Isn’t this the most exciting time of year?!

Christmas trees and other decorations are being put up, classic movies are coming out of storage, and everywhere I go, there seems to be a sense of anticipation surrounding everyone.

Something about this season is destined to be wonderful.

 

For believers, this is an especially sweet time where we celebrate the birth of our Savior…

 

Or at least we’re supposed to.

 

Far too often, although we know the “reason for the season”, celebrating that little Baby born so many years ago is a priority that quickly gets pushed to the side for other things.

Sadly, finding something to wear to a Christmas party, buying gifts for friends and family, and creating “Pinterest-worthy” decorations, slowly distract us from dwelling on the most important aspect of this holiday.

 

As a result, we start developing the mindset that Jesus alone is no longer enough for us. In fact, we start to believe that we will only be happy when we have Jesus + something else (success, a certain gift, a huge circle of friends, and so on).

When this becomes our mindset, one of the most precious holidays easily becomes a source of disappointment when we expect to be satisfied by anything other than Jesus.

 

The perfect example of this is how I used to eagerly count down the days until I could open the gifts under the tree. I believed that they would bring perfect joy and satisfy me.

But once I had unwrapped them, I quickly realized that they couldn’t satisfy the way I had hoped (even though I did love them). And once again found myself searching for something else–thinking that maybe it would satisfy.

 

In addition, the part that truly breaks my heart is that the Baby Who I’m too busy to remember is the same Baby Who grew up to die on that cross for me.

Selfish, distracted, ungrateful and utterly unworthy me.

Simply because He loved me… In fact, it was simply because He loved all of us!

But He didn’t love us because of how successful we are, how put-together our lives are, or even how faithful we are to Him.

He didn’t love us + something else that would have made us “lovable” by anyone else’s standards. He just loved us, as we are.

 

And now, through Him, we have all that we need! Anything else that we have been given is just part of His lavish blessing.

So our mindset shouldn’t be “Jesus + ______ is enough for me.” Our mindset should be “Jesus is enough for me, even IF I never receive ______.”

 

Because Jesus is enough!

 

He is our Wonderful Counselor, and our Mighty and victorious God. (Isaiah 9:6)

He is the Ruler of the Nations, and our Prince of Peace. (Psalm 22:28, Isaiah 9:6)

And He is our Eternal Father, with a steadfast and everlasting love for us. (Isaiah 9:6, Jeremiah 31:3)

 

And that’s just the surface!

 

So today, I want to challenge you with this question:

You and only you are enough to be loved by the King of kings, but is the King of kings, and only the King of kings enough for you?

 

‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Isaiah 41:10

I looked out across the ocean, barely spotting my dad and brother snorkeling in the distance.

I started to swim out to them, but before I reached the reef, a fear of the unknown gripped me, forcing me to turn back.

It’s not that I don’t like snorkeling… In fact, when my mask isn’t fogging up or leaking, I absolutely love it! 🙂

It’s the ocean as a whole that scares me.  It’s the vast amounts of powerful, uncontrollable waves, and water filled with the unknown (including certain creatures which could potentially eat me)….

…That’s what scares me.

But despite all that, the brilliant tropical fish, and the unique plants hidden under the surface of the water are too beautiful to resist.  

So, later that morning when my dad, brother, and a family friend headed back out to the reef, I tagged along… Despite my fears.

The waves bounced over the top of us, and the current seemed to be constantly tugging at our feet, trying to pull us back to the shore. In addition, the clouds covered the sun, casting an eerie shadow over the water.

But this time, even though the conditions were harsher, and the water was in some parts deeper and darker than before, I had peace, knowing that I was not venturing into the unknown.  My dad had gone through this area before me and was by my side this time .

Eventually he guided our group around a few large corals, and we entered a shallow part of the reef, where the water was clear and calm.

The coral was bright pink and purple, and nearly 50 tropical fish, of various shapes and sizes, swam around us, seemingly unafraid of the fact that we had stumbled into their sanctuary!

While this breathtaking scene played out before my eyes, God laid this truth on my heart:

Yes, my fear to enter into unknown waters was very real. But with my dad beside me, my fear no longer crippled and controlled me.  I knew that he had already been through that area in the water, and he wanted to lead me past the dark areas into something beautiful.

All I needed to do is trust him.

In the same way, all throughout our lives we will need to face things that test or terrify us. But while the fear is real, we need to remember and find hope in the fact that we are not alone, and that our heavenly Father has already overcome everything in this world!

I don’t know where you’re at right now… I don’t know your unseen struggles, and I can’t say that I have experienced the same things that you have.

But I know Someone Who has.

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”

Hebrews 4:15

He didn’t just experience the same testing and struggles though — He overcame them!

And if you will seek after Him, lean on Him, and trust Him, He is waiting to help you overcome those periods of fear and struggle, to bring you into a place of light and peace that only He can provide.

So today I challenge you: in the areas where you are feeling crippled and controlled by fear, choose to surrender them to the only one Who can overcome them! Don’t let them keep you from experiencing the peace and rest that God wants to give you!

That doesn’t mean you will never have to experience challenges, struggles, or an element of fear ever again (in fact, God tells us to expect it!), but it does mean that you are trusting God to take that fear away, and replace it with His peace, even when you are gripped by trial or fear.

 

 

{Psst… Fear is a very real struggle for many teenagers, and if this is something that has had a grip on your life, I would love to be praying for you! Please don’t hesitate to send me a quick email (through the contact page), or comment below, asking for a prayer request!}

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My youngest sister, Rachel, was modeling for a few pictures I needed for my photography class.

Dark clouds barely holding back soft drops of rain filled the sky. There was a chill in the air, and Rachel’s bare arms were a tingling pink. The gloomy weather seemed to be sucking her bright smiles away, so I kept telling her to smile like the radiant princess that she is.

After a few moments, her normally lively blue eyes looked up at me with a downcast haze over them. “Okay Lydia” she said, “but I’m not really a princess.”

 

What she said was short, and to her six-year-old mind, it probably didn’t have much significance. But something about that statement bothered me for the rest of the evening.

I’m not really a princess” she had said.

Later, when I asked her what she had meant by that, it seemed as if deep down she didn’t believe that she fit the mold of a princess.  “I have no castle, no kingdom to rule, and I don’t even have a crown!” she declared.

As a result, it appeared that she had begun to doubt that God actually did view her as having the same value that He would place on a royal daughter.

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Joy.

What came to your mind when you read that word? (Other than that cute little Pixar character) 🙂

For me, my sister Abby’s beautiful smile, and joy filled giggles flash through my mind.

She truly is the happiest person I know.

Her smiles are contagious, and her joy is raw and unreserved. She is a radiant source of light, whether it’s through comforting reassurance that “you’ve got this”, a funny memory, or just being there to laugh with me at the end of a long day (I will also add that she has become a master of some of the most random, totally shameless facial expressions) 😉

 

Something about this kind of natural joy always stands out to me. I think it’s partly because negativity and complaining are so common, making contagious joy a rare gem.

Let’s face it, it’s more natural for us to dwell on the negative side of things. Not only do people gladly join in when we start complaining  about school, a difficult situation, or ‘that one person’ we know, in some situations, finding an element of joy can be hard!

It’s almost as if complaining has become a crutch.

However, while it might momentarily gratify our flesh, there is no personal edification in negativity. Sure, it might be a good conversation filler, or an easy substitute to looking at the bright side, but I never feel better after dwelling on the negative. It never fixes the issue, and it certainty never builds anyone up.

 

It’s not just negativity though. Depression, fear, pain, discontentment, and so much more are all very real and prevalent struggles. But they will steal from the joy that God wants us to experience.

Now, there is a time for mourning, concern, and discussing various issues. These feelings are real, and there is an appropriate time to express them. However, they should not become everything that we dwell on! If that happens, they will consume us to the point where our outside circumstances fully dictate our happiness. That is miserable and unfulfilling. And most of all, that’s not what God wants for us.

 

There are two main categories of joy: joy that comes when we realize who God is, and then every other form of joy. Other joy is temporary. It will come and go, constantly fluctuating based on our situation.

In contrast however, God’s joy is the only perfect joy. It is the only joy that will ever give us the full happiness that we seek, and it will never abandon us, even when things get rough.

There are two beautiful words that can bring us this perfect joy in difficult situations. They help us take our focus off the problem, and place the foundation for our happiness in the things that God has done. Those words are “but God”

Yes, the world can be terrible and scary, painful and disappointing…

… but God pulled us out of darkness and into His glorious light.

… but God has given us a new purpose.

… but God has shown us unconditional love.

… but God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.

… but God wants us to be able to experience His joy to the fullest

 

When we choose to live a life filled with God’s joy, first it will unchain us from the trap of allowing the world to dictate our emotions, and then it will help us use our new freedom to shine God’s light onto the situations around us!

 

Joy is beautiful! Joy is uplifting and inspiring! Joy is contagious! Joy points people to Christ! Joy will change our lives, and the lives of those around us!

And I want to be a radiant bearer of this kind of joy: The perfect, stable, life-changing joy of Jesus Christ! 

 

Love, Lydia

 

 


Psst…

In this post, I talked about experiencing God’s joy to the fullest. But, this kind of joy isn’t attainable if you haven’t surrendered your life to Christ, and accepted His love and forgiveness. If you have not already done this, check out this page.

If you are already saved, but you are struggling to experience the fullness of God’s joy, here are some ways God tells us that we can experience it:

  • By entering into His presence – In His presence (Psalms 16:11)
  • By abiding in Him and loving others the way that He has loved us (John 15:9-12)
  • Through the promise of our salvation (1 Peter 1:3-4,6, & 8)
  • Through remembering the amazing things that Christ has done (1 John 1:3-4)

And ultimately, this kind of joy will come as you get to see God’s hand in you’re life more and more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong”

1 Corinthians 1:26-27

I was sitting at my desk with my head buried in my arms.

Earlier that day, I had spent three hours trying to decide on a topic for my next blog post, yet I still hadn’t picked anything. In addition, I was overwhelmed with school. The tests, essays, lab reports, and textbook readings were piling up despite my best efforts to keep up.

I felt completely incapable of completing the tasks that were awaiting me.

I shook my head, carefully avoiding an accidental glance at the massive to-do list and stack of worn textbooks on the side of my desk. Instead, I glanced over at the four coffee cups that had collected by my side that day.

All the doubts that I had been pushing down began flooding to the surface: What am I thinking? I won’t ever catch up! I’m stretching myself too thin to excel at anything… I can’t do this!

 

I had been so focused on my struggles in the current moment that I hadn’t made the needed perspective shift. My focus on the stress I was experiencing drove me to try to complete everything on my own, and when I did that, I wasn’t willing to step out in faith when it was necessary. I wasn’t able to realize that ultimately God had it all in control. If I had looked at the tasks I had to do with this perspective, I would have realized this:

Yes, I feel weak, and small compared to this task. But this ministry is something that God called me to do.  And He will give me what I need to fulfill that task. If I rely on Him, He can use even my unequipped and foolish self, because His “power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

When God calls us to do something, our weakness, crazy schedules, and inadequacies should not keep us from following His direction–they should propel us toward Him, to provide in the areas that we fall short, and in the end bring God all the glory.

 

Now, I’m not suggesting that we take part in every ministry opportunity, or activity that comes our way. But whether God is calling us to take a new leap of faith, or trust Him with something that we are already involved in, our own feelings of weakness should not cause us to turn down or hide from something that God wants us to do.

 

If we are followers of Christ, then He has a ministry or area of service for us. Whether it’s a big task (like Moses, who led God’s people out of Egypt), or a small one (like being a godly companion to a hurting friend). At times, we may not feel adequate for the task… And that’s okay! If we fully rely on God and we’re willing to serve Him, then God is able to do beautiful things with our lives!


As L.M. Montgomery said, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

The warm color tones, hot drinks, crisp air, cozy sweaters, and crunching leaves all contribute to the allure of this beautiful time of year.

 

One autumn, around mid-October, I was desperately looking for change. First, I wanted the weather to cool down. While I knew that many people were already enjoying autumn leaves and stylish ankle boots, here in California we were still donning short sleeves and sandals well into late October. The heat seemed to be a mockery of the fact that I couldn’t fully experience autumn until it was nearly over.

Second, not only did I feel trapped in summer, I also felt trapped in a long season of life. Due to circumstances in that season, I felt drained, spiritually dry, lonely, and essentially: disconnected. I knew what I wanted, but I also knew that it wouldn’t be attainable in my current season of life.

My parents were sympathetic and wanted to help, but they knew that we needed to wait in that season until God told us otherwise.

However, as I prayed for change, for the next several months the answer was the same: wait. But even in that situation, I knew that it was not because God enjoyed seeing me struggle, rather, there was a lesson that I needed to learn.

God wanted me to realize that my circumstances, even while waiting in a difficult season, shouldn’t be able to dictate my happiness. I needed to trust God’s guidance instead of dwelling on where I thought I needed to be.

So I started learning to change my focus from dwelling on the season I would rather be in, and instead sought to serve the people that God had already placed in my life. With God’s help, not only did I grow, but I was able to find an element of peace during that season.

Eventually, just like that long, hot summer which came to an end, so did that season of struggle.

About six months later, that stirring for change came back. However, when we prayed for God’s guidance, it became clear that it was finally the right time to move into the next season of our lives.

 

Waiting in long seasons like this is hard. Really hard. However, God gives us this hope to hold onto: He is always good! If we will fully trust Him, He will bring us through tough seasons of struggle and show us that it was simply part of the unfolding of His wonderful plan for us.

Whatever season you are in, remember that it is just that, a season. It will pass. Pray and be patient, God will bring you through it.

 

There are two verses that I often turn to when I am struggling to find peace in the season that God had placed me in. I love them because they are a reminder that I need to shift my focus, and fully rely on Him. They remind me that: God is good. God is good to me. God is good at being God (Taken from Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Uninvited).

The first one is Jeremiah 29:11 which says:

“‘For I know the plans that I have for you’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”’

This verse proclaims that the God of the universe, Who holds even the stars in place, has wonderful plans for your life. Plans that will bring blessing and hope. He will bring good things into our lives.

The second verse is Romans 8:28, which states that,

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who are called according to His purpose.”

 

These two verses are anchors for our faith that hold us firmly in place during both the calm water and the storms in life. And just as sure as the seasons come and go, according to God’s plan, so also do the seasons of our life.

 

 

 

I opened my curtains, letting dim streams of morning light reach through and illuminate my desk. Wrapping my sweater tightly around my body in response to the shivers caused by the cool morning air, I settled into my chair.

My Bible was opened, and my pen was ready to underline and take notes on any special truths I discovered. However, as my eyes glanced across line after line, everything I read seemed dry and distant. Nothing seemed to relate to what was going on in my life. Nothing stirred my soul, or made me want to worship God. I felt nothing.

We’ve all been there.

Usually it is a sign that there is something in our life causing a distance in our relationship with God. In this case, it was because my time in devotions was becoming a stale routine with no personal growth.

I didn’t enjoy reading the Bible. In fact, it was becoming a chore.

God tells us to delight in His Word, but missing the pleasure of spending time in the Bible is a rut that we easily fall into. We all know that we should read the Bible. But in all honesty, our flesh often doesn’t always want to.

This is an incredibly dangerous place to be, because when we start to read just for the sake of marking something off our “Good Christian Checklist”, we lose the awe, love, and depth waiting to be discovered in God’s Word. It becomes empty routine, and in the end, although we may have started with good intentions, we ultimately become unteachable.

 

Delighting in the Word of God:

One night, I was asking God to help me fall in love with His Word again while I flipped through the Psalms. As I was praying this, I came across Psalm 19, which beautifully illustrates the role of God’s word in our daily life:

 

7“The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous all together. 10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward.

(Psalm 19:7-11)

 

Because these are such powerful verses, let’s break them down a bit to unpack their full meaning…

First, any time I see the words law, testimony, precepts, commandment, and judgments, I just insert “the Bible” there. All of these words are talking about a specific part of the Bible, but generally, they are referring to the Word of God.

Second, when I was studying this verse, and I looked at the definitions of the key words that David uses, I realized that there was much more to this verse than there appeared at first glance…  The left hand side of the chart below has the meaning of the key verses written into the original verse (To ensure that we are all clear on what was added in for clarity and what is the direct wording in the Bible, anything that I added is underlined)

 

With My Definitions: Original Text (NASB):
The Bible is complete and sufficientrestoring the soul; The Bible will not mislead or deceive, making wise the humble and teachable. 7“The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

 

The Bible is just and founded in wisdom, rejoicing the heart; The Bible is free from all corruption, giving us knowledge and wisdom. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is sincere, unchangeable and enduring forever; The Bible is accurate; they are righteous all together. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgements of the Lord are true; they are righteous all together.
10 The Bible is more desirable than all the riches of the world, yes, than much fine gold; The Bible is sweeter and has more lasting satisfaction than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. 10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by the Bible your servant is warned; in faithfully keeping the Bible there is great reward. 11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward.

 

 

 True delight in God’s Word will only come when we lay aside our religious checklist, and come before the Lord with an open heart, ready to receive His instruction. We must never forget that God’s Word always has something for us, no matter what we are going through in life.

If it ever becomes a chore, then we need to take a step back, and fill our minds with the truth, that those verses proclaim;  the Bible is perfect, and will not mislead us. There is no corruption, and its guidance is founded in wisdom. Most of all, the wisdom found in it is something that we should actively seek above anything else in the world!

 

What does this mean for me?

The biggest thing is to make it a priority. For me, this means that first thing when I wake up, before I check the notifications on my phone or do anything else, I spend at least a few minutes reading the Bible.

If you haven’t spent much time reading the Bible for yourself, then there is no better time to start! Start small and work your way up, it shouldn’t be a daunting task! If you are reading God’s Word with the intention of growing spiritually, then simply taking 10 minutes to meditate on a specific verse will start having a huge impact on your day.

 

If you are feeling overwhelmed, here are a couple ideas to get you started:

  • Go through the Proverbs, reading the corresponding Proverb for the day of the month (e.g. on Sep. 25th read Proverbs 25)
  • Read through the book of the Bible you are studying in church.

 

If you are already in the habit of spending time reading the Bible, kept it up! Strive to spend time in personal devotions every day! Come before the Lord with an open heart, ready to receive His instruction. Pray and ask God to lead and bless your time in His Word. Most of all, don’t lose that child-like wonder of the richness of God and His Word!

 

If you find yourself in a place where you don’t seem to be growing, here are some ideas to mix up your devotion time:

  • Use commentaries to study the deeper meaning of the text. I use Bible Hub for online commentaries 🙂
  • Listen to online sermons. Okay, I know that may sound incredibly dull, but there are many engaging and uplifting sermons all over the internet. I love pulling up a sermon and playing it while I get ready in the morning!

 

In the end, genuine delight in the Word of God will bless you more than you can begin to imagine. As Psalm 1:1-3 says,

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked… But his delight is in the law of the Lord and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a stream firmly planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does he prospers.”

 

Entering into fall, one thing that I can’t help but dream of doing is gathering my friends and family around a campfire.

With the crackling wood and the dancing flames which provide comfort in the dark, the warmth seems to pull the cold and tired bystanders near without a word. There is a fascinating element to this pile of wood and flames that we call a campfire.

Young and old, rich and poor, joyful and distressed, all gather around to sing songs and share stories, anxiously anticipating the joy and memories that will be formed around the flickering flames.

What is it about a campfire that can unite even diverse groups of people?

Within the radiant warmth we find that the unity we experience around the campfire echos the story of our unity in Christ. In this way, even though the campfire cannot speak, it has a story of its own to tell. A story of beauty and truth. A story radiating from scripture, and ignited by the death and resurrection of Christ which allows us to fellowship with Him.

 

First, something about the motion of the red, orange, and blue waves of heat, the rich smell of burning wood, and the tranquil warmth, causes a certain feeling of comfort inside of us. This comfort given by the campfire begins to resemble the peace that we find when we come to Christ and completely rely on Him. He wants us to draw close to Him like we would with a campfire. He wants us to experience the warmth of His love, and the complete peace that only He can provide.

 

But the comparisons do not stop there.

 

A campfire can unite a broad spectrum of people by gathering them around a central item of interest. Similarly, if our interactions with other believers are centered around Christ, we will experience true unity and fulfill one of Christ’s commands to the church.

Romans 15:5-6 says, we are to “be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord [we] may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” For it is unity among believers that magnifies the glory of God.

Just like around the campfire, in the body of Christ there are no conditions on who may participate. As verse 7 of the same chapter says, we are to “accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God,” Even if it seems that we have nothing in common, we are all united in Christ, and share the one thing that truly matters; our salvation.

 

The story of the Campfire tells us to leave our worries far behind. It tells us to spend time in the warmth of God’s love, and experience His comfort and peace. It tells us to come together with others, and share our stories and hearts. And, as the main purpose of the story, it tells us to glorify the Lord with unity, instead of dwelling on our differences.

 

 

 

Dear sisters,

With four younger siblings I know all too well the struggles that come with that title “sister”. Whether you’re the youngest or the oldest, it’s hard. I know.

I understand the irritation of learning to cope with sticky faces, rambunctious playing, and endless mess. I know the feeling of companions who never leave room for breathing, heated fights, and strung out tension.

I know the pressure and expectations bestowed on older sisters, along with the feeling of complete inadequacy to live up to the standard I want to be.

Sweet sisters, this road we travel isn’t easy, no matter what people try to make it look like. But then again, anything worth having must come at some price. And a good relationship with your siblings is oh-so-worth-it.

Like a journey on an untrodden path, each day will bring us a new set of trials. However, although the road is rough, if we take the time to look around we will often find that this journey is also packed with immense beauty.

Our biggest enemy on this journey is a bad attitude. If we let it take hold of us, not only will we be miserable, but we will miss all of the beauty along the path. In addition, if a bad attitude is allowed to take root in our lives, then it will cause life long problems.

 

To be quite honest, this is an area that I have struggled with. No matter how hard I tried, I was discontent with the things my siblings did. I started praying about it, and God showed me the problem: I wasn’t viewing them the way God did, so how could I love them the way that He did?

In Psalms 127:3 it is clear that God views our siblings as “a blessing and a gift from the Lord,” but when I bought the lie that they were more of an inconvenience than a blessing, everyone suffered. Myself included.

 

This is what I realized: I needed to be making the conscious decision every single day to let joy steer my attitude.

Like I said before, I know the struggles. But more importantly, I know the blessings.

I know the late night giggle-fests and heart-to -heart talks with my sisters. I know the comic relief I can always count on my brothers to provide (even if their reaction to their joke is… well… much better than the joke itself 😉 ). I know the pride I feel when I watch my 6-year-old sister captivate the attention of an entire room with her natural charm and grown-up thoughts. And most of all, I know the joy that comes when I choose to make these thoughts the characteristics that I dwell on.

I know that the messes they leave and the playful commotion are just the evidence that they have imaginations at work, and fond memories are in-the-making. I know that the constant need to be with me is because they respect and love me. And I know that the moments of tension are training me for the day when I eventually leave home.

This week, I challenge you. Whenever you are tempted to complain about something your siblings are doing, make the choice (before reacting) to look at the element of joy in that moment… There ALWAYS is one!  😀

So dear sisters, let joy steer your thoughts, and experience the peace that comes when we love our siblings the way God does.

My primary goal is to serve God everyday of my life. I want to know that my life made an impact in some way. I want to be able to make the same proclamation that Paul did in 2 Timothy 4:7 when he said “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith”.

Samuel is an incredible example for young people with this desire. As a judge and prophet of God, he faithfully served the Lord from a young age, and by the end of his life he could have confidently said that he had “fought the good fight”.

Establishing faithfulness:  

Samuel worked in the temple and “ministered to the Lord” (1 Sam. 2:11) as a young child (probably around 6 years old). Because of his age, his duties in the temple were probably considered insignificant by most standards. However, he did these small tasks with the mindset that he was serving the Lord.

Because he showed faithfulness and devotion in the little things from a young age, and he grew “in favor both with the Lord and with men,” (1 Sam. 2:26).

 Faithfulness is immensely important to God, and as Luke 16:10 says; “He who is faithful in the very little thing is faithful also in much”, and through his devotion to the little things, Samuel un-knowingly proved that he had the character that God desired.

Starting his ministry:

God soon blessed Samuel with the gift of prophesy, and “was with him and let none of his words fail”. Even though he was still young, “All Israel… knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 3:19-20).

What this means to us:

Samuel’s life is an amazing reminder that if we want God to use us for His purpose, we must begin by showing faithfulness in the little things. Our faithfulness is one of the most precious gifts that we can give God.

One of the biggest lies Satan wants us to believe is that God cannot use us significantly until we’re older. However, time and time again, God used young people to do His work. Take David, Samuel, Daniel, Joseph, Esther, and Timothy for starters.

Truth be told, we don’t know if we have until we’re older to start making a difference. The time is NOW!  So start establishing patterns of faithfulness on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis, so that when God needs someone to carry out a specific task (big or small), you will have proven yourself a trustworthy and faithful servant!

Love, Lydia


Well, no matter how long I will try to deny it, it’s officially back to school season…

This time of year brings a myriad of memories for different people. Personally, I’m immediately reminded of new clothes, fresh school supplies, and the autumn leaves that just won’t come fast enough!

I’m also reminded of a question we all tend to ask each year; Who will I be?

For me, this means I usually start assessing what activities I will be involved in, what kinds of grades I hope to get, and which new pair of shoes I should buy. For other people it could be the plan to get a certain group of friends, get a boyfriend, find that signature trait or style, and so on.

Point being, this question prompts us to plan what things will identify us this year.

But even though this question starts out innocently, the things that we tend to focus on are things that the world values. When this happens, the world becomes the foundation that we build our identity off. Not God.  And when we try to create our identity while focusing on the wrong interests, we will only be thrown into the constant whirlwind of endeavoring to be accepted and honored by the world.

The things that it values instantly take a priority above the things that God wants us to be valuing.

But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Any honor that the world eventually gives you will never satisfy, and you never have it permanently. Retaining that coveted honor will become a lifelong task, since you will have to keep working for it. Also, placing your worth and identity on the unstable foundation that the world provides, will never bring you the love and fulfillment that you desire.

 

Instead, let’s learn to place our identity in the firm foundation of our Father in heaven. He has already loved and accepted us for who we are, even when we were un-lovable by anyone else’s standards. He pulled us out of the darkness, and gave us a higher purpose.

While the honor of the world is something that can take decades to create, and seconds to destroy, the love and acceptance that God freely gives us is unconditional, and does not fluctuate based on our circumstances.

Whenever you feel alone, whenever you feel like you don’t measure up, or aren’t enough, remember this verse:

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness or peril, or sword?…But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

~Romans 8:35-39

Really bask in the truth of that verse. Don’t just skip over it. I ask you to think about what it says…

Can you feel the passion in that verse? Can you hear the words of truth and re-assurance that God is speaking into our minds of doubt?  Nothing, EVER, can separate us from the love of God!

The grades we get don’t matter. Our position in society doesn’t matter. The way we dress or do our hair, really doesn’t matter. Having a boyfriend, or being in the right group of friends doesn’t matter. The hurtful things other people say about us don’t matter. The number of followers on Instagram doesn’t matter. That sport that we excel at doesn’t matter. Getting good grades, or going to a certain college doesn’t matter. Because although none of those are bad, if we are children of God, those temporary things are no longer our identity.

One day all those things will pass, and with them any honor that the world has bestoed on us will inevitably be stripped away. The world is incredably unstable, so any hope or meaning that we find from it will be as unstable as the foundation that we put in it.

Instead, place your identity in Christ. Remember that you are a Child of the Living King! You are loved and valued! Root your foundation in our unshakable God, and then even when the rest of the world around you is crumbling, you won’t be moved. Your identity is not in the world. Your identity is in Christ! 

Love, Lydia

The house was silent. All the lights were out. I had just fluffed my pillow into the ideal position. My blanket was pulled tightly around my body.

My eyelids were just starting to shut when my bedroom door creaked open, and I heard a soft whisper coming from my door. “Lydia?” It was my mom. “Goodnight honey. I already prayed for you, so I’ll head to bed-Unless you want to talk?” To be honest, the thought of staying up late to talk with her wasn’t something I was either used to, or necessarily wanted to stay up for. However, I felt something prodding me to at least try to talk. So I did.

During this time, I deep-down knew that I should have closer a relationship with my family. My parents especially! But even though I was blessed with parents who worked hard to have that, it was still hard, and sometimes it felt like an uphill battle against the normal flow of things.

However, because of this simple effort on my mom’s side, each night we talked longer and longer, and each night we grew closer and closer.

If you don’t have a close relationship with your parents now, I get that! I’ve been there, and I know the feeling! I know the struggle between simply knowing the things you’ve been told your whole life (in this instance the importance of having a good relationship with your parents), and actually taking steps in that direction! The thing is, it’s possible! I was in that same spot, and was able to take action, and you can too!

If you find yourself in that position, here are some of the top pieces of advice I’ve gathered from my mom, sister, other godly young ladies, and my own experience, for starting to have a better relationship with your parents:

 

1. Respond to their attempts to build a relationship. Most parents do want a close relationship with their kids, and your parents are probably already making efforts to foster that. Look back over the past week . Do you remember that conversation dad tried to make in the car, or at the table? Do you remember mom asking if you would like to run to the store with her, or keep her company while she folds the laundry?

Even though their efforts might seem strange or completely un-amusing, the best first step toward growing closer to your parents, is to respond to these efforts.

So next time they ask how your day was, tell them! “Fine” is not an answer, but sharing something funny that happened, or admitting  your worries about an upcoming test, isIf they ask you to go to the store with them, it’s not some strange way of torturing you, it’s an effort to spend more time with you amid your busy lives.

 

2. Spend time together, and TALK. This probably goes without saying, but any relationship is impossible without spending time together.

Spend time just hanging out and doing things with them. When you start to think of them less like your parents, and more like your best friend (while still respecting them), this whole relationship will be much smoother!

Spending time talking together is also essential. My mom realized this, so every night when she came in to say goodnight, she started giving us the opportunity to talk to her.

As I said above, at first it was hard coming up with things to talk about, but I quickly realized that I needed to be more open and personal with my mom. So I came up with this personal guideline: If I would share this with my best friend, I will share it with my mom. 

 

3. Accept them for who they are. Acceptance. That’s a big word. One that’s easy to talk about, but hard to actually live out. We as humans are full of unrealistic expectations, especially when it comes to our parents. And let me say: expectations will always disappoint.

If you try to conform your parents into your expectations of the “perfect” parent, you will never have a healthy relationship with them, because they will never meet those expectations.

The key is to meet them where they’re at. Throw away your expectations, and love them for who they are. Flaws and all.

We are all guilty of doing this, usually without even realizing it, so if you catch yourself comparing your parents to imaginary standards, try this: Look at them through the lens of gratitude! Notice and appreciate their efforts and sacrifices. Focus on the things that they are strongest in, instead of their weaknesses! Gratitude changes everything.

 

4. Ask for godly advice. This one might just be the hardest one yet! Why? One word: Pride. 

Accepting other people’s advice (especially if we know they are right, but we’re still in that denial stage), is flat-out HARD! However, when you ask for your parent’s advice, this shows maturity, and a respect for their opinions.

The key to this, however, is not in the actual act of asking, but more importantly in the response. When your parents do give you advice, if you show consideration for their opinion, and do your best to apply it, they will respect that!

People like knowing that their opinion matters to you (especially your parents), and they will respect the maturity that a godly response shows.

 

5. Expect time to heal. Let’s face it. Your parents are human, and as humans, they have feelings. If you and your parents have had a rough relationship in the past, all these sudden efforts to create a closer relationship may be a bit hard to accept. It will take time for them to realize that this is a genuine desire on your part.

Like you, there may be things that they will need to heal from. Things that they need to forgive, and trust that needs to be rebuilt. So expect this. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a little while for them to respond to your efforts.

The best things you can do if this happens is to:

  1.  Keep it up, be patient!
  2. Pray for them. Pray that God will help them forgive and forget any past issues. Pray that He will help you both rebuild that relationship.

Difficult family situations: 

Now, I won’t pretend to be an expert on family relationships. I know that you can’t have a “one-size-fits-all” mentality when it comes to dealing with life in general, much less life inside the home, because God gave us all very unique stories. Any advice that I’ve given up until this point has been taken from my own experience. However, I know that not all young ladies have been given such a smooth home life. So while I personally have not experienced any difficult family situations, I will do my best to wade into these waters equipped with both the advice of women who have been through this, as well the things God commands.

To start, God’s command to obey still applies, even in a difficult home (unless of course it is directly against something God has said in the Bible). To show this, let’s look at Ephesians 6:1-3 which says:

Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother… so that it may go well with you, and that you may live long upon the earth.”  

One thing about this verse is that it says to obey them “for this is right.” Not based on any thing that they have personally done, but rather because it is what we should do. Obedience honors God, even if our parents are not “deserving” of it.

Our parents are no doubt a God-given authority in our lives, and another verse that helps solidify the fact that we should honor and respect them as such, is Romans 13:1-2:

“Every person is to be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” 

So while if you are in a truly difficult family situation, and a very open and intimate relationship may not be the best option, they still deserve honor and respect because of their God-given role as your parents.

The second point I would like to make is that if a close relationship with your parents is just not possible, remember that God will not only be a “Father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5), so wherever your parents fall short, He will step in and fulfill that need in your life.

Also, if your parents are either absent, or unable to fill the much-needed role of a godly authority, ask God to bring along an older woman, to take that place in your life. Just make sure that she has proven to faithfully serve God, and is able to give godly advice.


In the end, I remind you that if we want to be a generation that is used by God, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard of excellence, and strive for that God-honoring, healthy relationship with your parents!

I would love to know your thoughts on this subject, so be sure to leave a comment 🙂

Love, Lydia

Pssst! This was the last post in a mini-series on developing close relationships with our parents. Last week I talked about the significance of this relationship. Since understanding this is fundamental for having a good relationship with your parents, if you missed that post, check it out here .