Fearfully Wonderfully Me

Growing in God and Inspiring Young Women Through Faith and Fashion

Category: inspiration (page 1 of 14)

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 🙂

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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 🙂

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The Secret to Finding True Strength

I’ve never thought of myself as a strong woman. I’m not too physically strong, and I’m definitely emotionally sensitive. People have often seen me as delicate, which is a wonderful feminine quality the Lord gave me.

However, the way I view strength started to change the week my Grandpa was dying in the hospital. He fell down a flight of stairs and suffered a brain bleed. He was in a coma, and passed away after four grueling days.

My aunt and I were in the hospital hallway when she told me that I was strong. Somehow, I managed to keep calm in the chaos. I helped whenever I could and was always there to hold my grandpa’s hand.

Inside, I just wanted to curl up and forget this nightmare was even happening.

Truthfully, the only way I was strong enough for this was through my faith. And that’s when I realized that if I wanted to become strong, I had to seek something beyond myself.

The Pride of Our Strength 

As human beings, we tend to hide behind our strengths. We take pride in being physically strong, or emotionally tough. We revel in our intellectual strengths or our resourcefulness.

Our human strengths are nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, they should be celebrated. God has given all of us unique abilities and strengths. For some, it’s easier to see what they excel at, while others carry a more quiet strength.

The problem isn’t with our strengths, but when we hide behind them. When the focus in on being the strong one, sometimes we lose vulnerability. And without vulnerability, we lose the ability to let people in.

Not only does a lack of vulnerability shut others out, but it also prevents us from intimacy with God. Christianity is more than just a religion, it’s a relationship with a Savior who wants to transform our hearts.

When we hide behind our strengths, we become prideful. Pride prevents us from seeing our sin and repenting.

Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor. (Proverbs 29:23 NIV)

The only way we can let go of our pride and become vulnerable with Jesus is when we come out from hiding behind our strengths.

Out of Hiding

The problem with coming out of hiding is that it exposes our weaknesses. I know, that’s a word none of us like to hear. Weakness is associated with failure and not being good enough. These are the deepest fears of most individuals, so why would we want to expose them?

The thing about Jesus is that He wants our weaknesses. He wants us to let Him into our ugly parts and sinful messes. He already knows them anyway, so why are we hiding?

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8 NIV)

Ever since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, we’ve been trying to hide from God. Instead of coming to Him for help when we mess up or rebel, we run and hide, which only makes our failures worse.

Everyone has weaknesses, and none of us are without sin (1 John 1:8). When we hide ourselves from Jesus, we miss out on the opportunity to have a relationship with our Lord that is full of love and freedom.

The Power of Weakness

Our human strength is weak in comparison to the strength of God. Although we may give off the appearance of having it all together, eventually our weaknesses catch up with us.

But what if I told you that the secret to your greatest strength is found in your weaknesses? You would probably think I’m crazy, but this truth isn’t from me. It’s from God.

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The Secret to Finding True Strength

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

When we let go of the lie that we are strong enough to handle everything life throws our way, we make room for the Holy Spirit to display the power of God in our lives.

Letting go of our pride and choosing Jesus as our strength gives us a supernatural ability we could only dream of. This strength has nothing to do with our own abilities, but the endless ability of God to work miracles in us and through us.

The strengths God gives us are not even about us. Although we all want to feel capable and self-confident, there’s something so freeing about giving Jesus all the glory.

As daughters of God, our strength should be one of beauty, quietness, meekness, and humility. Our strength should reflect the resurrection power of Jesus Christ, a gift the world can never take away.


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3 Lessons Karate Taught Me About Jesus

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of watching Owen, my fiance, practice karate. He’s a black belt, which absolutely blows me away. His passion for martial arts and learning new things is so inspiring, and I felt honored to be able to watch him in his element.

Although some people may consider me graceful, athleticism is not something the Lord has gifted me in. So I was in awe watching Owen and his friends as they showed off their skills.

There are several lessons I’ve learned from watching just that one hour of practice. There were moments when the teacher (called a sensei) corrected his students or gave them some karate wisdom. However, I found that most of this wisdom reflected Godly principles on humility, perseverance, and focus.

Overcoming Failure With Humility

Even though Owen is a black belt, there were a few instances when he messed up a kick or got hit while sparring. Even the sensei messed up at times! It didn’t surprise me that these awesome people failed, but rather, how gracefully they handled each failure.

Each student was humble enough to acknowledge his mistake and accept correction. They were humble and open to receiving wisdom.

This is the posture we need to have towards God. None of us are perfect, but when we mess up or sin, we must be willing to humbly repent and receive forgiveness and instruction in order to live righteously.

Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:9-10 NIV)

When we take the posture of humility like David from the Bible, God will honor us and lift us up into victory.

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12 NIV)

Pressing on Through Trials

Owen helped his sensei teach a newer student different kinds of kicks, and although it was harder for the student to grasp, he never gave up trying.

Perseverance is one of the core values that makes faith possible. The things we want to achieve often take more time and effort than expected. The things we want God to do often take longer than we want them to.

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3 Lessons Karate Taught Me About Jesus

However, when we learn to persevere, we find that it builds our character and strengthens our faith. If life came easily and we got everything we wanted immediately, then there would be no reason to have faith or hope. But there is beauty in pressing on toward the things we are hopeful for.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14 NIV)

A Karate Focus  

One thing that surprised me as I was watching Owen’s karate practice was the way the instructor often told the newer student to stop overthinking.

When the student was sparring, he was trying so hard to predict his opponent’s next move that he failed to recognize the opportunities for attack right in front of him.

This is so common in my faith walk, and I know I’m not alone. Often times I get so worried or caught up in my own thoughts that I lose sight of Jesus.

Life is exciting, challenging, and surprising. There are so many distractions the enemy hurls at us to take our focus away from God and fill us with anxiety and temptation instead.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4 NIV)

When we are so focused on trying to figure out our next move and how to win at this life, we open up a target for the devil to attack. The only way to win this spiritual battle is to keep our eyes focused on Jesus. He is sovereign and is the only one who will never fail us.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:2 NIV)

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be able to watch my future husband practice such an incredible sport. It’s amazing how, if we have our hearts turned toward the Lord, we can find Godly wisdom in everything around us. When our focus is on the only One who truly matters, it changes our perspective on everything.  


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

(Photography by Jason Briscoe and Luke Stackpoole)

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