12.31.2013

A heart of thankfulness


‘Dear God, I want to take a minute not to ask for anything from You, but to simply say thank You for all that I have.’


How many times do we take God’s blessings for granted?  How often do we pause and actually thank Him with our whole hearts for all His goodness towards us?

I’m not pointing fingers.  And if I was, I’d point at myself first.

Living life is the norm for us.  We wake up, we eat breakfast, we check our phones (yes, we all do this), we change, we go to work.  It’s just a routine.  But when do we stop and realize that we couldn’t do any of those things if God didn’t allow us to?  He could’ve taken us home to be with Him last night.  He holds our hearts in His hands.  He knows how many breaths we take.  He can choose to not allow us to wake up in the mornings.

And how do we say thank you?  By asking for more things.  A new car.  More money.  A nicer house.  A new wardrobe.  Or even things such as frivolous as new makeup, a new air soft gun, or a new movie that just came out on DVD.  These things aren’t necessarily bad.  Sure, we want new and nice things.  But how often do we ask God for things, instead of saying ‘thank You for everything we have’?

Giving thanks isn’t a once a year deal.  Thanksgiving Day is a fabulous holiday.  But we should be thankful every single day.

Have you thanked God for the breath you just took?  Or the fact that you can feel your heartbeat?  Maybe we need to more often.

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‘I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the peoples, and I will sing praises to You among the nations.  For Your lovingkindness is great above the heavens and Your truth reaches to the skies.’
- Psalm 108:3-4

12.30.2013

Would you still | a poem


You love it when my hair is loose
When I'm wearing a pretty dress
But would you still love me if my hair was in a bun or a mess?
What if I was in sweats and a hoodie
With no makeup and no socks
Would you still love me even when I'm sick in bed with a cold and a cough?
You may say I'm 'beautiful', 'cute', and 'pretty'
Sometimes even 'hot' or 'sexy'
But what about days when I'm neither of those
Would you still love me for what's inside my soul?

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12.27.2013

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

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

12.24.2013

'The power of the Most High will overshadow you'


With Christmas fast approaching, I decided to read the Gospel according to Luke.  And you know how you can read a passage over and over again, and every single time, you’ll glean something new from it?  Well, that’s what happened to me.  As I read the first few chapters of Luke, I picked out each of the passages that talked specifically about Mary, the mother of Jesus.

And I realized something that had never quite sunk in like it did this time.

In chapter 1, an angel appears to Mary (who is estimated to have been 13 or 14 at the time) and tells her that she has found favor in God’s sight and she will bear His Son.  God’s Son.

‘The holy Child shall be called the Son of God.’

Later on, Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, whom the angel had said was also with child, and Elizabeth blesses her and ‘the fruit of her womb’.  Mary offers her song (referred to as ‘Mary’s Magnificat’) in which she praises God for His goodness towards her.

‘My soul exalts the LORD, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior for He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave.  For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.’

In chapter 2, Joseph (Mary’s betrothed husband) must take them to Bethlehem because of Caesar Augustus’ census for ‘all the world to be counted and taxed’.  She was already heavy with child.  Riding on a donkey.  Across all kinds of terrain.

And she gives birth to her first child, in a barn.  And wraps Him in strips of cloth.  Then crowded by shepherds who had heard the birth of Jesus by a host of angels.

And verse 19 says, ‘But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.’

I think it’s safe to assume that Mary was feeling many different emotions at this point.  Or definitely had been the past few months that she was pregnant.  Feelings like...fear, confusion, doubt, anxiety, amazement, and awe.

To any girls out there reading this, try putting yourself in her position for a minute.  Picture who you were when you were just entering your teen years.  Remember back to where you lived, who your friends were, what your thoughts were most occupied with at that time.  I’m sure none of them were about being pregnant, being disowned by your family and possibly getting stoned to death, or having your baby in a stable.

Later on in Luke 2, Simeon (‘a righteous and devout man’), blessed the little family and said to Mary, ‘Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed - and a sword will pierce even your own soul - to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’

How’s that for a prophecy?  Can you imagine holding your newborn baby in your arms and someone telling you that He was born to die?  I’m sure Mary already knew of this, since she knew the teachings of the Word of God and that He would send His only Son to save His children, but...He was going to die.  Your perfect, beautiful little baby was going to be killed for the sins of men.

The song ‘You’re Here’ by Francesca Battistelli is so beautiful and I think is such a perfect representation of what Mary must’ve felt and thought at the time of Jesus’ birth.

‘You made the world before I was born
But here I am holding You in my arms tonight...
I don’t know how long I’m gonna have You for
But I’ll be watching when You change the world
Look at Your hands, they’re still so small
Someday You’re gonna stretch them out and save us all...’

I think we can learn many lessons from Mary and her acceptance of God’s will on her life and the plan He had for her.  But I think the biggest thing we can take away from her story is trust.  Through everything that happened to her, she trusted that God the Father would provide and protect her and His Son.  She was a young girl.  She was engaged to be married.  The Jewish law said that a single woman who commits a sexual sin is to be stoned to death.  Yet God protected her.  There was no room for them in any inns in Bethlehem but God provided.  And no, a barn isn’t the ideal place for a king to be born.  The King was born surrounded by hay and straw and farm animals.  But most especially, God’s presence.  Can you imagine what that must’ve been like for Mary?  To give birth to the God-man?  Just let that sink in.

This Christmas season, rejoice in everything God has provided for you.  Everything He has protected you from.  And trust Him in the coming year that He will continue to guide and guard you.  Remember that He always has a plan.  And His power is ever present.


Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all my amazing followers.  You are all such a blessing.

Oh and you should comment and tell me what y'all are doing for the holidays:)

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A Child Has been boRn for us, a Son is gIven to uS, authoriTy rests upon HiM; and He is nAmed JeSus.


12.18.2013

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?'
'Yes.'
'That I Am in control?'
'Yes.'
'That I have only your best interests at heart?'
'Yes...'
'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?'
'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.'

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12.16.2013

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.

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‘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

12.14.2013

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.  

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12.11.2013

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.

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'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

12.09.2013

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.

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‘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

12.06.2013

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

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