Don't Be Afraid To Say 'No'

So many times, we are led to believe that saying 'No' to someone is not kind, not thoughtful and not right.  

But the truth is, sometimes it's a necessity.

We live in a world where people take advantage of certain individuals.  And I may be biased in saying that those individuals are usually girls.

I feel I have a right to say that because I have been in many situations, but mainly one that I am thinking of at the moment, in which I was being manipulated into saying yes, yes, yes...even though I should've been saying 'N-O'.

The reason I can say ‘no’?  Because I am a human being who deserves to be treated with respect and care, not taken advantage of, not forced, and not trapped.

We talk about having 'free will' all the time, yet not many of us exercise this right.  This freedom.

Don't be afraid to say 'No'.

It can be as simple as saying the word, or as difficult as completely cutting someone out of your life.  If you know that they aren't having a healthy influence on you, then why are you allowing them to have such a hold on your heart?  If you can see the damage they are doing to you - and maybe even to others - then what is holding you back from confronting them and putting a stop to how they're treating others?

Because you can.

I promise.

The idea may sound much easier than the action, but don't go another minute being chained to another's desires, wants, and demands.  You are a human.  You are your own person.

Don't be afraid to say 'No'.

You may not realize that you do, after all, have the courage it takes to take a stand.

And change your whole life.


5 Reasons Social Media Is Not A Healthy Habit

1)  Social media causes us to be selfish.
Even if we don't realize it at first, we are always more interested in how WE appear, how WE look to others, how others perceive US, and always needing to look OUR best.  Am I right?

2)  Social media causes us to be prideful.
Yes, you love how many likes you get on that Facebook post.  And you love the fact that you gained two followers today on Instagram.  And it's cool to see that over 50 people have seen your snap story.  You feel popular.  You feel liked.  You feel good.

3)  Social media distracts us.
It's a common sight to see people on their phones - whether while walking, eating, or visiting.  Why?  Is whatever is on your phone more important than investing in reality?  When we're bored, stressed or want to get our minds off of our own lives, we just tend to default to our social medias.  We want to distract ourselves from whatever is worrying us.  We find relief in watching, and scrolling through, others' lives.  And without even realizing it, we get our minds off our own problems by taking advantage of them...not on God's always ready, always willing, and always loving ears and arms.  Social media is so accessible and instant, and we use this as an excuse to not talk to God.  How horrible is that?

4)  Social media causes us to compare ourselves to others.
And when (not 'if') we find ourselves lacking in certain things, we beat ourselves up and strive to a standard of perfection that is worldly, not godly.

She's way prettier than I am.
She always posts the best pictures.
How can she always look so perfect?
He eats way healthier than I do.
He's always getting to travel.
Why can't I look that good in the morning?
My room is never that neat.

5)  Social media becomes our identity.
Separating your online identity from reality can be a bit of challenge sometimes.  Even when people try to be 'the same online as they are in person', this isn't always the case.  The more likes you get, the more important you feel.  We post pictures on Instagram in hopes that our followers will like and comment on them, and through that, we feed our ego and remind ourselves that 'Hey, it's okay.  Our followers like us.'  But how often do we turn to God for our worth and value?  Do we not go to Him for evaluation and identity anymore?  It's difficult to not base our significance on how many likes we get on our photos and posts or when our blogs don't receive as much attention as we thought it would or wish it did, when social media is the outlet for personal glory.


I am not saying that social media is evil and we should delete all our accounts and apps.  Social media can be - and is - very useful and convenient, but I believe must be used in moderation.  I still have my blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, but am currently taking a sabbatical so have chosen to take a rest from using my social medias.  They were causing to be distractions for me and each of these 5 points could apply to my life in regards to them.

We can long for our popularity on social media to grow so that we can feel all sorts of good about ourselves, but the truth is, the hole in our heart that seeks fulfillment and value is a piece of our lives that only God can truly filly and satisfy.


Everyday Blessings // 38

>> spontaneous 5-hour road trip
>> reuniting with a friend I haven't seen in over a year
>> visiting Ashland shop, restaurants and cafes
>> giving leftover lunch food to a homeless hippy
>> putting finishing touches on my poetry collection manuscript
>> spending over $20 on loose leaf tea (so happy!!)
>> getting to see another one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon - Crater Lake
>> leading worship at a church
>> hour long chats with a friend I haven't talked to in a long time
>> getting my friend hooked on 'Sherlock'
>> being greeted by all my family when I finally got back home
>> still planning my Peru trip
>> journaling
>> continuing my sabbatical (one month to go!)
>> accountability partners - having one and being one
>> cool nights, warm pajamas, hot tea, and cozy bed


Can you believe it's October already??  What are you looking forward to this month?  What was one of your favorite memories of September?


God Used a Break-Up For My Good

As you've most likely read, I have 'almost' dated three guys in the past two years.  None of them worked out, for various reasons.  After the third dude fell through, I embraced my singleness whole-heartedly.  And was determined that the next guy I got to know/started dating was the one I was going to marry.  I was tired of this whole Find Your Future Spouse game.  I was going to diligently pray and seek God's direction with this future guy.  And just have a better overall experience with him.

At the beginning of this year, on January 30, I met a guy and instantly felt a connection.  We both did.  And over the next couple of months, our title quickly changed from 'friendship' to a 'dating relationship'.  It was fast.  No doubt about that.  But we both were at peace with moving forward.  We had prayed about it, our closest friends all supported us, we had same goals and visions for our lives.  So far, there were green lights on our path.
I was happy.  Here was a guy who loved the LORD, who I thought was extremely attractive, we both had a love - and felt called to - music ministry, his family loved me, our friends loved us together (even strangers loved us and thought we were a beautiful couple)...  Things seemed to be in our favor.

To quote a fellow blogger who wrote a very similar post:
"Before I began dating my now ex-boyfriend, I did what I said I would and prayed about it.  A lot.  I prayed what I imagined were typical dating prayers, ones that consisted of me asking doors to either be opened or closed with this man, for us to be on the same page about dating or not, etc.  And every time, it seemed, another door would be opened and another feeling confirmed.  I definitely held onto the idea that if God was leading me into this relationship, it was going to be the relationship.  I mean, He knew my heart, right?...He knew I had worked hard to know myself and know God and know what it means to be in a healthy couple.  If I was so keenly trying to follow His guidance, He would reward me for that.  Wouldn't He?"

This is exactly how I felt.

Sure, I knew that I may not be ready for marriage quite yet.  And sure, I knew that not all relationships worked out.  And sure, this all happened so fast and unplanned.  But God was in control and it was all gonna turn out all right. And besides, my boyfriend 'knew in his heart' that God wanted us to get married, that I was the woman he'd been waiting for, and we were meant to be together forever.

But seven and a half months later, I found myself calling things off with my boyfriend.  Putting my foot down and finally saying 'No' to things about him that I was not willing to put up with in a life-long commitment.  Finally realizing that the certain issues he had in his life and I had in my life were complications that, if we ended up getting married, were just the stage for failure in the future.  I didn't want that.  I didn't want that for myself or for him.

What happened?  Where did it go wrong?  Why had it ended if I was so sure, so at peace, so positive that God had led me into it?  Or was it some sort of trick?  A test?  Did I fail?

Was it all a waste?

The time, the emotions, the driving, the money, the letters, the phone calls, the gifts, the words, the pictures, the songs, the promises...  Was it all for nothing if it brought me to this sort of ending?

How could something I feel was so right for me, end up being so wrong?

This was a question I asked myself for the first week after our break-up. And it's a question that God has so gently and graciously answered.

It was right for me, though.  It was part of His perfect plan for me.
To care so deeply for this guy?  To feel myself falling in love with him, only for that affection to be cut off?  To walk away from a guy who was so sure that we would get married someday?
Because I believe in a sovereign God who loves me more than I can imagine, I trust that yes, this whole relationship - from beginning to end - was exactly what was right for me.

Because of this situation, I have learned much.  Maybe one day I'll be able to write about it in more detail, but for right now, I want to be sure I clarify three things:

1)  I feel like there's some unspoken law that if two Christian people are dating with the intention of getting married, but it ends in a break-up, they weren't truly following the LORD's leading and should never have dated in the first place.  While this can be - and is - true in some cases (though extremely rare), I believe with all my heart that God does purposely lead us into temporary seasons of life.  Just like a job, a living situation, or a friendship.  I worked as the reporter for a local newspaper for 6 months then got let go.  Why?  Because the company wanted to downsize and needed reporters with 4-year journalism degrees.  Was it a mistake that I had gotten the job in the first place?  Was I not following God's leading in accepting that position?  No.  It was the perfect job for me, in the perfect time, in the perfect place in my life.  And when God wanted me to get a different job (another dream job #baristalife), He allowed the reporter job door to close and moved me to the next season of life, the next step, the next chapter.  The same goes for relationships.  He teaches us individual things through each one.  I was in this relationship for as long as I felt God leading me into it.  And then, over the course of a couple weeks, diligently prayed that He would make it clear to me whether or not I should continue in it.  And He said no.

2)  I learned so much through this relationship.  Lessons I needed to learn and only could have learned by going through this.  And you know how people always say that 'one day you'll look back and understand'?  Well that is so true.  I can testify to that in many different life circumstances.  This is no exception.  I look back and see how I would've done things differently.  I look back and see where I went wrong.  I look back and understand the things about myself that I needed to realize.  And I am so thankful for all that I have learned.

3)  I hate the term 'break-up'.  It makes me think of a stick that someone breaks in half.  It's horrible to think of a relationship being broken like that.  Both parties would feel hurt, used, and incomplete.  And sadly, this is how many of the people I know have felt after breaking up with their boyfriend or girlfriend.  I want to clarify that I don't necessarily consider this a 'break-up' (even though that's the most used and easiest phrase to refer to it as).  It was more of a 'calling off of a relationship'.  It was something that needed to happen for both our sakes.  I have only cried once - the first day - not for myself, but for him.  Because I know him, I care for him, and I knew that he was experiencing much pain.  It was the right thing to do, though.  I know that with my whole heart.  We both understand that God has better things in store for us.  We weren't right for each other.  Even though we wanted to believe that we were.  We wanted to make things work.  We tried.  We really did.  But the last couple of months were the hardest for us.  There was endless conflict, arguments, feelings being hurt, asking for forgiveness...and then it happening all over again.  It was a continual cycle that I didn't see ending any time soon because the root of the problems were all issues that we had - and still have to - deal with personally.  In our own hearts.  Between us and God.  They were aspects that couldn't be changed through just being worked on or loved through.  And unfortunately, these were traits that neither of us could have known would be such horrible issues before going into the relationship.  We are both great people.  He is someone whom I will never regret meeting, never regret caring for, and never regret investing in.  And I know he thinks the same of me.


I would like to end this article with proclaiming that my God is faithful.  He is good.  He loves me so incredibly much and I have felt His presence so genuinely close in these last few weeks.  I have asked His forgiveness in the failures and shortcomings that I am guilty of in this relationship, and I have also thanked Him so so much for protecting me as much as He did - and continues to.  He knows the desires of my heart.  And in due season, He will bless me because I have trusted in Him.  What a beautiful thought.


This is the chorus to a song I recently wrote:

"Through it all
Faithful You remain
Through the good times and bad
Still I see Your hand
You've brought me this far
I trust in Your plan
Never let me wander
Never let me fear
You will see me through till the end."


Music Monday | Most Listened To Artists During Devotional Time

I've had a few readers ask me what my devotional playlist looks like.  I thought I'd give you a little run down of what I listen to while I read my Bible and journal.  These are just a few of my favorites, okay?


Steffany Gretzinger-Frizzell
Favorite songs:
The Undoing
Out of Hiding (Father's Song)
Promise I Always Will

Lauren Daigle
Favorite songs:
I Am Yours

Jenny Simmons
Favorite songs:
Not My Name
Broken Hallelujah
Time To Be Well

David Dunn
Favorite songs:
Have Everything

Francesca Battistelli
Favorite songs:
Holy Spirit
Write Your Story
Strangely Dim

Tenth Avenue North
Favorite songs:
All The Pretty Things
Empty My Hands

Rend Collective
Favorite songs:
Build Your Kingdom
My Lighthouse
Every Giant Will Fall


And so began a sabbatical

Two weeks ago, as I was driving back from meeting with my accountability partner and my pastor, the radio was playing a local Christian music station.  I never listen to Christian music (on the radio) but I remembered that I had been browsing local channels, and I guess it had landed on this particular one.  Chris and Conrad's version of 'Lead Me To the Cross' was playing at the time, and it's one of those modern worship songs that I didn't mind too much so I was singing along.  And I made it my prayer.  

'Lead me to the cross where Your love poured out.  Bring me to my knees, LORD.  I lay me down.  Rid me of myself, I belong to You...'

Suddenly, I sensed the LORD asking me:

'What makes you happy?'

Well, of course I promptly started listing things in life that make me happy.

'Where do you go for self-identity?'

I hesitated. I SHOULD go to Him for this...but instead, I started listing several people and places that I go to for fulfillment and meaning.

'What if I asked you to give all of those to Me?'

......Now wait a second.  For how long?  What would this entail?  Can I really do this?

I determined that if I thought on it for too long, it obviously was too hard for me to decide what was more important  - these earthly mortal things or my relationship with the immortal God.

After saying 'yes' to His request, and deciding on a sabbatical (a time of rest and refocus), I went to Ross to find a journal. I wanted to keep an account of my time refocusing on my Jesus.

I was gonna be picky about it though. 

I was like 'Okay, God, if You want me to do this, let my journal be the ultimate confirmation. Let it be everything I want.'
My requirements?  Spiral bound, daily planner with areas large enough to make notes, and a Scripture verse on the front.  I found this one... 

And, also, I am kind of OCD about starting things, making plans, etc. I either have to start at the beginning of a week or month. And how many daily planners that you know start in the middle of the year? For example, September. Well this journal did.

It gets better, though.

After purchasing this new journal, I drove home, got ready for bed and checked my phone only to see that a friend (who I hadn't talked to in months) had texted me.  
'Hey what's new?' he asked.
'Not a whole lot.  The biggest news is that I am going to embark on a sabbatical.  I know the LORD is calling me to one.'
'Oh did you get that idea from Matt Chandler?'
Well, uh, no, I hadn't, but...I love Matt Chandler.  AND I had literally finished reading one of his books ('To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain') just a couple days prior.
'Matt Chandler took a sabbatical?  For how long?'
'Two months.'
Immediately I thought back to how my pastor had encouraged that I take a rest from certain social medias and had suggested a two-month time.  Well it didn't take me long to figure out that two months seemed to be what the LORD was calling me to do.

So on September 14, I began my sabbatical.  I am taking a rest from social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat) and secular music.  I am using the time that I had spent before on these earthly distractions to refocus on the LORD and my relationship with Him.  The last few months have been ridiculously distracting (I will be writing about why soon.  Pray for me as I try to find words to explain, though)...and I have wandered farther from Him than I ever thought I would.  It hurts me to say that.  But it's true.  God has missed me.  I have felt that so strongly.  And I have missed Him.  This space between us just isn't right.  And I am so thankful that He is willing to work on our relationship as much as more than I do.  

He is so faithful.


I have never done a sabbatical before so I'm learning a bunch of new things about 'how to'.  I know that each one is personal and each one has personal standards depending on the person needing to take this time of rest and refocus.  But I'd love to hear if any of you have taken/are taking one and what some of your ideas are for working on your relationship with the LORD free from distractions.  Comment below!


'I'm more than you dreamed
More than you understand
Your days and your times
Were destined for our dance
I catch all your tears
Burn your name on My heart
Be still and trust My plan
I'm more than you think I am.'
- song by Danny Gokey


Bible Color Coding | My Method

I posted a picture on Instagram recently that showed my color code chart while doing my daily devotions.  Since then, I've had a few inquirers asking about HOW I color code my Bible, if there's a specific method I use, what pens work best, etc.

I decided to write a post about it on my blog that would answer all the questions at one time.  Before I begin this though, I just want to clarify one thing.
Everyone is different.  Everyone studies the Bible differently.  And everyone will have a different color coding system.  My structure is my own.  All I hope to achieve in this post is showing you HOW I do it and hoping that this helps you in forming your own plan and system.

It's not about how you mark your Bible, though.  Remember that.  It's about how you allow the Bible to mark you.


[Suggested] Supplies:

  • a Bible
  • Pens
  • Highlighters
  • Post-it notes
  • 3x5" cards
  • a blank notebook
  • whatever else you want to add to it to make this method YOUR OWN;)


Why do you write in and mark your Bible?
For a few reasons.  Mainly these:
- It forces me to slow down and focus on specific passages.
- It makes studying His Word fun and interesting.
- It makes it easier for me to find specific verses when just flipping through looking for a certain one.
- Marking and journaling my Bible during my devotional time has truly helped and encouraged me.
Besides, I love colors and color coding my favorite book is beautiful:)

What Bible do you use?
Well my brother bought me R.C. Spiral's recently released ESV Reformed Study Bible for my birthday.  So that's the one I use this specific color code in.  My everyday, nightstand favorite is an NASB and I actually have a different color code for that one.  Similar, but not exactly the same.

**Some people are really nervous about marking brand new Bibles.  If this is the case with you, don't be afraid to just go buy on at a used bookstore and start color coding in there.  Just until you get the hang of it, you know?**

What is the best brand of pen that you'd suggest?
For color coding, I use Fashion Gel tip pens.  They are my absolute favorite.  They show clearly, the colors are vibrant and deep, and the ink dries quickly.
I would suggest getting Papermate pens for taking notes in your journal.

What colors do you use and what do each of them signify?
I wrote up a color code chart and drew little squares of color, then next to each square, I wrote what that specific color would signify in my Bible highlighting.  MAKE IT YOUR OWN!!

How does your method work?
I read.  I write what I learn.  I highlight according to my color code.  Pretty simple.
As far as deciding WHAT to read in my day to day devotions, in the above photo, you can see a Good Morning Girls Bible chart.  I just printed that from here and it's super fun to check off each chapter and see how much I've read.  I heartily suggest it.

What are some pros and cons that you've found while using your specific method?
I have made a couple mistakes when highlighting certain verses.  I should've marked it pink, but accidentally marked it red.  Or wanted to mark a specific passage with blue and yellow, but accidentally did green and yellow.  It happens, though!  Don't beat yourself up about it.

Why do you journal?
- It helps me retain what I learn and be able to look back and see what I felt the LORD was teaching me.
- It helps me to dig deeper and deeper into His Word.
- It's a form of worship to God through writing out specific Scriptures, observations, how it applies to me, prayers, etc.
- It encourages me to put the passion in my heart into a form of art on paper through praise, confession, repentance, and surrender.
- It's so awesome to look back and see how much I've grown, what I've improved in, and what God has taught me over the years.


Suggested articles and websites:
Gypsy Mama
Women Living Well
Radically Christian


I Will | a letter to my future husband

Dear future husband,

I won't tell you every single second of every single day how much I love you.  I wish I could.  I wish I could promise you that.  But unfortunately, words only hold so much meaning, I won't always feel like loving you (cuz love is a choice, remember?), and I could tell you a million times and you still won't understand just how much I freaking love you.

But I can show you.

And here's how I will show you.

I may not always say 'I love you' but my actions will - through cooking your favorite meal, to giving you a massage when you get back from work, in writing little love notes and leaving them around the house for you to see.

I will make the bed everyday, I'll make you breakfast as early as I can, I'll get things for you when you're too tired to move, I'll nurse you when you're sick, and still kiss you even when you're contagious.

I will always try to remember to ask how your day was, and I promise that I will always listen to you recount the events at work.

I will never climb a mountain and shout about our love from its heights, but I will write down our stories, memories we've made, and I will promise to read those to you when you're old and grey and aren't too good at remembering details.

I'll always look at you and smile and still tell you that you're the handsomest, sexiest man alive, even when your hair isn't black anymore, your face is wrinkled from laughing at me so much, and your eyesight may not be superb either.

There probably won't be any famous movies or novels about our love story, but I'll always remember the moment we met, the way our eyes spoke to each other, and the way our hearts called out saying 'Oh there you are.  I've been looking for you...'

I will always love to hold your hand in the car.  I will never tire of you showing me affection in public.  Or calling me when you're with your friends, and bragging about how I'm your girl.  I will always love telling anyone who will listen about how blessed I am to have you and call you mine.

I will always try to take interest in the things that you love and that are important to you.

I promise to never walk away from you.  I promise to always apologize when I am wrong (even if it takes me a while to realize that I really was in the wrong).

I'll always be happy in the mornings because I get to wake up next to you.

I can't promise that I'll always say the words 'I love you', but when you look in my eyes, you will see that the love I have for you is something that three little words could never fully convey.