Fearfully Wonderfully Me

Growing in God and Inspiring Young Women Through Faith and Fashion

The Promise of His Presence

Why is it that you can seem to have everything, and yet feel so empty and alone?

This world promises us happiness and fulfillment in so many ways: money, relationships, jobs, new experiences–the list goes on.

The Hollow Promise 

But what happens when that’s not enough? What about that hollow feeling? The one tugging at you, making you work until your knuckles bleed, so you can forget that it’s there.

The hollowness that leaks out as tears as you lie awake in bed at night. The hollow feeling that makes people cut, starve, and lash out at others?

This post isn’t pretty, but it’s real and raw. Because I’ve been there.

I know what it’s like to have people around you, even loving you, and still feel lonely. I know the dread of falling asleep, only to wake up to another day of pretending that everything is okay.

But I also know of the only thing that can fill this void–this hollow promise of the world around me.

His name is Jesus. 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV)

Made for More

When I look to myself or anything else to fulfill me, I always come up empty. The glow of clothing and makeup fades after a few days. Confidence in my own performance is never a guarantee.

It’s not that I don’t take joy in things outside of God. On the contrary, we weren’t made to live outside of God. 

I love my life. I love my home, my work, and my husband. But none of these things–not even marriage–can take the place of God.

We were made for more than what we can see in front of us. That hollow feeling points us to our need for the Great I Am.

A Love That Never Leaves 

Jesus promised that He would never leave us as orphans. Though everyone else may reject or misunderstand us, our Lord gives us His Holy Spirit to comfort us and make us His sons and daughters.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. (John 14: 18-19 NIV

There is no friendship as beautiful as the one we can have with Jesus. He hears every prayer and sees every tear.

He is the most faithful husband. For better or worse, Jesus isn’t going anywhere. When we repent of our sins, the Lord forgives and forgets them. He has also purposefully forgotten how to leave us.

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The Promise of His Presence

God’s love is that strong. His love is that unbreakable.

Lovely one, this post may not have started off pretty, but my prayer is that it filled you with hope.

The promise of the presence of God is the greatest joy we can ever attain. It is the only joy that nothing in this world can ever take away.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

Will you choose the promise of Jesus today? 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. 🙂

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What it’s Really Like Being a Newlywed

Hello, lovely one! If you’re new here, welcome. If you’ve been a faithful follower of this blog, then I ‘m sure you can tell it’s been a while since I’ve last posed. I apologize for that, but I’m so happy for all that God has been working in me these last several months.

Over the last year, I’ve been through a huge transition. I graduated college, got a new job, and moved out on my own.

And just a month ago, I got married to my husband Owen. I know that marriage is something that many women–Christian or not–desire. I know I did!

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Photography by Maliya Wayner

And while marriage is an awesome adventure, I found out some surprising lessons about being married that no one really prepared me for. My hope is that you’ll read these 3 unexpected lessons I’ve learned as a newlywed and store them in your heart for now and the future.

Being a Newlywed Doesn’t Change Who You Are

When you get engaged, you are suddenly labeled as a bride. You feel special, and that’s how it should be! I felt like a Disney princess on my wedding day and will always remember that. 

So naturally, I thought this princess transformation would last into newlywed life. I was wrong. Reality soon hit after the honeymoon.

Work, grocery shopping, cleaning, and then my brand new husband coming down with a cold snapped me back to reality real quick. 

Don’t get me wrong, marriage does change your life. I’m living with my husband and sharing everything with him. I’m spending each day with my best friend. That’s life changing in the greatest way!

But marriage doesn’t change who you are on the inside. 

I still battle with fear and insecurity, just like I did when I was single. The enemy can and will attack us, so we can’t let our guard down, whether single or married. 

This is why it’s so important to learn who we are in Christ and be rooted in our identity as children of God. 

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1 NIV)

Our worth does not depend on our relationship status. Our worth is based on the love Christ showed us by dying for us on the cross. Having this foundation for our confidence will make for a healthy and joyful life–whether single or married. 

Marriage Comes with a Grieving Process 

The hardest part of marriage so far has been letting go of my old life. I love being a newlywed. Owen and I have so much fun together and are enjoying the adventure of making our home (and cooking lots of yummy food!). 

But I miss my mom. I miss my childhood home. I miss some of the familiarity of my old routine. 

This is normal and all part of the “cleaving” process of becoming one flesh. 

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24 NIV)

I wouldn’t trade my marriage to Owen for anything in the world. And we are learning to allocate time alone for friends and family, as well as using our marriage as a ministry of hospitality. 

With any major life change, we must close one chapter as we begin another. And with the help and comfort of the Holy Spirit, we can do this with courage and excitement. 

Marriage Points to Something Greater Than Ourselves

There are so many books and sermons that explain how marriage teaches us to love like Jesus. I always nodded in agreement, knowing deep down that I could never fully understand until I became a newlywed.

And I’m learning. Marriage requires giving and sacrifice. Sometimes I can’t always watch the movie I want, or I may need to step up and care for my husband’s cold. And he does the same for me. 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV

But that’s what true love is. Jesus showed the greatest love for us when He willingly gave Himself as the perfect sacrifice on the cross. 

This is the romance of the Gospel, and the reason why we love weddings and romantic movies. We all want to be swept off our feet by a Savior prince who loves us unconditionally. 

Whether you are single or married, you can experience the fulfilling love of God that comes from knowing His Son Jesus. 

That is the love that transforms us in our singleness and in our marriage. It’s the love of Christ that transforms us into who we truly are–His eternal bride. 

Thanks for reading! What about you? Has marriage taught you any surprising lessons? Is there anything you hope to learn to prepare yourself for marriage one day? 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. 🙂

(Our wedding photography was shot by the talented Maliya Wayner)

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3 Ways Gratitude Will Change Your Life

I used to keep a detailed gratitude journal. I challenged myself to write at least 5 things a day that I was thankful for–even on the toughest days. Although this might seem like a cute positive thinking exercise, there is so much more to a lifestyle of gratitude.

I found that even on my worst days when having a chronic illness made me bedridden or when I felt the heavy weight of being single press in on me, I could still choose gratitude.

Gratitude not only changes our thinking; it transforms our whole lives. Here are 3 ways practicing gratitude has transformed my life and faith.

Re-tracing God’s Faithfulness

When I flip through my gratitude journal from three years ago, I nod my head and smile at all of the little (and big) ways God has been faithful to me. Every beautiful sunset or time with a beloved friend or family member is a reminder of God’s compassion.

Sometimes prayers mingled with my list of blessings, and I can’t believe how many prayers God has answered! When we keep a gratitude journal or even just recite our blessings, we re-trace the history of God’s faithfulness in our lives.

 

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. (Psalm 36:5 NIV)

Life gets hard sometimes–that’s not a secret. But remembering God’s past faithfulness and blessings reminds us just how awesome and powerful He is. Gratitude carries us through life’s struggles by reminding us of the one who’s always holding on to us.

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3 Ways Gratitude Will Change Your Life

Gratitude Lifts Our Perspective

I’m reading an amazing book by Max Lucado called Anxious for Nothing. This book shows us how we can conquer anxiety through the powerful Word of God, and one strategy is by expressing gratitude.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)

It’s so tempting to limit our prayers by simply asking for things. Yes, prayer involves making humble requests to God, but praising God in our prayers gives us a breakthrough like no other.

When we praise and worship, our problems are no longer the focus. Instead, we can clearly see the Prince of Peace. When we lift Jesus above ourselves, we find our burdens are lifted as well.

We all want peace in our lives, but peace can’t possibly come from our ever-changing circumstances. However, when we praise God and express our gratitude for who He is, we shift our perspective towards a heavenly peace.

Creating a Heart of Overflow 

Gratitude has a powerful effect that can change the world–it gets us outside of ourselves.

When we take time to remember God’s faithfulness and lift Him up in praise, we make room in our hearts to remember and encourage others.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:16 NIV)

When we find Godly contentment, we begin to see those with physical and spiritual needs that can be ministered to. A lifestyle of gratitude and Godly joy is contagious. Our hearts open up and become homes for the lost and broken–which is exactly what Jesus did. When we look to Jesus with a heart of gratitude, love and joy overflow.

I’ve recently started a new gratitude journal, and I love the way it’s changing my heart. Sometimes I’ll stop to look outside the window of my workplace and admire the sunshine, praising God for the light He shines on me every moment.

What about you lovely one? What are you grateful for today? I believe that if you start counting your blessings daily, you’ll see the light of Jesus shining through every ordinary moment.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below 🙂 

Happy Thanksgiving lovely one! I hope you have a peaceful and joyful holiday surrounded by people you love. Next week I am having surgery on my elbow again, so there will not be a blog post for the holiday.  I will be counting my blessings, including your love and prayers!

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Chasing Worth

I was having lunch with my aunt when she told me about a memory she had of me when I was about seven years old. She said that on my 7th Easter, my cousin and I stood up in church and dedicated our lives to Jesus.

My memory of this is super cloudy, and we never went to church much when I was a kid. However, I always felt that God was real, and that He was drawing me in.

Fast-forward from that childhood moment to ten years later, when I was seventeen and falling apart. I had just broken up with my first boyfriend and was starving myself.

I felt depressed and hopeless, to the point of self-harm. Shame consumed me. I truly thought that the world would be better off without me.

I remember the nights of lying in bed weeping and fighting hunger, asking God if He was there and if He would help me get to sleep. Within a few minutes I would drift off into a warm slumber.

The love of Jesus found other ways to pursue me. I stumbled upon Christian songs and movies, and eventually my mom and I decided to go to church. I was saved the November of my junior year, but the real battle had just begun.

Crumbling Worth

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Soon I started college. I tried finding my worth in places that always crumbled—boys, achievements, looks—they all failed me. I developed chronic health issues, as well as anxiety. Food became a battle, as my digestive issues made it hard to eat.

I hated the way I looked, even though I was thin from being ill. I isolated myself frequently, until one day, a sweet girl invited me to the church college group. Though I was terrified to go, I actually made friends. Slowly, my relationship with Jesus grew stronger.

The things I was stuck in—such as anxiety and disordered eating—lost their grip on my heart. When I became a leader for the church youth group, I realized I wanted more from life than focusing on the superficial or worldly pursuits I was used to.

During an intensive winter retreat with the youth three years ago, I fully surrendered my life to the Lord. Although I still struggle with anxiety or negative self-image at times, I now recognize these feelings as weapons the devil uses to keep us from God.

I now eat healthily and for the first time in years, I appreciate the body God gave me. Panic attacks and breakdowns are decreasing, and when they happen, I know the Lord is always there to hold me through it. Even my physical health is improving!

A Changed Heart

Chasing Worth

Since I decided to follow Jesus with my whole heart, my life has changed. I found meaning and purpose for my life, and am able to love others better.

There is a cost, of course. I had to give up my old ways of living. But I consider that as nothing compared to the life Christ has given me through His death and resurrection. I may not be perfect, but my Savior is.

As my aunt reminded me of my childhood salvation, I couldn’t help but smile. Although I didn’t understand what that fully entailed as a child, it opened my heart to the Lord.

Now it all makes sense why I’ve always felt Jesus there, even in the midst of my darkest moments. The love of my Father has never left me. God pursues me no matter where I run, and He reminds me that my worth is rooted in Him alone.

Will you make a choice today, lovely one? Will you stop running from God and chasing worth in things that will always fail you? Jesus is ready for you to come home. You don’t have to chase self-worth or love. It was already won for you on the cross.

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV)

Thanks for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

(Images from Canva and Unsplash)

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Finding Your Anchor in Life’s Storms

I shall not be moved; I shall not be shaken. How many times have I repeated these familiar Bible verses in my mind, thinking that as long as I am truly rooted in God, nothing will ever rock my world.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:8 NIV)

But the world keeps rocking and rolling all around me, and sometimes, no matter how hard I cling to the grace of God, I find myself rolling along with it.

I shake with every burst of bad news. I tighten my grip as my feet slip on unexpected losses or financial stress. No one is immune to the unsteady waves of this sinful world.

So how do we stay rooted?

One day I realized that I had it all wrong just asking this question. It was during my lunch hour at my new job. I was sitting outside on the patio, watching the ripples of the company pond as people walked along the wrap-around trail.

It was a breezy day, and I noticed how the ornamental grass waved about in the wind. I marveled at how even though the thin, almost hair-like blades of grass swayed and rocked, they were never uprooted.

Steady they held on, anchored in the ground by an invisible root system designed to protect them from life’s wind and rain.

And that’s when I heard the voice of Jesus whisper that He is my anchor.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, (Hebrews 6:19 NKJV)

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Finding Your Anchor in Life's Storms

Life will move us, lovely one. It will move our earthly bodies and minds in ways that feel almost impossible to recover from. But when we anchor ourselves in the love and salvation of our Savior, we find that our eternal soul and spirit can never be moved.

Just like that plant, we have an invisible root system that anchors us in the Kingdom of God. This allows us to walk confidently through the storms of this life, knowing that our God is always holding onto us.

Though the earth give way and the mountains be cast into the midst of the sea, we remain rooted in Christ. Although life and the choices we make may move us, God always has us right where He wants us.

I want to remember that I always have an anchor in the unsteady waves of this world.  I want to remember how all that I am is secured in the loving arms of my Father.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

(Images from Unsplash)

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