Fearfully Wonderfully Me

Growing in God and Inspiring Young Women Through Faith and Fashion

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How God Turns Disappointment into Purpose

I felt the pain hit me like a tsunami as the doctor said the words, you need surgery again. After I broke my elbow last winter and had emergency surgery, I thought healing would come relatively quickly and easily.

After months of physical therapy, my movement is still restricted due to the size of the plate that helped fuse my bones together. Now that plate has to go so my arm can be free.

Whether it’s a breakup, job loss, or some other life altering event, disappointment affects us all. But where do we find healing?

If we look to the Bible, we find a woman named Hannah, who endured some heartbreaking disappointment with humility and faith. She found healing and victory, and so can we.

Becoming Vulnerable

In 1 Samuel 1, we meet Hannah in the midst of her anguish. She’s married to a man named Elkanah, but she can’t have any children. Although infertility is heart wrenching enough for women today, it felt like complete failure in ancient times.

Elkanah’s second wife, Peninnah, kept provoking Hannah, causing her to weep in distress as they went up to the house of the Lord to make their yearly sacrifice.

Hannah had a choice in how to respond. She could have chosen bitterness toward Peninnah or to wallow alone in her misery. Instead, Hannah took her burden to the Lord.

In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. (1 Samuel 1:10 NIV)

When we are heartbroken and in anguish, sometimes our first response is to hide from God. However, this is the opposite of what God wants for us. He wants us to be open and vulnerable. He wants raw tears and haunting fears.

Our Heavenly Father wants His children right where they are. God can only transform our lives when we let Him into our hearts.

Turning our Disappointment into Surrender 

Sometimes what we think we want isn’t always the best thing for us. Or, as in Hannah’s case, we must wait for our prayers to be answered.

When we feel disappointed, we must grieve for the loss of what we had or wanted. After pouring out our grief to the Lord, we must surrender our dreams, hurts, and expectations to God’s sovereign care.

And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” (1 Samuel 1:11 NIV)

When Hannah made  this vow to the Lord, she knew that any future child of hers would be dedicated to God. She had to let go of her past expectations and trust in the Lord fully.

When we’ve been hurt or disappointed, trusting the Lord is a challenge. But Jesus is always in full control of our lives. Nothing takes Him by surprise–not a job loss or diagnosis–nothing.

When Hannah dedicated her dream of having a son to the Lord, she showed true faith. Faith goes beyond this realm and is found only in complete dependence upon our Savior.

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How God Turns Disappointment into Purpose

A New Expectation  

Hannah didn’t stop at vulnerability and surrender. As she pressed on in faith, her expectations changed.

She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. (1 Samuel 1:18-19 NIV)

Instead of the deep anguish of her disappointment, Hannah’s face held hope. She got up and worshipped with her family. And then her miracle finally happened; the Lord gave her a son named Samuel!

Now, we might not always get what we want when going through a disappointing situation. But when we press on in faith and worship, God remembers us.

Jesus is known for showing up in unexpected ways, and He does what seems impossible by human standards.

In 1 Samuel 2, God honors Hannah’s faithfulness in giving up Samuel to the priest so that he could serve God all of his life. In return, Hannah received many more sons and daughters, as well as the honor of Samuel becoming a great judge for Israel’s kings.

When we trust God and keep our hope in the promise of His Word, we find that He is always faithful.

Having a second surgery on my arm was not something I wanted, but I believe that God is working out a higher purpose out of what now feels like a disappointment. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that with Jesus, no struggle we go through is ever wasted. It’s a journey of vulnerability, surrender, and faith for the future.


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

(Photography by Mohamed Nohassi and Annie Spratt)

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How to Thrive with a Chronic Illness

Getting diagnosed with a chronic illness turns your whole world upside down. Suddenly you can’t do many of the daily activities most people never think twice about. Fear becomes a constant nag in the corner of your mind, and you lose confidence in your future.

I know this because it happened to me. Getting diagnosed with POTS  and IBS was one of the hardest, yet most rewarding trials I have faced so far.

I’ve learned patience, compassion, perseverance, and most importantly, dependence on God.

I truly believe my faith and the prayers of those who love me have brought me this far in my healing journey. Although I’m not cured (yet) of these issues, I’m in a much better place than I was years ago.

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to make friends with others who struggle with illness. Though I hope for their healing, I’m so glad God uses us to shine a light for each other. I’m often asked how I do it. How do I manage my life when sometimes just standing makes me dizzy or weak?

Well, here you are lovely ones. My insider pro-tips on thriving with a chronic illness.

1. Set Daily Goals

Having a chronic illness can force you out of your usual routine and school/work life. Suddenly you are dependent on others, and you feel helpless.

Although it may feel this way at first, it’s actually a hidden blessing. Why? Because we are all helpless on our own.

Every human being is one tragedy away from losing everything. The only thing that can’t be taken away is our relationship with Christ. When our dependence is on Jesus, we can learn to walk with humble confidence.

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My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26 NIV)

Having this confidence in God is crucial in order to be fruitful and set a daily goal. A good challenge is to write down one goal you want to accomplish everyday.

Maybe your goal is to clean the house or get an assignment done. Perhaps it’s showering or a doctor’s appointment. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. Just give it all you’ve got and lean on the Lord for confidence.

There are days when I still don’t feel productive. I get wiped out easily and fall asleep randomly from chronic fatigue. Not everything gets checked off on my list, but at least one thing does, and that’s good enough.

2. Make Time for Rest and Renewal

While goal crushing is fun, it’s important to balance work with rest. All bodies require rest, but in our fast-paced American culture, we hardly get the rest we need. Healing takes place when we listen to our bodies and just slow down.

It’s awesome to get things done, but don’t forget to take time to do something relaxing. Maybe this is taking a nap or warm bath. Perhaps a good book or listening to music is your thing. Find whatever it is that relaxes you and do it everyday.

The greatest rest we find is in Jesus, who renews us daily. The only way I got through five years of college with an illness is by God’s renewing strength.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV)

If we don’t abide in Jesus, we have nothing. If we seek Him constantly, we find physical healing, as well as spiritual renewal. Abiding in Jesus helps us bear fruit far richer than any worldly pursuit can give us.

3. Don’t Isolate Yourself in Illness

When you feel bad, it’s only natural to isolate yourself. However, constantly shutting the world out will only make things worse.

Yes, we all need time alone to rest and recharge, but surrounding ourselves with loved ones uplifts us and even improves our symptoms.

I know that when I hang out with my friends and family, I can’t do everything they can. Although I may need accommodations, I still have plenty of fun with my loved ones.

There will always be those who don’t understand or who get annoyed by you. These people will either learn to adjust, or you’ll find their friendship isn’t as deep as you thought it was.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24 ESV)

How to Thrive with a Chronic Illness

Don’t let your limitations discourage you. You are more than your abilities. Our worth comes from the inside–the soul Jesus died to save.  No illness can stop your awesome self from truly shining.

Although living with a chronic illness is life changing, God can still use it for good. He is still a miracle worker and healer. As we wait on God’s healing, we can live for Him in faith, hope, and love.


Thanks for reading! If you or a loved one struggle with an illness, please feel free to comment below so I can pray for you.

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Finding Jesus in a Breakup

I still remember the pain of ending that relationship three years ago. We weren’t right for each other, and though I tried to deny it, I had known it deep within my heart for awhile.

The next several months following that breakup were filled with conflicting emotions. Although I had peace about my decision, I still thought about what could have been. I cried and got angry. I grieved, and then I moved on.

There’s no magic formula for grieving a breakup, however, there are lessons we can learn to better our future. We can choose to let the loss defeat us, or make us stronger. And ultimately, I think that’s what God wants for our lives.

Finding Meaning in a Breakup 

After ending that relationship, I remember walking outside in the snow and staring up at the dull gray sky. I kept asking God, why? The answer I got almost took my breath away, and it surely made me smile.

God said, “Because I am jealous for you.”

That’s the thing about walking with Jesus. You’re either all in or all out. He doesn’t want half-devoted followers who will most likely compromise their faith.

That past relationship kept me from blooming into the Christian I was supposed to be. It wasn’t anyone’s fault; it was just not meant to be.

Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 4: 23-24 NIV)

God isn’t jealous for us in a selfish, human way. If that were true, then no one would be able to be in a relationship or get married!

However, God does want our relationships to reflect His love for us and to ultimately lead us closer to Him. When a relationship is built on this firm foundation, love can truly grow and flourish.

Finding Identity in a Breakup 

My first breakup happened in high school. I got dumped.

You can never understand the haunting pain of that rejection until it happens to you. I felt so unlovable and worthless, but Satan wanted me to believe these lies so I would never discover the truth.

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)

Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. (Psalm 27:10 NIV)

Dear lovely one, if you are suffering the pain of rejection, please know that you are loved and chosen by God.

Although there will always be people in this life who reject us, our Heavenly Father never will. God sent His Son to die for our sins and prove His radical love for us.

Although going through a breakup is painful, it leads us to the most powerful truth in existence. God can use rejection to point us to the One who will always love us. Jesus is our eternal bridegroom, and He is wild about us.

It doesn’t matter if you have an awesome love life or have failed at relationships. If you aren’t confident of your identity in Christ, you have nothing to stand on in a relationship.

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Finding Jesus in a Breakup

Finding Hope in a Breakup

When I look back on the heartbreaks I’ve endured, I know it was worth it. I’ve grown as a person, and as a daughter of God. I also see how the Lord graciously protected me from harm by letting me experience heartbreak.

Every single trial leads us closer to victory. But we must choose to hold on and weather the storm.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5 NIV)

Right now I am so blessed to be engaged to the love of my life. Was the wait difficult? Yes. Was it worth it? A thousand times yes.

But I know I wouldn’t have met the one God prepared for me unless I pressed on and bloomed into the woman I am today.

Breakups are painful, but they are not the end of your story. If you allow Jesus to walk you through your pain, you will find meaning, identity, and a love that’s eternal.


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24 Lessons on Love, Life, and Faith

Today is a special day, lovely readers and followers. It’s my 24th birthday and I get to share it with you! I know there are so many ideas for birthday posts out there, but I hope this one will inspire and encourage you.

Today is a day of celebration, ice cream (hopefully), and reflection. I want to reflect on 24 life lessons I’ve learned over the years–but with a twist. These 24 nuggets of God-given wisdom will be spread out evenly in the categories of love, life, and faith. I hope you enjoy!

Love

1. Never settle for less than God’s best for you. The person you’re dating might be nice, but he’s not necessarily the right one for you.

2. Keep friendships as a healthy priority when you’re in a relationship. Good friends build you up, and without them, you won’t reach your full potential in life.

3. Never compromise who you are or your beliefs for another person. This applies to all relationships.

4.  Pray and do devotionals with your boyfriend/fiance/husband every day. God will move in amazing ways when you take the time to honor Him.

5. Planning a wedding is fun and an important step, but planning for your marriage is what really matters.

6. Be with someone who makes you laugh. Life is too short not to enjoy the adventure.

7. It’s never too late to honor God and yourself with purity. Don’t let any mistakes from the past hinder you. Everyone falls short in this area; however, everyone is redeemable.

8. Make Jesus your first love, and when you’re ready, He will lead you to the one you should marry. 

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Life

1. Take a moment to look up at the sunset or the stars in the night sky. It puts life into perspective.

2. Animals are one of the most precious gifts God has given us. Treat them with love and kindness and you will be blessed.

3. If you have a passion for something, then go for it. Maybe you’ll make money from it, maybe you won’t. At least you’ll be living your life with passion.

4. Live life with balance. Fruits and veggies are important, but so is pizza. Don’t argue with me here. I know what I’m talking about.

5. You can’t fail if you never stop trying. Keep moving forward. This nugget was inspired by the Disney movie, Meet the Robinson’s. You need to see this movie.

6. Quit comparing your life or “progress” with others. Live for God instead–it’s way more fulfilling.

7. You don’t need to have life all figured out upon graduating high school. Life is unpredictable, and that is what makes it so incredible.

8.  Learn to love yourself and focus less on your outward appearance. It only distracts you from the things that really matter.

24 Lessons on Love, Life, and Faith

Faith

1. God wants to build your character and your faith. Sometimes this will mean trials and stepping out of your comfort zone. This is hard, but so worth it.

2. Sometimes you will have doubts. That’s okay. The important thing is to tell God and keep seeking Him. Faith is found in the waiting.

3. Sometimes the best prayer is, “Jesus, I need you.”

4. The Word of God always has the final say. Don’t let lies from the devil or another person dictate your worth.

5. Don’t be afraid to dance and be wild and free in worship. David of the Bible gave his all to God, and so should we.

6. You’re never going to have Christianity all figured out. Just keep walking and keep growing.

7. You really can do anything through Christ. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

8. No matter who you are or what you’ve done, Jesus wants you. He died to save you from your sins. Jesus  wants to heal, restore, and love you to wholeness. 

24 Lessons on Love, Life, and Faith

There you go! Some life lessons from me to you. God is still working these lessons into my heart, and I’m so grateful. Do you have any nuggets of wisdom to share with me on my birthday? Please comment below!


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How to View Media in a God Honoring Way

I remember having a movie night with a childhood friend. We were eating snacks and talking, and everything was awesome. That is, until I realized the superhero movie we were watching was so full of swear words that I couldn’t make it past the first fifteen minutes.

As the years go by and I continue to grow in my faith, I can see the way media affects my life and the lives of those around me. Season two of the show 13 Reasons Why was recently released on Netflix, and reading this incredible post from blogger Beauty Beyond Bones has inspired me to also discuss the dangers of media.

13 Reasons Why focuses on a teen girl who committed suicide, and the blame she places on those around her through a series of tapes. I’ve never seen this show before, and I do not plan to. It graphically portrays suicide, bullying, rape, and other issues in a way that is often too traumatizing for teens and adults to process.

Media is powerful, and can either hinder our faith or build it up. Read on for more on the dangers of media and ways to view media in a wise and God-honoring way.

When Media Becomes a Compromise

It’s borderline impossible to watch a movie without some degree of  swearing, violence, or sexuality in it. Even kids movies contain these things! However, sometimes we are tempted to watch something that is beyond the threshold of what we know is appropriate.

During that movie night with my friend, I could have chosen to keep watching the superhero movie. However, this would be compromising my values because I knew it wasn’t right. There was a ton of violence and crude swearing–both of which I am sensitive to.

As Christians, compromising media is thrown at our faces so much that all of us are tempted at times. And that’s okay, the Lord doesn’t expect perfection from us. God does, however, expect us to be on guard over what we view on our TVs, phones, and computers.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

Although one bad movie or book might not seem like a big deal, it opens the door for compromise. We must prayerfully assess all that we watch, read, and listen to in order to avoid compromise.

The Need for Discernment

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 4:23 that what we put into our hearts eventually manifests itself in our lives. That is why we must be careful of the media we view. When we watch shows like 13 Reasons Why, we are thrown into the dark world of depression and suicide. And if you’re someone who is struggling with these issues, this can cause great harm. 

When we view content on social media, we are influenced by the crude and sometimes borderline pornographic content on these sites. Even worse, sometimes we become desensitized to these things and our values no longer hold true to us anymore.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)

There is no way we can avoid everything “wrong” in media. We would have to avoid it completely, which is legalistic and missing the point of what God wants for us.

There are movies and books that contain some swearing or violence, however, they have excellent messages. One movie I can think of in particular is The Blind Side, which happens to have a strong faith message rooted in the story.

We must study God’s Word, which is our source of truth. The Holy Spirit guides  us so we can avoid media that might harm us instead of building up our faith.

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How to View Media in a God Honoring Way

Media in Focus

The truth of God’s Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit helps us avoid harmful shows, movies, and websites. And of course, we should always be on guard against sinful media.

But there’s something we must focus on that can be easily forgotten in our fight against compromise. We need to set our eyes on good things that draw us closer to Jesus and the message of the Gospel.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8 NIV)

When we fill our lives with truthful, lovely, and pure things, it drowns out the evil in this world. There are so many movies and books with good messages  and values. And there are Christian podcasts, social media accounts, and websites to entertain and inform us. With all this free media at our fingertips, it’s easy to find wholesome things to view.

Media has powerful influence to either distract us from Jesus, or to encourage our pursuit of Him. Seeking the Lord and pursuing honorable sources of media and entertainment is the key to a balanced life.


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

(Photography by Becca Tapert and Annie Spratt)

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