Paper Thin

"Honesty is the best policy"

Take those words and run with them. Make them your daily mantra. Put them on a tshirt. Write a song based on them! Because there is nothing more good and true. 

This week I have once again learned-- or was reminded by God-- the importance of transparency. My lovely friend Leesette told me after I confessed my feelings on a car ride home, that there is something even more cowardly about pretending that you have it all together than admitting you are scared or are feeling weak. That. That struck me right in the heart. For me personally, I really REALLY don't like appearing weak. As you can tell by my attempt to convey my emotions in writing, I still need some healing in that area. I am not yet completely confident with the idea that it's ok not to be ok-- but I'm getting there.  

With magazine ads telling us we need to look a certain way and hundreds of years of history silencing female voices, girls aren't exactly setup with everyone in favor of them appearing strong and confident. I think partially for that reason I have unknowingly taken on a burden of always appearing like I have it together because I hate the idea of someone thinking I am incapable of doing something. Combine that with people pleaser tendencies and a fear of failure and I am pretty much naturally just not a vulnerable person. I beg of you please PLEASE learn from my mistakes: do not confuse vulnerability with weakness for it is the furthest thing from it. I have come far enough in my "walk towards honesty" to know this truth even before this week's mess of emotions, but I definitely needed to be reminded.

Being vulnerable allows others to see that you are not perfect. They can suddenly recognize that they are not the only ones who have faults or struggles. It adds a beautiful air of humanity and gives you one heck of a wake up call that our simple human nature needs Jesus to survive and thrive. It is beyond tiring and stressful holding things in and it creates distance between you and and the ones you love. It is so hard to be truly close to someone if you won't allow it. Vulnerability allows you to not only fight your battles as a pack and not as a lone wolf but it also creates intimacy with others. It opens up a door for someone else to open up to you. Not to mention it also leaves room for someone to speak life into you and remind you of the truths that may have slipped your mind.

I can't say just yet that I love being vulnerable but I love what it does. I can still be a strong, fierce, confident, driven person and be vulnerable at the same time. I will choose to let my pride get hurt every time if it means it will bring me some level of freedom. Opening up to someone is putting wings on the weight that held you down and letting it fly away. Don't stop yourself from living in the freedom you were created to live in.

Last year was an incredibly hard year for me and I remember writing in my journal that I felt so spread thin that it was as if I was as "fragile as paper". I think I'm seeing now that the thinner you are spread, the easier it is to see through whatever facade you are trying to create to appear strong. So if you are not ok please admit it. Let others love you, for you are so worth loving. 

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36

Love,

Abby

 

Luke and Val Forever

by Abby Eastman

If you haven't heard Luke Wilson and Valerie Ely are in love. 

Young but far from reckless, this happy couple will tie the knot in less than a month in Val's home state of Oregon.  I expect their wedding to be nothing short of a "grand ol' time" (both of them crave adventure and have a deep desire to have fun in every situation). Their wedding marks the very beginning of their lifetime together as a family, but in someways it also marks an ending of sorts; like a fairy tale it is their "and they lived happily ever after." 

So where did their story begin? Flashback to Los Angeles, fall 2013, Luke and Val met while attending separate Discipleship Training Schools (DTS) at Youth With A Mission Los Angeles. During DTS it is asked of the students that they do not try and pursue any new type of romantic relationship, which you can imagine definitely played a huge role in the development of their story. The couple saw each other only once a week for 3 months when their DTSs would worship and have class together. Their conversations were minimal throughout these short interactions, barely even establishing a friendship. But it was clear from the beginning that there was something there and for Luke there definitely was.

L: "I think for me it was love at first sight. I don't think I was in love with her but I knew I wanted to be with her. I would have married her--and this is so dramatic -- I think I would have on the first day. I knew that up until the day that she told me to never to talk to her again, I was going to pursue her."

DTS breezed by with no texting, no messaging and nothing but small talk to their name. Not to mention they also spent three months apart while doing their DTS overseas outreaches. It seemed incredibly unlikely that Luke and Val would even speak after their schools, due to the lack of relationship they had built and the distance between their home states (Luke hails from Illinois). Luke had also left DTS a couple days early without getting a chance to say goodbye, but thankfully with a room full of  giddy, wide eyed DTS girls on their last night together, Luke and Val beat the odds.

V: "On graduation night I messaged Luke saying we should stay in touch! It wasn't even me it was my friend Paris. It was so embarrassing! We were all screaming when we saw that he had started to type back!"

If somethings really meant to be, it'll happen regardless.

L: "I was going to wait until the next day to message Valerie-- the morning after graduation. I didn't want to seem too eager, but when I got the message from her it was like the craziest thing. We had never expressed feelings. We had never even really talked, but when she messaged me it just felt right. It was 2 in the morning and I couldn't go back to sleep until 5.


Thus began their official courtship. Text messages were passed between them, eventually moving into face time calls (which hilariously often included Val's entire family). As they began to get to know each other as well as express feelings, they decided to reconnect at a YWAM leadership school held in Kona, Hawaii 3 months later. A magical time but also a serious time of growth and discovery for the both of them.

V: "We had face timed and texted for 3 months but then seeing each other in Kona that first day was like the weirdest thing ever! We already knew we liked each other but it was honestly such a fun season of getting to know each other in real life and getting to see how [Luke] was with other people and during ministry times. We went on our first date in Hawaii! He took me on a surprise moped ride which was like my dream and then we had a picnic on the beach. Hawaii was also when I realized I had fears. On the plane ride there God basically told me that I had so many fears in my heart that I didn't even know about. It was the unfolding of all of the crap and fears I had with being in a relationship and falling in love. It was really bitter sweet for me.
L: "Hawaii was the most perfect time of my whole life. I was having fun with great people and I was falling in love. During that time Val had all these issues come up and normally in the past if a girl said things like "I don't know if this is right" or "I don't have peace" or something like that, I would have been really insecure and that would usually make me think "oh I'm done". The thing is none of those things affected me as it should have. I was just so secure--. The Lord did a lot in my heart in making me confident in who I was."

It was also a time where Luke knew without a doubt that he was in love.

L: "There was this specific night in Hawaii where we were sitting outside on the pier and I was thinking "I love this girl, what the heck?" I took a picture of us and I told her to remember that night because I wanted her to believe me when the time was right, because it was still so early."


After Hawaii, Valerie's parents had gotten a hold of Luke asking him to surprise her in Oregon as she was flying back from Kona. They went on a camping trip with her family, and a week later decided to make things official.

L:" Her dad just randomly took me to his man cave one day and he said 'you can date Valerie, she's ready'. Because of all her fears, I never knew when I could ask her to be my girlfriend."
V: "We went to this park and I knew he had been wanting to date for so long. I was so nervous but I told him 'I think I'm ready to date you' and he got so excited. We had gotten ice cream and he threw his ice cream cone across the park and he was like "Can i ask you now?!!" 

A month long visit in Oregon eventually came to an end, but the couple were soon reunited when Val went to Illinois to spend time with Luke and his family (it was there that they finally said "I love you). Soon after they were long distance for 4 months, until Luke quit his job, packed up all his things, and moved to Oregon to continue to pursue the girl of his dreams.

V: "It was like a weird change having Luke there because he was living with my family, so we were always together. It was hard in that sense because it felt like we were married without the benefits of marriage but at the same time it was really good for us because we learned so much about each other just by being around one another so much. I think it was the way the Lord wanted it for us. We learned so much."

Living together in the same place proved to be an incredibly sweet time for their relationship as they got to grow together side by side. In August of 2015, Luke's family flew out for the Ely annual camping trip which Luke had gone on the year before when the couple had just started dating. It was there in the Oregon mountains that he proposed, giving them what may very well be called a "chance at forever".

So us singles, or dating, or married people, what can we learn from them and their model of love and relationships?

What have you learned from each other?

V: "I think early on when I was really struggling with my fears and doubting my relationship as well as feeling like I was messing up, Luke was so committed to me and never took it personally. He was always on my side fighting for me and believing in me that I would overcome this. I think that takes such a huge amount of patience and commitment to stick by my side. I think if it had been the other way around I wouldn't have been the same way. I remember thinking 'oh my gosh this is how Christ loves me'. He fights for me even when I'm treating him horribly. He still loves me so much and is committed to my life. His patience and the grace he has for me--  I'm still learning how to have that for him.
L: "Since I've met Valerie I've learned to have fun all the time and to communicate better. I feel like I want to know what she's thinking whenever something's going on. Its made me want to hear every single thing that goes through her head. Its made me better at speaking with her and working through things. She's also shown me how to enjoy the little things and to not overthink."

Favorite quality about the other?

L: "Her laugh and how caring she is. She always cares about everybody and it makes me mad in a way. She will care about someone that I don't want to care about which then will actually make me want to care! Or whenever I don't feel like doing something right, she wants to. It's a very good quality and it makes me a better person. She also calls me out all the time. I like that: someone who wants to make me better and not just say "well that's how he is"
V:  "His diligence. He's so diligent and I'm so unmotivated! He keeps me motivated to do things.

Advice?

V: "I would say have fun and be lighthearted because that's something I feel I was robbed of because I was so worked up about 'am I doing this right?', 'am I pleasing the Lord?', or 'is He proud of me?' for every little thing to the point where I didn't get to enjoy as much as the Lord wanted me to. Obviously stay close to Jesus and make sure your heart is in line with him, but then trust that he's going to open and close doors. Don't over spiritualize things and have fun. Remember that He loves love and he wants us to be in love and to enjoy ourselves. Soak it in, because it is a season: it's not always going to be fresh and new.
L: "If you're a guy-- or a girl-- and you want to pursue someone, you pursue them fully. If you like someone obviously be listening to the Lord because there are certain things you cant do, but what I'm saying is don't ever be scared of looking dumb. Pursue them with everything you have because down the road if you guys get married you can be so happy with how you pursued them and that you did everything you wanted to do. You won't be like 'oh I wish I just wouldn't have been so shy or been so afraid of being rejected'. The Lord told me to pursue Val with everything I had and if it didn't work out then I could be confident in the end that I did everything I could, or I could be married to her down the road and I wouldn't regret not doing certain things. Like telling her I love her and not caring if she doesn't say it back, or holding her hand in front of her parents, holding her hand in front of the people she's nervous to be seen with me. Do all these things and don't care about what she's thinking because she's going to look back one day and be really glad I wasn't too scared to do them.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love,

Abby

An Awe and a Wonder

Reading an old journal entry is both helpful and terrifying. Helpful because your former self often has very good advice and insights, and terrifying because it's a bit hard to look back at times of inexperience. With that being said, I dug up an old blog post (which to me is like an open journal) from a couple years ago that I never ended up posting and thankfully for yours and my sake, it is more helpful than anything else. 

The year was 2014, a fresh faced Abby had just returned from various trips with YWAM. She was 18 and had only just been diagnosed with a touch of wanderlust. So ignore the fact that I am referring to myself in the 3rd person and hopefully see how perfectly wondrous the world is from the eyes of an 18 year old.


The lessons of Exploration

I never thought I’d reach the point in life where I’d actually be “coming home” from someplace – I thought I would be home forever. Then one day out of the blue high school decided to come to an end and I found myself returning home from places like Thailand and Hawaii. It has indeed been an incredible year.

It’s gone by so quickly that I sometimes wonder if it honestly happened. If I really did spend all those hours in a plane flying across the US and the ocean to new and unfamiliar places. Sometimes it feels like it was a blip in time that I formed in my own imagination. Just think about it: imagine coming home to find out that everything is exactly the way you left it – you’d feel like you’d never left at all. The only assurance that I did leave, I find in myself: I have changed. Home stayed the same but I’ve changed– drastically.

I left home a scared somewhat naive individual who hated the thought of giving up personal comfort and loathed the idea of having to leave their safe little corner of the earth. The words “risk” and “adventure” weren’t even in my vocabulary. I was fine with being fine. Going to new places– especially Thailand– changed that for me. 

Thailand is so different from my world back home, that the lack in similarities is remarkable. It’s not a dangerous place, it’s just not the normal I'm use to. Living there for 3 months gave me a chance to fall in love with a land and people other than my own. I got the chance to make friends with local Thai girls who’s smiles warm ever single inch of your soul. I also ate more sticky rice and fired basil than humanely possible– It was incredible..

I was in such awe of just how creative God was, and how he made each person and land so different and unique from each other. There were nights spent on a Chiang Rai balcony that I could not fathom just how remarkable Thailand was and how there are so many other beautiful people and places that I have not yet discovered.

Hawaii was equally as eye opening. It was a 6 week blur of sunscreen and laughter. Each day I spent there made me feel more alive than ever before. I fell so in love with the people around me that the stunning scenery was secondary to the physical signs of happiness that surrounded me and my friends. I found deep friendship that summer all while surrounded by the ocean– nothing short of magical.

I learned so much in those months traveling that I will never get over the fact that before I left in September, I was fine, absolutely 100% fine, with just getting to know one part of this breathtaking earth God created. A truly tragic mindset, because If God spent so much thought and care into creating this earth and it's people then it is by far one of the greatest privileges to get to explore them.

So promise me you will explore. Promise me even if you can't get on a plane that you will take time to explore your city, because there is such an awe and wonder to God's creation and we have it right at our finger tips– you just have to grab it.

- Abby

 Hawaii. Summer 2014. Stolen bouquets and a sunny day. Though not candid that smile was as genuine as can be.

Hawaii. Summer 2014. Stolen bouquets and a sunny day. Though not candid that smile was as genuine as can be.

 

 

 

Tips On How to Make a Gloomy Day a Sunny One

It rained today which is always a treat in Southern California. Especially for me. I LOVE the cold and the rain. I have this theory that if I move to a really drizzly sort of place my sometimes excessively happy manner would make the perfect contrast. I would walk the streets flashing 500 watt smiles to all the people passing by who were stricken with the weather blues, shedding some light on what could be for them a desolate and wearying sort of day.

Anyway, if you are having that sort of day now—  even if it's sunny where you are— I have developed some fool proof tips on how to make it a bit brighter. So if you're feeling sad, miserable, bored, glum, negative etc. grab a notebook and READ ON.

Tips

1. PRAY IT OUT - My gosh. I don't think there has ever been a time that praying hasn't made me feel the least bit better. The best part is you can do it anywhere, any place, anytime. Stuck on a crammed uncomfortable bus, commuting home after a long day at work, with a mild headache and a million things to do when you get home? PRAY! Found out the guy you liked is actually interested in someone else but you spent all day yesterday mentally planning what you were going to say when you meet his parents? PRAY!

2. TEA IT OUT - Tea is warm. Sad days can make you feel cold inside and out. Drink some tea. Maybe while reading a beloved book (The Magicians Nephew has seen more than a few of my sad days)

3. LIST IT OUT - I use to to write a list everyday called "Big Little Blessings" so no matter how sucky my day was I knew there was some sort of positive element to it. It mostly consisted of food related blessings like "I had some good cheesecake today" or "my coffee tasted extra nice this morning". Also random things like "managed to actually get a lot of work done at the office" and "One Direction dropped a new single"  but who cares? I always felt better after doing it.

4. FEEL IT OUT- Be honest with yourself first and foremost with how you are feeling. I think we can often get into this mindset that we have to be ok and therefore hold back tears or do the whole "I'm fine thing". Don't let that lie get to you because feelings are SO good. When you  finally release whatever you are holding in, it is so much easier to process it! SO MUCH EASIER. So cry or rant, with God or a loved one. You'll feel better. 

5. BAKE IT OUT - I bake when I'm stressed or sad. It helps me think. Baking might not be your go-to life-giving activity but that's perfectly fine. Find whatever gives you joy and do it. Maybe it's watching a whimsical and light movie (Cinderella. The new one. It is overwhelmingly gorgeous and positive) or busting out your guitar and writing an emotionally charged ballad (I so I envy you. I wish I could play. If you are ever in LA, feel free to give me lessons)

6. SHAKE IT OUT - Grab the hairbrush mike, turn on your music and dance around your room like you just don't care . Or if you do care, grab your headphones, grab a jacket and head outside! Listen to a song that fits your mood and pretend you're in a music video because why not?

"A cheerful heart is good medicine" Proverbs 17:22

7. BIBLE IT OUT - Ever feel like you can't hear God's voice? Well you can at any given time, especially if you have the bible app. God has some really wonderful truths that he has spoken to you in his word. So pick up that bible and read! 

 "My beloved spoke and said to me, "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone."  Song of Songs 2:10

Bonus tip: Occasionally I'll play the audio bible while I clean my room. I think my room can sometimes reflect the hecticness of my life and therefore cleaning it feels like a fresh start. Plus there is something about organizing a mess that makes me feel like I can conquer any task at hand.    

8. BREATHE IT OUT - Stop and take a big breath. Remember you have life in your soul that wills you on each day.

I hope just be reading this you now have your own 500 watt smile spread across your face and that you will take that smile and shed some light to the people and places around you.

Love,

Abby

A Grace that meets you where you are

It's good Friday! And boy is it good. Today is the first day of outreach for the Beauty Arise Discipleship Training School and on Tuesday we'll be going to Spain. How exciting.

I was asked to write something this week for the blog, and after trying to think up things to write, God moved me to share with you the same message I shared at the Beauty Arise fashion show in Mexico about a month ago!

So this message has a back story, and it starts when I was 15. I had a control problem. I wanted answers and I wanted them instantly. And when things would go badly in my life I would try to control the situation and plan everything out-- the same thing happened with my relationship with God.

At this time I got a boyfriend. Throughout the relationship I tried so hard to change my boyfriend and to keep him in my life, and he manipulated me into believing he wanted the same thing. When I was 18 he broke up with me and when it happened I realized I had given all of my heart to him. I felt alone, hopeless, unworthy and unlovable. I also noticed that I felt so far from God. I spent the next year trying to get God back and get the boy back at the same time. Eventually I stopped and listened to God and he told me that I couldn't have them both, and that the relationship was something that would end up killing me. I recommitted my life to God and I felt that I once again had his favour, his love and his grace.

About a year ago, after some time committed to God I fell short again. There were still some holes I was trying to fix in my heart that were left from the relationship with my boyfriend, and I discovered that partying and drinking was the way I wanted to fill them. I knew in my heart this wasn't a permanent fix, but my control side took over. I told myself I would do this for a while and then eventually get back to a committed life with God like nothing happened. I realized quickly you can't plan out the consequences of living recklessly. Every time I went out and got drunk something went wrong. I would fight with my friends, get sick, allow guys to speak horrible things over me, and worst of all: I carried around a guilt Monday through Friday that effected my relationship with my family and my friends. Eventually I got tired of it all and stopped going out, but that didn't really fix anything.

I spent the summer numb from the experience. The plan was to do my thing for a while and get back to a Godly life, but I realized that living that life style for 6 months not only temporarily filled up the holes in my life, but it made them bigger. I didn't know how to get back to God. I didn't know what to do to receive his favour and love and grace again.

So coming to LA I was still wounded, and I still felt that though God has saved me from things, I needed to work on myself some more before I could be complete in my relationship with him. I felt like I needed to make myself valuable in order for God to value me. I thought I had it figured out.

It was week three in my DTS that those ideas were shattered. The speaker was talking to us about identity in Christ when he said some things that destroyed all the lies I've believed for so long. He explained that Christianity is not about doing what you can to get to God, as if God is a destination that you can reach. I always thought that every time I hit a low point in my life I was taking steps back from God's grace. He explained that life is the journey, and God is not the destination: he's the person walking beside you the whole time. I spent a lot of my time trying to get to God, when the whole time He was wanting to just be with me and love me where I was at.

I know now that God was never something I needed to reach at some point in my life, He was with me the whole time. I can live a life of freedom knowing God's grace is one that meets me where I'm at, and that I no longer need to work out my life in order to get it. Because of this knowledge I'm able to love with a full heart knowing that we are all able to receive God's grace and love, we just need to accept it no matter what we're going through in life.

Since I've landed in LA I've been able to receive God's love knowing that I'm nowhere close to perfect. I stopped focusing on being the best version of me I could be in order for God to love me, and I just allowed Him to love me where I was at. That's what God's grace is. God doesn't love me any more or less in life, no matter where I'm at; He loves me fully and unconditionally and his grace extends to me in every season. I don't need to find a place in his kingdom; he's placed me in it through his sacrifice of his son on that cross.

So this Easter when you think about Jesus and God's sacrifice, I encourage you to think about how well you've been receiving the gift that was given on that day. Remember that Jesus came down to us because we could never get up to Him. That's grace and it's beautiful.

Titus 3:4-7 But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life

Love,

Anna

Beauty Arise DTS Student January 2016

Girl vs. The World

I think in stories. Always. I sometimes without realizing it subconsciously find myself narrating my life. It makes sense in a way. I love stories. And books. And the smell of old books but the sound that new ones make when you crack them open. In all honesty, I like the idea of being Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice and reading somewhere in a lush field with the sun on my face and my heart completely filled by the warm tales of those I read.

I've heard the analogy often that God has a story for you. One where you are going to find joy and love and a happy ending, but I was skeptical at times to whether or not that was true. Don't get me wrong, as I mentioned before I am quite the story enthusiast. I am all for tales and dreams coming true but what does the creator of heaven, earth, moon, and stars have interest in creating one for me? One with interesting life bringing characters that you find in your favorite novels or one with crazy plots and struggles that ultimately are overcome even when it seems hopeless?

One day while praying (or maybe day dreaming...I'm not to sure. But maybe because I'm not too sure it means I was day dreaming) I felt like God said "Abby. I have a story for you and you're the protagonist." Instantly I was taken back to gr. 9 english class where we learned the elements of a story: the protagonist was the main charterer. In a typical story line the protagonist is often the hero or heroine. If written well they are real and relatable. They always face adversity but it is their destiny to overcome it. Thus began my journey of viewing my life as one epic novel.

It helps. When things get hard and it feels like it's you against the world. It helps to view yourself as the protagonist of the story. For we really aren't alone. It isn't you who has the story line of your life written out; you have quite the author:

" For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11  

It sometimes can feel like you're Katniss before she volunteers as tribute or -- if we're thinking biblically-- Esther before she is presented to the king. But know we are bound to have struggles and hard times but that doesn't mean we can't have a happy ending. God really cares about us and who we are and whether or not we will succeed, like any good author who has worked very hard at carefully crafting characters and plots would. We all have encountered  horrible events that if they did not happen would not have somehow set us up for something so much better than we could have imagined. Don't you see? We are not destined to fail.

 "He has made everything beautiful in its time." Ecclesiastes 3:11

So get excited about life! I do. How could I not, when I literally have a grand destiny ahead of me? I've had my fair share of crappy moments, buckets of tears and times where I was so overwhelmed that it felt like I couldn't breathe. But right now I am happy sitting here on my couch typing away noisily at my keyboard and listening to BORNS as I resist the urge to eat the box of Cheez-Its in my cupboard because I've already brushed my teeth. I'm happy because my story has been pretty sweet so far. My life has kind of been a bunch of crazy coincidences that all seem to work out (God doesn't do plot holes). I am thrilled to see what's next in my life, story or whatever you want to call it, and I think you should be thrilled for what is next in yours as well.

Love,

Abby

 

 Photo by  Jemi Grace

Photo by Jemi Grace

Grace. by Anna Bishop

 I wrote this post for Beauty Arise while visiting my sister who is doing a YWAM Discipleship Training School in Kona, Hawaii. This view is too beautiful not to share.

I wrote this post for Beauty Arise while visiting my sister who is doing a YWAM Discipleship Training School in Kona, Hawaii. This view is too beautiful not to share.

Most of the time I feel like I have to have everything figured out. Like if I don’t I’ve somehow failed.  Even while writing this blog post I’ve gone back and forth thinking:

“Oh no, that topic isn’t good enough.”

“That topic’s been done too many times already.”

“My blog is way too short.”

“Well that sentence sounds dumb.”

“I have no idea what I’m doing!”  

And meanwhile as I’m stressing myself out & feeling incompetent, God’s telling me:

“Anna it doesn’t matter what you think is “good enough” or has been done “too many times”. All these little details you’re freaking out about don’t really even matter. What matters is that you walk in obedience to write this blog post as I’ve called you to & do your best in the process. You may not know what you’re doing, but I do. Now just give me all these little things that are bringing you anxiety & stress & let me take care of it.”

He is big enough that he will use whatever he calls me to write to bless & encourage others, no matter how often it’s been done or how qualified I think I am. He doesn’t need us to put him in a box. He’s got it all figured out so we don’t have to. That’s why He’s God & we’re us. We’re cute little humans who are going to make lots of mistakes & who are never going to know all the details. We don’t need to know & God in His grace doesn’t want to put us through knowing  details that might make us hyperventilate or freak out to the point where we aren’t paying attention to Him. I mean, we do enough of that already in our daily lives. More often than not He’s standing next to us waving his arms like,

“Hey, guys!! I’m over here!! Do you realize that by stressing out & giving in to your anxiety & insecurities you’re ignoring me?? Put those silly things away & come play with me! I’m lonely! Why are you stressing yourself out thinking about all these things I didn’t ask you to even think about?! Just give it all back to me & let me worry about it. Come take my hand & play with me.”

Funny how time & time again we put God into a box, right? Well, God probably doesn’t think it’s funny. He probably just feels bad for us since we seem to keep making the same mistakes over & over again instead of trusting in Him.  But Praise the Lord he still wants us! Praise The Lord that even when we make mistakes & act like silly little children he still calls us back to him time & time again. He extends us his grace not out of pity, but as an extravagant gift of his love.

Why don’t we just drop everything we’re stressing out about, let go of the things that don’t matter & cling to Him? Allow Him to carry us through each decision, each and every day, and trust that the direction He takes us is going to be exceptionally better than any direction we could ever go on our own.

My prayer for you today is that you will let go of the silly things you’ve been holding onto, the silly things you’ve been making a bigger deal about than they actually are. Ask God to lead & guide you & let Him carry you through every single little thing you’re going through in life.

And please, lovely friend, remember to cut yourself some slack. You are doing SO great. You are extravagantly loved. You are beautiful. You are here for a very specific purpose & you are exactly where you’re supposed to be.

I hope you all have the loveliest of weekends. I’m praying for you. -Anna

As a side note, a few days ago when I was asking God what I should blog about I kept hearing the word, “grace.”  I’ve been battling him on that topic ever since & honestly freaking out because all I could think about is, “I don’t know how to write about grace! What would I even write about?! That’s such a big topic!”  So after freaking out for a couple of days I finally packed up my laptop & Bible, walked to a coffee shop, asked God to lead & guide me, & started typing whatever I started thinking about… obviously my thoughts on how I was freaking out.  But silly Anna, by the time I finished writing out my thoughts I realized that this scenario demonstrates exactly what grace means. Praise the Lord. When we ask Him to lead & guide us He never fails.

“Let us then in confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy & find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, & thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:7

 

Thoughts on Identity (by newest staff member Rebekah Schietroma)

Hi! I'm Rebekah, the newest staff member of Beauty Arise and I feel God wants everyone to know their true Identity. Years ago I was diagnosed with a genetic disorder that stopped me from growing. It was called Turners Syndrome . I had to go on medication to help me grow but meanwhile school was so hard! I was always "the short one". I got teased and I did not like myself, I didn't know who I was. I was so confused in my identity- was I just a short kid that had no destiny? Or was I more than that? Did God love me? So if you've ever struggled with that I know exactly how you feel. I identified myself as the short girl that no one liked, I rejected God and felt so sad all the time. I only wore black and gave into eating disorders and negativity. Meanwhile I loved happy things like Disney and musicals but they never made me happy. How's that for messed up identity? 

I found Jesus and he showed me I am as beautiful as a princess. Our true identity is royalty! We may not feel like it but we can be happy and confident because our our true father is the king! In psalm 45:13 it says "All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold."

There is a TV show I like called "Once upon a time" and it's about famous fairytale characters who get banished to our world and get cursed to not remember who they are! They live lives that are boring and meaningless when they are really royalty. God has spoken to me through this! When we don't know we are royalty and loved and precious to our father we live a lie. We must know that we are daughters of the most high! Loved and cherished .


Alive in HIS light.

"Alive in His light." This is the typical name I go by on social media. I'm not even fully sure how I chose that username so long ago. All I know is that since I decided to follow Jesus I have strived to be a light of God. Like the sun shines on the moon I want God to shine on me and for others to see Him through that.

That image is so beautiful to me. Like the moon people go through different stages in life. We have those moments when everything is fine and dandy and we are shining God's light so brightly(full moon). However we also have those moments when things are really rough and we are not happy with the person we are or the way we are acting and we aren't really shining the light of God.(new moon)

What does it mean to shine the light of God? It means that we are giving our all to represent the love that Jesus has for us to other people around us. I love the moon and the sun picture because it really is exactly like our lives. The moon is constantly in darkness. But no matter where it is, at all times the sun is always shining on the moon. Even when we can't see it like a new moon the sun still shines on it. Except for those random moments during an eclipse when the sun can't see the moon. I like to think of that as the crucifixion when Jesus took all of our sins upon himself so we don't have to worry about eclipses anymore so that we could be in God's light forever. This is so neat to me.

My whole life tons of crazy things have been thrown my way but my story is that I am Alive In HIS Light. No matter what life throws me, no matter how dark it is, or how tough it is God is always shining on me. I can either choose to let His light shine through me and be a full moon. Or I can choose to respond negatively and end up like a new moon. I've decided to let Him shine through me to try to be that full moon as much as possible.

I'm not perfect I screw up but it gets easier and easier every time. My past may be yucky but I've come so far and been through too much to ever give up. I've learned so much and I want people to see that. I'm not going to let my past define me and you don't have to either.

Matthew 5:14-16 says, "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

Strive to be a light for God. God is always shining on you and never gives up on you. Don't hide your light or settle for barely shining. You are Alive In His Light.

blog post by Kate Cook. www.aliveinhislight.wordpress.com
 photo by @sarahgrunderphotography 

photo by @sarahgrunderphotography