books.

I’m kind of a book nerd. Not that I’ve really read that many books, but mostly I just buy a lot of them and keep them on my shelf. They’re pretty. But over the years, especially throughout high school, I have worked my way through a pretty large number of books, especially Christian books. I’ve had a lot of people ask me for my recommendations on some good Christian books to read, so I decided to make a list of all my favorites (I’ll probably keep updating it too). Enjoy, and I hope you find your new favorite book!

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weakness + patience

A few Sundays ago the pastor at my hometown church preached on a very difficult story, which appeared in Judges 11:29-40. The story featured a man named Jephthah who fought the Ammonite people. Though he claimed to believe it was God’s will for him to be victorious over the Ammonite people, he still sought to bargain with God in order to win, saying, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering” (Judges 11:30-31 ESV). Long story short, he was victorious, and, upon returning home, his one and only daughter was the first person to exit his household, and he sacrificed her to God.

Any average person reading that story in the Bible probably wouldn’t know what to do with it. How could anyone be comfortable with the idea of our loving God allowing this man to sacrifice his one and only daughter as a burnt offering? As soon as I finished reading the passage, I had no idea how our pastor was going to teach on it. But somehow, he had prepared an incredible sermon. Continue reading

don’t let the darkness silence you.

Anxiety really sucks.

For some people, anxiety is something that comes and goes in times of stress and trouble, but for others, including myself, it’s a constant struggle. Having an anxiety disorder is more than just being a constant worrier, but it’s also just an irrational fear that completely takes over your mind and body. A lot of people don’t understand it, despite the increasingly large amount of people who struggle with an anxiety disorder on a daily basis. If you have an anxiety disorder, you know exactly what I’m talking about (and if you don’t, you should read this article because it’s spot on).

A couple of weeks ago I sat at a table in my favorite coffee shop and flipped open the pages of my Bible to Job 23. I was taking a break from the long hours of studying I had been doing in order to prepare for the four tests and two papers I had due that week. Not only was I super stressed about school, but I also was having an especially bad week with my anxiety disorder. In fact, my anxiety has been effecting me more than usual in the weeks since then, and it’s made for some really rough days recently.

In all honesty, I didn’t really feel like reading my Bible or doing my quiet time, but I was in major need of a break, and my Bible was the only book besides all the notebooks and textbooks I had with me. I’m not sure if I would have made time to do my devotional in the midst of that busy week, but God is good and is constantly drawing me to himself. Continue reading

captive.

I’ve never really been one to get excited about a new calendar year. A new school year, perhaps yes, but not a new calendar year. New Year’s Day always just meant my Christmas break was about to end, the fun part of winter was over, and I was just going to have to go back to school again. But this year was different for some reason.

A lot of really great things happened in 2015, such as graduating high school, spending a lot of time with friends, and starting my first semester of college. But when I looked back over 2015 as a whole, it seemed like every good experience was overshadowed by some sort of sadness, frustration, or fear. Safe to say it wasn’t my best year. So even though I had never been one to get excited about the coming of a brand new year, I found myself really looking forward to 2016 and all that would come. Continue reading

marriage material.

One of the best things I have attended thus far at Baylor is Vertical Ministries. The series they are currently doing is called “Marriage Material.” Essentially, it’s about how we can save our marriage years before it begins. It has been such a powerful series and something that I believe is very important for people my age to understand. Furthermore, I think people who are already married could use a refresher on what the Bible says love is and how we are to practice love with our spouse, our friends, our roommates, and everyone we meet. It’s what we’re called to do as Christians.

Below, I have typed up all the notes I have taken from the series and expanded on a few of them. I pray that the Lord will use this to improve all the relationships we have. Continue reading

draw near.

Three days from now, I’ll be moving into my college dorm room at Baylor. I have an incredible roommate, one of my best friends is going to Baylor as well, and I’ve already made a lot of friends from various incoming freshman events. Even so, I have been an absolute mess. The thought of being away from my family, my dogs, my amazing church, and my group of friends (who are really more like a second family) completely breaks my heart. All throughout high school I had been so eager to get on to the next chapter of my life— college— that I never really took the time to enjoy the season of life I was already in. It wasn’t until graduation that it hit me that it was all over.

This summer has been both the best and worst summer yet. I’ve had so many wonderful memories with the people I love, but I have also felt completely consumed by anxiety and fear of the future. The girl who was once so confident, so sure of herself, was now questioning why God had brought her to this point in the first place. I knew God had led me to Baylor, because until February, it had been pretty much the last school on the list of places I thought I would end up. I already see evidence of how God has used Baylor to shape what I major in and what I will do after college, yet in the midst of all my emotions and fear, I began to question if it was really the right choice.

I can’t identify a time in my life where I have felt more consumed by anxiety, fear, and sadness, and where everything in my life felt so out-of-control. Never before have I felt so weak. But the craziest thing of all is that God used this time to remind me to rely on Him and Him alone. He has been my strength to carry on through it all. Continue reading

Makin’ Groceries

Burnell Cotlon’s story of opening the Lower 9th Ward Market

This past week I had the opportunity to go on one last mission trip with my youth group at First Baptist Church Georgetown. It was for graduated seniors only, allowing us to spend one last week all together serving Jesus before we went off to college. We worked really hard throughout the week— we put in fence posts on an empty lot in the Lower 9th Ward, worked on a farm that provided jobs for adults with special needs, organized school supplies and hung out with kids at an inner city after school program, and spent two days painting the inside of an inner city church. We were also able to do some fun activities on our time off. God taught us a lot throughout our week in New Orleans, and we were all thankful for the last week we were able to spend together.

While we enjoyed serving at all of our worksites throughout the week, our first work day was perhaps the most eye-opening. The Lower 9th Ward is the section of New Orleans that was hit the hardest by Hurricane Katrina. Every building, except one, was wiped out by the hurricane. Ten years later, very little restoration has occurred here. Burnell Cotlon served as an MP 95 Bravo in Frankfurt, Germany who grew up in New Orleans. Upon returning to the States, Hurricane Katrina hit the area, and his house was destroyed just like everyone else’s. He was able to rebuild but quickly noticed that he didn’t have any neighbors in the area. As he drove around, he realized that the Lower 9th Ward lacked a grocery store. The closest one was a Walmart in the next city, requiring someone to take three city buses in order to get there if they did not have a car. Rather than relying on the local government to solve their problems, Cotlon took it upon himself to make a difference in his neighborhood and begin rebuilding the area himself. He purchased the one and only standing building in the area and used his entire life savings to transform it into usable space. Ten years later, his store is still the only grocery store in the area. Please watch the video below to hear his story. Continue reading