Lead Me and I’ll Follow

 

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You never know the full extent of how much a life can impact you until you see it first hand. If you asked me a year and a half ago that I would embark on a mission trip to Guatemala and that it would impact not only my Christian walk but change my future, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Yet, here I am a year later after returning from a week spent in Guatemala with some of the greatest people I get to call my spiritual family.

A year ago this week, I was standing in Zacapa the sun beating down on me drenching me in sweat just by standing there. The temperature reached into the hundreds and our faces remained reddened from exhaustion. The exhaustion was only physical and even them when you’re in the midst of a village washing feet and giving bags of food out to the families, the last thing that’s on your mind is how blistering hot it is out.

I have never sweated more in my life than I did in Guatemala. I remember the second day we were there and went on a tour of the campus. Every stop wrenched my heart closer to God. Seeing the love on the elderly people broke my heart in the best way possible. The baby rescue made me realize how fortunate we are for all that we have here in the States. The Orphanage is what broke me. I’ve always been a lover of kids and seeing them happy and smiling.

When the bus parked and the doors were opened, I was the first one to step off. I still remember seeing his chunky body running towards me, arms stretched out a toothy smile spread out on his face. I didn’t know the little boy’s name but that didn’t stop me from falling in love with his quiet demeanor as I held him in my arms and squeezed him tightly in a hug. He found my sunglasses fascinating as he removed them from my face and shoved them onto his face upside down squealing with glee. I held the little boy until he squirmed to get down and then scampered off to another person. Still, that simple human interaction between the two of us had captured my heart.

During our stay, that was the only time I saw him, but his elated face never left my mind. I knew I had to do something for him. Through World Help, I am now able to sponsor the little boy, David Kenet. His picture remains on my fridge as a constant reminder of that day and I pray for him every night. Over the past few months after returning from Guatemala and sponsoring Kenet, I knew my career path that I was currently in wasn’t what I wanted to do. After prayer and counsel, I realized my heart was in writing and going to Guatemala.

I didn’t think I would be able to return there this year with college and a job. Still, I prayed “Lord, if there’s a will, I know you’ll make a way. But help me be content in Your answer.” Up until three weeks ago, God’s answer was no and even though I was disappointed, I had a peace about it. Then God sent me a curveball. Fast forward, three weeks and I am returning to Guatemala this May in a matter of a month.

May 17-24, I will be in Zacapa, Guatemala and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m overjoyed  to be returning and seeing what God has in store for me this trip. I know His plan is infinitely greater than mine could ever be.

~Hannah

We are the Free Part 2: Why Purity?

 

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A few years ago, I attended a Silver Ring Thing event in my town. Like many teens and preteens that night, I took the oath of purity and abstinence. Now, five years later I still have the tiny silver band on my left ring finger with 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 still legible.

When I took the oath at 15, I wasn’t really aware of the power of the pledge that I had just taken. Now that I’m 20 and have two years of college under my belt, I see the importance of remaining pure in a constantly digressing world. I’ve seen friends wearing their ring around their neck and no longer around their finger. Their signal was clear. It broke my heart to see people break their oath but I knew the devil had deceived them.

One friend wanted to talk to me about it over coffee one day. She immediately teared up and explained how much she regretted it and wished she could undo it. Sadly, that story has become all too common in today’s society. It’s now considered weird to remain pure and steadfast. We are the outcasts now when we should be the majority.

Most people when they see my purity ring don’t say anything and just continue on their way. I never had someone come out and condemn me for it. Recently, I started a job where I actively interact with many people through my shifts. While talking to one of them, they noticed my purity ring and immediately called me out on it.

“Is that a purity ring?” I nodded and held my hand out to show them. They recognized the familiar ring because they too had taken the oath. However, they had broken theirs. They didn’t seem repentant and in fact made me feel like the inferior party.

Growing up around Christians and attending most of the school years in a Christian school, I became accustomed to no one really disagreeing with my views or how I did things in my Christian walk. Even while at community college people didn’t question my beliefs or faith. This was all new to me and I was shocked to say the least.

They made purity out to be something horrible; a disease of sorts. I began to think about it and realized how duped today’s young people are which inspired this blog post.

Why Purity?

2 Timothy 2:22 says it best, “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” 

     Christians are to be of a pure heart. People will be hardened by broken hearts and broken promises, missed phone calls, and useless fights. Why would I want that? I know by keeping God’s Word and keeping my heart pure that one day I will meet the one that God has been saving for me. If I could skip all the pain of a broken heart and pointless relationship that aren’t ending in anything good, why wouldn’t I do that?

Why would I want to date several men in order to test it out or find my type of person? The only type of person I need is what God wants for me and He knows me better than I know myself. He knows my outward parts and the deepest secrets of my heart, so why wouldn’t I trust Him to prepare my husband for me?

Friends have told me, “Hannah, if you never date, how will you know what kind of guy you want?” My response to their question was simple. “Why aren’t you trusting God to bring you your husband?”

Today people date for all the wrong reasons and it almost always ends in heartbreak. My heart has never been broken because I have never given it away. I’m fully trusting God that by remaining pure, He is preparing my heart for my husband as well as preparing my husband’s heart for me. I’m putting my trust fully in God and the Pastors who are my leaders in my life and I know that both parties have my best interest in mind.

~Hannah

We Are the Free

So many people look at Christians as being in bondage. “Oh you have to go to church every Sunday? That must suck.” “Oh you have to read the Bible daily?” “You have to obey your parents? That’s stupid. They shouldn’t have to tell you what to do. After all, it’s your body.”

So many people judge Christians before they even get to know them. I don’t have to go to church, I get to go to church. Why would reading the Bible be difficult for me when it’s the only thing that keeps me sane? We need to stop looking at the Bible as a book of laws that we need to follow and start looking at it as a manual to living life.

A lot of times people think the Bible is so hard to follow and that Grace is unattainable. They think the Bible is bondage around people.

They couldn’t be farther from the truth. The Bible is freedom for those who follow it and posses it as their own. The Christians who follow it are blessed beyond anything they could’ve imagined.

We are the free and we need to start acting like it.

-Hannah

Only Believe

Two words simple in meaning. Apart from each other they could mean so many different things, but together they find their true meaning. In Mark 5, we see Jesus heal the demon-possessed beggar. We see Him travel to another town where people are already in crowds waiting to meet Jesus. A man, Jairus, ruler of a synagogue approaches Jesus and tells Him of his little girl’s sickness and how she’s near death. Jairus believes that Jesus’ touch can heal his little girl and he asks that Jesus would heal her. But there’s also another person in need of Jesus’ healing power.

A woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years. She had tried everything and sometimes we find ourselves doing the same thing. We’ll try everything on the market in order to get well when, in reality, Jesus can heal us. The woman knows this and reaches out to touch Jesus’ garment. She’s immediately healed and Jesus knows someone touched Him and was healed. He finds the woman and declares that she has been made well.

By that time, another man told Jairus that his daughter had passed away and it was no use to bring Jesus back to his house. What Jesus said next astounds me, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” He travels back to Jairus’ house and tells the daughter to get up and walk. She does.

Jairus must have been afraid that he lost his daughter. The loss of a child is tremendous. Jesus, sensing this, commanded him to only believe.

What are we hoping for that Jesus is simply telling us to simply believe? Belief is the basis of everything. Faith comes from believing and when you have faith you can move mountains. We can move mountains if we only believe.

Get ready to move mountains,

Hannah

Faith to Carry On

Fourteen years ago. It’s been fourteen whole years without my dad. It doesn’t seem possible and on most days it’s not hard. Some days though, it hits you like a brick wall. There’s many things my father didn’t get to see and there’s a lot of things I missed out on with not having a father. Normal life for me has always been growing up without a dad.

My dad, even though I don’t remember much, was a tremendous man. He had the faith to move mountains and he did. He believed for the impossible to become possible and it did. There’s not a single doubt in my mind that he was a man of God. He was peaceful, gentle, and shared the truth with everyone he met. People loved him for that.

Even though he’s not physically here with me, I see him everywhere. He’s in my brother in every sport and challenge he takes on. I see him in my sister with her determined spirit. I see him in my mom in how she’s raised us to be God-fearing people. I see him in myself when I crack a joke or dance crazily around the living room. I see him everywhere and I know it’s God’s way of letting him still be a part of our lives if even just in spirit.

I found a notebook of his the other day and I started reading it. The notebook was filled with his church notes from almost fifteen years ago. Every word he wrote was his conviction. He lived his life in faith that God always has a better plan than we could ever imagine. Through faith we can carry on. It’s hasn’t always been an easy road growing up without a father, but God has equipped me by guiding me in the right direction and always letting me know that I’m never alone and He’s always with me.

I know one day I’ll see my dad again when I walk through the pearly gates. I can’t wait to see him smile and tell him how proud he is of me. But right now, I have to carry on with the faith he left in me.

Hannah

2014 Update and Progress

Every new year you see and hear other people’s resolutions. Lose weight. Hit the gym more often. Spend more time with loved ones. The list gets longer every year but for the most part, we head into the second week of January and those resolutions are long forgotten. I’m no different. I’ve made resolutions in the past and thought- “I’ve got 365 to do this. It’ll be easy.” Only to find myself forgetting about it. I even found my list from last year. Granted, it wasn’t really a resolutions list. It was more of a yearly to-do list. Visit Guatemala, work AmeriCorps again, finish Avant-Garde (I’ll touch on this later). Etc. I accomplished most of the goals some of them weren’t very realistic, but I set my goals high.

Starting in 2014, I decided to change it up a bit. Instead of making a list that I knew wasn’t going to get accomplished, I realized I needed to set two types of goals. One short-term goal, those for monthly achievements like getting school done on time and actually learning something too. Then long-term goals, things I knew needed planning and prayer, like moving to Lynchburg in the fall for school. Major things that I knew I needed guidance and prayer in. When I took a step back I realized how much more attainable the set goals were for me.

My list from 2013 was half-fulfilled. I traveled to Guatemala and had the AmeriCorps job again. I didn’t finish Avant-Garde and didn’t find a literary agent. All things in good timing though. Since my post on procrastination, I really hunkered down to get as close as I could to finishing Avant-Garde. Within two weeks, I wrote around 15-20 thousand words. Which is a major accomplishment for me. It’s not finished but now that school has started my priorities have changed. I need to keep my grades up and writing has moved only to weekends now.

It’s weird not sitting down to the computer opening up the Word document and writing for hours. Instead, I’m listening to videos on Old Testament Survey and Theology. While I’d much rather be doing the first option, I can’t help but notice how my faith has grown stronger just from the first three days of online class. There’s so much potential out there for me to learn more about God and I’m eager to see what He will do.

I’m not sure how often I’ll be updating this. It all depends on the workload and spare time. I hope to update this at least twice a month though.

~Hannah

Like a Pillar

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Growing up, my mom would always quote a scripture when I would shop for clothes or simply walk around the house. The scripture was Psalms 144:12-

That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth;
That our daughters may be as pillars,
Sculptured in palace style;

I never really understood that scripture until a few years ago. How was I supposed to be like a pillar? What did that even mean? When I was dedicated as an infant that was one of the scriptures used. My mom explained what it meant to be a pillar fashioned for a palace. In biblical times, pillars were intricate in detail. They weren’t just columns of stone. Art and detail were etched into the stone. They were beautiful and they stood tall holding buildings up. You can see how much time and effort the artisan put into designing them.

So how does that apply to me? We are to dress as if Jesus was walking among us in flesh and bone. Modesty is a huge issue in today’s world. Many people don’t understand it and it seems like such a complicated issue. Everywhere you look, there’s girls in shorts that have little material to them. I was raised to cherish my body and not to flaunt it. Modesty is about saving yourself. Why would I want to reveal the intricate parts of me? Beauty should come from the inside. A beautiful smile is worth more than showing as much flesh as you can. I would rather have someone get to know me by my personality rather than the clothes I wear.

That doesn’t mean I walk around in sweats and baggy hoodies everyday. It’s about realizing you’re meant for more than revealing skin. We are to live for the glory of God not man.

I can understand modesty being a hard concept especially because I walk on the taller side of life. At 5’11″, a skirt that’s knee length on the majority of the woman population is automatically three inches higher on me. It’s just a guaranteed.

In today’s world and society women are expected to act, dress, and behave in a certain way. For the most part, it’s not in the woman’s best interest. The world tells us to “flaunt” what we have. The Bible tells us to treasure and protect it.

I’m not a huge fan of Beyoncé but from her new album there’s a song called Pretty Hurts During the hook in the song there’s a few lines that ring completely true in today’s generation and society.

Pretty hurts, we shine the light on whatever’s worse
Perfection is a disease of a nation, pretty hurts, pretty hurts
Pretty hurts, we shine the light on whatever’s worse
You’re tryna fix something but you can’t fix what you can’t see
It’s the soul that needs the surgery

Everyone has a unique gift. Everyone looks different and is beautiful in their own way. I know that sounds cheesy but it’s true. Society paints such a horrible picture on people’s flaws. When in reality they aren’t even flaws. Not everyone needs to be stick skinny not everyone needs to be bleached blonde.

We need to learn to accept who God has created us to be and stop trying to impress the world.

Procrastination: A Writer’s Greatest Fear

I don’t know about any of you but I’m a serious procrastinator. I also get distracted easily which is not a good combination with procrastination. The following clip sums up my daily struggle pretty well.

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I start one project and get an idea for another. Soon, I find myself abandoning the project, whether it be a novel in the works, or something as simple as cleaning my room, and moving on to something else. I can’t tell you how many times it took me to figure out that what I was doing was wrong and I’d never accomplish anything if I didn’t stop the habit.

As far as my writing goes, I’d find myself halfway through a WIP (work in progress) and get a “better” idea for a completely other book and abandon the WIP that was going well. My first finished book took me three years to write and even though it was a complicated story line, it lacked a lot and took a long time to complete it by the simple fact that I would write whenever I “felt” like it. Four years down the road, I realize my weakness and have confronted it head on. Sometimes, I’ll admit more than I’d like, I find myself entertaining old habits. But where would I be in life, if I never completed anything? I wouldn’t be finishing up community college and transferring to a four-year university and I wouldn’t have completed two books and close to finishing a third. I’d still be typing out my first book and probably hating every word I typed.

This doesn’t just go for writing. Imagine procrastinating in the Kingdom. “Oh, I’ll read my devotional later. I’m busy watching TV, or cooking dinner.” Or- “I’m too busy to go to church. I’ll go on Sunday.” “I’ll just sum up my prayers because I’ve got to get up early for school.”

Often we may find ourselves guilty of making up excuses as to why we aren’t filling ourselves up with Christ. Instead, we fill our minds with reality TV, magazines, the news, or the newest album that was released last night. Before we know it another day has ended and we haven’t read our devotional or gone to church. I’ve been guilty of that and I know it’s something I have to work on.

Why do we give God five minutes and ask for His undivided attention? He’s worth more than five or ten minutes. I owe him my life and everything I’ll ever achieve is through Him. So why do we give so little to Him and ask for so much in return? Why do we procrastinate diving head first into God’s word when that’s the very thing that gives us life?

We can’t afford to be lazy with our Christian walk because the moment we slip up the devil is right there condemning us. How we’re no good, how we’ll never amount to anything, or how we’re a constant disappoint. For the most part, we feed those fears when we should be stomping that flame out.

James 4:7 says it best:

 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”

7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

When we resist the temptation to skip church, or to skip a devotional day, the devil realizes he can’t win. When we continually read His word our guard against the devil is strengthened. It’ll become harder and harder for the devil to make you feel worthless.

The past couple of months procrastination has looked me straight in the face and taunted me. But by reading the Bible every day and girding myself with His Truth I find myself encouraged to take on every challenge that comes my way.

~Hannah

Day 2- King of Heaven

The Messiah would be born of a virgin. That statement alone gives me goosebumps. Why? Because never in the existence of the human race has that happened nor will it ever again. This was God’s ever-present Holy Spirit revealing His Son to us. Mary, only around 12 or 13 at the time of Gabriel’s visit to her, must have been terrified. She knew the consequences if people found out. However, God’s hand was over her, protecting her and Joseph. She knew God was with her and God has chosen her specifically.

Isaiah 7:14-

14-Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

Immanuel means God with us. God was with the Jews physically and He is with us today. He won’t ever leave us and He’s always protecting and watching over us. He defends us, delivers us, delights in us.

Matthew 1: 22-23 NKJV-

22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Christmas Series Day 1

Last week, I was thinking of doing a special blog post about Christmas but I knew a lot of bloggers always do something special for Christmas. Finals week is almost over and I really wanted to get a blog post out before my last final on Wednesday. I was wanting to do a blogging series, which is the first for me as a blogger, and I knew I wanted it to be a Christmas Series. So what better way than to write about the prophecies that foretold of the coming Messiah.

There was a 400 year gap between the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, and the beginning of the New Testament starting with Matthew. While researching this topic and making sure everything  lined up it struck me that everything was ordained by God. I knew this fact from the beginning but seeing everything told in the OT coming to pass in the NT completely amazed me. There was no doubt that the OT was written before the NT.

During The Christmas Blogging Series, I hope to talk about 44 prophecies that were written in the OT and revealed in the NT.  I’ll begin this series with this prophecy. He shall be born in Bethlehem. The Bible states in Micah 5:2(NASB)-

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”

Bethlehem, in Biblical times, was a small village about five miles south of Jerusalem. Micah clearly states that this is where the Messiah would be born. Jesus was, is, and is to come. The ruler, meaning Jesus, ruled Israel as the King. Not in physical form, which many Jews had imagined, but as the Conqueror of sins and death.

In Matthew 2:1-6-

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:

And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah;
For out of you shall come forth a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

You can see the prophecy being fulfilled in Matthew that was written approximately 750-686 B.C.  Previous to Jesus’ birth, King Herod, threatened by the talk of a coming King to rule over Jerusalem, ordered a decree that demanded every male child under the age of two be killed. This was God’s hand protecting Jesus when he allowed Mary and Joseph along with Jesus to escape to Israel.

God Bless,

Hannah