12.31.2016

Trust & Go: The Year 2016


2016. //

I am convinced that if you will wait for the Lord's timing and the Lord's provision, you will experience the truth that "God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Gerard Long in "Awakening to God")

Oh, how chilling it was to read these words, among pages of my own journaling, during the first month of the year! I began 2016 seeking God more than ever before through a 21-day social media fast, which quickly transformed into a month long break. Never before have I experienced what I experienced during that month. God did some crazy amazing things: answering prayers, revealing over and over the same messages and Scriptures, drawing me closer to Him, and even preparing me for probably the greatest tragedy I've ever experienced thus far in my lifetime: the loss of my grandmother. Losing her was a horrible experience and one that made this year probably the toughest one yet, but I stand today stating with full confidence that I would not have been able to handle this tough loss in my life if it weren't for the Lord preparing my heart during that fast.

I asked God to reveal a word or two during this fast that would define my 2016, and by the end of the month, He sure did! Through all the trials during the fast, as well as my constant prayers and concerns about my future with college/a career path, God put the word "trust" in my head not long after the fast began. He revealed again and again that I was in a waiting season, and that He would not delay to provide His best and to reveal the next step for my future at HIS timing. I just had to trust that He is in control, that He is on the throne no matter what comes my way.

But He didn't stop with the word "trust". Seemingly in every book, daily devotion, everywhere I read, the word "go" would pop up! He surely seemed to be calling me to go and make a difference this year: to pray for and reach out to the lost, to stand up and be bold, to let go of my fears/shyness, and to walk out in faith and fulfill the calling He has for me. To go and LOVE on people!

Sure enough, He moved in crazy ways during my 2016. He revealed my career path an hour before the fast would end, and slowly but surely guided me to the college I would attend during the following year. Concerts, prom, and fun events filled the concluding months of my senior year. He spoke to my heart about writing letters to children in poverty through the Compassion program (something that ended up happening only through the hand of God!). Multiple scholarships were provided, and at the last minute, after praying every week of my senior year, I was announced salutatorian of my high school class. This was something that I asked God only to provide if I could bring glory to Him, and if I would be able to handle the fears accompanying speaking in front of several thousand people on graduation night, and sure enough, He provided the words, the peace, and all that I needed! Lots of speaking and opportunities to leave my comfort zone seemed to encompass much of the last few months of my senior year.

Summertime brought a season filled with lots of fun memories and unforgettable trips, a busy summer that I'm not at all used to having! Theme park fun for a friend's birthday, a graduation getaway with a different friend aboard the Disney Cruise, attending my church's Freedom Fest concert with a new friend of mine, and meeting up with a close, godly friend and her family for the third time ever (we originally met online!) in her home state of West Virginia brought a summer of not only a ton of fun but one that also brought me out of my comfort zone once again, forcing me to place more and more of my trust in Him! It was a summer of transition, a short but memorable season between the high school and college years, that I will never forget.

Sure enough, the college years would begin, and I would find myself at the local college I was already attending during my junior and senior years of high school through the dual enrollment program. While God revealed throughout the year that I was being called to finish there for my AA degree before I transfer to a university, I did not feel confident until I actually began the semester. An extremely heavy workload made it the toughest semester yet, but the experiences I was able to have and the ways God moved assured my wondering heart that I was where He was calling me to be. Having classes with some of my closest friends, as well as meeting and interacting with new people (as well as people from the past) made the experience at the college itself an exciting time. I really began to overcome a lot of fear and shyness this semester, as I took on the challenge to love others, and worked on making time to say hello and engage in conversation with those in my path. While I spent the majority of the semester studying and doing homework, as well as in the classroom, I spent my Fridays dog sitting, and one weekend in particular, I attended a Meredith Andrews concert. This was totally another provision from the Lord, as I won a pair of VIP tickets through a radio station on an exact day where I had less homework, and more of an opportunity to go. While the crowd attending this event was tiny, the concert was probably the most impactful one I've experienced yet! God continued to speak to me about waiting on Him about certain situations in my life, and about letting go so I could fully seek Him. What I loved most about this semester though is the Bible study group I began to lead with a few friends on campus, and how God has been moving through that. He called me to "go" this year, and it didn't hit me until recently that He's been helping me do just that!

These are a few of just the big things God has provided in my life this year. It's been a tough, stressful year for my family and I, but nonetheless, there has been so much good as well. I've grown so much in my relationship with God, and have learned to trust in Him and depend on Him more than ever before, but there were also days where I stumbled, days where He wasn't my everything and days where I didn't feel any closer to Him. It's during these moments that I'm so grateful for the grace and love of Jesus Christ, which He so willingly gifted to each one of us when He laid down His life on the cross.

Wow, what a year! Looking back, I'm in awe of what God has done around me, in me, and through me these past twelve months. His still, small whispers of "trust" and "go" clearly defined this year in ways I never would've imagined. I cannot wait to see what He has in store in 2017!





12.25.2016

It Was An Ordinary Night


So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  
Luke 2:16



It was an ordinary night, in an ordinary stable, filled with the ordinary smells of any common barn. Two ordinary people living an ordinary life. Just some ordinary shepherds out in the fields, tending to their flock and doing their ordinary work. Everything about that first Christmas night was ordinary, except for the baby lying in the manger.

You see, that baby would one day grow up to be anything but ordinary. He would be conceived in the womb of a virgin. After thirty years of life, He would leave His ordinary job as a carpenter and take up His ministry. He would perform miracle after miracle, healing the blind, the lame, the sick, and the hurting. Despite that He was the King of kings who left His Heavenly position to become one of us in this broken world, He lived as a humble servant, seeking to fill the needs of others rather than be served Himself. He would one day die the worst of deaths on the cross. Beaten, bruised, crushed, and killed, He died so that we could live. He died because He loves us with a love that is greater than any pain, greater than even death itself. He died because that is the reason He dressed in flesh and walked onto this earth. But the most extraordinary thing about this extraordinary King was not only His willingness to die for the sins of mankind, despite that He had all the power to take Himself off the cross. It was that death could not keep the Son of God down. In three days, He would rise again. In three days, He would declare victory over the grave.

This man was anything but ordinary, yet He came into this world in the most ordinary of settings. And the same goes for each of our lives today. Just like God showed up in the most extraordinary way through some ordinary people in some ordinary places, He also shows up in the ordinary parts of our lives. We may doubt His presence, and be blinded to His movement. We may feel like our lives lack purpose, that our brokenness is more than we can bear, or that God is not doing anything through us. Yet God uses the ordinary to create the extraordinary. He uses ordinary people like a young girl named Mary, some shepherds in a field, and people like me and you. He uses the ordinary places you encounter on a regular basis to fulfill His plan and His purpose. He shows up in our most broken moments, moving in our hearts and collecting every tear. When we don't feel like He is moving, He is doing more than we realize. When we doubt His presence, He is alive and moving all around us. When we forget that He has a plan, He is in the process of fulfilling His master plan for our lives.

God uses the ordinary to create the extraordinary. Whoever you are, in whatever situation you are in, He is moving. He can do amazing things through you and around you, whether you are sitting at a classroom desk, working at your job site, or just doing the simple, mundane tasks around the house. All the little, ordinary things in your life are a part of a purpose that only He can see.

That baby lying in a dirty stable was God's extraordinary plan in the most ordinary of places, through the most ordinary of people. Without Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the stable, even the full inn and the fields the shepherds worked in, the Christmas story would not be the same. God used each of these people and places in accordance with His perfect plan. Trust that He can use the ordinary to create the extraordinary in your life too!

God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are... 1 Corinthians 1:28

12.21.2016

A Semester as an Ethics Student: Truth in a Moral Relativist World

The fall semester is over, and what a journey it has been! Despite an extremely heavy workload, I have had such an enjoyable experience at the college this semester, from fun times with friends to interesting classes to the ways that God has showed up and moved in an unbelievable manner. It has been a blessing! Not only that, my faith has grown, and this growth is of course attributed to the ways God has worked on my heart and to daily personal time with Him, but also in other ways as well. One such way is my Contemporary Ethics class. 

It's unusual to take a college class and walk away with a strengthened faith, but this semester has been anything but usual, and I am so grateful that I decided to take this class despite the fears that accompanied me walking in. Ethics is ultimately a class about morality, and learning how to use modes of reasoning to back up a particular stance in a contemporary ethical issue. My fabulous professor covered a different ethical issue each week in class, after we read the text and wrote our essays backing up our stance on each issue. Of course having to write a paper pretty much every week usually meant me cramming to write it the night before/morning of, as my schedule was booked solid with papers, homework assignments, and tests on a weekly basis, but nonetheless, my writing skills grew, and my ability to reason and to reason well strengthened significantly. 


So, with that being said, I figured I'd share some things I've learned in this class that may just strengthen and grow your faith too!



1. I've learned that morality cannot be discussed without God, as God is the ultimate standard of morality.

At the beginning of the semester, we had to write a paper discussing our moral compass and worldview in the process of making moral decisions. Here's a portion of that paper, and what I have held onto when taking a stance on each ethical issue throughout the semester:



    In a world driven by constant change and independent thought, the standard of morality is too often considered temporary and subjective. People forget what they know to be true and turn to the idea that what is wrong for one person could be right for another, or vice versa. However, this idea of subjectivism is dangerous. My moral compass is rooted in the ways and character of Jesus Christ; without having a Biblical worldview, a true standard does not exist in evaluating whether a choice is morally right or wrong.
    Under this worldview, God created Heaven and earth, and mankind was formed in His image. There are moral laws that God commands for His people to obey, but due to the first sin of Adam and Eve, the world is now sin-filled and broken. No one is considered righteous in the sight of God through their own doing, because every single person has disobeyed His moral law at some point. Thus, Jesus left His high position in Heaven and humbled Himself, coming into this world as a human. He died the most horrible of deaths on the cross, not because He did anything wrong, but because He took the punishment that every other human deserves as a result of sin. Three days later, He rose again, declaring Himself the Son of God and defeating sin and death. Everyone can be forgiven and made righteous in the sight of God, but only through Jesus and what He has done.
    When facing a moral decision, many turn to their own version of what morality, or truth, is to them. But, truth doesn’t differ from person to person, but is one Person: Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). The ultimate standard of morality, Jesus is the only One who has never done wrong. He is the only One who has ever walked this earth in holiness and who can completely obey God’s law. It is only through Him that God sees me as righteous and “morally good”. He is the standard of perfection. His righteousness covers my own unrighteousness.
    Therefore, my ethical decision making is dependent upon who Jesus is, and what God says is morally right. I am not considered “righteous” or “morally good” in God’s eyes by what I believe is morally right or wrong, or by my own works. Morality is not subjective; it is not up to me to decide what morality is, but it has already been determined through God’s law, which is found in the holy Word of God. So, I should seek to obey God’s law, even though I’m bound to disobey His commands; Jesus died for me so I could be forgiven when I do. Thus, in the face of making moral choices, I turn to the Bible, a reflection of the only standard of morality, Jesus Christ. I ask myself: “In this situation, what would honor the Lord and most imitate the character of Christ? What would Jesus do? What does the Bible say about this particular decision?”.



Ethical relativism has become the norm of this world. Truth is no longer absolute, and sin is justified because of the idea that "what is wrong for one person may be right for another". I've learned that the truth of morality can only be found in Jesus, and I've grown more on fire about standing up for truth in a moral relativist world!



2.  I've learned that ethical decisions are not always black and white. They involve searching the Scriptures, and seeking the heart of GOD. 


Some ethical issues and moral decisions are clearly black and white. It's easy to state in the case of abortion that taking the life of a baby in the womb is absolutely wrong, as even before the moment of conception, God has thoughtfully and carefully designed a plan for our lives, and surely considers each person a human who has value and who has a future filled with His amazing plans. However, issues like the practice of capital punishment were not so much a black and white matter. It's in these big ethical issues, along with the little moral decisions we must make on an everyday basis, that we must search the Scriptures and seek God and His heart and ways. It's not always black and white, as morality can get complicated. But we can view these moments of having to make a difficult decision as an opportunity to learn God's ways more fully and to seek Him to understand what He desires for our lives.



 3. I've learned why I believe what I believe, and the viewpoints of others.


This class has opened my mind to the sticky issues of morality and what others believe about certain ethical issues. It has allowed me to understand the viewpoints of others and to be able to fully support my reasoning for why I believe what I believe, and to be able to share that with others! It is so important to research, but not just research your side of an issue. Research it fully. If you're pro life, research the issue of abortion completely. Understand why you're pro life, and why others are pro choice. Examine the problem at large. And of course, this goes back to point 2, which involves searching the Scriptures and seeking the ways of God...again and again and again! We ended the class with an ethical topic of our choice, and as a shelter volunteer and animal lover, I ended up writing and presenting the issue of animal welfare/rights. Because of my research and studying of the Scriptures, my perspective of the idea of animal rights completely changed, and I continued to grow more passionate about the welfare and ethical treatment of animals. It's amazing what a little research can do!


It's a faith enriching process to be able to back up your beliefs, and to understand where others are coming from. I'm grateful to leave this semester with a greater understanding of many of the big ethical issues in our nation and world, to know why I believe what I believe, and to have grown in my knowledge of the Word, of my understanding of God, and in the thought processes of others.
If you're in college (or if they offer it in high school), take an ethics class. Regardless, research the ethical issues at large! This class has been a call to researching the ethical issues that pop up in my life or when advising others who are facing ethical decisions, and to be able to hold fast to knowing and sharing TRUTH in a moral relativist world.



10.28.2016

The Love Challenge

I prayed a bold prayer.

Lord, let me share Your light, make an impact on and off campus for You, and take every opportunity to love and serve others, for Your glory.

On the first day of this college semester, I took on a challenge. I asked God for His divine help in sharing His love and light this semester. I asked Him to move through me and use me to make a difference at His will, for His glory. This is a bold prayer, especially for a quiet eighteen year old girl like me. However, I learned from my experience throughout high school that I didn't want to keep to myself anymore and live a life of going through the motions. I didn't want to just attend school for the education and work myself to the extent that I miss the amazing opportunity God has placed before me to love His creation.

So, as I began my first semester as a full time college student, I was determined to change my mindset this semester. I decided to take the challenge of intentionally loving and serving others. It started with surrender. Then, as God has been placing opportunities across my path, however small they may be, I have been able to take on this challenge.

I'm not doing anything that big or noticeable. My heart just yearns to change this world, but one girl like me cannot do it on her own. However, making a difference in just one life is one step closer to a changed world. Just one smile, one hello, one conversation, one act of service (even just holding the door open), could make an impact that is beyond what I could ever imagine. It sounds simple, and it doesn't sound like I'm doing much. And maybe not. But I believe that God can use even a smile to brighten up the day of a person who is hurting. Just one conversation could encourage someone in whatever they are facing. Just my own personal Bible study with a few friends, even without the group increasing in size, could inspire or encourage just one person walking by.

I long to be an example of love in a world of hatred and discrimination and judgment and evil. And I believe it starts with being intentional with the small acts of love.

God has been getting me through. He is helping me overcome my shyness, so much so that I've been become the most outgoing that I've ever been in my entire life. However, I've also made mistakes. Some weeks, I forget the challenge. Fear overtakes me, and shyness slowly starts creeping back in again. I forget to take advantage of the opportunities God lays before me to love.

An overload of guilt overtakes me later, as I begin wishing I could go back and redo the day over. But it's during these times that I'm reminded to take on the challenge again. That it's not too late to start spreading His love again.

Whatever you're doing, wherever you are, with whoever you're with, you can make a difference in the lives of others. It starts with taking on the challenge of intentionally loving and serving others, and asking God for His help.


He can use even a smile and a wave to flip a day around. He can use the smallest act of service for Him to change the world.

Just a small act of kindness can make a difference!
Will you take on the Love Challenge?



James 2:8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, 'Love your neighbor as yourself', you are doing right.
1 Thessalonians 3:12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else...




10.14.2016

Already at Work


...but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31



 


















In the midst of the waiting season, God is already at work. He's going before us, paving the path. He's shutting doors that need to be closed and pushing open doors that need to be opened. He's stirring in hearts, moving in lives, and making the way for victory. He hears every word of every prayer we pray...even when it feels like He's nowhere to be found.

His movement may not be noticeable right now. This waiting season may seem like it's never going to end. Life may seem as if it is never going to change. God's voice may seem silent and our prayers unanswered. 

But don't give up! The second you pray a single word, God hears. He's already at work. He begins to open and close doors, move in lives, and make straight the path.

And it may never make sense. Why we went through what we went through. Why God seemed to disappear when life was at its worst. Why we're having to wait for such a long period for whatever it is we're waiting on.


We don't see the big picture. But God does. He knows what is best for us, even when it may never make sense to us. His purposes and His plans are greater than we can ever imagine. When we don't see a purpose, He sees purpose. When we don't see a plan unfolding, He sees a plan that has been so carefully drawn out, so thoughtfully designed. 

You may wonder why God has you where He has you. You may wonder why God hasn't revealed to you what to do next. You may wonder what God is doing, as the people in your life move in and out. 

We don't always see a purpose accompanying the people, places, and events surrounding our lives. But God does. He's gone before us, He stands behind us, and He's always by our side. 

In the waiting season of my own life, God has been opening and closing doors, faithfully answering my prayers yet still not clearly showing me what to do about certain things at the present time. However, He's been reminding me to trust in His timing--His perfectly designed timing. He's been asking me to seek Him.

Because when we place our hope in the Lord, when we completely seek Him during the waiting season, our strength will be renewed. Our patience will be restored. The fire in our hearts for Him will be revived. We will discover this newfound strength, this freedom, that can only be found through Jesus Christ. Such a strength allows us to soar like an eagle, to run and not grow weary, to walk and not be faint. This strength is where we find peace and joy and an energy that can only come from Jesus.

I still don't know all the answers, but I do know this: God is working. I don't know what the next steps are, but I do know that He's already making straight the path. In the meantime, I'm going to strengthen myself in Him in the season He's put me in right now. I'm going to find my energy and joy and peace and full strength in Jesus, even when college life has been giving me five to six hours of sleep a night and things get stressful. And oh, has He given me energy! It's been unreal.

I'm going to seek Him with all my heart in the waiting season.  

He's already at work.


8.21.2016

Life Is Full Of Transitions

Life is full of transitions.


As soon as we get comfortable, as soon as everything seemingly starts to appear firm in its place, things change. We meet new people. We begin doing new things. New opportunities come. Maybe it's a switch in job, a switch in school, or a switch in home. Or maybe it's something you'd rather not lose or gain. Maybe you wish things could be like they once were.

Or maybe you're like me and just finished high school. My life is nothing less than a major transitional period right now. Tomorrow is the first day of college, and while I'm so grateful to have this opportunity of a college education and to be able to stay at home for the next year in order to finish up at the college I was already attending during my high school years (I was a dual enrollment student), life is still hard. This is a period of change, of growing up, of becoming independent.

I'm excited for this change but I'm also nervous. I wish life would slow down a little. I wish I could take a breath and experience life as it is right now, but things are just moving so quickly that I feel like it's easy to go through the motions and never really experience life at its fullest.

But as much as I wish life would slow down, life is life. It's full of transitions, it's full of unexpected situations and circumstances, but it's also full of opportunity. 

So, as I transition into this next part of my life, as I hope to grow into this woman that God intends for me to be, it is my hope and my prayer that I not only watch out and embrace opportunity (as the Lord surely has good plans and opportunities coming in my life!), but that I keep the foundation of my life in the only One who will never change.

Image via Pinterest
Jesus said: Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. (Matthew 7:24-27)

In a life of transition, when everything is seemingly moving and changing at a speed so fast, Jesus says to build our "house", our life, on the rock. Jesus is the Solid Rock, the firm foundation. He will not change. Building our "house" on the "sand" (whether it's for fame or popularity, wealth, success, relationships, or anything else we may live life for) will just lead to an eventual crash.

In a life of transition, Jesus will not change. 

So as I walk into college tomorrow, as I finish up one of the best, relaxing summers of my life as a high school graduate, as I continue to face this transitional period of my life...

let Jesus be the foundation, the one thing who will not change. Let me embrace the opportunity and the plans He has for my life and let me be willing to grow into this woman that obeys and honors Him in all things.



Life is full of transitions. 

But Jesus? He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

8.20.2016

To Live Like A Cell Phone

The day begins. After a long night of being plugged into the wall, my cell phone is fully charged and ready for the day ahead. It's a daily activity that must be done. As we all know, once the battery has lost complete charge, the phone turns off. It reaches a point of complete shut down.

Via Wireless Revolution
Oftentimes, I spend way too much time on my phone during the day and before long, it dies much earlier than planned. Overworked and used more than it should've been, it only lasts a few hours before it quits. It was in one of these moments that the Lord revealed this truth to my life.

You see, just like anything else in life, cell phones only have battery life for so long. Whether it's nonstop work for several hours, or off-and-on throughout the day, the phone will quit at some point. And cell phones aren't the only examples. Cars must be refilled with gas, because at some point, they run out and will quit working. Even the light bulbs in our bedrooms won't last. Eventually, we have to replace, or the rooms lack light.


Cell phones, cars, even the light in our homes are not made to last forever. Constantly worked, even these simple, everyday objects need a recharge. They need to be refilled. They need replacement.
Isn't it the same way in life? We may seek to accomplish as much as possible. With a constant busyness surrounding our lives, we hope to do more, more, more, in as little time as possible. Our days are constantly on the go.

Our schedules are overbooked. At first, we may truly feel like we can do it all. Consumed with energy and enthusiasm, we may dive into our busy schedules with success and focus. But before long, we begin to miss out on the small things that matter most. It's not long before our energy begins to decrease and our motivation diminishes. It's not long until we hit the trials and the struggles of life.

We hit rock bottom.

Our battery level is at 10 percent in so much shorter of a time than we ever could have imagined. Overworked and tired beyond measure, our hearts are heavy. We feel as if we have nowhere to turn. Struggles overtake us, and it's hard to see beyond the challenges.

Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30). 
 
We are not called to live in constant busyness, by our own strength, in our handmade overbooked schedules. It's in these times that we begin to live in the motions. And it's in these times that our batteries eventually need recharge. 


Jesus calls us to so much more.
 
When the batteries of our lives are a few percentages away from shutting down, He is reaching out. His hand is ready and waiting. We need recharge, refill, replacement. He brings rest to our weary souls and hope to our burdened hearts. In the midst of tragedy, when we feel as if we're nothing but swallowed up in the hurts and constant busyness of life, Jesus calls us to be like cell phones. 
 
To plug into the wall of His presence.
 
Because when we cast our cares on Him and call upon the name of the One who sacrificed His life for us, we will realize the ultimate care and compassion He has for His children. When we tap into the rest that only our God can give, we will not only be filled with the strength and power that rose Jesus from the grave in the midst of our weakness, but we will find that taking the time to rest can actually be so much more satisfying than working ourselves to the point of brokenness. 
 
We all need recharge, refill, replacement. Hand your heavy heart over to Him, and let His grace consume your worn soul today. 
 
All you who are weary and burdened, come to Him. Tap into the power that only He can bring. He promises rest. And He never fails to fulfill His promises!

8.01.2016

Embrace It (My Curly Hair Life)

So, I've had curly hair for all my life. When I was a baby, I was practically bald. Hair eventually started to grow but it was a prolonged process. And when it did grow, it was boy-length even in the first few years of elementary school.

There was a period in my life that I wished to be like every other girl. To have hair that was straight, and long, and would constantly grow.

However, I've come to a realization in the past few years.

Now, I wouldn't want my hair any differently.

Yes, it would be easier and maybe more manageable, even the norm, to have straight hair. But my curly hair is a blessing. It's what makes me...me. People pay money to have curly hair like my own. But most importantly, it's part of God's artwork. When He designed me, He counted every curl that would be on my head. He made them so curly that they would bounce back in place as soon as a single strand was pulled. He saw the curls He had made and said: "Wow. This is beautiful."

And if I were to ever lose my hair, I would be devastated. Completely devastated.

Of course my routine looks different than most people. I can't brush my hair dry. I have to wet my hair using a water bottle every morning, and then I can brush through. I have to use Mousse or there will be frizz galore. My curls have a mind of its own, so I can't exactly plan how my hair is going to look. Humidity and curls don't get along well. Not to mention that the longer my hair grows, the more it curls! So no 'real' haircuts have ever taken place in my entire life. Just trimming the dead ends. For years, my hair has appeared shoulder length, and so it's pretty much always down.

But these are the things that makes me me. These are the things that I would miss if I were to lose my curls forever. These are the things that I'm used to.

I've learned to love and to embrace my curly hair. My beautiful, cute curls. The way they make me stand out. The way I'm instantly remembered by people. The way they bounce and just the beauty of them...all the time.

Whatever makes you you, embrace it. Your hair, your nose, your smile, your body shape, your laugh, your freckles or dimples, your voice--all these things are a part of the great design that the Ultimate Artist thought up.

Don't wish for these things to leave your life. Don't look at your neighbor's grass, because the grass is always going to look greener on the other side. Instead, water your own grass. Begin to see yourself the way that God has made you to be. You are special and beautiful. He planned a design that would only fit you and your life. You are unique. You are loved.

Let's shove comparison and low self esteem out the door and let this be a reminder of how beautiful you are!

As the famous Dr. Seuss said, "Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is youer than you."
Image via Pinterest



Head up, gorgeous.

Embrace who you are. It's what makes you you.

That's what I've learned. Today, I love my curls!



Ginny Stephens Photography

7.28.2016

I Do What I Do Not Want To Do

Note: I encourage you to take the time to read Romans 7:7-25 today. I stumbled across this passage this week, as it was the next Scripture for the online Bible study I'm a part of, and it couldn't have been better timing. This is truth: the truth about me, the truth about you, the truth about humanity. But it is also the truth about Jesus. The truth about the hope that is available for both me and you. For all of humanity.

As I read these verses, I wrote and God spoke. These are the exact notes from my Quiet Time notebook this morning. This is my struggle. This is my hope. I felt led to share this with you. I hope it is of some impact and encouragement to you today:





"For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it." (Romans 7:19-20).

The sin living in me, the sinful nature of the flesh, is bringing me to death spiritually. It is because of my sinful nature that I cannot carry out the desire I have to do good. And this truth, laid out in this Scripture, could not have come to me at a better time this week.

All week (actually, this entire summer) I've been struggling. I want to keep the Lord first and I desire to spend time with Him in prayer and in His Word. I desire to journal and reflect on His faithfulness. Yet, I don't do these things like I should. I wake up to checking my Facebook for an hour or two and then finally head over to spending fifteen or twenty minutes in prayer. I know I should spend time in His Word yet I spend an excessive amount of time on social media throughout the day, scrolling mindlessly despite that I know (and desire) to put God first. Finally, I spend some time in His Word for ten minutes or so, usually at 1:30 am. This has become frequent. My life has been losing routine. I'm not spending enough time with God and I am definitely not putting Him first. I haven't journaled about His faithfulness (despite that I've been wanting to for months). I'm going to bed way too late and sleeping in way too much. I desire routine. I desire for the Lord to be first in my life. Yet I give into the flesh. I give into the sinful nature and do what I do not want to do.
 

"For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." (Romans 7:15b)



So is there a solution?

"For in my inner being I delight in God's law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body..." (Romans 7:22-23a)

The sinful nature is at work, and I do what I do not want to do. I may delight in God's law, but the flesh is working against me, and too often, I let the flesh win. I struggle in my sin. But this is why Jesus came. We are all destined to eventually let the sinful nature win. We are all in need of a Savior; none of us are righteous in the sight of God by our own doing. But Jesus won when He died and defeated the grave. I may do what I do not want to do, but HE has won--and I can live not only with salvation and new life, but in His grace, which is fully sufficient to cover my sins.

When I'm struggling in my sin, when I feel like I can never do what I want to do and that I always end up failing because of the sinful nature at work within me----
there is victory awaiting.

We are all going to fail, but that's why Jesus died. He rescued me, saved me, and means it when He says: "My grace is sufficient for you..." (2 Cor. 12:9)

So I'm giving my struggle to Him. I'm taking breaks from Facebook and restricting my time on social media. I'm seeking to put Him first.

But I know that no matter how much I fail (which I'm sure to do), no matter how much I do what I do not want to do, His grace is sufficient for my sins.

And that's enough.

"Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25a).

7.23.2016

Keep Your Eyes On Him

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 16:8 

That's it. These words of Scripture have become what I'm hanging onto for life. It doesn't matter what you or I face, it applies. Keep your eyes on the Lord. 

When things are going good, keep your eyes on the Lord. When you're afraid, keep your eyes on the Lord. When you're angry, keep your eyes on the Lord. When you're swallowing up in your sins and you feel like there's no escaping, keep your eyes on the Lord. 

When life is at its worst, keep your eyes on Him.

Because He promises to walk with us and to never forsake us. He promises that He will always love us. He promises that He has plans for our lives, plans to prosper and not to harm.

He doesn't promise that things will always be good, because trials are inevitable. 
He promises that we will not be shaken if we just keep our eyes on Him.

Let these life-giving words speak volumes into your heart tonight. It's what I'm holding onto. 

No matter what you're going through, fix your eyes on the Lord.

Image via Pinterest

7.07.2016

This Is My Story


Every day is a new page. The Creator of this world and of all of creation is also the Creator of stories and of new beginnings. Oh how He loves creating new things out of dust, out of the broken, out of the ones who have no choice in the darkest times but to fall upon His feet!

He uses our broken past and writes a story that is oh so beautiful. The Creator saw a plan, and He didn't give up.

We all have a story.
While these words were previously written by me for a different purpose, they remain true today. Because of Jesus, I am loved. Because of Jesus, I am forgiven. Because of Jesus, I can live a life of putting Him first...and know that when I mess up, His grace abounds.

God didn't give up on me, and He won't give up on you either. This is my story:




 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

The words of Jesus have touched my heart and shaped my life. I live to bring glory to God, to make Him and His Kingdom my utmost priority, and to share His love to the world. I seek to live a life of putting Jesus Christ first. But it wasn’t always this way.
As a child, I believed in God. I found pleasure in reading my children’s Bible and going to church on holidays with my family. But that wasn’t enough. I lived a life of being a good person and being kind to others, but God wasn’t at the forefront. I didn’t truly know who Jesus was and why He did what He did. However, God began moving. Around the age of eight or nine, I began to fully understand that the power of prayer was real and of the character of God as He answered my prayers. I began to pray on a daily basis.
In the summer of 2010, God used two girls, an empty YMCA exercise room, and a website called Wonderzone to lead me to Him. After meeting these new friends, I was introduced to Wonderzone; through joining the Bible study group as well as playing the games and Biblical “adventures” on the site, I eventually gave my life to Christ in the fall of 2010. My entire mindset was changed. I did not stop reading His Word in the Bible study group. My family and I began frequently attending the church God had placed in our lives since before my birth, but at the new campus that was built near our home. My life was no longer about putting myself first and being a good person. It was about living for Jesus Christ.
However, I struggled with doubting my salvation and continued to ask Jesus into my heart and to forgive me from my sins several times in 2010 and 2011. I began to pray that God would reveal to me somehow if I was truly saved. On October 5, 2011, God spoke through a guest speaker at youth group about rededicating my life to Him. I felt the Lord speaking to me more than ever before that night, and I rededicated my life once and for all. I would no longer have to question my salvation. My faith grew much stronger after that night, as I decided to solely pursue Jesus and a life following Him.
Since starting high school in 2012 (and even now as a graduate!), I have grown in my relationship with God everyday. I have grown closer to Him and have learned to depend on Him in every circumstance. When the tough times have come, I have found joy and peace in knowing that He is on my side. He has done so much work in my life over the past four years, building patience, and love, and the fruits of the Spirit into my heart and mind. In my struggle with shyness, He has given me strength to overcome. He has placed a longing in my heart to encourage and uplift others. Most of all, I have learned to put Him first. Through God’s prompting on my heart to do a social media fast the summer before my junior year, He has trained me to spend time with Him on a daily basis. I have learned that when I seek God and His Kingdom first, everything falls into place. By putting Him before my homework and studies, and first in all that I do, success has come—a success that could not have existed without Him.
I continue to grow in my relationship with God everyday. I am not perfect, and I constantly stray from His ways, but His mercy and His grace never fail to amaze me. In my moments of weakness, His arms are wide open. He calls me to Him and accepts me as I am. He looks past the flaws and the scars and sees the righteousness of His Son instead. I am so grateful for the love of Jesus and how He has moved in my life. Today, He has continued to teach me to pray diligently and to seek Him first. He has revealed to me that no matter how 'good' I am, only in Jesus am I righteous in His sight. He has called me to trust in Him in every circumstance, even when uncertainty about the future fills my heart and my faith weakens. He has called me to create a blog and write for Him. He has called me to encourage and uplift others. 
He has called me to go into this world and be bold. 

This is my story. What's yours?

6.30.2016

He Sees Mended



When you see broken beyond repair 
I see healing beyond belief
When you see too far gone
I see one step away from home
When you see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I'm not finished yet
When you see wounded, I see mended

I see my child, my beloved
The new creation you're becoming
You see the scars from when you fell
But I see the stories they will tell
You see worthless, I see priceless
You see pain, but I see a purpose 
You see unworthy, undeserving
But I see you through eyes of mercy

Excerpt from Mended//Matthew West



Brokenness will abound in a heart that's been hurt more times than you can remember. Mistakes may seem endless, so much so that you've lost count. Thoughts of a life lacking purpose may fill your head.

The past can be haunting. It may be painful just to think about.

Maybe you feel like your heart is too broken to be fixed. That your life is too messed up to get back up again. And definitely too messed up to be loved by a good God.

Scratch that.
                  not too broken                                 never too messed up
Your heart is too broken to be fixed. Your life is too messed up to get back up again. And definitely too messed up to be loved by a good God. 
not too messed up

At the foot of the cross is sacrificial love and never-ending mercy. Jesus died so that our broken hearts could be repaired. He gave up His life so that the punishment for our sin would be laid upon Him instead. We don't have to live thinking that God doesn't love us or that we are too messed-up and sinful to even think that He cares about us because Jesus would've died for no reason then. It doesn't matter who has made more mistakes--sin is sin in the eyes of God. 


You're not too far gone. Your heart is not too hurt to be restored. There is healing in the name of Jesus. There is restoration; there is purpose. There is worth. 

Just like Matthew West sings in his song, "Mended", God is not finished yet. We may stray from Him and live according to our own desires, but He can use our mistakes and our bad experiences and transform them for His glory, if only we let Him. He can use the hurt, the damage, all of the brokenness from the experiences and relationships in our past, and bring good again. He is the healer of our scars and of our hurts. When we see no purpose, when we see pain, when we see broken beyond relief...

He sees purpose. He sees something good in the making. He sees healing beyond belief. 

He is not finished yet. Your past is not too big for God. You are not too tough of a case for Him to handle. He finds joy in making new. The mercies and freshness of the morning each day is proof. He can use your mistakes and hurts and create a testimony. He can revive a hurting heart and bring back joy and peace and life again. 

When we see wounded, He sees mended. He can repair your broken heart. He can restore your messed-up life.

He sees us through eyes of mercy. That's why Jesus died. That's the result of His love for us.

His unending, relentless, crazy love. 

My heart has been mended by the cross--
Because of the mercy and love of Jesus Christ. 

Yours can be too. 

6.27.2016

Refilled Hearts

There's nothing like seeing self-filled hearts being emptied and refilled to the brim by the Holy Spirit. There is so much beauty in seeing souls washed clean by the grace of Jesus Christ and being transformed into one that reflects His love. What influence it has on our spirits when we smell the pleasant scent of His fruit in the lives of others!

Recently God has been revealing stories of broken, messed-up people, like the rest of us, whose lives have been restored through the power of Jesus. It's been so uplifting to hear such stories, so moving and so powerful. God is preparing my heart for what He has in store as He reveals these stories and uses me in ways I never would've imagined.

If you've been praying for someone and it's beginning to look hopeless, don't give up. God is moving. His power is so much stronger, so much greater, than even the hardened hearts of those whom we could never imagine coming to know Christ. There is no life too broken, too shattered, that God can't put the pieces back together again.
Sometimes when it seems like God is the most silent, that's when He is doing the most.

Image via Pinterest
If you've never experienced the transforming power of Jesus, you're missing out! You're never too far gone to do so now. Give it all to Him, and accept the sacrifice He gave so willingly on the cross. His blood cleanses us; His resurrection defeated sin and death. Declaring His power as the Son of God, we are given the opportunity to have new lives through Him.

I'm in awe.

Jesus transforms lives. Jesus refills hearts.
And it's been faith-strengthening and inspiring to hear.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 
2 Corinthians 5:17

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

Blessings (Ramblings of this High School Graduate)



God is so good.

Since high school graduation night (yes, I'm officially a high school graduate!), things have been crazy as well as exciting, beyond what I ever imagined. God has been showering me with blessings upon blessings, and I honestly don't deserve it!

I walked away on May 27th with my high school diploma, as well as several scholarships and the honor of being my senior class salutatorian. I had twenty-four hours to write a speech yet He gave me the words and filled my heart with the most peace I've ever had before speaking in front of people (especially several thousand!). That weekend, He provided the most supportive friends and the best celebration that was beyond what I expected as we celebrated this big milestone in my life.

The following weekend, I spent time celebrating my friend's birthday at Universal and then a week or two later, I went aboard a Disney cruise with another friend and her family. Nothing like being treated like royalty and a week away from everyday life! Returning back to reality, God has opened doors with a writing internship as well as been bringing new opportunities with a Bible study, new friends, and fun celebrations. 

As I write this, I just finished an amazing weekend at Freedom Fest, where I worshiped Jesus with Matthew West, Britt Nicole, Tenth Avenue North, and many more artists...and if you know me, you know I'm crazy about Christian concerts and worship time! It was such a blessing meeting one of my favorite bands, Anthem Lights, a couple of times, and I may have appeared calm on the outside but I was absolutely a wreck on the inside! Most of all, God spoke to my heart about trusting in Him as I approach this next stage of life, that as He tugs on my heart and leads me towards certain directions, I must not only trust that I can do all things through Him who gives me strength, but that His power is strong enough to help me do whatever He leads me to do. That may mean getting out of my comfort zone, but I'm learning to trust in the limitless power He has placed within me.

God is so faithful. But as I look back on all these blessings and more that He has been pouring into my life, I see the importance of surrender. My faith hasn't been at its strongest, yet He still provides as I surrender everything to Him. Every test, every scholarship, just the possibility of being salutatorian, and every single one of these events was given to Him. It was no longer mine, but His. There is power in giving every part of your life to God. There is power in surrender. Because when you declare that it is no longer yours, but in the hands of the Creator who spoke the universe into existence and raised Jesus from the dead, you can be sure that good things are on its way. You can be sure that God will bring the best.

Wherever you are at in life, even if you feel forgotten by God, even if you feel like life isn't so good right now and it's been hard to see any good thing, give it to Him. He may not bring you exactly what you want, but He can transform your broken heart and the broken parts of your life and turn it into something beautiful. He can take a broken perspective and speak clarity into your life. Before long, you might just be seeing blessings. Before long, you might just be seeing God's hand in your life.

I have experienced nothing less than that.


6.20.2016

Where's the Compassion?

Where's the compassion for His creation? Is it running dry in humanity, buried deep within the hearts of many, so far and so hard to reach? Is it no longer a norm to care so deeply? Could it be that we have abandoned the dominion God originally intended for us to have over the animals? If we're made in His image, and He cares about His creation, weren't we born to do the same?

Where's the compassion?


After volunteering at the animal shelter, I have seen it again and again. Lack of compassion in humanity, a constant willingness to neglect and give up the animals they once declared part of their family. It's heartbreaking, and it's hard. Dogs being thrown off trucks, puppies grown up and no longer wanted, cats surrendered because their owner is going on vacation. When there's no remorse or regret, no compassion in hand, it's so difficult to witness.

And it's not just animals. Everyday, we see stories on the news---stories of murder, stories of abuse, stories of horrible actions and ones that show once again the compassion that is slowly escaping our hearts.

I believe that it's time for a movement of compassion again in this world. Just like our Creator loves His creation, I believe that we are called to take care and to love them as well.


Commit an act of compassion today. Help someone in need. Give your pet a little extra love, and remember the gift that they are to your life. And please, oh please, consider adopting or fostering at your local shelter. Every year, several million animals lose their life, and I believe it stems from the lack of compassion in our hearts and the mistakes we make as humans in caring for the creation in our lives...leading to overcrowded shelters who often have no choice.

Look at His creation today and take the time to act with compassion. It may not change your life, but you might just be changing theirs!



5.11.2016

His Masterpiece.

He's the Great Artist.

He paints the sky with hues of reds and yellows and pinks. He sculpted the mountains and the trees, the plains and the valleys. He formed the hot and fiery sun, placed it at its perfect location in all of space, and taught it to rise and set on a daily basis. He made the ants and the bees, the deer and the zebra, the rhino and the giraffe. He envisioned each of His creation with a particular purpose in mind, and set each one apart in their own special way. For the beautiful thing about the Great Artist is that He doesn't just make His creations for the fun of it, lacking purpose and meaning. The Great Artist takes every step to design and create to fulfill a purpose. There is no such thing as accidental or meaningless when our Creator comes into the picture. He creates for a purpose. And that doesn't exclude you.

For His greatest creation are His humans. Oh, how He loves His humans! He created them in His likeness, in His image; we are a reflection of our Creator.  But even beyond being made in the image of our Lord God, He cherishes us and cares about us.

We are His.
His love. His children. His masterpieces. And the Great Artist, the Creator of masterpieces, will never make less than a masterpiece. He will never make something that is not as beautiful or wonderful in His eyes. For the Creator of masterpieces delights in His creation--His people--with a love and a care beyond imaginable. He loves His masterpieces, and it breaks His heart to watch His creation fall to pieces.

And that's exactly why the Great Artist sent His Son. In the midst of our brokenness, despite that the Lord created us as His masterpiece and delight, there are scratches and scars and broken pieces all over us. We turn to our own ways, and forget to look up and stay close to the One who created us, the One who made us with a purpose (for the Great Artist only creates something if He sees purpose in doing so), the One who knows us better than we know ourselves.

The Great Artist sent His Son, Jesus, to the cross so that we could no longer be separated from our Creator...so that the Artist of Masterpieces could see the scars of His perfect Son instead of the cracks and scratches on His sin-filled creation.

The enemy may whisper lies into your mind, reminding you of your scratches and scars, convincing you that your life is meaningless, stirring thoughts of self hatred and insecurity.

Know the truth.
The Great Artist sees past the scars and scratches.

He created you with a purpose. 

He calls you beautiful. His Beloved.

His Masterpiece. //

For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

4.26.2016

A Prevailing Purpose {When Life is Tough}

The Lord's purpose will prevail.

After a stressful and wearisome past few months, I have to admit that it's been tough. Life isn't easy. Losing a loved one is hard. Constant work can wear out the soul. Graduation and all the events surrounding it is quickly approaching. Life is flying by at a speed much faster than I've been able to process.

In the tough times, our faith is tested...and it's in these times that we so often fail the test and lose faith. Yet even when we stumble and fall, the Lord never fails to continue to show up and express His love all around us. His grace reaches out to us in our worst moments--for that's what grace is all about.

With everything overwhelming my heart and soul, it hasn't been easy. But it's in these times that I'm learning that the Lord is faithful. Even though many things still don't make sense, He is working behind the scenes, opening and closing the right doors, moving for a purpose that is far greater than I could ever imagine.

It amazes me how a single encounter can be used by God to bring dramatic change. He's been speaking through people, placing me with the right people at the right place at the right time. He's been opening doors and providing me with just what I need. He's been speaking to my heart. And it's a blessing when we respond to His call on our heart, for He uses our faithful response to further His purpose!

Life isn't easy.

But I'm learning step by step that God is faithful and that He's fulfilling His purpose.
He is good!

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of Your hands. Psalm 138:8
 

4.03.2016

Start a Movement

Between attending the Rock and Worship Roadshow and viewing God's Not Dead 2 within the past few weeks, the Lord has been pressing against my heart a few things about steps of faith and standing up for Him.

It's so easy to live in this world with a spirit of timidity and fear. The name of Jesus has become forbidden, controversial, and quick-to-hide. To say His Name is risky. But to proclaim the name of Jesus in the way that we live...can lead to problems.

Problems that Jesus was all too familiar with.

And problems that must be worth the risk in order to pursue our Righteous King.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24

Following Jesus means risk. It means sacrificing everything, even our acceptance by this world. It means denying ourselves and living for Him.

It means standing up in faith.


We are called out to step out in faith and spread His love to the world. We are called to stand up for Him, no matter the cost. Even when the world considers us strange, even when we are told we must hide our faith, we must not let the light go dim. God is not dead, but is alive and active, moving in our lives and across this nation and world. Hardened hearts and spiritually-closed eyes are all around us, but with the power of our God, I believe that a movement for Him is not impossible.

Many times being brave--whether that means standing up for your beliefs or simply waking up early to tackle the day’s tasks--is not glamorous, and is something we are called to be in the mundane of our lives.:
Image via Pinterest
We must set aside the fear in our hearts and walk in bravery. In the face of opposition, we must jump off these "cliffs", if we just have faith that when we jump, He will catch us. In order to initiate a revival of turned hearts towards our God and Savior, we must be willing to walk in faith and courage. 

That means taking the giant leaps, despite not knowing where we'll land, but trusting that He'll be there to catch us when we fall.


Let's stand up in faith and proclaim His Name, no matter the cost. Let's do what's right, even when the world tells us to do wrong. Let's pray and act in accordance with our faith, stirring a movement in this nation for Jesus Christ.

I don't know about you, but this light in my heart is too big for me to hide. Let's proclaim the Name of Jesus in all that we do.

Let's start a movement! 


3.15.2016

Beyond the Countdown (To the Ready-to-Graduate Students Like Me!)

10.5 weeks...

72 days...

23 hours...

11 minutes...


Until the day that I walk down the stage, diploma in hand, with a happy spirit and a joyful heart. Until the day that I am officially a high school graduate.



Image via Pinterest
Until the first day of the rest of my life, right?
Maybe not.


Life doesn't begin the day after graduation. Life is now. Yes, counting down to the final day is nonetheless an exciting thing, but in the midst of counting down and waiting for the big day to come, we miss out on the gift of the life we have now. We forget that high school will never come again. We forget that memories are the only remnants of our past, and without making the most of what we have in life now, those memories will never exist. We forget that God didn't call us to a life of going through the motions, but a life where we take every single day seriously, where we live knowing that every single second of our life is a gift and that our utmost priority over anything else should be taking advantage of the time He has given us and using it to love others.


I am not called to rush through high school and live a life of just getting by.
I am called to make the most of every opportunity and use this time that God has given me, despite how much I dislike high school, despite how busy schoolwork gets, to share His love, to make this world a better place...

to be the hands and feet of Christ.

I have nowhere near accomplished this, but the Lord pressed these thoughts against my heart recently and has invited me to take the challenge of slowing down over the next two months and taking the opportunity that He has laid before me in public school to truly be an example of Christ to others through the way that I love. He wants me to act in love, to talk in love, to think in love, to truly walk in His love.

By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35

The world will know that we are His disciples by our love. But if we sit back and let the busyness of today and the rush to move onto tomorrow push us to go through the motions and never take the opportunity that God has placed before us to love, then the world will never know!

And it's not just in high school. In my college classes, in the shopping trips, when I'm getting together with friends and when I'm at home with family or surfing online...

He has called me to love.

Will you take the challenge? Whether you're a soon-to-be graduate, a recent graduate, a many-moons-ago graduate, or a many-years-to-go graduate, He has not called me and you to go through the motions. He has called us to take the opportunities that He has given us, with the situations and places He has put in our lives, with the people He has surrounded us with.

He has called us to love. Will you join me?

And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love. 2 John 5-6