Enjoy Everything

To give some background on what this phrase means to me, this phrase of ‘Enjoy Everything’ became a sort of motto for both my family when, 8 years ago, my 19 year old cousin was killed by a drunk driver in a hit and run. In his pocket there was a To-Do list for the next day, one thing to do was pay a ticket and there were a few other things. But, the last thing on his list was simply Enjoy Everything. In hindsight, this phrase and the simple yet powerful reminder it provides has been applicable to my entire life.

This sentiment of “Enjoy Everything” can be applied to the various situations we all have gone through and will go through. Good or bad.
As I prepared this, I sat down and read Ecclesiastes; most people are familiar with Chapter 3, the first verse states-

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”.
The chapter continues and goes through different situations and conflicts. I won’t go through all of them, but I definitely encourage you all to read Ecclesiastes. It only takes about 10 minutes, and it is so applicable- at least for me, to this season- and it serves as such a great reminder on perspective.

Each season and moment in our lives has rewards, heart breaks, and challenges. I think, for those in this college season in our lives, we can think of something that fits each of those categories. Maybe the reward of A’cing an exam or utilizing a student discount. Maybe the heart break of failing a class or being away from your family. For those in a season of Middle or High School- maybe the reward of winning a sports game or making a team. Maybe it’s the heartbreak of losing friends who you thought would be with you forever.

Obviously, there are worse things and I am sure each one of us has been through our own personal seasons of heart break, of challenges, and of rewards. But, I want to encourage us to enjoy everything in every season. Even if that season is watching as doctors turn off life support. Even if that season is burying someone you love. Even if that season is losing everything you have.

I know I sound crazy- I am telling you to enjoy things that break your heart into a million pieces and that change your life. But, here’s the thing- God is working for our good, always. My dad, and I am sure you have heard this if you have been to church or around Christians, always says, “God is good, All the time”. He is good and He is working for our good. When we are in the thick of the situation, of the challenge, it is hard to see the good and it is hard to imagine there could be anything good about it. But, God.
God sees the big picture, God is shaping us; He is molding us into who we are destined to be. When God breaks us, He is still there- He is holding us and crying with us, His heart breaks with ours. Then, in His perfect timing, He picks us up and makes us into something even better. In Ecclesiastes, it also says that a sad face does good for the heart.

We can trust Him. Why? Because we have a promise, His promise.
His promise in Romans 8:28, that He will make something good out of the storms that bring devastation in our lives.
His promise in Isiah 66:9, that He will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.
His promise in Jeremiah 33:6, to heal us and give us abundant peace and security.
He is working for our good, always.

I don’t know if any of you can relate to this but, a lot of times I find myself neglecting the season I am in, planning and dreaming for the future, thinking once I get there I will be happy, content, and can finally enjoy my life. But we shouldn’t be waiting to enjoy the next season, we should enjoy the one we are in.
As much as we don’t like to think about death and our lives coming to an end, at least I don’t; we only have a certain amount of time on the earth to make a difference and to live our earthly lives. Some people have a longer time, some shorter. When we are laying on our death bed at the end of our lives we won’t have a “next season” to plan and wait to enjoy- besides Heaven of course.

Each new challenge, each heart break is a chance for us to grow and to let God do what He wants in us and through us. Throughout my life, growing up, I never, ever thought what I have gone through to be part of my testimony and may be able to help someone else one day. I wouldn’t change a thing about my life or experiences.

Enjoying everything takes faith. Faith doesn’t mean everything will be great, it’s believing God knows what He is doing even when. He has our back, He promised and He can’t break His promises.
This ride of life may be bumpy, but we can have peace in the fact that He is working for our good.

sabrina hope

 

It Takes Time

Remember when you were a kid and you would get a cut and want it to go away as soon as possible? So, you’d pick at it or try to cover it with a band aid. Your parents would get on to you and say that you’re just making it worse or you’re just making it heal slower. Well, they were right.

The more you try to pick on your wounds the more it will take longer to heal. Covering it with a band aid won’t help either because no wound heals overnight. They say that time heals all wounds. It’s true.  You see, healing does take time. It doesn’t have a timeline.  But what does this word “healing” actually mean? According to Google, it means, “the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again.” So now the question is, how long does someone have to wait until they can finally say “I’m healed”?

Healing happens over time. It’s something that cannot be rushed. It’s an everyday process. You got to be patient with yourself and push yourself to be brave enough to heal. Healing is hard and I will tell you this, there will be days where your mind will be full of questions and you will feel desperate for answers that do not exist. There will be moments where all hope is lost and you will feel like you have not made any progress. Healing is messy and can get ugly. Sometimes it can be breaking and painful. But, there will also be days when you feel free and hopeful, even when you thought you had no hope left. There will be moments where you will feel supported and loved by the people around you and that healing won’t be too far away. And those moments are the ones you should hold on to.

Healing also happens when you’re alone at night or when you’re sitting in your car at a red light and suddenly you remember everything that hurts, and it feels like you’re getting stabbed in the chest repeatedly. Now your whole body just feels heavy, your heart and everything inside you hurts. Because, healing is pain, but it is also triumph. To be honest, you will always scar, but it will serve as a reminder that you made it!

The bible says  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” -Romans 8:18

It takes time. It takes pain. It takes hopelessness. It is not an easy process. But, healing will come. And when this pain is over, the joy that He will bring in your life will be incomparable. He has a plan for your life. God brought you this far and He will get you through.

So this New Year, I pray for everyone that’s in the process of healing. Don’t give up on yourself! Keep pushing. Give your broken pieces to the Healer. Little by little, every day, as healing slowly finds its way to you and as your wounds become scars which will be proof of how gracefully you healed, your heart will be full of joy, hope and love. You will be better than okay.

francesca vitug

Called to Be Hungry

God does not call the fed. God does not call those who are full. God calls those to the table who have a hunger to serve. We are not mighty. We do not have power because money, fame, talent, and etc. God calls those who bow to him. He calls us when we lay down those worldly powers and humble ourselves to his throne. We are called to be hungry for more of Him. Call unto His name and He will bless you abundantly!

You can never do enough for the kingdom because God always has more for you. Think of it as this way. We eat everyday because if we don’t, we’ll be hungry. So, we fill up until we’re full. But, we’re never completely full because we eat everyday. That’s what God is calling us to do everyday! To be fed in His Word. To be hungry for His love and wisdom daily.

Proverbs 25:21 KJV says, “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink.”

He even called you to bless and feed your enemies this truth. So answer the call. If you fill your free time with social media or games, then you’re not fulfilling your call. If you fill yourself up with the wrong thing, you’ll find yourself still hungry, still hurting, still worrying, and still filling up with the wrong things. So stop and answer the call. God has called the hungry. And we all have a seat at the table.

As this new year starts, I am reflecting on the wisdom God has given me. I am very blessed for my family and friends and church that God has placed in my life. 2018 will always hold a place in my heart because it’s the year I answered the call to be hungry for more. As we see in Isaiah 65:13 KJV, it says, “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed.”

I find myself feeling empty some days. Not knowing why I serve the God I serve. But, when I turn to His word and pray at night, all that shame and guilt goes away. All because, I am called to be hungry.

Check out Chelsea’s personal blog: (Gracefully Made)

chelsea hockensmith

 

Becoming An Auntie

January of 2019, I will be an aunt for the very first time. It seems surreal to imagine that my sister, so young and still blossoming, is about to produce a little human that will forever change her parents’ lives, our family’s lives, and most definitely mine.

We three girls dreamed of that day. We would talk about it, joke about it, and even plan for it (typical girls that had their weddings planned at age eight). Now, it’s actually happening. It kind of terrifies me because I almost feel caught off-guard and unprepared after all these years knowing that one day this would come.

Am I going to be a good aunt? Or the crazy aunt you try to avoid at family gatherings? Will I be a good example, someone she will want to model her life after? Will I be proud of who I am and what I represent to her? Scary thoughts…

I think Ella being born in January, the start of a new year, is perfect. New Year’s tend to be the time everyone finally does some self-reflection. It’s the time when people attempt to eat healthier, be wiser with money, accomplish dreams they have yet touched, and grow closer to God.

I am honestly self-reflecting myself and it’s kind of bothersome. I really am not where I want to be and it’s no one’s fault except mine. Although I’m not ashamed of my current situation, I know I could be and do better! Spiritually, physically, financially, occupationally, and so on. It’s time to live the life I really want to be living and be what I really wish I could be.

With God, all things are possible. No, I am not perfect and I know I will hit road blocks on my way to my dreams and goals, but Jesus is always in control. He simply asks that we do our best and never stop trying.

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men”

-Colossians 3:23

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might; for [there is] no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”

-Ecclesiastes 9:10

I have an easy going nature and a care-free personality. But, I am feeling a sense of urgency! I pray that this blog inspires you to feel the same way. Life is so precious, and is promised to no one. Take advantage of every day and use it in pursuit to be greater and better! Spirituality is most important and then following that, your witness, your relationships, education, and occupation.

May your 2019 be blessed and prosperous! I believe in you, ladies. More importantly, so does God. He’s excited to see what you do with this new year!

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Wise(wo)men Still Seek Him

The Wisemen got their name (wise-men) not because of their position, wealth, or intellect. The Bible doesn’t give much information on the wisemen, but we know that they were wealthy and astrologers/scientist.

They sought baby Jesus to worship Him, to bring valuable gifts, and to give Him a welcome He deserved. They did this by sacrificially giving to their lord.

They traveled for thousands of miles, the journey taking an estimated two years. Jesus was a toddler when they arrived. What commitment for them to forsake their comfortable lifestyle, their homes, and work to travel such a great distance. This took great sacrifice and faith not quite knowing what would be waiting for them once they arrived.

The wisemen put their lives on the line. When King Harrod heard about the threat to his reign over the Jews, he wanted the child killed. Thankfully the Wisemen were given a dream by God of the evil king’s plans and they fled for their lives. They left in the night and never returned to the king to let him know they had found Jesus. Scripture says that King Harrod was furious and spent the rest of his life seeking for the Wisemen to kill them. He murdered all male children two years old and younger in Bethlehem in attempt to destroy the savior (Matthew, chapter 2).

They selflessly gave precious gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These were costly and rare gifts that would’ve even been a sacrifice for wealthy magi.

My prayer for you this Christmas and holiday season is that you are a Wise(wo)man. Not in brains, career, or financial status. But, in how you give unto the Lord. The Wisemen would’ve never been considered such if it hadn’t been for their willingness to give of their time, energy, possessions, commitment, and faithfulness. Don’t love the Lord half heartedly, but give all of you to Him this Christmas. Give Him your worship, your finances, your time and energy, and your commitment. Be willing to sacrifice whatever it is God is needing from you. For no sacrifice is too large, no gift is too valuable to give unto our king of kings.

What can I give thee

Poor as I am

If I were a shepherd

I would bring a lamb

If I were a Wiseman

I would do my part

But, what I can I give

Give my heart

— In A Bleak MidWinter

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Be Grateful

It is not those with the most that feel continent, but those that feel they have the most.

We live in a self-suffocating society. Social media tends to be all about profiling and self-elevation. From name brand bags, to expensive vacations, to relationships, to glamorous shots- we seem to like ourselves a lot. Or do we just like people liking us?

I’m guilty of it. I continuously check on my most recent post to see how many likes I got. Or get overly excited about a name brand purse I got on sale (simply because of the name). I make sure my bio sounds impressive and would never be quick to post something that doesn’t look high quality.

Am I alone? (C’mon, you can admit it too!) Why do we think like this? Why is this such a toxic mindset that has poisoned this generation?

Comparison. Competition. Corruption.

Comparison

It’s natural to see something you like or is appealing and then self-reflect. Do I look like that? Do I have that? Am I at that same level of attractiveness?

Competition

From comparing, that little green monster then latches onto you. You feel the need to prove your worth, image, and social reputation. Girls struggle most with this although men are not exempt. We will compete to see who has the prettiest face, nicest clothing, possessions, most attention, and most extravagant sparkling life.

Corruption

From this mindset, we are corrupted. We lose gratefulness and the understanding of being truly thankful. Instead of being content of where we are at, who we are, and the life that we currently live- our minds tell us, “It’s not enough”.

Although we want to better ourselves (spiritually, characteristically, educationally, occupationally), you must be careful that you are not operating from that corrupt mindset of comparison and competition.

With Thanksgiving upon us, I just wanted to encourage you to be truly thankful. Look at what you have and be grateful. Look at your finances and be grateful. Look at where you are in your life and in this season and be grateful. Look at your job, your school, church, family, and friends and be grateful.

No matter how underprivileged or discouraged you may feel when scrolling through your feed- recognize how much God has blessed you and how He continues to do so, especially in areas you cannot yet see.

(*If you need a Thanksgiving jam to get you in the grateful spirit, listen to: Be Grateful by Walter Hawkins. It’s an oldie but one of my favorites!)

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Imperfect Beginnings

For as long as I can remember, I have been a perfectionist. I hold myself to a high standard and often exhaust myself trying to reach that mark. While striving for excellence is a good thing, being a painstaking perfectionist has a major downside: it also makes me a procrastinator. I don’t like to start anything until I know I can complete it perfectly. This has led to countless untold stories, unfulfilled dreams, and unshared talents. It’s also led to an assortment of excuses for why these things go undone.

I can’t do this thing, I reason, because it won’t be just right. If my results aren’t up to my high standards, surely my efforts aren’t worthwhile. It’s smarter to wait until I can guarantee a better result. When I know I’ll write fluently, make music flawlessly, share Jesus articulately, and succeed completely, then I’ll begin.

The real reason behind these excuses, though, isn’t wise planning or careful preparation. It’s fear. I am afraid to step out and walk on the waters Jesus has called me to. I’m afraid that my efforts won’t matter; my words, my songs, my heart, won’t make a difference. This fear tries to convince me that it’s not time to step out yet; when the time is “right,” then I can move forward. Until then, I shouldn’t begin anything. I should simply wait… and then wait some more.

For the past year, though, the Lord has been showing me that there’s no such thing as a perfect beginning. We will never feel equipped, confident or qualified enough for the things He calls us to. And we’re not supposed to. Jesus doesn’t call us because we have it all together. He calls us so He can put things together through us, providing what we need and showing His grace and greatness through even our shortcomings. One of my favorite Scriptures is 2 Corinthians 12:9: “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

The very weaknesses I have allowed to hold me back are what invite the power of God to rest in my life! His grace, not my talent is what equips me to do His will. Jesus doesn’t view our small, unsteady starts as an inconvenience or disappointment; He welcomes and encourages them. He doesn’t merely work with and through our imperfect beginnings; He delights in them.

When I feel that my efforts are uncoordinated or unimportant, Jesus isn’t recording my shortcomings. He is celebrating that the work has started. “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10).

What has Jesus whispered in your heart that it’s time to begin? Don’t let fear hold you back – Jesus rejoices to see our imperfect, obedient beginnings. Autumn may seem like an odd time to think about “beginnings,” but I often find myself reflecting in the fall. It’s a time to look back on the year that has passed so far and to look ahead to what’s coming. And it’s a time to simply, imperfectly, begin.

Sarah Bio