Preparing For A New Beginning

As much as I look forward to Christmas each year, I am just as excited for the coming of a brand new year. A new year means a fresh start and it’s the perfect time to revamp and reboot. I have lots of great plans and goals in store for 2019 for myself, you, and the Fearless Journey. On tomorrow’s post I’ll be sharing those goals more in detail and giving you some pointers on creating your own achievable goals.  

The memory verse for my 2019 is John 6:27 “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” We’re going to be digging deeper into this verse throughout the year. There is so much importance packed into this one little verse and I believe it’s a cornerstone on which to live by in all areas of our lives. 

Let me encourage you to decide on a memory verse for the whole year of 2019, or you can use John 6:27 if you like. Make sure it’s a verse that you can meditate on each morning when you wake up and each night before you go to bed. Write your chosen verse somewhere you can see it daily. 

Before I choose a verse for a new year I like to first choose an overall theme for the year. The two themes I’ve chosen for 2019 are humbleness and growth. My biggest goal this year is to grow in knowledge in all areas but specifically the Bible and in my relationship with the Lord through prayer. My other big goal is to stay humble. It’s so easy to get caught up in getting people’s approval and claps rather than living for an audience of One. 

I hope to use my words to inspire you this year by giving you short daily devotions along with my normal posts. For the whole year of 2019 I have monthly memory verses that we’ll be studying and looking into. Use the rest of New Years Eve and tomorrow to reflect on this past year so you can redesign and improve your 2019. Stay tuned for a New Years post tomorrow!

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Merry Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve! Maybe you’re sitting in an office, cooking and preparing for your family, doing some last minute shopping, or wrapping gifts. For this motivation Monday I just want to focus on “Mary’s Song of Praise.” It’s in Luke 1:46-55

“And Mary said:

‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now 

on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done 

great things for me- holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who

fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds

with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away 

empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful

to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our

ancestors.’” 

She just summed up her unborn Son in a nutshell. The reoccurring theme that sticks out so much in her song of praise is her emphasis on humbleness. She says, “He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.” He lifts up the humble. He uses those that don’t see their value in themselves but rather see their value in Him. 

God doesn’t just tell His people to “be humble” but He exemplifies it for us in the most beautiful and intriguing way through His birth. You can’t get much more humble than being born in a cave with barn animals parading around. I’m so thankful that God didn’t come down as a fancy king dressed in royal robes because I could never relate to that. Instead He reduced Himself to a human baby in order to be relatable to us. Not only was He born as a human baby but He was born to poor, average, blue collar parents. I love this because it shows that what the world has labeled significant, God has already shrugged off as insignificant. God could care less how much money you make or how big your house is. What He wants to know is how big your heart is and how you’re using the talents He’s given you. 

Maybe this is a really hard time of year for you. What I love about Mary’s song of praise is that she chose a song. She chose to worship through her feelings and her circumstance. She chose to look upward and sing to God. She chose to praise through it. Let me encourage you to worship even if. Even if your holiday season hasn’t gone how you had planned, even if you don’t get all of your shopping or cooking done in time, or even if your family feels like a flop compared to all of the picture perfect families on Facebook. Praise through it. Worship even if. 

Here’s a pic of that time I went to Bethlehem and went into the cave (now shrine) of where Jesus was born that holy night!

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Like Mary

Around the Christmas season I love the hustle and bustle of shoppers. Of course, this could just be a side effect of being a shopaholic. I love everything about the holiday season, it’s my favorite time of the year. The Christmas trees, twinkling lights, warm fireplaces, hot cocoa and everything else that comes with the perfect Christmas. But, then I start to think about the real “reason for the season” as the cheesy saying goes. I begin to think about Mary, Joseph and the newborn Messiah. I think of how much faith and trust Mary had to instill to the Lord to carry His Son. I mean, back in her day she would’ve been killed if it hadn’t been for the faithfulness of God. If Mary can trust her safety and livelihood to God with the stakes so high, then what am I waiting for? What are you waiting for? 

I’m sure even though the angel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God,” Mary didn’t feel like she was favored by God. I wonder if there was a split second of doubt that crossed her mind. There might have even been times when she felt like this miraculous thing God was doing through her life was a burden. I know there had to be times when she became doubtful and scared. I wonder if she ever lost sight of the big picture. Did she ever forget God’s plan? Maybe she didn’t even know God’s full plan for Jesus and everything that would come of His death and resurrection on the cross. 

So many times I doubt God’s bigger picture. He doesn’t ever give us a master blue print of what our life is going to look like. That’s the beautiful and mysterious thing about God. Although, this can sometimes frustrate a type A, organized control freak like me it pushes me toward God. I have to hold on to Him because that’s all I can control. Ultimately, I have no control over anything except for my trust in Jesus. 

I want God to use me like He used Mary. I want Him to look at me and say, “that is the girl I want to use to carry out My mission. I want her to be My vessel. I want her to be the girl I turn to when I need something done.” I want to be so in tune with God that He knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will carry out His mission and do it well. 

Over the past couple of years I’ve watched God reveal His plan for my life day by day in His own perfect timing. I think this is what He did for Mary also over the course of her life. I don’t always understand why God does the things He does or why He lets things happen like He does. This is why hope is so important. There’s hope that one day I’ll see God’s bigger plan. I think Mary had to hold on to this same hope. But, for now I’m just trying to be content being a small puzzle piece in the grand scheme of His plan. 

Two Tips For Tuesday

Welcome to Tuesday! Here’s a couple of tips that I’ve been using that I find super helpful to me.

  1. Get on a Bible reading plan. As a type A, super organized, control freak I sincerely believe that not planning is planning to fail. This is true even when it comes to our Bible reading and time with God. Let me encourage you to participate in a reading plan. A couple that I would recommend are the YouVersion Bible app plans and She Reads Truth or He Reads Truth. These are two resources that I constantly use. There are times when I just want to read the Bible without a plan, but then sometimes I hit dry seasons in my reading. Reading plans always help to pull me out of that dry spot. I would also encourage you to follow the Church calendar. Before Advent started I was in a really dry season of Bible reading and study. But, once I started using my She Reads Truth Advent book to study I was pulled out of that dry season. Reading plans always help me when I need a push to get deeper into the Word.
  2. Take a Sabbath. A day of rest is so important and it has been since literally the beginning of time. I’m sort of preaching to the choir with this tip because I have a really hard time slowing down and putting my work aside. Sunday is a work day for me, so I consider my Sabbath on Saturday. There are so many examples of the importance of taking a Sabbath day in the Bible. Here’s a couple:

“So the heavens and the earth and everything in them were completed. On the       seventh day God had completed his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work he had done. God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it he rested from all his work of creation.” Genesis 2:1-3

A day of rest is so important that God blessed it. He knew that a Sabbath day is vital to our overall health.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I am going to rain bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. This way I will test them to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.'” Exodus 16:4-5

God provided for the Israelites in order for them to have a Sabbath. He does the same for us. There is always an opportunity to say no to things. Set aside a Sabbath day to keep holy and then honor it. Be intentional.

Behold, Our Lamb In The Thicket

For Motivation Monday I thought I’d share a story that’s been on my heart lately.

In Genesis chapter 22 is the story of the sacrifice of Isaac. “‘Take your son,’ God told Abraham, ‘your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I tell you about.’ So Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey and took with him his son, Isaac. Then Isaac spoke up and said to his father, ‘My father, the fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burn offering, my son.’ When they arrived at the place God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood. He bound his son Isaac and placed him on the altar on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham! Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from me.’ Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in the place of his son.”

God provided a perfect substitute in the place of Isaac. This story is a foretelling of the Perfect Substitute that God sent for us. He sent a perfect sacrifice in Jesus. A sacrifice that would cover our sin debt if we allow Him. So, when we celebrate Christmas we’re celebrating a God who loves us so much that He sent a Perfect Substitute to fix our shortcomings and wrongdoings. 

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 

Jesus is enough. What He did on the cross is enough to cover you, no matter how many terrible things you’ve done. No matter how far gone you feel. 

Behold, our Perfect Substitute, the lamb in the thicket sent for us. 

How To Get Out Of The Commercialized Christmas Slump

This Christmas season I’ve really stepped back and examined the holiday. I almost feel a little bit like Charlie Brown. When did Christmas become so commercialized and just another marketing opportunity to capitalize on? It’s been this way ever since I’ve been alive. But this year I decided to not let commercialism take over this sacred time. We’ve turned Christmas into a season of buy, buy, buy and buy some more. It’s a worldly season of maxing out our credit cards, going into debt, and playing the comparison game. I watched a commercial this week that said “Let’s celebrate the real reason of Christmas…NEW TOYS!” What greediness and false happiness we’re feeding to ourselves and kids. 

Don’t get me wrong I love gift giving. It used to be one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season. Until I realized that the holiday season is actually a season of worship. It’s a time for us to worship God for the gift He’s already given us, but instead we’ve distracted ourselves with Santa Claus, stockings, and Elf On The Shelf. These things aren’t bad, but if we let them they become a distraction. We so easily forget that those are all Americanized traditions. We forget the real reason. We forget to worship. I love the idea of Santa, Christmas trees, stockings, and gifts but I don’t celebrate these things. They’re just fun ways to celebrate the Savior coming into the world, but instead we’ve decided to celebrate Santa rather than the Savior. 

I’m not saying as soon as you’re done reading this go and break it to your kids that Santa is a fraud or to stop doing Elf On The Shelf. I’m urging you to stop making Jesus a side show to these things on His own holiday. Here’s a few ways you can do that:

  1. Stop bending over backwards to buy everyone the perfect gift. Here’s a little secret I’ll let you in on: everyone’s already been given the perfect Gift and His name is Jesus. (As cheesy as that may sound it’s true.) You’re not going to top that so go ahead and take the pressure off yourself. By spending so much time shopping and worrying about what to buy everyone you’re losing time with your family this season.
  2. Stop overbuying. Each person in my family gets one gift each from everyone plus a full stocking. I’ve heard of people giving their kids three gifts each because that’s how many Jesus got- if that works for you then go for it. 
  3. Celebrate Advent. We’re already well into Advent but you can still choose to celebrate. I’ve been studying through the She Reads Truth Advent devotional this season and I’ve enjoyed it so much. It’s given me a brand new perspective on Jesus and Christmas in general. If you don’t have a devotional then read through the Christmas story for the next ten days. 
  4. Read the story of Christmas straight from the Bible before opening gifts on Christmas morning. This will help to put the whole day into perspective and remind you of the reason you’re celebrating. 

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Two Tips For Tuesday

Let’s talk fashion! This week’s Tuesday tips are all about style.

My goal with my fashion sense is to keep my style as unique to me as possible. I wear what I like and what I feel comfortable and pretty in whether it’s on the mainstream fashion list or not. The best thing you can do for yourself when it comes to fashion and the clothes you wear is to stay true to yourself. So, what I post on here may not exactly fit in with the hot trends out there, but that’s okay because who really wants to be lost in a sea of boring anyway? When our goal is to fit in then we aren’t really seeking to express ourselves but to express what we think others want to see. That isn’t my goal in any avenue of life.

Here’s two pieces that I’m really into this season.

  1. Oversized Sweaters. I LOVE oversized sweaters and sweatshirts. These are great to throw on with skinny jeans and leggings with some boots for everyday wear during the cold winter months. Oversized sweaters have been my go-to so far this season. (Not to mention they help hide the unwanted couple of pounds gained from holiday festivities.)

 

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2. Tapered Trousers. Lately, I have been obsessed with trousers. This sounds super old fashioned but I think they look so classic and timeless. Maybe it’s just my old soul getting tired of jeans and leggings all the time or the fact that I’ve been obsessed with the Netflix series, Call The Midwife, lately. These are great because they’re so universal. You can dress tapered trousers up or go for a casual look in them.

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