Morgan Harper Nichols Though.

I love this lady and I love the words she shares. She writes devotionals and poems and she creates beautiful pieces of art, oftentimes combining color and words into an amazing masterpiece. You can find her on Instagram (@thedevoco & @morganharpernichols)

Her words have encouraged me so much in the past several months. She is also a singer. Her soulful voice has accompanied her sister, Jamie Grace, in her latest album, ’91. (Go listen to Daughter of the King)

Hope this encourages you today! ❤

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(Part 5)

July 22, 2017

Y’all. I got up at 6:15 on a Saturday. That never happens, like ever. But I did and I had this urge to get up. So I did, and without a second thought, I grabbed my Bible, my journal, and a pen, and ran downstairs.

As I watched the sun wake up and stretch its rays over the rooftops and kiss the leaves “good morning”, I was reminded of the Lord’s faithfulness. His mercies are new like the new day dawning. He is more faithful than the sun that rises and sets day in and day out. I spent the hour copying James 2 in my journal, and writing my prayers to the Lord. I remember feeling refreshed. I wasn’t tired one bit, even though I went to bed late and woke up an hour or two earlier than usual.

Later on in the day, I was able to talk to Mrs. Avis. She is my dear friend, mentor, and prayer partner. I cannot begin to tell you how much the Lord has used her in my life. I have only seen her in person maybe three times. Her health issues have kept her home-bound for the time being, but that doesn’t stop the Lord from using her. I admire her faith and her love for Him so much. She has encouraged me so much through text messages, emails, and the occasional phone call. She is one who asks the hard questions. You know, those deep questions that you need to take a good look inside yourself and inside the Scriptures to find the answers to. She always, always listens to what is on your heart and she does not speak until you’re finished. She is so kind and compassionate and loving. With every struggle that I have shared with her, she has encouraged me to use the shield of faith to quench the devil’s fiery darts and to use the sword of the Spirit to combat the lies I have let myself believe.

During this particular conversation, I was amazed at how the Lord had so intricately worked in both of our lives. The spiritual struggles I was having were struggles that Mrs. Avis had experienced either years ago or just recently. We both were asking the Lord, “why?!?!? What do You want from me?” The emotions we felt were so alike. Though our circumstances were so different, the Lord had paralleled our lives in such an astounding way that comforted my heart. There was someone who understood the questions I was asking. There was someone who felt the same way I did. There was someone who experienced the same hurt and frustration I was feeling, made it to the other side and was telling me the outcome of it. There was someone who could say, “I’ve been there. I know how you feel. This sucks, but God is faithful.

I appreciated how Mrs. Avis reminded me that the Lord never wastes an opportunity to teach us more about Himself. The place that we are in no matter how difficult or easy it is, is the classroom that the Lord has picked to teach us a lesson that we need to learn. These lessons are for our good and for His glory and though it may hurt now, one day we will look back and see how God’s hand was at work in our lives.

I love how after we talked and listened and cried, we took turns praying together. I remember as Mrs. Avis prayed for my grumpy neighbors, I didn’t have any anger or hatred or bitterness clinging to my heart. I was still sad, but I was okay. I had finally let go and said, “Lord, this is in Your hands. I love You and I trust You.”

It’s at times like these when we’re open and honest and vulnerable that our love for each other grows. When you see what the Lord has done in the other person’s life and you see how far they have come to know Him, you cannot help but rejoice with them and praise the Lord for His marvelous works. On the flip side, if you have found someone who has heard the nitty-gritty, not-so-proud-moments of your life and still loves you the same, (if not even more), you, friend, have found a treasure. I am so grateful for Mrs. Avis and the community in my life that consists of people from all different seasons of life and different phases of faith that have encouraged me in my walk with the Lord. Without these people, I would not be the girl I am today.

I would highly recommend finding a spiritual mentor, accountability partner, or prayer partner. Find someone you know and trust who is older and has been actively walking with the Lord longer than you have. I would suggest looking for one who is two or three seasons ahead of you. You know who that person is. Be honest with them. Listen to what they have to say. Search the Scriptures together. Pray together. Grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ together. This is what the body of Christ is supposed to look like. It is a community of broken people who have been healed and restored by the Creator of the universe and who have committed their lives to know Him and make Him known.

The Goodness of God

{Past}

It’s been a while. A long while since I saw him, or heard from him. And then, there he was. Smiling, staring at the ground with a girl by his side. Their faces frozen forever in a perfect little picture.

I shouldn’t have been stalking her. Now my heart hurts. It’s not broken. I remember what that feels like. It was so horrible. I felt shattered, crushed into a million pieces. I never felt so small and insignificant in my whole life. No, this time it’s a dull ache that burns in my chest. There’s regret. So much regret.

I’m relieved that it’s over. I finally have closure. But I also feel sad and disappointed that things didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. I desperately wanted him notice me. I tried so hard and wasted so much time and energy trying to get him to like me. But it was all to no avail. He wasn’t the one for me.

Thank God.


{Present}

The past three years have been one heck of a ride. It’s amazing how far the Lord has brought me and just how much He’s done in my heart.

15. That was not very long ago. I was young and crazy and head over heels for one guy, and then another guy, and then another. (None of which liked me back the very least.)

I spent so much time and energy trying to make boys that just weren’t the ones for me, the right ones for me. I had tried so hard to give my heart to each one. Mom warned me about the consequences of doing that. It would hurt and it’s a waste of time and affection that is so very precious. I would regret it because there were so many other things I could pour my energy into other than boys. But I didn’t listen. I still gave my heart away and every single time, I got hurt.

I let myself go until I became someone I didn’t recognize. I was unhappy with my image, with my personality, with all of me because I felt like no one liked me for who I really was. I tried so hard to be someone else for a guy. A guy who didn’t care for me. I spent so much time and energy wishing, wanting, and trying way too hard to get him to like me. Every night, I prayed that he would be the one for me. I said, “God, please let him be the one!” when really I meant, “God, please make him the one!” I am so thankful God did not give me what I wanted!

Then I moved.

And then the healing began.

I came to face some really hard truths.

Truth is, I wasn’t ready to date. (And I’m still not ready to date.)

Truth is, I wasn’t ready for marriage. (And I’m still not ready for marriage.)

Truth is, every guy I really liked was actually a terrible match for me.

Truth is, the distance away from my friends and all the guys I knew has actually been really good for me.

Truth is, I really need to get to know my Savior first before I ever get to know any guy.

Truth is, I have a really good God who has protected my heart in so many ways, it makes me cry every time I really think about it.

For three years, God gave me acne. The kind of acne that you just can’t hide no matter how much makeup you put on. It was big, red, painful, and pretty much all over my face. I hated it so much, but now I’m pretty sure those mountains were what kept the boys from falling in love with me during a very vulnerable time.

You know how I know?

Three years ago, in the middle of my boy-craziness, my acne was just awful. Like I went to a dermatologist because it was so awful, and she said it was awful. (Okay, she said it was very severe, not awful.) It was bad. Up until the time I moved, it had stayed that way. But ever since I’ve been living here, my skin has healed! It’s unreal. As I have grown in the Lord and let Him heal my heart, He has healed my skin too. It’s so amazing.

Ever since I moved, I have not met a single guy who is remotely close to my age. (Okay, that’s not true. There are boys here but they’re young and wild.)

God gave me ladies like my mom and Mrs. Nancy. Ladies who love the Lord and who are the kind of wives that I want to be when it’s time.

God gave me a handful of good, Christian girlfriends who have encouraged me in my walk with Him.

God gave me such a good daddy (and mommy) who will guard my heart even when I won’t do it myself. And they will continue to guard it until God brings the man HE picked for me. I’m so thankful for my parents. They counseled me when I was heartbroken. Now they’re encouraging me to pour my energy and time into the people I love and the things I like to do. To be busy instead of sitting around wishing for a boyfriend. They reminded me to be myself and to love myself because God made me the way I am: Complete. Perfectly and wonderfully made. Exactly the way He wanted me to be. And God doesn’t make mistakes. And finally, they told me to wait on the Lord’s timing. For His timing is perfect, and He always, always, has my best interests in mind.

So that’s where I am now. Waiting and trusting in the Lord.

Reflections on 2016

I said 2016 was the worst year of my life.

And apparently a lot of people agree with me.

But here’s the thing. 2016 in of itself wasn’t bad. It was just another year. What made it bad for me personally was that in the past, I had made a lot of poor choices and bad decisions and this was the year I suffered the consequences. But even through all the trouble I caused and experienced, God was faithful, steadfast, and unchanging.

Here’s what I’ve learned this past year.

Life can suck. Change can really suck. When everything is completely new, it can be really terrifying to think about adjusting and it is perfectly normal to feel like you can’t handle it. It’s okay to feel sad and a little lost over something you can’t control. But. Don’t dwell on the fact that everything is different and nothing will ever be the same again. Don’t let that drag you down. Instead, remember that God will never give you more than you can handle and He’s going to go with you through all the changes. He won’t leave you behind.

Life is short. Too short to hide behind a camera. Take the time to step away from your phone. Stop taking pictures for a minute and enjoy everything around you with your own two eyes. Soak it in. Remember it for yourself. Then maybe take a few pictures for that scrapbook of yours. 😉

Read some more. Be still, even if it’s for twenty minutes. Take one chapter at a time. Go on those adventures between the pages. Fight monsters. Conquer fears. Find true love and live happily ever after. Just don’t forget about reality.

Don’t lose heart. Some days, life can feel really crappy. There will be times when you won’t know what to do or say, or how to react and that’s okay. Take a deep breath. Talk to Jesus. Really talk to Him. Pour your heart and soul out –trust me, you won’t regret it. He’s a master of holding hearts and He’ll take good care of yours.

Listen to what He has to say. It’s so important to listen. Otherwise it’s a one-sided conversation, you know? You do all the talking and you ask all the questions, but you don’t get any answers because you don’t listen. Sit at His feet and rest in His presence. Seek His will. Chase after it and never stop.

Choose your friends wisely, love. There is a huge difference between friends and acquaintances. Make sure you know the difference.

Don’t push away your family. Your parents will always be your biggest cheerleaders and you will always have a friend and confidante in them. You really are going to be stuck with your siblings forever. You don’t have to like them, but you do have to love them. They will be the ones who will take you in when you need a place to stay. They’ll keep you company whether you want them to or not. Cultivate good relationships with them now while you’re all young. It won’t be long before you all start moving out and living a life on your own. These are the days and you’ll never get them back. Redeem the time you have.

Finally. Run wild. Live free. Love strong.

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Here’s to another year.

Love Like God Loves

This past Sunday marked our one year anniversary of attending our church. Originally, I had written up a draft reminiscing of my family’s adventures in finding this church that we call home, but I discarded that because I want to share what’s going on in the present, rather than focusing on the past. Lots of things are happening, some good, some bad.

What I really want to share is something that has been on my heart ever since I was sick with a nasty cold last Sunday. I stayed home from church and listened to a sermon by Ben Stuart on how God Is Our Father. What struck me was that God loves me. Like, He loves me. And I didn’t do anything to make Him love me, He just loves me because He is love. So, that caused me to question myself: how can I love God more? Like, how can I rejoice and get excited over God’s love even more than I do now? How can I love like He loves? What are some areas in my life that I need to work on loving like Him? Do people see God’s love shining out of me when they come in contact with me? So, I prayed about it. And honestly, I didn’t think God would answer it, not to mention in this way, but He did.

For the past few months, my family and I have been having some issues with our nextdoor neighbors and just this past week, it had escaladed into something a little more serious. Serious enough that the police showed up at our front door after my parents had confronted our neighbors about a letter they received from the HOA. The neighbors had anonymously filed a complaint about us kids being disruptive and too noisy while playing soccer in our own backyard in the daytime. I know, it’s ridiculous and that’s not even half of it. But from that, to a very unpleasant encounter I had with the husband telling us to stay off of his property (which we’re staying clear of now!), I have found it really, really, difficult to love my neighbors. I felt so angry and confused that they would treat us so terribly when all we have done is make them feel comfortable, welcome, accepted, and above all, loved. Before they even moved in, we have treated them like family, and we have been kind to them, helping them in any and every way that we could.

Forgiving these people has been so hard. I’ll admit, I have been very bitter about all of this drama. It just doesn’t make sense that they would be so mean! I know that they’ve been through a lot these past few months, but that’s no excuse for them to act like children and tattle on us to the HOA or the police over something so trivial.

But. God reminded me through my big sister that He loves these people too. Jesus died for these sinners too. And His love is not like my love. God’s love is patient. It is kind. It is not envious. It is not puffed up, nor is it proud. It doesn’t behave rudely. It doesn’t rejoice in iniquity, rather it rejoices in the truth. It doesn’t seek its own. It thinks no evil. It bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and believes all things. God’s love never fails.

That’s the kind of love that I want to have. I want to love like God loves. And part of loving like He loves means putting aside my bitterness and anger and choosing to forgive. Because God loves my neighbors too. He loves them just as much as He loves me. That doesn’t mean that what my neighbors said and did was right. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t apologize. But it does mean that I am not going to hold this against them regardless of whether or not they recognize that they did wrong.

If I’m going to love like God loves, I need to love my enemies. I need to love my neighbors whether they’re neighborly or not because God’s love is unconditional. I want my love to be unconditional too. I need to forgive them because if I continue to hold a grudge against them and remain bitter, there’s no room in my heart for love. And I choose to love.

I choose to love like God loves.

Sixteen.

I’m turning seventeen in a matter of days. I’m trying not to think about it because I’m actually kind of dreading it. Let me explain: My goal in life was to turn sixteen. I know, it’s a silly goal, but that was my dream. I had this idealized version of what my sweet sixteenth year would look like ever since I was a little girl. Like, I would be driving, working, possibly graduating, hanging out with friends with no adults around, and enjoying the privileges an adult has without having the expectations to fulfill their responsibilities.

Well, let me tell you that my sweet sixteen was nothing like that. I don’t know how to drive, I don’t have a job, I’m still in school, and I haven’t gone out with a single person other than my family ever since we’ve moved.

If I’m completely honest, sixteen was the worst year of my life. I dealt with some serious emotional, spiritual, and relational problems all throughout my sixteenth year. I wrestled with all kinds of change. And I think this was the year that God really got ahold of me and had me face all of the issues I was keeping inside of me for years. Which, is a good thing because looking back, I really needed to do that. But gosh, it was so painful; I never want to go through that again.

The thought of being a year older and facing all of the changes, good or bad, accompanying it gives me some anxiety. Some people have already made the comment that I’m almost an adult. That thought gives me even more anxiety. I’m not ready to be an adult! This past year has shown me that I’m not ready–that I’m not as prepared for adulthood as I thought I was.

Last night, Mr. Blais gave a study on the book of Ruth. Throughout the whole study he reminded me that life is full of choices: good ones, bad ones, better ones, and the best ones. And with that thought in mind, I can see that if I had made some better choices in the past, this year would probably have been a whole lot easier. Maybe that’s why I’m dreading my seventeenth year of living. I’m going to have to make choices that are a little harder than whether I’m going to do Algebra today or tomorrow. I’m going to have to decide what I’m going to do after I graduate, where am I going to go to college, am I even going to go to college, who am I going to date (when the time comes), what am I going to say to those who disagree with my decisions, how am I going to live my life?


So, here’s what I found this morning that calmed my anxious heart.

“that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:12)

“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

“That He (Jesus) would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

” Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.: (Ephesians 4:29)

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit[b] is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8-10)

” Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

“and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” (Colossians 2:10)

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)

 

We Rocked the Park

Fury 325 though.

 

I love roller coasters and all, but this one is a bucket-list-one-time-experience-ordeal. I’m never getting on that one again. It’s 325′ tall and has a max speed of 95 mph. I died a little and now I’m terrified to get back on there.

Also, I went to a concert with Dad and E. It was an amazing night.

I was so psyched that my two favorite bands were in one concert! Matt Maher and the Newsboys were bonuses. 🙂

The whole thing was just fantastic. I had a rough week and this concert was something that I was looking forward to. I expected an epic night. I knew I would have a great time because hey, I get to see my two favorite bands plus two more great bands in one night! I had hopes that I would hear my favorite songs played. But I didn’t expect this:

Joel literally walked down the row in front of us! I knew he and Luke would probably walk through the crowd to say hi and whatnot, but never did I imagine that he would walk right in front of me! That was a little exciting.

Love & the Outcome was a fabulous start. I heard old songs as well as new songs. You can bet that I’m going purchase their new album when it’s released this fall. I really like how they’re a husband and wife duo and that they write songs with such solid lyrics that I found myself worshiping Jesus with. I was so encouraged by their songs last night.

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Matt Maher was great.

For King & Country was wonderful.

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The Newsboys described themselves as crazy, and I agree. They’re crazy about Jesus and crazy about sharing His love with the world one city at a time.

What amazes me is that hundreds of people came to see these bands and have a great time at the park, but they also heard multiple times throughout the evening that it’s because of Jesus Christ that they’re all standing here today. It’s because of Jesus and His crazy love for us that He left Heaven to die on the cross, take all of our sins, and purchase our salvation. I heard it in the songs, from all of the artists themselves, and I could see it in the men and women who sang and cheered. I was reminded that my life has a purpose and that is to glorify God in all that I say and do. I was reminded of how much hope I have and where it should be placed. I was reminded of Who is truly important. I was reminded that life is short. That roller coaster reminded me of my mortality. Believe me, I was thanking God that I didn’t die during those very long three minutes!

When I was singing and I dropped my self-consciousness and insecurity, I felt so much joy and freedom. Maybe I was just on a spiritual high because I had a rough week and this lifted my spirits. But I believe I worshiped God that night. I believe I glorified Him by raising my hand, by singing every song I knew, and clapping. That’s what matters, right? That I was fixated almost always on Him, not on the artists, and that during the concert, afterwards, and even now, I’m still thanking Him for the reminders that He is God. He is alive. He is with us. He is my help. And it is such an honor that He would give me the privilege to have a personal relationship with Him.

It was an amazing night and one that I’m going to remember for a long time.