How Will You Be Remembered?

Senior year is approaching. My last year of high school is about to begin, and while a feeling of excitement and nervousness has been invading, questions of the legacy that I will be leaving has been coming up time and time again.

Because, when it comes down to it, this life is meant to live completely and wholeheartedly for God and His Kingdom. As a follower of Him, I am called to serve Him, to seek His Kingdom first, and to share the Gospel with others.

Most of all, as I grow in my relationship with Christ, I must learn to imitate Him in everything. God is love. If God is love, and I am here to live like Christ and help lead others to Him, then I must love.

The same goes for all of us. Genuine love doesn't love those who are easy to love, but it loves even those who are the hardest to love.

Even if that means loving the person who doesn't have a friend. The kid that people tease. Even the kid who others just consider "super weird" or annoying.
Even if that means loving the person who hurt you in the past, even if it is the one who you vowed to never speak to again.

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2

We fail God daily. We are all sinful, yet God's love doesn't end. Just when we think we are too far gone to be loved by a perfect God, His arms are open and waiting for us to come back to Him. He loves us so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. If God, who is holy and perfect and who is the ultimate Judge, loved us despite all that we have done, then we are fully capable of loving others.

As a teenager heading towards the doors of my senior year, God has called me to walk in the way of love.

Not in the way of hate, or of gossip, or of hurt, or of popularity, or of pride, or even of success.

I am called to love.

So the question of "What do people think when they hear my name?" has been bringing me to the foot of the cross and to a God who loves even when we are undeserving. It is bringing me to a point where I want to be remembered because of my love for others--a love that resembles the love of Christ.

When people hear my name, I want them to think:

"She is so, so, nice to everyone."
"She is one of the kindest girls I know."
and most of all: "She is a Christian, and really loves like Jesus would love."

I fail. I know that many people do not think these thoughts, but I have been growing in my relationship with Jesus and therefore my love towards others, and I know that God is strengthening me in my weaknesses.

Not only that, but the trap of people pleasing can also collide with a genuine Jesus-kind of love. A people pleaser may love others and extend kindness to everyone they meet, but the difference between a people pleasing love and a love based on the love of Jesus is the reasoning. While a people pleaser would be kind in order to be loved and accepted by others, and avoid conflict, a follower of Jesus who loves, not in order to people please, but to be like Jesus, would be kind even when the conflict comes, even when people are rude, and especially when nobody is watching. Not to avoid conflict, because conflict is likely to happen when we love a world who doesn't know Jesus.

How do you tell the difference? When we live the life God has called us to live, it will be evident to others. Others will experience who Jesus is when you love like Him.

So as senior year approaches, my focus needs to be placed on 'walking in the way of love', even when others don't respond with love in return.

The question is: How will you be remembered? By your looks, success, or personality? Rather, does the way you live your life point to Jesus? If not, what are you going to do about it?

If Jesus is love, and we are called to be like Him...

then it's time to start living. It's time to love.


What Moves Us To Our Feet

    Music is what moves us to our feet. It is energizing, it is motivating, it is powerful. The power of music and the mix of voices and instrumental sounds coming from the beating of a drum or the chords on a piano or guitar creates a beautiful, beautiful sound. It's amazing what such a mixture can do. It's amazing how this mixture of sounds, called music, is so prevalent in the lives of people and so motivational and powerful in all that we do.

   God created us with a heartbeat. He was the Creator of rhythm, He was the Creator of sound, and He most certainly was the Creator of music. Thus I believe that His purposes for music are good, and that He loves when His purposes are honored.

   First, I want to say that this topic is a decision that you need to make based on what God reveals to your heart, not what I or other Christians say. Certain choices are a matter of conviction and while some decisions are good for some people, the same decisions may not be for others.

   I absolutely love Christian music. In fact, I am a huge music lover. I could listen to music all day, every day. I would go to every Christian music concert out there if I could. I have a passion for music that continuously grows and grows.

   But most of all, I believe in the power of what we hear and what we listen to. I know that the words we consistently put in our ear and the music that moves us to our feet and whose lyrics won't get out of our head will significantly impact our thoughts and therefore our actions and our beliefs. Thus, I believe that God is pleased when we monitor our music choices and limit ourselves to music that is positive, good, and most of all, glorifying to Him.

   As Christians, we are not supposed to be like the rest of the world. We are called to be different. We are called to live a new life, a life that no longer rests in our sins but in the grace and love of Jesus. That might mean cutting off some of the activities of the world and replacing them with things that lead us closer to Christ. It means that rather partaking in what pleases the flesh, there will be so much gain and so much happiness as a result of seeking to please and glorify God.  

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Cor. 10:31

   I'm not saying that you should only listen to "Christian" music. The question is: are your music choices pleasing to God? Obviously, worship pleases Him. In fact, God loves when we use music to praise Him.

Sing to the LORD with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp. Psalm 147:7

   But that doesn't mean any kind of regular music, whether it's pop, country, or whatever kind of genre, is bad. That is a personal decision and conviction that is placed on your heart and is between you and God. But whether you decide to listen to  regular music or just limit yourself to Christian radio, run every song through the Philippians 4:8 test. The question is not: "Is this song "Christian?". Songs aren't Christians; rather, we are Christians when we choose to follow Jesus. Instead, we should ask: "Is this song true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy? Does this cheer me up, or bring me down? Does this glorify God?" 

   Honestly, it's not a matter of whether a song is "Christian" or not. It's a matter of whether the song is leading you closer to God or farther away, the ultimate test for every decision we make. Songs that uplift, that inspire and encourage, will motivate you and impact you for the better. Positivity will not just impact your mood, but your entire thought process. It impacts your heart, and therefore the decisions you make. When lyrics like, "I am strong, beautiful, I am good enough" (Blanca) or "No matter what you face, His mercy will not change, He's with you all the way" (MercyMe), are constantly in your ear, the motivation that such words can bring to your heart and your mind is huge. 

   I am not condemning any artist, song, or music style. If you are a Christ follower, every decision should be based on what the Holy Spirit reveals to your heart, not what other people think or say. What is good for some people is not good for others. While I am a huge 'Christian' music fan, and limit myself to purely Christian music, that doesn't mean that is the 'right' way of doing things. The Bible doesn't specify exactly what genre we should listen to.  But I know that once I started listening, I could never go back. Music that is positive, uplifting, and God-glorifying is what encourages me daily. If you have never checked out Christian radio, I highly encourage you to do so!

The question is: do your music choices pass the Philippians 4:8 test? Do they bring you closer to Jesus, or farther away?


I Believe in Miracles (A Plea For Help At CCACC)

Smokie at Clay County Animal Control
This is a cry for a movement, a change, a revolution.

   My heart is crying out. Thoughts are swarming my mind. A deep desire to do something, to make a difference, is pulling at my heartstrings. I am praying consistently for a miracle, a plea to the God of the impossible. He is the One who can do all things, things outside of our human capabilities.

   As a volunteer at the animal shelter, and a big-time dog lover, my heart has been broken to see, hear, and experience the overcrowding that is currently going on at Clay County Animal Control. Dogs upon dogs have come in as strays. Even worse, many have been surrendered by their owners. Sadly, as hard as the shelter is trying to reach the no-kill status, our shelter is still a kill shelter. When the shelter is filled to the brim and not one open space is available, there is no other option but to euthanize. It hurts me to see that our shelter is undergoing such a horrible situation, due to the carelessness and irresponsibility of mankind.

We need your help. The sweet souls of those desiring for a forever home to recline in and a family to love and cuddle with needs YOU.

You could be the reason why lives are saved.

If you are considering a new furry family member, please come adopt.
If you would be willing to open up your home temporarily for a dog in need, please foster.
If you have lost your pet, please check out the shelter!
If you are a part of a rescue, please consider pulling some of the many sweet dogs available!

  Tomorrow is the big day. There is not one space left in the shelter. Will you consider helping? Join me in praying for a miracle tomorrow. I truly know that God is a compassionate God and that He cares. Not only that, but please share and inform our community of the overcrowding issue at Clay County Animal Care & Control.

This is a plea for help.

Because I believe in hope.
I believe in second chances.
I believe in miracles.

Do you?


In The Battle...

Through You we push back our enemies;
through Your Name we trample our foes.
I put no trust in my bow, 
my sword does not bring me victory;
but You give us victory over our enemies,
You put our adversaries to shame.
In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise Your Name forever.
Psalm 44:5-8

In Christ, we are strengthened, we are powerful, and we are victorious. In every battle, we can trust in Him and call upon His Name. He cares. He moves. The victory is in Him.
And this is all because of His everlasting and immeasurable love for us.

I've learned four powerful truths about who God is during the battles of our lives, upon reading these verses and from circumstances of this past year:

Via Pinterest
1. In the battle, He is with us.

  God is real and is moving in our lives. There is no doubt about it. Every day, there are events that are not explainable. Lives are saved. People meet in the strangest of ways. Miracles happen. People are cured. And every day, people devote their lives to Christ and are completely cleansed of their sins and of their previous way of living. God is with us. In verse 5, it doesn't say that we 'push back our enemies' in our 'battle' of life only when God is with us; but rather, through Him, we do so. He is always with us and is working on our behalf.

2. In the battle, we can do all things through Him.

  When we face conflict, surrender is the first step to victory. No, surrendering to our 'enemies', or the people or things that are a part of our battles, will not end in victory. Surrendering and giving up on ourselves in the battle, whether it's a matter of healing, an exam, or just the process of trusting in God for a miracle, will end in defeat. But rather, when we surrender ourselves and all of our strength and capabilities to the One who is completely capable of winning our battles, we end up at the foot of victory rather than defeat. That is when we are able to truly win our battles. So in the battle, when we surrender everything to our ultimate Strength Provider, and trust that He will come through every time, we will ultimately be able to do all things through Him. It takes faith, but God works through those who are open to letting Him move and who truly believe that He will do so.

3. In the battle, He gives us the victory.

  When you trust that God will provide in the time of your battle, prepare for victory. Prepare for His provision. Prepare to take another step in your relationship with Him as you experience His love again and again. He will provide when you trust in Him. However, that doesn't mean you should just sit back and watch and wait for Him to move. He works through those who are ready to move when He calls us to. As for the process of healing, don't give up. Stay positive. Don't stop praying. As for the exam, study your heart out. Do all that you can with what you have, and God will use what you study and what you have learned to lead you to victory. If you're waiting for a miracle, whatever it may be, don't give up and keep doing all that God is calling you to do. Nothing is impossible with God. Just trust Him.

4. In the battle, we can boast, but not because of what we have done, but what He has done through us.

  We are victorious through Him, but that doesn't mean that we should be able to boast about what we have done because of the miracles God is providing in our lives. Let every circumstance bring no glory to you, but all glory to God, the One who provided and who is truly the One who is victorious. Use your victories to point others to Christ and encourage others to trust in Him, rather than their own capabilities.

  We cannot do anything worthwhile on our own. Trust in God, seek Him with all of your being, and He will lead you to victory. Whatever battle you may be facing, don't stop trying. God is our Provider, and He does everything out of love and grace. He is with you in all that you face!


Bigger Than My Writing Capabilities

  I am not the best writer in the world. I make plenty of mistakes. I struggle with wording sentences. So many times, I know I don't make sense. Sometimes it takes me ten minutes to write a post, and other times, it can take hours upon hours because the words just don't come right away.

  I am not writing to display how talented I am. I am here to encourage and to follow the will of the One who enables me to write.

  Because honestly, He is the reason I am able to write. Before every post, I ask God to provide the words and to speak through me to whoever stumbles across my blog. And every time, He does. I know that my posts are not all from me, because I never could do this on my own.

   My capabilities are limited and my audience may be small, but my God is bigger. All I can ask is that God speaks through me to the people who need to hear encouragement and truth the most. If that means one person, so be it. All I could wish for is for people to know and discover who they are in the eyes of our Creator and to know their worth because of the sacrifice of Jesus.

   This blog is a collision of a passion for writing, a faith in a God who is bigger than anything I do in life, and the movement of the Spirit who enables me to write these posts and who makes beautiful things out of dust. I may not be the best writer, but God can make beautiful out of nothing.

God is bigger than my writing capabilities. This powerful truth is what keeps me going.
It is my hope and my prayer that this blog encourages and strengthens you, and that God will continue to reach people as I follow His bigger and better plan, and seek to do what He wills.


Whatever You're Facing

Via Pinterest
  Maybe your heart is filled with sadness, or maybe you've been overcome with the busy tasks of everyday life.  You may be worn down from the weight of your sins, or swallowed up by the actions of your past.

But friend, lift your chin up! You don't have to feel this way.

Whatever you've been facing, remember that there's always an end to every storm.

Every day is a new day. The sun is rising. Every day is another day for change, another day for peace, and another day for a new beginning.

  Jesus knows how you feel. Jesus understands your hurting heart. God treasures us so much that He knows the number of hairs on our heads and collects our tears in a bottle. He knows. He understands. Your sadness will never be overlooked by the Creator, because He knows our pains and our hurts. He knows what we have been through and He knows when and what we have done wrong. But His love is relentless, a love that is unconditional. His love remains despite our weaknesses. It is because of His grace that He died for us and has given us life, even though we are sinful.

  So don't be weighed down by your past any longer. Don't let your sins keep you from experiencing God's best for you. Give everything to Jesus, and you will experience life to the fullest. When you call on the name of Lord Jesus, the gift of salvation is extended to us, not because of what we have done, but because of His grace.

His grace is sufficient. So don't let the weights pull you down any longer, but allow His strength to be enough.

  If your life has been a little down lately, let this be a message of encouragement to you, a reminder that you are not alone in what you are facing. This is not going to last forever. Tomorrow is a new day, another chance to change, another opportunity to experience the promise of God's faithfulness.

After all, Jesus said:

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. 
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world."
John 16:33

If you have given your life to God, you are not facing this battle alone. The One who is living inside of YOU is the One who has overcome the ENTIRE world!

So don't give up. A new day is coming. Things are about to get better soon!