Tending the Orchard

I’ve always been a dreamer.  I can remember hours upon hours of time spent daydreaming of what my life could have been like and how it will be.  But I’ve learned quite a bit since that time.  I’ve learned that all of life isn’t a fairy tale in a happily ever after sense.  Often times it hurts, and other times life feels more perfect than any story could portray.  Even though I may not daydream as much or about the same things as before, I’m still a dreamer.  I have so many hopes for the future, of things I want to accomplish and things I want to do.  But like I said, I’ve always been a dreamer…and rarely a doer.  I’ve started projects, I’ve had great ideas, I’ve had multiple opportunities, but have I finished them?  Have I gone through with them?  Have I taken and gone for them with everything that’s in me?  No.  I’m going to be honest, y’all.  This is one of my countless struggles, and possibly the one I’m most ashamed of.  But I know I can’t live life like this, and I know that it’s not the way that the Lord wants me to live.  My life isn’t my own.  It’s never been.  Every moment and every breath I breathe belongs to Him alone.  I have the responsibility to live the life of a doer who diligently pursues the calling of God on her life.  Which brought me to this thought last night…

When God created us, He gave us each special gifts, abilities, and purposes for the time we’re here on earth in order that we might glorify Him.  I like to think of these things as seeds.  I imagine that God has given me a piece of land which represents my life, and it’s my responsibility to plant those sends, to tend them, and to nurture them.  One of my seeds is compassion.  It’s my responsibility to show love and grace and to not only have compassion for those who appear to need it the most, but to be selfless in my deeds towards those around me in my everyday life.  One of my seeds is music.  It’s my responsibility to practice and put forth the time and effort to use this gift to it’s maximum capability.  One of my seeds may be pursuing a field of ministry.  It’s my responsibility to prepare for it and to seek the Lord’s will and guidance leading up to that time.  My responsibility is to water those seeds and also to pull up the weeds that try to choke them.  The weeds are the devil and my flesh tempting and trying me to stray from what God has for my life.  And if I neglect those seeds, if I don’t invest in them, if I don’t water them and I let weeds take over, they’re never going to grow to one day bear fruit-they’re going to die.  I want my seeds to grow to be an orchard full of fruitful trees.  This journey won’t be easy.  I’m going to face harsh seasons, an endless army of weeds, and I will probably have to do quite a bit of pruning in order to make my trees stronger.  But I don’t want to sit back any more.  It’s time to start tending my orchard.

Can you relate?

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Gifts from God: Uniqueness

Peer pressure.  I’ve always wondered if I struggle with it.  I think that I act like myself, but there are times I question.  “Am I doing, acting like, or wearing this because I like it, and it’s who I am, or because I’m just trying to impress my peers?”

I’m going to make a confession.  I really struggle with self confidence.  In fact, I’ve also struggled with things like obsession, doubt, believing that I truly am beautiful because the Lord made me in His image, and several other things.  However, one conclusion I’ve discovered in my on-going battle with self confidence is the fact that the approval of peers will not satisfy you.  At ALL.  I’ve always known that Jesus is the only person who can give me confidence, but I’ve been guilty of thinking that the approval of friends, acquaintances, AND confession time again, guys, will make me feel a little better about myself.  However, I found out differently as a result of some experiences at church camp this past summer.  To make a long story short, a guy was trying to flirt with me, one of my best friends said that a guy was staring at me with his mouth wide open(who was probably around four years older than me…creepy awkward…), and all the guys from ages 12 to about 15 took a vote on the prettiest girls at camp; I was number four-under my bestie who is one of those naturally “drop dead gorgeous” girls, and two girls who were obsessed with their hair and makeup.  Most girls would flip if that happened to them, but guess what?  I went right back to feeling like a flop.  Those guys’ approval didn’t do anything to my confidence.  Sure, it felt good for a day or two, but after that?  Not at all.  I was back to a deflated attitude of esteem.

However, I praise the Lord for that experience because He proved me wrong-that only HE can give me the satisfaction and approval my soul craves.  It’s good to get a “Jesus spanking” every once and a while, and I’m so glad He gave me one.  Why?  Because I’ve discovered that it pays to be yourself and to be the beautiful person God created you to be.  The Lord made each one of us UNIQUE; whether it’s one-of-a-kind personalities, or out-of-the-ordinary physical features.  There is no one else like you in the Universe!!!  Think of how special that is!  Buuut, like I often do, you may reply “Yes, I know that, but just knowing doesn’t cut it.”

1 Samuel 16:7 (KJV)

But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

Yeah, maybe not at first, but that’s when I have to look at my heart.  The closer I am, the closer you are with God, the more confident I/you will be!  When we are close in or walks with God, we won’t see all of our flaws and imperfections.  Instead, we’ll see all the good because we want to find ways to honor God and give Him glory for all that He has blessed us with.  Just like 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “…man looketh at the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”  The more Christ-like we become, the more we will apply the latter part of that verse.  And once you believe that, others will too!  You’ll look at others the way Christ sees them, and because of this action, they’ll see Christ in you.  Now isn’t that beautiful?!  Uniqueness truly is a gift from God, and I believe that we all can learn to use that gift the way God designed. 🙂

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Recommitment

imageSome people believe in the ‘age of accountability.’ Essentially, this means that, until a certain age (most say twelve or thirteen), children are not accountable for their actions as they are not old enough to choose Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

This way, infants – especially those who died before birth due to miscarriage or abortion – would be able to get to heaven despite the fact that they never became Christians in the traditional sense of believing in Jesus, etc.

However, this idea doesn’t really make sense to me. I want it to be true … but children choose to be the little brats they are (’cause I know I did! Do, actually … I’m not past being a little brat … only now I’m a big brat … and pretty soon I’ll be adult brat … it’s really not cool!) it’s not mentioned in the Bible. It says in Psalm 51:5 –

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

Obviously from this verse (which can be taken literally … I think all the Psalms can, actually. *holds opinion stubbornly*), we’re sinners from the moment of conception … how can babies get into heaven unless they’re washed by God’s blood? And unless they believe (and I think we’ll all agree that babies can’t really choose God), how can we receive God’s gift of grace?

It’s very confusing, and I’ve yet to have anyone give me a straightforward answer to it. I only believe in God’s incredible grace and mercy and know that He wouldn’t let a little baby go to hell.

bible-1806079_960_720However, regardless of the existence of the ‘age of accountability’ or not, you’ll notice that growing up in Christian homes can breed a sort of a ‘I’m good’ attitude.

You know what I mean (whether this applies to you personally or not). Ever since you were four you’ve been a Christian. You’ve gone to church all your life. All your family and friends are Christian. You’re surrounded by light. You’re good.

Well, we know that’s not true. Growing up in a Christian family doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to church does! Sure, it helps (sometimes … unless you’re rebellious … like me) … but it doesn’t automatically write you in God’s book of good little children. (I know y’all know this … but it needs stated again and again!)

And then there’s that commitment to God you made when you were four. I’m not saying it’s no longer legitimate … but, well, you’re growing up, and, if you were honest, could you say you really own it?

When you were four, life was so simple, remember? Sleep, eat, play, eat, play, eat, sleep in that order. except on Christmas morning when it was more like “wake up at three, try to sleep, wake up at three ten, try to sleep, wake up at three fifteen …” etc. And Jesus was just a fact you accepted.

But sometimes it’s good to question things. It leads to answers, and if you look hard enough, you’ll always find ones that prove time and again that God’s really alive and He’s really the good Father everyone says He is.

There comes a time in every girl who was raised in a Christian family when the faith that your mother and father believe in needs to become the faith you believe in, in a bigger way than you did when you were four. unless you’re Elsie Dinsmore. Hey, that rhymed!

For me, I think I was pretty much in the ‘I’m good’ attitude until a couple years back when I started making Christianity my own. I even got re-baptized. It wasn’t something that happened all of the sudden, of course. It happened slowly, over a period of several years, and I’m still a baby in Christ, but … well, I’m working on it. It’s a slow process, all right?! What? Only for me. Hmm …

So, do you need to recommit to God?

Are you relying on your parents’ faith to save you? Are you just going through the motions or are you seriously involved in worship, in serving your Lord? At your church? At home? At school? Everywhere? Do you really have a personal relationship with God, a relationship all your own that no one can take away from you?

Everyone learns a different way, but here are some things that I’ve done to [try to] form a more personal relationship with God (although … yeah … I’ve yet to find out if they actually work … so bear with me! 😉 ).

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  1. Pray. Always #1! Prayer is so important! Trust me; your prayers are always answered. Sometimes the answer isn’t one you want (“no” or “wait” aren’t always the best words to hear!) … but then, quite honestly, what you want isn’t really the priority … it’s what you need. Recently I started keeping a ‘prayer journal.’ I don’t write my prayers in it (that would take waaay too long), but I write certain prayer requests, lists of people I want to pray for, bits of my thoughts, and a list of ‘praises’ (because it’s important to look at the positive side of praying, too! It can get depressing sometimes! :/ ).bible-1136784_960_720
  2. Read God’s word. Reading the Bible is probably #2. Make sure you get some in every day! I try to do a chapter every evening. Some people are more dedicated (I’m reading a short story – or would be in I didn’t keep getting distracted by NaNoWriMo – in which a girl is trying to read 20 chapters every day!), but a chapter every day is a good goal for me. I’m reading through Psalms right now. Although … I skip around a lot. Some days I’m like, “Ooh, Ruth looks good!” and other days I’m like, “Oh, John! I always liked John …” Yeah … well, at least I’m reading it … in random bits and pieces … 😛team-386673_960_720
  3. Spend time with other Christians. ‘Fellowshipping,’ in other words. So important. There are so many chapters in the book of Proverbs about choosing your friends wisely. I’m not saying don’t talk to non-Christians (do! How else can you share the truth?). I’m just saying you also need to spend a lot of time with fellow Christians. And I don’t mean at a Bible study (although you could do that, too, I suppose) or anything like that. Just hanging out – watching a movie, chatting about boys (if you’re *cough cough* so inclined … I’m not, usually) or your latest novel (if you’re me) or … singing Taylor Swift songs drastically out of key. You know, whatever you do with your friends. We, personally (if you can use that word to describe more than one person), dive into creeks in freezing cold weather or play violent games on trampolines. Christians, with Jesus’ awesomeness shining through them, are the lights of world. You need to be around that light to nurture your own.fantasy-181304_960_720
  4. Study historical and scientific proof of Christianity/Creationism. I don’t know how anyone could see the strong evidence that evolution is impossible and that events of the Bible actually happened (miraculously so!) and ignore it. It’s absolutely unbelievable how pig-headed people are! XD Really, though, do it! Besides, you can tell your mom (if you’re homeschooled) that it’s for school. And you’ll be smart. And a better Christian. And math isn’t really necessary. You can ditch math. It’ll work. Trust me. Riiiiiiight.

Well, that’s all I have to say today. That may not have been a very impressive post, but I tried my best.

Until December (when you’ll have to put up with me again),

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Trusting Him

Trusting the Lord is such a vital part of our relationship with God.  Unfortunately, it’s not always easy.

This past year, the Lord has revealed and taught me so much.  But through it I’ve also had to endure some heartache.  I’m learning that sometimes, trials can be blessings.  I have come to understand that the Lord may be trying to prepare me for some of the things I’ll have to face later on in life.  I also know that it can be hard to face the uncertainties of the future and fully trust Him to work out everything for our good.  My life verse is Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

One of my Youth Pastors has said that we should be able to apply our life verses to every minute of the day, and I find that this is one that I can always turn to.  It tells me that “Ya know, God’s got this covered, and He’s got it all in His hands!  I just need to look to Him; acknowledge Him; and He will give me direction.”

This is true for each one of us.  If we diligently pursue His will for our lives, we have no reason to worry!  I love the song Write Your Story by Francessca Battistelli, because it reminds me that the Lord is the Author of MY story-and the amazing part is that He is not capable of mistakes.  My story isn’t in the first draft; it isn’t in the second draft.  It’s a beautiful, completed story that He wrote before He even created the Universe!  Whatever situation you may be in, God has your back.  He will NEVER, EVER fail you!  Here are three ways to help you learn to trust the Lord.

Talk to Him

Worried?  Upset?  Even angry?  Tell Him!  He wants to know your heartache; he wants to heal it.  Talking to Him is a great step to learning to trust Him-and you know why?  Because He ALWAYS answers.  Sometimes He may say no, sometimes yes, and sometimes He tells us to wait.  But He’ll never ignore us.  Not to mention that knowing God has answered your prayer is an amazing feeling that’s indescribable!!

Study His Word

Study God’s Word!  You’ll find so many stories of how people such as Noah, Joseph, and Esther learned how to fully put their trust in God!  Now of course they were human and had their doubts at times, I’m sure, but in the end they overcame that doubt; and found that He is always faithful.  And I know you will too. 🙂

Seek Counsel

There are so many people around you such as your parents, grandparents, and Youth Pastor, that have endured-and become victorious, over their trials because of their faith in God!  I’m sure that they will understand your troubles and be more than willing to help you in any way possible. 🙂 And of course, feel free to get in touch with me through this form if I can assist you in any way, and I’m sure the rest of the girls here at STL would be more than happy to help as well.

Have an amazing rest of your weekend! 😀

Send the Light!

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Reblogged: Modesty & True Beauty — He Rights My Wrongs

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about modesty and true beauty. This summer I have been having an extremely hard time trying to find a modest swimsuit. It’s honestly sickening that there are hardly any one pieces sold anymore. And the ones there are, the prints are ugly. All the cute prints are used on the…

Jaclynn speaks words of truth in her blog post, Modesty & True Beauty. Please read and think about this!

Finding Beauty

*credit to the owner of the original photo.  Edit by me*

Hello Everyone!

Before I plunge into this post, I just want to apologize for neglecting this blog so much.  I really have no excuse.  I will try to post more frequently. 🙂

Now, beauty.  That’s a word that every girl, every teen, and every woman wants to be, no doubt about it.  The definition, according to Google is this:

a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight

But Google has it all wrong.  Read again the definition “…pleases the senses…especially the sight”.  Well, having one person say that you’re beautiful and another say that you’re not, does not determine if you are.

Now here is what God says about beauty:

Ecclesiastes 3:11

 “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.” (KJV)
So here the writer is saying that God has made everything, everyone, beautiful.  You might say, “Oh, that can’t be true.  I’m ugly.”.  Well, the honest truth is that, surprise!  You’re far from ugly.  And why?  Because while we’re not perfect, God is!  We think that we’re just full of flaws, but fail to realize that God is flawless!  How could we be full of mistakes when our Creator is not capable of making them?  Now you may say, “But, I don’t understand.  How can we be flawless when nothing in this life is perfect?”.  That’s true.  We’re not perfect.  But God didn’t mess up when He created you.  That spray of freckles across your nose, your skin that fails time and time again to tan, and your hair that can’t decide whether it wants to be wavy or straight are all part of a beautiful person called YOU.  While we point out the flaws, the Lord points out the good in all things.  He is the potter, you are the clay.  Let Him form you into what He calls perfection.  Reach down inside of yourself and find the beauty that has always been there.  Look on the bright side, be confident in yourself as a daughter of the King, and don’t listen when others try to put you down.  You can find the beauty…because God found it in YOU…
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