Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Tick, tick, tick....

Tick.. Tick.. Tick

Seconds are constantly passing. Seconds you cannot get back. They may seem like only seconds. Nothing too special to pass up. But seconds are our whole life. 
Seconds turn into minutes, minutes to hours, hours to days, days to months, months to years, and then 
your life is over. 

Tick.. Tick.. Tick

Time is passing and it doesn't stop for anyone. The world around us is constantly moving, constantly changing, and constantly pleading for our time. 
We 'allow' our time to be taken from us. but how often do we truly 'give' our time away? 
We let day after day pass so nonchalantly. "It's just another day" ...but what if it's actually your last day? 
Tick.. Tick.. Tick

I feel like the last couple years of my life have been a complete blur. I have a sting of regret over that time. Like maybe I spent too much of my time caught up in my own world instead of giving my time to those who were more than deserving.


Here I am about to graduate High School. My little siblings are not so little anymore. My sister wears makeup now. My little brother doesn't run around in super hero suits. My older brother is getting married. Time slips away so very, very quickly, spend it wisely.

I want to remember my life as time spent that mattered. 
Time that mattered to me, to others, to my Jesus. 
Don't you want to look back one day and be proud of the life you lived? Instead of feeling guilt and regret because you spent too much time on things you only thought mattered.


Time is fleeting and seconds are precious. Use them wisely. Live a life that matters. Give your time away, but don't waste it. Love others, enjoy your time with them. Invest in the lives of others. Smile more. 

Simply enjoy life. Because there is not enough time to not.

"..if your life flashed before you, 
what would you wish you would've done?

Gotta start looking at the hands of the time you've been given here
this is all we got then we gotta start thinking it.

Every second counts on a clock that's ticking
gotta live like we're dying."

The clock is ticking and you have a life to live and people to love on. Go do it.

Monday, March 14, 2016

3 Steps Toward Forgiveness | Sorry or Not

Forgiveness can be a pretty tough thing.

A lot of times we put forgiveness hand in hand with reconciliation. Ya know, when one person says they're sorry and we say "I forgive you" and then you move on.
Reconciliation with someone IS a beautiful thing.. But sometimes forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person. Sometimes it's just between you and your heart.

"Forgive them even if they are not sorry."

Often when people don't apologize or show any sign of remorse for their words or actions, we think that validates us not to forgive them. We think we reserve the right to be mad and hold a grudge against them. We think we can treat them a certain way because of the way they treat us.

Today I read (Matthew 5 ) about how Jesus tells us to love our enemies. I was thinking about what that means to me because thankfully, I can't say I have a whole lot of 'enemies.' But I can say I definitely have had many conflicts big and small with various people.
So loving my enemies to me, means choosing to love and be kind to the people that don't always offer that behavior towards me. That's hard to do. I'm human, we mainly act based off of our emotions verses our true heart on the subject. I'm sure we'd all say we want to love our enemies and be kind to those who are unkind to us. It's in our hearts. But is it truly displayed in our lives?  As forgiveness has been on my mind here lately, I decided to write about 3 steps I find super important in forgiveness.

1. Making the Choice

I think the very first step towards forgiveness is making the choice to forgive.
People won't always seek you to gain forgiveness. I'd say that's pretty rare, actually. So when people don't seek me for forgiveness, that's when I need to turn to God to seek help with forgiveness. For he himself is a God full of grace and forgiveness. I have to make the choice to choose grace, love, and forgiveness over any action another extends to me no matter how hurtful.
I have to make the choice that I will not let their actions or words towards me determine how I am going to treat them. I have to choose to act on what I know is right, instead of simply reacting based off of how I feel.
Colossians says "forgive as I have forgiven you" not "forgive if your offender says they're sorry"
Jus' sayin'

2. Pray for the Situation

I think we really underestimate the power of prayer. Or maybe we think God is too big for all these silly little happenings in our life. But His word mentions multiple times how he cares for us. 

1 Peter 5:7 "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 
Psalm 55:22 "Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you." 
Psalm 68:19 "Praise be to the LORD, our God and Savior, who daily bears our burdens."

We serve a God who is alive and active in our lives. He cares about the little things that break our smiles and make our hearts hurt. He cares and He's ready to take a stand against them. 

3. Continue to Choose Forgiveness

Forgiveness isn't a one time choice. We have to choose to live a life of forgiveness. We are daily living in God's grace, as we should be daily living out His grace. When we make that choice to forgive, we have to continually choose forgiveness. 

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Lastly, I think the most important part is to be constantly pursuing God. If we want forgiveness and grace in our lives then we have to be pursuing the creator of forgiveness and grace.  

Like I said, forgiveness can be a pretty tough thing. But it is powerful just like our God, the creator of forgiveness. He can take any situation and any heart and completely change it.

So now I believe you have a choice to make! :-))

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Continuously Choosing JOY ||

I wrote about joy and what it means to me in my very first blog post (Keep Choosing Joy) from October of 2014! But since it's been a while, I've decided to do a JOY UPDATE. YAY!

My blog is based after my most favorite quote in the whole entire world by Henry Nouwen:

"Joy does not simply happen to us. 
We have to choose joy, and keep choosing it everyday."

When I first stumbled upon that quote I decided to make it my life theme. But since then, I have failed many, many, MANY times at "choosing joy." It's hard. 

But even though I have failed, the choice to strive to choose joy has not. Yes, there are always going to be times I don't choose joy. I'm human, it happens. But having the mindset of striving to choose joy despite anything else has impacted my life tremendously. 

In case you missed my very first post and are too lazy to click the link above, let me share that mindset I'm talking about with you:

Joy is so much more than a word or an emotion to me. I'm not sure the exact moment God placed this word so strongly on my heart, but it was during a phase of my life that I was not joyful. I was not content. I was not seeking Christ and His joy, but seeking what 'I' wanted and what made 'me' feel good. 
I thought that the various things I wanted would fill me up and THEN I'd be content. I'd have joy. I'd have all I needed. But the things I wanted only left me filling empty and wanting more. It left me hoping that THIS next thing would maybe fill that void. 
But no, there wasn't anything I could do myself or get myself that would bring me joy and contentment. Only in Christ could I truly find fullness of joy. (Psalm 16:11) 

I didn't have joy because I was seeking myself rather than seeking Him. I was seeking what 'I' wanted, rather than seeking HIS will. 

He taught me that no matter what my circumstance is here on earth, I ALWAYS have reasons to be joyful in Him. A verse that really helped me when I was struggling with not choosing joy was Romans 15:13 "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." 
That verse has become so very important to me. I pray that he will fill me with His joy and His peace through whatever circumstance. I pray that He'll fill me up so much that I'm always overflowing with hope. I want to use the lesson He's taught me to reach out to others so they can experience the same joy, peace, and hope that I've experienced in Christ.

He has shown me perfect love when I was most undeserving. He suffered for me knowing all the times I'd shrink back instead of suffering for Him. He showed me love and grace, when all I deserved was death. How could I sit around and whine about my own personal troubles I face? He has given me so many more reasons to be joyful than I could ever come up with to not be.

My lack of joy was caused by my perspective. He taught me to make the choice to CHOOSE JOY. To choose to live in His love and His grace. Oh boy, has that decision made a big difference in my life. 
Of course there are still times when I struggle with choosing joy. I get grumpy and mad at the world for my own stupid reasons. But He constantly reminds me that HE is enough. 
In Him ALONE, I am finding what it means to be truly joyful despite anything else.

 I am learning to keep choosing joy day after day even when it's so very difficult.
I've made my decision, have you made yours?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

With Every Act of Love

"God put a million doors in the world for His love to walk through. One of those doors is you." 
(With Every Act of Love, Jason Grey)

One of those doors is you. One of those doors is ME.

That line of the song always hits me hard. God designed me for His purpose. His love can be reflected off of me in SO many different ways if only I allow Him to work in my life.

Matthew 5:16 says "…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

One thing He has taught me is that sharing my faith doesn't necessarily always mean pulling someone aside and telling them all about Jesus and forcing it on them. But sharing my faith with someone can be shown just as easily as by simply BEING Jesus to them. Anyone can sit there and listen to facts about faith. Which yes, sharing the facts IS a part of it. But I think truly being the hands and feet of Jesus is the best way to reflect Christ in our lives.

When people are truly living out being a follower of Christ, it's going to show in every area of their life. People will look at them and think "What makes them so.. Different?"
They will want to know the source of your kindness.

A quote I hear quite often in my youth group, church, and various youth activities is "People won't care what you know until they know you care."

It's all about how we treat people. Another part of the song mentioned above that I absolutely love is: "Jesus let us carry You.
Alive in us, Your light shines through
with every act of love.

God IS love. So in every single act of love, big or small, HE is shining through. Every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17)
So every act of goodness and love IS showing God because He IS goodness and love. (Pretty cool, huh?)

While I'm working the window at Chickfila, I've experienced MULTPLE times when someone will pay for whoever is in line behind them. Then when the next person gets to the window and finds out their meal is free, it makes my day by how happy they usually are. THAT is showing Christ.
That person may never see you, never be able to thank you, but they are able to feel the love and kindness you gave to them by something so simple.

The simplest deeds can speak louder than anything you could say.

None of this is to discourage you to never verbally share your faith. Definitely do that! Pray for opportunities to tell people of Christ and the work He has done in your own life. Pray for the right words to speak when those times do come. But also, never stop praying for opportunities to BE Christ. To BE goodness and love in someone's life. Because once they know you truly care, they'll probably be interested in the "why" and that's when you can tell them all about your Jesus. :)

I've decided this week to find one tiny thing every single day to show Christ in me through an act of love. I am praying God will show me this week exactly how He wants to use me.
Maybe by paying for someone's meal, by complimenting someone, or even just simply smiling at someone who looks like they could use a smile with their day.

I challenge you this week to look for ways to BE Jesus. Big and small. Pray for opportunities. Open your eyes to the broken world around us, and be a little healing in someone's life this week. It can impact someone a lot more than you think.

This blog post is also featured on my new friend Katy's blog :D
She has lots of neat encouraging posts and a super cute instagram account. (Be.happy_101)  Check her out and give her a follow! 

God bless, 


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Waiting on God

Waiting. Pretty much no one in the history of ever likes to wait for something we want. Especially in the world today. We want, want, want! We want and we want it now!

Waiting is hard. Waiting isn't fun. Waiting takes patience, and who has time for that?? 

But waiting on God is a lot harder than waiting for your food to come when you're super hungry after a long day of work. 

Waiting on God is an art. Something to work at constantly. It takes patience, faith, trust, and truly letting go of whatever it is we need God to take control of.

I'm almost 18. Life is beginning to change for me and it's scary. I pray all the time for guidance of what decisions to make about my future and if the ones I'm making are the right ones. It's scary. It's hard. I pray and pray and pray, and for quite a while I thought I wasn't getting any answers. 
But then I realized I WAS getting answers, I just wasn't listening for them. I was only listening to what I wanted to hear. 
But God is like that one best friend you've had forever that has no filter around you and no matter what you want to hear from them, they're always going to tell you what you need to hear from them. 

God hit me right in the face with some stuff lately. He's taught me that it isn't at all about what I want and when I want it. (shocker, right??)
I'm learning to wait on Him. I'm learning the art of patience, faith, and trust. I am learning to fully let go of my life and surrender it to Him. 

My usual experience with "waiting on God" has been more of me praying for my wants every night and losing patience and getting frustrated when things don't seem to play out the next week or two. I want Him to work and I want Him to work now! 
But God is never not working. He is always doing something whether I see it or not. He is ALWAYS doing His part. So I need to always do mine. 

The song "While I'm waiting" by John Waller speaks to me SO much. I can name multiple times of my life I have listened to this song and did a little perspective changing on my situation.. It displays the attitude we should have while we're waiting on God. 
Normally when I share lyrics I only post a line or two, but this one is too good not to share the whole. Read through these lyrics and really soak up what they mean.

"I'm waiting, I'm waiting on You, Lord
I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You Lord, though it is painful
 But patiently, I will wait.

I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I'm waiting, I will serve You.
While I'm waiting, I will worship.
While I'm waiting, I will not faint
I will be running the race, even while I wait.

I'm waiting, I'm waiting on You, Lord
I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You Lord, thought it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait."

Aren't those lyrics touching? The story behind John Waller writing that song is about him waiting on God for seventeen whole years for something he thought he was ready for right then.
We've all heard a thousand times that God's timing is not our timing. 

So when I pray and pray and pray and still don't seem to get any answers, I will learn to serve Him, to worship Him, and to keep running the race even.while.I.wait.
I will learn to move ahead bold and confident, taking every step in obedience. Because as long as I am doing my best to put Him first in my life, He's going to let the rest play out. I don't need to know all the answers, I need to trust that my God's got it all under control. 

If you've read quite a few of my posts, then you've learned by now that I really struggle with fear in the whole "future" area of my life. Learning to let go and fully trust Him is extremely hard. It's scary not knowing what exact steps to take. But I'm learning just how much He really wants me to let go. He wants to take this burden from me. He wants to lead me. He wants my heart and my trust 100%.
All I have to do is surrender it all to Him. To say "You lead." 
He wants me to trust that He still hears me even when I don't hear Him. 

"I wait for The LORD, my soul does wait. And in His word I do hope." (psalm 130:5)

"Our soul waits for The LORD; He is our help and our shield." (psalm 33:20)

"Wait for The LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for The LORD." (psalm 27:14)

I'm waiting on you, God. Do ya thing! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Love || Choosing it

In honor of Valentines day coming upon us, I decided to write a post about love and what love means to me.

If you were to ask me to describe what I think love is in one sentence, it would be to forget about yourself.

That's all love is, really. Forgetting about yourself and putting someone else above you.

"This is how we know what love is: because Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters."
(1 john 3:16, NIV)

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends" 
(John 15:13, NIV)

I've heard those verses a lot but I hadn't really thought a whole lot about them till lately. Whenever I read them, I only ever thought about the mission field, the army, and all the various areas where people were physically laying down their lives for other children of God. Which yeah, it fits for that. 
But I've learned that laying down my life, doesn't necessarily always mean literally laying down my life. But maybe just setting aside my own desires for the benefit of someone else.

My entire faith is based off of the love that was shown so graciously to me. But yet so many times I turn around and refuse to extend that same love that was shown to me. I am learning (slowly!) to lay down my own life, because Christ laid down His life for me.

I couldn't write a blog post about love and not include 1 Corinthians 13. The looove chapter! ;) I know you've probably all heard this twenty three thousand times. But while you read this, really think about what it means. Think about the traits of love and question yourself if you're living out those traits.

"Love is patient
Love is kind
It does not envy
It does not boast
It is not proud
It does not dishonor others
It is not self seeking (!!!)
It is not easily angered
It keeps no record of wrongs
Love does not delight in evil
Love rejoices in the truth
It always protects
It always trusts
Always hopes
Always perseveres."

Side note: That verse right there is why it really amuses (irritates, actually.) me when young couples spill out  "I love you" way too easily without committing to the traits in this verse.
Being IN love with someone and truly loving them are two very different things. Love is a big deal, people!!

But I'm not talking about mushy lovey dovey love. I'm talking about real love. A love that is full of grace, encouragement, truth, hope, and all the characteristics that were shown to us.
A love we CHOOSE even when 99% of us is nagging at us to take the easy way out.

But love is forgetting ourselves. Love is laying down those human characteristics and choosing to seek someone else instead. Definitely easier said than done. 

Below is one of my favorite quotes (I sure do say that a lot, don't I??)  

"We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it."
-Madeleine L'Engle

Love is powerful. It changes people and it changes lives. I think a lot more emphasis should be placed for Christians to love. We should focus more on truly loving every single person God places on our path. Short term or long term. Love them. Love, love, love them. Because that is all we are created to do. To be a source reflecting back love Himself. 

Love is a huge choice to make. It's hard and sometimes every bone in your body will be resisting. Although it's hard, it is so very, very powerful. I can't say that enough.
A tremendous and perfect love changed the world many, many years ago on the cross and continues to change hearts to this day. 
What wonderful ways He can work in us when we choose to love despite anything else. 
When we choose to lay down our lives for others. 
When we choose to forget ourselves and love as Christ has loved us. 

In closing, one of my favorite, favorite, faaavorite verses! 1 John 4:8:

"Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love."

Choose love. 


Friday, January 29, 2016

Everything will Always be Okay || My Reminder

Today I am in awe of how amazing my God is. I am in awe of His work; His beauty. I am in awe of the ways He touches my heart right when I need it. He speaks to me through His word. He encourages me. He cares for me. He LOVES me.

Today He taught me that sometimes I need to take a step back, take a breath, and just remember that everything will always be okay. This life is only temporary, anyway.

I have let doubts control me. I have let fear control me. When things like doubts and fear begin to take over, it's easy to let that destroy certain areas of your life. (Important areas)

I get so consumed with my "right now" I forget He already has the entire story of my life already written out word for word. So whatever I go through is all apart of my story and who He is making me out to be.
Not going to lie, that is super hard for me to remember. The "big things" in my little bitty world seem like huge deals to me. I stress, cry, and shut people out to wallow in my own discontentment.
But ya know, I've learned I just need to relax a little.

He has taught me that He is a God of PEACE.
The definition of peace is "freedom from disturbance"

I have FREEDOM from my doubts, my fears, my troubles, etc.
Yes, I am still going to have them. But I'm not bound by them.
I can have peace even through the phases of my life when I feel as if I can't hear Him. He has already made a promise to me I can always hold onto, even when I don't see Him working. That promise is from John 14:27 and John 16:33 where He says:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!
I have overcome the world."

That second verse has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember. It has encouraged me through many, many various situations.

We are never promised that we won't have troubles. We are humans living in a broken world. Sin entered the world and we're cursed by it. But while we are living in this broken world, He tells us to take heart. For He has already overcome it! Isn't that something?

We could go through the absolute worst thing that we could possibly go through, and He's still already overcome it.

It doesn't mean it won't hurt. It doesn't mean it won't test us. It doesn't mean we won't still struggle with fear, doubt, anxiety. But it means we have a weapon against all those things. We have HOPE. 
We have a God who is ready to fight for us, lead us, and to ensure us that He is able to do immeasurably more than all we could ever ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:23) 

He is ready to work all things together for my good because I love Him. (Romans 8:28)

He is able and He is ready. He just wants me to trust Him. 

Today I was sitting outside on a blanket in my backyard with my bible and my journal. I was praying about some specific things that have been troubling me lately and He touched my heart in a way I can't even describe with words. 
I sat there alone in my yard holding my bible with the sun shining on my back and the wind blowing around me. 
I really felt His beauty. His presence. His peace.

As I sat there in awe with tear filled eyes, the only words I could think to write in my journal for today were: "It is days like today that you remind me everything will always be okay."

God is so good to us, and what a wonderful gift it is to be alive.