Sunday, April 10, 2016

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


HEY Y'ALL GUESS WHAT?! THE VLOG IS HERE. SO without further ado, here ya go :)


Again, thank y'all for all of your amazing questions. I felt so loved to have so many to answer :) I told Lauren I'd leave a list of devotional books I like, so here they are (they're not really devotional per se, but they all focus around the gospel and its impact.)

The Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges
Do Hard Things, Alex and Brett Harris
Not a Fan, Kyle Idleman
Counter Culture, David Platt

I'm currently reading Redefining Beautiful, and it has space to write in. Also, Who I am in Christ by Natalie Durso leaves space to write. Those use more of a hands on approach if you're looking for that.

And -- in case you were wondering -- the book I kept obsessing over is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It's based off Hosea (a book of the Bible), and, as many times as I said it in the video, it is so good.

And anonymous commenter said, "1 John 5:16-17 talks about how there are sins that lead to death and notes that there are sins that do not. How would you interpret this passage? "

Thank you, Anonymous, for the challenging question!! I didn't have time to talk about it in the vlog (it was originally forty minutes, y'all. FORTY minutes. *eye roll emoji*), so I decided to write about it instead.

At first I read the verses indicated, but I decided it was easier to understand with the surrouding context, like all bible verses are. Here is the passage in ESV:

"13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.

18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols" (1 John 5:13-21).

This passage, as you may have noticed, is a little bit challenging (especially to a sixteen year old girl, i.e. me). To make it a little more clear, I decided to look up the Message version. The message isn't a direct translation, so it's not appropriate at all times, like in sermons, but when trying to gain an understanding it can be okay to use. So I'll quote the same passage using the message text:

"13-15 My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he’s listening. And if we’re confident that he’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours.

16-17 For instance, if we see a Christian believer sinning (clearly I’m not talking about those who make a practice of sin in a way that is “fatal,” leading to eternal death), we ask for God’s help and he gladly gives it, gives life to the sinner whose sin is not fatal. There is such a thing as a fatal sin, and I’m not urging you to pray about that. Everything we do wrong is sin, but not all sin is fatal.

18-21 We know that none of the God-begotten makes a practice of sin—fatal sin. The God-begotten are also the God-protected. The Evil One can’t lay a hand on them. We know that we are held firm by God; it’s only the people of the world who continue in the grip of the Evil One. And we know that the Son of God came so we could recognize and understand the truth of God—what a gift!—and we are living in the Truth itself, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. This Jesus is both True God and Real Life. Dear children, be on guard against all clever facsimiles."

I think we find the key text in the last paragraph above. John is simply saying that true Christians do not take part in certain sins. You may catch them lying and maybe even cheating on a test, but a true Christian will come to repentance because of the power of the Holy Spirit inside of him/her. If a man has willingly, with a clear conscience, murdered someone, for instance, then there is a chance that, even if he claims to be in Christ, he is not a Christian at all.

Now, I want to point out that it is not our place to judge whether or not someone is saved. That can be dangerous for us as Christians and will cause a spirit of pride to grow inside us. I've been there before:

"Well, that guy just cursed, and I've never cursed in my life, so he can't be a Christian" or "She just lied through her teeth but claims to be a Christian. There's no way she can actually be one."

Those are actual thoughts I've had, y'all. It's dangerous -- very dangerous -- to start thinking that you have the authority to judge what's inside someone's heart. You don't; only God does.

Back to the point: In verses 19 and 20 of the ESV text, John notes that the "evil one," i.e. Satan, does not have a grip on those who are in Christ. We are possessed  by the Holy Spirit -- God Almighty lives inside of us -- so, of course, He will give us strength to resist the devil.

John's main point, I think, is that we can pray for strength to resist temptations, such as lying, lusting, or even things like not having confidence in God (aka doubt). And in making that point he has to note that you can't pray for an unbeliever to resist sin and expect it to work. In other words, you can't pray someone out of hell. But, if we are in Christ, and we have the confidence that He will give us the strength to resist temptation, He will.

James 4:7 says, "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee." Verse 8 holds and amazing promise: "Draw  near to God, and he will draw near to you."

In a way, I think John is pretty much saying the same thing in this passage that we looked at today. I can't say much more without studying it a whole lot, so I'm not trying to sound scholarly. For this post, just remember this: Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. He will, and He does. It's the kind of thing that you really have to experience for yourself to understand just how amazing it is.

Did you like the vlog?! comment below if you have any questions about the passage above, and let me know if you'd like for me to do another one in the future!! 

ONE MORE THING!!! I'm planning on doing a review of Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman, so stay tuned for that!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

emerging from hibernation // Q&A vlog to come

HOLA AMIGOS!!! I've been away for soooooo long, but I feel like part of me is missing when I'm not blogging so HERE I AM AGAIN!! Lately I've been unbearably busy (sorry y'all I looked for a synonym but I just couldn't find one *eye roll emoji*) considering all I've got going on, and today I have a few spare minutes to talk to y'all about something REALLY EXCITING:

Guess what??!?!?!?!?!??!?!? I'm doing a Q&A vlog! *excited squeals* (sorry if I disappointed you by making that seem more exciting than it actually is oops.) Thanks to inspiration from Olivia's and Abbiee's really cool vlogs I decided to do one myself. I mean, hey, why not?? I know y'all probably read my writing and think, wow this girl is super strange idk what to think, so why not put a face and voice to all that strangeness?? SO that being said, I need questions because I can't do a Q&A vlog without questions. So please, comment, email, tweet me, dm me, or whatever with absolutely any question you wanna ask me, and I will be delighted  to answer it to the best of my ability :))))

Annnnndddd now.... duh duh duhhhhhhhhhhhh .... y'all are probably wondering why on earth have I been away for so long (and if you weren't wondering that I'm willing to bet that you are now) so I decided to update y'all on what I've been up to lately.


Reading: Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman -- I actually started reading this before Harper Lee passed away, and when I heard the news I was about 3/4 of the way through. Y'all, it is such a good book. It's a perfect follow-up to To Kill a Mockingbird, and I love how Harper Lee brings Atticus down to human level. Throughout all of To Kill a Mockingbird, he's seen as a god, basically, which is pretty realistic considering it's from the point of view of a six year old girl. But as Jean Louise [did I mention how much I adore her name?!] gets older, she has to realize that Atticus is human, too. When she visits Macomb as an adult, she finds a piece of herself that she didn't know existed, and by the end of the novel, she's a whole new person. I definitely, recommend it, y'all. If you have yet to read To Kill a Mockingbird, give it a read, and pick up Go Set a Watchman while you're at it.
Jenna Lucado's Redefining Beautiful -- My younglife group is reading this, and it has some really awesome points in it. The author defines beauty as "what God sees when he sees you," and I think that is so cool. Like, when we look in the mirror we want to be beautiful in our terms, but God already sees beauty when he looks at us because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.

Watching: WHEN CALLS THE HEART. CAN WE JUST TAKE A MOMENT TO FANGIRL PLZ?!??!!?!??!!? Jack and Elizabeth are total relationship goals in like every sense of the phrase. If I had counted how many times I squealed during the season three premiere on Sunday I could fill up like 120000 hands.
GILMORE GIRLS. I FINISHED all of the episodes and at this point idk what to do with my life. And did y'all hear about the REUNION coming up?! SO. MANY. FEELS. 

Eating (can we talk about how much I like food for real please): Since I have the first hour and a half of the day off of school every day, I have this really great routine of drinking DARK ITALIAN ROAST coffee and eating Quaker's organic oatmeal, and LEMME TELL YA if I knew organic stuff tasted so good I woulda started eating it a looonggg time ago. And did I mention organic POPCORN?!?! My dad brought it home from one of his university functions and I am in love (and eating right now actually). I seriously wish someone would have told me organic food could be so good. I could be a total health freak and still eat awesome food!! 

Listening: Hunter Hayes' new album, y'all. Pure gold. A couple of my favorites are Saint or Sinner and Someday Girl. And BEN RECTOR. Can I make a sweater out of his voice and wear it every day?? Is that a thing or nah??

Playing (on the piano): 10,000 reasons, Canon in D, and A Whole New World *cue dramatic disney music* When I'm doing chemistry homework and I get super frustrated (which is inevitable) it is so nice to be able to go sit down at the piano and play my little heart out. It's such a stress reliever, and I love being able to praise the Lord through song while doing something I love.

ALLLRIGHTTT that's about it, folks!! Please comment with questions you'd like to see on the vlog! I will try to stay caught up with y'all. I've been tagged for like 1090840398 things and I just can't do them all, so I may just not do any of them, and I'll answer y'all's questions in the vlog instead!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

the walking in between

The feeling had hit me sometime between Christmas and my sixteenth birthday, and I hadn't been able to shake it sense. It was an overwhelming feeling, a feeling that shook me to my core and drove me up a wall. I would cry in annoyance, begging God to take it from me. It was like an muscle spasm or one of those itches that you can't quite locate. Oh, how I wanted to pull my hair out. I did anything I could to make myself forget it was there: homework, netflix, snapping a few pictures, writing a poem. But I couldn't fool myself, and I always knew it was there.

The reason for this annoying little itch hit me not so long ago as I was riding in the car somewhere with my family. We were all talking, the radio was on, and it seemed that everyone was happy. But all I wanted to do was escape. It seemed that though all was well and good, I was not. I had so many dreams stored up, and I felt that if I didn't act on them, my head would explode. I wanted to do something, to be something. I couldn't help but feel that life was moving along miserably slowly, like I was running sixty miles an hour and everybody else was running six.

And it was then that I silently thanked God that I didn't have a car to drive, because knowing the state of mind I was in, I could have driven to the airport and jumped on a plane to Australia without any second thoughts. So in my little town I stayed, simply out of obligation.

Last Friday was our first "snow" of the year. (I say "snow" because it was mostly ice, but that's beside the point.) For as long as I can remember, my family has gone on snow walks after the year's first snow has fallen. The whole world is white and it's altogether magical. So, as usual, on Friday night, my family and I went on our snow walk. It sounds like a simple, not at all glamorous occasion, but, oh, how magical it was. We laughed and joked the whole time, bringing up memories and making new ones. (We had just watched Disney/Pixar's Inside Out, so we couldn't stop making jokes about how we were making "core memories" at the moment.) Through all the magic, as I watched the snow reflect the streetlight, that itch disappeared. I had found the peace I was searching so desperately for. Instantly, a line of Ben Rector's "I Like You" popped into my head: "Life is not the mountain tops / it's the walking in between." And in that moment, I knew that I had found my walking in between. Right there, in the snow-covered streets of Clemson, South Carolina, I knew that God placed me where I was for a reason, and He was going to finish the work He started in me, no matter what. So once again I said a prayer of thanksgiving, and once again I gave my dreams to the maker of the stars. I know now, just as I've learned many times before, that God's will is an umbrella and a shelter from the storm, and it is the safest place you can ever be.

So to my fellow free-birds, I pray that you find your walking in between. I pray that God strengthens you and gives you hope for tomorrow. I pray that on your walking in between, you pursue God with all that you have. And when it's finally time, God will place you wherever He wants you if you simply put your trust in Him.

And, hey, just for the heck of it, here's Ben Rector's "I Like You." (It's so good and it makes me smile so big and you'll love it so much I promise.)

Monday, January 25, 2016

freezing water & freezing time

They laugh at us, telling us we’re crazy, crazy to have a whole day off school for two inches of snow.  To them, it’s an inconvenience, and though the world is all white, for them, life goes on. But here, where we’re known for our long, hot summers, humidity, mosquitoes, and sweet tea, here, time stops when it snows.

Snowy days are the dreamiest days. They take me back to when life was easy, when the scariest thing I could think of was sledding down our ice-covered driveway and landing just centimeters away from the prickly bushes; when family was just next door, and the impact of a snowball on my face didn’t really hurt because it was thrown with love; when a hard day consisted only of a hard spelling test and could easily be fixed by hot chocolate and Barney and Friends. Snow days reawaken gentleness inside every soul, and, even for just a day, all is well and right and good.

It’s gone with the drop of a hat, and life returns to normal. The grass is that dreaded yellow-green, and people again speed through their neighborhoods; kids open up books filled with fact after fact, and teachers promise them that it’s not all for nothing; we long for the end of the day instead of enjoying it.

And we wait. In another, year, perhaps, our dear friend snow will come again and take us back, but until then, we try to make due, and we wait.

Monday, January 18, 2016

January Tunes: Winter Worship

Welcome, back, readers! I know that I said I'd be back a week ago, but as life goes, school was entirely too busy. Thankfully, I have two free periods this semester, which give me so much more time. To start up the week, I'd like to share January's playlist, a sensational compilation of my favorite worships songs! 

Winter is often depressing and dreary, and people often listen to depressing and dreary songs to match their feelings. ( I still don't know why people do this -- I do it myself, and I still can't figure it out.) This month and every month, though, I think it is important to rejoice in the Lord and His love. When we bog down our emotions with sad, depressing songs that offer no hope for the future, we feel deflated and lonely, detatching ourselves from what matters most. God is faithful in good times and bad, and that is why I believe it is necessary to rejoice in that fact, to recognize the hope we've been given.

Hebrews 10:23, one of my favorite verse of all time, says this: "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we possess, for He who promised is faithful."

So, without further ado, here are my worship picks for January 2016!

Rend Collective

Your Royal Blood 
What can wash away my sin?
What can make me whole again?
What can make me white as snow?
Nothing but Your royal blood.
One and Only 
Who spoke and told the sun to rise?
Whose lips proclaimed the birth of light?
Who sparked the kindling of the stars and set the fire in our hearts?
Who sang as planets learned their dance?
Who poured the oceans from His hands?
Whose breath awakened life and dust
And leaves me breathless at His touch?

You Will Never Run 
You will never run away
You're forever mine
You will never run away
You're by my side

Love wide as galaxies
Love deeper than the sea
Countless as all infinity
Love like a shooting star
Tearing apart the dark

Shining for all eternity

Joy of the Lord
 Though the tears may fall my song will rise
My song will rise to You
Though my heart may fail my song will rise
My song will rise to You
While there's breath in my lungs
I will praise you Lord

In the dead of night I’ll lift my eyes
I’ll lift my eyes to You
Though the waters rise I’ll lift my eyes
I’ll lift my eyes to You
While there's hope in this heart
I will praise You Lord
More Than Conquers 
We are more than conquerors, through Christ
You have overcome this world, this life
We will not bow to sin or to shame
We are defiant in Your name
You are the fire that cannot be tamed
You are the power in our veins
Our Lord, our God, our Conqueror


Immeasurably More
More than all our sin
Than all our shame
Stronger than the grave
You are immeasurably more
I can't help but sing
Can't help but praise
My heart can not contain
You are immeasurably more

There's nothing greater than Your love
You're more than we can imagine
There's nothing sweeter on this earth
You're more than we can imagine
Our hearts respond to who You are
It's You oh Lord that we adore
You are more, You are more
You're more than we can imagine
You are more, You are more

You're more than we can imagine

Boldly I Approach (The Art of Celebration) 
By grace alone somehow I stand
Where even angels fear to tread
Invited by redeeming love
Before the throne of God above
He pulls me close with nail-scarred hands
Into His everlasting arms

When condemnation grips my heart
And Satan tempts me to despair
I hear the voice that scatters fear
The Great I Am the Lord is here
Oh praise the One who fights for me
And shields my soul eternally

Boldly I approach Your throne
Blameless now I'm running home
By Your blood I come
Welcomed as Your own

Into the arms of majesty
Desert Soul 
I love you, Lord
But I want to love You more
I need You, God
But I want to need You more

I'm lost without
Your creative spark in me
I'm dead inside
Unless Your resurrection sings

I'm desperate for a desperate heart
I'm reaching out, I'm reaching

All that I am is dry bones
Without You, Lord, a desert soul
I am broken, but running

Towards You, God, You make me whole

Oh, the gravity of You
Draws my soul unto its knees
I will never be the same
I am lost and found in You

And I will bow my life
At Your feet, at Your feet
My lips, so lost for words
Will kiss Your feet, kiss Your feet

Second Chance
Fragments of brokenness
Salvaged by the art of grace
You craft life from our mistakes

Black skies of my regrets
Outshone by this kindness
New life dawns over my soul

Oh Your cross, it changes everything
There my world begins again with You
Oh Your cross, it's where my hope restarts

A second chance is Heaven's heart

The Cost 
I'm saying yes to You
And no to my desires
I'll leave myself behind
And follow You

I'll walk the narrow road
'Cause it leads me to You
I'll fall but grace
Will pick me up again

I've counted up the cost
Oh, I've counted up the cost
Yes, I've counted up the cost

And You are worth it

You Are My Vision
You are my vision, O king of my heart
Nothing else satisfies, only You, Lord
You are my best thought by day or by night

Waking or sleeping, Your presence, my light

10,000 Reasons 
The sun comes up
It's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass
And whatever lies before me
Let me be singing
When the evening comes

Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I'll worship Your Holy name
My Lighthouse 
In my wrestling and in my doubts
In my failures You won't walk out
Your great love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea
You are the peace in my troubled sea

In the silence, You won't let go
In my questions, Your truth will hold
Your great love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea
You are the peace in my troubled sea

My Lighthouse, my lighthouse
Shining in the darkness, I will follow You
My Lighthouse, my Lighthouse
I will trust the promise, 
You will carry me safe to shore 


This I Believe (The Creed)
I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again

For I believe in the name of Jesus

Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) 
All these pieces
Broken and scattered
In mercy gathered
Mended and whole
Empty handed
But not forsaken
I've been set free
I've been set free

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
But now I'm found

Was blind but now I see

Sovereign Grace Music

Sooner Count the Stars
I could sooner count the stars
Than number all Your ways 
Though I only know in part
That part exceeds all praise 
As sunlight fills the skies 
Your goodness fills my life 
For all Your precious gifts
Receive my gratefulness 

I could sooner drink the seas
Than fathom all Your love 
Like a never ceasing stream 
Are mercies through Your Son 
The death of Christ alone 
Deserves eternal song 
For such a love as His 

Receive my gratefulness 

This is Our God 
God, our Father, full of power 
Maker of the heavens, Maker of the world 
Forming all things, seen and unseen 
Truly the Almighty beyond all measured worth 
Holy is His Name 

We believe the Lord our God is One 
Father, Spirit, Son; This is our God! 
We believe forever He will reign 

Let the church proclaim: This is our God! 

Great One in Three
Come now, Almighty King
Rule and reign over us 
Help us Your praise to sing, Father, glorious 
Embracing us before all time 
You made us heirs with Christ on high 
By Your Spirit now we cry 
“Abba, Father” 

We long for the day, Great One in Three 
We finally behold Your majesty 
Face to face, we’ll worship and adore 


Blessed Assurance 
Come, Holy Spirit, my soul assure 
Relieve my fears that I no more 
May doubt the love of Christ for me 
That my debt is paid, that I’ve been made free 
O Comforter, in me reside 
When the tempter speaks be my faithful Guide 
Show Your promise is for me secured 
For the battle be my heavenly sword 

Blessed assurance; Jesus is mine! 
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine! 
Heir of salvation, purchase of God

Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood 

I Am They

We Are Yours
You placed eternity in our hearts
We were Yours from the very start
All we’ve known has been torn apart
And now we have forever

You gave a song for our souls to sing
And Your life was the offering
Even death, it has lost its sting
Now we have forever

Jadon Lavik 

My Father's World 
This is my Father's world
And to my listening ears
All nature sings and round me rings
The music of the spheres
Tis So Sweet
’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”


Come Thou Fount 
Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy praise
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount I'm fixed upon it

Mount of Thy redeeming love

Brady Toops

Glorious Name
You are the One True God
Over all the earth
Our King and the Father's love
Who became our sin
to save and to overcome
by Your Glorious Name
Your Glorious Name

For You are the Lord
the Lord God so merciful
You are the Lord
 and You abound in lovingkindess
You are the Lord
Full of grace and full of truth
Oh, You never change
What a Glorious Name

O For Grace
Oh for grace to lay down all my dreams in Him be found
O for faith to keep it true and never stop believing you

And when it’s strong or when it falls through
Oh lord to know my answer is you

I hope you all enjoyed this post, and I hope you'll take a look at these songs! I've put them on a spotify playlist here. Now, start worshiping!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Tips to Studying the Old Testament

image via unsplash 
Hello! I'm Lauren, and I blog over at Victory. I'm so incredibly thrilled to have the opportunity to guest post over here today! 
I'm a Child of God  and I hope by my writing you are pointed back to the One who is the reason that I am existing and who is the One that I am living for. 

I don't know about you, but I've never been the kind of person that wants to jump straight into the Old Testament when I am digging into God's Word. 
It seems nearly impossible to understand what is going on with all of those offerings and altars sometimes.
However, I am finding a another new method of studying the Bible and also have ran across some tips that have helped me in a new-found appreciation for the Old Testament.

1. Adapt the writing in the margins method 
I'm reading this book called Writing in The Margins that has been challenging me in a new way of discovering the Bible. I highly recommend it because the way that you can really connect and bring to life the scripture in front of you through this method is awesome. I used this method to really help me discover some of the amazing things that can be found in the old testament. 
Writing in the margins is about finding a new way in the midst of confusion. It is the back and forth that comes from spending time with an old friend who knows you better than you know yourself. Writing in the margins is about making sacred connections between ancient text and present day--an arc spanning time and space--that intersects the now and the real and sometimes overwhelming, and finds wisdom and depth from those connections. 
Writing in the Margins is simply using the white and empty space around the text of your Bible to make connections, lists, write praises or simply to respond to what you have just read. 
2. Read Praises Written by Old Testament Authors 
I really had no clue that there were so many praises were written in the Old Testament. 
Take for example Exodus 15, which is the song of Moses and Miriam. The entire chapter is full of description about God's character. We can praise Him for so many things about his character such as how His power shattered the Egyptians during the Red Sea story. 
Another example includes 1 Chronicles 16, which reveals God's faithfulness in keeping His promises and how joy and a praise filled spirit are some of the characteristics surrounding someone who keeps their eyes focused on the Lord. 
And it doesn't stop there! Think of Hannah's Prayer which reveals a needy spirit that glorified God for His character, even though she was in the midst of a hard time (1 Samuel 2). 
The Song of Moses is described in Deuteronomy 32. Deuteronomy of all places.

3. Learn from the examples of Old Testament Individuals 
The things that many old testament individuals struggled with are some of the same things we still struggle with today, they just take on different forms. Just like any other form of literature, the themes found in the Bible are timeless. We still need God in the midst of our sin, and we even have the Holy Spirit to help us during hard times. 
Jealously was evident in the lives of Leah and Rachel. Even though a double marriage is not something we run across in our everyday lives, we can still connect with the jealously that these two women faced in the relationship. You can read more about their story in Genesis 30.
Maybe you can connect to Rachel, in that she was a jealous wreck. We are all sinners just like Rachel, who was also a thief and a liar. Yes, she was beautiful on the outside, but her character was not beautiful. Rachel can be an example of someone that we do not want to be: someone who is jealous, selfish, greedy, manipulative and unsatisfied. When we turn to Christ, we can find the answer and power to overcome those types of sins that are often asking to become part of our character. 
There are countless other people mentioned in the Old Testament and whose stories are told that we can relate to and learn from. 
The overall theme found in all of the lives of these individuals points to the love and forgiveness that we can find in Christ. 

The Old Testament is amazing, and I hope that you will join me on this journey in not overlooking this section of scripture. 

What are your tips for studying the Old Testament? 

Friday, January 8, 2016

high school winter wear: an amateur's guide

"What do I wear?!"  

You ask it every day, right? Don't worry -- I do too. There are days when I wake up and stare at my closet, which is surprisingly small, and I still don't have any idea what to wear. The first week back to school after Christmas break, I did something daring: I made a list. Sunday afternoon I sat down and, with the help of pinterest, figured out what I could wear this week. I'm happy to say that, with the exception of one day, I used my list. I want to share my fashion ideas with you all because I know that we girls put so much emphasis on it, and I do not want you all stressing over petty things like clothes.


Monday was a little chilly, but not too bad, so I wore a burnt orange sweater with boots and added some accessories to dress it up a little.

Sweater: Loft
Boots: Entourage of Clemson
Necklace: my summer camp, the Wilds of NC!
Watch: New York and Company
Bracelet: Razzberry Fizz of Clemson


I confess, I had something else planned to wear, but Tuesdays are hard for me. I was a little groggy when I woke up, so I went for something really simple.

Sweater: Banana Republic (60% off!!!) Its super comfy and warm, and I wish I could wear it every day, but alas, I would look like a hobo.
Shoes: Converse
Shirt: Tigertown Graphics of Clemson


My room happens to be the coldest room in the house, so when I woke up freezing, I knew today was the day to wear this really awesome scarf.

Scarf: Old Navy (also 60% off)
Sweater: Loft
Boots: Sorry, they're my Mom's; I have no idea where they're from.

Thursday (my birthday!!):

I wanted to dress up a little on my birthday, and I love the shade of this orange. I'm wearing a black scarf, but it's hard to tell by the picture.

Scarf: New York and Company
Dress: Entourage of Clemson
Boots: Entourage of Clemson
Leggings: Entourage of Clemson
Watch: New York and Company
Bracelet: Razzberry Fizz of Clemson


Friday, today, it was raining and cold, so I dressed warm and put my hair up, otherwise the humidity would cause it to blow up like a balloon.

Boots: LL Bean
Shirt: Southern Fried Cotton of Clemson
Sweater: Banana Republic

What Jesus Says about Fashion

I had an amazing time writing this post, but I want you all to know that when you're figuring out what to wear, you do not need to pitch a fit. In Matthew 6:31, 33, and 34, Jesus says these famous words: "Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we at?' or 'What shall we wear?' ... But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

So, you see, petty things like clothes really do not need to be our highest priority. Are we going to go through life obsessed with insignificant things? In the verses above, Jesus calls us to a higher calling, His calling. When we follow Jesus and His calling, we are give what we need in return and more. Have a blessed weekend, readers! I'll be back Monday!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

sweet 16: sixteen lessons in sixteen years

Today, January 7th, 2016, I turn sixteen. It's crazy -- I still feel twelve, or maybe even ten. Nevertheless, today is my sweet sixteen, and I was thinking about how much the Lord has taught me in these sixteen years. He won my heart seven and a half years ago, and He hasn't stopped working in me since.

Because I'm sixteen, I thought I would share sixteen lessons that God has taught me in the past few years. I think a lot of these are common myths that we trick ourselves into thinking.

1. A few good friends are better than a lot of friends. So what if you don't get three-hundred likes on your instagram post? Believe me when I say this: forever friends are better than fans. Treasure the friends you have and strive to encourage and uplift them with the love of Jesus.

2. Avoiding teenage drama is a wise decision. To be honest, I've never been "in the loop," as they say. I never know when a certain couple broke up or who broke up with who, and honestly, it's not a big deal. Spreading joy is better than spreading rumors. :)

3. You don't need to be an athlete to be cool. It may be a southern thing, but more often than not, the most popular kids are athletes. The football quarter back is usually worshiped; volleyball players are swooned over; everybody loves the kid who made a slam dunk at the school basketball game. If you are an athlete, that is a wonderful thing, and it's awesome that you are gifted in that area. But if you're a complete klutz like me, that is a-okay. I tried sports. In eighth grade, I played right end of the bench in soccer. Then, by the grace of God, I found out that I had sort of a knack for words, and here I am today. You do you, kid; be who God made you to be. 

4. True confidence cannot come from yourself. I know what it's like to look in the mirror every day and try to motivate yourself, to try and convince yourself that you look pretty and that people like you, and it doesn't work. True confidence can't come from yourself. It can't come from the way you look or talk or how smart you are. True confidence comes from God alone -- His redeeming and transforming grace, the assurance that even though you're not good enough, Jesus became good enough for you -- that is where confidence comes from.

5. Holding grudges hurts you more than the other person. I confess, there are people at my high school that I just flat out don't like. There are people that I've known since preschool who have left scars so deep that I cringe when I look at them. I'm really good at holding grudges, and oh, how miserable of a life it is. Hate for another person eats you up on the inside; it pushes you into a corner that only God's grace can get you out of. Don't go there. Instead, ask Him for the strength to love others. 

6. Trying to please yourself is nothing but tiring. Chasing after what you want, running away from God, only digs you deeper into the pit of sin. I've strayed from God's plan and gone after my own, and it may seem exhilarating at first, but it leaves you scared of the future and bitter about the past. Living in God's grace lets you forget the bad parts of the past and lets you trust in God for the future.

7. Sleep is important. Algebra is important, I know. And that book you're reading might be really good. Every once in a while, it's totally okay to pull an all-nighter, but it's important -- really important -- to get a good night's sleep. 

8. Good eating habits are important. Losing twenty pounds by starving yourself is not worth it, okay? I can guarantee that not everyone in the world is as small as you think they are. Don't starve yourself for the sake of looking "good." There's an opposite extreme, though: stress eating and eating because you're bored isn't the route to take either. God wants us to take care of our bodies because He wants us to have high-quality lives. Don't idolize good eating habits or anything, but practicing them is important.

9. Sometimes, you study your butt off and still get an F, and that is okay. Too often I sulk over a bad grade; I cry and scream and get angry, and it doesn't make me feel better. Every once in a while, you're going to make a bad grade, and you have to shake it off and try your best next time.

10. Popularity doesn't satisfy. I can guarantee you -- in fact I can nearly see it in their eyes -- that those popular girls aren't perfect, and their lives aren't either. They carry as much baggage as you do, if not more. Someday, when you stand before God and He asks you why you should be let into the gates of heaven, "the whole world knows my name" is not a good enough response. Only by acknowledging and confessing your sin and accepting Jesus' gift of salvation will suffice. So next time you're not at the populars' lunch table, don't stress, okay?

11.You can't do it all. High school has a lot to offer with various clubs and sports teams, but filling your schedule isn't a smart idea. Getting home at 6:00 every day with hardly any time to do your homework isn't all its chalked up to be. If you've learned how to balance it, I envy you, but if you're struggling with too many items on your schedule, maybe it's time to decide what you really want to pursue.

12.Ignoring sin makes it worse. "I'll confess later." I've had that thought before. Many times I've tried to push a sin so far back in my mind that I forget about it. It doesn't work. Get it right with God right away. When you're in Christ, He looks on you with nothing but grace. To ignore sin is to ignore grace.

13.Sometimes, God wrecks your plans to show you His plan. I love the line of a song by Josh Wilson: "I find you when I fall apart." Sometimes, we build up plans so high that it blocks us from our relationship with God and others. Sometimes, He'll knock down those walls so you can see the path He has laid out for you. 

14. Chasing after guys isn't all it's chalked up to be. In the end, guys are just normal people, just like me and you. Chase after God first, and He'll lead you to who you need to be with. I haven't reached this point in my life, obviously, but I'm trusting in God and waiting for His timing.

15. Investing in people is so important. We've only got one life. Think about this: with eternity in the picture, is it more important to chase after that dream of yours or to pursue people and share the Gospel with them? Think about how amazing the new earth will be. There we will live life how it was originally meant to be lived, so here we need to take the time to point others to Jesus. 

16. JESUS IS BETTER. Whatever the world has shoved in your face, whatever dream you've made for yourself that's keeping your from Jesus, whatever person seems to be captivating your thoughts right now, Jesus is better. HE is ultimate satisfaction. In Him, you will find everything you've needed and everything you've ever needed.

I've still got a long way to go in this life, Lord-willing. I have so many lessons to learn and so many people to come into contact with. With Jesus in my life, I have so much to look forward to, and I can face the future audaciously, knowing Who holds it.

What has God taught you in your years of knowing Him? I'd love to hear from you and be encouraged by you!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Audacity: the call to more


1.the willingness to take bold risks.
"her audacity came in handy during our most recent emergency"
synonyms: boldness, daring, fearlessness,  bravery, courage

If you read yesterday's post, you saw that one of my New Year's resolutions was to live audaciously. I'm naturally timid; I hate taking risks. My idea of a good time consists of reading a book while drinking a strong cup of coffee and listening to the rain patter on the rooftops (and, of course, blogging). I have a very small comfort zone, but believe me, it's quite comfortable.

This year, I felt God calling me to more. I could practically hear His whisper, His loving command to step out of my shell because He has so many better things in mind, things that aren't possible in my cozy comfort zone. The last week of Christmas break, I had a little pouting-party because of my reluctance to follow His call. I battled with Him all week. God, do I really have to actually talk to people? Every single awkward situation possible popped into my head. What if God told me to talk to that person I don't like? What if I have to talk to a new kid? I'm a terrible small talker, and God's call had me terrified.

Now, take a look at the definition of audacity pasted above: the willingness to take bold risks.

As I read this definition, it occurred to me that life itself truly is audacious, and to follow where God leads takes more  audacity than any human naturally possesses. To surrender your life and your dreams to God and to follow Him even when you don't know the future, that is truly audacious, and that audacity cannot come from within yourself, no matter how outgoing you are. 

The kind of audacity that I want to live out this year, the kind of audacity that God calls us to have, can only spur from a deep trust in God and a burning desire to spread His good news.

The apostle Paul makes a bold claim in Philippians 1:21: "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." With this statement, Paul confirms that apart from Jesus Christ he has no reason to live. And apart from Jesus, there is no life.

Think about all the well-known Bible characters: Noah, Abraham, Joshua, David, Jonah, Esther, and countless more. They all seem quite audacious, don't they? Not afraid to go against popular opinion, they followed God's call in their lives. They didn't care if, to the world, they looked like complete idiots. Joshua and the Israelites didn't care that it might look incredibly unintelligent to march around a city wall seven times in hope that it would fall, but they did. Noah didn't care that everyone laughed while he spent one-hundred years building an arc, and Esther didn't care that it could possibly cost her relationship with her husband and her life to speak for her people, but she did. And you know what they all have in common? Faith in the One True God. To live with this audacity there is no special formula, no secret code or magic potion; this audacity originates with faith in God and thrives in humble, willing hearts.

Knowing that God has a plan for my life and that He is in complete control always, I hope to brave the unknown and follow His call to be truly audacious.

Has God called you to do anything that frightens you lately? I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Goals for a New Year

It's that time of year again! January is a month of new beginnings for us all with new digits on the calendar and new hope in our hearts. For me, there is an excitement in beginnings. You know that feeling you get when you've made a plan and you can't wait to see it accomplished? I love that feeling. And it is that excitement of beginnings that fuels my desire for New Year's Resolutions.