I want to get engaged

In my social club, we do this special thing when a girl gets engaged. We call it a “Candle Lighting.” The girl who’s engaged keeps it a big secret, and we all get together and sit in a circle and pass around a candle with her ring tied to it. We keep passing until whoever is engaged blows the candle out! Then we all scream and cry and the girl gets to tell the story of how he proposed before we all hug her and celebrate. It’s really wonderful.

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But for some of us, if we’re not careful, we can leave a Candle Lighting feeling a little sad. Because it just isn’t looking like a Candle Lighting is in the cards for us. Being engaged seems like a faraway dream. And it’s sad because there’s nothing we’d love more than to have a Candle Lighting, to have all our friends celebrate such an exciting new season with us. There’s nothing we’d love more than to have the promise of that ring and a sweet boy behind it. There’s nothing we’d love more than to be engaged.

We had a Candle Lighting on Sunday night. It was perfect, but then I left with that feeling heavy on my heart. want to get engaged.

So here’s what I’m thinking.

I’m going to get engaged. I want to get engaged to life. Engaged to the present. Engaged to right now. I want to get engaged to living in the fullest and best way.

I want to get engaged to people. I want to get engaged to a reckless love that doesn’t just talk. I want to get engaged to taking action. Engaged to the hopes and dreams of others. Committed to sharing and dreaming and loving along with them. Engaged to the promise of what their future could be.

I want to get engaged to joy. I want to get engaged to face-splitting smiles and heart-lifting songs. Committed to a peace that passes understanding. Pursuing kindness and friendship and faith. I want to get engaged to fearlessness, to a passionate dedication to live in freedom and do what’s right.

I want to get engaged to Jesus. I want to get invested in what He’s offering, to trust in His promises and believe in His faithfulness. I want to be fully committed to Him. I want to hear what He’s asking me to do and to say, “Yes!” every time. I want to run towards Him so hard, so fast that when I get to the end, I’ve got nothing left to give.

I want Him to look at me and be able to say, “She’s spoken for. She’s Mine. She said yes. She’s promised herself to a life that’s spent with Me.”

So yeah, I want to get engaged.

Engaged to God. Engaged to hope. Engaged to a life that’s worth living in Him.

That’s my new plan. I hope it’s your plan too. It may or may not include a ring somewhere along the way, but it will include a crown of life at the end.

I think that’s worth blowing the candle out on.

 

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.” Lamentations 3:22-25

Amelia

A young man named Saul

The other day I was reading Acts 7 and one phrase stood out to me that I hadn’t really noticed before.

At the end of the horrific and yet courageously beautiful story of Stephen’s murder, we find this statement: “And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul” (Acts 7:58).

With this introduction, we quickly learn that Saul’s life was a mess. He spent all his time overseeing the death of Christians. Acts 8:3 says he “made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.”

But Saul was just a young man. That’s the phrase that hit me for the first time. Saul was a young man, a very troubled young man, who had been influenced by his family and the environment of his upbringing. How else would someone so entrenched in the traditions of Judaism have responded in his situation? Saul didn’t know any other way. Of course he persecuted Christians. He didn’t know anything besides rigid religion and hate.

To the Christians of the early church, Saul was beyond a lost cause. He was the outright enemy. They feared him.

But Saul wasn’t a lost cause to God. God never gave up on him. He just needed a chance to show him the truth.

When Saul encountered Jesus in Acts 9, his whole life changed, and he became one of the most influential teachers of the gospel in history. His life was no longer about hatred and trouble. It was about peace and hope and love and faithfulness and true family. Even though he experienced so much pain and loss and struggle as a follower of Christ, he never looked back. He knew his life was infinitely better in the freedom of Jesus, no matter what happened to him next.

The real question for myself now is, who is Saul today?

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Who is a Saul to you? Who is the marginalized “lost cause” in your life? Who seems too far gone to be affected by the story of the gospel? Perhaps a young man or a young woman who, as a product of their upbringing, has been exposed to nothing but hurt and trouble. Who can’t help but respond in violence. Who doesn’t know any other way. Just like Saul.

God hasn’t given up on them, and neither can we. They may seem like a lost cause to us, but they aren’t to God. His love is still extended. Jesus’ arms are open wide for them, just as much as they are for us. Who could they be for the kingdom? Jesus can trade their trouble and hate for good. And we can’t let our fear and doubt keep us from reaching out to them.

The power of God changes people completely. It changed Saul completely. His life took a completely opposite direction when he came to know Christ. And his new brothers and sisters rejoiced that, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” Galatians 1:23

We all need Him. We all are guilty, and yet we all have received the invitation to be free. As Paul proclaimed, in Christ we are a new creation and a new life has been born to us through Him.

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

A troubled young man named Saul, through the power and grace of God, became an old man named Paul who could say with confidence and peace, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Surely, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that Day…” 2 Timothy 4:7-8

What young man named Saul can I seek out in my life? Dare to see beyond the young man and consider what Jesus could do. Consider who the new man in Christ could be— even a faithful Paul who found eternal life in Christ.

 

 

Amelia

Everybody needs Water

There’s a special thing at the heart of being God’s creation and it goes like this: even though every human that has ever lived is different, at the core of humanity, we all need the same thing.

Everybody in the world needs water. It’s a fact. About 3 days without water and you will die. So every human who has ever lived has spent at least a small part of each day seeking water.

That’s what one woman was doing in John 4. As she made her way out of the city of Sychar, this Samaritan woman, carrying her waterpot, headed toward Jacob’s well— the same well where Jesus was sitting and resting.

As she began to fill her pot, Jesus shocked her with a simple request: “Give Me a drink.” Why was his request so surprising to her? Everybody needs water. But Jews (like Jesus) “had no dealings with Samaritans” (v. 9).

It was the beginning of a conversation that would change that woman’s life. Because she came to the well looking for something— and she thought she knew what it was. Just like every human, she was seeking something we all need. She thought that it was water, just like the day before that and the day before that.

But when Jesus entered her life, the routine changed. Physical water wasn’t really her greatest need, and Jesus knew it. She was seeking something more sustaining, more life-giving, something for which God has placed a craving deeply inside each one of us. She was in need of Water.

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.'” John 4:13-14

Jesus presented His life-altering offer plainly and freely. He offered her Living Water, the Water that quenches true thirst, the Water that doesn’t dry up, the Water that—instead of getting used up and sweated out—only becomes more abundant the longer it is inside of you. He offered her the Water that every human needs, and that everyone is searching for, whether they realize it or not.

The Living Water that Jesus offered that day—and still offers to us— was radical. In Jesus there is life. In Jesus there is fulfillment of true spiritual needs. In Jesus there is restoration, peace, and freedom. In Jesus, the physical becomes secondary. That message is radical.

But perhaps just as radical as the message He shared was who He shared the message with.

Everybody needs Water.

Jesus offered Living Water to a counter-cultural character. A female, of a mixed race (who his own race despised). A 5-time divorcee who was currently co-habitating, who society had turned into an outcast.

Think about who the woman from Samaria becomes in your life. People who society has labeled as less-than. People who the church has deemed hopeless. Broken, frowned upon people who are buried in sin. People who we ignore or are afraid of. People who do not receive help or love or care from Christians, who maybe would be shamed at the doors of the church building.

Jesus was a radical Person with a radical message. He didn’t shame or ignore or fear. Jesus spoke kindly to this woman. He treated her with respect and dignity and love. He taught her and sought after the state of her soul. He recognized her shortcomings, but He offered help and hope in Himself. He showed her her greatest need and then He showed her how to meet it. Because everybody needs Water.

I need Water. You need Water. The Samaritan woman needed Water. Every single human—no matter how different they seem from us— needs the same thing: Living Water.

The question now is, am I willing accept the radical nature of Jesus and His message? Am I willing to be as radical as Him? Am I willing to step out of the blinders and borders that prevent me from seeing other people as fellow humans in search of Water? Am I ready to lift up the “less-than” and call them more in Christ? Am I ready to share the gospel message of hope with those that some of my fellow Christians say are “too far gone”? Can I spread the seed of love without judging the soil? Do I believe that Jesus can work in the lives of broken, frowned upon people and claim them as beloved children of God?

Everybody needs Water.

Having discovered an eternal spring, how can we keep from sharing it with everybody else?

 

“Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” John 7:37-38

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Amelia

Children of God, and so we are

What is it about being a grown-up that makes it so hard to be yourself?

My little brother’s 7th birthday party was ten years ago. It was held at a really fantastic place called BounceU— the stuff kid dreams are made of. We spent that whole Saturday morning jumping and sliding and bouncing through a room full of giant inflatables. Y’all, I wore myself out. And it was awesome! I’ll never get as much exercise as I did that day ever for the rest of my life. But I didn’t even know it was such a workout because wow it was fun!! I played so hard that when it was time for my brother to open presents, my hair was a disaster and my face was practically purple. And I was so, so happy.

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I was thinking about that party the other day, about how much fun I had, and how messy and ridiculous I looked, and I realized— that day, 10 year old Amelia didn’t care one single bit what anybody thought about her. She just played and ran and bounced her heart out. It didn’t matter to me that I might have looked a little too excited or that my hair was starting resemble a mad scientist’s or that my face was turning the color of a overripe tomato. I never worried about what other people were thinking about me or about what I looked like. I was just 100% happy to be myself. No worries. No insecurities. No comparisons.

How different that is from the world I’m living in today. A world of constant “does this outfit look okay?” and “can you take another picture, I look weird,” a world where not a hair can be out of place, where too much time is spent wondering what she thinks of you and judging what you think of her and let’s not even throw in what he could be thinking too.

When did we lose the joy of bouncing without fear? When did growing up mean that we had to bury every carefree minute of being wonderfully, uniquely, crazily happy under a thin disguise of perfect outfits and a carefully curated Instagram feed? What is it about being a grown-up that makes it so hard to be yourself?

Matthew 18:1-4 “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”

How can you “become as little children”? The joy of being a child is innocence, freedom, a spirit that’s quick to forgive, an unprejudiced view of people, an honest and loving and sweet soul. The joy of a being a child is the freedom to dream whatever you want to dream, to see the world with wide open arms, and to be yourself.

Jesus looked at a group of stubborn, prideful grown-ups who were bent on comparing themselves to others, who had just asked Him “Who is the greatest?” And Jesus, undoubtedly to their great surprise, brought a little child to them and said unless you change and assume the demeanor of this child, you cannot be part of the kingdom I am building.

How long are we going to let insecurities and comparison and fear keep us from doing the work of the Kingdom? God created you, with your face and your hair and your laugh and your every unique quality just exactly as you were meant to be. He designed you beautifully. He is the maker of good things, and He made you. And He made you with a desire to know Him, and a capacity to experience every good gift He wants to give you— a life of love, joy, fearlessness, and peace that surpasses understanding. And He made you to be part of the Kingdom, His church, and to be a diligent worker within it.

Insecurity, worry, comparison, and fear don’t line up in a life that is filled with Christ. Oh, they are present. Jesus warned us that the father of lies would make his every effort to bring us down. But Jesus said, “I am the Truth.” And the Truth is that child-like faith—humble, trusting, innocent, joyful faith— is what God desires most in us.

So what do you plan to do about it? What will you do with a Savior that says, “Let the little children come to me”?

I say, go for it! Live like you did when you didn’t care that anyone was watching. Live like a child! Live like you’re bouncing your way through an inflatables paradise— with great joy and love and laughter. Be free to be who you are in Jesus. Let your hair look a mess. Take happy pictures with your friends without bothering what you look like. Post every blurry, poorly edited, unfiltered photo on Instagram if you want. And most of all, live a true faith. A faith that is so unafraid to live for Jesus that you couldn’t care less if people think you’re weird or crazy for doing so. A faith that is so ridiculously joyful because of who He is and what He has done that it can’t be contained. A smiling, sharing, loving, genuine faith. A humble, obedient, trusting, peaceful faith.

That’s the life your gracious Father wants for you. It certainly won’t be perfect. It won’t be free of struggle or heartache or tears. But it can be real. And in Him, it can be so easy to be yourself.

Perhaps growing up in Christ is really about growing more and more into the children He wants us to be.

 

1 John 3:1 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”

 

 

-Amelia

Crossing the Jordan

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to teach the 4 and 5 year old Bible class at my home congregation. The lesson that Sunday morning was about Joshua leading God’s people as they crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land. I didn’t really appreciate the full meaning of that story— one I have heard and read so many times— until later in the morning, when the words of an old hymn caught my attention and touched my heart more than ever before:

When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid my anxious fears subside. Bear me through the swelling current, land me safe on Canaan’s side.

As we sang this verse, I realized that the Jordan River is about so much more than a temporary promised land in an Old Testament story. Like so many of these recorded moments of old from God’s Word, He was pointing us to a greater and more perfect coming way.

 

This life is our Jordan River. God has asked us to trust Him to lead us to the other side. We stand on the edge of an overwhelming, overflowing riverbank, with fear and hopelessness pressing in. But God says, “Follow Me. Follow Me across the river. Trust that I will make a way when there is no way.”

God told His people that the priests must step into the river first and when they did, the waters parted, held back upstream while the rest of the river drained away down below. Dry ground where once a mighty river flowed.

God has also given us a High Priest, one who has already taken the first step for us. Jesus, our Mediator and Savior has walked into the rushing water and parted the way with His blood. Where once we had no access to God, He has made a clear and perfect path for us.

God told His people to follow Joshua, a man who spoke God’s truth and courageously led people in the right way. His name pointed the people to the One who could always save: Yehoshu’a, “Jehovah is salvation.”

God has also given us a Joshua to lead us— Jesus, our Yeshu’a, our Savior, our “Jehovah is salvation.” Jesus is alive and He is THE Way (John 14:6). He is our courageous and fearless leader who humbly parted the water at the cross and continues to clear a path for us to God, seeking us out every day, imploring us to find Him.

It’s time to cross the Jordan, friends! God has made the path open wide. Jesus, our High Priest and our Savior leads us. On the other side lays our Promised Land— an eternal Canaan, where we will live forever with Him. This promise is sure. God has made a way! When we tread the verge of Jordan, He will make our fears disappear and bring us safely across to Him.

I’m thankful that the God who cleared the mighty Jordan river for His people then is the same God who still makes a way for His people today.

“Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men. He turned the sea into dry land; They went through the river on foot. There we will rejoice in Him.” Psalm 66:5-6

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Songs of praises, songs of praises, I will ever give to Thee. I will ever give to Thee.

 

Amelia

Girls Moving Mountains: Olivia

Hey friends! Say hi to Olivia, our latest GMM!

Olivia is a sophomore Biology Major at Freed-Hardeman University. She plans to pursue a career in Physical Therapy. I see Olivia as someone with a genuine and straight-up honest spirit about God and about her relationship with Him. She is real about her struggles but passionate about her pursuit of an increasingly greater connection with Jesus.

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Here’s what she has to share with you today:

Her faith story: “My relationship with God has definitely been a journey. I was blessed to be raised in the church with a faithful family. I went to all the Bible Bowls, Area Wide Youth Devos, and church camps. Some of my favorite memories and dearest friends were made at church camp, and I am so thankful for the people and experiences that God blessed me with, but my faith was child-like because I was a child. Being a Christian was something I was supposed to do, but as I matured, I understood that it so so much more. I feel like God reveals himself to us in many different ways. In our hardest struggles, in our greatest triumphs, and everything in between. My first semester at Freed-Hardeman qualifies as all of the above. It’s pretty standard to feel that trademark “I’m on my own now. I have to make grown-up decisions. I need to make friends. What’s a social club? How does an ATM work? Someone send help pls” feelings that are all part of moving away from home, but this is more than a test of patience. It is a builder of faith. For the first time, I was in a new environment, surrounded by new people, new churches, new classes, new responsibilities, new stresses, and new freedoms. I was drowning in the unknown. It’s funny that so many of us feel the loneliest when surrounded by a sea people. I isolated myself because I didn’t know how to handle so many new things, and in my isolation, God was waiting for me to cast my anxieties on him. My faith has grown tremendously in my three semesters at Freed-Hardeman, but I am still growing, and I have a long way to go. I see Jesus all around me every single day in the faces of the new people that, at one time, scared me to death. I see Him in the upperclassmen as they lead and exhort the younger students to keep going, promising it will get better, and it does. This past semester was arguably the hardest few months of my life. I was more stressed about my classes than ever before. I was doubting the plan that I had for my future. I felt like I was falling short in every aspect of my life, and in my short-comings, God was waiting for me to rely on Him. I am still a work in progress, but I know that God can do more through us than we can imagine, so I have faith that He is just getting started with me.”

Her favorite passage of scripture: “My favorite verses are II Corinthians 12:9-10, ‘And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.'” These verses are a constant reminder to me that even though I am flawed, weak, and so imperfectly human, that God’s glory can be magnified through my weakness. It is a reminder that I am not called to rely on my own strength and ability but to reflect the light of Jesus.

“I Peter is definitely my favorite book because I feel like it is such an amazing exhortation to those Christians who might not understand the depth of what they are now a part of. He explains how the devil seeking to pull them away from their faith, but then he encourages them in reminding them how powerful God truly is. He tells them how much they mean to God, and how that should motivate them to live for Him. I Peter is a great book to read, in my opinion, when life is really hitting hard. When we need a reminder of how powerful God is and how much he cares for, as well as reliance on God to guide us through this life. ”

Her practical suggestions for Bible study: “One of the biggest blessings in my time at Freed has been the Spiritual Disciplines class that I took with Matt Cook. The focus of the course was to build habits and learn methods that improved the quality, knowledge, and consistency of our relationship with God. I learned that the most important thing about studying God’s Word is to study God’s Word. It is intentionally setting apart time to dig into the Scripture to see what God is telling us. It is reading scriptures that are relevant to you and drawing applications from every passage. It is not beating yourself up for missing a day, but choosing to pick up right where you left off the next time. God tells us how to make it through this life, we just have to open His Word and listen.”

Her prayer relationship with God (this is good!!): “Prayer is hard; let’s be real. Sometimes, we just say the same old things about the same old things, and when we do that, it gets boring. When it gets boring, we stop praying because we think that God gets tired about hearing about the same things over and over when that could not be further from the truth. The biggest game-changer for my prayer life has been a method called Praying the Bible. It is when you take a scripture, usually a psalm, and you read it and use it to inspire thoughts for your prayers. For example, Psalm 23 verse 1 “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” you might pray, “Father, thank you for being my Shepherd. Thank you for guiding me and providing me with everything that I need.” When you finish with one line, you just move onto the next one. You will quickly find yourself praying about things that you have never thought to pray about before, and I found my prayers to be a lot more sincere. It is the closest that we can get to a real conversation with God because we are talking to Him, and the we are immediately back in His Word hearing from Him.”

How she defines “delighting in the Lord”: “I would define “delighting in the Lord” as always finding our contentment in Him which is difficult, in my opinion, because God isn’t instant or physical. Most of our worldly delights are, in some regard, forms of instant gratification. Delighting in God often means waiting for Him and trusting Him which is difficult because we are very physical creatures living in a very physical world, so to take our trust away from our abilities and the things of this life, and put our trust in God, it takes so much faith.”

On the “desires of her heart”: “My biggest hope is to grow in wisdom and work on being a ‘gentle, quiet spirit.’ I have a tendency to be very goal-oriented, which can be good, but it also means that I easily get distracted from the realness of eternity to focus on the realness of this world. So, instead of stressing and overly seeking more worldly knowledge, I want to relax and have faith that God will grant me wisdom when I ask for it and through that wisdom, a peace that passes understanding.”

Her message to other girls seeking to grow in faith: “Furthering your relationship with God will push you in ways that you didn’t know existed. This life will take you on a ride of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but God is always in front of us clearing the way, behind us, supporting us and watching our backs, and beside us, holding our hand as He guides us. Put your faith in God, and you will never ever be disappointed. He has given us everything, so give Him your everything.”

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I hope these good words from Olivia brighten up your Tuesday!!

 

Amelia

Girls Moving Mountains: Bailie

Hey friends! Let me introduce you to our latest GMM, Bailie! Bailie is 19 years old and sophomore at Freed-Hardeman University. She is SUPER active on campus, genuine, funny, and one of the most joy-filled people I’ve ever seen! She is an accounting/business administration major but her passion is youth ministry, and she hopes to involved with helping young people no matter where she ends up in life.

At Freed, Bailie is the current Student Government Association Spiritual Life Chair, where she plans and oversees many spiritual activities around campus. If you’re a Freed student, check this out: “Come on out every other Monday night at 10:30 this semester for our campus-wide devotional. We’re going to be discussing the topic of “Give Us Your Eyes” to see things the way Jesus sees them, to have His perspective. We’ll be looking at different topics and hearing from some of our peers. Look for events on Facebook and listen in chapel for announcements!”

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Bailie is a leader with a passion for God and for people, and she has got some great and inspiring words to share with you today:

Her faith story: “I have grown up going to church with my family every time the doors are open. As a child, my mom would read me stories from the Bible from my Bible story book. As I got older, I began to read and study my “big girl” Bible on my own. Going to Sunday School and reading these accounts with my family at home was where I really started learning about God’s Word, the love of Jesus, and the hope of eternity that we have if we follow Him. I started attending Maywood Christian Camp when I was seven years old. Listening to the devotionals and also watching older kids be baptized and live faithful lives to our Lord had a huge impact on me as I started to form a relationship with God.

“All of this that I learned for the first 14 years of my life led to my decision to put on Christ in baptism and have my sins washed away. I was baptized on July 6, 2012 in the swimming pool in Bader Gym (rest in peace) on the campus of Freed-Hardeman University at Horizons Leadership Camp. Since then, I have continued to grow and learn through so many different avenues. I have been privileged to sit at the feet of so many wonderful Bible teachers at Maywood and Horizons over the past 12 summers. I have learned from many wonderful teachers over the years at my home congregation in Mississippi. Once I started attending events away from home (such as Maywood, Horizons, EU, CYC, EYC) and away from the routine “required” worship hours, my faith really started to flourish. I attended these events because I wanted to, not because they were just there. Going to these events helped me realize and take back home the idea that I get to go before His throne in worship, and I get to learn more about Him through His Word.

“This past summer I was able to attend Maywood Christian Camp ALL SUMMER to recruit for Freed-Hardeman. This was such a defining summer. I got to hear so many wonderful speakers, learn so many things from different classes, meet some AWESOME people and hear about their spiritual journeys, and even lead in ways I’ve never had the opportunity to lead before. I was weary and tired a few weeks in but somehow I found the strength to persevere a few more weeks. What a true blessing it was to experience this. I got to see God work in so many ways this summer, and I love to talk about it, so if you’re interested, just ask! 🙂 My God has been so good to me for the past 19 ½ years. I’m thankful for His goodness, mercy, grace, and that no matter what this life throws at me, He is always good.”

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Her favorite passage of Scripture (this is beautiful): “My favorite passage is Luke 1:46-49, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God, my Savior. For He took notice of the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.’ This passage of scripture comes right after Mary finds out that she is pregnant with Jesus. I try to keep this scripture on my mind as much as possible. We sing it now as “Magnificat,” which, according to Webster’s dictionary means “the canticle (song/hymn) on the Virgin Mary.” Mary’s soul is MAGNIFYING the LORD because God CHOSE HER to do awesome things through her, even though she says that she is just a humble servant. Every single day my goal is to just let my soul MAGNIFY our LORD because He is so good and does SO much for us all the time. He even did the most amazing thing by sending Jesus to die for us so that we could spend eternity with Him one day – that in itself is enough for us let our souls magnify the Lord in all that we do. My favorite book of the Bible is Hosea, and that might be a little bit of an odd book to be my favorite, but it perfectly exemplifies the love that Jesus has for us!!! So many times we fall back into those sins that keep us away from having that intimate relationship with God, but every single time He takes us back – back into His loving, gracious arms. What a good God we serve!! Take the time to read Hosea!! It’s an awesome story!!!”

Her practical suggestions for Bible study: “This school year I have found a couple of different things that have helped me study the Word more often and learn more from it. I have a Bible app on my phone, and I can start different reading plans that have devotionals and scriptures with them to read each day. There are so many different reading plans one can choose from over different topics and different sets of scripture. Another thing I encourage you to do is find a friend and challenge each other to dig deep into His Word every single day. Hold each other accountable.”

Her prayer relationship with God: “PRAYER IS SO IMPORTANT. What an awesome thing it is to get to bow before the throne of God and tell Him about our day, thank Him for all of the blessings He has given us, ask Him for comfort and strength for ourselves and others, pour our heart and soul out to Him when we’re hurting. Every time I get in my car to drive anywhere by myself, I say a prayer before I turn the radio on. I highly suggest doing this!! Especially here at FHU we barely ever get alone time with God, so what a perfect time that is to catch up with Him! He wants to hear from YOU! He created you, and He loves you! What an awesome thing it is to bow before His throne in prayer. Psalm 5:3 says, ‘My voice you shall hear in the morning, O LORD; In the morning I will direct it to You, and I will wait in expectation.’ We should pray with the mindset that we can wait expectantly for God to answer our prayers because HE IS GOING TO!!!”

How Bailie defines “delighting in the Lord”: “In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Edmund is convinced by the White Witch to eat Turkish delight, and for some reason this is one of the first things I think of when I hear the word ‘delight.’ This desert pleased him so much that he wanted more and more and more of it. As Christians, we should delight/please God so much that He wants us to keep doing more and more for Him. When I crawl into bed at night, I want to be so tired from serving Him, and I want Him to look down upon me in delight that I am His. It is so hard to do this though because we get so caught up in the worries of this word. We get caught up in our school work, social organizations, leadership positions, relationships, and even Makin’ Music that we forget that we aren’t here for the purpose of being involved and accomplishing all of these things – we are here for one purpose— to please our God. And the Bible teaches us that when we delight in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart—good grades in school, leadership positions, a super cute boyfriend, and maybe even a 1st place Makin Music show, but GOD HAS TO BE FIRST AND OUR MAIN PRIORITY HAS TO BE TO PLEASE HIM. And if we don’t get all of the desires of our hearts, then we still have to give God the glory because He sees the bigger picture and NO MATTER WHAT – HE IS STILL SO GOOD.”

On the “desires of her heart”: “I worry too much. I worry about EVERYTHING. I want to move this mountain in my life so that before, during, and after bad things happen, doubt never crosses my mind. I want to have complete faith that my God is going to take care of me. This summer I learned that I have such a strong passion for ministering to teenage girls, and this is such a desire of my heart that I have prayed for opportunities to do this, and God has truly shown out. This is a mountain I pray God will help me move so far during my lifetime.”

Her message to other girls striving to grow in faith (this is so so good!!): “In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us to go the second mile. This is something that I found to be so helpful in my Christian walk, in my school, job— anything really. The context of this scripture is that these when Roman soldiers were traveling, Jews were required to help carry the Roman soldier’s belongings for exactly a mile. When a Roman soldier asked a Jew to do this, they had no other option— they had to do it, so of course this made them mad. Jesus tells these Jews, “Go TWO miles!” Do what’s required, AND THEN SOME. My advice to other girls striving to increase your faith… is to read the amount of scripture you normally read and then maybe a couple more chapters. Pray at meals and at night and then maybe add a morning prayer or a prayer walking to class into your daily routine. Talk to your close friends about Jesus, and then start bringing Jesus up in normal everyday conversations with people you aren’t so close to. Do what is required AND THEN SOME. LOVE HARD. Love the people who don’t get a lot of love. Show everyone you come in contact with the LOVE OF JESUS. BE HAPPY even on the hard days. Remember that you may be the only Bible that some people ever read. Stand up for what the scriptures say in LOVE. STEP OUT ON FAITH IN GOD AND DO CRAZY AWESOME THINGS FOR HIM. Remember that He is molding you and creating you into the most beautiful MASTERPIECE. He may have to chip away things in your life that aren’t good for you and that you don’t want to let go of, but dear sister – let Him take it away. You will be so glad you did. Life is hard. People are going to be mean to you. People are going to say things that hurt you, but I PROMISE YOU – Heaven will SURELY be WORTH it ALL.

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I hope you have been as encouraged as I have by Bailie’s powerful words of faith! If you’d like to hear more from her, check out her blog at bailiewhite.weebly.com

I am continually grateful for sisters in faith like Bailie who build people up and live their lives in mountain-moving faith for Jesus! Check back soon to hear from more amazing girls!

Amelia

 

Laying it all down: Trust and Obey

The other day I was singing a song that I’ve sung probably a thousand times in my life, and all of a sudden the third verse hit me like it never has before.

“But we never can prove the delights of His love until all on the altar we lay; For the favor He shows, and the joy He bestows, are for those who will trust and obey.”

I don’t know about you, but I like holding onto things. I like to be in control. I like to be in charge. And essentially what I’m doing is saying, “Okay, God. I know you’ve told me to trust You, but what I really think is that it actually would be better if I would just not do that and just stand over here and hold onto all of my problems and take care of things by myself.”

How’s that working out for you? Because for me, it’s not going so well.

Laying it all down on the altar of faith is hard. It’s not easy to surrender control of your life, to sacrifice your wants and your anxieties and your fears. But God wants you to. Why? Because only when you’ve let go can He prove His loving favor and bestow His joy to us. And too often, unable to see past the temporary security of my comfort zone, I stubbornly refuse to relinquish my hold on my life, and I miss out on all of the goodness and blessings and freedom of just giving it over to Him.

It isn’t a one day, one time fix. It’s a lifetime of choosing to trust Him over yourself, a lifetime of sacrifice. Jesus never said otherwise. But He also promised that it would be so worth it. No more worries. No more fears. No more burdens. No more guilt. No more lonely reliance on yourself alone. Rather, trust. Obedience. Joy. Grace. Favor. Love. Peace.

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

“He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.” Proverbs 16:20

“Trust and obey! For there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

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Amelia

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