Goodness and Severity

Yesterday, I read the story of Jesus cleansing the temple from John 2. This is a passage I’ve always struggled with. I don’t think anyone, if asked to name their favorite Bible story, would say, “Oh yes, I really love the one where Jesus takes a whip and flips over tables and drives all of those merchants out of the temple.”

I love to focus on Jesus’ love and compassion. I love the stories of His healing and of His welcoming the children. They just make you feel good. And even His hard teachings like “Love your enemies,” still give you this sense of feel-good-ness, you know, rainbows and rightness and all of that stuff.

But not Jesus cleansing the temple. In contrast, that story scares me. I don’t really like to think about it, to be honest. But it’s there. It happened. And Jesus doesn’t make mistakes. So what are we meant to learn from it?

As I was considering this passage, I remembered this phrase from Romans 11:22, “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God…”

God is good, and He loves us and shows kindness and mercy to us. That’s the happy part. That’s what we like to focus on. But God is also equally severe. He must be just and He cannot associate with sin, it is who He is. Because of His nature, there must be punishment for sin. That’s the part we don’t like so much.

As Jesus cleansed the temple, He demonstrated the severity of God, a God who is perfectly holy and righteous and must uphold justice. That’s a reality of God, and it’s just as much a lesson for us as it was for those whose money tables were turned.

God is perfectly good, always. But He also maintains the right to judge those who have turned away from Him. Goodness and severity, equally present and equally important parts of who God is.

If we must be fearful of Jesus’ righteous anger in the temple, let it make us fearful of God’s severity, of His right to judge harshly when we disobey Him. And let it remind us to rejoice and be so thankful that God’s goodness has given us a way to be saved from His severity through His Son.

I love you and God loves you more!


Also, check out my new blog post today on God’s Power in YOUth, a new ministry working to inspire young people to use their faith and their talents NOW for God!: How to Keep Growing in Your Faith During College

Favorite Time of the Year: L2L

Yesterday, I gave a 12 minute expository lesson for my Message Design and Delivery for Women class. I was excited about it, I enjoyed doing it, and I was only a tiny bit nervous. Today, I’m here at the convention that made that kind of presentation possible for me— Lads to Leaders.

It’s strange being on the other side. This is the first time I haven’t been a participant here in 10 years. But it’s still so great. I’ve already been inspired by what I’ve seen today— 4th grade boys reading from Scripture and high school girls standing up to defend their faith in debate. And there is so much more coming tomorrow. I am so grateful for this program and the way it is encouraging and building up young people into strong spiritual leaders in the church. It was a major influencing factor in shaping the person that I am today.

It thought it would be fitting to re-share this article I wrote after last year’s convention, talking about my experience with Lads: Christian Chronicle: Ten Years of Speaking About God

And if you’ve never heard of the program, you can learn about it here:

Yay for my favorite weekend of the year!


Girls Moving Mountains: Hannah H

Oh y’all, I am so excited about this one! Meet my sweet friend Hannah H! Hannah is a junior business marketing major at Freed-Hardeman and we’re in the same social club together! I first thought about interviewing Hannah for GMM when I saw her passing out little flyers about the girls singing nights she has organized on campus (next one coming up soon!). Hannah has a gentle spirit and a servant’s heart, and I’m so excited to share what she has to say about her faith!


Her faith story: “I was born to a dad who was a minister and a mom who stayed at home and helped out at our church. I’ve been attending the same congregation since I was six months old, making my time there closing in on 21 years. On July 1, 2009, I was baptized. A few days prior to then, my parents had talked to me about baptism to see if I was getting to a point in my life where I was ready for that. I think that for the most part, I only got baptized that day because they had brought it up and I knew it was the right thing to do. Had you asked me on that day why I got baptized I probably would not have said what I say now. I really believed that I was “ready.” Honestly, I don’t remember that day because I was spiritually full; I remember it because when my dad leaned me back under the water, my foot popped up to the surface. Nevertheless, I was baptized and for the right reasons. I was, as of that day, a new baby in Christ. I would stay a baby for the next several years. I did a lot of “going through the motions.” Aside from my parents and family, I didn’t really have many incredible influences around me that I was close to. I am most definitely a follower and I was following people who were lukewarm and partly cloudy in their faith. The result? I didn’t exactly grow a whole lot for a long time. I would go through spiritual highs because of camps and retreats, but nothing stuck for very long. I would sing out in worship because I like to sing, but then I would fall asleep during the sermon and even the prayers. I liked coming to church to hang out with my friends, but when it came to worship I just kind of sat through it with a generally uncaring attitude. In a weird, unappreciative way, I was always jealous of people who didn’t grow up with God. I wanted that feeling and experience of finding Him somewhere along the way. I had grown up with Him, and yet I still felt so lost. I blamed my uncaring attitude on the fact that I’d grown up in church. In reality, I am blessed beyond belief to have been born into a Christian family, had the opportunity to go to church my entire life, and to not have to experience persecution for worshipping God in my country. I was taking my blessings for granted and using it as an excuse to be lazy in my faith. I wasn’t praying outside of church, I wasn’t studying my Bible, and I wasn’t spending intentional time thinking about God.
I stayed this way until about eight months ago. This may sound cheesy, but Freed-Hardeman changed my life. In my first week of school, I was completely overwhelmed by all of the people around me who were so openly on fire for God. I was all of the sudden consumed by the desire to be crazy for Him like these people were. I looked up to them. I wanted what they had.
I started going to devotionals and singings all the time. I would take notes in church to help me pay attention. I would take the time to pray for people who asked for prayers. It has taken me eight months, but I am finally at a point where I read my Bible and pray on an (almost) daily basis. I make intentional time for Him like I’ve never done before. Though I am still far from perfect, I’ve finally hit a point in my life that I legitimately feel on fire for God, and what an amazing feeling to have.While I would definitely say that a defining moment in my walk with God would be my conscious decision to grow, I would add that the time I’ve grown the most since then was when I started admitting my sins to my friends and going to them for help. I’ve always been a fairly private person, so my sins were something that I only ever discussed with God. I wanted people to see me as a good person and I felt that if I told them about my sins they would think less of me.
‘For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’ That’s a verse that I should think about and pay attention to far more often than I do. When I started opening up about my sins and temptations, they became a whole lot easier to resist. It’s been amazing to see the change in my life since then. Speaking of, God has really been working in my life through my friends. I have been welcomed with open arms into a group of friends who are just so crazy about God. They encourage me daily. I look up to each and every one of them and their love for God and people is both evident and inspiring. The closer I grow to God, the more I see Him working in my life.”

Her favorite passage of Scripture: “I’ve been crazy about Psalm 119 lately. I have this devotional book from The Daily Grace Co. that is a daily study of Psalm 119 and it has been my constant source of encouragement. It seems as if each devotional that I read ends up being exactly what I need to hear that day. The entire time, the psalmist is talking about how he is so in love with God and His laws. He wants to be obedient and he wants to praise God all of the time. It tears him apart when other people don’t follow God’s laws and he despises the things of the world. Just seeing that amount of love, admiration, and faith through the psalmist is both encouraging and inspiring. Every time I read the next portion, I am uplifted by not only the love that the psalmist has for God but the love that God has for the psalmist.
I would definitely say that Psalms is my favorite book of the Bible if it’s even possible to choose a favorite! It is literally a book that is just stuffed full of joy and praise for God. I used to read Psalms and think that it was all pretty much the same thing over and over again. That’s not true, but even if it was, would that really be such a bad thing? A book full of repeated joy and praise for God? I think that would be an amazing read.”

Her practical tips for getting into the Word: “I’ll start by saying that I am still learning for myself. That being said, what has been the best thing to help me stay on track with my Bible study is devotional/study books. If I have a book that gives me an assigned daily reading and a devotional to go with it, then I tend to stay more on top of my studies. Since Christmas, I have completed a study of John, am currently doing a study of Psalm 119, and have future plans of working through both a study of James and a study of Hosea. While it has taken me almost four months to complete one book of the Bible and one chapter of one book of the Bible, I still feel like I’m making progress. These have been so helpful because I’m generally not just doing the one devotional and calling it a day. Working through the devotional motivates me to keep going or encourages me to pull out my Bible to read at other points in the day, as well. I think just finding your niche is the way to good Bible study. I know a lot of people who do Bible journaling and it has helped them so much! Yet when I tried it, I found it to be more like a chore to have to pull out all of the supplies and put hours of my time into a just couple of pages. We all need to figure out what best suits our own individual taste.”

On her prayer relationship with God: “Wow, my prayer life is essentially my source of life support! If I didn’t have prayer, then I literally don’t know how I would handle all of my petty, small problems on a daily basis because they would just completely consume me. Sometimes I almost feel like my prayers are ridiculous because I’ll pray for things like: “help me to be able to concentrate so I can study for my test”, “give me the willpower to not eat chocolate all of the time”, or “I really like this guy so let me know if he’s the one.” Yet, I continue to pray for those things! The crazy part is that I actually see answers for those types of questions. The answers are less so in the form of a response so much as they are in the form of an opportunity. For instance, when I ask for concentration, I find myself actually being more drawn to my phone or Netflix. I see it now as God’s way of saying, “hey, you wanted to concentrate? Well here’s your perfect opportunity to resist the temptation to get distracted!” It all seems kind of silly, I know, but I have benefitted from praying about my first world problems. I have actually started relying on prayer more because of it! One thing that I have consciously tried to do more is praying for other people. I’ll literally just sit down, close my eyes, and say “Dear God, please be with this person, this person, this person…..” and I just name them. One by one, all in a row I name every single person that pops into my head and I pray for them. Nothing specific, just that God is with them. I’ve really enjoyed doing that because it always makes me feel like I’ve helped someone in some way that I may not even be aware of.”

How Hannah defines “delighting in the Lord” (I love this one!!): “Delighting in the Lord, to me, is the ultimate faith. A person who delights in the Lord has basically “arrived.” I imagine people in Heaven as those who delight in the Lord 24/7. That “delight’ that we aspire to have and work toward is so simple in Heaven. Honestly, I don’t know why it seems so hard on earth! We are so blessed. Just getting up and watching the sun rise in the morning can send chills all through me. And yet it takes awe-inspiring instances like that to make me think about God. I see delighting in the Lord as being completely, head over heels, no turning back, in love with Him. That feeling of literally not being able to help but talk about Him, praise Him, serve Him, and love Him. And I could say without doubt or hesitation that this is so hard because we love the world. We don’t want to give up the world, no matter how toxic it can be. One cannot delight in the Lord if one is still delighting in the world.”

On the “desires of her heart”: “My mountains are so big that they just seem daunting. I tend to just try to ignore them, but when they’re that big, how can you? My mountains include fear (of the future, of losing people, of the unknown, etc.), stress, and things of the world. While the first two are pretty self-explanatory, I’d like to elaborate on that third one. By things of this world I mean that I listen to music that promotes sin, I watch TV shows that promote sin, I look at articles on Facebook that promote sin, I idolize celebrities who promote sin. (The whole “idolize” part is another issue, as well.) We literally look at things and listen to things every single day that are all about sin and we don’t even think about it. The reason this is one of my biggest mountains is because I’m not conscious of it at all, and that scares me! Right now I am just working on this through prayer and listening to what God has to say. Every mountain can be moved, but I know I can’t do it alone!”

To others seeking to grow their faith: “I would say that you are AMAZING and God loves you so much!! Anyone who is striving to increase their faith is already headed in the right direction. I think that one of the things that God wants the most is for us to be growing. It doesn’t matter whether we grow by leaps and bounds or by the tiniest of baby steps, as long as we are moving, He is pleased. The best advice that I, as a human being who is flawed, can give is to seek help from God and seek help from people. Seeking help from God is a given, but we tend to take the people around us for granted. The church was put in place for a reason! We should take advantage of every single opportunity to grow through other people and in turn help them grow, as well. For example, in striving to increase my own faith, one thing I have been working toward lately is trying to make myself available to people. I want them to feel like they can come to me when they want to celebrate, vent, cry, or just have someone to talk to. I may not have the best advice, but I’m always good for a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, or a listening ear. Opening yourself up to people is mutually beneficial, and helps you grow closer to God.”


Right now, Hannah is wrapping up a service project to collect eyeglasses for New Eyes for the Needy. When she graduates, she wants to teach high school business education classes, but she is also really interested in working with teenage girls in a youth group setting.

Hannah is a wonderful example to me of active faith, and I hope what she has shared here is as uplifting to you as it is to me! I’m thankful for her example and I hope it inspires you!

Until next time!


Girls Moving Mountains: Hannah

Happy Monday! It’s time to hear from another girl who inspires me with her faith! (If you missed out on what Girls Moving Mountains is, check out this post to catch up! And don’t miss hearing from Jewell too!)

me lol

Today I want to introduce you to my friend, Hannah! Hannah is a junior in high school that I grew up with in my youth group back home! Hannah loves to laugh and has a big heart, and she’s also a very talented and creative writer. Here is what she had to say when I asked her some questions about her faith:

Her story and her journey with Christ: “I was born into a family of Christians. My parents and my grandmother Thelma were huge spiritual inspirations for me. They’re the people who made sure I was in church every Sunday and Wednesday.  When we lived in London, Ohio that meant going to two different churches in one day, one for Sunday morning Bible study and one for Sunday night, but they taught me that that was important. I have to cite my grandmother and my older brother, however, for the reason I was baptized. As my older brother is only four years older than me, there was always a sense of, he did this, now I’m going to. When my brother got baptized my entire brain switched on. I knew that I had faith, and I was trying to figure out when was the best time for me to get baptized. Unfortunately, I thought I needed to wait. I set a time: I’ll be baptized when I turn ten. Of course, I wanted to do it just like he did, in our apartment’s pool, but it didn’t happen that way. Another thing that was very important to me was making sure my grandmother Thelma got to be present for my baptism, as she is one of the most important role models in my life. So when I was nine, about two months before my tenth birthday, on August 31st in 2009, I went up in front of my grandmother’s congregation in Indiana and became a Christian. Since then I’ve been trying to be an active Christian, with some success and some not so much. I’ve gotten more involved as a leader in my youth group, and have been attempting to keep a grip on my faith throughout the struggles of high school and reality.”

On her favorite Scripture: “I really am in love with Galatians 1:10, ‘For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.’ It’s probably one of the ones I have the hardest times with, especially since starting high school. There are a lot of times when I find myself slipping up on this. I have strong feelings of not wanting to be of the world, but I also have strong feelings of wanting to have friends and fit in, which is why that verse is so important to remember. My favorite book of the Bible is probably James, because you can never read it so many times that you don’t get something new from it.”

On Bible study: “I have to admit that I’m not the best at studying the word of God. So, other than just reading it every day, my main tip is to hold on to it. Get verses in mind regarding the things you need to work on and don’t let yourself forget them. Repeat them to yourself whenever you’re struggling with it.”

On her prayer relationship with God: “My prayer life is super important. One of the best things a person can do is spend time in prayer with God. Whenever I’m anxious or stressed out, I make myself talk to God about it. Sometimes it’s just reminding myself that he is there and that he has always gotten me through things. God is always listening and he always cares. Even the little things in life you don’t really think matter, he cares about. And he can always do more than you thing he can or will. My mother recommends praying when you can’t sleep, because talking with God is so much better than counting sheep. It’s important to bring your worries and cares to him constantly, but, of course, it’s also important to thank him always. So I spend a lot of time talking to him, thanking him for the good things, or asking him to help me deal with the bad things.”

Her personal take on Girls Moving Mountains: “I think ‘delighting in the Lord’ means to put him first, and to always find joy in him, above all the gloom of the world. We should constantly be focused on how good things are, because we have a God that loves us, and because he made us specifically and wants to spend eternity with us. That’s hard, however, because the world is full of gloom. We often either can’t find joy in him at all, or blame him for the bad things.”

On the “desires of her heart:” “As for mountains in my life, I’ve mentioned a lot of them already. Wanting to fit in with people of the world, getting worried and anxious, and not spending enough time in scripture. I would love to be a better, less worried Christian, who managed my time perfectly, had control over my mouth, and worked actively to convert the non-Christians in my life. I want to do all that I can to spread the gospel and be an example of Christ, but that is one of the hardest things in my life.”

To others seeking to grow their faith: “Never ever miss out on a chance to be with God’s people. Every time the door’s open, go. Go to Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and everything you can make time for in between. And don’t miss out on chances to listen to people who know more than you do. There will always be people who say something about the Bible that you’d never really thought of before, and it’s important to keep learning and getting new perspectives.”

In Hannah, I see a girl who delights in the Lord! I’ve gotten to watch Hannah grow up right before my eyes, and hearing what she has to say about her faith, with such honesty and sincerity, is such a blessing and an inspiration to me. I know it is to you as well!

Hannah writes about life, faith, God, and Scripture on the Facebook page Talking About the Bible, which you can check out here:


Until next time,


Beauty vs. Beast: Some Thoughts

Can I be honest here? I don’t really want to write this. I feel a little defeated today. And anything I say about this feels like setting up a time bomb that’s just waiting to explode. What could I add that could possibly be helpful? But I can’t not write it. Because it’s too important, and it’s weighing my heart down.

All I have to do is say, “Beauty and the Beast” and you know where we’re going. When I first found out about the”exclusively gay moment” that’s going to be part of the new movie, a lot of emotions hit me at once, not all of which I am proud of. To be completely honest, at first, I was horrified. Then disappointed, then not that surprised, then angry. Then sad. Then at a loss for what to do as I watched people duke it out over social media.

Then I came here. I don’t have much wisdom or experience, but I know who does. If you would take a few minutes, here’s what I’m trying to learn from Him.

1.Sin is sin. I don’t know why, maybe because it’s easier for us to pretend like we’re not sinning, but we’ve categorized sins into “Really Bad” and “Not so Big of a Deal” and homosexuality has somehow topped the list as the ultimately worst most horrible Really Bad sin. Yes, God has said that homosexuality is wrong, there’s no way around that one. But He’s also said that gossip is wrong, and so is lying and cheating and being disobedient to your parents. So is greed and drunkenness and stealing. All of the “little sins” are on the same level as homosexuality. No one sin is better or worse than another. All sin is the same. It’s all sin and it all separates us from God.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices…” Colossians 3:5-9

“For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.” 1 Peter 4:3

2. People are people. We all have souls, and we are all worthy of respect. It doesn’t matter what we have done. We have all sinned, and all sin is the same, so we’re all the same sinners. That’s how God sees us, so that’s how we have to start seeing each other. Someone who is struggling with homosexuality deserves love and respect just like someone who is struggling with pride or with gossip. We don’t start spewing hate against all the liars the second that someone lies on our movie screens, do we? I’m afraid we need to reevaluate the way we treat people.

“My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality…have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” James 2:1, 4 

“…For there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Romans 3:22-23

3. We have to be careful with our entertainment. So you’re not going to see Beauty and the Beast? Okay. But please tell me you’d be just as quick to avoid entertainment where profanity is prolific and God’s name is used in vain over and over. Where violence is gratuitous. Where gossip and lying are normal. Where disobedience to parents and blatant disregard for authority is celebrated. Where sexual activity that’s not God-approved is called love and seen as perfectly okay. But wait, you’re thinking, that’s everything. That’s in all of my entertainment. Hmm. Maybe we’d be better off throwing out our TVs (or Netflix or movie tickets) then.

Well those things aren’t that big of a deal, you say. I’m not giving up my entertainment for that. I’m fine with watching all of those things. Okay. Then why are you making such a big fuss over Beauty and the Beast?

But it’s Disney, you say. Disney is safe, Disney is good, Disney is untouchable. Really? I started thinking back to the original animated Beauty and the Beast, one of my favorite movies, and realized the sin that’s present in that “kids” movie. LeFou, Gaston, and company drink alcohol excessively, but it’s not just the villains who make use of it, drinking alcohol is encouraged as a normal part of dinner in “Be Our Guest” (“wine’s been poured”?). Furthermore, Gaston’s shameless comments toward Belle and inappropriate treatment of women in general is obvious. There is sin in this movie, just like there is in many of our favorite Disney classics. So why is it then, that a character who is possibly “exploring his sexuality” sends us into a frenzy, but none of these things do?

I created this blog with the intent to find lovely things. Sin is not lovely. In fact, it’s the ugliest thing there is. It’s a beast. But people are lovely, and they’re worthy of respect and love. Jesus died for both. He died so we could be free from sin, and He died so we could be loved and then love people like He loves people. So what about my entertainment? Avoid sin? Yes. Hurt people? No. We have to open up our hearts to understand where people are coming from and take the reality check that we’re all sinners, no matter what sin we’ve found ourselves entangled in. Jesus didn’t die so that I could entertain myself with the sin He died for. But He also didn’t die so that I could bash all the sinners with my arrogant righteousness. We make a declaration against one movie which will probably be one of the more wholesome entertainment options this year, if you want to see it like that, and we call that Christianity. We make ourselves ugly beasts.

There are so many levels to this issue, but for now, it comes down to this. What if we would keep away from sin—all of it, no matter what kind—and yet love people, no matter what kind of sin they’re in. It’s a hard balance, but we just might find Beauty yet.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” 1 John 4:7-9


Girls Moving Mountains: Jewell

A month ago, I shared this article about the power of faith that delights in the Lord, faith that is so powerful it can move mountains! As girls struggling to seek that kind of faith, I wanted to highlight some of the faithful girls I know who inspire me, in hopes that it will help us all grow and work even harder for a faith that allows God to do awesome things with our lives.


Today, I want to introduce you to my sweet friend Jewell! Jewell is a senior in high school who is getting ready for a big transition in her life—college! But God has prepared her for this new phase because Jewell has already transitioned a lot in her life, including moving back to the states from Romania (how cool, right?) I asked Jewell a few questions about her faith, and here’s what she has to share with you.                          

On her spiritual journey: “The start of my relationship with God was natural. My parents are Christians and my dad is a minister, and we were also missionaries in Romania for 7 years of my childhood, so I have always grown up in the church. It was when I was 12 that I really began seeking for myself. I remember a period of time when I cried myself to sleep almost every night because of my remorse for my sin. Those nights were spent in prayer to God and logical reasoning through all of the points I needed to believe to be a Christian. I was baptized on July 4, 2012; my spiritual Independence Day. Since then my relationship with God has grown greatly. I have more faith in His power and I am more committed to communicating with Him through study and prayer. God has been working in my life in thousands of ways, and I’m sure I’ll never fully understand all of them. He helps me be able to succeed academically, He keeps my family safe throughout all of our travels, and He blesses me through my family’s move to Michigan, where I have so many opportunities to grow in my faith.”

On her favorite passage of Scripture, and her personal Bible study: “It’s hard to choose a favorite verse when there are so many wonderful ones, but Nehemiah 6:9 has been my theme verse for this school year. It reads, “For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.’ But now, O God, strengthen my hands.” As I have gone through all of the changes in my senior year, Nehemiah’s prayer gives me a lot strength- to fight against sin, to do my best in my academics and other pursuits, to do the spiritual work God wants me to do, and to rely on Him. I think it’s very important to establish a routine for Bible study, a set time and place every day where you can just be with God’s Word. Since I’m homeschooled I have some flexibility with that, but even with a busier schedule it’s vital to study the Bible every day. Getting into a routine of doing that is extremely helpful. Also, take advantage of the multitude of Bible study material available. I am currently using Cindy Colley’s In The Shadows Digging Deep study for women, and I would absolutely recommend it. Find good Bible study books that will get you excited about delving deeper into the Word. I would have to say that Philippians is my favorite book of the Bible. It’s a very encouraging and joyful book, and has lots of practical principles that we can apply to our lives. My favorite passage is 4:4-8.”

On her prayer life: “Prayer is vital to my relationship with God. I know I have room for improvement, but I consider my prayer times to be some of the most important moments in my day. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray without ceasing, so I try to pray whenever a needy person or situation crosses my mind. A fantastic supplement to my prayer life is my prayer journal. It helps me pray as thoroughly and deeply as I should, and keeps me focused on talking to God.”

Her thoughts on Girls Moving Mountains: “I think “delighting in the Lord” means that you not only find intense joy in your relationship with God, but also that you put that relationship above all other things in your life. The difficulty lies in the fact that truly delighting in the Lord requires a lot more sacrifice than we may think at first. We have to lay aside every sin, distraction, claim on our time, negative attitude, and human relationship that comes between us and our Heavenly Father, and that could mean giving up a lot of things that we enjoy and love. But if Christians are truly delighting in the Lord, we will find every thing we need (and more) in our service and obedience to Him.”

On the “desires of her heart”: “Personal mountains that I want to move include worry and comparison to others. I sometimes let my fears and negative thoughts stand in the way of really trusting and obeying God, and I work on that part of myself every day so I can be a more focused Christian. It comforts me that Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33), so I have no need of worries or negative thoughts. I only need to lean on Him who has overcome those things. “

To other girls who are striving to increase their faith: “In Mark 9 we read of a father who brings his demon-possessed son to Jesus, begging Him to cast out the spirit which causes his son such harm. In verse 24, the father cries out and says, “‘I believe; help my unbelief!'” I think this is the key to growing our faith as children of the Father. We must take the faith that we already have and ask God to help the unbelief that remains. We must seek Him through His word and through prayer, and spend so much time with Him that we cannot help but fall in love and put our faith in Him completely. Then our faith will grow in strength and we will be able to move mountains that we had never before thought we could move.”


In Jewell, I see a girl who delights in the Lord, and I know you can see it too from the way she has shared her heart here! I hope that Jewell’s words have inspired you to strive even harder for that a faith that delights in the Lord and anticipates His great power to work in us.

Jewell is a talented writer and poet. Check out some of her beautiful, thought-provoking work on her blog here:

Until next time,


The Holding Zone

At one of my fave events of all time, Lads to Leaders, we have this thing called the Holding Zone. That’s where you go if your name gets called to go up onstage. It’s where you know you’ve won something, but you don’t know what it is just yet. It’s where you go to wait. It’s pretty exciting to be in the Holding Zone, but no one wants to stay there forever. It’s all about what comes next. The Holding Zone is all anticipation, but nothing really happens until you get on stage—that’s where the action happens.

Sometimes, it feels like life is one big Holding Zone. We’re always waiting for the next big thing. The graduation, the degree, the marriage, the kids, the job, and on and on. It’s easy to feel permanently stuck in the Holding Zone. Because even when those big things finally do come, there’s always something else to wait for right around the corner.

But the Holding Zone can be a dangerous place. Why? Well, the Holding Zone of life is a spiritual kill-joy. What do we usually do in the Holding Zone? Nothing. We just sit, and wait, and worry about what’s coming next. No action. If that’s how we’re living, then how in the world are we serving Jesus?

It is so easy to put off spiritual action until the next phase of life that we’re waiting on. Well, once I get out of high school, then I can serve God. Once I graduate from college, then I can really focus on Him. Once I get this job, then I’ll be ready. Once I get married, we’ll be really involved in church activities. Once we have kids, then we’ll think about our spiritual lives. Once these kids get out of the house, we’ll have time to serve God. And then you’ve lived your whole life in the Holding Zone and time is up.

The time to serve God is now! The time to work for Him is now! The time to put worship and spiritual activities first is now!

Let’s get out of the Holding Zone, friends. It doesn’t matter what’s coming next in your life, start doing what needs to be done for the Kingdom right now. It’s okay to wait, but don’t just wait. Work. Serve. Do good. Let God give you the joy and the patience and the peace to live purposefully through every season.

I don’t know what’s coming next. But I sure don’t want to sit around in this Holding Zone anymore. Let’s get to work.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“We must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.” John 9:4

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” I Corinthians 15:58

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:21



Girls Moving Mountains

Matthew 17:14-21

And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

When I was little, I used to always imagine what it would be like to literally move mountains. I would think about this passage and then I would think really really hard and scrunch my face up and wait for some literally earth-shattering thing to happen. But it never did.

Then I started to grow up and to learn more about faith and what this passage means. I’ve learned that there’s an even more powerful meaning to the faith that Jesus is describing here. Jesus uses this image of moving the mountain as a metaphor to describe how truly strong faith can change things in our lives and in the lives of other people. In the context of the passage, the “mountain” Jesus was describing was the disciples’ casting the demon out of the boy. But we have all kinds of metaphorical “mountains” that we encounter every day. Maybe it’s a personal challenge or struggle. Maybe it’s something happening with your family or friends. Maybe someone you love a lot is really sick, and that could be physically or spiritually. Maybe it’s our culture and our society. There are challenges that we face daily, but the power of faith in Jesus is that it changes things—it can move those mountains!

But how do we attain that faith?

We know what faith is, but how can we increase our faith so that it can move metaphorical mountains? Jesus says that the faith we need to move mountains is like a mustard seed— it may start out so small, but it grows and blossoms into an enormous tree! So how can we make our faith blossom?

Psalm 37:4

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

I’ve read this verse before but, as I was thinking about moving mountains, it just all sort of clicked. It just made so much sense that this was the key. Because those mountains are things that we really want to move. They are things that we want to change and accomplish— those are the “desires of our heart”! And it’s clear that to attain faith that will do something towards those desires—that can move mountains—we have to first delight ourselves in the Lord.

What does it mean to delight in something?

Something that delights me is something that brings me great pleasure. I delight in Hallmark movies, chocolate milkshakes, warm laundry, a good book, and baking cookies. But do I really delight in the Lord? Is that the word that I would use to describe my relationship with God? Because I think that it should be. I think too often we see our relationship with God as a chore, like I have to read my Bible today and I should probably try to pray sometime today and I have to go to church, and I have to serve people and we have it all wrong! That’s not delighting in the Lord, and consequently that’s not real faith! That’s not going to move mountains at all!

Psalm 1:1-2

Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.

Truly delighting in the Lord is not just something that makes God happy, it’s a non-negotiable attitude that demonstrates our commitment to Him. And like most things when it comes to what God commands us to do, it’s for our benefit! Delighting in God means that we love to do anything that has to do with Him. Delighting in the Lord means we love to help others, we love to give, we love to read His word, we love to worship Him, we love to talk with Him in prayer, and we love to tell others about Him. Delighting in the Lord allows us to move mountains. An attitude of delighting in God is joyful and hopeful and peaceful and loving and kind, and it draws us close to Him and inspires us to be like His Son.

But it’s not easy.

It’s hard to delight in the Lord, and why? Why is it so hard when it’s something that we want to do?

Romans 7:14-24

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Paul writes this relevant, honest passage about this struggle in wanting to do what’s right and fighting against our human nature to do what’s wrong. And it’s so true, right? It’s a constant battle to go beyond our human inadequacies and to truly delight in the law of God, even when we really want to! But that’s the point: we are inadequate. That’s why Paul finishes with verse 25:

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Thanks be to God because He is everything and more! He is always enough when we never are! It’s that choosing to delight in Him and to continue to strive for more than our human nature that matters. It’s a struggle, but it’s a struggle that is worth it because God is enough and He is greater and He will provide. We have to choose to pursue a faith that is greater, and He will offer and create the spiritual power of moving mountains!

Making a choice to delight in God is the catalyst for everything else that we do. Is God our everything? Is God alone our heart’s desire? Do we long to be with Him? Do we long for Him to return? Do we truly delight in Him? Because we’ll never be empowered until we choose to reach for and to work for that kind of faith. And without that faith, we’ll never move mountains.

I’d like to start a series on this blog about girls I know who are really on fire for God, girls who truly delight in Him and who are moving mountains with their faith. I hope it will be an inspiration to myself but also to you, sweet reader, as we find encouragement in each other in our collective seeking of God. Check back in to hear from some awesome mountain-moving girls really soon!

I love you and God loves you so much more!



Best of 2016

Wow, y’all, can you believe we’re only a few hours away from 2017? This year has just flown by, and I wanted to capture a few of the highlights here before it’s over.

If I had to pick one word to describe this year, I would say change. This was undoubtedly the biggest year of change in my life, as I graduated from high school and started college six hours away from home. I turned nineteen this year, and I lived away from my parents for the first time. I learned how to do all my own laundry and get stains out and fill out an absentee ballot and get my car repaired. I’m sort of a grown-up now, or at least a pretend one 😉

Here are some of my favorite memories from this year:

  1. My very last Lads to Leaders convention

Oh wow, this was most wonderful weekend of the year. It was so beautifully filled with all of the things I love about L2L and also so emotional, knowing I will never experience Lads in the same way again.

This was the weekend that inspired my biggest post of the year, Blessed: An L2L Tribute. I was so humbled and honored to have so many people read and share that post, and to have it published in The Christian Chronicle (which I still can’t believe happened!). You can see it here: Lads to Leaders: Ten Years of Speaking About God

2. The Princess Project

My senior project, which still feels like a dream that happened to another person, finished up in March with the most fun Princess Party ever. Read all about it here: Happily Ever After: The Princess Project Final Update

3. Graduation

I know graduating from high school isn’t that big of a deal for some people, but it was a really big deal for me! I worked really hard to graduate from the Liberal Arts Academy and it was just such a joy to celebrate that work with my family and my friends and classmates. Graduation itself was just so much fun! I couldn’t stop smiling through the whole ceremony and looking up into the stands in awe of the moment! I’ll never forget how amazing that night felt.

We also got to celebrate more at our really fun graduation party. It was so fun to pull out all of these old memories from throughout my life, and put them together for the party. My old kindergarten teacher was able to be there, so it was like everything came full circle!

4. Summer trips to Philly and Chicago

Cool places with fave people. Check it out: What’s going on

5. My last week of summer Bible camp ever

So much fun, such a special place, such special people. I’ll always cherish summers at Rolling Hills.


Wowowow what a HUGE life change. It’s hard to imagine all of the people I didn’t know that are so important to me now or all of the experiences that I didn’t know were coming just five months ago! It’s such a blessing to honestly say that I LOVE it!

On the very first night of Freshman orientation, we had a devotional and our speaker told us to take a selfie of that moment. Here’s mine:


Not the most glamorous picture I’ve ever taken, but it brings back so many emotions for me. In that moment, my parents had just driven away, leaving me holding back a major breakdown and wondering what on earth I had done to myself. I didn’t know anyone (technically not true, but that’s how it felt) and I had no idea how I was going to survive the next few minutes, much less the semester. The next morning (at which point I was not feeling much better), I started a mantra: ups and downs, ups and downs. I knew that if I could make it through the rough spots, there would be lots of great things that God had in store for me.

And wow, did He ever. Over the semester, I met so many amazing new people, joined an awesome social club that I love, and had so many opportunities to do things I never even dreamed of doing!

I was also incredibly blessed to step into the role of Editor-in-Chief for our Odyssey community on campus. Here are some of my favorite articles from this semester:

The Meaning of Home

Stop Beating Yourself Up Over the Election

What American History Has to Say About the 2016 Election

A White Girl’s Response to Black Shootings in America

7. Turning NINETEEN!

It’s one year closer to 20, which kinda makes me wanna go hide in a blanket fort, but I’m so grateful for the friends (old and new) and the family I had to celebrate with.

8. Thanksgiving and Christmas Break

Yes I love college, but I sure love being home too. We had the best holiday season together.

It’s almost time for 2017! I’m so excited for a new year and the things it will bring. I can’t wait to see what God will do with my life, and I’m praying for big things to happen, including some that will take this blog to the next level. More to come very soon!

Happy New Year!