Happy Monday, friends! Today I am celebrating the launch of my friend Livy's new program, Fire Starter: Launching a Blog that Blazes.
As part of her blog tour for the program, we decided that it would be tons of fun to share about the program through an interview. But not just any interview. A video interview! We thought you would have the enjoyment of getting to watch Livy and I interact on screen, as well as hear Livy explain the program for herself, instead of just reading about it.
Our great plans for a video interview didn't quite work out due to our technical difficulties (or lack of tech savviness *cough cough*), but we did manage to convert it into an audio file for you! So you can still listen and join in our fun. :) And also excuse the voice echo towards the end of the recording. Totally a part of our tech savviness. *cough again*
So go ahead and kick back in your favorite chair and listen in on our conversation above...
Watch Livy's introductory video to Fire Starter here...
I've always heard mixed opinions from single gals on this day called Valentine's Day.
This day of the year where the prices of roses and chocolates are doubled simply because they can be, and all of the stores are selling out of the red and pink cards lining their aisles.
If you're single on Valentine's Day I'm sure you've got your share of mixed opinions as well. Maybe you love it and go all out celebrating the day and then enjoying the excuse to eat all the discount chocolates. Or maybe you dread the day and can't wait for it to just be over so you don't have to see anymore red and pink cupid arrows decorating the store windows and reminding you of your own relationship status. Or maybe throughout the day of Valentine's Day your opinions fell back and forth between both of these things, depending on where you found yourself at the moment.
Here's why I think this is:
We have a wrong idea about Valentine's Day.
As a culture we have developed opinions about Valentine's Day that aren't all that accurate. And more than that, we have defined love on that day as being centered around a romantic interest. Just look at the aisles in Walmart next Valentine's Day and you'll catch the hint that most of the cards and cute (yet sometimes ridiculous) sayings on the candy or decorations are geared towards that "significant other."
So why do I think this is the wrong idea about Valentine's Day?
Because if we're celebrating a day focused on love--this idea that we humans honestly fall so short of understanding sometimes--then... isn't that a day every single one of us can celebrate with great joy?
Because I don't know about you, but I have the greatest love of all to celebrate.
And actually, I do know about you... because you've been given the same great, overwhelming love.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
"In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:10)
"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)
This love... this overwhelming, unending, out-of-this-world love is the greatest thing we could possibly celebrate on a day focused on this four-letter word.
So why then did I celebrate Valentine's Day as a single lady? Because I believe that I had the best reason of all to celebrate.
And you've got it too.
Because, you friend, have been given a love like no other. Only Jesus can love you completely. Any boyfriend and significant other could easily forget Valentine's Day. He could easily forget to deliver roses to your doorstep or surprise you with all the chocolate a girl's heart could possibly desire. He could mess up all the words you hoped he would say and leave you feeling just a twinge (or okay a full force blow) of disappointment.
But the love of Jesus? It's so great and complete and perfect... you can celebrate it every day, not just on the 14th of February.
He will never forget you. He will never walk away from you. He will never stop loving you.
He is the One. The One your soul needs and your heart longs for. He is the One who loves you completely.
And that... that is a reason to celebrate on Valentine's Day, even as a single woman.
And now, friend, go buy yourself some discount chocolate. You deserve it.
*drum roll please*
Today I have a special announcement for you, friends! Announcing the...
3rd Annual Worth it All Blog Story Contest!
Last year I hosted my story contest, Beauty for Ashes, here on the blog and how much fun that was with all of you who entered. I'm so excited to announce our 3rd story contest, with the theme of "True Love" for 2019. It is February after all. So are you ready for more details?
"True Love" Story Prompt
At this time of year with Valentine's Day just around the corner, everyone starts thinking about this four-letter word...L.O.V.E.
But do we even understand what this word means? Do we understand that love means more than chocolates and roses on one day of the year?
Through story, your goal is to capture what real love looks like. What is true love? What is love in action? The greatest love the world has ever known came through Jesus. How do we give that to others?
Capture the meaning of true love in your short story!
Contest Begins: February 4, 2019
Deadline for entries: March 4, 2019
Winner announced: March 11, 2019
Rules: (Any stories not abiding by these rules will be automatically disqualified.)
~Maximum of 2,000 words. Fiction story can be anywhere between that word count, but cannot exceed that amount. Any stories that exceed 2,000 words will be disqualified.
~Type your story in a Microsoft Word document in Times New Roman font and font size, 12.
~Only include story title and story content in your first document.
~In a separate document include story title, your first and last name, and your age. You may also include, if you so desire, a short bio and picture for the blog to be used if you are chosen as a winner.
~Our judge will not know the authors of the stories when she is judging, which is why we need two separate documents. Do not include your name in the document with your story, but do not forget to include the story title!
~The above story prompt must be used in some way in your story. Use this to launch your story ideas and plot. Use your imagination to make your story unique and your characters come to life.
~Please submit all entries to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
~If you have any questions or concerns, contact me using my email address or the contact form here on my blog!
Grand prize: Winner will receive ONE FREE Cheerleader Session with myself and Livy Jarmusch! To learn more about Cheerleader Sessions, go here. Winner's story will also be featured right here on my blog and shared on my social media accounts.
Runner up: The runner up will have their story featured on my blog and also shared on my social media accounts.
Announcing Our Special Guest Judge for the Contest!
Our guest judge who will be judging the stories for the True Love Story Contest will be...MacKenzie Morganthal!
I'm so grateful Kenzie agreed to judge for this contest! Kenzie has been a writer for over ten years and has authored two novels in the Mission for Freedom series, Not Abandoned and Out of the Dark. She has lots of wisdom to share regarding writing and I know she will do a great job as a judge for this contest!
Thank you, Kenzie.
Are you ready to get writing? Comment and let me know if you plan to participate! <3
The first thing that drew me to picking up this book was the cover. I instantly loved how warm and fun the cover looked with the splashes of color and glitter.
And the inside was just as pleasing. Filled with activities and ideas and spaces to fill in, I found this book to be incredibly fun and encouraging.
Each holiday was broken down into steps, activities, and suggestions on how to make the holidays even better and more centered around Jesus and I LOVED that. After each holiday there is a "Make it your sacred holiday" section to fill out on your own and I love how this makes the chapter feel much more unique to you.
This book isn't just one of those books that you read and put back on the shelf. With a workbook style feel, this book is one that you can carry with you throughout the yearly holidays and even become a part of your traditions.
Overall, I really love this book and would recommend it to anyone who desires to make their holidays and life more focused on Jesus and less on chaos.
PS: And right now this book is on sale for only $5 at LifeWay. ;)
I was so excited when I got the opportunity to review this brand new CSB (in)courage Devotional Bible, because I'd been eyeing it since its release day.
(in)courage is an online community for women that has encouraged me in my walk with God throughout the years and I love the writing that the writers of the community share. I was so pleasantly surprised when they released a devotional Bible, because I knew this would be something that would encourage many women.
At the bottom of each page in the Bible there is a notetaking space where you can fill in your own thoughts, notes, or prayers. I love taking notes in my Bible to remember different things God spoke to me through the Scripture, so I especially love this feature.
Throughout the Bible there are over 300 devotions written by (in)courage authors, that all correspond with a topical reading plan. Some of the reading plans include: Beautiful Brokenness, Everyday Leadership, Intentional Gratitude, Imperfect Hospitality, and more.
There is also a "Women of Courage" index that I especially like because it points out different women throughout Scripture that displayed different biblical traits such as leadership, friendship, or grace.
I will throw out there however that I'm not a huge fan of the CSB Bible version. It's just not my favorite version out there. I would prefer using NKJV, NASB, or even NIV, over the CSB. But I still love this Bible for the devotional aspect of it, and sometimes use it just for the devotions and then read the Scripture in another translation. :)
I am SO excited to share with you about Diamonds 2019 and the most exciting part is that it starts TOMORROW!! *tries to keep my excited squealing to a minimum.*
When my friend Sara came to me and invited me to be a part of this conference for chronically ill Christians I was honored and humbled. What a blessing to be able to be a part of something that encourages others fighting the same battles I myself fight.
I am so excited to be speaking during two sessions for Diamonds 2019 and also doing a Q+A where you can pop in and ask me any questions you have! I will be speaking on the 26th and you can find the schedule at the website below.
This is for you if you've been fighting a battle with chronic illness and you need a reminder of why this battle is important. This is for you if you love someone fighting this battle.
So don't wait! The conference starts TOMORROW! Register today so you don't miss a moment. You can register for free and get more details and schedule below:
How many Scripture verses did you memorize in 2018?
It's a challenging question, even for myself. I had high goals for memorizing last year, but I didn't always hold up to them like I had planned.
So what about 2019? How much do you plan to memorize this year?
I set a goal on January 1st to memorize 2 books of the Bible throughout the year. But when life hits and my schedule goes crazy, it can be so much easier for me to push that off for "another day" or even "another year."
I've often been told "Memorizing must come naturally to you, but I just can't do all that memorizing. It's just not for me." Well, I'm going to be blunt with you and tell you that you're wrong. Memorizing was never easy for me, even though I loved doing it. But it took a lot of work on my part. As I did it more and more over the years it became easier, but even now I still struggle with it at times. In addition to that, I know that you can memorize and it is meant for you to do. If you can memorize your favorite song lyrics, you can memorize Scripture.
And here are four reasons why you should:
1. Memorizing Scripture deepens your relationship with Jesus.
When I began memorizing Scripture consistently, I started drawing closer to Jesus than I was before. When you memorize you actually have to slow down and think about each sentence as you commit it to memory. You learn more about Jesus, you know Him better, and you have His Word in your heart.
2. Memorizing Scripture lights your path.
The verses that I have memorized over the years are there to be my light in the darkness, my comfort in the suffering, my hope in the hurt, my direction in the confusion, and my truth in temptation. Having Scripture tucked in my heart and mind provides me with a tool that I can always pull out no matter what I'm facing.
3. Memorizing Scripture impacts the way you live.
Putting God's Word into your mind and heart will change your life. There's no doubt about that. No matter what decision or situation I'm facing, these verses come back to me and help me to decide how I want to live. This is where memorizing becomes alive in your life and helps you apply the words to everything you do.
4. Memorizing Scripture encourages others.
So many times I have had people share with me that my experience of memorizing Scripture challenged and encouraged them to memorize as well. I've also spent much of my time memorizing with friends or an accountability partner so we can memorize together and encourage each other. When you memorize, you can lift other brothers and sisters in Christ up and help them be encouraged to memorize as well.
Memorizing Scripture isn't always easy and it takes time and sacrifice, but it's so worth it.
What are you going to memorize in 2019?
I can still remember the time when I lost a friend I was very close to.
I still remember the way it hurt and the way I cried into my pillow. I still remember the sadness I felt in my heart when I thought of this friendship.
I can imagine that you understand those feelings too. I imagine that you also know what it’s like to “break up” with a close friend.
While we always hear about boyfriend and girlfriend break-ups, we don’t always hear as much about friendship break-ups.
If I was in a dating relationship and broke up with a boyfriend, people would give me lots of advice on how to deal with such a break-up, something that is indeed very painful.
But what about when I lose a friendship? What about when I “break up” with a best friend? We don’t get as much advice on that.
All relationships are difficult. There’s no hiding that fact. Relationships take work and perseverance. Whether they are a family relationship, dating relationship, or friendship, they all have the potential to hurt at times. As humans, we can never love each other perfectly all the time. Only God can do that for us. Of course, we try our best, but we still mess up at times.
So what about when things don’t get mended with a friend?
What about when a friendship ends and you have to let it go?
Remember that it is okay to grieve.
A best friend is someone who shares a little piece of your life. They have a special place in your heart and memories. Friendship is special and that friend is important. When we lose that, it can hurt a lot more than we expected.
Grief doesn’t just occur when someone dies. Grief is experienced in many ways and from many losses. Losing this friendship will cause grief in your heart as you work through the loss. Don’t forget that it’s okay to let yourself grieve this.
Don’t brush it off and pretend it doesn’t hurt. Cry if you need to, talk it out with God, go to someone you can trust and share your hurt with them. You won’t heal if you ignore your grief.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 NIV)
Don’t drag your friend’s name through the mud.
When we’re best friends with someone we have that person’s back always. We defend them and support them. So if that friendship ends, remember that it is not okay to drag your friend’s name through the mud and backstab them with mean words.
There is a time and place to go to someone you can trust and share how you feel. But this does not mean going to everyone you know and talking about all the bad things your friend did that ended your friendship.
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 NIV)
Seek forgiveness for any way you hurt your friend.
If you hurt your friend in any way or wounded the relationship in any way, apologize. It’s as simple as that. If your friend tells you that you hurt them in some way, then it is your responsibility to ask for that forgiveness.
It might not repair the relationship and it might not fix anything, but it’s what God wants us to do. I know it’s not easy, but it is worth it.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV)
Draw closer to your forever Best Friend.
Sometimes when a friend hurts or betrays us and we experience that loss, it is easy to withdraw and pull away from other friendships or relationships.
Something we must always remember is that Jesus will never hurt us, leave us, or betray us. He is a Friend that sticks closer than a brother and He is crazy about us. He wants to be our forever Best Friend.
Run to Him with your hurts and deepen your relationship with Him. Let Him be your all in all.
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15 NIV)
No break-up is easy, but because of God’s love we never have to walk through any of it alone.
Take heart. He will never walk away.
It's already the second week of January and somehow 2019 already seems to be flying right past us.
And I bet if it's the 14th of January, then there has already been at least one new year resolution that you have broken.
I know this because it happens to me every year. Every year I make a resolution to change such and such or to do this and that, and by the middle of January I've already messed it up at least once.
Hoping that I'm not the only one here (please, tell me I'm not), I compiled a short list of just a few things I think you should remember as we keep marching into this new year of 2019.
You're not a failure if you fail at your new year resolutions.
I remember one year when I was about eleven or twelve, I made the resolution to not fight with my sister in the new year. (Noble, I know.) But on January 1st that year, her and I had a fight about something. I couldn't tell you what the fight was about, but I remember feeling like a failure because only a couple hours into my new year and I'd already failed at my goals.
When we make good goals and changes, and then we fail at completing them like we hope to, it can feel frustrating. And sometimes we can put way too much of the pressure on ourselves.
You are not a failure because you failed at completing one or two or all of your new years goals. Maybe you're even doing great at your goals right now. But I guarantee you by the end of 2019, you will have goals that you messed up, and that's okay.
Keep growing and learning and serving Jesus. That's what matters.
Every day is a chance to start again.
Just because you made mistakes today doesn't mean that tomorrow is ruined. God's mercies are new every morning. Every day He gives us a brand new day to start again.
And maybe today you'll take two steps forward and tomorrow you'll take five steps backwards, but the next day you might take another six steps forward. Don't stop reaching for those steps forwards.
Every day is a new beginning. Embrace it.
Remember to embrace the moments, not just the achievements this year.
This is a hard one for me, because if I'm honest my personality just tends to measure the success of a year by how much I accomplished or achieved. If I'm not careful, I can even fall into the trap of evaluating the success or value of my life by how much I do and accomplish.
This is hard and I'm going to be perfectly honest with you. Embracing just your achievements and constantly pushing for them will ultimately wear you out and exhaust you. We weren't meant to always be doing.
That's one of the reasons I chose the word "breathe" as my word of the year for 2019. Because I wanted to remember that it's okay to breathe and embrace my moments and not just my achievements and to remind myself that being with Jesus is just as important as doing for Him.
Embrace every moment.
What are some things that you want to remember in 2019? How is your 2019 going so far?
And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness--secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the One who calls you by name.
- Isaiah 45:3-
2018 didn’t quite turn out how I thought it would.
Perhaps you can relate to that just a little, or perhaps you’re even nodding your head emphatically while saying, “Amen, sister!”
Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned at all this year, it’s that life doesn’t always turn out how you or I think it should. The plans we make don’t always happen in the way we would like or the dreams we so eagerly build in our hearts don’t always happen in the timing we had hoped for...maybe even at all.
But God also taught me in 2018 that it is okay when things turn out differently and that different...different doesn’t always mean less beautiful.
When the clock turned midnight a year ago and launched me into 2018, I wrote out this verse in Isaiah chapter 45, the one I’ve written above. I wrote it into my journal and told God that I wanted this verse to be my anthem for 2018.
Because let’s be honest...
Hi friends! Today I am very excited to invite you into my virtual living room to listen in on a special conversation between me and author Grace Mally.
Grace has a beautiful heart for ministry and serving the Lord. I have been so encouraged and learned so much from her writing and example, and especially the conversation we share here.
So go ahead and sip on your favorite coffee drink and take a listen in...
Bella: Thank you so much for joining me here today, Grace! It’s an honor to feature you. Can you start off by sharing just a little bit about yourself and your writing background?
Sure! As the youngest in my family, I grew up being included in whatever my family was currently doing. I’m grateful that I have had a godly family who invested much time into ministry projects. My involvement in these activities enabled me to grow much in the Lord, and I received a “taste of ministry” at a young age.
I was saved when I was six years old. When I was seven, my sister began a girls’ discipleship group called Bright Lights. When I heard Sarah teach about dedicating your life to the Lord I recognized that this was something I wanted to do. I’m so grateful for the discipleship I received from my older sister.
When I was twelve, my sister shared with me a big idea she had. She suggested that she and I, together with our brother, Stephen, write a book about brothers and sisters getting along. I agreed that it would be a good idea to do, recognizing that this issue was a huge need in families, but I figured it would be a lot of work to write a book—and it was! But in the end, Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends enabled us to minister to many families across the nation, and it was a springboard into a new season of speaking engagements at homeschool conferences and churches. A few years later, my sister wrote another book, Before You Meet Prince Charming, which also opened new opportunities. These books and speaking engagements also expanded the Bright Lights ministry and many groups began starting throughout the nation. During my teenage years, much of my time was spent helping to run Bright Lights conferences for girls around the country, together with my family and a team of girls.
When I was about eighteen, I read a book on witnessing that impacted me greatly. I had been wanting to witness more, and this book added fuel to that fire. I began blogging about some witnessing conversations the Lord had given me, and I was surprised and encouraged by the enthusiastic reactions I received to these blog posts. I began to realize that many young people in my generation wanted to be sharing the gospel more, but they weren’t sure how—and they were encouraged by the practical tips and stories.
This led me to an idea. “Maybe I should write a book on witnessing.”
I shared the idea with my family and they liked it a lot. At first, I didn’t want to even begin this project, knowing how much work it is to write a book. However, as I saw the Lord providing stories and helping me begin the project, I became increasingly excited about it. This book project became a life-changing process for me. I saw the Lord provide in countless and miraculous ways. Will Our Generation Speak? A Call to Be Bold with the Gospel was finished in 2012, and since that time the Lord has continued to expand this ministry. We published an accompanying study guide, and hopefully a video series will be available in 2019. We recently ran our third witnessing training camp which takes place at the same time as the Iowa State Fair at a nearby camp. After training sessions in the morning, the whole group of us go over to the fair and put into practice what we have been learning. It has been thrilling to see the Lord work.
Bella: That’s wonderful. So as a Christian, how does your faith affect your life and your writing?
Grace: Becoming an author was never a dream of mine. Writing is simply the means by which the Lord has led our family to get some messages out. I do not know if I will continue writing books, or if He will direct me to use my time in other ways. I do have more topics in mind that I would like to write about, but I’m not sure if or when that will happen.
How does my faith affect what I write? My desire is to write material that will help believers grow in the Lord—so that really narrows my topics. Life is too short to put time into things outside of the Lord’s work. There are other nice things that I could write about, but to me they are not very satisfying.
Bella: I totally understand that as a fellow Christian writer. So, on that topic, if you were speaking to other young writers, what is the most important piece of advice that you would give to them?
Grace: I would tell them to make it their number one priority in life to develop an intimate walk with Jesus, because if you want to be a mouthpiece of His to encourage others, it’s impossible without having a truly close walk with Him.
This may mean sacrificing other activities in life to be seeking the Lord more fervently. It’s absolutely necessary to become very familiar with His Word. It should flow out of us as we write! It’s also important to incorporate the Word into our writing, while understanding it well, so as to use Scriptures in context. This means we must have a strong familiarity with the Word of God.
If you are walking closely with the Lord and know the Word well, then what you write will be impactful to other lives. It would be better write only a small booklet—and that’s it!—and have it be grounded in the Word, then to write lengthy novels but not spend sufficient time with the Lord.
Bella: I love it. So your book, Will Our Generation Speak?, is about boldly sharing your faith and the gospel with others. What would you say to someone who may be a little nervous when it comes to witnessing?
Grace: First of all, you’re not alone. Fear is one of the main hindrances to witnessing. We learn in the end of Ephesians six that even Paul asked for prayer that he would be bold. However, I have found that my fear has decreased greatly as I have become more equipped to share my faith. After study and preparation, I found I had a new reaction when I saw someone that I thought I should share the gospel with. Instead of panicking, I would think through an appropriate plan for how I would start the conversation, and choose which tool to use.
For example, sometimes I’d use an intriguing gospel tract. After handing it to them, I would then make a comment about it and see if a conversation would take off. Or sometimes I’d use a questionnaire to start a discussion. I’d simply approach a couple strolling in the park and say, “Hey, I’m working on a little project and taking a questionnaire. Do you have time to answer a couple questions?” This has opened countless good gospel discussions for me.
Having a few good questions in mind to help keep a conversation going is another remedy for fear. Our goal is not to give speeches, but simply to have conversations. Remember, if the unbeliever is not interested or receptive, we can simply thank them for their time and move on to someone else.
Prayer is also crucial. We should be praying for the Lord to open doors, like Paul did. “Praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains” (Colossians 4:3).
The Lord is able to reduce our anxious nerves. Fear is not from Him. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). God can even make our witnessing efforts into a worshipful experience. We are doing something that is a little scary and hard, but we’re doing it with Him and He’s helping us. This makes it become a very special thing. There is such joy we experience when we know we’ve obeyed the Lord, and we know He has used us. I have seen witnessing become one of the greatest joy-givers in my life.
Bella: Those are great thoughts, Grace! I think you already touched a little bit on my next question here when you talked about prayer, but what do you believe is the most important thing to remember when sharing our faith with others?
Grace: Yes, I think prayer is an extremely important element. If the Lord is not at work, our efforts are useless. In reality, He does all the work and we are simply privileged that He lets us be involved. It brings peace to remember that the Lord can accomplish His work through flawed vessels like us. If we feel that we have to give a perfect explanation of the gospel, we will feel very intimidated. But if we recognize that we should merely do our best to point people to Jesus by a few questions or cheerful discussion and then leave the results in God’s hand, we will be at rest. Who knows? Maybe all the unbeliever will remember from the discussion is one point we made. But God can use that powerfully.
Another reason that prayer is so critical is that it changes us. Jesus said, “You are my witnesses.” Not only should we witness, but we should realize that we ourselves are a witness. That’s our identity. Others are watching our lives. Perhaps what will impact them most is a comment about the comfort God gave us personally in a trial, or a humble comment about a lesson God is teaching us. Our lives are on display to an unbelieving world and we are His witnesses 24/7.
Bella: Amen to that. Now, talking about making brothers and sisters best friends, why do you think it is so important to invest in the lives of our siblings? And what are some practical ways we can do that?
Grace: Well, it’s important because it’s one way we can be faithful to the Lord where we are right now. And as we are faithful today, that will prepare us to be faithful five years from now, wherever we might be. But if we are not attentive to this “assignment” from God today (to be kind to our siblings), then how can we expect to be used by God in the future? Scripture says that he who is faithful in little is faithful in much.
It’s also important to recognize the great significance and fruit that can come from investing in the lives of our siblings. I think of Amelia Taylor (sister of Hudson Taylor). She prayed and prayed for her brother Hudson. She probably had no idea how God was going to answer those prayers in such a big way, but she was faithful to pray. She doesn’t get a lot of recognition now, but in Heaven we will probably learn about the prayer warriors behind the famous Christians that we know.
That’s one thing that we can all start doing today. Make it your goal to be praying every day for your siblings. Maybe pick out specific needs and write them in a journal and begin praying consistently for those things.
Then take advantage of opportunities every day at home to grow in character and Christ-likeness. It is very hard to be humble in front of your siblings. But it is a valuable opportunity—because when we can learn to show humility before our siblings it will carry over into our future marriages, churches, adult relationships, and ministries. So many problems would be solved in the Body of Christ if people were only willing to be humble with each other.
Bella: Switching topics just a little bit, but do you have any specific advice for young single ladies desiring to honor Christ with their single years?
Grace: This is a great topic, because our single years can be such an exciting time. I’m 30 years old now, and for the most part, I’ve loved my single years. I’ve been very blessed. Though they haven’t always been easy, I see them as a blessing that the Lord has given me.
I’ve often been told that in any season of life, whether a girl is twelve, or a young bride, or whether she’s a grandma, our need for love is only truly satisfied in Jesus. I think it is very important to understand this. Psalm 16 explains that “In His presence is fullness of joy.”
If we conclude, “I’ll finally be happy when I’m married,” that’s not the right mindset. That’s not what Scripture says. We can truly be filled with joy now by walking with Jesus. If you talk with godly married women, they’ll tell you that every season of life is going to have trials, and every season of life is going to have joys, but when we are walking with the Lord and pouring our lives out for others, that’s really where satisfaction is found. As Jesus Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
So the advice I give other single girls is to pursue Christ with all of your heart, diligently. Make your Bible reading time a special “date” with Him, pursuing an intimate friendship with Him and pouring out your heart to Him. One practical idea is to write letters to Him in a prayer journal. Plan to go to bed sooner and get up a little earlier if you need to. I’m a morning person, so I love to get up, light a candle, make coffee, turn on soft music and then get my Bible and journals out. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” This means that when we take a step closer to Him, He responds! He then draws near to us. Sometimes we sense it more than others. It doesn’t always mean we’ll feel differently, or Scripture will immediately pop out with tons of insights on every page. Sometimes it will seem dry. But we just keep reading, waiting for those moments we overflow with joy from what He shows us in the Word.
Sadly, some girls waste the blessing of the single years by being consumed with boys, boyfriends, dating, and lots of drama. The truth is that our single years are one time we can actually have undivided devotion to the Lord like 1 Corinthians 7 tells us. A girl that is obsessed with boys misses this blessing. (Of course I’m not saying that struggling with a crush means forfeiting the blessings of singleness. We all struggle with our thoughts and desires, and that’s part of learning to trust God to provide in His way and time.)
Bella: If you could give any piece of advice to your generation at all, what would it be?
Grace: I would say to really make it your priority to be spending time with the Lord. This may mean cutting things from your life, like a certain hobby, social media or entertainment, or even cutting back on school or work. It could even mean not engaging in as many ministry opportunities as you would like! If you recognize that you’re not spending enough time with the Lord, then you’re too busy. You need to cut down on something so that you can spend adequate time with Him.
Secondly, remember that the things that Jesus tells us to do are not exactly culturally normal. :) To really live a radical life for Jesus you may look differently, and it is worth it and it is okay. There’s more joy in being different with Jesus than trying to fit in. When you try to fit in, it brings stress. Proverbs says the fear of man brings a snare. If you want to be accepted by everyone, this will bring a snare into your life. But when you seek to fear the Lord—that’s the beginning of wisdom, and that’s going to bring great blessing. What others care about most is if you truly love them, not if you’re just like them.
Bella: Thank you for sharing that, I think that’s just really important for our generation to remember. Now to end with just a fun question, if you could invent any ice cream flavor in the world, what would you create?
Grace: Okay, I like this question. I would do organic, naturally-decaffeinated-double-espresso-dark-chocolate-chunk ice cream. I really love coffee, but especially organic swiss-water decaf. :) because I can easily get overly caffeinated. So there we go! A little bit of healthiness mixed with the sugar, haha.
Bella: Haha, I love it! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here today, Grace, and joining us. We are so grateful to see the ways God is using you, and also gain from your wisdom and insight. <3
Grace Mally, 29, is the author of Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends (2002) and Will Our Generation Speak? A Call to Be Bold with the Gospel (2012). She continues to work with the Bright Lights girls discipleship ministry with a focus specifically on evangelism.
Were you encouraged by the conversation with Grace? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
2018 was one crazy ride for me.
I didn't realize just how much happened this last year until I sat down to do a recap of the past 365 days. What an incredible year I had. Easy? Definitely not. 2018 was hard and in many ways painful, but it was still beautiful. Because all of God's plans are beautiful, no matter how hard they may be.
But in the rush of a crazy, full-to-the-brim year, I found myself needing days where I could just catch my breath.
And for the last month this six letter word has been impressed on my heart.
At the beginning of each year I sit down and choose one word that I want to focus on. My word for the year. A word that I want to remember and think about throughout the next 365 days.
For 2019, I have chosen this word...breathe...as my word of the year.
Because you see, friends, sometimes I can get so caught up in doing for Jesus, that I forget to be with Jesus. To simply be is a beautiful thing, something I often miss. I can find myself to be more like Martha in Luke 10, always finding something else to do for Jesus before making the time to step into time with Him and be. And yet Jesus reminds her that her sister Mary had chosen what truly mattered, just being with Him.
There is a time for both. There is a time to serve Him in lavish ways and sometimes it is just time to stop serving and experience His presence. To be with Him and be filled by Him so that you can then go out and serve Him best.
And that's what I want my 2019 to look like.
To inhale His presence and exhale His love. To take more moments to breathe and be and experience Him. To cherish every moment and to slow time by simply embracing my time. To know what it is to step into the moment and breathe.
Maybe you can relate. Won't you join me in taking time this year to be with Him more? To be more present in life? Whatever the cost may be and whatever it may look like. I'm ready.
I'm ready to breathe.
What about you? Do you have a word for 2019? I'd love to hear it in the comments! <3
365 days have passed and now here I stand...here we all stand...on the edge of a brand new year, waving farewell to you, 2018.
Many of the people I've talked to are happy to say goodbye to you. Many people are still broken from the ups and downs of a year that was just a little exhausting.
I've certainly had my share of those ups and downs and felt a little bit broken throughout the last 365 days. I wouldn't deny that.
But I'm not all that quick to brush you off and wave farewell and turn away. For before farewell I must first remember what your days have brought me. The lessons God taught me through your seasons, and the moments that brought me closer to Him.
You see, welcoming you 365 days ago was hard. I was in such a season of uncertainty and I had no clue what your days might bring. I was scared and even lonely as I experienced your first few months.
You were certainly everything but easy those first few months. You were painful and broken and all sorts of crazy.
Because you see, if there's one thing I've learned over the last 365 days with you, it's that God always enters our stories in a way that changes everything.
But God entered all of that darkness and hurt and He reminded me that there is no darkness He can't use.
And that sometimes... sometimes there are beautiful things from Him that He can only show you there in the dark.
Maybe that's the most important thing He showed me over your days. There is no darkness too harsh that He can't enter it and light it up with His love. And there is no brokenness that He can't mend with His comforting hand.
In all of the mountain highs and valley lows of your days, my God met me there. Because my God is faithful and strong and He provides all I need. He is my Shepherd...I lack nothing.
During the last 365 days I learned that life doesn't always go how you think it will. But God? He's got a plan that is going to surprise you beyond your wildest imagination. And when we can't understand what He's doing, we can trust that He's not leaving and that He's always, always there working.
What did I learn during your summer days when the sun shone bright and you could feel the heat like a blanket around you? I learned to take more time to slow down and soak my bare feet into the cool, freshly cut grass. I learned to breathe deep of the air and take the long way home from work so I could listen to more music with the windows down and my heart lifted to Him.
What did I learn during your cold winter days when the snow fell and the winter winds blew harsh? I learned that there is beauty even here and each snowflake is designed differently and if He pays close enough attention to the unique design of each snowflake, I know for sure He pays attention to every detail of my life.
Your days may have been harsh and they may have been hurtful many times, I'm sure there are so many who will agree. But God is still faithful. I believe it now as I did on January 1st, 2018. And I hope with all of my heart that the people reading this can believe it too.
Because there is no year--no matter how hard and no matter how painful--that can stop the love of God and the faithfulness of God. There is nothing, nothing, nothing in this world that can separate us from His love.
So as I look back on these lessons I've learned over your days, I raise my hand and I wave farewell. Not because I'm ready for you to be over and not because I want to forget your days. Because you certainly had some beautiful, beautiful moments that I wish I could relive over and over again.
No, I wave farewell to you because I am ready for what God is willing to do next. I am ready for the new things He has coming and I am ready for what He wants to do. I will take the lessons He has taught me over your days and I pray I never forget them.
Farwell, 2018. Thank you for the memories...even the hard ones. For they taught me that He is always good, even when nothing feels good around me.
And with my farewell to 2018, I look ahead to 2019 with a heart that is ready for what God will do.
I turn to you, my dear readers, and I hope you will do the same. Be ready to embrace every memory and lesson...but also wave farewell with an expectancy for what your God will do next.
I promise you it will be amazing in His perfectly different...yet incredibly beautiful way.
"Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
The lights danced across the room and my heart danced in my chest.
I was there.
I had made it to the 2018 National Bible Bee.
Every year that I had attended the national competition, I always made a point to stand in the auditorium or ballroom and close my eyes for a moment...to take just a moment to treasure it all in my heart.
As I closed my eyes for but a moment in that vast auditorium, I paid attention to the volume of excited voices rising up to the ceiling as friends reunited and contestants became acquainted. You could feel the anticipation and excitement thick in the air. A smile tugged at the corners of my lips as I opened my eyes and handed my phone over to a dear friend to take pictures. Pictures that could never fully grasp the emotion and beauty of that moment, but that certainly brought back the memories of that place and time.
With all of my heart I still couldn't believe that the 2018 National Bible Bee was beginning and I was in the midst of it. Attending as an alumni was so different than my years spent there as a contestant.
But it almost makes me laugh, for I thought that I was done writing my "What I learned from Bible Bee" posts after I aged out.
I'm thankful that I was wrong about that.
The morning of testing at the competition, I walked through the doors without any anxiety. A completely foreign feeling for me.
2018 was my first year back at the Bible Bee since becoming alumni, so it still felt just a little bit weird to not have some nerves. Not that I'm complaining about that. (Trust me, contestants; one of the benefits of being alumni is actually being able to eat breakfast on testing morning.)
I got to spend most of that morning and afternoon hanging out with other alumni and contestants who had finished testing. From laughing over stuffed bears, to getting Starbucks, and to dancing to The Greatest Showman songs out on the lawn, I was positively certain my heart couldn't handle anymore happiness.
You see, only Bible Bee-er's are going to understand this and only Bible Bee-er's are going to be able to nod their heads emphatically and smile along with me when I say...this wasn't just a competition, it was a family reunion.
A reunion with a group of people that had become my second family, my adopted family. A reunion with people I loved so much. And you see, it had been a very long three years since I had seen these people. Perhaps that played a part in some of the things God taught me this year.
Because you see, friends, the Bible Bee isn't just about a competition. It's about our God who loves us and the matchless Word of God. And because of that, we still have so much to learn...even after entering the ranks of alumni.
Here are just a few things I learned this year:
God's timing is worth the wait.
When I pulled open the doors of Oak Hills Church there in San Antonio, Texas, it was a moment I had waited three years for.
Waiting isn't easy. I'll be the first to tell you that. I'm not exactly the pinnacle of patience. Waiting is hard and painful and sometimes I would rather not experience it. Okay, a lot of times.
Sometimes waiting for God's timing can hurt. I felt that. I felt that more than I could tell you in the last three years.
But how beautiful it was when I stepped into those doors and I saw a face I hadn't seen in three years running towards me and I hugged one of my dear sisters in Christ with tears in my eyes.
God's timing is always worth the wait.
The Word of God and a relationship with Him is the greatest treasure.
I believed this as a contestant in the National Bible Bee and I was reminded of it that wonderful week in Texas as I watched the joy on the faces of countless young people who were reciting the Word of God with a rare passion you don't find every day.
You see, I know the work these incredible kids put into this. I know the hours upon hours of studying it took to get on that stage and in that competition at all. I know the way your brain would feel so full you didn't think you could possibly memorize your 1,000th verse...but you kept praying and memorizing.
If you are one of those contestants, I applaud you and I give you a standing ovation. What you completed in His strength is no small task.
But what I most applaud the 2018 National Bible Bee contestants for is the way they glorified Christ not only on the stage, but also in the way they handled the entire competition.
I knew many of the contestants and every single one I spoke to who did not advance further or who were eliminated during semi's, every single one told me that it was all still worth it.
They all knew that they had gained what mattered... the priceless, matchless Word of God.
I don't know about you, but I don't know many other competitions where each and every person can walk away having won the true prize.
What I was reminded of that week is the Word of God is a great treasure--a treasure worth sacrificing anything for. And I am grateful to the 2018 National contestants for helping bring that back to my memory. <3
Memorizing Scripture is vital.
It's been three weeks since I returned from Nationals. In three more weeks, I'll probably forget some of the names of the semi-finalists. In three years I'll probably struggle to remember the names of the finalists. And in thirty years I probably won't remember much about how the 2018 competition went at all.
But the verses those contestants had memorized? Those aren't going to fade in three weeks or three years or thirty years.
Thinking back on my time as a contestant, I can't remember much about the competition my first year in 2011. If I did some digging I'm sure I could find the names for you of the top fifteen or all the contestants who received medals that are probably now sitting on a shelf gathering dust like mine is.
But the verses I memorized?
There are still passages from 2011 that come back to my memory when I need them. There are still verses that give me peace, comfort, guidance, and strength when I recall them to my memory.
The trophies, the medals, the money, the lights, and even that wonderful week at Nationals will all fade. But the Word of God will not.
I think we can all agree--contestants and alumni--that this is the most beautiful thing we gain from the Bible Bee. <3
I am so blessed.
God has blessed me in so many ways and this incredible week in Texas reminded me of the blessing God gave me in knowing these people.
These friends...they're priceless. These memories...they're always going to be in my heart.
How blessed I am that God gave me people who are so difficult to say goodbye to.
To my Bible Bee family: I am blessed to know you and I was blessed to spend that week with you. You show me what true friendship is. That week we spent at "heaven rehearsal" reminds me how wonderful it will be to one day spend all eternity worshipping Jesus together.
I love you all dearly.
If we don't meet again this side of heaven, I'll meet you on that beautiful shore.
Now that the 2018 National Bible Bee is over, my heart is full of memories and thankfulness.
And to all the contestants and alumni.... Keep running.
Keep serving Jesus. Keep seeking to know Him. Keep memorizing His Word. Keep giving up everything for Him. Keep glorifying Him.
I know we can all confidently declare together... He is worth it all. <3
Where did the time go, friends?
I can hardly believe that in only a few short days we will be waving farewell to 2018 and preparing to welcome in a brand new year God is blessing us with.
2018 was quite the adventure for me. It held so many highs and lows, and praise the Lord He met me there on every mountaintop and in every valley low.
I'm working on an end of year post to share with you as I think back on God's goodness to me over the 365 days of 2018. But for now I thought we could have a little bit of fun as I share with you a look back on some of my favorites from the past year.
My Top 5 Books of 2018:
During 2018 I read many incredible, amazing books. And it would be impossible to share all of them with you, so instead I will just stick to sharing with you my top 5 favorite books I read in 2018...
1. A Higher Ransom by Aleigha Israel.
I really could've listed all of Aleigha's books here, but this is just the first book in her INCREDIBLE trilogy, A Light for Christ. Not only is Aleigha an outstanding author, but she is also an outstanding friend. <3
2. If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey.
This was one of the most well written, down-to-earth, brutally honest books I've ever read. I loved every bit of it.
3. A Letter for the One by Abby Rose Nichols.
Abby is amazing. In so many ways. And this book? Yep, it's amazing too. This is seriously a book that y'all need to read. Like yesterday.
4. The Return by Lacey Sturm.
This was Lacey's third book and now I've read all three. Her first two books I have read several times and cherished each one. This one was no different. Lacey has an incredible way with words.
5. The Shield Series by Beth Jane.
These two books in one hold so much truth and beauty in them. Each word grips your heart. Beth is an excellent fiction writer and friend. <3
Bonus! (Because we all know I can never stick to just five when it comes to books)
6. A Place to Belong by Anna Pustai.
Anna has written a beautiful and sweet collection of short stories in this book that will touch your heart, I guarantee it. So blessed by the words this wonderful friend writes.
What were your top books of 2018?
My Top 5 Music Albums of 2018:
Music has always been a big part of my life, and there was plenty of good music that released in 2018 or that I discovered this year. Here is just a sample...
Jen Ledger has always been my favorite drummer from the first time I heard her play for Skillet. Her solo record EP released this year and it was outstanding in every possible way.
The Greatest Showman soundtrack
If you spend the duration of a day with me you're bound to hear this record in some way. Whether it's me singing every lyric as often as possible (with dancing, don't forget) or my ringtones that all declare the music, this record is one of my top favorites of all time.
Burn the Ships
For King & Country is one of those music groups that blows you away every time they release a record. Burn the Ships was no exception.
We played this CD at my work every day for awhile and I fell in love with every song. Each word is sung beautifully and definitely is worth a listen.
Jordan Feliz creates music that points your eyes to Jesus and gets your feet dancing. Future was one of my favorite records to dance to this year.
What were your top music albums of 2018?
My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2018:
In 2018 I blogged a lot. You all have been amazing readers this past year as I have put out content two or three times a week. I have been so grateful for your support, not just here on my personal blog, but all over the internet as I have guest posted several places this past year. I have had the privilege of being featured on dozens of blogs across the internet in 2018. And here are my top 5 favorite posts I did...
1. Always Look for the Stars
Posted on (in)courage
2. 5 Things I'd Tell My 16-year-old Self
Posted on The Rebelution
3. How Beauty & The Beast Prepared Me for Life in the Real World
Posted on Hollywood Lassie
4. When Life Doesn't Go as You Planned
Posted right here on Worth it All
5. Dear Younger Me (and you too)
Posted right here on Worth it All
Do you have a favorite post I wrote this year?
My Top 5 Blogs of 2018:
I am blessed to read the blogs of so many incredible, talented people. It would be impossible to list all of them here. But here are just five (oh, guys, this was so hard to pick just five) that I have been especially blessed by in 2018...
Christ's Light Magazine Blog
Livy Lynn Blog
Bonus! (Yep, you knew I wasn't going to keep it to five.)
This Redeemed Girl
Lane of Roses
What were your favorite blogs in 2018?
My Top 5 Scripture Verses of 2018:
God's Word is the strength of my life. His Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Here is a slideshow of just some of the amazing words from Scripture that changed my life in 2018...
What were your favorite verses of 2018?
My Top Memories of 2018:
Wow. 2018. What a year.
It would be impossible to share photos of all my favorite moments from this past year and some of them are too personal to post here. But what a year God gave me. So here is just a tiny glimpse into some pretty special moments of 2018...
What were some of your favorite moments of 2018?
I hope your 2018 was incredible, friends. May we never forget that no matter what our 2018 may have held, our God is bigger than all of it. And He is going before, beside, and behind us into 2019.
May you have a blessed New Year <3
Isabella Morganthal (21) is a homeschool high school graduate who loves Jesus with all of her heart. She is a drummer, writer, creative arts director, and modern-day abolitionist.