It is a word that we often underestimate and misuse.
It is a word that has so much power behind it.
It is a word that has changed my perspective of the world.
It is a word that has been heavy on my heart lately.
I was heartbroken this morning as I opened my phone to all that is happening in the world. There is so much healing that is desperately needed. While reading my bible and praying, I sat waiting for answers. I felt the Lord confirm a message that he has been growing in me. It started a few weeks ago, as I began reading a book by Lysa Terkeurst called Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. In the book, Lysa talks about the power of love in our everyday lives. Specifically, the power of Jesus’s love in our lives, if we welcome it. It seemed like a simple concept. However, the more that I let it resonate it with me, the more I realized how life-changing it really is.
The power of love can be illustrated in the many messages woven throughout scripture. For example, in 1 John 4: 10-12 (NIV version) it says,
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us”
How beautiful that God’s love has the power to change everything, to complete us, to connect us, and that he so freely gave it to us? And what is even cooler is that it does not matter who you are. God does not put a restriction on it. GOD SIMPLY LOVES YOU.
So the question is, how do we experience this kind of life-changing love? I believe it is always there for us to accept. However, I also believe it is something that we must actively pursue and look for. It is there when we give a kind word to a stranger. It is there when we choose life-giving words over words of hate. It is there when we forgive, when all we want to do is to hold on to unforgiveness. It is there when we participate in a community of believers who are at different walks of life, yet all united under the love of Jesus.
See, because of the love that Jesus has shown me despite my failures, insecurities, shortcomings, etc. I realize that love is not just a feeling or word as the world explains. It is a unfathomable, powerful force that changes every aspect of our short lives on this earth. It is the most powerful weapon in the battle against the darkness.
Find more about the book I mentioned HERE
Hi, my name is Katie and I am a heart hoarder.
What does that mean? Well, I’ve been keeping things in places that didn't belong in my heart and putting things above God.
As the fall 2016 semester comes to a close, I have been reflecting back on everything that has happened in the previous months. This semester has been one of the hardest semesters of my college career. Honestly, it started off good. I was able to manage everything in my life: work, school, church, family, friends, etc. Heck, I even threw in running a half-marathon. But after a while, I began to wear myself thin to the point where everything that I was doing felt superficial. I was a zombie. Going day to day checking things off of my lists, falling into my bed at the end of the day. Because of that, I naturally began neglecting things.
What came first to be neglected? First, it was my time with God, then church, then friends, then family. I neglected some of the MOST important things.I let myself get to the point of living life in such a mundane, meaningless way. I put my busyness and the image of having it all together above God.
One of my favorite passages in the bible that represents this is a story about Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 (NIV version). Jesus and his disciples visit the house of Mary and Martha. When they come, Mary decides to simply sit and listen. Martha has the opposite reaction and gets caught up in all that had to be done for Jesus’s arrival.
The passage says,
“...Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed-or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”
I just want to hug everyone in my life right now and say “SORRY” and to the people that have been supportive, loving, and gracious through this rough patch, y’all are the real M.V.PS. As much as I wish that I could be supergirl and manage 1,000,000 things; I am not and I cannot. And as much as I wish I could go back and do things differently, I cannot.
The thing about hoarding is that it not only keeps us from the best God has, but it allows the enemy and other things to speak negatively in our lives. Before we know it, the negative things seem to become truth and suddenly we feel far from God, even though he has been there the whole time waiting for us.
Maybe you are there right now, maybe you’ve been going through hoarding things in your heart that don’t belong. If you are, it is okay because God knows we are human and mess up. He knows that we will fail constantly. The important thing is that we learn from those mistakes and failures and that we continue to grow throughout it all. God does not want us to live life like a hoarder. He want us to truly live.
Photo credit: Liz Hehman Photography
Have you ever felt completely broken by a friendship, relationship, etc? If you have, I’m right there with you. I have always been a very emotional person and tend to really pour my heart into things. Sometimes I wish that I didn’t open myself up to people, only to be hurt. I constantly ask myself the question, "Is loving people worth it when we experience hurt?”. However, God has been showing me that hurt is a normal part of life. He has shown me that I will come across points in life where I will lose a friendship, move on from a relationship, etc.
As someone who likes to control things, it has been very hard to let go and give God my frustrations. My biggest issue is wanting some type of closure or an easy fix to the broken relationships, but life is messy and complex.
Sometimes people hurt us and we may never get the closure we desire.
So where does that leave us? I definitely don't have all the answers, but I believe it comes down to one simple word: grace. Grace to forgive, grace to move on, and grace to heal. It's interesting that as humans we go through hurt relationships because Jesus experienced it while he was on earth. He was betrayed by the people closest to him (EX) Peter denied him three times). Jesus didn’t give up on them, but extended grace.
In Luke 23:24, it says that while on the cross Jesus cried out, “...Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Another example of grace demonstrated in scripture is the well-known story of the prodigal son. After leaving home and living recklessly, the father welcomes his son home in a radical way.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’... “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him....For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’. So they began to celebrate” Luke 15: 21-22; 24
Grace is difficult sometimes. It's way easier to believe that we solely can fix the relationship. Not to say that we shouldn't attempt to ask for forgiveness or evaluate our actions for something we did wrong, but we must let go and choose grace. Choosing grace may look different for different people. It could be reaching out to talk to that person that hurt us or just praying for them and trusting God to intervene.
So again I come back to the question, “Is love worth it?”.
Yes, I believe it is. Because the same love and grace that we demonstrate when people hurt us is the love that Jesus demonstrated on the cross when he died for us.
(March 13, 2014 the day before I graduated Army Basic Training seeing my family for the first time)
Life is hard. There are so many “valleys” we are forced to walk through. Christians often refer to hard times as valleys. Whether it be the passing of a loved one, a difficult job, or a broken relationship. Unfortunately, I know so many people that are experiencing a valley in their life right now and it has really made me think. How do we make it through the tough times? What are we supposed to do when it seems like everything that could go wrong does? As I was praying and thinking about this my mind went back to one of the biggest valleys I’ve walked.
December 31, 2013 is a day that is probably permanently ingrained in my memory. It was the day that I left for Army Basic Combat Training. I felt completely unprepared and had no idea what I had gotten myself into. Anyone who knows me will agree that everyone was pretty surprised when I swore into the military after I graduated high school. Honestly, it was something I never really imagined for my life either.
From that day on, there were days that I felt so tired and frustrated. I constantly questioned God. I said things like,
“God is this really where you want me?”
“God why do I have to go through this?”
“God I’m not strong enough.”
Looking back I wouldn't have realized it at the time, but God used the experience to grow me in ways that I didn’t think were possible. Before I left, I had an okay relationship with the Lord. But the training really forced me to depend heavily on the Lord and be open to what he was speaking to me. I developed a strong desire to know Him more deeply. God also blessed me with friendships that will last a lifetime.
After reading this you are probably thinking, “Well that’s great for you, but how am I supposed to get through what I am going through?” Honestly, I don’t know. Everyone has a unique story and a unique way that they will handle it. But I do know one thing. God is a faithful God. He loves you and will never leave you. He can turn your impossible situation into something beautiful even if you don’t necessarily believe he will.
I don’t know what you may be going through in your life right now, but please know I am praying for you. I am praying for every person that reads this. You WILL get through this. You may be walking through a valley, but Jesus is walking right beside you.
Below are some verses that have encouraged me amidst my valleys and I hope they encourage you:
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NIV version)
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7-9 NIV version)
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18 NIV version)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NIV version)
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and gall. I well remember, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” (Lamentations 3:19-22 NIV version)
(My friend Kayla and I dressed as ballerinas. I was around four years old.)
I absolutely loved dressing up when I was little. It was so fun to pretend to be something else whether I was a princess or a ballerina. As I was getting ready for class one morning the thought hit me, "aren’t we all still playing dress up?". I was thinking about this because I was getting frustrated about what I was going to wear to school. This was ridiculous for me to worry about because it is finals week at my college and everybody knows that there is like an unwritten rule that you are allowed to dress however you want during finals week. However, I was subconsciously trying to impress the people in my classes. I believe that each of us portrays some kind of image that we want people to see.
Where do you find your identity?
This question has weighed heavy on my heart lately. Like most people, in middle school and high school I had a really tough time of being confident in who I was. I remember dying my hair a certain color and changing my outfits to be like the popular people at my school. Thankfully, over the last several years God has placed people in my path to encourage me that who I am is good enough.
This topic means a lot to me at this point in my life. As a middle school leader and a future middle school teacher, how can I encourage middle schoolers to be confident when I am always looking to other people/things for my identity? Also, someday I want to get married. How am I supposed to lead my spouse towards God if I’m always wrapped up in how they view me?
If you are reading this, maybe you are confident in who you are or maybe you are not. Either way I want to encourage you with how God sees you:
You are a child of God: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 NIV version).
You are chosen: “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:11 NIV version).
You are enough: “and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is head over every power and authority” (Colossians 2:10).
You are loved: “As the father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” (John 15: 9 NIV version).
You are pursued: “Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David” (Isaiah 55:3 NIV version).
You have purpose: “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV version).
Wherever you are at in your journey in life, I hope you remember how amazing you are. Nobody is perfect, but who you are is the best you that you can be. There is nobody else like you.
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“Happy International Day of Happiness!”
This is the line that I’ve been seeing everywhere on my social media platforms today. Usually I don’t pay attention to the many International Day ofs, but it caught my attention. First, because I find it silly that there is actually a whole day devoted to happiness. Why can’t we be happy everyday? Second, because a lot of people always ask me, “How are you always so happy?” I am about to get real here, but the truth is some days I feel the complete opposite of happy. That is why I find it funny that people always say that. What everyone sees in me is definitely Jesus and his grace shining through.
The reason I named this blog post Choosing Joy is because I truly believe that experiencing or not experiencing joy is a choice. Life is hard and if we don’t wake up each morning making the conscious decision to be happy, it is going to be a pretty miserable life. All that being said, it is okay to not be happy all the time. We are human and are capable of feeling all kinds of emotions. However, I would encourage you to not let the negative emotions overcome you.
There are so many things in this world that try to steal our happiness and joy. One of the major things that steals my joy is social media. Classic example: this next week is spring break for my college. Of course, as break began I checked my social media accounts. What did I see? Pretty much my friends doing anything better than what I was doing (my break will consist of me binge watching shows on Netflix and working on homework). I think we sometimes forget, but what we see on social media is not real. I mean it is to some extent, except we only really see the good parts of people’s lives.
Earlier this year, I was having bad day and I came across a verse in James that I believe the Lord spoke to me on the topic of joy. The verse is James 1:2-4 (NIV version) and says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” This verse is very challenging because it calls us to take on trials with happiness. This idea seems crazy to most people, but it is possible. God equips us all with tools to be happy, even through hard times. Whether or not we choose those tools, that is up to us. (:
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I’ve been seeing a lot of blog posts recently that are titled “(Insert number here) Qualities I’m Looking for In a Future Husband”. At first I loved reading them and thinking about what I desire in a future spouse, but now I cringe a little when I see one. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is wise to know what you what in a husband. However, it’s even more important to know who you want to be. You can’t control what qualities your future spouse may or may not have. It is something only God knows. The hard truth is that even if you do get married, you may still spend a good majority of your life single.
So here it goes:
Modesty is not really popular these days, but I think it is a real sign of beauty. I hope people see more of me then just the surface.
2) A sense of humor
One of my favorite things to do is laugh. I LOVE IT. Laughter brings so much joy. I have a long way to go until I’m funny, but my goal is to make at least one person laugh.
If I could do any job I wanted, it would probably be to travel the world. Adventure makes life exciting and even if I don’t live a crazy life, I don’t want to be afraid of trying new things.
This is a quality that I need to work on...especially if I’m going to be a middle school teacher. :)
In this world, it is really easy to be impulsive and make decisions based on feelings. I want to be thoughtful when I make decisions because I don’t want to have a lot of regrets down the road.
6) Desire to serve God
In my opinion this is one of the most important qualities on this list. I can claim to be a good person and do really great things, but without God I’m nothing.
From an early age I was taught the importance of giving to others. I love to make people happy and if I can make a difference in just one person’s life through generosity, I’ll be happy.
8) Multiple interests
Since I was little, I’ve jumped from hobby to hobby. I was one of those kids that did basketball, cheerleading, soccer, and dance all within of couple years. I just couldn’t make up my mind. I hope that down the road I will be encouraged to learn new things. Currently, I’m taking piano lessons (which has always been a goal of mine, I’m so excited!! :))
Life hardly ever goes according to how we planned it. My goal is to try and go with the flow when bad things come my way because if I don’t, life is going to be pretty stressful.
10) A good cook
I’m not the best cook, but I love food. I really want to be able to make food without burning it. Right now, I make a mean apple pie. :)
I know this list is a little unusual. Our culture has embraced the idea that to be complete, you need another person.Honestly, it still scares me to think that I’m might never get married. However, while I’m waiting to see what God has planned for me (whether it’s marriage or not) I’m excited to focus on who I want to be.
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God is so good. I've recently thought of the verse John 8:12 "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life." I work several different jobs and I usually dread days at this one particular job. There is a lot of long hours, difficult situations, and mean treatment for what I believe. I'm often the joke of a conversation. "Don't say that around her, she's so innocent". Even through the hard days, God was given me hope. Earlier this week, after a difficult workout I was eating dinner with some of the people I work with. They started talking about how someone at our work was yelling at them because they didn't believe in God or because they weren't devout Christians. They said, "This is why I don't go to church."
My heart was so broken when I heard them talking. I felt like I had to say something or else I would burst. I was so afraid of saying the wrong thing though. All of a sudden, before I could think, I said, "I'm sorry". I think they were confused because I hadn't really said much and they were probably wondering why I was sorry. I explained that I was sorry that this person had made them feel condemned. I said, "In my opinion, being a Christian isn't about religion or the rules, its about the relationship". I also said, "As a Christian, I hope to be living by actions rather than my words". I think they were surprised I said all this and frankly, I was to. Where did all that come from? I am in no way that brave, but God gave me the strength I needed at the time.
Later on Sunday, I went to church and as I walked in I was praying to be refreshed from the exhausting week I had. God did so much more then refresh me, he left me speechless. As I was waiting for service to begin, the same girls I had a conversation with walked into service. I was so filled with joy. At that moment, I prayed so hard that God would touch their hearts through the service. We sang some worship songs, and the pastor began the service. He started telling the story about the prodigal son, and stated that he was telling this story because he said this sermon was all about relationships. He said, "Jesus loves you, and desires to have a relationship with you" I started to cry because, I couldn't believe what he had just said. God answered my prayer and the same thing that I had told these girls about relationships, the pastor had said. After the service nothing really miraculous happened, but I was thankful to see that God is working. No matter how small, or in what place. So wherever you are in life, know that God is shining through the darkness.
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There are two words that about every college student dreads to hear and that is finals week. If you're not in college yet, you are probably dreading any final tests that are coming the next few weeks as well (I wish I could tell you that the stress stops in college, but...). This whole week for me has been consumed with small amounts of sleep, large stacks of flashcards, and an unhealthy amount of caffeine. Through it all I've been saying, "I can't wait till this semester is over" or "I can't wait till I get my degree". However, as I was saying my final goodbyes to some of my friends in my classes I realized I can wait. Even though I will most likely see my friends again, I am going to miss this time. We are only going to live this day once, be this age once, or be in college once. I don't want to hurry up and be thrust into the real world because I don't think I am really ready for that yet.
Today I was reminded of this and I believe the Lord placed a scripture on my heart. The scripture is in Lamentations 3:25 and says, "The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him". It seems we always are waiting for the new and better thing. While we are looking ahead we are missing all the beautiful things in front of us. I often get frustrated and say, "God, I can't wait until this is over! Why can't what I want come faster?" But he usually reminds me in some small way saying, "Katie, I put you here for a reason. You must wait for me". Then like a child waiting for dessert, I say (in a whiny voice) "Okay, God". All that being said, it's okay to look forward to the future. After all, God has incredible exciting plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11) but we must know that today is precious.
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It feels like practically everyone is in a relationship, engaged, or getting married. It can be overwhelming, especially when your family members want to know what is going on in your “love life”. Not to mention all the songs, movies, and television shows about spending time with your special someone. First, I have to say that I am so incredibly happy for all my friends who are in relationships right now. I am in no way bashing you because I understand that everyone is at a different place in their life.
That being said, it is not fun to be single during Christmas. I mean I wouldn't complain if a Ryan Gosling look-a-like came in like prince charming and asked me out. However, I've been thinking. What is so wrong with being single? Our culture makes single life out to be miserable, as if it is the worst thing in the world. Singleness is equated with loneliness. If you have ever felt worthless or lonely please know that you are not alone. Even though I am writing this post, I still struggle with these feelings on a daily basis. I am in no way, shape, or form a perfect person, but I am tired of feeling this way!
The truth of the matter is that even when we feel alone we are not alone. God is always there. He loves each of us so much (“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” –Psalm 139:14 NIV version). We are always going to feel lonely because we were made to have a need for love that only God can fill. Single life may actually be a blessing in disguise. We can take this time to try new things, travel the world, and find out who we are. Eventually God might bring someone into my life, but for now I am single and NOT ready to mingle! :)
Hey! I'm Katie. I have a passion for sharing God's love. I also love writing, thus the creation of this blog. I hope this makes your day just a little brighter!