Friday, May 8, 2015

the Lord is at hand.

Life is beautiful. And wonderful. But it's also very hard, usually more often than we anticipated. A verse that's been carrying me through recently has been Philippians 4:5-7.

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The Lord is at hand
Could there be a more wonderful truth? The Lord is very near to us. That truth alone could get us through anything this world can throw at us. We may be hurt, we may be broken or grieving, but God is still near us, and He is still good. Even if we don't believe that He's with us - the fact is that He is. Nothing we can do will change the fact that God is close to us. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for "In Him we live and move and have our being"; as even some of your own poets have said, "For we are indeed his offspring." (Acts 17:27-28). We can rest knowing that no matter how we feel or what is going on around us, the Lord-the God of all the Universe-is near.
(A great reminder for just who this God is who is near to us is found in this video that I would highly, highly recommend. He Is (The Names of God) )

Do not be anxious about anything
This verse seems unfair. What about the intense struggles we're currently facing? Does Paul understand what it's like to lose someone or something precious to him? But anyone who knows Paul's story knows the answer is yes. When he became a Christian, he gave up his privileged status as a Pharisee and entered into a life of intense persecution. Every time he walked into a city, he was at risk of being arrested, imprisoned, or stoned - all very good reasons to be anxious. Yet he still commands us not to be anxious about anything. And he said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on." (Luke 12:22)

But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
When things are hard, we are often tempted with anger towards God and doubt. We may pray, but our prayers can become accusatory monologues, blaming God for our problems or doubting His sovereignty, love, or plan in this area of our lives. But that is why Paul adds thanksgiving to the list. If we can thank Him, we can remember that He is good. If we remember that He is a good and merciful God, we can learn to put our anger on where it belongs - sin. If we are praying with thanksgiving, we can remember what He has done and is still doing in our lives and in the lives of others. That is one of the fastest doubt-killers. The same God who brought Israel out in the exodus is your God. The same God who protected David from Saul is your God. The same God who welcomed the first martyr Stephen is your God. The same God who answered your prayers before is still your God now. Thanksgiving makes us remember that He is good and faithful. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:26-28)

Let your requests be made known to God
God isn't bothered by our prayers. He loves to hear us pray to Him and tell Him our troubles. And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. (Luke 18:1) Our prayers are never perfect, and in a time of trial it can feel even harder to pray than it usually does. But even though He already knows all our troubles, He wants us to bring them to Him. It is for our benefit that we give him our troubles, not for His. Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22) And we need not be afraid that He will have a hard heart towards our prayers. Jesus knew how easy it is for fear to creep in, even into our prayer lives. But He assured His disciples that God loves to give us what we ask for when it is His will. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11)

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding
The reason the peace surpasses all understanding is because it doesn't make sense. Within the chaotic sea of emotions, peace is the last thing we would expect to see. Peace doesn't mean that there isn't a storm around us, it just means that we can have peace in knowing that He is still in control of the boat, no matter how big the waves. This is not a peace we can produce on our own - that is why Paul calls it the peace of God. And what a good and beautiful God He is! I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. (John 16:33)

Will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Trials are often very emotionally scarring. Sometimes we can break so much that we know we will never be the same. But the peace of God can guard us from some of those damaging effects. It can guard us from the lies that we will be tempted to believe. The key words are: in Christ Jesus. This is not a magic formula for peace. Peace comes when we know who Jesus is, how much He loves us, what He has already done for us on the Cross, and when we love Him with all our hearts. The solution is not to seek peace. The way to find peace is to seek Jesus. He has everything we need. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3). Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)

Whether life is sunny or stormy it's beautiful...because I know Jesus. He is always with me, and I can trust Him. He is so, so good.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


I think that everyone has felt, at some point in their lives, the feeling of being small and insignificant. At least, I know I have. Feeling that if you were to suddenly vanish from the planet or if you never had existed, nothing would be much different than it is now. Or maybe you look at a huge problem personal or global and think Well I'm just me. How can I even start to fix this? Basically feeling just very unable to leave any impact or influence. I know how depressing it can be when you feel this way. 

But that's just not how life works.

Remember the last time someone did something small that made your day? Maybe someone complimented you. Maybe someone shared their food, stayed up late texting you, or even just smiled at you. Even though it was something small, it made you feel really really great didn't it? And you probably thought about it for awhile. Yet it might not even have been a big deal for the other person. See, even though it was something small for them to do, it made a big impact on you.

 The older I get, the more I have understood the power of influence. Just a small comment or action from someone can make my day-or break it. Conversely, I distinctly remember one of my good friends (who, at the time, was a cancer patient) telling me how encouraging my instagram account was to her. That was a moment where I realized that I am unintentionally making an impact on everyone who reads my Instagram feed. 

Listen. If there's one thing you need to understand, it's that:

Every thought

Every word

Every action

Every post

Is going to make an impact-positive or negative-on every single person who sees or hears it. Why do you think the Bible is constantly talking about watching our words and actions? If they didn't make a difference, it wouldn't matter. But the fact is, they do make a difference. A huge difference. Even your thoughts make a difference, because thoughts become words and actions. Every single part of you makes an impact. 

So my question to you is: what kind of impact are you making? I'm definitely not going to throw stones-I've made terrible impacts on people before. I've said things I regret and I've done things I regret. But I don't let that hold me back. I want to impact people positively, to encourage and inspire them. So my challenges to you are:

Take Every Thought Captive
We take every thought captive to obey Christ. -2 Corinthians 10:5
We can't keep unkind or destructive thoughts from coming into work, however, we can't control what we do with those thoughts. We have a choice: we can either hold on to the thoughts and allow them to influence our words and our actions, or we can take the thought captive, say no, and pray for God to fill our hearts with love for Him and for others. Yes, we are going to fail, we are going to have days we say and do things that we regret, but God will cover us with grace-not only to be forgiven but also to live the way He has called us to live.

Speak Life
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. -Proverbs 25:11
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life. -Proverbs 10:11
We also must be careful in our words. The only way to do this is to truly think before we speak. We have to be aware of our words and how they might impact those around us. We must use our words to build up, and not to bruise. The truth is: words hurt. We have all been hurt by words. So let our words be gracious, and let them serve to help others rather then hurt them. 

Live and Love
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth. -1 John 3:18
You know that person who always claims to be a good friend but never truly acts like it? This is along the lines of what John is talking about in this verse. It doesn't matter what our words say, but the true test of what we think is in our actions. Words can lie, but actions rarely do. Well we can fake many other things, our actions will make our hearts clear. The only way to truly live as a follower of Christ is to be a follower of Christ from the heart. A heart in love with Jesus and totally abandoned to Him will desire to honor Him in every area of life. So pray that He would give you the grace and strength to live in a way that honors Him 
 and shows abundant love to others.

Remember that everything you do has impact.

Someone is always watching.

Live to honor Him-live to impact others for Him.

Love to live. Live to love.
-Amy Carmichal

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Things That are Bringing Me Joy

I love to find joy in the simple things. Yesterday and today, I felt so content and joyful that I wanted to tell the world why, and encourage others to also find joy in the little, ordinary things. So here are some reasons I'm joyful today:

1. My New Wall Decor
It inspires me every time I look at it. (Yes, I am aware that it is missing a word and I do see the irony, but I'm going to fix it ASAP!). 

2. Recital is in One Week
As I write this I am icing a strained/pulled muscle, but I will push through this week! God has blessed me so much with amazing teachers who believe in me, incredibly talented dancers who inspire me, and a love for dance that keeps me going. 

3. Crazy Love
This book has been recommended to me a thousand times. I bought it around the beginning of the year and planned to read it...and then forgot about it. Just getting into it and I LOVE it.

4. Micah 1:3-4
For behold, The Lord is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth, And the mountains will melt under Him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before fire, like waters poured down a steep place. It's not the kind of verse you'd crochet on a pillow, but I loved it's display of His majesty.

5. My New Slipper Socks 
I don't want to ever take them off. Ever. Is it silly that something so small increases my joy ever so slightly? 

6. I'm Scheduled for Worship
Some Sunday mornings (especially at the beginning of recital week when I want to rest) I'm not the most excited about getting up and going, but worship is one of my favorite things. Helping lead the church in worship is adds a little more joy!

7. All Sons and Daughters
Besides the insane musical talent, there is so much amazing Biblical truth woven into every one of their songs. They truly make we want to praise Him!

8. My...Teddy Bears
I'm 17, but my stuffed animals still stay in my bed. Is that weird? 

Well most of these were pretty silly, but I wasn't trying to be crazy! I honestly feel that the smallest things bring me joy! Where do you find joy? ❤️

There are two ways to live your life. One as though nothing is a miracle. The other as though everything is a miracle. -Unknown

Friday, June 6, 2014

Is Maleficent Glorifying Evil?


I just saw Maleficent this afternoon with a friend, and I was excited. I grew up on Disney movies and even now in my late teens I still really enjoy Disney. But I was also intrigued because of several Christian articles I had read accusing Maleficent of glossing over, condoning, and even promoting evil, as the villain of the 1959 animated classic "Sleeping Beauty" is given a softer side. So I was ready to see the movie and weigh in to see if these critics were right.

After watching the movie, thinking of the context of the original, I don't think that these authors were right about Disney trying to promote or perhaps lighten evil. For two main reasons:

For one, the movie changes the entire plot of the original Sleeping Beauty. It is clear that the original Maleficent was pure evil-complete with a bird named Diablo (Spanish for devil), and controls the forces of evil/hell. If Disney had held to the same storyline but attempted to add a tragic past to Malaficent's life, that would be different. But because they changed the story, they were free to change the characters as well (as they did quite liberally). 

Secondly, In the original story, Maleficent was evil personified. But in the new movie, Maleficent is a fairy who was betrayed and in her grief and fury became evil. But when the princess Aurora's joy melted her heart, she desperately tried to reverse her actions, but they could not be undone. Then she suffered the terrible consequences of her deeds, and finally is redeemed and repents and turns back from the way she was before. To me, it seems the story is not about justifying the chatacter's downfall, but is actually a story centered around the redemption of Maleficent.

When I watched Maleficent, I was struck by the amazing cinematography and acting, but mainly by the brilliant way they changed the story. I thought it was very well done. You don't have to go see it, but don't avoid it if you fear it is condoning Maleficent's evil behavior. It is a story of redemption, pure and simple.

Friday, May 2, 2014

#shesharestruth-Commissioned Moments

For the background on #shesharestruth and #shereadstruth, visit this link:

It was a regular fall morning.

I hadn't made any resolutions to share the Gospel recently. It wasn't even on my mind that morning as I wolfed down breakfast and took a quick shower so I could get to my class on time. I was concerned with being actually on time this week, getting some studying done, and hopefully getting a good grade on the paper I was turning in. But God had something totally different in mind.

As soon as the professor dismissed us, I shoved my notebook and pens into my backpack and lugged it onto my shoulders. The class filed out of the room and I found myself next to two of my fellow classmates. I had briefly talked to one of them before-his name was Ben, and he was your average clean-cut, friendly, attractive, happy freshman. But today I remembered that he had come into class late. He was haggard, he hasn't shaved, and he looked terrible. As we walked down the stairs, I heard him mention that he had had a break-up. I remembered from our first conversation that he and his significant other were very close, and they planned to go to school together and more. I felt bad for him, but when his companion left I was at a loss for words. I would have just walked on, but I felt God pressing me to talk to him. But Lord, I barely know this guy! I protested, but I knew what He wanted me to do. I thought God probably wanted me to give him some words of encouragement, so I started talking.

"Ummm...I'm really sorry." I sort of awkwardly mumbled, really unsure of what to say. "Thanks." He said quietly. I could tell he was really feeling down. "I've never gone through a breakup," I continued, really hoping that I was saying something helpful, "But I hope you feel better...again I'm really sorry."

He weekly smiled, but I knew my words were completely useless. I wanted to speak what I would honestly say, but I couldn't. Finally, God pushed me, and I said (awkwardly and quietly): "You know...I'm pretty deeply religious...I mean I'm a Christian and I take it really seriously...and whenever I'm down, I go to God and He fills me with so much strength and joy!" There. I said it. I almost felt a weight lift from my chest. But he seemed to be even more upset. "Yeah, I was raised a Christian, but I haven't been to church in a long time." He said, looking at the ground. "I almost jumped off a bridge two months ago." 

That surprised me. But as the he went on, it was even more shocking. Doubt, anger, depression, fear. He confided that he was gay and told me how upset he was and how he wasn't sure about God at all. When he finished, I looked calm on the outside, but on the inside I was shocked. We only had minutes, so I just started with the most basic Gospel I could give.

"Well, it's not about being gay or not that sends you to hell or gets you to heaven. We all deserve to go to hell, because we are all sinners in need of Jesus. And you can't try to clean yourself up before you come to Him, because apart from Him you can't fix yourself at all. Just come to Him, and He will love you unconditionally, and that's when He will show you what's right and what's wrong." 

Then I prayed with him, invited him to our church, and we rushed off to our classes.

I was in shock the entire day. God had used me! I didn't see Ben at our church, but I know that God planted a seed of the Gospel in his heart. I am completely incapable of making anyone a Christian. But God works through us-we are His hands and feet! 

The most important tool for missions isn't eloquence, knowledge, or persuasion. The ultimate tool is God. He is the only one who can change a heart. The best way to prepare for missions is to seek Him more! The better you know God and the closer you are to Him, the more closely He can lead you to effectively witness. Make it your goal to know Him, and He will work through you and make everything fall into place.

Not by power, nor by might, but by my Spirit, says The Lord of hosts. -Zechariah 4:6

Saturday, April 12, 2014

10 Things I Want to Do

I've heard a lot of times that writing down your goals makes you more likely to accomplish them. But writing down my goals isn't something I'm good at. I can write down easy, material goals, like "Math-Lesson 30". And check it off with my pencil and go on. But the surface level goals don't do much for me. So I'm digging deep. What do I really want? What does God want in this season of my life? Here's my little list that I came with. I'm not posting it to be cool or look Christian, I'm posting it so I can help keep myself accountable and maybe encourage others. These goals are important to me-every single one.

1. Spend More Time With Jesus
I know that nothing will refresh me more than time in His presence. Well...I say I know that, but I don't know if I live that belief. I want it to become something I live, not just something I say.

2. Pray More, Worry Less
When something crazy happens (and life throws a lot of crazy stuff at us), my first impulse is to talk to my friends. Obsess over it. Stress. But God says Come to Me and I will give you rest. And I've found that if I actually hand it to God, all the anxiety begins to melt away.

3. Love People More
Smiles make my day. So do words of encouragement. Maybe a little note, or something similar? We all have great and less great days. I want to brighten others' days.

4. Be On Social Media Less
Books. Outside. Exercise. Face-to-Face conversation. Music. Art. Museums. Whatever. There's a lot of things more beneficial than Facebook.

5. Do Things
Learn to bake cakes. Learn a song on the guitar. Read a new book. Learn a dance move. There's a lot of things that I want to do that I haven't done yet. I have to do them sometime.

6. Read Good Books
Classics or contemporary...stuff that doesn't just give me knowledge, but also helps me grow in wisdom. So...Spurgeon? Ludy? Crazy Love? Yes. Teen novels? No.

7. Worship Authentically
When I don't worship at home, I feel stale at church. Maybe just listening to a song when I have five minutes. Taking a long walk. Dancing. Whatever. Just more.

8. Spend My Time Well
Because it slips away so fast. You only get each second once, and then it's gone. I don't want to waste those precious seconds. 

9. Spend Time with My Family
I'll only live with my parents and adorable little siblings for so long. <3 

10. Do My Best in Everything
As I said before, I only get one shot to do this day. I want to live every day all the way. I only get to live it once. I want to do my best when I have the chance to do it.

Friday, March 28, 2014

#shesharestruth-Jonah 3&4

Wow. It's been a very long time since I've touched this blog, but recently I've been itching to get back at it again. I'm so ready!

If you haven't heard of the website She Reads Truth ( I would encourage you to check it out. It's a website for women to get more of Jesus through Bible reading plans for daily study (#shereadstruth). I love it! For the season of Lent, they are doing something they call #shesharestruth. So I've decided to participate. Here we go!

I think we've all heard the story of Jonah. It's a story that even most non-Christians know something about. I love this story. But the story of Jonah goes on past the big fish. My favorite part is the repentance of Nineveh and God's grace. Jonah obeys God's call and travels to Nineveh where he calls the people to repentance. And you know what? They respond. That's right, they repent and believe, and God doesn't destroy their city! Of course Jonah is excited, right? Wrong. Jonah throws a childish temper tantrum and expects God to still destroy the city. He is blind to the irony that God saved his life when he was in the sea and the fish-and yet he expects that the grace he relieved freely should be withheld from Nineveh.

The repentance of Nineveh is beautiful...but it's not the point. Neither is Jonah's childish fit. The point is God and His grace. He doesn't just give second chances-He gives fiftieth, five hundredth, and five millionth chances-and many more. The hero isn't Jonah-it's God! 💗 If we leave the book of Jonah and fixate on the fish, the plant, Nineveh, or even Jonah, we miss the point. All Scripture-the Old and New Testaments-point to Christ, and Jonah is no exception! The point is to fixate on Jesus, our Savior and True Love! He has given us grace even when we ran away, even when we lived in disobedience, even when we threw spiritual temper tantrums. He is constant when we are not!

If we are faithless, He remains faithful-for He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)

Cause I don't wanna tell some arrogant story
Or let myself believe I'm You,
I don't wanna be a thief who's stealing your glory
Would you help remind me of what is true-
The only hope I've got is You!
-Only Hope I've Got, Ellie Holcomb