Whatever Lies Ahead

The unknown can be a scary thing.

It is human nature to be frightened of things out of our control. When things are sliding out of reach, we do everything in our power to take control of the situation, to “make it right.”

Just after Christmas, I had all these plans for January. I was going to get up early, exercise more, study more, etc. but things definitely did not go as I planned. Every couple of weeks, I’d give myself a little pep-talk. “Okay, tomorrow is a new week, start it off right.” But this week, what happened? I got sick. It snowed. My dad stayed home from work. I was a bundled-up, shivering little ball of headaches and fevers, so naturally I did not do school. My plans fell apart.

My pastor quoted something in a sermon recently, and I cannot remember what it was from, nor can I remember the exact wording, but it went something like this: “It is not wrong to make plans. Make plans that are God-focused, and be willing for them to change according to His will. Write your plans in pencil, as it were.”

We are called not to lean on our own understanding, but to trust in God to provide and care for you during whatever lies ahead. We can be secure in the knowledge that He made us and takes care of us, and knows what lies ahead. He’s known since before we were born. He’s always known.

There are going to be days where things don’t go as planned. There are going to be times where you don’t know what lies ahead. It may seem scary, but “With God behind us, and His arms around us, we can face whatever lies ahead.” 

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‘Tis the season

I cannot wait for this Christmas break. After a long and tiring semester, this is really my chance to wind down.

I’m looking forward to relatives, brunches, presents, food, and just good ‘ole rest and relaxation.

The whole Christmas season is one of my most favorite times of the year. I love the scented candles, decorating, baking, wrapping gifts, making cards, sitting down with a cup of coffee and a good book, etc.

But I’ve been thinking lately. You know what happens: we go around, singing about cheer, talking about giving things away, thinking about the look on someone’s face when they open gifts. But do we really make an effort to make someone else’s day? Sure, we give people presents. But do we really go and look for ways to give to other people, or are we so involved in making sure everything that affects us is perfect so we can have a life of ease?

A couple mornings ago, some of my siblings and I decided to get some breakfast at McDonalds. Now, this doesn’t happen very often, but it was a nice treat. While contemplating what to order, an old man wearing a cap that said: “Vietnam Veteran” came up to us and said,

“I’m paying for everything this morning, so order what you want, and it’s on me. I got a raise!” He grinned with whatever teeth he had left and wanted us a $20 bill. Then, as he walked over to his table, we thanked him, then watched as he sat down by himself and drank his coffee.

We ordered our food, used his money, then proceeded to give  him the change. (or at least try to) He insisted that we keep it, and told us it was his pleasure.

We got home, ate our food, and told our mom what happened. When our dad got home for lunch, we told him also. He said something that didn’t even cross my mind.

“You should give the change to somebody in need. Somebody who needs it more than you do.”

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So much of this season is focused on ourselves. What I want for Christmas. Which decorations put up. Me this, me that. 

While I was thinking about what would like, he was thinking about what others would like. While I was trying to decide how to spend my money, he was making sure we had money to spend.

If a total stranger can show us that he cares, shouldn’t we do the same for our own families?

The Lord has been showing me lately, that the world indeed does not revolve around me. Whether it’s by sitting in an uncomfortable position so my little sister can sleep soundly in the car, or when I spend much of my long-saved money on Christmas presents.

Every day, more and more things happen that make it obvious that I am not the center of everyone’s attention.

Like earlier, I saw a homeless man on the side of the road. It was cold, and he didn’t have very warm clothes. Was he more needy than I? Of course. Did I do anything about it? No.

People like this are everywhere I look. I seem to notice them more and more.

Not everyone has a merry Christmas. Not everyone can afford a Christmas tree, or even a warm house for the winter. Not everyone has family that loves them.

So this Christmas, try not to think about yourself more than others. Maybe go visit elderly people at your Church. Maybe put a few dollars in the Salvation Army bucket you saw at the grocery store. Maybe give a coat to the cold man on the side of the street. There are so many opportunities to show Christ’s love and to make someone else’s day.

What are you looking forward to this Christmas?

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Excuses, excuses, excuses…

So here I am. Sitting on my bed with the sniffles and a sore throat. If I could, I would demonstrate how similar my voice sounds to a frog’s. I would show you the stack of schoolwork I didn’t do because I feel like dirt. I would bring to your attention how busy my week has been, thus exhausting me. I would probably sneeze a few times, just for emphasis.

You may be asking yourself: “What in the world is the point of all this?”

Well, friend, I always find myself making excuses for why I don’t do things. “Oh, I was gone all morning and I’m super tired. I think I’ll take a nap instead of finishing my art project.” “I really don’t feel well. I don’t think I should do math with no grey blood cells.” “I’m coughing every few seconds and am totally miserable. I really think I should just lay back, sip a hot beverage, and try to get rest. After all,  rest, of course, is how you recover.”

Now you may be saying to yourself: “Those all seem like perfectly alright explanations as to why you didn’t get any work done. I mean, would want to do school while sick?”

Exactly my point.

Everybody, everyday, everything, just excuses, excuses, excuses. After all, it’s a perfectly normal thing to do, isn’t it? Of course there is a logical explanation as to why everything happens.

I find myself making excuse after excuse, day after day, week after week. If I kept a tally of all the excuses I make, it would truly be a scary sight.

The question is, why?

Why? Why make excuses when you could have just worked hard and done your work in the first place? Why procrastinate when you could finish your math lesson, or finish that English test, or study your Latin vocabulary?

When you can get things done and finish, why not?

Think about it. (I do seem to say that a lot, don’t I?)

A good friend/mentor taught me this phrase:

Excellence in all things, and all things to the Glory of God. 

If I was truly doing all things to the glory of God, wouldn’t it only be logical to do my best? Shouldn’t we give our best to God?

Whether it’s in school, chores, activities, or whatever, we should all give our best to God. Don’t do it to be popular, get rewarded, or even to feel good at the end of the day. Because when it’s all said and done, it’s only God’s opinion that matters.

Do your best in all things. Strive to finish well. And give glory to God.

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Review: Growing Up Christian, by Karl Graustein

Growing Up Christian front cover

Melody and I attend this awesome youth bible study at our church on Wednesday nights. We’ve done the book Don’t Waste Your Life,  by John Piper, and just recently finished Growing Up Christian, by Karl Graustein.

This book is instructive, encouraging, convicting, and well-written. You should read it!

Anyway, I thought I’d tell you about it: what I thought, how it convicted me, and what it’s like. Keep in mind that this is my opinion on the book. I’m sure many more qualified people have done reviews on it, and I’m sure they are amazing. Feel free to look them up and link them in the comments.

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There are many devotional books for teens out there. This is one written for “church kids.”

If that term is unfamiliar to you, it means kids who are growing up in a godly family, and regularly going to church. Kids who “grow up Christian.”

As Marvin Olasky says, the book “Helps Christian teens to count their blessings and pray for more. ”

Now that’s a pretty brief description of basically the entire book.

At the end of each chapter, there’s a song on the same topic as the chapter. Songs like Haven’t You been Good? and Before the Throne of God Above. There’s also a bible verse, and prayer guidelines at the end of each chapter. The chapters each have a theme, so to speak, and most of them have a short story at the beginning illustrating a problem that “church kids” face throughout life.     I found those very helpful.

Quote from the book (Chapter 8: Building a Firm Foundation) :

“We need a personal relationship with God – a faith and a walk of own. We need to personally know, believe, and apply every truth of Scripture not because our parents or pastors tell us they are true, but because we personally know they are true. We need to firsthand knowledge of the Word of God and firsthand love for our Savior. We cannot simply know the stories of the Bible and attempt to repeat what we think our parents believe. We cannot be satisfied with surface knowledge. We cannot take our faith casually. We cannot afford to halfheartedly approach the Bible, what we believe, or why we believe it. We need to make sure to lay a strong foundation in our spiritual lives by loving and pursuing sound biblical doctrine.”

Now that’s convicting. Take a moment and read it again and analyze it. Think about it. Do you take your faith casually? Do I? I am constantly thinking about this quote. It really makes me think. Do you want a personal relationship with God? Are you laying a strong foundation in your spiritual life? Am I?

“The more we know about the Bible, the stronger our affections should be for our Lord. And the more we love Him, the more we will want to live in a way that pleases Him.” (Chapter 8 quote)

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This book has so many truths, and I’ve reread and reread and reread it. I’m constantly wanting more, more, more. This book is definitely worth the time and money.

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For hurt feelings….

Have you ever had your feelings hurt?

Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.

Has anybody ever said something to tear you down? Have you ever done something wrong, and have no idea how to fix it?

I have.

If you’re anything like me, when your feelings get hurt, you shut down, and forget you have access to the best and most wonderful resource for encouragement and advice.

The Bible.

A friend once told me that when she was sad or upset, she would read tragic stories from the Bible to help her look at her situation differently. (i.e. The Crucifiction, Job, etc.)

I have found that very useful. But there are other ways of using The Bible when you are upset. Look up encouraging verses. Read them. Study them. Dwell on them.

I’d like to share some verses that have really helped me and many others when they are sad.

  • Joshua 1:0

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

  • Lamentations 3:22-27, 31-33

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth.

31 For the Lord will not
cast off forever,
32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33 for he does not afflict from his heart
or grieve the children of men.

  • Romans 12:14

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

  • Matthew 5:7

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

  • Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

  • Jeremiah 32:17

17 ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

  • Romans 8:31-39

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Aren’t those verses amazing? There are many more verses that are encouraging and uplifting, so many that I cannot name them all. Every single one of these verses are true. The Lord will never leave you for forsake you. Never.

Even when it feels like your whole world is falling apart, God is with you. He will lift you up.

Here’s a quote from a song that is so true and amazing.

“All this time
From the first tear cried
To today’s sunrise
And every single moment between
You were there
You were always there
It was You and I
You’ve been walking with me all this time
You’ve been walking with me all this time

Ever since that day
it’s been clear to me
That no matter what comes
You will never leave
I know You’re for me
And You’re restoring

Every heartache and failure
Every broken dream
You’re the God who sees”

~All This Time, by Britt Nicole

 

What do you do when your feelings are hurt? What Bible verses encourage you? What songs do you listen to?

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Prayer

Let me start by saying this: I am not perfect.

I need prayer.

The definition for prayer, simply put, is “A solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God.”

But many people are confused about prayer.

Many people don’t understand why we pray. They say things like, “If God knows everything, why pray?”

Many people have asked that question at one time or another, and some people still don’t know the answer.

So, you ask, why do we pray?

Not because God needs it, but because we need it… desperately….

I’ve contemplated on a way to describe  our need for prayer, not only to other people, but to myself. So I went to the Bible: the perfect and holy Word of God, for answers.

The Bible is full of prayer.

My challenge for myself and you girls, too, is to find a verse a day about prayer, and to spend time alone, talking to God. Praying to Him.

Every morning, we, as a family, say the Lord’s Prayer. Unfortunately, I rarely stop to think that this is the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples.  A holy and perfect prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer as found in Matthew 6:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil”

To say that prayer, to have the privilege to talk with God, should not be forgotten. Even Jesus needed prayer when he was on earth. If Jesus needed it, don’t we?

My prayer today:

“Holy Father in Heaven. Please help  me not to forget your love and grace and mercy. I’m so prone to sin, and doubt, and anger, that I rarely stop to think about how much I should be thankful for everything. And I pray as Jesus taught us, saying, My Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give me this day my daily bread, and forgive me my debts, as I also have forgiven my debtors. And lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever.

Amen…”

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What is your prayer?

In Christ and for Christ,

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Little Miss Stewardess

Do you know what it means to be a steward? Google says that a steward is someone who looks after passengers. In other words, stewards take care of people. We are stewardesses. We have things; a life, a home, a family. We are their stewardesses.

There are two kinds of stewardesses: One who takes care of their subjects, and one who does not. Which one are you?

You have a home, a bed, and an electronic device that you are reading this post from. For example, you also have a body. You are your body’s steward. It may be hard to picture it that way, but it’s true! If you do not keep our body clothed with modest clothing, you are abusing the body God gave you to steward. I’m not saying that you do that, I’m just advising you–one christian girl to another.

I am not perfect. I am a sinner and am a terrible stewardess. Just as terrible as any of you girls out there. I am not a perfect stewardess. In fact, most days, my bed does not look very good.

Do you take care of yourself and your possessions correctly?

Thoughts? Comments?

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These are a few of my least-favorite things…..and favorite things…..

You know that timeless classic: The Sound of Music?

I love it.

There’s a song in it, which I’m sure you’ve heard.

“When the dog bites, when the bee stings,
when I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
and then I don’t feel so bad.”

Some things recently have really been making me upset.

People being pharisees. (self-righteous or sanctimonious)

People tearing other people down.

People thinking they know everything.

What really bugs me, is when I notice myself doing those things. When I really think about it, I am a pharisee. I tear others down. I act like I know everything.

That’s why God sent Jesus.

To save us, even though we don’t deserve it.

Even though we could never ever earn it.

I wrote an alternate version of the song I mentioned earlier.

My Loving Father, my help and salvation,

All things good and  all kind words spoken,

Brothers and sisters and friends praising God,

These are a few of my favorite things. 

When some words sting,

When I’m doubting,

When I’m lonely,

I simply remember my help and salvation, 

And then I don’t feel

So

Bad…. 

Do you long to praise God? Do you look forward to worshiping God with His People on Sundays? Do you long to serve Him?

I do…. Sometimes….

And when I don’t,

He is gracious

He is Merciful

He is Loving.

1 John 1: 9

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Anna Elizabeth

Honesty is a Virtue

Hello, girls. 🙂

 

Have you ever found yourself not being completely honest when when trying to be kind and gracious? I have. A lot. Then I think to myself, “Well, if I say what it really looks like, then I’ll hurt her feelings…” The truth is, that honesty is a virtue. I know what is feels like when somebody is not gracious, and is very rude about the cold truth. I, myself, am like that sometimes. You can be honest and gracious at the same time.

Here’s an example:

Your little sister just finished singing a song for your family. She was out of tune, half screaming, and messed up on the words. Your parents have told you to be nice to her, but you also want to be honest. What do you do?

What not to do:

Little Sister: The Singer: “Sister! Sister! Did you like it? Did I do okay?”

You: Big Sister: “Well, you sounded terrible, but you’re my little sister, and I have to be nice to you, so yes. I liked it.”

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That’s happened to me before. Not exactly in the same situation, but very similar. I’ve been reading through the Bible, and I think I’ve found a way in this situation, with me as the Big Sister, to be gracious and honest at the same time.

Little Sister: The Singer: “Sister! Sister! Did you like it? Did I do okay?”

You: Big Sister: “Oh, Little Sister! How did you get so big, that you can sing by yourself? You did your best, and I’m sure that is you practice more, you can be even better.”

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See what I mean? Now, I’m a sinner. I sometimes don’t even think about be gracious, and most of the time, I forget to be honest. I start tearing people down, for my own gain. I’m a sinner, just like everybody else. But I’ve found a few verses that has really helped me lately:

Proverbs 12:17

“Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit.”

Proverbs 24:26

“Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips.”

Proverbs 16:24

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”

Proverbs 22:11

“He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.”

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I hope this is helpful, Sisters-in-Christ.

Anna Elizabeth

A Post I did a while ago…

A while ago, when we first started doing this, I posted something about fighting… I thought I’d share it with you again.

When you have a fight, apologize! Even when you think that you didn’t do anything wrong, maybe you did… When you and a loved one fight, it hurts, and is wrong. Repent. Maybe you hurt their feelings when you said they were wrong. Maybe you were the one who did the wrong doing, and then accused the other person. You just have to remember the Golden Rule; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. And also remember the Fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.      If you just remember those two things, and don’t fight in the first place, then you won’t have to worry about it.  Now I know nobody’s perfect, and I’m not a pastor, just a friend giving advice (and I speak from LOTS of experience!) ;) Karen and I had a fight, and we made up an hour later, and I learned from it, wait until the person  is not  yelling or screaming, and then pray for guidance, and try to figure out if you did anything wrong, and the chances are, that you both did some wrong, no matter whether you think you did or not. So here’s my final tip: Put yourself in the other person’s shoes, stop and think, then apologize.

With love,

Anna Elizabeth