Weekly Thanksgiving

It’s Monday and as I reflect on this past week, I cannot help but be grateful.

This week I am thankful for… 2017-10-15 11.40.59 1.jpg

  1. MercyMe concerts. When friends spontaneously ask if you’d like to go to a concert, you don’t ever say “no!” I never fully realized the impact MercyMe’s music has had on my life until I stood, singing those lyrics with hundreds of others. MercyMe’s songs have become a part of a part of my testimony, my life, my worship. And singing along live brought tears to my eyes! Even more of a blessing, my week had been a little overwhelming and I was on the brink of losing it when God surprised me with tickets to this concert. Only He knew how much I needed it! And meeting Ryan Stevenson (one of MercyMe’s openers) was an extra bonus.

    Processed with VSCO with  preset
    Processed with VSCO with preset
  2. Doggies. I apologize for the low-quality picture. But these two dogs are way too cute together! My old girl, Trixie, has taken the job of mama dog upon herself and is so sweet and caring towards my friend’s new puppy. I love watching Trixie’s gentle, protective spirit in action. And the puppy just adores her! 15025162_1837642543180035_3348690988768231222_o
  3. Rainy Fall Days. There is something beautiful about cold, rainy Fall days. They make me want to grab a cozy blanket, throw on a sweater, grab a mug of tea and read a book or watch a movie. And this week we were given our fair share of cold, rainy Fall days. 2017-10-16 11.35.57 1
  4. Fall Skies. Is there anything quite as beautiful and vibrant as a Fall sunset?! Look at those glorious colors! Screenshot_2017-10-16-11-40-36-1.png
  5. This Bible passage: For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell on your hearts through faith– that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length, and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all fullness of God.
    -Ephesians 3:14-19

  What are YOU thankful for today? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you!


 

Advertisements

Some Weekend Thanksgiving

It’s Saturday. And as I think over this week, I cannot help but be a little extra thankful. October is one of my most favorite months of the year and this week has been the essence of Fall.

I am thankful for… 

2017-10-06 07.48.15 1.jpg

  1. Photography. In the midst of studying and busyness, I looked up and saw the golden light streak across the backyard. The wind swirled a confetti of orange and yellow leaves. I could not resist grabbing my camera, calling my dog over, and pausing time with each click of the shutter. It was a lovely break from chaos. And could Trixie be any cuter?! I think not. 22196356_10155587187446832_922631633560909292_n
  2. Good News. My favorite group announced their new album and I could not be more excited! They promise this one to be more Rend Collective-y, so it’s bound to be a beautiful treasure of songs! Not to mention, I believe our world needs a little good news right now…14542545_1815151488762474_1089751246617333256_o.jpg
  3. Corn Mazes & Good friends. Traditions continue as my family and I joined friends once again to explore a corn maze. Nothing screams Fall like giant corn mazes, pumpkin patches, farm yards, and campfires, right?! untitled
  4.  This bible passage: For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. You eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13-16 2017-10-07 11.05.38 1.jpg
  5. Sweaters. Out of all the many fashion trends and trendy clothing, my most favorite thing to wear is a pair of jeans and a cozy sweater. I find it’s the comfiest outfit ever and I am so thankful the weather is now cool enough to start wearing sweaters once again! 2017-09-30 05.07.33 1.jpg
  6. The last remnants of summer. While I love Fall, these little flowers hanging on are mighty pretty too! And the way that golden light highlights is so beautiful!

 

The secret to joy is seeking God where we doubt He is.

–Ann Voskamp 

P.S. A special thank you to Salt and Light blog and Abby Rose for the inspiration behind this post!

God is so amazing, and thanksgiving reflects His majesty. 

What are you thankful for this week? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

Joy is Not Circumstantial

Think of the most beautiful party you’ve ever attended. Lights strung across tree branches,streamers and ribbon laced along fences; a candle lit dinner and the richest chocolate cake. Everyone’s wearing their prettiest dresses and dancing to the rhythm of the most melodic songs. It’s one of those parties where all of your favorite people are gathered in one place and you wish the night would never end.

Now think of the worst, most depressing kind of situation. You learn that your dearest friend is suffering a fatal cancer. You visit her daily. You laugh and talk as if you don’t notice her growing thinner and weaker. You bring her all of her favorite snacks when she’s in the hospital and ignore her lack of appetite. And then one day, you find yourself standing over her coffin, shaking your fist at God and wondering where the good in this world is.

Joy is a little, three letter word. In the party description, one might agree that the party is joyous. Looking at the cancer description one might say the situation is depressing. However, is it possible to attain joy in both situations, or is it only possible in the first?

Joy is the serious business of heaven.

–C.S. Lewis

I believe many people confuse the word “joy” with “happiness”. However, “joy” and “happy”are two completely different things.

“Happiness” is related to the word “happenstance”, which can best defined as a coincidental circumstance. Therefore, “happiness” is a circumstantial emotion. It would be strange to be happy at the death of a close friend or relative, while it would make sense to be happy when your baby cousin is born.

Joy, on the other hand, is not circumstantial. Joy is more than a simple emotion. Joy is freedom and celebration in the midst of suffering.

 

 

Screenshot_2017-09-11-23-37-27-1

IMG_20170401_112118_764IMG_6035

 

December of 2016, my family and I faced a difficult, personal situation. Our Christmas preparation and excitement was crushed under the weight of horrible news. And yet somehow, when I received this news, I found myself singing praises to God! I can’t explain it, but I was joyful and at peace with the situation. I wasn’t joyful about the situation, but somehow, I found joy in Christ in the midst of the situation. As the storm whirled around me, I couldn’t help but praise God. I experienced the peace that passes all understanding, which Paul talks about in Philippians 4:7. I experienced this unexplainable, inexpressible joy that Peter writes about in 1Peter 1:8. That’s not to say the entire circumstance I was at peace, but in the moment, I was.

Happiness is circumstantial, but true joy comes from God and is eternal.

Ann Voskamp best describes joy when she wrote in her book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, “The secret to joy is to keep seeking Him where we doubt He is.”

In the worst storms, it can be difficult to see what God is doing. However, these are the moments where we must actively pursue Christ and praise Him for His goodness. We are given the promise of God’s joy. In Psalm 16:11, David tells us, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Happiness is smiling when the sun’s out. Joy is dancing in the downpour.

–Rend Collective

When we, as Christ-followers, pursue God and stand in his presence, we find joy. Real, down to earth joy.

Dr. John Piper, founder of Desiring God Ministries, defines joy as “a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as He causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.”

Dr. Piper continues by adding, “So, what is the secret [to joy in suffering]? The secret is faith in God’s sovereignty and in the sweetness of Christ.”

Dr. Piper based his definition on Philippians 4:11-13, where Paul writes, “For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

In these verses, Paul altogether implies that joy is not circumstantial. Joy is, as Piper said, “a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit.” We find joy in Christ when we choose to seek, or pursue, God when our circumstance demands otherwise.

Unlike happiness, joy is more than a circumstantial feeling. It is a feeling erected by the Holy Spirit. Joy is something we experience, as believers, when we actively pursue and praise God.

Joy is not a dull, serious kind of feeling. Rather, joy is a constant celebration of who God is and His goodness towards His children.

 

The Perfect Summer Reading List for Teen Girls

Mid-Spring and every blog is starting to present their summer reading lists. I love seeing all kinds of different bloggers buzz with bookworm excitement and ambition!

This year, I decided to throw together a wee list of my own. I am by no means an avid reader and most summers my reading dreams are crushed.

That being said, there are some books I’ve grown to love over the past few years and those are the books I’ll be sharing with you!

untitled (2).png

  1. Unseduced and Unshaken by Rosalie de Rosset
  2. Stepping Heavenward by Ms. E. Prentis
  3. Girl Defined by Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird
  4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  5. Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot
  6. Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty by Dannah Gresh
  7. And the Bride Wore White by Dannah Gresh
  8. Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis
  9. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
  10. You Are Free: Be Who You Already Are by Rebekah Lyons

 

Take your time to enjoy these books throughout the summer. I pray that you will be as captivated, encouraged, challenged, and convicted as I was reading these beautiful, timeless treasures.

Happy reading and happy soon-to-be summer!

Free To Celebrate

You know those days when everything seems a little too messy? When everything you touch seems to explode? When you catch a glimpse of your reflection and can’t help but cry inside? When it seems like you failed yet another day?

Maybe for you, that day comes around now and then. But if you’re anything like me, maybe that day seems like every day.

There are moments we all feel worthless and can’t help but wonder why celebrate this life at all.

That is the exact lie the enemy loves to use on God’s children. He is subtle and charming and before you know it you’re living his lies.

The funny thing is, Romans 8:1 tells us the exact opposite of Satan. Paul wrote, “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’

The day Jesus died, so did all our condemnation—all our worthlessness and shame. Those three simple words (It. Is. Finished.) obliterated all the lies we allow the enemy to tell us. When Jesus rose, so did we (His children)—pure, holy, and unashamed. This is the immediate inheritance we are given when God welcomes us into His family. We are given the identity of Jesus Christ Himself.

This very second I am pure, holy, and unashamed because Jesus is pure, holy and unashamed.

When God called me into His family, I was (and still am) set free from all sin. I am now more than a conqueror through Him who loved me (Romans 8:37). I am no longer a slave. I am free. This freedom and this price that Christ has paid is reason enough to celebrate and to shout my freedom anthem from the mountains for all to hear!jkhl.png

In her book, You are Free: Be Who You Already Are, Rebekah Lyons wrote, “One day I told Jesus I felt like my brokenness was too great. Maybe I’d thwart His plans for my life. Instantly I heard, ‘What if your purpose is for Me to love you?’ What could I say to that? No performing, no achievement, no amount of devoted effort can earn the love of Christ. It is an unconditional healing balm, a freeing balm.”

The days I feel like I’m not enough (and usually in a puddle of tears), my mom always quotes the lyrics of MercyMe’s song, Dear Younger Me:

You are holy

You are righteous

You are one of the redeemed

Set apart

A brand-new heart

You are free indeed

 

These words, typed out, seem simple. Yet, it’s so easy to forget them and neglect our identity in Christ. We are swayed by every wind of doctrine. Before we know what hit us, we are bound in the very chains we have been freed from. We no longer shamelessly celebrate. Instead, we throw ourselves a pity party.

It’s in these moments we need Christ most.

Fall on your knees, confess to the One who loves you most. Tell Him that you are stuck in chains and that you want to be freed. Praise Him for who He created you to be. The days I remember to fall on my knees before the throne of grace and recite God’s truths before Him, I begin to believe and live those truths instead of the enemy’s lies.

Easter is only days away. This year, let’s remember that it is completely F I N I S H E D. We can truly celebrate the Risen Christ this Easter. And the day after. And a year from now. The same God who rose from the dead is living in you and has given you His life and inheritance.

Alone, you are broken. In Christ, you are perfected.  Let’s celebrate this truth today and forever.

 By his wounds we are healed.

 

“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for [God’s] own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies for Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have mercy.”

-1 Peter 2:9-10

 

I’m Not Perfect, But God is

  I am a perfectionist. I like presenting my life as a nice, clean, pretty package for all the world to ooh and ah over. I like my Facebook profile to coordinate. If I don’t get one hundred percent on a test I feel as if I’ve failed- even if I get 95%. If I stutter over my words in public, I am left feeling ridiculous for the rest of the day. I hate it when my struggles are exposed. When my life looks a little messy.

Perhaps you are nodding your head in complete agreement. Maybe- just maybe- you can relate.

The thing about perfectionism, however, is that you are setting up your own standards. For me, perfection is generally defined as those wonderful moments when I feel happy- also known as those moments when everything is going my way. When I feel accomplished. When I feel successful. Then, when life is not going my way and I feel stressed, not accomplished, and far from successful I define myself as a failure.

If I set my own standard of perfection, then I will never be ‘good enough’ and I will never be able to reach the heights of “happy”. If I set my own standard of perfection, then I will always remain a failure in my own eyes. I can never live up to my own standard. And that’s why it is so comforting to know that I don’t have to define myself according to my failures or successes- I am defined by God! He calls me His very own masterpiece.

Christian celebration band, Rend Collective, recently posted the following on social media: “…Maybe you’re wrestling with the phrase ‘good enough’- we all do sometimes. The thing is, we don’t claim our victories for ourselves and toss our failure into the arms of Jesus. He claims them all. He claims us entirely. Which means we’re no longer slaves to our failure or our successes. There’s no longer ‘good enough’, there’s just ‘His’.”

2016-06-28 01.26.03 1

I absolutely love these words! We can never be ‘enough’ but, as Christians, we are His. This is the truth we must rest in.

You see, if I am completely honest with myself, I idolize perfection. Instead of relying on God, I struggle to be ‘good enough’. While God has already defined me as His precious child, I blindly scramble around, trying to control my own life and reach the heights of perfectionism. That said, time and time again, I only reach the depths of depression and stress.

I am missing out on living this life fully because instead of crying out to God and admitting ‘I can’t live this life without You!’ I am reaching inward and trying to satisfy my own self, hopelessly attempting to reach my standard of perfection… trying to prove myself perfect in the sight of those I know and love.

God calls us to be like Him. To be like Christ doesn’t mean we have to be perfect. Rather, we are trying to be like Him because we aren’t perfect and He is.

I don’t want people to see my ugly side. I don’t want them to see my struggle in a school subject, my struggles in life, attitude, etc. I want to appear perfect. I want to be perfect. But sometimes, we need to share our stories and ugliness. Remember, it was through Jesus’ scars that doubting Thomas believed.

Through our stories, struggles, and messiness, maybe-just maybe- we’ll bring encouragement and Light to others. Struggles- even the seemingly little ones (like math!)- are what make us human. Friends, family, and even those we don’t really know, crave transparency. They desire honesty. Just like you and I foolishly believe we’re the only ones who struggle, so do they. And sometimes, all it takes is admitting, “I am not perfect, but God is.”

  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

-1 John 1: 8-10