Saturday, August 19, 2017

In Between by Jenny B. Jones

~Saturday Stories~


Katie Parker is terrified of living with her new “picture perfect” foster family. But when your mom is in prison and you’ve been in a home for girls for six months, you do not really get to pick. Settling into In Between, Katie’s choice of friends quickly makes everything hard for her. Will she be able to survive the year without getting a mug shot? Can she help her foster family address serious questions instead of always pretending to have it all together?


In Between is quite a fun novel. Katie has an amazingly sarcastic voice that I absolutely loved. Still, the novel addressed serious questions. Katie tries to free herself from her mom’s legacy and is quite disappointed with herself when she fails every once in a while. She also deals with other people judging her because of her mom’s history and her own previous school offenses. Her foster family also deals with family issues, making their daughter’s story into a secret and arguing about it. 

I loved that the book showed the struggles of Katie’s foster family, even though they lived a picture-perfect life and had a strong faith. Throughout the series Katie is told many truths about God, but she is not sure about it all yet.  

In Between (currently free via kindle) is the first in the Katie Parker Production series. The rest are On the Loose, The Big Picture, and Can't Let You Go

For more on Jenny B. Jones, visit her website and Facebook page

Monday, August 14, 2017

I'll Find You

~Monday Movies & Music~


Lecrae and Tori Kelly made a song together this summer! It is absolutely beautiful and encouraging, and so I present to you: "I'll Find You."

"The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
   a stronghold in times of trouble.
  And those who know your name put their trust in you,
   for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you." Psalm 9:9-10 (ESV)



How about you? What is something that has been troubling you?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

His love, your love

~Saturday Stories~


"The most important thing that you must understand is that God loves you both. The Bible says that He cares about you so much that He even has the very hairs on your head numbered." - Megan, The Masquerade

"Oh, dear God, please help your children. Please hold them in your hands. Please feed them and show them how much you love them. Amen." - Caitlin, It's My Life



"The most important thing we can do is to love God (and others too), but we need to love God more than anything (more than our family or friends or even our own lives!). Now, loving God may sound simple enough, but it's not that easy to love him above all else." - Caitlin, Becoming Me

How about you? Do you know that God knows and loves you? Do you love God more than anything else? Do you love others?


There is a poll on the left sidebar that I would love if you checked out. It's about how often you think I should post, something I have been thinking about lately and would love your opinion on.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Please help (a prayer)

~Saturday Stories~


Dear God,
My thoughts are scattered. 
The to-do list is huge.
I don't know what I'm doing.

I haven't been reading
The Bible consistently.
You still hear me, though, right?

I don't have too much time
Left with my family.
I feel so torn. Again. Again.

I feel so happy sometimes 
Then I cry in the bathroom
Because there is a lock there  


Dear God,
I have nothing figured out
No matter how hard I try
Please help

I know you are with me
You hug me so tight
Even if I don't see it right now 

And in the middle of my ache 
You will never leave 
Thank you. I can't thank you enough

How about you? Have you ever felt utterly helpless? How has God made His presence known to you lately?

There is a poll on the left sidebar that I would love if you checked out. It's about how often you think I should post, something I have been thinking about lately and would love your opinion on.  

Thursday, July 27, 2017

I did what?

A Little Announcement 


What's up! I am so excited to share with you guys that I ... started my own YouTube channel!!!

I have been wanting to do so for a good long while, and this acting contest by ActingIsLitMyLife has given me the urgency to finally do it. By the way, the results of this contest are coming onto her channel on the 28th, so don't forget to stop by and check it out!


About two months ago, I told you guys about making Christian playlists, and I am so happy to be adding more to my channel. I'm hoping to talk about:

- Christian media: books, music, and movies (because they can be amazing)
- Scripture (and how it does still apply to our lives)
- College life (and trying to stay sane and failing)
- Monologues and acting videos (because maybe dreams can be goals, ya know?)
- Miscellaneous, as in, I have no idea yet. Any ideas anyone?

So there you go. A new video is coming this Monday. I hope you share in my excitement!

How about you? Do you have a YouTube channel? Did you know how much work it would be before you started it (joking, but not really)? What's something you've been working on lately? Please do share!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Why I relate to the Psalms

~Tuesday Thoughts~


What's up! I was working on a project this past weekend. While I'm extremely excited about sharing it this Thursday, I am sorry about the lack of posting this weekend. Also, there is a poll on the left sidebar, that I would absolutely love if you checked out! It's about how often you think I should post, something I have been thinking about lately and would love your opinion on.  


Just recently I decided that I will be reading the Psalms. I have been having trouble with having consistent Bible reading and prayer times for a while now (anyone else?), but hopefully, since I have figured out what I will be reading exactly, I might get back on track.

The main reason I picked the Psalms was that I feel I relate to a lot of them. So many Psalms are outcries of a heart in pain, a heart afraid to hope. And God hears those prayers. 


God reminds us again and again that He is our hope. The Lord is our Deliverer. He will never leave us, even if we've spent the first half of the psalm crying that it feels like He has. God hears those prayers, those screams about the unfairness of life and the horrors of it. He hears them, and He answers them. 

 "You have put more joy in my heart
    than they have when their grain and wine abound.
  In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." Psalm 4:7-8 (ESV)

How about you? Have you had times when your prayers to God are mainly crying for help or asking Him if He's still there? How has God answered your prayers and shown you His presence?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Only what is helpful

~Tuesday Thoughts~ 


"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

This can be very hard to do. But it is worth doing.


God, help us keep our mouths shut when we should and help us open them when we can help others with our words.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Never too many mistakes

~Monday Movies & Music~


Unspoken's song "Who You Are" (lyrics) is a gentle reminder that we can never mess up too much that God won't see us through. 

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”[a]" Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)



How about you? Do you ever feel like you have made too many mistakes for God to love you?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

~Saturday Stories~


After years of reading countless quotes from Mere Christianity, I finally read the book myself. It was for a church small group, which was fairly enjoyable and pleasant and full of serious conversations.  


C. S. Lewis's logic, I believe, does not get enough credit. It was beautiful to see solid reasoning behind all of his claims. One of my favorite quotes that I had found before I actually read the book is this:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” 
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity


I enjoyed the simple everyday conversation that Lewis pulls us into and in which he shows us what Christians believe. Because that is the reason for the book.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Keep on praying

~Friday for Friends~


"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)



I love when Paul prays over a church. When he shares about the outpourings his heart makes to the Father on the church's behalf. And while we should not necessarily memorize and simply recite these prayers, they are a good reminder for us to pray for our fellow believers. 

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

Who can you pray for right now? 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Rejoice; feel His peace

~Tuesday Thoughts~


"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)

Don't you love these verses? I do. I'm kind of making "joy" my word of the year, and it's just making this passage even dearer than it already was. "The Lord is near," guys! And there is not a moment between now and His second coming that we should not rejoice with all our hearts. 



Trials will come. They will be plentiful. But after we call out to our Father, thanking Him for what He has given us and asking for His help, a peace will overcome us. An undeniable unquantifiable peace. How amazing that God promised this! We did nothing to deserve joy and thankfulness and peace through trials. But God loves seeing us through the problems and the heartache. He loves showing us that no matter what happens, He will always be there.

How about you? Have you felt His joy and peace while going through a trial?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Hacksaw Ridge: A Review

~Monday Movies & Music~


He did not have to go. He enlisted. He enlisted with a determination of being a medic, trying to fix the world as it was crumbling. But he does not believe in holding guns. And during World War II, that is a serious offense. This is the story of how Desmond Doss' faith and determination saved dozens of men in some of the world's most horrifying hours.



I have wanted to watch Hacksaw Ridge (trailer) for a while and have finally received the opportunity. This is a breath-taking movie based on the true story of Desmond Doss. The director, Mel Gibson, does a great job of showing both the gruesomeness of WWII and the hope only our Savior can bring. We see death after death, and it is horrifying. It should be. World War II was an insane time full of deaths. But we also see how sacrifice and doing what you know is right can save, literally save, people.



The quality of this movie is amazing. The truth it portrayed even more so. It hits a nerve because it was supposed to. I so wish we could undo World War II. I wish we could undo those deaths, those countless lives lost on all sides, in every country. But even though we cannot do that, we can remember those who fought and who sought to heal the world during that time.

Hacksaw Ridge is an R-rated movie and is not at all suitable for children. For teenagers and adults, though, it can be a vivid reminder of God's hand moving in remarkable ways.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

It sets you free

~Saturday Stories~


"And what exactly are you thinking about the truth?"
"I'm thinking it sets you free. If you're brave enough to look for it." -Brielle and Jake, Angel Eyes

"I would rather live like that (sold out for God) than the way I've been living these past few weeks. I'd rather know that I totally belong to God and that He's in control of my life than to feel like I'm running or hiding or whatever. Because God's way is better. ... I feel so free and happy and secure." - Caitlin, It's My Life



How about you? Have you had the truth set you free? Are you sold out for God? Have you given Him the reigns of your life?

Friday, July 7, 2017

No revenge

~Friday for Friends~


"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[b]
   Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:17-21 (NIV)

To not at least try to avenge something that hurt us - this can be really hard to do. It might be something small that just irks us or something that has been haunting our memory for years. It feels right to do something about it, to make the person pay for the pain they cost us. 



God says, again and again, that we are not to be overcome by this desire to even things out. It is God's to judge. We are to try our best and pray for His help with loving our neighbor, with actions as well as with words. It helps to remember the (oh, so many!) mistakes we ourselves have made before our friends and, more importantly, before God. To remember that God forgives us no matter what because of a sacrifice that cost Him so much. 

I am not saying to let people walk all over you or to keep quiet about abuse or the like. Please don't. But it's important to give the job of avenging to God and remind ourselves that He forgives, so we should too. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

You are Christ's

~Tuesday Thoughts~


"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)



Receive Him as Lord. Live in Him. Root yourself in Him. Be built up in Him. You are Christ's. Live remembering that. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Just another birthday

~Monday Movies & Music~


Casting Crowns has a beautiful song, "Just Another Birthday," that tells of the story of a fatherless girl searching for restoration. Here are the lyrics

 "Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
    extol him who rides on the clouds[a];
    rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
  A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
  God sets the lonely in families,[b]
    he leads out the prisoners with singing;
    but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land." Psalm 68:4-6 (NIV)



How about you? Have you seen God's grace and love recently?

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Swimming through Clouds by Rajdeep Paulus

~Saturday Stories~


Typical Talia: “My arm is where Dad prefers to write.”
“‘Yes, sir.’ Because that’s the best response to Dad’s rules. The lawyer makes the laws. Breaks the laws. Then rewrites the laws so he looks innocent. That’s how Dad roles.”


Talia does not know any reality but this. Rules, lists of housework, limited access to everyone outside the house, punishments for the slightest disobedience. Somewhere along the line she understood that this was not the world her classmates lived in, but she could not do a thing. She and her brother are trapped screaming for help with silent voices. Until a boy from class suddenly starts breaking down the barrier Talia was forced to put up. While hope slowly brews in her heart, Talia wonders how long until discovery and another punishment.

Swimming Through Clouds is a beautiful tragic story that tells of the reality of too many boys and girls. Rajdeep Paulus portrays the story very bluntly, with hope and despair trying their best to push the other one out of Talia’s heart. The mutual care that Talia and her brother had for each other was one of the most heartening parts of the book.


Talia is helped not only by the caring classmate but also by a book in which she reads about the Gardener and the woman who bled for twelve years. This story is, very clearly, the story of the woman who had bled for twelve years. Talia sees herself in that woman and gleans hope from her healing. Altogether, this is a beautiful genuine heart-hurting book that does not lack in either reality or the promise of a future.

Swimming Through Clouds is the first in the Swimming through Clouds series. The second is Seeing Through Stones and Soaring Through Stars.

For more on Rajdeep Paulus, visit her website and Facebook page.

Friday, June 30, 2017

To seek and save

~Friday for Friends~


"All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”" Luke 19:7 (NIV)

"Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”" Luke 19:9-10 (NIV)



These verses are from Luke 19, which, among other things, shares with us the story of Zacchaeus. I love this passage. I love how it speaks of God's mission while showing a clear example of that mission. Jesus was here to seek and save the lost. And now that we have been saved, there is no better mission than we can try to be a part of. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

God makes the call

~Saturday Stories~


“I don’t want you to get hurt,” I repeated. ...
 “Me neither.” He started up the stairs. “But God gets to make the call on that one. Not you. Not me.” -Heather and Bryce, Counted Worthy

"...it starts with trusting that you don't know everything. That God does. That His decisions are better than yours, even when they hurt. You do that for a while, and you realize that regardless of what He allows, God's our best hope. Our only hope." -Jake, Angel Eyes



"Just remember that, no matter how dark life becomes, there will always be a reason to hang on 'til tomorrow. ... Always." -Cassie's grandpa, Unwritten Melody

How about you? Have you experienced hurt lately? Have you had a time when it was hard to trust God's choices? Would you mind sharing? 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Unstoppable

~Monday Movies & Music~


Matty Mullins features Jordan Feliz in his recent song, "Unstoppable." Here are the lyrics.



"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39 (NIV)

It is with this unstoppable love that Our Savior loves you!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Picture-Perfect

~Saturday Stories~


Do I look like I know what I’m doing?
They tell me I have more confidence now
When I’ve just become a better actress
It’s fun sometimes to pretend that life’s okay

Other times I just wish no one saw my life
As picture-perfect
Because it’s not even close
And I go to bed praying I don’t wake up


How about you? Have you ever felt that nobody really saw the struggle behind you nice-looking life? Have you given all your cares to the One who will always be there for you? 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Apply it today

~Friday for Friends~


"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:22-26 (NIV)


To whom can you show love? What can you rejoice over? How can you spread peace or represent patience? How can you apply these verses to your life today?  

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Fish, scorpions, and God's perfect love

~Tuesday Thoughts~


"“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[a] a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:11-13 (NIV)

Some of our earthly fathers are amazing or at least good. Still, no father is perfect. And some might not even be good fathers at all. And maybe for some of you, if you ask for a fish he would give you a snake. 


But God is the perfect Father who loves you like crazy. His love knows no measure. And while He is not a machine that just pops out presents when you "pray enough," He does delight in giving good gifts to His children. 

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17 (NIV)

What is a gift God has recently given you? 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Found in Translation by Roger E. Bruner

~Sunday Stories~


My weekend has been full of people and socializing and not going onto the computer much not to appear rude and great bunches of great food. And I missed yesterday’s post. But I want to make up for it! So, here we go: Sunday Stories. 


Typical Kim: "I didn't regret having to pay seventy-five dollars for the overweight extra suitcases, though. I needed everything I'd packed: a professional-quality hair dryer; enough matching shoes and purses to have a fresh look every day; a treasure chest of my best cosmetics and toiletries; enough clothes to wear separate day and night outfits for the next fourteen days; a steam iron and travel-sized ironing board; and a small, high-power portable karaoke system with dozens of accompaniment CDs and tons of extra D-cell batteries. Oh, and I'd packed a thick Spanish-English Bible I hadn't taken out of the box yet."


Kim is ready for her mission trip. Except for being late to her plane, that is. Then it turns out she missed a few important emails about the trip. Changes were made, and they are now headed to the middle of nowhere to help a small community after a windstorm. What?! With most of her stuff now useless and herself confused, Kim sets out on a trip only God could make anything out of. A trip where God uses her to an immeasurable extent, even if in unusual ways.

Found in Translation is a great book where Kim learns to trust God in all circumstances and with all plans. No matter how unlikely the plan, God can work miraculous things out of it. She learns about forgiveness and giving others second chances. Although somewhat predictable, this is was still a story that makes one rethink how we use our lives.


This is the first in the Altered Hearts series. The second and third are A Season of Pebbles and Overshadowed. For more on Roger E. Bruner, visit his website and Facebook page

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

How mighty and glorious is our Father

~Tuesday Thoughts~


"Lord, you have been our dwelling place
  throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
  or you brought forth the whole world,
  from everlasting to everlasting you are God." Psalm 90:1-2 (NIV)

It's easy to forget just how mighty and glorious our Father is. But He has existed forever and ever. His strength is unending. His holiness is awe-inducing. He is both just and loving, both holy and forgiving of sinners. He is the One who controls the world, and He is the One who He hears our prayers. 


And we should join the chorus praising the One who made us:

"Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
    be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”" Revelation 5:13 (NIV)

Friday, June 2, 2017

When you can't combine two worlds

~Friday for Friends~


It's summer time, and I am with my family again. I am SO happy to be around my crazy bunch of siblings as well as with my parents. But what that also means is that I am miles and miles away from my two best friends. Which is not fun. 

I don't get just to text them about anything and get a million random texts in return. I don't get to ask last minute if I could bring a movie when I'm invited to one's house. I don't get to complain about homework with them (because there is none - that is beyond awesome!). I don't get to have lunch with them. Or come in randomly to the Egg and I where one of them just found a job. I can't just have an hour-long discussion about crushes and jobs and roommates and God. 

Don't get me wrong - I love spending time with my family. I love playing games and walking the dog and watching movies we've watched a million times and gathering together to watch YouTube videos.... But it still hurts when you can't combine those two worlds. Because no matter how amazing email and Skype and Facebook are, there will never be a suitable substitute for hanging out. 



These are obviously not my words, but the words of Paul to the Philippians. But I just want to repeat this for my friends now and for my family for all the time I was gone for college last year and will be next year. 

"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:3-8 (NIV)

How about you? Have you ever been far away from people you loved? How did you get through it?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Christian Music Playlist Project

~Monday Movies & Music~


Hey, guys! I am working on an on-going project on YouTube, making playlists that are full of Christian music. There is everything from Britt Nicole to Matthew West, from Manafest to Adelaide

Not only is there a more general "Christian Music" playlist that songs get added to, but the songs are also sorted by message - "Christian Songs on Trials," "Songs of God's Forgiveness," "Christian Songs on Relationships" and much, much more. The ultimate goal is to have all Christian songs that are on YouTube on these playlists. 

I have done my absolute best to see that only the artists' or the labels' videos are on the playlists, not somebody else's videos with the artists' songs. This way you can more easily find more of their work and the artists and labels can get the "views" and "likes" for their amazing songs! 



Please head on over and immerse yourselves in truth-filled worshipful music as well as rap that glorifies our Savior. Because no matter the style, we can always praise our Almighty God with music

Saturday, May 27, 2017

There is only God's love

~Saturday Stories~


"Love isn't about what you do or don't do. It's about who you are. They love you because you're their daughter and sister. Your actions aren't going to change that." -Renee, The Masquerade

“You may have had some small part in setting the events of that night in motion, Kirsten. There are things you could have done differently so perhaps the accident wouldn’t have happened. More than likely it still would have. But whatever your share of the blame . . . why do you think we celebrate our communion and pray in the garden and go on with the work we’ve been given to do? Because we’re all forgiven. There is no shame, Kirsten. There is only God’s love.” -Frankie, The Merciful Scar



"Fighting isn't going to give you true, lasting happiness. Only knowing that God loves you can really do that." - The Fight

How about you? Do you easily forget that you are loved unconditionally - by God? Can you give God your shame and accept his love? 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Free to love

~Tuesday Thoughts~


"You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." Galatians 5:13-16 (NIV)



How about you? How can you serve and love someone today?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Whole Heart

~Monday Movies & Music~ 

Brandon Heath has a fun truth-filled song, "Whole Heart." Here are the lyrics. Be sure to check the song out! 

"1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever." Psalm 136:1-3 (NIV)



The more we get to know and see God through Scripture and our own lives, the more we want to give Him our entire selves. He is an amazing Creator and Father who has always loved us, even before we loved him. Let us rejoice and rest in this eternal truth. Our Father is so worthy of our praise and love!

How about you? Have you trusted God to see you with all your sins, mess-ups, and disappointments? Have you learned of His unending love and mercy?    

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Praising Him as mourning turns to joy

~Tuesday Thoughts~


Just wanted to share a psalm that I like with you. 

"Psalm 30[a]
A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple.[b] Of David.

1 I will exalt you, Lord,
    for you lifted me out of the depths
    and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
2 Lord my God, I called to you for help,
    and you healed me.
3 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
    you spared me from going down to the pit.
4 Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
    praise his holy name.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning.
6 When I felt secure, I said,
    “I will never be shaken.”
7 Lord, when you favored me,
    you made my royal mountain[c] stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
    I was dismayed.
8 To you, Lord, I called;
    to the Lord I cried for mercy:
9 “What is gained if I am silenced,
    if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
    Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
    Lord, be my help.”
11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will praise you forever." Psalm 30 (NIV)



When was a time God helped you through your difficulties? When did a night of weeping become the morning that was full of joy? Let us not forget those moments as we praise our Lord and Savior!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Grace Unplugged

~Monday Movies & Music~


She's sick and tired of being her father's sidekick. It's annoying, tiring, and definitely not as cool as others think. Trying out on her own, signing, singing, and "blowing people away with [her] music" - those are her goals. And now she can make them happen. But it might require more from her than she could ever imagine. 

Grace Unplugged is a beautiful movie about a girl passionate about something. It was amazing to see Grace love music, be invested into it. This all made her struggle to keep God at the center of her life so much more realistic and relatable. The movie was gorgeously done: very enjoyable with the Christian truths portrayed well, not pushed down the throat yet not watered down. 



Making Him the center of our lives is one of the hardest things we can do. Grace Unplugged reminds us why it is so important.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Forgiven

~Monday Movies & Music~


Sanctus Real has a beautiful song - "Forgiven" - that reminds us of the forgiveness that God offers us. Here are the lyrics

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 (NIV)



His forgiveness overwhelms and cleanses us! Let us take this truth to heart. Let us confess and then live as forgiven. And let us tell others about this.

Have you been living in the reality of forgiveness?

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Captives by Jill Williamson

~Saturday Stories~


"Otley sighed. "Remember what I said, men." He turned in a circle, pointing and panning his finger over the enforcers. "One kill each. Sleep the rest of the village.""


It is 2088. Just outside the walls of the dangerous and deadly Safe Lands, three brothers live in a small village. Levi is a great hunter and a well-respected man but with a temper; Mason is a doctor-in-training within a community who thinks his job is feminine; Omar is an amazing painter whose weak body is always looked down on. While living in the village suits most, one of the villagers will turn everyone in to the enforcers of the Safe Lands so that he himself can live there. With so many dead and captive and surrounded by people with the thin plague, is there a way that they will get out of this alive? Or maybe the Safe Lands are not as dangerous as they were taught to believe...

I  enjoyed Captives tremendously, especially the last quarter or so. I read the book on my kindle device and literally have 151 notes and bookmarks throughout the story. Jill Williamson did a great job of building the story world into something both believable and amazing. The concept of the thin plague, that so many had it, and that it was hard to have an uninfected baby was genius. I also enjoyed her portrayal of the city's mentality: so much was fixed on pleasure. It was at the same time fascinating as a concept and absolutely sickening when you thought about it. I am so glad that that is not quite what reality is for us!  


Throughout their village life and later their captivity, the characters lean on God and trust Him. Jill Williamson weaved faith in beautifully, especially when talking about Shaylinn and her struggles with accepting herself for who she is.

One of the central problems in this book is the Safe Lands nationals not being able to conceive. That is why they needed the people from the village in the first place. That being sad, there are many - many! - references to this problem. While the only actual sexual encounter in the whole story is not given in detail, there are many references to getting pregnant (through scientific means, not through sex) and to making out (part of the "pleasure" of the Safe Lands life). I do not recommend this book to anyone under 18 for that reason.



This is the first book in The Safe Lands series. The next two are Outcasts and Rebels

For more on Jill Williamson visit her website and Facebook page. She also blogs regularly at Go Teen Writers.

Have you read this book? What do you think of Jill Williamson's style? Which other books would you like to see me review? Comment below!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Stress AFTER finals?

~Tuesday Thoughts~


So, it's finals week. 90% of the people between 18 and 23 are extremely stressed, and the other 10% are already done. I've had a crazy couple weeks, with a paper due last Monday, last Thursday, and this Tuesday, along with a number of tests. But now I am nearing the end of the semester - only one more final left and an easy one at that.

I've done a lot of stressing this semester. Way too much. But it's interesting that in these early moments of feeling free from school for more than 3 months, I am still anxious. I am still stressed almost every moment I am not doing something productive. It is more than just a school thing now. And it's annoying like crazy. Because, yes, some stress is useful and pushes you to do things. But there is also stress that is anything but!



"“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 (NIV)

What have you been stressing about lately? Share below any instances where God helped you through it!  

Friday, April 28, 2017

Lofty goals

~Friday for Friends~


"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." Ephesians 4:1-6 (NIV)



Those are some pretty lofty goals, aren't they? Let us strive to attain them, all the while seeking God's help! What is something practical you can do in the next 24 hours?

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Gospel

~Monday Movies & Music~


Guys, this is such a great song! Ryan Stevenson recently uploaded "The Gospel" (lyrics).  



"Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—" John 1:12 (NIV)

The gospel is such a great thing! How can you let others know about it as you go about your day?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Knowing for sure (that you're loved)

~Saturday Stories~


In my room I sit alone 
Wondering what it feels like 
To know for sure that you're loved 
Because in my mind there's always
The possibility of them just being polite

I'm polite sometimes 
Who is to say my friends
Don't simply feel sorry for 
The girl with the dry humor 
Who does not know when to shut up

Who is to say that the times 
I hug my friends they are not wishing
That I go away and leave them alone
Maybe it would be better for everyone  
If I left before they asked me to



I was told today
That that wasn't true
That when he talked to me
It was because he wanted to 
And not because of duty 

God, I don't even know if I can
Believe that anymore. Open my eyes 
And remind me that Your love is incredible 
And You can use others 
To show me that love on earth. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Avoid sexual immorality (what a fun topic, right?)

~Tuesday Thoughts~ 


"It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.[b] The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit." 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 (NIV)


Hard, sometimes. But God has a beautiful design for sex - that it should be between one man and one woman within the grand structure of marriage. That is what sex is meant to look like. 

And, yes, this means warding off comments from others about how we're "missing out." And, yes, this means setting precautions and not needlessly tempting ourselves. And, yes, this means we should consciously stop mid-thought and thinking of other things. And, yes, for some of us this means we'll never get to experience it, because, chances are, some of us will never marry. 



But God knows what He's doing. He knows why this is better for us. And He'll hold us through all the temptations, all the failures, all the prayers for forgiveness, and standing up again. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Unfinished

~Monday Movies & Music~ 


One of Mandisa's new songs, "Unfinished" (lyrics), is a beautiful reminder that God is still working on us. 

"being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6 (NIV)



God is making something beautiful out of you. He won't leave you mid-way. Don't ever forget that! 

P. S. Mandisa has a new album coming out next month. Be sure to check it out. Do you know of any other Christian albums coming out soon? Please share!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A New Birth through the One who Conquered Death

~Saturday Stories~


"You asked why I would make such a big deal about promising my life to Jesus if He were dead like Buddha or Mohammed. Well, that's the thing! Jesus isn't dead. Yes, He died on the cross, but then He came back to life and He's still alive today. I can't explain it, but He's living inside me. He's as real as any person I know. I don't know Him as well as I want to, but we're getting better acquainted. I've always prayed - you know, talked to God. But now I'm starting to read my Bible, which is like listening to Him." -Christy, A Whisper and a Wish



"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," 1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

Our God is alive! Whether it is Saturday or Sunday for you now, can't you feel that anticipation, that delight in the fact that God has risen? Christ has risen! Amen!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Excruciating Pain

~Good Friday~


Something I heard on K-LOVE and also thought myself is that on Good Friday it is easy to think only of the good that came out of this week. Honestly, with the knowledge of the upcoming incredible death-defying resurrection, it is easy to gloss over the atrocities of Friday. And, of course, Sunday is indeed incredibly important, a day without which our faith is utterly useless. 


Yet we dare not forget the pain, the excruciating pain our Savior went through on Friday. Imagine a time when you hurt physically. He felt that and more. Imagine a time when you were lonely. He felt that and more. Imagine a time when you did someone good, and the recipient slapped you in the face. He felt that and more. The amazing Creator, without whom nothing would have been made, the Healer, whose incredible love extends to prostitutes and taxpayers, the teacher, who taught of the possibility of rebirth, became the SAVIOR of humankind by HIS DEATH and resurrection. 

"For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." Colossians 1:19-20 (NIV)

This is not an easy day. Let us remember that as we rejoice in our Savior's death and the upcoming defeat of death! 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Unforsaken

~Monday Movies & Music~ 


"Unforsaken" is a beautiful song by Adelaide.

""Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”" Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

This is a beautiful piece of Scripture. It really is. But what I want to draw attention to today is that God's unending presence and forgiveness were bought at a price - a huge one. In my community group today, we read from Matthew 27. Jesus is hanging on the cross: 

"About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[a] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[b]" Matthew 27:46 (NIV)



It is so easy to forget that God holds us in His hand, that He is loving and forgiving, but also JUST. He didn't just throw away the idea of human righteousness, did not say that He would leave sins unpunished. No, instead He was the One punished for the countless sins we do. 

"God made him who had no sin to be sin[a] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)

It is easier to remember this truth this Easter week, but I want to encourage you to remember it after as well. I want you to wake up next Monday still reveling in God's amazing love, death, forgiveness, and resurrection! 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

It's My Life by Melody Carlson

~Saturday Stories~ 



I have had the great privilege of having this book review posted on Rayleigh Gray's Literature Approved blog. Please head over to her amazing website to read my review of Melody Carlson's It's My Life.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Open rebuke

~Friday for Friends~


 "Better is open rebuke
   than hidden love.
 Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
   but an enemy multiplies kisses." Proverbs 27:5-6 (NIV)


How can you apply this verse today?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Terrifying yet vital

~Tuesday Thoughts~


"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

This is a terrifying verse. I'm on a mission trip at the moment, and this is one of the verses that we were supposed to really apply to our lives in preparation and during the trip. 

I (think) I am getting better at briefly mentioning that I am a Christian. For example, people ask me where I'm from and I say, "My parents are missionaries in [country]." Or to "What did you do this weekend?," I can answer, "I did homework, worked, spent time with a friend or two, went to church." When asked where I work, I say that one of my jobs is in the nursery at church. All of these are true, and I love bringing up Christianity in this nonchalant way. 



However, openly discussing the good news of Christ and why we need His love - that seems terrifying to me. But it is such a vital skill to learn. I am hoping that, throughout this week, I get better and better at doing this. Something that has been encouraging is that the leaders say that even for them this was hard at first. But you get used to it with practice. Not that they're perfect at this business, but that it really takes practice to get better, to feel less awkward, to get bolder*. 

And it for sure takes God's strength.

How about you guys? Are you scared by the idea of sharing God's Word with others or do you feel more comfortable with it? Do you have any stories of you sharing it that you'd like to share?

*I am speaking of the good kind of bold. I am NOT encouraging being bold and coming off as rude and obnoxious to anyone you pass.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Pray

~Monday Movies & Music~


Manafest has a great song, "Pray." Here are the lyrics.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)


Do you have a story of answered prayer? Is there someone in your life who you can pray for consistently? 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Special to God

~Saturday Stories~


"You’re special to God, aren’t you? So you’re special to me." -Aleesha, Found in Translation

"He'd tell me I have so much potential and so much to look forward to because God has incredible plans in store for my life." - Unwritten Melody



"You are special in so many ways. You are kind. And you're so sweet with our children. You always put others first. ... But the most important reason is that God made you special, and he loves you so much." -Gloria, The Fight

How about you? Is it easy for you to forget that you are special to God and that He has great plans for you? Can you encourage someone with this truth today? 

Friday, March 10, 2017

New ideas, anyone?

~Friday for Friends~


"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

I used to get quite annoyed with bloggers who randomly stopped writing and then randomly started again. And then I did that same thing. Do you guys ever find that after you disapprove of someone's behavior you notice, quite soon, that you do it yourself? Yeah...  



So, I'm sorry. With God's strength, I plan to go about blogging at roughly the same pace I did before this hectic month and a half. If you have ideas for this blog - what I could do differently or more/less of - please share them! I really do want to encourage you as Hebrews 10 mentions.

How have you guys been doing? What has been happening in your lives? 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Here's Lily by Nancy Rue

~Saturday Stories~



I have had the great privilege of having this book review posted on Rayleigh Gray's Literature Approved blog. Please head over to her amazing website to read my review of  Nancy Rue's Here's Lily.