Love and Faith

What If?

I’ve learned that when God wants to teach me something (and usually a repeat lesson, I can be stubborn on occasion), He is the most Creative out there. He doesn’t stop at Scripture or prayer (although I’m a fan of both). He brings in all the things – even a country song.

Have you heard the song “What If” by Kane Brown? It hit the radio a few months ago. It’s super catchy and cute and I became an instant fan. Here’s some of the lyrics:

You say what if I hurt you, what if I leave you
What if I find somebody else and I don’t need you
What if this goes south, what if I mess you up
You say what if I break your heart in two then what…

What if I was made for you and you were made for me
What if this is it, what if it’s meant to be
What if I ain’t one of them fools just playin’ some game
What if I just pulled you close, what if I leaned in
And the stars line up and it’s our last first kiss
What if one of these days baby I’d go and change your name
What if I loved all these what ifs away

When it came on the radio several weeks back, I thought to myself how the “What If” idea isn’t only for romance. It’s for all aspects of life. It’s easy to become cynical in the world we’re living, but I never want to.

Recently, the Life Group I host and co-lead picked a study by Mark Batterson and you know what it’s called? What If. No lie. The whole bible study is based around Romans 8:31:

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

In one of the recent video studies, Batterson talked about Ephesians 3:20. It’s been a life verse for several years now. Years back, when I was in Austin, my church did a whole series on it. Through this new study, God has been reminding me what He taught me back in Austin. No joke, a couple of days after that study, my morning scripture reading was Ephesians 3. I legit laughed out loud as soon as I opened up my bible. To top it off, I started decorating for Christmas (Judge away internet. Judge away. ;)) and an ornament I didn’t even know I had, had Ephesians 3:20 written on it.

I’ve kept this for years and is a reminder I see every morning

There’s been conversations with friends, with coworkers and even other books I’ve read….all things that God has brought into my path, reminding me Who He is, what He is able to do and what He wants to do. So why would I ever stop asking What If?

What if…
…I could get that job?
…that dream was worth going after?
…I became the parent I believe I could be?
…that relationship were possible?
…We pursued adoption?
…I could make that move?
…I put myself out there to make friends?
…I took that chance?

These are several “what ifs” I’ve heard people in my life ask and prayer through. I’ve been inspired by these people. In the past, I’ve sometimes done the, “well if I don’t ask for it, I won’t be disappointed when God says no.” It’s easier that way isn’t it? But what a depressing and fearful way to live. We were made for so much more.

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

I’ll share one more quote from the video study that has stuck with me since: “God has blessings for you in categories that you don’t even know exist.”

May we always live life that way. Expectant and willing.

What I love about this truth is, it’s for everyone. Whether you’re “what if” makes you famous or whether it gives you the courage to be the parent you want to be (or both!), God’s truth remains the same and that “what if” will change the world.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

What’s the “What If” in your life?

And in case you want to hear the country song – here y’all go!

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Book Reviews, Love and Faith, Nonfiction

She Reads Truth Bible

The She Reads Truth Bible aims to live at the intersection of beauty, goodness, and Truth. Featuring devotionals by the She Reads Truth team, and Scripture reading plans that include supplemental passages for deeper understanding, this Bible invites every woman to count themselves among the She Reads Truth community of “Women in the Word of God every day.” The She Reads Truth Bible also features 66 key verses, artfully lettered to aid in Scripture memorization.

Features include: almost 200 devotionals, 66 artist-designed key verses, 35 full-color timelines, 20 full-color maps, 11 full-color charts, reading plans for every book of the Bible, one-year Bible reading plan, detailed book introductions, key verse list, carefully curated topical index, smyth-sewn binding, two colored ribbon markers, and wide margins for journaling and note-taking.

The She Reads Truth Bible features the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) text. Translated by more than 100 scholars from 17 denominations, the Christian Standard Bible features an optimal blend of accuracy and readability that’s faithful for serious study, and written with heart-stirring clarity that inspires readers to live and share it.

Well, simply put, this is a beautiful Bible! I’m such a visual person, so beautiful maps, script, quotes, images, they will inspire me every time. This will make a beautiful gift for any woman who loves God’s Word. Outside of the actual scripture, there’s plenty of inspiration throughout AND lots of space for journaling and note taking. I love that there’s a one year reading plan included as well.

I also love the devotionals sprinkled throughout. There’s an incredible variety, voices and topics. I truly believe they’ll encourage you wherever you’re at. This is a beautiful bible and would make a very special gift!

What kind of Bible owner are you? Keep one until it falls apart? Try new versions? Have multiple ones?

You can find out more about the details of the bible at shereadstruthbible.com.

(Thank you to B&H for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Family Life, Love and Faith

Aslan is on The Move….And I’m Half Terrified/Excited/Can’t Wait!

“When the time is right, I, the Lord, will make it happen.” Isaiah 60:2

I quoted this verse in a post I wrote recently about being a hot mess. I talked about trying to figure out if I was doing life right. Questions like “Am I pursuing what I should be or do I need to let go of that dream?” You know, simple questions.

(Side note, I do believe there are dreams we have that are never meant to be realized and instead its the journey we needed. Like, I was supposed to marry Keanu Reeves. But y’all, I finally let that one go because I accepted this would never come to pass. But don’t worry I can quote Speed like a boss. #TheJourney).

That weekend I also decided to apply to more publishing jobs (true story, about every quarter for the past couple years I would do this. We’re talking ALL THE JOBS in ALL THE CITIES, except really cold states because no) with the thought process of “well, let’s just keep trying.”

You can imagine my excitement when I had a phone interview that very next week and then an in person interview the following week and then a job offer. Y’all WHAT? Was this my life?

And y’all, it was and now is. I am moving from the great state of Texas to the insanely gorgeous state of Colorado to take a position with Waterbrook and Multnomah Publishing.

Internet.

My job will now involve books. All the time!

Yes, I am soooooooo excited, but totally terrified too.

Moving from Texas is different than when I moved from California in so many ways. Leaving California was hard, but I knew I’d always visit. In the 8 years I’ve been in Texas, I’ve created my Texas family. When I think about leaving them, I start crying. #RealTalk. I don’t know when I’ll be able to visit, when they’ll be able to visit (although COLORADO MOUNTAINS FOR THE WIN!), so it’s different leaving. (Plus the food internet. THE FOOD).

Going on an adventure is exciting, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Does that stop me or shut down my excitement? Not at all, because I have seen God’s hand in so many ways through this whole process, He really is just showing off at this point. I LOVE IT.

Being brave and courageous isn’t the absence of fear, but as many have said, it’s the willingness to fight that fear head on. It wouldn’t be courageous if there wasn’t something a bit scary about it.

And so begins the new adventure and new chapter in my life!! #PrayForMeDuringWinter

I can’t wait to share more, the pictures and the all around awesomeness as I explore my new city. Aslan is definitely on the move y’all!

Love and Faith, Ponderings

The Days of Being a Hot Mess

So true story, I’ve never had just one job. After college, I got a “big girl” job at my church (the 8-5 type) and then built up my photography business on the side. Early on, I also worked for a large photography company on the weekends.

I decided to close out on wedding photography a few years after my move to Texas and then I started book blogging while working full time. And that’s where I am today; two blogs, a Shoppe and podcast. Working a job to pay the bills (although I have to say I love my coworkers – That makes such a difference!), but also writing, blogging, entrepreneuring (having no idea what I’m doing most of the time) after hours and most weekends.

All that to say I don’t get “being bored.” I think the last time I was truly “bored” was maybe at the age of 12 during a long road trip. This was pre all-the-technology and I could never read (and still can’t) in a car because if I did for more than 3 minutes, the driver better be prepared to pull over and let me almost die.

And I’m not claiming this is a good or bad quality, but it’s mine. I don’t know how to not be working on some project or new idea. Blessing or curse, just depends on the day. I guess there’s so many things I want to try and places I want to go, so my brain doesn’t slow down. Also I am my father’s daughter. (He’s amazing. He’s retired and does so much with ministries, being Gramps and changing the world. I’m seriously so inspired everyday by him and my Mom)

And in case I haven’t mentioned I feel like I have no idea if I’m moving in the right direction and feel like I’m a hot mess most of the time. Do I love writing and blogging? 100%! I’m not going anywhere, but I’d being lying if I didn’t admit I question if I’m doing what I need to be.

I think this was brought on by this current very busy season I’m in (both work and personal), but I ask “Am I doing the right things? Is this what God truly wants me to be doing, or am I fighting for something I shouldn’t be?”

HOW WILL I KNOW IF I’M DOING THIS LIFE THING RIGHT?!

Have I mentioned being an adult does not come with the confidence I remember my parents and other “old” folks had when I was 10? Because IT DOESN’T.

I know all the Jesus answers and I believe in them with all my heart, but y’all it’s still hard. Am I chasing a dying dream? Yet, the other side of it would be to only work my “real job” and the thought of that is terrifying. I love writing, photography and everything I do around the internets. But will this be forever ever? Will I be working two jobs for all of my days? Will I one day be able to focus on what brings my heart so much joy?

“When the time is right, I, the Lord, will make it happen.” Isaiah 60:22

Recently my church did a sermon on the Sabbath and I was reminded that everything is only a season. The good, the crazy, the bad, the awesome, the mix, the in-between. Let me tell ya, I grabbed on to that drop of wisdom like nothing else. Do I 100% know if I’m doing exactly what I should be? Let’s just say “not really,” but God is faithful and provides my heart with peace when I need it most and reminds me sometimes trusting in Him doesn’t mean we get to see where He’s leading, but we can trust the Guide.

And more than that, I’m thankful that each and every season of life the Lord uses to draw me closer to Him and maybe even use my life to draw people closer to Him as well.

How do you get through the busy and uncertain seasons?

Love and Faith

This Easter We Can Still Sing Hallelujah

Do y’all feel the darkness that seems to be growing in our world? From all that is happening on our own soil (Y’all, Donald Trump is the frontrunner for the GOP and if I start with all he “inspires” to fellow Americans, I won’t stop, so I’ll just say Lord Jesus HELP US) to persecution, slavery, trafficking and terrorism around the world. The news of Brussels this week broke my heart all over again. So much darkness.

There’s times when I can feel the heaviness and burden in my soul. Pain, hurt, loss. But recently, God has reminded me of His goodness and His hope.

And hallelujah there is a hope that will never be loss!

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
Psalm 28:7

We sang “Forever” by Kari Jobe recently at church and y’all it hit my heart at a time I desperately needed it.

The moon and stars they wept
The morning sun was dead
The Saviour of the world was fallen
His body on the cross
His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse upon him

One final breath he gave
As heaven looked away
The son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged
The power of hell forever broken

The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King
Has rendered you defeated

Forever He is glorified
Forever He is lifted high
Forever He is risen
He is alive, He is alive!

My heart is reminded on this beautiful story we are all a part of.

Psalm 39:7 shares this blessed truth:

“And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in You.”

I know Who goes before me and Who stands behind, so come what may, I’ll never lose my hope.

No matter what happens, I can fully trust and believe that the Lord is fully and wholly in control. Even when He hands this nation what they want (even when it’s so far from what these people need). Even when I’m living in a culture turning further and further away from God, I still have hope (and I can still fight for goodness).

No matter how great or how dark the circumstances are around me, the truth of what we celebrate this Sunday never wavers and never will. We can still loudly sing Hallelujah.

What hope and what joy!

So Happy Easter friends and may you be blessed by the truth of the beautiful Gospel. That Jesus came, died and rose because of a love so deep, so amazing and so divine!

Love and Faith, Ponderings

The Thing About Miracles

I’ve seen quite a few miracles recently. Big ones too.

Adoptions finally happening.

Family relationships and rifts slowly beginning to heal for the first time in years.

And it’s been incredible. These are things I (and so many others) have been praying for over friends for years.

I tear up thinking about both not only because they are beautiful, awesome and the answers to prayers cried out for so long, but because in clear visible ways in the lives of women I love, the Lord has completely shown me that He is good. Do I believe He is good when He doesn’t answer prayers in the way I envisioned? Oh course He is, but I also don’t want to be afraid to rejoice when He chooses to answer prayers in the way our hearts longed for.

Because if I’m being honest, how often I need to be reminded that He is good. Oh, I know that truth deep down in my heart, but too often in my waiting I lose sight of that. I get restless waiting. Frustrated. Dejected even. It can get like that when you know the Lord has placed certain things on your heart, but you start doubting because the timeline is longer than expected. Or maybe you tried something and it didn’t turn out as planned. And you’re back to square one.

But as I was reading these text conversations recently, it hit me all over again. That these were big things the Lord was revealing right before me. Miracles. None of these were the timeline any of us thought, but they turned out to be perfect and have brought more glory to His name in ways that wouldn’t have been possible if it worked out early, no miracle necessary.

What an incredible God we serve! I’ll end with a few verses that have encouraged and reminded me of God and miracles.

“You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.” Psalm 77:14

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

“He is the one you praise; He is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.” Deuteronomy 10:21

I pray that if you find yourself like me, these verses and promises will revive your heart and soul.

Family Life, Love and Faith

The Love That Came Down at Christmas

I never want to lose the wonder and awe that is Christmas. I love everything about this season: the family times, the memories with friends, the laughs, Christmas morning…

And yet, there is even more to celebrate no? To simply say “It’s all about love,” seems too easy and too simple. But isn’t that the beauty of Christmas? It isn’t about us and we don’t have to figure it all out. It’s about love and that’s the greatest news ever.

I love these lyrics from Jars of Clay’s “Love Came Down at Christmas”

Love came down at Christmas
Love, a lovely love divine
Love was born at Christmas
Stars and angels gave the sign

This is so encouraging for some many reasons! It’s not up to me. What a relief. I was recently listening to a sermon by Louie Giglio about the friends who dropped their paralyzed friend through the roof to literally land at the feet of Jesus. That was their job, just like ours. Our job is to point people to Jesus. Let Jesus do the rest. We don’t change hearts. We don’t save anyone. We point them to Jesus, talk about how He’s changed our lives, about His never ending love.

Love.

Love. So simple, yet so divine. We don’t need to worry about changing people’s minds, arguing them to faith (does that ever really work?), giving them a list of don’ts. Heart changing – that’s Jesus’ job.

That’s what I’ve been reminded of this Advent season. That Christmas is about Jesus and celebrating the power of His amazing love and how much we can change the world when we follow in His footsteps and love one another.

I’ll close with this piece of my favorite Christmas song (O Holy Night)

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease,
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his Holy name!

Merry Christmas friends!

Love and Faith, Ponderings

Rediscovering “Amen”

One of my favorite worship songs right now is Matt Maher’s “Because He Lives.” It’s such a beautiful and powerful worship song. One of my favorite parts of the chorus is this:

I’m alive, I’m alive
Because He lives

Followed by singing “Amen, Amen.”

I was singing this in the car recently and after, I started thinking about what the meaning of Amen is. I mean, I know the basic meaning, but it’s such a profound part of the song because it’s exclaiming the truths of the song, like these:

  • I believe in the risen One
  • I’m alive because He lives
  • I was dead in the grave, I was covered in sin and shame
  • I heard mercy call my name
  • I can face tomorrow
  • Every fear is gone
  • I know He holds my life
  • My future in His hands

Yes, I basically just bullet-pointed (new word!) the lyrics, but when you read them isn’t it amazing? As I started researching the meaning of Amen, not only is it a declaration of affirmation, but it also means “So be it” and “Truly.”

When I say “Amen!” I’m declaring such statements true. I’m declaring the words unshakable and unchanging. I’m saying that no matter what, this is life. This is truth.

And all for His glory.

For me, this song and research was a reminder I need to not fear living out that truth. My future is in His hand, everything is okay because He is the risen, my past is in the past and I can experience grace freely.

What a beautiful truth.

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20