Oh Praise His Name

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas, y'all!

It's a widely known fact that today is the day that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, God incarnate, who came to earth to live of perfect submission to God and His will so that He could take our place and die. Even if you're not a Christian, you've probably heard the story: no room in the inn, shepherds watching their flocks by night, three wise men bringing gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The story of Jesus' birth has been Americanized throughout all its years. To some, it's no more than a cool story that children can act out every year. Some really do celebrate His birth, but only during Christmastime. All the rest of the year, we live our lives like we want to, except maybe when we go to summer camp; then we really appear on fire for Jesus.

American "Christianity" has been so de-radicalized. We've become lukewarm and indifferent. We throw around God's name like it's something so everyday, so lacking of awe. Jesus Christ's name is so often used as an expression of annoyance. When did we start tolerating this? When did we let our God's name become so dumbed-down?

To completely understand the awe we should feel at the mention of God's name isn't possible because that would require completely understanding just how great our God is. But if we can begin to grasp the wonder in the story of the Incarnation, our appreciation and love of God increases so much.

We must try to grasp the holiness, the omnipotence, the true greatness and awesomeness of God. When we use the word awesome, we're using a slang term that can be replaced by impressive or cool. Awesome is defined as "causing or inducing awe" or "inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear."

God truly is awesome. Just think about the wonder-filled mystery of the Incarnation, that God would take on a body of the fallen human race, but never sin; that He chose to be born in a stable filled with filthy, stinking animals; that He chose to live a life of obscurity and finally be spit at, mocked, and nailed to piece of wood.Our perfect God, without one blemish, someone too great to fathom, chose to humble Himself to the likeness of the creation He made so that He could save us from death. And we rejected Him still.

I love this part of a song by Sidewalk Prophets called You Love Me Anyway:

See now, I am the man who yelled out from the crowd
For Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground
Yes then I turned away with the smile on my face
With this sin in my heart tried to bury Your grace
And then alone in the night I still called out for You
So ashamed of my life...

But You love me anyway

Not only this Christmas season, but every season, every day, would you all join me in celebrating the true awesomeness of our God? Meditate on this today, and I pray that it will increase your love for the Father and inspire you to share His Good News with everyone you meet. All glory to Him.

Merry Christmas, y'all. 

best dressed

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It was Christmas Eve, and rain poured.

It wasn't snow, not anywhere close. The car thermometer read seventy-three degrees Fahrenheit. She sat on the left side of the car, as she always did, but her legs were crossed in an unusual fashion due to minimal leg room and the dress she wore. 

Her camera sat in her lap, and she held it with both hands, guarding it almost. The way the streetlight made the raindrops glisten fascinated her, and she tried to capture it through the lens. Her friends often laughed at her. You take that thing everywhere. 

They laughed now; she heard them distantly, detached. She clung to her camera, holding it, remembering.

Best dressed.

She had walked into the party with three inch heels. They gave her extra height, extra confidence. A fifty dollar necklace hung around her neck. She hadn't bought it herself; it was a gift, but she didn't tell them that. Her dress came one about an inch from the top of her knee, school dress code, but somehow people still stared. Perhaps it was a good kind of staring -- she hadn't yet learned the difference.

She didn't dance, only hiding behind her lens. It was her solitude, her break from the stares. Were they good stares? Was a stare ever good? She would never know. By the end of the night, she was named best dressed. 

Funny. Best dressed, and she couldn't even manage a smile. She hid behind gray eyeliner and cherry blossom blush. Falsely whitened teeth tried to smile at the people she never had enough guts to talk to. And that was that. 

Best dressed.

Now she sat in her car, her father and mother in the front seat. They talked about her grandparents visiting the next day, Christmas day. A rain-filled, seventy-five degree Christmas day.

Her house wasn't far. She took off her heels before climbing out of the car and into her room. There lie two weeks of dirty laundry, and unfinished thank-you note, and now, her paper plate award: best dressed. She still clung to her camera, flipping through the pictures. Best dressed.

She found a picture someone had taken of her. She was smiling. She didn't remember ever feeling happy. She would post it, she thought, and perhaps the gullible public would fall under the spell they so often did. That her life was perfect, that she never cried, never had a free Friday night, always had seats to the football game.

She looked at her paper plate award once more, holding it up in the mirror and flashing her winner smile. 

Best dressed.

It seemed that, in reality, that was all she ever amounted to. 


Hi, all! So, I know this is a little heavy for a season that is supposed to be so joyful, but it's fictional, I promise :)

 I got to thinking about this the other day. Sometimes, I think we look at people on social media or even in person and we think that their lives look so put together. They always look nice, always have perfectly whitened teeth, always seem to top every other girl. I think we forget that no one's life is perfect, and the pictures posted on social media are just the good side. 

It's important for us as high school students to remember that everyone has struggles. No one is perfect, so to compare ourselves to others is ridiculous. The lesson is this: girls, stop comparing yourselves to other girls and be content in the way God made you. We're all unique, all made for a different purpose. 

Psalm 139:13-16 says this: 
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. Your 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.

You know what this communicates to me? That God spent a whole lot of time making you you. To be discontent in the way God made you is to be discontent with His works. Take care of the body God gabe you, and be content with it. I promise that God is using you and your story for His glory right now.

Merry Christmas, y'all! 

Hope in the Air

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Reids are staying home for Christmas this year, as we always have done since before I was born. Our Christmas tree sits in front of our large living room window, welcoming all who drive or walk by. Christmas carols can be heard at any given time coming from the piano, guitar, someone's phone, or someone's mouth.Our house is unusually clean because of the free time we are all left with, and in general, everyone is happy. It has always been this way. Every Christmas brings a certain indescribable joy that hangs in the air for two whole weeks.

And, as a blogger, it seems customary to write a Christmas-themed post about the true meaning of Christmas and how, as Christians, we should live like it's Christmas every single day. This year, though, before I get into any of that, I must communicate a realization that has come over me.

Yesterday, my wonderful grandmother turned twenty-one. She's a beautiful human being inside and out, and we are beyond blessed to have her just fifteen minutes down the road. She came over last night for an extravagant dinner of some sort of bacon-wrapped venison, stuffed potato casserole, sauteed green beans, rolls, and chocolate cake. The rest of the evening was accompanied by lots of Christmas carols. We had our own band, including Jackson's snare drum, a triangle, a tambourine, a woodblock, maracas,  and, of course, the guitar and piano. We had a blast singing all twelve verses of The Twelve Days of Christmas and Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. In the midst of it all, I couldn't help getting out my camera to try and document the moment. There we were, three adults and four young adults dancing around the living room, singing at the top of our lungs. If there ever was such a thing as Christmas magic, it was with us last night.

I realized something as the chords of O Holy Night echoed in my ears. This Christmas, when I thought about what would await me in my stocking, I wasn't nearly as satisfied as I was ten years ago. When I thought about all the stuff that came along with Christmas and my birthday soon afterwards, it seemed like nothing. In fact, it brought a kind of dread with it, thinking that for so many, that stuff was all they would get this Christmas.

But as I saw the look on my dog's face as we played our abstract instruments to the rhythm of We Wish You a Merry Christmas, I slid to the floor laughing, tears forming in the corner of my eyes and running down my face. Tears of joy, for this Christmas I wasn't getting stuff, I was getting this precious time with the people I loved most, and it was so much more important than fancy clothes and new electronics. 

Some are not as blessed, though. Some wake up Christmas morning without the smell of brewing coffee and the laughing to family members.Some wake up alone in a small apartment, heading straight to work because they couldn't afford to take the day off. It is for times like this that the real meaning of Christmas comes into play.

Two thousand years ago, God incarnate came into the world in the most humiliating way possible., born of a virgin and conceived by the Holy Spirit, but suspected by the public to be born out of sexual immorality. He was born into a stable with filthy, smelly animals, then laid in their feeding trough because no one could provide for Him a real bed. The King of everything, God incarnate, Jesus Christ the Messiah, was born into obscurity in the stench of cattle. He would live a perfect life, preaching the Gospel message, and eventually would be murdered on a torture instrument used for a common criminal.And then, miraculously, three days later, He rose, giving us the opportunity to become children of the Most High God. His life and death gave us the opportunity for new life in Him, a life not plagued by guilt and sin. 

To those whose Christmases will never as family-filled as mine, Jesus bore the burden for you, so now you can live a life free from guilt, knowing that all the evil you've committed is already paid for. This mindset is what makes Christmas at the Reid house so seemingly perfect. Yes, sometimes the cinnamon rolls get slightly browner than they should; sometimes we lash out at each other because of  all the stress building up; sometimes, I forget to get someone a Christmas present. And you know what? That's okay, because we Reids are new creations, living a life in Christ and for Christ. And when we mess up, we know that because of what Jesus did, those sins are not held against us. So we use this Christmas season, and hopefully every season, to communicate the miracle of God incarnate walking the earth as a man, tempted but never sinning, hated but never hating anyone, and dying but rising again so that we, mere sinners, may experience life, and life to the full. 

So the nights when we grab everything in the house that could possibly qualify as an instrument and sing at the top of our lungs, I believe that God Himself smiles down on us, because this little dance party in the Reid living room is a little, tiny piece of heaven brought down to earth. We're celebrating His gift and the new life He has given us, and one day, we'll all stand before His throne and worship Him forevermore. That is our joy this Christmas season and every other time of year, the mystery of this Baby born in a manger, living, dying, and rising for His creation so that they can be given new life and glorify Him.

Whether your Christmas is big or small, warm or cold, remember the Reason not only for the season, but for life itself. And God bless us, every one. 

when your best doesn't seem good enough

Friday, December 18, 2015

I got a B this week. And a C, and for me, that's not really that great. In fact, my family has a long history of expecting A's. We strive for excellence in everything we do, and this time around, it seems that I didn't measure up. It's not like I didn't study. I did, and maybe even a little too much. At the end of the day, though, I made a C, and a low one at that. I'm still not all that happy about it, but I know that it's things like this that make us press on and work harder. (If you're looking for a post that addresses why we should work hard in everything we do, check it out here.)

Frankly, this week, from Monday to Friday, has been nothing short of disastrous. Weeks like this come with a name, a name that carries so much disgust and hatred that I shudder as I type this: exam week. And with exam week came three emotional breakdowns, a thousand gallons of coffee, oily hair, and writer's block, all to my apparent demise.

Life only gets harder, Mary Shelley. My mom told me that this week, probably during emotional break down number one.

But how can it?

And now, I'm through with being overly dramatic, because the truth is that with God, there is always hope. And, like usual, He taught me something big this week, something I should have learned a long time ago.

A bad grade is not the end of the world.

While you sit there, staring at your chemistry test wondering how you could have gotten a seventy-six percent when you studied harder than you ever have before in your life, the world is still spinning at the same speed it was before you got your test. The clock hands are still valiantly turning clockwise, like they always do, and God is still there, loving you the same amount He did the minute before,  not even a smidgen less.

No matter whether this is a final or a midterm, life still goes on. I promise that unless God wants you to work at McDonald's your whole life, that is not your fate. Do you best, and do it for God's glory, and things will always turn out the way they're supposed to. It might not seem that way now, but I promise you, He promises you, that glorious joy awaits.

We all fail sometimes.

I mean, yeah, there's that one guy who seems to make one-hundreds on every paper he's ever written, and who thinks he failed his math test but then gets over one-hundred. But I bet if you ask that guy how many bad grades he has received over the years, he'd probably reply with something like, "Too many to count." Because that's how we tend to think of ourselves, and I don't think that is entirely unhealthy.

At some point we have to come to terms with ourselves and realize that in the long run, we're all equal, and without Jesus, we're all beyond hope. He made a sacrifice for us, though, one bigger than anyone in human history. If God can love me through a million times of rejecting Him and failing to see His grace for so long when I should have seen it right in front of me, He can love anybody through a C on their report card.

Do your best; it might sound cliche, but really, it's what God asks of us. Depend on Him to do your best, and when you excel, give Him the glory. It's harder than it sounds, but I promise that depending on God is the most freeing experience ever offered to mankind.

These numbers don't define you.

Hey, Christian, let me let you in on a little secret: God does not love you based on your performance.

We use the term unconditional a little too much, so I think its meaning has been lessened over the years. God's love is unconditional, and only He can truly personify that love.

I'm blessed to have Christian parents who depend on God to love me like He loves me. I have to admit, when I received my chemistry test back, the first thing I thought was what will my dad think? I backed myself into the corner of thinking that the percentage on my paper was something like a price tag: 76%, 0.76, 76 cents. God doesn't love you any less if you make a bad grade, and if your parents are striving to be like Him, neither do they. Let it go; you did your best, remember?

The truth is, after my mom gave me the usual, "You did your best; that's all you can do," I didn't really feel any better. I did do what I thought was my best, but it was only seventy-six percent worth it. When the kid across the room's best is an a hundred and four and yours is a seventy six, it's hard to feel good about yourself. "Letting it go" is just not possible on our own strength. We get down on ourselves; it's natural. You tell yourself that you'll never be good enough to get into that school, you'll never be the CEO of that company you've always dreamed of, that no one will ever read your books that you spent half your life on because they're just not good enough.

This mindset is absurd for a Christian, because God tells us, so many times that He will always love us no matter the circumstances. He will always forgive you, even when you think that He couldn't possibly forgive you anymore. Come, fall at the feet of Jesus and taste this sweet grace. It never disappoints, and neither does He.

This is what God says about you:

Isaiah 43:4 // You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you...
Jeremiah 6:16 // Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. 
Jeremiah 31:3 // I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Isaiah 1:18 // Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

So what? You made a seventy-six percent. That does not mean that you're only seventy six percent human, that you're only seventy-six percent loved, that you're only seventy-six percent worth it. As a born-again Christian, your worth does not come from somewhere within you; it comes from Jesus Christ and His sacrifice. God knew we could never measure up, so He provided a substitute to live out His law perfectly and to pay the price we owed. So next time you study harder than you ever have and get a less than glamorous grade, don't think for one moment that you're not worth it anymore. Jesus' worth has been transferred to you, so you will always be worth it.

I'm happy to announce that this afternoon, I took a much-needed three hour nap. Looking back on this week now, it wasn't that bad. Yeah, life only gets harder, but God is crazy about you, and He wants nothing more than for you to come to Him and depend on His grace for your everyday life. Life is hard, but God is always good.

May your Christmas season be filled with His love and grace, and may you never forget the Reason for the season. This Christmas will be one for the books; I can feel it.

You Are A-Okay // 3 Reasons to Rejoice in Trials

Saturday, December 5, 2015

I’m going to be honest: today hasn’t been the greatest day for me. In fact, it hasn’t been great at all. The bags under my eyes are realer than ever right now. I’m exhausted, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and I’ve got a million and one things to do.

Today is one of those days when you look into the mirror and feel inadequate and unwanted by everyone and everything. In times like these your emotions are pushed to the limit, and it seems that you don't have the energy to go on any longer.

I know we all have days like these. We're only human, after all. But we Christians have a whole lot of hope to hold onto. We can either sit in our sorrow and feel depleted and exhausted and inadequate, or we can look to God for our joy and our strength. He never disappoints, and for this reason I  would like to remind each of you today that as long as you have Jesus, you are a-okay.

Three Reasons You are Going to be Okay

As a little girl, my favorite, go-to phrase was "I'm okay, Daddy." I was accident prone (and still am), and after my many trips and falls, my dad would ask me, "Are you okay, Mary Shelley?" I would smile, nod, and give a confident, "Yes, I'm okay."  After a while, I wouldn't give my dad time to ask if I was okay. I would hop up from whatever tree root or obstacle I had happened to trip on and nearly shout, "I'm okay, Daddy." 

Then, it was my pride that let me say I was okay, even when I wasn't. Now, as a new creation, a born-again Christian, I have so many reasons that I can say that I'm okay. In fact, because of what Jesus has done, I am more than okay. And you are, too, Christian.

Here are a few reasons why:

1. God's power is made perfect in our weaknesses. 

The Apostle Paul writes these words in Second Corinthians 12:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul never tells the Corinthians what this "thorn in the flesh" is. And I think this is a good thing, because we can replace this phrase, thorn in the flesh, with whatever we happen to be going through to remind ourselves that God's grace is sufficient for us.

Are you struggling in school? Is one of your friends mad at you? Has a loved one recently passed? Are you going through relationship problems?

God's grace is sufficient, and He has put these problems in your life so you can realize this truth. These earthly problems are often so petty and insignificant when we step back and see the big picture. We must remember that "God would never permit evil if He could not bring good out of evil" (Thomas Watson). Whatever your thorn in the flesh happens to be, God can and will bring good out of it, and in the midst of this weakness, God's grace is more than sufficient. 

2. Every tear will be dried. 

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:3-4

Crying is awful. And if you're like me and tend to bottle up all your emotions, it's a real mess when you finally have to let them all out. Sometimes it's laughing, sometimes it's crying, and sometimes all it takes is a good run. But it never a pretty thing. I usually liken myself to Alice in Alice in Wonderland when she's stuck in that tiny room and it soon fills up with tears. That is by far the scariest part of that movie, and I imagine I look the same when I'm letting all my emotions out.

Psalm 56:8 tells us that God keeps track of all our sorrows and hold our tears in His bottle. I know sometimes it seems like no one cares, but if anyone does, it's God. God cares so much, too much for me to put into words. And He wants you to rejoice in His goodness and grace so that you are not sorrowful. "Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning," (Psalm 30:5) and God is with you through the night, no matter how long it is. 

Someday, when all this mess is over, you will never again shed a tear or feel even one trace of sadness! And, oh, how glorious that day will be! Hold on, dear Christian.

3. None of this is for nothing.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4

As dim as things look right now, I promise you that this trial will make you stronger, whatever it may be. Life is hard, but God is good, and He wants you to be "perfect and complete, lacking nothing." That perfection comes from Him and Him only, and God knows that. Rejoice in this trial, Christian, for it is times like these that bring you closer to your Maker. Each day you will learn to hold onto Him more and more, and even when you don't, He still holds onto you. How wonderful is that thought? 

A leader at my summer camp once said something like, "If all you have is Jesus, you are going to be more than okay." And he's right. Jesus is why those persecuted Christians all over the globe continue to hold on. He is so good and so worth it, and He never disappoints. Rest in that today.

"Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."
Hebrews 10:23

The Outcome of a Refreshed Soul // Love Fully

Friday, November 27, 2015

With the early winter air comes a certain chill and dimness that can dampen a spirit. We huddle in our homes with hot chocolate and a crackling fire and complain about the cold. We dream of summer and yearn for spring. The cold never bothers me, though, because there's something about the chilly air that sends a message of hope. Leaves fall off  trees, but they still dance in the wind. The trees are bare, but still very much alive. The pines hold their green, and against the bareness of everything else they look their best yet. I love winter, not just because of warm sweaters and fuzzy socks, but because of the hope that clings to us so closely.

Things will get better; I promise. 

People go through winters sometimes. We close our hearts and stop blooming, refusing to reach out to anyone. Those wonderful pines, though, the ever-true evergreens, the people of hope, reach out. I've encountered quite a few of these evergreens lately, and they've been a huge blessing. This holiday season these evergreens have reminded me just how much I have to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving morning we six Reids boarded our Chevy Traverse at 6:34 a.m. with coffee, Pop Tarts, lots of blankets, and my camera in hand. We drove to Cades Cove, a wildlife reserve in Townsend, Tennessee, and watched cotton candy clouds rise above the Great Smoky Mountains. 

It was a simple journey, but it was enough. My depleted soul was looking for refreshment, and the reminder that God is always in control was exactly what I needed.

- (excuse the blurriness; I had my telephoto, manual focus lens attached with no tripod.) -

We drove through the eleven mile loop twice, making sure I was able to adequately capture the true beauty we saw. Though the pictures don’t do it justice, I am pleased with how they turned out. We were able to get right next to a group of turkeys. They were monstrous, and the way the sun shone on their feathers was beautiful. I was able to get probably ten or fifteen yards from a huge buck, and though I’ve seen more than my share of whitetail deer in my lifetime, this one was the biggest yet. 

- two turkeys on turkey day. how about that?-

We then hiked to Abrams falls, a “moderately difficult 3-4 hour” hike that we were able to accomplish in two and a half hours.  The view was stunning. Several times I found myself humming How Great Thou Art because of the awe I felt. God’s beauty and power was so evident in these moments. My soul was full, and because of that I was driven to worship. It amazes me that the very thing we do to glorify the Lord we cannot do on our own. God places the desire to worship Him in our hearts. Without His help, we cannot even give thanks to Him. 

We drove home with renewed souls and tired legs. (If I were to be honest, I’d have to say that they still are a little sore.) God started accomplishing a little heart-work within me at that moment, and I haven’t been able to shake it since.

These past few days God has reminded me just how dependent upon Him I really am. I need Him for the most monotonous things – every breath I breathe is borrowed from Him – yet I only call upon Him in times of distress.  During and after the terrorist attacks on Paris, the hashtag “pray for Paris” was trending. The world called out to God that night. If only we could realize that we need God every single day, not just during wars or terrorist attacks or times of distress. I need God when I wake up in the mornings. I need God to have the strength to go to school with a joyful heart. I need God to stand up in front of a whole classroom of people and tell them all that He has done for them (more on that later). I am foreverin need of God. I need His grace on good days and bad. I still need His grace when I get up and read my Bible and pray. I need His grace when all I have time to do is throw on a t-shirt and jeans and grab coffee to-go. I alwaysneed God, and this week He has communicated to me just how much I need to live in His grace.

I went into our little cabin’s small bedroom last night knowing I should talk to God, but I picked up a book instead: The Discipline of Grace, a book that was a “stretch goal” for my summer internship, but I never got around to reading it. Jerry Bridges, by God’s power, convicted me of something. My lack of loving others.

I’ve always thought I was pretty good at loving. My church family always tells me how much I smile, and I know that’s by God’s grace alone. People at school call me a “sweet girl,” and I never really doubted it. But last night I realized just how much I needed to start loving others. Jerry Bridges put this list together adapted off of First Corinthians 13:4-7:

·         I am patientwith you because I love you and want to forgive you.
·         I am kind to you because I love you and want to help you.
·         I do not envy you because I love you and want you to have the best.
·         I do not boast about my attainments because I love you and want to hear about yours.
·         I am not proud because I love you and want to esteem you before myself.
·         I am not rude because I love you and care about your feelings.
·         I am not self-seeking because I love youand want to meet your needs.
·         I am not easily angered because I love youand want to overlook your offenses.
·         I do not keep a record of your wrongs because I love you and “love covers a multitude of sins.”

Are you letting God’s love manifest itself in your life this much?  I know I’m not. I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to be this selfless, and I know none of us can all the time. However, with God’s grace in our lives, anything is possible, and if we depend on Him to love like this and let others know that it’s God’s love we’re showing and not ours, it is beyond possible. 

Next week life starts back up again. I have two weeks of school then a week of midterms, and then Christmas break. But I know those three weeks will drag by, perhaps slower than than the whole school year combined. Will you start asking God for the grace to love others this much? Comment below if you're in. I'll keep you updated here as well as on Instagram at @thereidwhowritesblog and @mur_shells ! As Christians, we are supposed to be people of love. Will you be known for God's love shining through you?

The Liebster Award // discover new blogs!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

[image credit]
I was nominated by Olivia Knight over at Summer of 1999 for the Liebster Blogger Award! Thanks, Olivia, for nominating me!

I actually get to type this tonight because I have no homework!!! For the first time in like three months. Legit. Hope you enjoy the questions below! I had fun answering them :)


1. Who is your favorite teacher you've had so far and why?

This is a really hard question, just to put that out there. I've had so many great teachers. My preschool teachers will always hold a special place in my heart. They were always so understanding with me, and they put up with me even though I cried every day. (They called me "tender-hearted.")

2. What do you do to destress?

I have to destress way too often, as in every day after school. I pour myself a nice strong cup of coffee and just chill. "Chilling" is usually writing or playing the piano, and on occasion going outside to shoot some photos.

3. What is the first book you remember reading? or If you could choose one children's book to read to your child which would it be?


"In the great green room 
There was a telephone 
And a red balloon 
And a picture of
The cow jumping over the moon 
And there were three little bears sitting on chairs 
And two little kittens 
And a pair of mittens 
And a little toy house 
And a young mouse 
And a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush 
And a quiet old lady who was whispering “hush” 
Goodnight room 
Goodnight moon"

I am seriously getting the feels right now.

4. What is the last item you purchased?

I just recently went shopping with madre and bought some fall/winter clothes, but I believe I paid five dollars for a youth group t-shirt yesterday. Does that count??

5. When and how does your family first begin to celebrate Christmas (if you do)?

My family loves Christmas. As soon as we can, after Thanksgiving, we go get a tree at Hilltop Christmas Tree Farm in Six Mile. There's a man there who looks like santa. And they give out hot chocolate free of charge. And it's altogether magical. Then, we take it home and put it up, and then we lay all our ornaments out on the dining room table and slowly but surely decorate the tree. (If we had an "official" decorating time, there wouldn't be a time where everyone could be there at once. We're always in different directions.) On Christmas morning, we have Christmas brunch instead of Christmas dinner, and then we pretty much just hang out after we open gifts and such. We're a laid back family. But before any of this happens, we begin to listen to Christmas music. We're enjoying that right now. I started November first, by the way.

6. If you could choose to have any color hair, what would it be?

I've always wanted red hair. My last name actually means "red," and it was likely started because someone way back when had red hair. My hair is almost auburn, but not quite. It's honestly just a mix of everything, to be honest. But I would love to have red hair.

7. Favorite movie that has come out in the last year (or two, whatevs)?

I loved the recent Cinderella movie. Except I missed the part where the prince's father dies, and when I came back into the theater, I had no idea what was going on. But it was a great movie. "Have courage, and be kind." Always.

8. Favorite book of the bible and short bit on why?

Wow, this is hard. Like really hard. I loved Hebrews when I read through it. But I also love Romans. And all of the gospels. And then there's Ruth and Esther, which, being a girl, I also love. UGH. I just can't answer this question for the life of me. 

Okay, I've decided (though it's subject to change): Ruth. I love the way the story progresses and how Ruth keeps her faith. I think it's a beautiful picture of God's love for us and His faithfulness through everything we go through. God has a greater plan, and I love seeing that illustrated in Ruth.

9. What time do you usually go to sleep and wake up (psh what even is a sleep schedule)?

My brain shuts down after 8:00 sharp. I try to study/read in the wee hours of the morning, but it just doesn't work out for me. So I like to go to bed at 9:30-9:45, but I often stay up till 11:45, and I'm not really sure why. 

I try to get up at 5:45 so I'll have time to drink my coffee and have time in the Word, but I have this great talent called "turning your alarm(s) off in your sleep." I could seriously go to the Olympics for it.

10. Which Disney princess do you want to be when you grow up (because we all know this is an important decision that we're going to have to make at some point in our lives)?

BELLE. I love Belle. Belle is me. I love gold dresses and books and I try to see the best in people, and I think Belle is a great example of that. And yes, this is a very important question for every young adult lady to consider. I applaud you, Olivia.

11. Well, I thought that I only had to come up with ten questions and I was happy with that last question being my last one, but then I realized I had to do eleven. Soooo. Do you like to color with crayons, markers, or colored pencils?

(Eleven is a weird number.)
I’m not a huge fan of crayons. They’re too waxy. And markers bleed through, so I guess I like colored pencils?? I don’t really color that often (except in biology class -- go figure), so I wouldn’t know.

11 Facts About Me:

1. I’m currently wearing two shades of gray, and I might die (they’re PJ’s folks, no worries).
2. I say “no worries” as much as the average Australian.
3. I love Australia. Like if a stranger showed up at my house with a plane ticket to Australia I’d probably take it. (Don’t get any ideas.)
4. My brother is playing “sleigh ride” in the kitchen off of his Pandora and I’m really liking the vibe it gives off. I love Christmas :)
5. I’m running out of facts. It’s really hard for me to talk about myself.
6. We Reids are big southern people. I never say “you guys.” Only “y’all.” It’s the proper term, even though it’s underlined in red on this word document.
7. My favorite food is Mac ’n’ cheese, the really unhealthy southern kind with bread crumbs on the top.
8. I have a list of adjectives that I hate, and if you say them around me I might cry.
9. My hair is taking so long to grow. It’s agonizingly annoying.
10. Tomorrow is my last day of school before Thanksgiving Break, and my teacher just announced that my bio test is postponed until the Thursday after break!!!!
11. I’m out of facts. Sorry, y’all. No worries, though. You can learn plenty about me by checking out my social media. (Especially my twitter. Yesterday, there was a roach on my bedroom ceiling, and I cried, then tweeted about it.)

My Questions:

1. What is your favorite season and why?

2. Do you have any weird/quirky habits or talents? 

3. Describe your personality in three words. (This isn't a question, but hey, I think it's okay to bend the rules a little.)

4. If Peter Pan came to your window right now and said he'd fly you to Neverland, would you go? (I would, just so you know.)

5. What's your favorite room in the house and why?

6. Are there any talents you don't have that you wish you did?

7. What has God been showing you lately?

8. If you could snap back to any moments right now, what would it be? 

9. What is your favorite movie and why?

10. What are your Thanksgiving traditions, if you have any?

11. If you could talk to anyone right now -- and I mean anyone -- who would it be?

I nominate:

Madilyn (who I actually know in real life, by the way) at Thoughts of a Wildflower

Jess at Living Joyfully 

The Rules:

1.Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. 

2.Display the award on your blog.

3.Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.

4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.

5.Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers.

6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

7. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) 

8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it!

Well, that's a wrap, folks! I hope y'all enjoyed this silly/fun post! Happy [early]  Thanksgiving!

Study Tips // Why We Press On

Monday, November 16, 2015

It's that time of year again. School, school, and more school. And I happen to be up to my neck in it. I have a full schedule this semester. Frankly, I don't even have time to write this. I have so much to do. But, for y'all, I wanted to do a post about studying just to give you an idea of how I prepare for tests, quizzes, and exams.

1. Find Your Zone.

My zone is someplace completely alone with soft light and Frank Sinatra/Taylor Swift/Hunter Hayes playing in the background. It also helps to have a cup of coffee near by. We all do best in our zones. I like music loud enough to drowned out the world around me but soft enough so I can focus. I like to be warm and comfortable with minimal distractions. Whatever your zone may be, find it.

2. Don't study on an empty stomach.

There is a reason teachers tell you to eat a wholesome breakfast before standardized testing. Food is important, y'all, and we all need it. Don't try to study on an empty stomach. Your brain works best when you're fed. So eat. 

3. Leave your phone as far away as possible.

I've found that the best way to study is without your phone. Sure, it's helpful when you're on the go, but there are way too many distractions in one place to get anything done. Even when Do Not Disturb is turned on, I still get social media notifications, and guess what? They distract me every time.  

4. Find your learning style.

I learn visually, aurally, and verbally. I like lectures and note-taking, and I benefit from repeating something over and over again. We all have different learning styles, and we learn best when we use that learning style. If you aren't sure of yours, you can take this quiz.  If you aren't sure how to apply your learning style to your studies, you can read this article


So, there are four tips for you, and they all require one thing: discipline. But what is yours and my motivation? Why should we work hard? Why do we give it our all and do our best? Is it merely because that's what society tells us? Is it because we want to get into an Ivy League school? What if you've got a perfectly good family business waiting for you, and you don't even have to go to college?

Christians are called to work hard because it's what God wants for us. He has place us where we are for a reason. He wants our best.

Colossians 3:23-24 says this: "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."

Our work is for God, not for ourselves or other people. Right now, whether you're in middle school, high school, or college, God has called you to be where you are and to work for Him, not for men. He has called us to learn discipline and work ethic and to spread His word wherever we go. And in the midst of all the trials we're going through, we have an eternal reward.

1 Corinthians 15:58 calls us to be "steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."

Our labor isn't in vain; God has a plan for us. So why should you study hard? Because that is what God has called you to do, and He expects you to do it well and for His glory, not your own.

Happy studying, readers!

P.S. Next week is Thanksgiving Break, so I'll be able to post more often. Be ready for a Thankfulness post :)

Blogtober Day 12 // Trust in Him & Be Found

Monday, October 12, 2015

Hola, readers! Remember that surprise I was talking about? Well here it is: a guest post from the one and only Madilyn Davis, my best friend and fellow blogger! Madilyn always encourages me to run to God and trust in Him, because, believe me, I have major trust issues. And today she wants to encourage y'all to do the same thing. I'll link her social accounts below; feel free to give her a follow there!

Trust is the solid foundation of any relationship a person has with someone else, but when that trust is broken, so is the relationship with that person and the relationship will never be the same again.  Well, it’s different when it comes to God.  In fact, it is one hundred percent positive He will never lead you astray and break His promises.  We are only humans, and we all need God every living day.  All we do is sin, and we need the One who died for our sins to save us from our sins, and when we let Him do just that, it is a huge leap of faith we take.  We are trusting in God with our lives.  

“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

God will never leave you, and that is a promise you can trust.  He will be there for you through everything, good and bad times, and He will get you through those times if you trust the fact that He can get you through rough waters so you can live for Him.  Life isn’t easy, y’all, but God is always good.  Just like the verse said in Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged”, God will comfort you and He will guide you – if you trust Him.  Without your trust in God, your plans God has lain out for you would be hopeless; my plans would be hopeless if I wasn’t trusting in God with my all.  This world is fading away from God’s commands, which is one of the saddest things to think about.  Do you have any idea why?  Society isn’t trusting God.  They aren’t putting God before themselves, and they’re letting themselves become lost in the world’s ways.  This is why it is so incredibly important to trust God with your life, because when your soul is in God’s hands, it is in the safest place it could possibly be.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 
“Trust in God” is all I can tell you to do and it is up to you whether or not you commit to Him and let Him guide you.  Yesterday I had the experience of a lifetime and was able to ride in a hot air balloon.  The view was beautiful, but I’m petrified of heights and was miserably claustrophobic and would have not been able to do what I did without trusting that God would keep my family and me safe on the ride.   I run into situations every day when I have to trust in the Lord, and it is a wonderful feeling knowing that the One who forgave me for my sins has my back through everything – big and small, hard and easy.  Know one thing – God loves you, even when you betray Him.  He keeps His Word, even when you don’t keep yours.  That’s an amazing type of love and security our Savior gives us and I wouldn’t trade it for a thing in the world.

Wasn't that just great?! Like I said before, y'all should go check out her personal blog, and her social media is linked below:

Blogtober Day 8 // Fall Bucket List

Thursday, October 8, 2015

(This was taken during the flooding here in SC. Most everyone in our area was fine, but families in the lower part of the state weren't so fortunate. Keep them in your prayers.)

I know, I know, I said I was going to post more often this month. *face palm* And I’m so terribly sorry that I haven’t stood up to my word. As usual, as soon as I made the commitment, my school schedule decided to go crazy on me. Lately, I’ve needed a little extra grace, but you know what? That’s okay, because God gives grace unmeasured, full, and free.

As I’ve already made a point to say about ten thousand times in the last few posts, it’s fall! And not only fall, but also October, which is one of the greatest months around. Today for Blogtober, I’d like to share a fall bucket list because I absolutely love fall and all its good vibes.

1. Go apple picking.
2. Visit a corn maze.
3. PSL (pumpkin spice latte) is obligatory.
4. Have a fall photo shoot. (Photo shoots in my case)
5. Buy/make/think of a Halloween costume (homemade ones are always fun. And contrary to what everyone says, you’re never too old to trick-or-treat)
6. Jump in a pile of leaves (you know you want to)
7. Watch lots and lots of football. (I’m cheering for Clemson in my head as I write this)
8. Bake everything pumpkin. you can think of
9. Go to the mountains. (I’m doing this in November for Thanksgiving break!)
10. Have/go to a bon fire (I shall never tire of bon fires and friends and hot dogs and coffee. Just thinking about it makes me smile)
11. Fall clothes are actually the best. Enjoy those while they last J
12. Make s’mores (See number 10 – they go perfectly together)


Isn’t fall great?! Comment below what y’all plan to do this fall! I hope that through these series of posts  y'all can get to know the girl behind the blog a little better. And stay tuned because I’ve got a surprise post coming on Monday!