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!”

IMG_4423

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.”

IMG_4424

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.

image_6483441-2

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.”

pexels-photo-247195

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.

IMG_0097

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.”

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

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 🙂

pexels-photo-66997

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!!)

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

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!

67CD1512-9F67-486C-992C-758EB5908B4C.JPG

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.

IMG_8812

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 

or.png

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

people.jpeg

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:

FullSizeRender 9.jpg

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!”

fullsizerender.jpg

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.”

IMG_0144.jpg

Amelia