Everyday Blessings // 17

I hope everyone's Christmas was as lovely as mine.  December 25th found me reading the account of Jesus' birth according to Luke at 8:00 in the morning with my family, listening to Handel's Messiah whilst opening gifts, and then going back to bed (yes, yes I did), only to awake an hour later and help Mama start preparing the feast of Christmas dinner.  We had friends over, enjoyed a delicious meal, sang Christmas carols, and by 11:00, I was finally in my comfy pjs, watching 'Leverage' episodes and eating some of the chocolate I got for Christmas.  My other gifts included:

>> three of my favorite movies ('Northanger Abbey', 'White House Down', and 'The Vow')
>> a journal
>> a new mug and black chai tea
>> three gift cards (to Macy's, iTunes, and Dutch Bros.)
>> a pair of handmade earrings
>> a new iPhone case
>> a Jerusalem cross 
>> a scarf


How did you spend your Christmas?  What was your favorite gift?


I Can't | a prayer

'I can't do this, God.'
'Do you trust me?'
'Well, yeah, but - '
'Trusting Me should never come with a condition or second guess.'
'I know but - '
'Either you trust Me completely or not at all.'
'Yes, but - '
'Do you believe I Am sovereign?'
'That I Am in control?'
'That I have only your best interests at heart?'
'Then wait.'
'But - '
'And serve Me while you wait.  Be patient.  And praise Me, even when You don't understand My plan.'
'It's so hard though.  This is painful.  I keep running into things and tripping and falling.'
'But I'm always there to help you get back up.  You know why?'
'Because I'm not finished with you yet.  Nothing can touch you without going through My hands first.  Everything you experience has a lesson in it.  Look for it and learn from it.'
'Yes, Father.'
'Remember that all you need to worry about is trusting and serving Me.  I'm taking care of the rest.  You don't know what's up ahead, you can't control the future.  I do.  And I can.  And more than that, I love you.  I have amazing plans for you.  And one day, you will look back on this time in your life and see just how I used it for your good.  And My glory.'



Looks and Lies

‘Boys fall in love with looks.  Girls fall in love with words.  That’s why girls wear makeup and boys lie.’

Yes, this is a very general statement, but sadly, in today’s culture, it is also very true.  And the reason for it, all boils down to one main factor.  Idolatry.  In what?  In the world’s definition of ‘perfect’.  We want to feel secure.  But according to its standards, we don’t match up to the ‘perfect body’, ‘perfect personality’, or ‘perfect person’.  So therefore, we try to be something we’re not.  Something God didn’t create us to be.

(Please note that this is just a general overlook of society which I have personally witnessed.  I am not addressing anyone in particular and I know that each and every one of us are different.  This isn’t pertaining to any one situation.)

We all have that empty, lonely, and insecure feeling that we long to fill.  We look for something or someone to fill that void, to satisfy us, to tell us that we’re amazing and beautiful and perfect.  I believe that both guys and girls tend to fall in love with looks, and while I think that physical attraction does play a huge part in the first steps towards romance, it shouldn’t be the main priority.  Guys tend to be more visual, yes, but girls talk about physical attractiveness in men more than guys do about women.  (And, at least to me, that is a fact.)

Guys are generally willing to overlook certain character flaws in a girl more readily than girls do with guys.  Therefore, girls aren’t as concerned with inner beauty as they are with external.  If you ask anyone, they’ll say that girls are more self-conscious about their looks than guys are.  We feel the need to focus on beautifying ourselves because the world has poisoned our minds to think that a guy won’t like us unless we’re a Victoria’s Secret model.    
But girls aren’t the only ones who feel pressure to ‘look good’.  Movies, magazines, etc. aren’t only targeting women.  And more than external, guys are filled with the shame and insecurity because of their character flaws and past mistakes (which they are too often reminded of).  And of course, it doesn’t help when girls are constantly talking about their latest celebrity crush and who was named the Sexiest Guy of 2013 (and no, it’s not horrible that I know who that is).  

When we like someone, and want them to like us back, we’ll get all fancied up and lie about who we are (and even sometimes lie to ourselves) because we’re afraid that a he/she won’t like our real self.  And that’s where honesty has become such a rare thing to find in someone.  Because, according to the world’s standards, it’s better to be loved for who we aren’t, than brushed aside for who we are.  But true love isn’t about outward appearance.  It’s about inner beauty - both in men and women.  To fall in love with someone is to fall in love with their soul, the core being of who they are, the little things that make up the great big picture of what makes that person so unique.

The reason girls and guys lie to each other about who they are may change on a case to case basis, but the main underlying reason (problem) remains: they rarely have the security in their own selves so they seek another person to put it there, not know that everyone else is lacking in the same exact security.  And we use whatever it takes to fill that void.

Both genders struggle with the same issues, but just in different ways.  

The truth of the matter is, we can’t find that fulfillment and security in someone else.  We can’t even find it in ourselves.  Scripture clearly teaches that the heart of man is ‘deceitful above all things and desperately wicked’ (Jeremiah 17:9), so how could we try to bring joy to ourselves?  It’s literally impossible to find that joy and satisfaction in anyone else, except Jesus Christ.  He is the ONLY One who possesses the power to make one person whole and complete.  Not just a ‘feeling’, but an actual, renewed self.  And the reason is because He gave us that certain feeling of emptiness to continually draw us back to Him.  He created us for fellowship with Him!  Not just ‘some guy’ or ‘some girl’.  And until you find that satisfaction in Him, I promise you won’t have complete joy and peace in life.  Because without Him, there is none.  Your man will never satisfy you the way you were meant to be satisfied.  Your girl can never show you what your worth is, like God can.  You’ll never feel secure until you know you’re held by Jesus’ own hands.  Only He can show you your value and worth because He made you...and without Him, you aren’t worth much.  The only way someone could help you is by pointing you towards Him and the prize of His upward calling.

A girl doesn’t need a guy to tell her she’s beautiful.  A guy doesn’t need a girl to make him confident in who he is.  We can only find it in God.  Our value, our worth, our strength, hope, love, joy, comfort - everything!  In the One who created it.  

And besides, a true man or woman will fall in love with your soul before falling in love with your body.  And if they don’t, then they’re not worth your time.


‘I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Marvelous are Your works, O LORD, and this my soul knows very well.’
- Psalm 139:14

‘You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.’
- Song of Solomon 4:7


Live like you're dying

I can only imagine that being on the brink of death is one of the most humbling experiences ever.  Knowing that you won’t be a part of this life for much longer makes you suddenly realize all the things you could be doing differently.  You would be filled with regret for things past, but a determination to make things better.  Shouldn’t we always think this, though?  Maybe we should start living like we’re dying.

We want to rush through life so fast, but compared to eternity, our years are smaller than a dot in time.  We want to grow up fast.  Get married soon.  Have lots of children.  But why can’t we just live for the moment?  If you were dying, you would count every second as the last.  You would take every breath as if you wouldn’t breathe again.  You would spend as much time as possible with the people you love.  You would take risks, determine to accomplish goals, tell someone something that you wouldn’t otherwise have the courage to say.

There are so many stories of people who lived for the moment, and before their family knew it, they were gone - a car accident, kidnapping, or they’re suddenly diagnosed with cancer and don’t have too much time left.  Other stories are even more sad.  Of families who were torn apart, relationships that were broken and then, suddenly, one of them is not there.  The people left behind wish so much that they would’ve spent more time with that person.  They wish that they hadn’t treated them this or that way.  We need to realize that life is so fragile.  We’re here one minute, and could be gone the next. 

Don’t waste your time on earth!  Don’t forget the precious moments with your family!  Don’t rush ahead!  Life will come to you and God has it all planned out.  



Accepting the Gift of Singleness

In the past two months, I have had six people ask me if I have a boyfriend and if I’m in a relationship.  When I said ‘no’, one person even asked me ‘why not?’.  And of course, the question of ‘How do you cope with being single while all your peers are in relationships and/or getting married?’ always pops up in there somewhere too.

I know that I’m not the only girl who has been asked these questions.  And I wanted to address this topic on here so people will (LORD-willing) be able to relate and be encouraged. 

Being joyfully single is all about acceptance.  When you accept God’s will for your life and not fight against where He has you planted in the here and now, you will begin to find joy in the little, everyday blessings.  When you surrender to God’s plan, you are telling Him ‘God, I trust You and whatever You have planned for me.  I’m laying my life at Your feet.’  He knows the desires of your heart.  But what if your desires don’t align with His will?  Simple.  He won’t let them happen because He is the one Who knows what’s best for you.  

News flash!  You can’t foresee the future, thus you have no control over it, thus wouldn’t it just be better to hand the pen of your story to the One who does?

I’ve learned that in the times we want something the most, it’s almost always when we need only Jesus.  Until we get past that point (which will have ups and downs), we just keep growing and waiting on Him.  When we finally come to the moment of surrender, that is usually when amazing things start happening.  But even if blessings don’t start raining down on us, we are joyful in whatever state we are in because we are content in Christ and content in His plan for us.  When I reached the point of realizing that Jesus is all I needed, it really didn’t matter if I got what I wanted or not.  Because I am happy enough just knowing my Savior and having a personal, intimate and romantic relationship with Him.

I’m hopeful for the future.  But I’m hopeful not in what I want, but in God’s plan.  I’m hopeful because I know that whatever He has planned for me is JUST what I need - whether that means being single or getting married, my life is His and always will be.  My relationship with God shouldn’t change once a man comes into my life.  If it does change, it should be for the better because through my relationship with a man, it should point me and push me closer to Christ.

A lot of people have the wrong idea for WHY they want a relationship.  Do they want fulfillment?  Do they want purpose?  Do they want a new direction in life?  Well, you can find all that.  In Christ.  A man or a woman isn’t going to make life easier for you.  Or a complete romantic bliss.  Right now, as a single, God has something He wants you to do.  Things you could never do if you were married.  Things He knows you need to learn before being ready for marriage.  No matter how long you are single (which may even be till you die), you are accomplishing the most when you are following His plan.  The longer we fight against His desires for us and try to do our own thing, the more we’re wasting precious time to be investing and cooperating with what He wants us to do.  We need to be trusting in God no matter what.  Taking up our crosses daily to follow Him, no matter where He leads.  There comes our word of the day again: acceptance.  Our whole purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.  The only way we can do that is by accepting His will for us and letting Him work in and through us.

‘God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.’
- John Piper

For some of us, He will be most glorified while we’re single.  Singleness is a gift.  We are able to accomplish SO much for Him because we aren’t committed or tied down (I don’t mean that in any sort of negative way!) to someone, to marriage, to family.  Our time as singles should be used wisely.  It’s a gift.  And when we accept it as such, God can use our willingness to accomplish great things.


'But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.'
- 1 Timothy 6:6

'For everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude, for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.'
- 1 Timothy 4:4

'But I want you to be free from concern.  One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the LORD, how he may please the LORD but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife and his interests are divided.  The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the LORD, that she may be holy both in body and spirit, but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.'
- 1 Corinthians 8:32-34


Fear is a manipulative emotion...but hope is even greater

It had been a pretty good day for me.  I had gotten some new ideas for blog posts and was eager to have some quiet time before going to bed, and be able write to my heart’s content.  I read my Bible first, and spent some time in prayer, but when I got my laptop out, I had this sudden sense of overwhelming doubt...and fear.  I can’t really explain it (and I apologize in advance if this post doesn’t make any sense), but I felt alone and uninspired and totally not able to write.

And the post I wanted to work on was this one.  About fear.

Fear is all around us.  And in us.  We base decisions off of fear, or choose to do or not do something because of fear.  While fear can be healthy at times, how often do we let it dictate our lives and rule our way of thinking?

Fear has a way of gripping us so that we feel unable to achieve what our hearts desire.  Fear can make us choose to discard the right thing and do the wrong thing all because we want to be accepted.  Fear can keep us from chasing after dreams because we’re afraid that they’re too impossible.  Fear can keep us from writing a blog post because we don’t think it’ll turn out well and won’t make any sense.

But what does the Bible have to say about ‘fear’?

‘Do not fear, for I am with you.  Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you.  Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ 
- Isaiah 41:10

‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of discipline.’
- 2 Timothy 1:7

‘Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous!  Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.’
- Joshua 1:9

The opposite of dismay is hope.  The opposite of weakness is strength.  The opposite of fear is courage.  As children of the Creator of the universe, we have His power in us.  We have the hope that can only come from knowing Him.  We have His strength that He gives to us through His Holy Spirit.  And we have nothing to fear because ‘we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us’.

Fear is just something we make up in our minds.  It’s something we LET prevent us from achieving higher goals, higher standards, new things, amazing blessings.  It’s not something we can overcome easily.  It takes time...and strength.  But not of our own.  

Our God is a consuming fire.  He is always with us.  Nothing can separate us from His love.  He is constant.  He is our Solid Rock.  In Him, there is no fear because His perfect love casts out fear.


‘The LORD is my light and my salvation.  Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the strength of my life.  Of whom shall I be afraid?’
- Psalm 27:1


Everyday Blessings // 16

>> winning the Best Encourager 2013 blog award
>> a house full of friends for Thanksgiving
>> finally being able to listen to Christmas music
>> the first snow
>> volunteering at one of my favorite bands' merch tables at Winter Jam
>> nicknames
>> new books by favorite authors
>> recording in a studio
>> emails from readers in other countries
>> decorating for Christmas
>> friends visiting from afar
>> writing a new song
>> looking forward to a friend's wedding this weekend
>> knowing that a new year is quickly approaching


What are some blessings that God has showered on you lately?


4 Definitions of a True Man

“You have to be a man before you can be a gentleman.”
- John Wayne

What makes a real man?  What characteristics about a guy make him a man and no longer a boy?

This post was written in hopes of encouraging young women to not lower their standards in a world where so few true men exist, and to challenge guys to be the men they’re called to be and that this world is in dire need of.


I could use many words to describe a man.  A man worthy of respect.  Chivalrous, courageous, fun to be around, wise, loyal, passionate, strong, gentle, kind, visionary, serving, humble, hard-working, defender of truth, bold, prayerful, and faithful.  These are just a few that come to mind.  (1 Thessalonians 5:16, Proverbs 2:1-10, Proverbs 19:22, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, Proverbs 19:11)

Being a man isn’t just about opening doors and being polite.  That should go without saying.  It’s about putting someone else’s needs above your own.  It’s about doing what’s right even if you won’t get recognition for it.  Some of you may think that being a man is about how he acts or how he handles situations, but really it’s not what they can do that defines them.  It’s about what Jesus did for them. 

1. A boy becomes a man when he lets go of his life and gives it to God.  The strength to be able to put Jesus first above everything isn’t easy because a boy wants to feel in control, but a man knows what humility is and that on his own strength, he won’t accomplish what he could if he let go and let God.  Everyday is a battle to fight for being a man, to put God first, and lay down your dreams.   

2. A boy becomes a man when he is responsible and mature enough to perform a task and to be able to be depended on to do a job - no matter how difficult.  

3. A boy becomes a man when he has direction and goals.  A guy who sits in front of video games all day or goes to college without having any vision for his life or in pursuit of a career is never attractive.  Women need men who are leaders, who are responsible, who have dreams and are willing to go after those dreams.  He must be faithful and responsible in the pursuit of his calling.  

4. A boy becomes a man when he is humble in owning up to his mistakes, knows he’s not perfect and even though he may be well-established, have many mentors, and good visions, he must be willing to be corrected.  Humility is part of accepting God’s will for his life too.  And going after it whole-heartedly.

These are not the typical guys that get noticed right away.  But when they are noticed, they are to be admired and respected.  They are the ones who go to the person looking left out of the party and introduce themselves with a handshake and smile.  They are the ones who you will find at home investing time in their family instead of hanging out with friends every weekend.   You will find them helping in the kitchen, taking out the trash, and doing the dishes without being asked.  They will be the ones having deep discussions about theology, politics, worldview philosophies and books, rather than girls, TV or the latest computer game.  These are the guys who walk on the outside of the sidewalk to protect the lady whom they might be with.  These men do not bend on their convictions, they hold firm to their standards and no matter what others may say or do, they stand for the truth.

Being a man is a process, not a one day event.


‘Stand true to your calling to be a man.  Real women will always be relieved and grateful when men are willing to be men.’
- Elisabeth Elliot

‘One cannot always be a hero, but one can always be a man.’
- Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe

“There is a difference between being a good man and being good at being a man.” 
- Jack Donovan

“A man must at times be hard as nails: willing to face up to the truth about himself, and about the woman he loves, refusing compromise when compromise is wrong. But he must also be tender. No weapon will breach the armor of a woman's resentment like tenderness.”
- Elisabeth Elliot


When your heart is too full for words

You know when your heart is too full for words
And what you’re feeling can’t be explained?
Or when your throat feels tight with emotion
But you don’t know whether to laugh or cry?
Sometimes it’s something good
Sometimes it’s bad
But no matter what situation it is
Whether you even know how you’re feeling or not
God hears what is not spoken
And understands what is not explained
He made your heart
He designed your emotions
He knit your self together.
Don’t ever feel that you can’t talk to Him
About anything and everything
And when your heart is too full for words
Just be still
And know that He can hear you, even in the silence.


'Search me, O God, and know my heart.  Try me and know my anxious thoughts.'
- Psalm 139:23


In the reflection

I pulled my camera strap over my head and adjusted my coat collar.  It was a perfect autumn day, cool and crisp.  I had woken up that morning feeling the need to go for a walk.  There was a new book shop in town that had just opened and I had been wanting to stop by and see their selection.  School had kept me busy but today was Saturday and I was free from my college homework for a few hours.  So, armed with my camera, my large purse that people always made fun of, and a heart needing a de-stressful day, I closed the front door behind me and started down the sidewalk.  
I passed a biker or two on my way downtown but for the most part, the sidewalks were vacant.  The trees along the streets were changing their leafy colors and making a beautiful cascade as they fell to the ground.  I stopped once or twice to take a quick snapshot of the red and orange and yellow natural autumn decor.  
As I neared downtown, the sight of the old, rustic brick buildings was lovely.  I stopped short as something flashed next to me.  I retracted two steps and saw, to my left, that I had passed a large front window of an abandoned building and my reflection was what had halted me.  I stared at myself for a minute, then raised my camera to take a picture.  As I peered through it, I gasped and quickly pulled the camera from my face.
‘Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.’  He had a British accent.
I stepped away from him.  ‘Who are you?’
He gave a small grin and said, ‘I saw you were going to take a picture and thought I could,’ he shrugged.  ‘Well, it’s not like I would be adding anything good to it.  I just thought you might want an extra person so you won’t be standing alone.’
I felt my eyebrows frown for a minute, then slowly relax.  ‘Sure,’ I said, offering a small smile.  ‘And you’re forgiven - for scaring me.’ I added.
‘Ah, there’s a difference between scaring and startling.  I prefer to assume that I did the latter.  Which,’ he offered a slight bow.  ‘I do apologize for.’
I bit back a laugh.  Here was a British boy, dressed like a hipster, complete with combat boots, a cardigan and beanie wanting to take a picture with a random girl.  My morning was certainly starting off interesting.
‘You can apologize a couple more times because your voice is kind of amazing.’
Wow.  Way to go.
He laughed.  ‘Why thank you.  Your accent is quite lovely too.’
‘My accent?’ I exclaimed.
He nodded.  ‘Your American accent.’
‘Oh,’ I said.  ‘Right.’  I always thought how funny it was that people hear each other’s accents when they’re from different countries.
‘So where do you want me to stand?’ he asked.
I faced the window and motioned to my left.  ‘Just right here.’
‘Gladly,’ he said, taking a step forward.  I didn’t realize how tall he was until he was standing next to me.  My head came up to about his jawline.
I raised my camera once more and snapped the picture.
‘Thank you,’ I said with a smile.
‘No trouble at all.  Thank you!’
A slight pause.
‘Have a nice day!’ I said with a small wave and started walking again.
‘You too,’ I heard him call behind me.
My mind played over the whole scene as I walked the rest of the way and up the steps into the book shop.  I was greeted with the ring of a bell above the door, the soft glow of candles and the smell of pumpkin spice.  
What a charming, cozy little place! I thought to myself.
A worker welcomed me and upon being asked if I was looking for a particular book, I said the first one that came to my head.  She pointed towards an aisle and I told her not to bother showing me right where it was.  I would be happy browsing until I found it.
I made my way down the row, passing soft and hard covered books.  The smell of them all was delightful and I felt like I was in reader’s heaven.  I found the shelf I was looking for and smiled to see that ‘North and South’ by Elizabeth Gaskell was there.  I carefully pulled it down and opened to a random page.
‘Wow.  This is strange.’
I looked up from my book only to be met with the face I had seen just several minutes before.
‘Oh!  Hello!’
The British boy held up both of his hands, as if in surrender.  ‘Please do not think I’m following you.  I know this may seem rather creepy, but in all honesty - ’
I interrupted him with a laugh.  ‘No worries!  I’m sure many people are making their way to this new bookstore today.’
‘I’m glad you’re taking this so lightly.  I was actually hoping I would bump into you again, though.  I didn’t properly introduce myself.’  He extended his hand and I shook it.
He shook hands with Margaret. He knew it was the first time their hands had met, though she was perfectly unconscious of the fact.’
I stared at him.  ‘What?’ I whispered.
He released my hand and motioned to the book I still held.  ‘North and South.  That’s a line from it.’
My eyebrows raised quickly.  ‘Oh!  You’ve read this before?’
‘Several times.  I’m a bit of a...what do you Americans call it?  A book nerd?’
‘Then that makes two of us.’
He looked at me for a moment and his brown eyes seemed to see right to my soul.  ‘I must seem like such a random person to you,’ he began.  ‘Asking to be in a picture with you, coming to the same bookstore, and now quoting from a book.’  He chuckled.  ‘I’m sorry.  I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day.’  He gave that small bow again and turned to leave.  
‘What other books would you recommend for me?’ I asked suddenly.
He stopped and looked back at me with a smile.  ‘I can show you a few, if you’d like.’
‘Please,’ I said, following his lead.
The next hour or so seemed to pass in a blur.  We talked about our favorite authors, places we’d like to visit, how school was going for both of us and how autumn was our favorite season.  He told me that he was an exchange student who recently moved to town and today was his first day to explore.  What were the chances that I could spend my leisure Saturday with a British boy?  
‘Do you need to be heading home?’ he asked, as I checked my phone for the time.
I didn’t want to, but I knew I had a stack of homework waiting for me on my desk.  I gave a sad nod.  ‘Yeah, I should get going soon.’
‘Well before you leave, pick out a book that you’d like.’
‘You-you mean, to buy?’
‘No, silly, for me to buy for you!’
‘Are you serious?’
‘Why would I tease about something like this?’  He rolled his eyes.
I smiled.  ‘Gosh, I don’t know which one I want...’
‘How about ‘North And South’?  Or do you own a copy of it already?’
‘I don’t, actually.  I need one.’
‘Then it’s settled.  I’ll purchase it for you.’
I left the book shop with a paper bag containing the Elizabeth Gaskell novel in one hand and a white chocolate mocha in the other.  
‘Thank you so much,’ I smiled at him.
‘No, thank you.  I had a wonderful day.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had such a good one.  And thank you for not thinking I’m a creep.’
I grinned.  ‘Not at all.  Well...goodbye.’  I starting walking towards home, making sure I didn’t look over my shoulder.  Part of me almost wanted to give him my number, but knew that'd be way too forward of me.  He didn’t ask me so, I wouldn’t.
I tossed my purse and camera onto my bed when I got home and fell into my bright red chair to start on homework.  But instead, I sipped my mocha, staring out the window in front of me.  It was starting to rain.  I sighed and turned to my desk, but I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.  I turned to look out the side window next to my bed and gasped.  There he was.  Sitting at his desk.  A chin resting in his hand while he stared out his front window.  The British boy was my neighbor.
A million questions raced through my head but I didn’t have time to do anything before he glanced over and a shocked look came over his face.  Then, we both had the same idea.
I jumped onto my bed and quickly lifted the window open, and he did the same.
‘What are you doing there?’
‘I live here!’
Of course.  He’s an exchange student.  And he just moved to this new house.  Right next door to mine.
I laughed.  ‘This is so crazy.’
‘I agree.  But a good crazy.’
‘That’s the only kind of crazy I like.’
A pause.
‘Want to come over and do homework with me?’ he winked.
‘I thought you’d never ask,’ I smiled.


I set up a page so it's easier for my readers to access past novellas that I've written.  Just click on 'The Romance Corner' button in the sidebar and it'll take you to the page that they're listed on.


Peru, aqui voy | an announcement

Some of you may know this already, but to others, this will be big news.

The LORD has opened doors for me to go on my first mission's trip...and it's to one of the countries that I have always wanted to visit: Peru.  

My Dad was born there, my parents visited there back in '93, and I have so much family there who I haven't even met.  I've always wanted to travel, but not just to tour.  I want to travel and spread the Gospel as I go.  Through a series of incredible circumstances, God has given me confirmation that Scripture Union is the ministry I should go with and I have been accepted as part of an incredible team of 11 believers who are going.  

The mission trip will be from July 7th-July 18th, 2014.  While there we will be up in the mountains of Yungay at a home for abandoned boys (ages 5-mid 20's).  We will work almost all day, every day.  The time that we're not working, will be spent with the boys - playing games, ministering through music and stories, etc.  But overall, most of the trip will be spent just showing God's love and ministering to these boys who were abandoned on the harsh streets of Peru.

The cost of the entire trip will be around $2,000.  I am needing to raise half of that by March 15th, and the other half by May 1st.  If you would like more details on how you can help me raise these funds, please email me.  I am asking (instead of gifts for Christmas or my birthday) that you please consider helping sponsor this trip for me.  And if not, please be in prayer for me and the whole team - that we can raise all the funds and that God continues to bless our efforts to put this team together.  

Thank you so much!:)


Yes, this is about sex {part 2}

**Be advised that this is not appropriate for all ages.  If you are under eighteen, please ask your parents before proceeding past this sentence.**

Sex is all around us.  In movies, in books, in music, in conversations, and in our minds.  Everyone wants to have sex.  (If you didn’t have any to desire to have sex, I would question whether you’re a human or not.)  But not everyone is willing to wait to have the right kind of sex.  What do I mean by ‘the right kind’?  Well, sex was intended to only be enjoyed between a man and woman who are married.  But society seems to think differently.

I’m 18 years old, I’ve never had sex, and I don’t plan to till my wedding night.  Does this make me old-fashioned?  Maybe.  Does it make me crazy?  To some people, yes.  Is something wrong with me?  Well, no.  This is just the standard that I’ve gathered from verses like:

‘Marriage is to be held in honor above all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.’ 
- Hebrews 13:4

‘Flee immorality.  Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.  Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from god, and that you are not your own?’
- 1 Corinthians 6:18-19

‘Beloved, I urge you as strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.’
- 1 Peter 2:11

But more than basing my view on Bible verses, I’m going to borrow a statement from my friend Jordan Kranda in which he says:

‘My main reason [for waiting till marriage to have sex] actually isn’t rooted in a Bible verse, but instead it’s rooted in a Biblical concept: faithfulness.’

Faithfulness is the foundation for why I have chosen to abstain from having sex.  Refusing to give my body away is an act of faithfulness towards my future husband.

‘What if you never get married, though?’ you may be asking.  
Well then I will have lived a pure life, obeying God’s commands.

Another principle I would add to faithfulness is commitment.  These are two main points in a marriage.  Mark 10:6-9 talks about how a man and woman who enter the union of marriage are no longer two, but one flesh.  And how a man must forsake all others and ‘cleave’ (or ‘hold fast’) only to his wife.  This joining of a husband to his wife is a permanent covenant, orchestrated by God.  

I love what Mary Kassian has to say about this:

‘The physical act of union between [a husband and wife’s] bodies’ consummates their emotional and spiritual intimacy.  The Old Testament expression for sexual intercourse is that a man ‘knows’ his wife.  Sexual intercourse equals knowing.  Covenant love is all about ‘knowing someone’.  It’s communion of the most intimate kind.  It’s the deepest love that is humanly possible.’    

Sexual purity takes self-control.  It requires that we don’t mindlessly follow our sexual passions, like people who don’t know God.  The LORD wants us to control our sexual impulses.  He created sex.  He created our desire for it.  But to abstain from giving in to these passions before the time is right, is hard, yes.  And He knew it would be.  He gave us His Holy Spirit - the Spirit of power, love and self-control - to help us discipline ourselves in keeping control over our bodies and sexual desires in a holy and honorable way (2 Timothy 1:7).

I’ve had a lot of people tell me that confining physical intimacy to marriage will decrease the pleasure of sex.  But I believe that quite the contrary is true.  (And I know quite a few married couples who have confirmed this.) Narrowing the boundary to the God-given design increases the power, passion and pleasure of sex.  It ‘allows’ sex to be everything God created it to be.  In the long run, boundary creates beauty.  

And God delights in sex so much that He devoted an entire book of the Bible to it (Song of Solomon).  God wants Christians to experience fabulous sex.  He is supportive of good sex because He created that intimacy between a man and woman.  


'The LORD God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.'
- Genesis 2:18


Everyday Blessings // 15

>> dreams coming true
>> filling a journal
>> getting my own Young Living Everyday Oils kit
>> country music
>> finding the perfect gift for a friend
>> buying new books
>> crisp autumn weather
>> the possibility of going on a mission's trip
>> long sweaters that reach all the way down to your hands
>> planning surprises
>> bonfires
>> baking, baking, baking
>> Papaya (clothing store)
>> Boba tea
>> catch-up chats with friends

Would my readers like me to start including more personal pictures in my Everyday Blessings posts?


'Rich In Blessings' Giveaway winner: Cassie
{please contact me with your mailing info}


What love is this?

I know that we can never fully understand God’s love for us.  But we can try.  Or at least try to understand .1% of it.

One thing I know for sure is that God’s love isn’t something small and fuzzy.  It’s not casually calm.  It’s violent.  It’s ferocious.  It’s God-was-murdered-on-your-behalf kind of love.  He knew He would have to die for His chosen ones before the world began.  And He was willing to do that.  He was willing to die and be ridiculed because He loves His children.
This love isn’t something that any other kind of love can be compared to.  It’s a Heavenly Father love.  I-will-love-you-forever kind of love.  It’s a powerful love.  And it’s lavished upon us daily.  It’s the most beautiful example of love.  And no, I don’t think someone can truly love without knowing the love of God.  Jesus’ death and resurrection is the pure and perfect example of a holy and complete love that a Man has for His bride (the church).  It’s a true, I’ll never leave you or forsake you kind of love.  No matter what comes their way.

True love, even in the midst of hardship, can only be seen in the eyes of those who define love by pointing to the cross of Jesus Christ.  That is the ultimate form of the definition of love.  Beyond such, there is none.


'Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.'
- 1 John 4:7-11


What It Means To Be 'Single'

Many people view being single as a downside.  ‘Everyone else’ is in a relationship right now, so why shouldn’t I be?  Is something wrong with me?

These are questions that I’ve had readers ask me.  If you’ve been there and said that, let me just clarify one thing.  Right now, you are where you’re meant to be.  If you’re single, it’s because God says you’re supposed to be single.  And no, it’s not a ‘bad thing’.

Single isn’t a status.  It’s a word that describes a person who is strong enough to live and enjoy life without depending on anyone except God.  It’s a person who is trusting God with their future, with their life, and with their love story.

Your single years are probably some of the best years of your life.  While yes, it’s hard not having that significant other to call and text all day and cuddle with on the weekends, there’s honestly so much more that can fill up your time and so many good things you can be accomplishing that you wouldn’t be able to if you were in a committed relationship.  But most importantly, your single years is a testing ground for the most important relationship you can ever have - with God.  A relationship that will never end.  A man/woman isn’t going to make your life perfect.  If you’re unhappy right now, a boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t going to make you happy.  If you’re discontent with life, starting a relationship isn’t going to make it all a bed of roses.

While you’re single, you are ‘free from concern’ as Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians.  In verse 32 of chapter 7, he says: ‘...One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the LORD, how he may please the LORD.’  What better goal in life?  What a privilege to have so much time to learn more about the LORD and how we can better serve Him?  

Being single doesn’t mean something’s wrong with you.  It doesn’t mean you’re shy, it doesn’t mean you’re weak.  It doesn’t mean you don’t know anything about love and how to show affection.  It means you know enough about love to know that it’s something worth waiting for.  Something real.

God hasn’t overlooked you.  He has something and someone amazing in store for you.  Remember: it’s all about HIS timing, not yours.  Put your heart in God’s hands and He will put it in the hands of the one He has chosen for you.  And if being single is one of your callings in life and marriage isn’t written in your story, remember that His plans for you aren’t something that He knows you can’t handle.  With Him all things are possible.  So become satisfied in your life right now.  Fall more in love with Him right now.  And nothing in your future will ever phase you.


'...No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.'
- Psalm 84:11


I figured it out | a poem

There's a girl
There's a boy
Both want that romantic relationship that everyone else seems to have
They like each other
But they're afraid to make their feelings known
She, because how could he ever like her?
He, because how could she ever like him?
And so they live on as 'just friends'
Wasting time that they could be spending together
But instead, are spending apart
All because two little things called 'hesitation' and fear' are holding them back.



A small word, yet a great thing

God wouldn’t have given us the command to ‘go into all the world and preach the Gospel’ if He didn’t also give us the courage to do so.

Speaking fearlessly about God and His holiness is no easy task when you are faced with hundreds of people who either hate God, hate you, or both.  The truth is never accepted easily.  As human beings, we don’t want to turn from our evil ways.  Only God can open our eyes to make us see our need for Him.

As Christians, we will face rejection, persecution, and hate every day of our lives.  We will need to stand against temptations, speak with grace, and love our enemies as Christ tells us to.  Do not become discouraged when the people of this world turn against you.  We are not made for this realm, but for somewhere, something so much greater.

Courage is something many of us lack, but it's so easy to come by when we ask God for it.  We need His strength and courage to live in this world.  Without it, we will falter and break, but He has overcome this world.


‘But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.’
- 1 Thessalonians 2:4


Someone New | a poem

I know what it’s like
To want to give up
You’re tired of getting hurt
You’re tired of being used
You’re tired of people leaving your life.
Some people you thought
Would always be there
No matter what
But they changed 
Or you changed
Or both
And they’re no longer close to your heart.
You don’t know who to trust anymore
You don’t want to invest time 
In someone’s life
Only for them to leave you
And hurt you
And not come back.
But that’s life
People come and go
It’s an adventure -
Whether we like it or not.
And don’t ever give up
Don’t ever not want to get to know someone new
Because you never know if that new someone
Is the most important someone you will ever know...


Are you a full-time Christian?

How many of us encourage others to step out and share the Gospel with people
...but don't witness to strangers ourselves?

How many of us are willing to stay awake for a 3 hour movie
...but get sleepy during a 1 hour sermon?

How many of us don't leave the house without cell phones
...but forget our Bibles?

How many of us are quick to talk about the latest movie or book with our friends
...but are awkward to pray or talk about the LORD in public?

How any of us love our friends as Jesus does
...but fail to share His love with anyone else?

How many of us be sure to listen to 'Christian' music on Sundays
...but the rest of the week, the music we let enter our ears is trashy?

How many of us sing the words of worship songs
...but don't mean the words we sing?

How many of us make plans for each day
...but never ask God what He wants us to do?

How many of us buy things we don't need
...but can't give a single penny to those who have needs?

How many of us make time for coffee dates with friends
...but 'don't have time' for personal devotions?

How many of us read our Bibles
...but never go and do what it says?

How many of us spend more time on the internet
...but not enough praying?

How many of us pray when we want something
...but fail to pray for those suffering and in need?

We are all guilty of at least one of these.  What are some ways that you can change your daily routine and make more time for the One who deserves it?  Are you living as a full-time Christian...or just part time?


'But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.'
- Matthew 6:33


Everyday Blessings // 14

photo by: Nigel Barros

>> having a job
>> getting along with coworkers
>> paying off a $900 debt
>> going to a concert in downtown Portland
>> exploring
>> late night runs to the store with Mama
>> ‘I missed you!’ from my little brother when I get home from work
>> finding someone near me who is willing to teach me Japanese
>> staying up late watching Vine videos (should I start my own account? Would you follow it?)
>> beach trips
>> getting a new phone (iPhone 5 for the win;)
>> finishing journals
>> getting packages in the mail
>> new hoodies
>> witnessing a friend marrying the love of her life
>> teaching a friend how to swing dance
>> meeting new people
>> movie marathons
>> setting new goals
>> finding amazing new quotes for my quote collection journals
>> autumn rain


Happy first {day late} of autumn!


Yes, this is about sex {part 1}

**Be advised that this is not appropriate for all ages.  If you are under eighteen, please ask your parents before proceeding past this sentence.**

Before you being reading this, please note that no, I am not married.  No, I have never had sex.  And no, this article isn’t ‘my opinion’.  It’s my belief based on what I’ve studied in God’s Word.

I believe that sex is something a lot of people hesitate to talk about because it’s something that, yes, should be done privately.  But it’s also part of nature.  God created it.  I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.

Sex is a beautiful thing - when done right.  And by right, I mean, done when and where God intended it to be done.  Sex was intended for marriage, to be performed in a marriage, and only between a husband and wife.

What is the purpose of sex?

Well primarily, it’s the God-given physical symbol of a man and woman joining together as one, in marriage.  After that, it’s the beautiful and most intimate way of expressing love between a husband and wife.  It’s to satisfy each other.  It’s an unselfish demonstration of mutual passion of love that the couple has for each other.  And of course, the way to procreate.

Just think about it.

God first created animals.  And gave them the ability to procreate by mating.  God also chose to give sex to humans.  But for more reasons than just to make babies.  He gave it to us to enjoy.  And also to know your partner in the deepest and most intimate way possible.  In Genesis 2:24 it says, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.’  At weddings, you will hear the bride and groom exchange marriage vows.  Through these, they are joined together verbally and publically.  Afterwards, usually on the honeymoon, those vows are consecrated by the couple joining together physically by a physical union.  God designed men and women’s bodies to fit together perfectly.  That’s why gay marriage is so wrong and not natural.  (See my post on gay marriages HERE)

God created sex to be enjoyed within a marriage.  He looks down with joy on a couple showing this passionate love to each other when they are performing within His plan.  

Sex is just physical...isn’t it?

Actually, no, it’s not.  It’s so much more than that.

Why do you think that when someone has been sexually abused, it’s something they’re more ashamed of and scared of telling people than other traumas that may have happened in their lives?  

Especially for women.  Having sex is something that awakens a part of her that men don’t have.  Men are more physical, and are all about being physically satisfied.  Women are emotional.  Everything women do link back to some sort of emotion they have, a feeling they keep locked in their heart.  Even sex.

There’s a hormone that every girl has.  It’s called ‘oxytocin’.  Studies show that it’s released only three times in her life - when she has sex, when she gives birth and when she breastfeeds her baby.  This chemical emotionally attaches the woman to the other person for the rest of her life.  For men, it’s only released when bonding with their children.  Because of this hormone, a girl will always be emotionally connected to a man after she has sex with him.  So you think sex is a game?  Remember that it can mess up a girl’s brain and heart for the rest of her life.  This chemical also explains why we’re only supposed to have sex with one person.  And that one person should be the one you choose to spend the rest of your life with.

When is a person ready to have sex?

Well, there’s a one-question quiz that makes you answer that question yourself.  And that question is:

Are you married?

If your answer is ‘no’, then that’s the answer to your first question.
If your answer is ‘yes’, then by all means, enjoy!


‘Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for the fornicators and adulterers God will judge.’
- Hebrews 13:4


Free to struggle

We are free to struggle
We're not struggling to be free
Your blood bought and makes us children
So children, drop your chains and sing.'
- 'The Struggle' / Tenth Avenue North

I was blessed to be able to volunteer at a Christian concert festival a couple weekends ago.  One of the bands that performed was Tenth Avenue North.  It was my first time seeing them live.  And it came at such a perfect time in my life.  God knew I needed to see and hear them.  

One of the songs they sung was 'The Struggle'.  It's a song of encouragement to believers that even though we are saved, and we are free, we still struggle in life.  With temptations, with pride, with sin.  But we are free to struggle because we have already been bought with a price.  We are His children no matter what.  Nothing can change His love for us.   

We may be tired and worn from all the struggles we face.  We may feel like we fail every day and can God still love us after we've fallen to a temptation for the umpteeth time?  The weight of this world wears on us.  It beats us down.  It tries to stifle us and make us believe that we're worthless and good for nothing.  Our souls feel crushed.  We are worn and have lost our wills to fight...

But amidst all of this, we can cry out with all that we have.  We can have hope in the knowledge that in God's merciful redemption, we win.  
With His strength, this struggle ends.  
He can mend anything.
A heart that's broken.  
   A breath that's frail.  
      A life that feels torn.  
Through Him, a song can rise from your parched lips.  
Whatever feels dead inside us can be made alive and reborn through the breath of His life.


'Why are you in despair, O my soul?  And why have you become disturbed within me?  Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him.  The help of my countenance and my God.'
- Psalm 42:11


Complete Abandonment

To live a life of faith means to trust God in all circumstances, even with the pain you cannot understand.  To reject the way of redemption only leads you to a life of bitterness and unsatisfaction.  If you can’t trust God with your pain, then you will hate Him for it.

Giving your life to God in complete abandonment means to join the battle against evil, to struggle with suffering and sin.  Loving God means giving our lives that we thought we could control, into the hands of the Father who takes us - not where we WANT to go but where we need to go.  And sometimes this looks so different than from what we imagined it would be like.  Sometimes everything we’re sensing Him asking of us is completely opposite of what we’ve always wanted and hoped for.  Yet God knows the plans for us.  He choses the men and women who He knows will continue to fight for Him - regardless of what WE think the outcome will be.

When you feel abandoned by God yet you continue to trust Him and serve Him through the painful times, you worship Him in the deepest way possible.  It’s as if you’re raising your hands to Him and saying ‘I will praise You through this.  I will trust that You know what You’re doing - even if I don’t.  And I will still love You even though this pain is weighing me down.’

As Christians, we suffer the most, but in the end, we have the greatest reward.


‘To live is Christ, but to die is gain.’
- Philippians 1:21


Everyday Blessings // 13

>> a job
>> new friends who live super close
>> having a bestie who never, ever gives up on you
>> frozen yogurt
>> Dutch Bros.
>> finding out who your real friends are
>> being told that you're a godly inspiration
>> more ministry partners
>> free concert tickets
>> volunteering at a Christian concert festival
>> staying up super late and watching movies with your bestie
>> that feeling of being almost done with writing your second novel
>> having mini-concerts for your family
>> rewriting a country song with a friend
>> holding a newborn baby
>> getting 4 new books and 2 movies for under $7
>> not being ashamed of praising the Name of Jesus
>> harvesting your own fruits and berries
>> new music
>> reaching goals in singing
>> starting (and completing) new devotional books
>> late night heart to heart chats with friends about God
>> autumn rain


Hope y'all are having a blessed week!


The Four S’s | Using Your Gifts For God’s Glory

We are each given a gift from God.  To use in worship and service to Him and the Church.  I’ve had a lot of people ask me how they can discover these gifts in themselves.  I’m put together a four point list of finding these gifts and talents and how to use them for God’s glory.

This is probably the hardest step of all.  And yes, it’s the first.  To sacrifice means to give up something that is special or important to you.  Something that you’d rather have, but need to give up.  This prepares the way to discovering your gifts because, while you may want to keep this talent to yourself and not share it with others, it’s actually the very thing God is wanting you to give and use.
Your gift can be anything from being good with children, balancing a check-book, cooking, singing, writing, or having an extra seat in your car.  Stay with me...I’ll show you how these can be beneficial in the family of God.
And if you don’t know what your gift is, as the LORD to reveal it to you.  And be humble.

Opportunities won’t always come to you.  God doesn’t expect us to just sit at home all day and needs will just come knocking at our doors.  We must go out and SEEK people to serve - siblings in Christ and non-believers.  We never know who we could help that God will touch through our hands.

Stir Up
In the Church and Christian circles, you may know of people who just aren’t that excited about the LORD and His Word.  Your opportunity to get them excited is by using your talents and gifts to show them that God truly is at work in their lives - through you!  By being a joyful servant and sacrificing your needs and desires for someone else’s, this is the heart of Jesus.  To love others better than yourselves.  To love even when it’s not wanted.  To serve even when someone says they can do it by themselves.  Stir up the body of Christ by keeping those hands moving, those feet walking, those lips speaking His praises.

Your talents - whether great or small - are gifts from God, for you to use for the benefit of others and all to His glory.  Like I said, it can be something as simple as balancing a check-book.  You never know who, in your local family of God, can’t/doesn’t know how to pay their bills.  Have you ever asked?  Or the mother of 6 children whose husband works long days and needs an extra pair of hands to help with dishes or babysitting so the tired mama can get some rest.  Maybe you could squeeze in a couple hours from your days to help her out.
Or the elderly lady who doesn’t have her own car and would do anything to be there on Sunday mornings.  Maybe that extra seat in your car could be for her.
There are literally millions of ways to serve others.  And sometimes, even the smallest efforts, reap the greatest rewards.  

We are sons and daughters of the Creator.  We were placed on this earth to glorify Him.  We need to remember that the world has their eyes ON US.  What sort of representation are we giving of Jesus and His love?  We are the hands and feet.  We need to do what He would do.  We need to go where He would go.  And nothing - absolutely nothing! - done with love and for Him goes unnoticed or unblessed.


‘For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.’
- Galatians 5:13

‘...knowing that from the LORD you will receive the reward of the inheritance.  It is the LORD Christ whom you serve.’
- Colossians 3:24


Holding, not pulling | a poem

We were walking on a dock at a lake.
Side by side, hand in hand
I saw something glitter in the water
It looked like a treasure
I pulled Him over to the edge
As I leaned over
Reaching down
Trying to grab the object that was
Just underneath the surface
‘Let me get it,’ I said to Him
‘You can try, but I’d rather you stay here with Me.’
‘I won’t get hurt.’
‘You may fall in.’
‘Well then don’t let go.’
‘I won’t.  But do you really want to try?’
I thought for a moment
Then answered with a ‘yes’.
I thought I saw Him give a sad smile
But turned away, as the glitter was more fascinating than His face.
I kept reaching forward 
Until my arm and shoulder were in the water.
‘Stop pulling me!’ I told Him.
‘I’m not pulling.  I’m holding.’
And then
I fell in.
The glitter disappeared.
I suddenly realized how dangerous this was
‘I should’ve listened to Him,’ I thought.
I looked up at Him, still on the dock
Me all wet, in the water.
‘Help me out?’
Without a word, He pulled me up
And into His arms.
My face was wet, but not with just water
With tears.
‘Thank You for pulling me out.’
‘I didn’t pull.  I was holding you all along.
You chose to reach for the glitter in the water.
But it proved to be fleeting.’
I nestled in His arms
Dry and warm in an instant
‘Thank You for not letting go.’
‘You’re always going to be Mine
Even if you choose to do something I would rather you not
I won’t keep you from learning your lessons.’
‘And You’ll never let go?’
‘I’ll always hold your hand.
I always have.’


This is a dramatized poem of what I think it's like when we sin.  God never lets us go, but He lets us learn the lesson we choose to.