Girls Moving Mountains: Katilynn

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since we launched this fun little campaign over here on Searching for Lovely! Girls Moving Mountains has been SO inspiring for me, and it’s brought me closer to each of the girls that I’ve had the opportunity to interview.

In case you’re new (hello!), Girls Moving Mountains is 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 started it last January in hopes that it would be an inspiration to myself and to others as we strive to seek God more! I am so excited to start year 2 of this series!! Each girl featured so far has had amazing words to share (you can check them all out here) and I can’t wait to be inspired by the beautiful ladies lined up for the next year!

And today we are starting 2018 off with a bang! This is my darling friend Katilynn and she is INSANE in the most wonderful way! I’ve been trying to get her on here for months because she is seriously one of the most mountain-moving girls I know. She has a huge heart for people and she loves and gives and serves everyone she meets with the most genuine, funny, and authentic spirit. In fact, she’s kind of the reason this whole thing got started. At the beginning of last year, she created a Facebook group called Positively Empowered to give women at Freed-Hardeman University an outlet to teach others about the Lord. Positively Empowered meets every week with a speaker that has expressed interest in sharing something empowering (Freed ladies, check it out here). Katilynn asked me to speak one week and guess what my devo was about—faith that moves mountains!! And thus GMM was born.

Katilynn is 19 years old and a sophomore at Freed. After graduation, she has decided to commit to long-term cross-cultural missions. She says, “I want to do my part in sharing the gospel to the many unreached people groups of the world. I don’t know when, where, or how I’m going to get there at this point in my life, but I’m trusting God to use me as He sees fit.” I know without a doubt that she will continue to influence so many people for good for years to come.

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Katilynn has some real and powerful words to share with you today:

Her faith story: “My life has been crazy from the very beginning but, whose life hasn’t been? I came from a broken family, we were living paycheck to paycheck, I had no friends, I was suicidal, I was depressed, and I pitied myself so much. I felt like the world was against me and like no one understood me. I believed in a god— the god I thought was in the Bible, but I never really read the Bible by myself so what did I know? The god I once thought was the one true God was anything but that. I would pray to it and beg, “Oh, please Lord let me ace this test!” or “Please let this guy like me.” I would pray and I believed if I prayed hard enough it would happen. If it didn’t happen, I would pray again, but this time I would pray harder. I’m ashamed. This god was who I went to when I wanted something. This god eventually let me down because this god didn’t exist. I went throughout life going through the motions knowing that once I turned 18 I would never step foot in a church again. I went to church and I acted like I was such a good believer, doing service projects, and going to devotionals, and memorizing scripture, but the truth was I was rotten on the inside because I did not know who God was. I was dead in sin! I struggled with depression for years (I still sometimes struggle with it). I did and said so many things I’m really ashamed of. I went on like this until Emily Arnold befriended me. (she’s a gem, y’all -A) At the time I had no Christian friends and I hung out with the wrong crowd, but she was there for me. Because of her influence and love I read the Bible on my own. I discovered Christ’s love and for the first time I believed it was true. I left all the friends I had been hanging around for years, and started to build a Christian life, a life centered on God. God works in mysterious ways. I might not be where I want to be in my walk with God, but I can say that the real one true God has completely changed my life. I now know that Christ’s love is for me and when I pray to Him He is listening, and He cares for me. My life has been a series of crazy events that led me to where I am now: at Freed-Hardeman University, still best friends with Emily Arnold and believing in the one true God.”

Her favorite passage of Scripture: “Psalm 16 is a passage I find myself turning to every time I am unsure, or when I feel myself falling away. The title next to the passage in my Bible says, “You will not abandon my soul.” This means so much to me because it reminds me that if I keep the Lord always before me He will not abandon me. The chapter starts out by saying, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” I have to remember that I am nothing because He is everything; He is the only good in me, and if I keep growing toward the Lord, He will bless me with more than I could ever imagine. I often forget that the struggles I face on Earth are just that— on Earth. This passage teaches that He will be our counsel in our times of trouble, and He will guide us all the days of our lives. My favorite book of the Bible would definitely have to be Ecclesiastes. It is all about how this Earth is meaningless without God. I find myself reading it and constantly being reminded that this life I am living is not about me at all.”

Her practical suggestions for Bible study (this one is so important): “I am certainly not the best at studying the Bible, but the best advice I can give is to just start today. Don’t tell yourself that you will start tomorrow, that you will get a devotional book, or that right now is not a good time. Right now is the best time to study the Bible. Once you start reading, don’t stop until you have learned five things you didn’t know before. Write them down. The whole point of reading the Bible is to discover who God is and learn more about what you are doing on this Earth. Highlight, put sticky notes, and write all over the margins so you can remember and tell others of your findings. Find a book or passage you want to read and start right now.”

Her prayer relationship with God: “There are so many things I don’t know, and the unknown absolutely scares me to death sometimes. Prayer is a way for me to feel like I have taken a load off, for me not to feel worried anymore. You can tell God everything and He will never tell another soul. He is trustworthy, so trust Him with your problems. Prayer is just like your relationships with friends on Earth. If you don’t talk to a friend for a long time, you start to lose the connection you once had. Every relationship needs communication to stay strong and prayer is the way to have a strong connection with God. God, the creator of everything, wants a relationship with us and He has given us a way to speak to Him. Why wouldn’t you take full advantage of that?”

How Katilynn defines “delighting in the Lord”: “Delighting in the Lord means to take pleasure in everything that He stands for, even all of His commandments. It’s so easy to doubt that God is here (trust me I’ve been there.) It’s easy to feel like every Sunday morning your preacher is trying to sell you something. It’s hard to go against the status quo. It’s hard to admit that you have a heart problem, that you keep sinning and that you don’t want to stop because what you are doing is fun. Sin is fun. Delighting in the Lord is not fun. We want things to be instant and when things don’t go our way on God’s side, we jump right on the devil’s bandwagon. Delighting in the Lord is hard because it isn’t fun.”

On the “desires of her heart” (speaking to ALL the single ladies here): “One of the biggest desires of my heart is that I so badly want a husband. At one time I was so scared to even think about marriage because the only marriage I’ve ever seen up close and personal failed. My parents did not have a good marriage at all and I was really not looking forward to it. Once I discovered what a true Godly marriage looked like, I wanted one so bad. I want someone to share my life with, to have kids with, to learn about God with, but I was scared. I was scared it would never happen, and at times I still am. I want to be content with the way my life is, and if that means I’m on my own for a while or forever I want to be okay with that.”

Her message to other girls striving to grow in faith: “If you are seeking to increase your faith in God, I dare you to give it your all. Delete all unnecessary apps from your phone, cut out television, and maybe even stop taking naps (I am terrible at that last one). In order to be better at anything in life you have to work at it, which includes getting rid of any and all distractions that keep you from achieving your goal. When you get rid of all the distractions in your life, you suddenly see that you have so much time for other things. You don’t have Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat on your phone for you to waste time on. You don’t have any television shows you are constantly trying to keep up with (maybe things you shouldn’t be watching). Think about all the time you spend on things that aren’t helping you in any way, and think about how cool it would be if you spent that time with God. Give all of your free time to Him, give everything to God, and you will grow.”

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I seriously have nothing else to add because everything Katilynn shared was so good and so powerful! I know you have seen her heart in her words, and I hope they have challenged and inspired you as they have me!

Be looking out for more mountain-moving girls soon!

I love you!

Amelia

 

 

 

 

Word of the Year 2018

I debated sharing this post because putting it out there on the internet makes it a little more real, like I really have to be accountable for it. Last year when I chose a word it was a very personal thing, and I wasn’t ready to share it. My word this year still is very personal, but I like hearing what other people’s words are, so I really wanted to share mine.

I like the idea of choosing just one word for the new year instead of trying to make a lot of resolutions. Last year, my word of the year was purpose and I loved having that word as my mindset. It truly did shape my year, so I’m excited to see where this year’s word takes me, or more where God takes me through this year’s word.

So, without further ado, my word of the year 2018 is… CONTENT!

I choose the word “content” because it sums up several of the words I was considering. I realized like three days in that “content” kind of sounds like settling, but that’s not how I mean it at all. When thinking about my new word, I was debating between “joy,” “gratitude,” and “peace”— and then I decided that “content” wraps up those three ideas into one. To me, “content” represents an attitude of trust in God that gratefully accepts this season of life with joy and peace.

Having “purpose” as my mindset last year was awesome because it pushed me to do more and be more, and I think that missional way of living will continue through this year. (Here’s where it gets ugly personal.) But last year I also struggled with a whole lot of uncertainty and just straight up jealousy of other people. Even though I had everything in the world to be thankful for, I spent too much time wishing I had things other people had and wondering if I was making the right choices for the future. Should I have gotten an internship too? Should I have taken this class instead? Should I be working somewhere else? And pretty much the ultimate overbearing question, is there ever going to be the right man in the world for me to marry? That attitude too often left me feeling bitter and sorry for myself. Ridiculous, but true.

My friends and I say it all the time because it’s so real: comparison is the thief of joy. I hate that feeling of discontent, and it’s the exact opposite of what God call us to when we’re living in Him!

So this year, I’m focusing in on the right kind of attitude, one that should exude from the life of a person whose trust is fully placed in the Father. I need that daily reminder that Jesus is enough. Period.

A lot of verses speak to this idea:

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” Hebrews 13:5

“…I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Philippians 4:11-12

“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8

I love all of these passages, but the verse that I’ve chosen as my verse of the year (ironically not having the word “content” in it) is Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” I think I’ve probably heard that verse a million times, but for some reason, it only just recently hit me what it really means. I shall. not. want. When God is truly the author and protector of your life, nothing else even matters. You don’t want anything else! That’s contentment. And that’s what I’m going for.

What’s your theme going to be this year? If you have a word, I’d love to hear it! Share in the comments below 🙂

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I love you! And God loves you more.

Amelia

 

Purposeful: Reflecting on 2017

No kidding, it feels like I just wrote my Best of 2016 post two seconds ago. This year has flown by! I wanted to take some time to reflect on this year and share some of my favorite memories.

  1. NEW YORK!

In January, I had the chance to travel to New York City with a group from my university and it was AMAZING! Honestly, I can’t believe we survived, but it was SO much fun. (Thankfully I had someone else to navigate the subway for me.) NYC was completely different than the picture I had in my mind, but just as wonderful in its own way. A couple times I tried to act like a local on the subway, all chill and disconnected, but then somebody in our group would yell, “This is our stop!” and there went that lol. We did so many things I can hardly begin to describe them all, so I’ll just leave my one NYC travel tip here: Go to Serendipity3 and order the frozen hot chocolate. You will be so very happy (and then you will daydream about said hot chocolate for the rest of your life.) NEW YORK, y’all! Cool stuff.

2. Bestest Friends

The friends I have made in college are the most wonderful friends in the world! I cannot believe I have only known them for a little over a year now. Going into my freshman year, I remember how worried I was about making friends. I prayed so hard that God would give me friends that would last into eternity, sisters in Christ that I could truly share my life with. He has blessed me beyond measure with these precious girls!! We’ve done so many fun things together this year, from Makin’ Music to celebrating Valentines Day to just hanging in the dorm way too late. I can’t wait for two and a half more years together.

3. Social Club!!

Getting to be part of my social club at Freed has been such a big part of my year. I LOVE my club and all of the fun we have together! Freshman Recruiting was a huge part of my fall semester and it was amazing! It’s a lot more fun when you know what’s going on 😉 The picture below is one of my favorites because it shows how much college has allowed me to be myself. It was around 11:00 on the night freshman were officially in the club and I was wearing sweatpants, socks with chacos, and my glasses— something that I never would have done in high school (at least not out in public!). I was so excited and happy that night and to me, that’s really a testament to how much I have grown and gotten comfortable around these wonderful friends of mine.

4. Fall Semester Women’s Chaplain

As part of my social club, this past semester I got to serve as our Women’s Chaplain and WOW what a blessing it was. It challenged me to step up and to grow more than ever. It was an honor to lead my girls and to learn from them and see them thrive as we studied together. Looking back, I know that there is so much more I could have done but I just pray that everything I tried to do was enough. It was so special to see God answering prayers and working throughout the semester. I truly believe I have never been closer to Him, and I’m so thankful that being chaplain gave me that opportunity for growth. These girls were a blessing and encouragement to me every step of the way (and so was my amazing mom!!)

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5. Running a 10k!

Believe it or not, this summer I actually got back into running, which has been a personal conflict of mine for years. I hate running, but it’s the only thing I know how to do to stay somewhat in shape. My dad has gotten into a really good running habit lately, and we’ve always wanted to run the huge 10k that our town hosts every 4th of July. This year, we made it happen!! It was horrible but also SO rewarding to cross that finish line, especially with my dad!

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6. Coaster Freaks

We rode a lot of roller coasters this year, which is saying something (especially for our family.) Lots of rides, lots of park days, lots of rain. It was a blast.

7. Solar Eclipse

To be honest, my eclipse experience was kind of a let down. I decided to stay on campus, which was right outside the path of totality. It was still super neat to see, but I wish I’d gone to see the full thing! We were sweating buckets and I had to hold my glasses onto my face the entire time because they fell off otherwise (small head problems). But still, a memorable time and a neat part of the year.

8. Fall!!

My favorite season and lots of my favorite things—club retreat, football games, pumpkins, homecoming, and my birthday! I cannot believe I’m twenty years old. TWENTY! Two decades! Crazy.

9. CHRISTMAS

I love Christmas, and it’s so nice to be at home and take a break. We had a great time together.

10. Losing Papaw

I debated putting this in here, but it really was a huge part of my year, so I think it deserves a spot. This June, I lost my grandfather. He had been sick for some time but it was still hard for all of us. It was a really difficult part of my summer and the biggest loss I’ve ever experienced. I want to share more about it here but I’ve been giving myself time to process everything first. Papaw was an incredible man and a rock for our family. Mostly it just feels weird that he isn’t here anymore. But I take a lot of comfort in knowing that he’s truly at home, where he always wanted to be.

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11. Word of the Year

At the beginning of this year, I choose the word “Purposeful” to be my word of the year, along with Philippians 2:5 as my verse of the year, which says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” I wanted to be more intentional and to be more mindful of other people with the same perspective that Jesus had while on earth. This was the first time I’ve ever done something like this, but it was really special. It helped me start the year off with a good direction. Honestly, I didn’t put that much thought into it at first, but it was amazing to see where God took a simple word. My verse starting coming up all the time, and then as I started thinking about a theme for my chaplain semester, I was drawn to “Purpose” after reading 1 Kings 19. When I realized that was right along with my word of the year, I knew it was meant to be. Getting to study my word of the year in depth with my sisters in Christ was special. I’m excited to choose a new word for 2018, and I’ll be sharing it here soon!

I’m so excited for all of the opportunities ahead in 2018! I’m praying that God will do even bigger things in the next year, and I can’t wait to see what happens. Thank YOU for taking a few minutes to read my little blog! I hope that over the next year Searching for Lovely will grow more than ever.

Happy New Year!

Amelia

On Current Events: What Can We Do?

I don’t have to tell you because you already know. Burnette Chapel. Las Vegas. Two very different settings. Two sadly similar stories. Two gunmen. Lives lost. People injured. Unknown motives. Loss. Confusion. Hurt.

I feel…empty. I don’t know how you feel.

There’s been something else going on that’s making the news a lot lately too. Some football players in the NFL are doing something unusual. They’re kneeling or locking arms or sitting or staying in the locker room during the national anthem. The reason behind those actions (which has gotten a little lost in all the drama) is ultimately to protest racial inequality and police brutality.

To be completely honest, I’m not that familiar with all the facts. But if you would, I’d ask you to take a second and try to erase everything you know about these current events, all of the media information, all of the bias, and just hear these three phrases:

Mass shooting. Racial inequality. Police brutality.

As people who are trying to live like Christ, who represent His name in this world, those three phrases should rock us. They should cut us to our hearts. We should feel their hurt because other people are hurting. Because sin is raging in the world. Because people have died at the hands of a murderer. Because people whom God loves and created in His image are being oppressed. Because people have been hurt at the mercy of authority figures who have not used their power to do good and to serve, as God intended.

I’m not saying that I know everything about every situation, because I don’t. I’m not saying that it isn’t important to respect authority figures or to respect people who have fought for my country, because it is. But I am saying that maybe if we would just take a second and look at these events with honest hearts, we would see that they’re all tied to one thing— hurting people in a broken world, where bad things happen because sin exists.

What can we do? In the face of an event like one of the deadliest mass shootings in America, we just feel empty. We’re at a completely loss at how to make anything better.

Can I offer an interesting solution? Love your neighbor.

We can’t stop a mass shooting. But we can love. We can reach out to people who are different from us, people who have different color skin than we do, people who practice a different religion, and we can listen to them. And we can treat them like Jesus would, with kindness and respect and friendship. We can’t stop a mass shooting. But we can respond to the wrongful death of any person at the hands of the police (be they black or white, male or female) with the same kind of hurt that we feel when a congregation of our brothers and sisters are attacked. We can pray for the people on both sides of each situation— shooters and victims, police and those abused by them, people who are like us and people who are not.

I know about authority. I know that sometimes people are in the wrong place at the wrong time. I know that sometimes victims of police violence are guilty, and the officer is acting out of self-defense. I know.

And I know you may think that connecting these two issues in our society is ridiculous or uncalled for. But I don’t. Because I see too much hurt in both.

Mass shooting. Racial inequality. Police brutality. They all come from sin. And regular everyday people—people whom God loves—are looking for help. They are looking for comfort in the face of loss. They are looking for security for themselves and their children. They are looking for freedom.

What can we do?

Love. Shine the light of Jesus just as brightly and as simply as you can. With a real conversation. With a compassionate hug. With an outstretched hand. With an open and honest heart.

Love. That’s all I have to hold onto today. Please let it be what you hold onto to.

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:44-45 

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Amelia

You Just Never Know

I was reading a blog post today by a girl that I really admire. She seems like such a strong Christian, she goes on the coolest adventures, her Instagram account is full of professional-looking candid photos, and she married a wonderful, handsome Christian man when she was just 18 years old. To be honest, I kind of envy this girl. To get to live such an awesome life AND do it with your HUSBAND…sometimes that one just gets me like a punch in the stomach.

We do that all the time right? Someone else has this seemingly perfect life. They have the one exact thing that you want so badly, maybe the same thing that you’ve prayed for over and over. We get so worked up wanting their life instead of our own.

You know what I found out today? This girl that I’m so jealous of? Whose life I thought was perfect?

She and her family are all suffering from a chronic disease that causes constant fatigue and various mental illnesses, including depression.

Her life is not perfect. She is struggling.

And here I am, so jealous over her husband and her Instagram account that I never stopped to think that she could be seriously hurting, nor did I stop to think about all of the blessings I have to be to grateful for.

You just never know what people are going through. God taught me two powerful lessons today when I read that post.

  1. Be constantly mindful that other people may be dealing with something that you know nothing about. That person who just cut you off in traffic? They’re rushing to see someone in the hospital. That girl who was rude to you today? She’s just tired because she’s working two jobs to provide for her son. That guy who eats lunch in the corner by himself? He’s struggling with depression. That friend who is pushing you away? They’re missing someone they love. Too often, we are too self-focused to realize that the people around us—even people that we see every day—are going through something really hard right now, and that they really need us to notice. Love on people. Be slow to get angry over the little things. Be kind and generous and forgiving. Listen.
  2. Be grateful for what you have instead of wishing for what someone else has. You don’t know what you’re wishing for. Before I read that post, I wanted that girl’s life. I wished that I could have had her cool photos and her cute clothes and her perfect marriage. And yes, those are blessings in her life. But her life also comes with a terrible disease, something I would never wish for. We each have different blessings to be grateful for. I was reminded today to be grateful for my health and for all of the good and even hard things in my life, just the way it is. Because that’s the life that God has for me.

My life isn’t perfect. And yours isn’t either. And neither is that person’s who you may be so envious of, whoever that is for you. Each of our lives have their own struggles and their own blessings. So let go of jealousy. Be grateful for what you do have. And look out for other people.

Because you just never know.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

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Amelia

Girls Moving Mountains: Emily

Hello friends! Meet my sweet friend Emily! She is nineteen years old and about to be a sophomore in college. I wanted to feature Emily because she is one of the bravest, most inspiring people I’ve ever met! Emily and I are in the same social club at Freed, but we first met in speech class, where I learned about Emily’s story in a speech that she gave about herself. Here’s what she has to share with you:

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Her faith story: “I grew up in a wonderful Christian home with my parents and two older siblings. We attended a tiny congregation from the time my older sister was born until I was about eleven years old. The congregation was full of the older generation, and the youth group almost solely consisted of me and my two older siblings. Let’s just say my family was just not growing spiritually. We then moved to a larger congregation with people of all ages and a wonderful youth group. That move was hard, but it ultimately gave us the spiritual help that we all needed. I was baptized on July 11, 2014 at the age of sixteen. Growing up in the church, I had always known about baptism and the essentiality of it to save my soul, but for some reason it took me a while to get there. I was waiting for that “Aha” moment that I heard of others having who did not grow up in the church. Don’t get me wrong; I am blessed beyond measure to have been raised by two faithful, Christian parents, but for some reason it made it hard to know when I was ready to become a Christian. Ultimately, I wanted to make sure that my faith was real and that it was mine, not my parents’ faith. After thinking about it for so long, on that hot July day, I knew I was ready to commit my life to God and be washed in the blood of Christ.

“I have only been a Christian for three years, so I have a ton of learning and growing to do, but I have definitely grown more in the last three years than I thought possible. I love living for God and the purpose that he brings to my life. I see him working every single day of my life. From the morning air I breathe to the stars I wish on as I fall asleep, I know he is there. How do I mostly see God working in my personal life? I have the blessing of seeing the power of God through my terminal illness. Living with Cystic Fibrosis has strengthened my faith in God more than anything else. I have faith that he has a plan for my future even when I can’t see it. I see God in the little things like waking up in the morning and taking in a deep breath to the bigger things such as recovering from being sick.In reality, however, every way is a big way that God blesses me and strengthens my faith in him.”

Her favorite passage of Scripture: “My favorite book of the Bible would have to be Philippians. It is easy to dive into and full of ways in which we all must live like Christ. In chapter two, we read how we should have the same mindset as Christ by looking out for the interest of others and emptying ourselves for God. This passage is so important to me because I believe that our love for others is what it’s all about. By genuinely caring for others, we get to remind them of their worth in Christ Jesus and ultimately give the world what it needs most—love. When we genuinely put others first, our lives are forever changed for the better in ways we couldn’t imagine.”

Her tips for staying in the Word: “I’ll admit that I struggle with this one and I’m still learning. I do not always dive as deeply as I should, and some days I don’t take the dive at all. However, one way that I have found very helpful is keeping a devotional journal. It isn’t fancy at all, but it can be a game changer. I am a person who loves to journal. In fact, I have about four different journals going at the current moment. One of those is my Bible journal. Inside it, I write down the passage I read that day, the things that I want to work on and apply from that passage, and then finally I write down a prayer. Being consistent makes it easier to keep going back to the Word, and I’ve learned that the more I’m in it, the more I crave it. Take something that you love (for me its journaling), and apply it to your Bible study. Then, once in a while, try something new because studying our Bible should feel like a privilege and never a chore.”

On her prayer life: “Prayer is very vital for me to have a healthy relationship with God! God is THE ONE who knows my heart the best and knows what I need even when I do not have the right words (Matt. 6:8). I’m so honored and thankful that I am able to talk to the Creator of this universe. Sometimes it is hard for me to even wrap my mind around how truly amazing prayer is. Without communication with God, my life would be full of so much uncertainty, not having anyone to turn to who could truly help. Just like reading His Word, the more I talk to God the more I crave it.” (Amen!)

Her thoughts on “delighting in the Lord”: “’Delighting in the Lord’ is such a beautiful thing. It is when we overflow our souls with the joy and peace that can only be found in the Lord. Sometimes I believe it is hard for us while on this earth to constantly be looking toward the ultimate joy and peace while there are so many earthly things that seem to bring us temporary delight. I imagine someone who delights in the Lord as someone who goes to Him often, who always wants to know more about Him, and who craves to seek out his presence, but, most importantly, who loves him with all their heart.”

On the “desires of her heart”: “I desire to use my unique circumstances in life to help those around me live better and ultimately come to Christ. Cystic Fibrosis is a big part of my life, and I believe that it is my responsibility to use everything I have for the good of those around me. Having compassion and serving others has always been important to me, and I long to make it my life. Mountains that I want to move? There are always many mountains surrounding me. The types of mountains that surround me come and go with the seasons of life, but the one that is always constant in my life is worry. Somehow I always find myself worrying about something whether it be about school work, my health, family, or friends. I’m sure we all worry at times, but we must take faith that God is always on our side and His will will always be done. By trusting more in God, I can move this mountain and give all my worries over to him.”

Her advice to girls striving to grow their faith: “Never stop looking for ways, no matter how small, to grow in your love for God and His Word. I believe that if we truly have our heart in the right place and we are constantly looking for God in every situation, then we will grow so much before we know it. Use the talents and abilities that God gave you to help those around you to grow, and together we can all reach the unreachable. One way that I always try to grow in my faith is to look for God everywhere. I look for him in my joy, my pain, my happiness, and my sorrow. In Hebrews chapter 11, we are reminded of people who had tremendous faith in God during all of their different situations. In verses 39 and 40, we see that they were complimented for their faith and that God provided for them. By constantly being faithful to God, we are full of faith. No matter what, take the time to slow down and look for God!”

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Emily is a social work major and she wants to be a counselor someday. I know that her example of faith will continue to be a blessing in the lives of many people!! I hope her words here have encouraged you and reminded you to be thankful and joyful today!

 

Amelia

 

 

Don’t Unbuckle

I’m a big fan of roller coasters. Actually, my whole family is. They don’t really scare me or bother me at all. But sometimes when I’m all buckled in and doubled checked and the ride is about to go up the hill, I get this irrational fear that my seatbelt is just going to come undone. Like all by itself it will just magically not be buckled anymore. Which is of course, ridiculous. Because nothing and no one can unbuckle that seatbelt except me. And obviously for me to reach down and unbuckle the seatbelt would be a really dumb idea. So I’m safe. I’m good to go.

You know sometimes I think we get the same irrational fear when it comes to salvation. I know I am saved. The blood of Jesus has buckled and double checked my seatbelt so I can know I am secure. And as long as I am staying with Him, there’s no reason to doubt that security. His grace covers me.

Here’s the thing. The seatbelt can only come undone if I unbuckle it. I’m the only one who can take myself out of the picture. God doesn’t move. God doesn’t change. God is always ready for you, always with you. I’m the one who moves away. I’m the one who chooses to remove myself from Him.

But why would I do that? Why on earth would I ever unbuckle my seatbelt right before I’m about to go twisting and turning all over the place? I would never do that, right? Because that would be really dumb, right?

Hebrews 2:3 “how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard”

I don’t know why we don’t see it the same way. Because while unbuckling my seatbelt on a roller coaster would mean almost certain death, removing myself from God’s salvation means an even worse death—one that lasts forever.

Here are two things we can know for sure: If Jesus Christ is truly my Savior, I am completely secure. I don’t have to worry about my salvation, as long as I continue to live for Him. I don’t have to stress about making mistakes, because if my heart is in the right place, His blood continually washes my sin away. Nothing can happen to my seatbelt. But, if I choose to reject Him, my seatbelt is gone. There is no security for me as I go through my life. No hope and no safety.

I hope you have the seatbelt that Jesus offers to keep you tightly secure through all of the ups and downs of life. It’s the only thing that turns what could be a frightening trip into a ride of joy.

Don’t unbuckle. Just stay with Him and hold on tight.

1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

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Amelia

Girls Moving Mountains: Addie

Hey friends! Meet the lovely Ms. Addie! I barely knew Addie during the one semester of college we shared, but even then I knew that she was someone special! After she wasn’t on campus anymore, I realized more and more how true that was because her influence continued even without her presence! Addie is super sweet, full of life, and has a big ole heart that she puts into everything she does! This is a crazy time of transition in Addie’s life but I think that has only brought out her honesty and sincerity even more. Here’s what Addie has to share with you about her faith:

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Her faith story: “My story? Wow. Okay. So I grew up in a strong Christian household. My parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins…most all Christians. I’ve been at Wood Avenue Church of Christ in Florence, Al for almost 20 years. My parents met in the college group here, and this is where they moved back to raise us. My dad is now an elder of the church. I attended Mars Hill Bible School from 2-17 years old. I was baptized by Larry Davenport in 2004.  I was super active in the Youth Group up until I graduated in 2013. I spent 1 week every summer at Maywood Christian Camp since 2nd grade. I just finished my 4 years at Freed-Hardeman University in May with a Special Education degree, incredible memories, lifelong friends, a loving husband, and all of his (our) debt. But, really. I’ve been what I call “spiritually pampered”. I wasn’t very popular in high school among my classmates, but I was seen as a Christian leader I guess. My grandfather, Dad, and brother were Mr. Mars Hill, and everyone said I was definitely going to get Miss Mars Hill. I did. I was honored. But I went into college parading behind that “good girl banner”. It didn’t hold up through much. (The devil does not care how long your list of honors and accomplishments are. He is not intimidated by your banner flying high. He sees your pride as weakness and he will attack those areas now, not your past!) I learned that lesson the hard way. 

I struggled in college. I couldn’t find my jive with Bible Study. I couldn’t find my heart with worship. I was experiencing the temptations of dating someone you really, really like. It was some tough years, even being at a Christian college. The best things in college for me were conversations with my roommates, ball field devotionals (when I could stay up late enough), Henderson College Girls class on Wednesday Nights, and any class I took with Matt Cook. Really I loved all my Bible classes, I think. But I saw the most growth when I was connected with Stantonville Church of Christ and when I could get in a good routine with my Bible study. My college years contained my highest and lowest times spiritually. 

One of the most obvious ways I have seen God is in my relationship with my husband, Tyler. I had never dated before I met Tyler. I maybe went out a time or two with a few friends I was talking to, but never kissed a guy ’til Tyler. (Kissing a guy unleashes a whole new level of feelings. It’s like trying to compare Gano to your momma’s cooking…totally different.) We reflect by thinking back to the first few months of dating and just sit in awe of how God brought us together, and now we  know how we have both benefitted from marriage so much. 

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I met Tyler a week before my freshman year. We were set up by my brother and Tyler’s cousin Jennah (who my brother is marrying this week!! We are a crazy Alabama family.) But it’s so obvious God’s hand is in all of it. In the beginning of our relationship I was so conflicted, because I am a talker and Tyler is a man of few words. I struggled with confidence in our relationship and struggled seeing where God was taking us. I remember one night of Chi Beta fall retreat we snuck off to the dock and sat and talked about the lessons we had been hearing. We talked about our biggest fears and our weakest parts. We talked about our vulnerabilities and where we saw ourselves with God. For the first time I knew that I had to stick with the boy beside me, because I could never talk like that to anyone else besides God. We needed to be in each other’s life. 

There were so many times that we had to go to God separately and together and ask for forgiveness for the temptations we were playing around with. We struggled and fought for our purity all through college. It was a long battle to get to where we are. And I say that because I see where God strengthened us through these temptations we faced. We had to depend and trust on one another to look out for the best for one another. People don’t usually talk openly about struggling to stay pure in a relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Especially when they are both Christians. It’s just awkward or uncomfortable. But if you have ever dated someone for really any period of time, you’re most likely going to be tempted to go farther physically and mentally than “just a boyfriend” should go. My almost sister-in-law has this on her car dash: “Boyfriends do not get the same privileges as husbands.” (Or something to that affect.) And I know I would’ve benefitted from that being on my car dash. (Vice-versa about women.)”

Her favorite passage of Scripture: “My favorite verse changes with each season. I am in a time of anxiety right now. We are going through a big transition. We are 8 months into marriage and about to move to our 3rd location in a year. Tyler will be going to grad school and I will be teaching full-time. I’ve never done anything full-time. So I am clinging to Matthew 6’s cure for anxiety passage. Verse 25 says “Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?” Okay, so if God is telling me I shouldn’t worry about what I see as necessities in life: food and clothing, then I shouldn’t worry about anything. Especially things that my life doesn’t depend on. I’m one of those who gets “Hangry” without food. We haven’t had to worry about not having food on the table. When I burn a meal or put too many cups of water in the rice, there is always another option of food. We have never had to miss a meal. If God tells me not to worry about important things like food, then why am I wasting thought and breath over if the apartment we want will open up? Or if we will be able to pay off loans in a certain amount of time? Those do not even determine my survival. I say this to myself a lot. “God has not brought me this far just to see me fail.” The Lord is not going to put so much work into me and into our life just to watch us crash and burn. He will take care of our needs. Read the rest of the verses to finish up the thought.”

Her practical tips for studying the Bible: “Do a verse trail. Ty and I did this in college. We would pick a topic or word and research verses that mentioned the word or idea. Then we would choose the verse we thought we should start with. Read it several times in different versions and talk about it. We wrote the first verse reference by the word that we are studying in the front opening of our Bible. Then we picked the next verse. We referenced it by the first verse we chose. And so if we picked “worry” we would go to Matthew 6 :25 and out beside it put an arrow and reference Proverbs 3:5. Then we would turn to Proverbs 3:5 and out beside it write  Romans 8:38.. and so on. Then when you finish pray about specific ideas brought up in your study.”

Her prayer relationship with God: “Prayer is extremely important, and when I am in a habit of praying I rely on it to have peace. And when I am not, I rely on myself and have no peace.” (I couldn’t agree more!)

How Addie defines “delighting in the Lord”: “I think delighting in the Lord is taking time to think about, talk about, and praise God. See and be excited about what he is doing in your life and in others. And it’s hard for me to delight, because I don’t take time to think. I busy my life to where I don’t end up with the time to reflect. I think it’s a little of being an over worker type, and also that I am afraid to be alone with my own thoughts at times. Afraid I might discover all my ugly.”

Her message to other girls trying to increase their faith: “My advice is to not be like me in the way where you collect too many things to get done on your agenda and not start with enough time to recharge each day with the Lord. I read one time that if it takes you going and treating yourself to your favorite sonic drink or coffee in order to dedicate time sitting at the feet of Jesus, then do it. I find it helpful to plan a special sit down with God around a iced coffee or in a sonic drive-in spot. I’m always on the go, so the hardest part for me is to take time to slow down.”

On the “desires of her heart”: “A desire of my heart would be being able to reach souls in my school community that I will be teaching in and then and to be able to work with a congregation in Birmingham. I’m kinda in that weird stage where I am still a very young adult, married, but no kids in sight (hopefully on that.) I want to be able to use this time in my life (where I probably will have the most available time until we retire at the age of like 73 at this rate) to do good in creative ways within the church. Also, I love to make and create jewelry. And I use this hobby and passion to help others in what I think is a creative way. (Check out Addie’s beautiful jewelry here!) I think it would be incredible to have my own “company” online store type thing where my jewelry is tied into a devotional that comes along with the piece. Something that could be beneficial to not just the physical appearance but to the soul. I think it would also be a great way for people to encourage their friends in a special way. “

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One of my favorite things about Addie is the way she incorporates her faith into the everyday parts of her life. I hope that you have been encouraged by Addie’s words here and that her story will inspire you as you continue to grow in your faith!

Until next time!

Amelia

Monday Minute: Insurmountable Foes

Joshua 11:1-5 tells about a formidable group of kings that banded together to face God’s people in battle. The impressive list of these nations and their armies ends with this description: “as many people as the sand that is on the seashore in multitude…” Whoa. That’s a lot of people. Like, enough people that maybe the little army of Israel was thinking about letting that northern region just keep their land.

But what did God say? The very first words from God to Joshua in verse 6: “Do not be afraid.” He promised to deliver them, and He did. In facing an insurmountable foe, God simply looked at His people and told them not to fear. And then they watched as God used their trust and obedience to do great things.

What is your insurmountable foe? What are you facing that you think you can’t overcome, that feels bigger than all the sand on the shore?

Fear? “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.” Isaiah 43:1

Temptation? “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15

Grief? Jesus has been there. He knows how it feels to be hurting. “Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, ‘See how He loved him!'” John 11:35-36

Insecurity? For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:13-14

Loneliness? “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Weakness? “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

With God, no foe is insurmountable. There is nothing that He can’t overcome for you. Trust in His power. Do not fear. Obey Him— and then watch how quickly He will win the battle for you.

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Amelia