on how it makes you feel. Once you’ve been doing that for a while, you can always go back to your journal and review the great things that have happened and what you’re grateful for. It’s a physical reminder for you to be thankful. 

Another way to show thanks is to just tell that person. It sounds simple and obvious, but so many people forget to do it. We think, “Oh they know that I love them; why do I need to say it?” While that may be true, everyone likes to hear “I love you” or “I’m grateful for you” from someone they care about. You will be making their day and filling them with gratitude, for you. During the holidays, it’s important to remember to share and spread joy, and I think that starts with showing gratitude.

There are many ways to show thanks, how do you like to show gratitude?

Jessica Faylor is a freelance writer who lives California with her husband. She is expecting her first child in February, 2020.

Reconnecting With Family Members from a Place of Genuine Love

As the holidays approach, we begin to make plans to see family and close friends to celebrate the festivities of the season. After all, our family is the most important part of our life. But some of us struggle to connect with the family we were born into. Like all relationships, it takes work to connect and stay connected with family. Just because we are related to each other, that doesn’t mean that we’ll get along or have the same interests or values. Sometimes our differences can lead to strife and disagreements. We’ve all had that friend, family member or roommate that we lost contact with or couldn’t see eye to eye on. We’ll often let our emotions get in the way and we find ourselves disconnected from important people in our lives. This is particularly hard when it happens with a family member.

There are many stories about family relations that we can find in the Bible. But my favorite has always been the Parable of the Prodigal Son which appears in Luke 15:11-32. I personally just love redemption stories. If you don’t remember the full story, I’ll give you a short summary.

Jesus starts the Parable by saying that there is a man with two sons. The younger son is foolish while the older is steadfast and loyal. This younger son asks his father for his inheritance early, and the father agrees. With this newfound wealth burning a hole in his pocket, the younger son takes off for a far off land to squander his fortune on a wild, selfish adventure. The money eventually runs out, and the son is left destitute. Deliriously hungry since he has no money, the son decides to return to his father and beg to be hired as a lowly servant on his estate.

As the young son approaches his father’s land his father recognizes him and jumps up to warmly embrace him. He calls for the returning son to be clothed and welcomed into his home. He even calls for the fattest calf to be slaughtered for a celebratory meal. When the older son, who has tirelessly worked on his father’s estate this entire time, hears of his younger brother’s return he is not pleased. He is envious of the preferential treatment he sees his father give his younger brother. But the father does not agree with the older son, attempting to coax him into the festivities. He says, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

There is a lot to learn from this story, the father accepting his son, faults and all, the older son dealing with his feelings of envy, and the overall theme of redemption. In our modern world, what can we take from this story? To me, it’s about reconnecting with someone who we disagreed with. It’s about forgiveness, but really it’s about acceptance. In this modern age, everyone has an opinion, and makes that opinion known. It’s great that we’re able to have this kind of self expression, but it can cause strife when we’re faced with someone who disagrees with us. But like the older son in this parable, we have to go past our emotions and set aside our feelings and accept those we love, flaws and all.

Reconnecting with those long lost family members, especially during the holiday season, is so important, but really has to come from a place of genuine love. If you’re not ready to set aside your emotions, or hurt feelings, don’t push it. But you have to be honest with yourself. Everyone deals with the trials and tribulations of life differently. You can’t force yourself to forgive or accept, you need to come to it naturally. Just be honest with yourself and your loved ones, and let the relationship grow organically.

Jessica Faylor the author, lives in California. She is currently expecting her first child and is available for freelance writings. If you’d like to contact Jessica for writing assignments, please contact us.

Beating the Impostor Syndrome

How to overcome the impostor syndrome: Taking control of your inner dialogue.

This month’s topic hits close to home for a lot of us, myself included. Taking control of your inner dialogue. It sounds so easy to do, but in reality it is incredibly difficult. Our inner dialogue, our conscience, that voice in our head that is narrating our life. Where does it come from? How was it formed? But more importantly, can we change it?

Our inner dialogue comes from the environment we grew up in. Our situation growing up, is something that we couldn’t change. Where we were born, to the family we were born into. Some of us had a great childhood, while others struggled.

Whatever our situation, that shaped who you or I would become. It also shaped our inner dialogues.

Individually, you started to repeat the things that you heard around you. If you grew up in a loving home, you heard things like, “Great job!” “You are so smart/beautiful/talented!” If your parents were more critical, you might have heard things like, “Why did you fail this test?” “How come you aren’t good at sports like your brother?” Unfortunately, at that young and impressionable age, if you hear something enough, you start to believe it. You start to say it to yourself. But that doesn’t make it true.

So how do you get these bad thoughts out of your brain? The short answers is, you can’t. Not completely. If something has been ingrained in you from a young and impressionable age, it will never truly go away. What you can do, is change the dialogue. You can’t ignore those thoughts completely, or else they will come back up like acid from your stomach. You have to acknowledge the thoughts and where they come from. If you don’t, they will scream even louder. What you need to do is focus on the positive. Yes, I was told this or that about myself, but look at all I’ve accomplished. I’m not any of those bad things I tell myself, I am smart, and confident. This can take years to achieve and is made easier with the help of a mental health professional, life coach, or religious leader. But please be patient with yourself and take each day as it comes.

Regarding the imposter syndrome, which is related to that negative inner dialogue, and the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills (Webster, 2019). I’d like you to look inside yourself. Have you ever heard yourself say, “Oh, I can’t do that!” or “That’s too hard for me.” Often times, that’s just not true. But you’re so used to hearing things like that from your own inner dialogue that you end up believing it and saying it to others. So how do you stop those thoughts from creeping in and taking over? Start by doing some introspection. Before you say, “I can’t do that!” think about whether or not you really can do what is being asked of you. You might surprise yourself when you realize that you can do it and you do it based on your own ability and intelligence. The more you push yourself to do things that you normally wouldn’t have even tried, and the more you succeed at it, the less those thoughts will come into your mind. There is even joy in failure. Because at least you tried! Failure tends to give us our best life lessons.

Many of us turn to our religion in these trying times, and God will always be there to support you. He would want you to pick yourself up and try again, to never give up. But most importantly, God believes in the goodness of all of his people and would want you to see yourself in the beauty that he made you. So they next time you have negative thoughts and self doubt, just remember that God loves you, the way he made you. And you should too!

Jessica Faylor is a freelance writer who lives in California. She is available for freelance writing in most genre.

Navigating relationships in the church and beyond

Relationships are hard to maneuver, especially professional ones. There’s often a power dynamic that is under written in every interaction. The nuances of a relationship and your role in it is based on who you are; are you parent or child, husband or wife, classmates, coworkers, supervisor or subordinate? As your role changes, so do your interactions with those around you. Your best work friend is promoted to a position above you. Things aren’t the same anymore, there’s more distance between you now.

As women, we have to carefully navigate the world searching for the place where we feel safe and respected so that we can thrive and spread God’s love. This is achieved by finding the best environment for you, trusting those that you work with, and protecting yourself. Once you’ve done all of that you can focus on spreading God’s word and love.

Please read on to see the steps to thrive under leadership in the church and otherwise.

  1. Find a place where you feel safe and respected

I wish I could say that everyone has your best interests at heart and that they will respect you right off the bat, but that’s not always the case. A lot of stress in relationships can be attributed to a difference in communication styles. You might be quick to trust someone, but they don’t feel the same way about you, so they aren’t as generous with their time with you or open to hearing your ideas. It’s okay to walk away and to find a better situation for you. You need to take care of yourself before you can start taking care of others.

2. Build up trust with those that you work with.

Once you find yourself in a good situation that you are comfortable with, you will need to build up trust with those around you. With your boss, make sure that he/she knows that you are dependable, respectable, and professional. No two bosses are the same, you can build up trust with one by always checking in and telling them what you’re working on regularly. While another boss can be more hands off and not want you to tell them about every little thing as long as it gets done. You won’t know until you meet the person. You have to be nimble and adaptable to change with your situation. Just do your hardest and your work will shine for you.

3. Protect yourself

Like I said before, you need to take care of yourself before you can start taking care of others. Jesus took time to pray alone to find his thoughts and do self care before he was able to do what God asked of him. So should you. Relationships are tricky, and not all of them end up working out. It takes a strong woman to see whether or not she is valued and to take steps to change the situation, or leave if necessary. You need to love yourself and love God before you can love others. How do you know how to love others if you can’t love yourself?

3. Let the Lord shine through you

The most important aspect of your life is doing God’s work. He is in everything you do. Make sure to protect yourself and put yourself in the best position to be able to give all of the love that you want to give to your fellow man. A secure, centered woman is the best vessel of God’s love and light. Let his love shine through you and into all you do.

I don’t want to specifically talk about interactions between men and women, because I think people are more than just their gender. But I know that many women in the church will have a male superior. The key is to listen to every relationship, how do they treat you? Do they respect you? Do you trust them? You might have to have some hard conversations to make sure that you are on the same page and that your thoughts and ideas are heard, but that’s part of your relationship with that person. Being confident in your relationship with your supervisor will make you better at your job and better help you achieve your goal of sharing the word of the Lord.

About the author

Jessica Faylor is an American blogger residing in Bologna, Italy. Her writings are focused on global women’s issues in the contexts of spirituality and leadership. Jessica and her family will be moving back to United States in August, 2019 as she prepares for new milestones in her life.

Time Well Spent

This month of June offers us so much in spirituality. On the second weekend, we recognize both Shavuot and Pentecost. Moments in the Torah and the Bible, where God extends his holy spirit to the world.

According to many scholars, the Jewish holy day of Shavuot has a dual importance. It signifies the very important wheat harvest in Israel (Exodus 34:22), and it celebrates the anniversary of the day when God gave the Torah to the nation of Israel on Mount Sinai. It occurs 50 days after Passover. The Torah represents God’s Spirit externally blanketing Israel to allow His words to move internally.

The Christian holy day of Pentecost, is recognized fifty days after Easter Sunday. It honors the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ, during the Jerusalem celebration of Feast of Weeks, as described in the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 2:1–31. This time around, God choose to work from the interior of his people, to move His spirit to the external, to touch the lives of all people.

“…the LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7

Though both celebrations are of equal importance, in the New Covenant, Pentecost is concerned with what is in our hearts. This is why God chose to place His Holy Spirit inside the committed disciples of Jesus Christ. He did this so that they could share the good news to all.

As women, we are up against so much. And, at times the chores, concerns, and circumstances of our days can strip us of the person God created us to be. This is why it is important to take time to simply talk with God. The empowerment we seek whether as boss, employee, business owner, daughter, wife, or friend is already written on our hearts. Let’s allow Jesus to guide us back to our Holy.

May June offer you precious and memorable moments with Our Father! And, may it be a joyous month for you.

Rev. Charlotte

A Mother’s Sadness Ignites a King

With Mother’s Day just a few days away, I am led to think of the wonderful and strong women of the Bible. The hardship and stress they each faced, seems unbearable. Songs are made of Sarah and Hagar, poems and declarations are made about Mary, the mother of Jesus. But today, I’d like to take a glimpse into the life of Rizpah.

To teach Saul a lesson, David ordered seven of Saul’s descendants to be killed. This stemmed from his evil behavior toward the Gibeonites. Rizpah lost two of her sons in this killing. Their names were Armoni and Mephibosheth. She had these sons with Saul.

Rizpah mourned heavily for her sons. She laid down a sackcloth near the spot where their bodies were placed, and remained there from the first harvest to the first rain storm. She kept a watchful eye to make sure birds and other animals did not vandalize the bodies of her loved ones.

The author continues to tell us that David heard of her mourning and went to where she was, and took the bones of the deceased bodies. God then gave favor to the land once again (2 Samuel 21:8-12).

When someone leaves us whether by a broken relationship or death, we all try to seek closure. We may also question why this happened, as we try to find peace. Rizpah did not have anyone to talk to, she didn’t have a husband or a close friend; therefore, her time of lonely mourning may have been quite difficult, accompanied by many sleepless nights.

The sins of the father, Saul, affected his sons and descendants, but God knew that Rizpah was not to blame. He kept her safe during her 6 months of living in the wilderness. And, it’s through Rizpah’s persistence that the drought finally ended. If she had just decided to leave her place of mourning and simply give up, David would not have known of her diligence. His taking of the bones of her sons, and burying them, quenched the land once again.

No matter what we are going through, remember that our Lord knows and he cares for us. He understands our hearts, and hears our calls. He made us to be mothers, and to be gentle beings. He adores our feminine nature, which is often needed to soften our sometimes harsh world. And, he hurts when we hurt, our pain as well as our happiness, are always significant to him.

May you have a beautiful Mother’s Day and joy-filled May, 2019!

With love,


Significant Livelihood

“My, how time flies”… was an idiom my mother used often while I was a young girl. She used it to refer to friends who may have left her circle for a year or two and to signify the return of family members studying or who may have moved abroad. With April already upon us, this saying seems to be creeping around in my head more often than I would like. And, I believe it is based on all that I must accomplish today, tomorrow, and this year.

It is my daily routine to work without an audience and void of accolades. I’ve never been one to garner praises for what I do. In fact, I only have a profile on Linkedin, because I believe that I needed to; a thought encouraged by colleagues. But honestly, when I have the opportunity….or even better, when I decide to delete this profile, I will be quite relieved. My heart flutters right at this moment, just thinking about how freeing that moment will be.  No more viewing of status sharing, promotions, awards…nothing like that. Whew!

“Whatever you do, do your work willingly as though you were serving the Lord himself, and not just your human earthly master.” (Colossians 3: 23). For some, verse 22 of this chapter can be hurtful, specifically as referred to the word slaves. Yet, if we continue on the path of secular society, we become slaves to everything shoved at us. Nonetheless, as believers we know that if we become workers of the Bible and our service for Christ, we are redeemed.

To do so, we must reject shallow living. The type of living where we need to have tangible accolades and rewards. We must simply stop being show-offs to the non-Christian world. This world is superficial and if we are not careful, causes us to crave more of what it has set us up to believe about who we are and about what we need. This is not the way!

To re-route, all we need is Jesus Christ. When we serve Him completely, our work reflects compassion, service, kindness, and pleasantries. Not competition and putting ourselves first.

Let’s look toward our eternal journey. When we live completely for Christ, the path toward our heavenly destiny becomes so much easier. Let’s just be centered on Love.

Rev. M. Charlotte Oliver