It's a Girl Thing

3 Truths to Remember on Valentine’s Day

Ever since I was little, my parents have worked to make Valentine’s Day special for me and my siblings. Every year they shower us with candy, homemade cookies, and notes of encouragement. Through these small traditions, I’ve learned that anyone can enjoy Valentine’s Day, regardless of the circumstance.

Maybe you dread this time of year because you don’t have a special someone to share it with (I mean really, who likes to celebrate a holiday that reminds you of how single you are?). Or, maybe you’re completely indifferent and plan on letting the day pass without attention.

Either way, I want to show you how you can make February 14th a happy occasion! 🙂 So, here are three truths to keep in mind this season…

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1) Your relationship status does NOT define you

That heart—or lack thereof—on your Facebook page? It doesn’t determine your worth.

So often we look around us and let the happiness of other couples steal our joy. It’s so easy to let doubtful questions consume our time.

 “She has a boyfriend. Why don’t I? Am I not pretty or talented enough?”

“Why does he like her and not me? Should I change myself?”

“She has all the guys falling at her feet. What makes her so special? Aren’t I special?”

“What if no one ever wants me?”

Sound familiar?

Whether you struggle with jealousy, feelings of inadequacy, or just downright discouragement, I wanna tell you I’m right there with you. I’ve played the comparison game and thrown some impressive pity parties.

But friend, guess what? It’s vanity.

These painful feelings are real, but they’re unnecessary. In fact, they border on selfishness.

Instead of wasting away in self-doubt and viscous questions, open your Bible to John 15. Let Jesus remind you of your identity. He claimed you long before anyone else ❤

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-3, ESV).

You are not identified by the number of guys who think you’re pretty, by the amount of dates you’ve been on, or by the absence of a boyfriend. You’re identified in JESUS, who cherishes you and exercises perfect timing in your life (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Abide in Jesus. Your identity is in His love–no one else’s.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10, ESV).

–> Check out this post for more on embracing singleness. 

 

2) Jesus loves you

It’s the truth. Plain. Simple. Precious.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him” (1 John 3:1, ESV).

If you battle insecurity of what others think, I want you to stop right now. Stomp out those thoughts and dig into Scripture. Let God remind you of His love. After all, His feelings towards you are so much greater than what others think.

Friend, would you do yourself a huge favor? Flip over to Romans 8–or 1 John–and let their truths sink into your soul. Bask in Jesus’ love–the love that drove Him to the cross. The love that left Him forsaken by the Father. The love that crushed death so you can live with Him forever.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love” (John 15:9, ESV).

Don’t blow human love out of proportion. Because truly, all the loving people in the world could never compensate for God’s intense love for you.

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so….

No one will ever change that. ❤

“I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them” (Hosea 11:4, ESV).

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3) Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples!

Shocker, I know 😉

For real though–who says February 14th is just for sappy dates? Don’t get me wrong—I look forward to the day I have a guy to celebrate with 😉 But what’s to stop me from enjoying the holiday now? Why not take advantage of the opportunities to spread a little extra kindness this Valentine’s Day?

You could start some new traditions!

My favorite things to do are deliver Valentine cookies to my neighbors, make fun little treats for my piano students, and send special texts to loved ones. Most of all, I try to use the day to refocus my heart and thank God for His love…though that tradition needs some sharpening 🙂

There are so many ways to make Valentine’s day memorable! Get creative and throw a little cheer around.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love”(1 John 4:7-8, ESV).

P.S. While you’re at it, you might as well indulge in chocolate sales 😉

 

That’s all for now!

I hope you’ll take these simple truths to heart and enjoy a fabulous Valentine’s Day 🙂

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It's a Girl Thing

3 Dependable Podcasts and Sermon Resources

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17, ESV).

Hi friends!

Last week, we talked about how to boost your spiritual growth  in the new year, and I promised to share my favorite sermon resources with you. So, here are three apps–with several speakers–for you to download to your phone or tablet.

Note: All apps and programs mentioned are FREE.

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1) The Podcast App:
  • Watermark Audio—The Porch Channel

If you’re an Apple user, I’m sure you know this is a default app. Just a few months ago I’ve discovered the wonders of it 😉

The Porch is my all-time FAVORITE podcast. The main speaker, Jonathan Pokluda, preaches to an audience of 1,400 young adults in Dallas Texas. He’s refreshingly honest, straight-forward, and insightful. Sermon topics range from relationships and purity, to bold living in Christ.

Through his personal testimony and relatable analogies, “J.P.” passionately exhorts young people to pursue Christ. The way he connects with his audience is incredible—never a dull moment.

If you’re looking for a preacher who will dig into tough topics and lovingly encourage you, then this podcast is for you.

I can’t recommend it enough. J.P.’s teaching changed my life 🙂

–> My favorite sermons from the Porch (from oldest to newest):

  • Training Ground
  • Nothing Separates us from God’s Love
  • Jesus has Overcome
  • Identifying the One
  • Remembering your True Identity
  • Follow the Revolution to Freedom
2) Tunein Radio App:
  • Dr. Chuck Swindol
  • Dr. Charles Stanley
  • Dr. Robert Jeffress
  • Dr. David Jeremiah

Tunein Radio is such a handy app. With Wi-Fi, you have a supply of nearly-unlimited sermons by several well-known pastors.

In this app, you can add stations to your homepage so you can access your favorite preachers as soon as you open the app.

While all the Pastors I mentioned above have their own stations, Pastors Jeffress and Jeremiah are live each morning, so there isn’t an archive to choose from (like there is for Pastors Swindol and Stanley). You can search their names in the app and find out what time they’re on in your time-zone.

I don’t have particular favorites, because all of these pastors have excellent teaching. I will say that the most recent sermons are a great listen to start with 🙂

Note: Tunein Radio isn’t specifically Christian, so you may need to search for things carefully.

 

3) Sermon Audio App:
  • Dr. John MacArthur
  • East End Baptist Church
  • Terrell Bible Church
  • Bob Jones University

With Sermon Audio, possibilities are endless! Hundreds of churches provide sermons for your use.

John Macarthur is (I’ve heard) an incredible pastor and writer. I’ve only read one of his books and heard a couple sermons, so my goal is to listen to more of his preaching (I’ll be using Sermon Audio to do so).

East End Baptist Church is my home church in Brooklyn. I may be a little biased, ( 😉 ) but I definitely think listening to a sermon or two would be worth your time!

–> Here are a few suggestions (from oldest to newest):

  • The Mercy of the Father
  • The Messianic Ruler Brings Hope
  • Living in the Last Days (how to respond as a Christian)
  • Use your Gift!
  • Process of Discipleship

Terrell Bible Church was our sister church in Texas. Dr. Torp-Pedersen is a family friend and amazing pastor. He’s genuine, thought-provoking, and clear in his sermons. Not to mention his humor 😉 I don’t have any particular suggestions, but I do whole-heartedly recommend listening to one of his sermons.

Lastly, BJU is the college I mentioned in this post. If nothing else, I highly recommend listening to this sermon on gratefulness by Nathan Crockett. It’s truly enlightening.

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1, ESV).

Closing thoughts…

I realize most of you don’t have all day to listen to podcasts, but I hope you’re able to take advantage of these resources at some time or another. 🙂

I’ll let you in on a little secret: Multi-tasking is a life-saver 😉 95% of the time, I don’t actually sit down to listen to a sermon. I’ve heard countless sermons while doing the dishes, riding in the car, or cleaning my room. Give it a try!

Note: The Tunein Radio sermons are only 20-30 minutes, and easy to squeeze in when you have little time. You could also split sermons into parts, or listen to them as your morning quiet time. 🙂

One last thing: 

Some of you remember that I did a subscriber giveaway a few weeks ago. Well, I didn’t disclose the contents because I wanted it to be a surprise–and it was! Joanne has been so fun to interact with, and she was sweet enough to send this picture to me for the blog. I thought you all would enjoy seeing what she got 🙂

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I hope to do another giveaway this year (probably in the Fall), so make sure you hit that follow button! By doing so, you have a chance to enter the next giveaway, and you’ll also get special treats sent to your inbox 🙂

That’s all for now!

I hope you’re able to check out some of these apps and preachers. If you do, feel free to contact me and let me know what you thought!  I love hearing from you. ❤

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It's a Girl Thing

5 Ways to Boost Spiritual Growth 

Happy New Year, friends! (Is it too late to say that? 😉 )

While many people scribbled down a list of resolutions for 2017, I decided to try something different this year.

At the beginning of 2016, I set 2 physical goals. Outward aspirations took the back burner, and instead, I wrote a list of things I wanted God to accomplish in my year. (Mgoodness, did He go beyond my expectations!) 

So, 2017 is a refined version of last year’s approach: One word. One goal. Several steps to achieve that goal. 

For months, I racked my brain to find one New Year goal. One word to center my goal around.

And I eagerly settled on these:

  • Spiritual growth.
  • Grace. 

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 “Some of us work harder to look good than we do to look like God.” -Jonathan Pokluda

Now, I’m all for self-improvement and trying new things. But, as Christians, we must ensure that we don’t let physical aspirations consume us. Our ultimate priority must be growth in Christ. When we set Him at the top of our list, everything else falls into place–and we’re well on our way to incredible self improvement 🙂

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:18, ESV). 

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7). 

I don’t wanna stay on the same spiritual level this year as I was on last year. I want a more intimate prayer life. Want a stronger heart and better understanding of the Bible…I want grace to be the center of my life.

And, if I’m able to achieve a few other goals along the way, then great! I hope this year is one of immense progress 🙂

So, what about you? 

Are you ready to chase hard after Jesus?

Maybe you have some re-prioritizing to do. Or maybe you’re already burnt out and need a little boost to help you refuel.

Either way, I hope you’ll stick around for 5 ways to boost spiritual growth in 2017…

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1) Dig into Scripture daily 

Saturate your life with Scripture! Listen to it, read it, write it, illustrate it–just dig in. 

I love reading blogs and devotionals, but nothing takes the place of pure Scripture.

Think of it like coffee: It’s nice to sip sugary lattes, but sometimes you just need a cup of strong java to get you through the day.

Friends, we need the concentrated truths of the Bible to arm us each day. Don’t let the insanity of life make you settle for a short devotional every day.

Start with Scripture first. 

Then add the cream and sugar (devotionals, blogs, books, etc.).

2) Listen to sermons  

love listening to sermons–particularly in podcasts.

You don’t have to limit your preaching intake to Sunday mornings! Turn on a good sermon to listen to while you drive, wash the dishes, or clean the house.

Lately I’ve tried to take in sermons more frequently, and it’s been such a blessing. I love the chance to soak up truth in situations that are otherwise silent.

Passionate, biblical pastors are such a treasure. What would we do without their help in bringing clarity to the Bible? Without their fresh perspective?

Let’s take advantage of their sermons so readily-available.

–> In next week’s post, I’ll share my favorite sermon resources with you 🙂

 

3) Listen to Christian music

This is my favorite way to add joy to each day.

I didn’t used to listen to Christian music very often, but after a lot of research, I found a few artists I just love. My life consists mainly of praise and worship songs now, and I wouldn’t give them up for anything.

It’s so special to worship in the quietntess of my own room. To sing when nobody but Jesus hears. To pick songs that fit various seasons of my life, and just listen to them over and over.

Music is so powerful, and whether we acknowledge it or not, lyrics do stick in our brain. Why not use your listening time to take in biblical truth? I promise you’ll be encouraged.

–> Stereotypical Christian music gets really boring, really fast. It can be hard to find original artists who are both enjoyable, and substantial. That’s why I’ve provided a list of my favorite Christian singers (download it here) 🙂 Maybe you’ll find some you haven’t heard before! I hope these ideas will freshen up your playlist 🙂

P.S. These artists make for great Pandora stations, too!

4) Read through a devotional book

Devotionals are great help for studying the Bible!

Choose a devotional book that appeals to a specific area or goal in your life and chew on it when you have the chance 🙂

This year, I’m reading Beth Moore’s Breaking Free Day by Day and Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling, and I love them!

If you need a little extra hope fused into your day, I highly suggest  looking into a daily Bible study book 🙂

Do keep in mind: the daily snippets aren’t meant to replace Scripture, but to expound on it. I have trouble remembering that sometimes 😉

5) Pray + thank God for His blessings daily 

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV).

 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NKJV).

With chaotic schedules and regular distractions, a strong prayer life is hard to maintain.

I have yet to end a year completely satisfied with my prayer life (which, I’m sure, will never happen). The more we pray, the better! You can never talk to God too much.

The very best way to grow in faith and intimacy with Jesus is to talk to Him daily. 

Some days, all you can afford is a few desperate words in prayer. Other days, you might spend an hour or two on your knees.

No matter the day–regardless of time constraints–start each morning with talking to Jesus.

Pray Scripture over friends and family. Proclaim your trust in His power and commit your troubles to Him. Say whatever is on your mind. He’ll listen. And He will answer.

–> You may want to start a prayer journal to keep track of requests and write down prayers.

–> A blessings journal is also great to keep on hand. Use it to write down specific blessings and thank God for His faithfulness. He is so good! Start each day with a grateful heart!

“I will give thanks to you, oh Lord, with all my heart, I will tell of all your wonderful deeds” (Psalm 9:1, NIV).

A few more ideas:

  • Memorize Scripture! (this goes along with the first point)
  • Join or start a Bible study
  • Find a mentor or accountability partner
  • Play worship music + hymns on an instrument
  • Be intentional with your quiet time
  • Get involved in serving at your church
  • Read Christian blogs and literature

 

Note: These are all general ways to grow spiritually in the new year. Personally, I’ve chosen to study specific sermons, Bible passages, and devotional books centered around grace (my word for 2017). If you’ve also chosen a word, I highly recommend digging into it using the means mentioned in this post 🙂

One last thing: 

With “grace” being my word for 2017, I thought it appropriate to integrate that theme into the blog this year 🙂 The very message of God’s Word is GRACE, and I can’t wait to dig into the numerous aspects with you! From recovery of sinful lifestyles, to crushing perfectionism and accepting the grace of Jesus, to embracing forgiveness, I’ll share several ways we can abide in His mercy. I hope you’ll stick around 🙂

That’s all for now! 

I hope this post inspires you to grow intentionally this year. Remember that His mercy is new every morning! Keep fighting the good fight ❤

 

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It's a Girl Thing

8 Things I learned in 2016

Wow.

I don’t  know about you, but my  year has flown like crazy!

As I look back on the past 12 months, I’m overwhelmed by the warm memories, new discoveries, and growth that took root.

In many ways, 2016 was yucky…Full of uncertainty, hard decisions, and lessons learned the hard way. I made mistakes I wish I could undo, and struggled to accept God’s grace.

Still, I wouldn’t trade the hardships for anything.

As funny as it sounds, I’m thankful for the twists and complications and sleepless nights. Because God had a purpose for it all, and I’ve learned more about Him and drawn closer to Him than I ever dreamed.

Cloudy days aside, this year has had its share of sunshine! So many changes, exciting events, and new friendships lit up this year, and I can’t wait to see what happens next 🙂

All that to say, I’ve learned a ton over the months, and I’m anxious share some highlights with you.

So, here are 8 things I learned in 2016…5 (4).png

1) The Holy Spirit is a powerful gift

Goodness, He overwhelms me.

He never fails to convict, lead, or comfort when I need it most. I’m so thankful Jesus left His Spirit here, and that I’ve been able to experience Him so richly.

 

2) My plans are not God’s plans 

“’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8, AMP). 

“A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life], but the Lord directs his steps and establishes them” (Proverbs 16:9, AMP). 

2016 is living proof of those verses 😉

I’m a planner. I love thinking ahead (Way. Ahead.) and scribbling my plans on sticky notes and calendars.

And, after this year, I don’t know why I even try.

I’ve played tug of war with God more times than I can count, and He wins every time.

I thought my dreams would make me happy. I thought I had life all figured out and ready to go (hilarious, right?). God probably chuckled before ripping the rug out from under me.

He has absolutely blown me away this year, and I’m so glad I’m not in the driver’s sear!

I’m learning to write my plans in pencil. To stop saying “always,” “will,” and “never.” Because God is unpredictable. His ways are not my ways. And I couldn’t be more grateful

Thank you, Lord, for doing what’s best. 

3) I can never out-give God

A few weeks ago, my Dad told me something that really stuck in my brain: “Save all your money, except for giving to God and being generous.”

One of my love languages is gifts, so I’ve tried to stretch myself in that area this year.

Though I haven’t been as generous as I wish, I’m learning to give without reserve. That it truly is more blessed (and rewarding!) to give than to receive. Because no matter how much I sacrifice, God always returns more than I could imagine.

“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.” -C.S. Lewis

“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35b, NIV). 

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver ” (2 Corinthians 9:7, NIV).

 

4) God is my Rock 

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and the One who rescues me; my God, my rock and strength in whom I trust and take refuge; my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower—my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2, AMP).

With all the uncertainty and scary possibilities blowing up over the months, this truth is such a comfort.

No matter what disasters occur, how people change, or what this crazy world does, God is my Rock. 

He never changes. He never collapses under pressure. He never moves. His promises are unbreakable.

How assuring to know that I can run to Him for safety in every storm. In Him, I am secure.

 

5) God’s timing is perfect 

Oh, I wish I could write a book on  all the times He’s proven this to me!

Never doubt His timing, friend. He orchestrates every event, each encounter, and all the details of your life in perfect time. And the results are beautiful. 

His plans are worth waiting for. 

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6) Ingratitude is inexcusable 

It’s so easy to ignore God’s blessings and let ingratitude take root. I’ve struggled with some nasty bouts of ungratefulness lately, and let me tell you: it’s miserable.

Not only does ingratitude break God’s heart, but it squashes joy.

I recently visited a Christian college for a few days, and one of the chapel messages rubbed salt in my ungrateful wounds.

The speaker’s fresh perspective-his humility in warning against the dangers of ingratitude–were incredible. Few sermons have impacted me as much as this one, and I still listen to it on occasion.

If you’re interested, you can listen to the sermon here. Best 25 minutes you could spend 🙂

 

7) Diligence pays off 

I took my first-ever college course this semester, and I loved it. Though the course itself wasn’t hard, the amount of work and studying required was more than I’m used to.

I learned a lot about self-motivation, hard work, and focus, and I’m very happy with the results 🙂 Diligence often means setting fun on the back burner, but small victories are definitely worth the pain…And the fun stuff is so rewarding!

 

8) God’s grace is bigger

Sweet friend, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

His grace is bigger than shortcomings. His grace is bigger than sin. Bigger than trials, wounds, and misunderstandings.

Because Jesus died, God’s mercy is abundant.  Always there.  Never ending. Never failing. Always enough. 

His very nature is grace. 

–> 2 Corinthians 12:9, John 1:16, Romans 3:24

 

That’s about it! (for the hightlights, anyways 😉 )

What has God taught you in 2016? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Don’t go just yet! 

I have exciting news!

Between the subscriber popup and follow buttons, this blog reached 102 subscribers!

I promised a giveaway once we hit 100–and it’s time! Make sure to check the blog regularly next week, because I’ll be announcing the winner on a random day 🙂 All subscribers are included in this drawing, and the winner will be picked randomly.

Note to WordPress bloggers:  If you subscribed via the follow button (without entering an email), I’m unable to send you the monthly goodies.

I haven’t learned how to merge subscribers lists yet, so I can only email those who provide their contact information. If you want to re-subscribe, that’s totally up to you! I just wanted to let you know why you’re not getting everything you may have signed up for. [You will still be included in the giveaway.]

So sorry for any inconvenience!

 

That’s all! Thanks for stopping by. 

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