Happy Thursday, friends! Although this post is going to be much different than the typical style of my articles, I thought it would be a fun way to brighten your day. In this post I am going to list advice or things I have learned in my life for each letter of the alphabet. Sound like fun? Let's go...
A: Always put God first. He died for us, so let's live for Him and put Him first in everything.
B: Believe that God always knows what He is doing. It may not always be easy, but He really does know best.
C: Create something beautiful every day. Create something that your future self will thank you for.
D: Determine to think about the positive. There is enough negative in the world. Think about the good.
E: Everything has a season and not everything lasts forever. And while sometimes it's hard to let go, God really does have something greater coming for you.
F: Forgiveness is not easy, but it sets you free. Holding onto bitterness is locking yourself in a prison for something someone else did.
G: Give generously. Give of your time, money, or talents for the work of Jesus. Give more of yourself to God's people every day.
H: Humility is true strength. Always stay humble.
I: Increase daily in your knowledge of Christ. But not just a head knowledge. Make it a heart knowledge first.
J: Joy is a gift. A gift that you don't have to wait to experience until everything in life is going perfect (which will never happen, by the way). It's a gift to experience even in the midst of pain. The joy of the Lord is your strength.
K: Keep being brave. Courage does not mean the absence of fear. It simply means you keep being brave in spite of the fear.
L: Love God and love people. That's really what it all comes down to. We can make it so complicated. But if you love God first and you love His people second, the rest falls into place.
M: Money isn't everything, so don't let it come first in your life.
N: Never give up. The path ahead may be hard, but God has a purpose. Keep going, dear heart.
O: Own your faith. Your parent's faith or your friend's faith does not make you a Christian. Own your faith and live like it's a priority.
P: Put others before yourself. Practice the art of selflessness and kindness.
Q: Quality is better than quantity. Something my mom has always taught me. That whatever you do in life, it is better to do it right than just rush through it to get it done.
R: Read. Books open up an incredible world of possibilities for you. Don't take this privilege of reading for granted. Embrace it and go on every adventure you could possibly imagine.
S: Sacrifice whatever you must to serve your King. If you have to sacrifice your dreams, your goals, or your comfort for His glory, then do it. It's worth it. Trust me.
T: Tell everyone you come in contact with about the love of your Savior. You can't always tell with words, but you absolutely can always tell with your attitude and heart.
U: Ugly is not a word used in Genesis to describe anything that God created, so never use it about yourself or anyone else.
V: Victory is truly in Jesus. To conquer every sin, heal every illness, and move past every hurt. Victory is in His Name.
W: Worship with your life. Worship is not simply a special kind of song that you sing on Sunday morning. It is a lifestyle. Live in a daily act of worship to your Creator.
X: eXamine your heart and life. Is there anything keeping you from a closer walk with Christ? If yes, get rid of it.
Y: Youth is a gift. Do not waste it. You are only young for a short time. Use those years wisely, for the glory and good of Christ.
Z: be Zealous for the Gospel. Everyone you pass or come in contact with is either going to spend eternity in heaven or hell. Do your part to point them to heaven.
Do you have any ABC's of advice? Maybe you don't have a full alphabet list, but perhaps a few letters? Share in the comments!
Growing up, kids are so easily influenced by the people they're around.
Do you remember being a little kid and looking up to the "big kids" or the teenagers who we thought had it all together? When you're young you want someone that you can admire and look up to, someone who is older and has gone before you. As a kid I certainly had my share of older girls at my church that I would look up to. I'm sure you did too. And of course I had close people in my life that I looked up to as well, like my mom, grandma, sister, and friends.
I still remember when I was fourteen, I was inspired by the music and story of Jen Ledger. I can still remember the day I read her story for the first time, about how she traveled all the way from England to pursue God's calling on her life. Her story was soaked in courage and faith. And then I remember the first time I watched her play the drums and sing. On that day I determined that I wanted to do that too. I wanted to create beautiful music that inspired people the way that Jen did. But more than that I wanted to have a fearless faith like she had that followed Jesus even if it was scary.
So I did.
I learned to play the drums and I joined a worship band that played music for our church. But her story also inspired me to be courageous enough to pursue the dream God placed on my heart to publish my books and start my blog.
She is still an inspiration and role model to me in her music and faith and I'll always be grateful for the impact that she had on my life, even though she will probably never know that.
But when I think about the way that Jen and countless others have inspired me--often without them even knowing it--I ponder a simple question. Who is looking up to me?
We all seem to have someone we are looking up to and admiring. But do we sometimes forget that we have younger eyes looking up to us as well?
I think one of the greatest reasons that I admire Jen is because she lets her light reflect back to Jesus. And this causes a challenge for me.
When younger eyes are looking up at me, are they seeing more of me or more of Jesus?
In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul says: "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." (NIV)
Is my example to others an example of Christ or an example of my own selfish nature?
So many times I can get caught up in my own selfish plans.
How then can I provide an example of Christ to the young ones looking up to me? And how can you and I become someone that points to Jesus with everything we do and say?
Stay grounded in Jesus.
Sometimes the world pushes and pulls at us, distracting us from what really matters. When we get caught up in the troubles and distractions surrounding us, we can subconsciously grow distant from our relationship with Christ. In order to be providing an example worthy of being followed, we must make it a priority to stay grounded in the Word of God and our relationship with Jesus. Make Him first.
Admit when you're wrong.
I think a lot of times when someone is looking up to us, we can get it wrong by assuming that we have to cover up our mistakes so that no one knows. But when we pretend to have it all together or that we don't make mistakes, we're lying. Because the truth is that no one has it all together and every single one of us makes mistakes daily. Just because you are in a position to influence or encourage someone, does not mean that you have to be perfect. You just have to have the humility and courage to admit when you're wrong and seek ways to make it right.
Invest in younger people.
Think about a close relative or friend who invested in you growing up. This person may have spent time with you or encouraged you to get into the Word of God or made a weekly/monthly effort to invest in your life. When I was fifteen I had a friend who was several years older than me. Although we did not live near each other, she made a serious effort to call me a couple times a month and talk about things we were learning in the Bible. During my time in the Bible Bee, she even would quiz me on my verses. There are so many young people you could invest in, even if they don't live nearby. But do you know some that I'm thinking of right now that you could invest in today? Yep. Your siblings.
Friend, you don't have to be perfect to influence someone, because none of us are. You just have to be willing to stand out from the world, invest in those lives around you, and reflect Christ right where you are.
Who is looking up to you today?
"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever." (Psalm 118:29)
Happy Thanksgiving, friends! God is so good to us and He gives us so many reasons to be thankful to Him. This can be a crazy world we live in and sometimes amid the turkey and stuffing and the early Black Friday deals, we can lose sight of the true meaning of Thanksgiving. We can sometimes lose sight of what really matters. Like being thankful for what we have and stopping to let the people you're thankful for know that you love them.
Friends, won't you join me today in giving thanks to God for all the many good, wonderful gifts He has given us? From the small things like baked corn (yes please, my favorite), to the big things like His never ending, never wavering love for us.
To celebrate the true meaning of today, here are just a few of the many things I'm thanking God for today.
1) The love of my Savior. His love is so great and so wide that nothing can separate me from it. Not pain, not sadness, not sickness, nothing. He loves me. Thank You, Jesus.
2) My beautiful family. The people who know me best and love me anyway. The people who I love with all my heart. Thank You, Jesus.
3) The crazy amazing people I call friends. Those who didn't have to stick around, but did anyway. Thank You, Jesus.
4) A safe place to sleep at night. My house and my room all decorated in teal. Thank You, Jesus.
5) Good health. For the good days when I don't have a headache and for the days when I know He's going to heal me. Thank You, Jesus.
6) For Thanksgiving food. Like baked corn. And pumpkin pie. Or my Mama's macaroni and cheese and green bean casserole. The food You've given us. Thank You, Jesus.
7) Books that smell like adventures. The books lining my bookshelf that have filled my heart and life. Thank You, Jesus.
8) My dreams come true. My own books with "Morganthal" engraved on the spine, my blog, my magazine ministry. Thank You, Jesus.
9) Memories. Sometimes life takes us to new seasons and it can be hard to let go. I'm thankful for the memories that make me smile. Thank You, Jesus.
10) Sunlight streaming bright and warm through the front screen door. Even though the air is cold, the sun is warm and it's my favorite. Thank You, Jesus.
11) You reading. For the ones who read what I write and support the journey He is leading me on. Thank You, Jesus.
What are you thankful to Jesus for today? Share in the comments! Have a wonderful day counting the innumerable blessings from a God who is crazy about us. <3
Well, happy Monday again, friends! Get out your coffee (or tea if you do things more my style), because this morning I have another delightful post for you as a part of Livy Jarmusch's Regal Reads Blog Tour! All these blog tours this past month, it's been awesome, right?! So many great new books. I hope you're having just as much fun as I am celebrating them all.
This time we're celebrating Livy Jarmusch's mini series, Regal Hearts. If you've read Regal Hearts, you know that Livy writes them almost like you're watching a TV series. You get little "episodes" each week digitally, or you can purchase the whole first season in paperback. If you haven't read Regal Hearts before and you know nothing about it, well don't worry. I've got you covered. Here is my Regal Hearts book review...
Season 1 of Regal Hearts was thrilling, adventurous, humorous, engaging, and a pull-at-your-heartstrings kind of movie--uh, I mean--book. ;) Because it not only reads very much like a movie (Livy is excellent with her descriptions) and releases in episodes like a movie, it's super easy to get caught up in the series and envision every scene.
I am a huge fan of reading in paperback, so I waited to finish the whole first series until I had the season in paperback. I LOVE the cover Livy created for the book, it looks so unique and charming. The book is a pretty big size too, which, if you're a book nerd like me, you'll love this.
Let's see how much I can tell without spoiling any parts of the story...
Regal Hearts follows the story of different sisters who were separated at birth, and later find out that they have royal blood running through their veins. They are each a princess! Envision the scene from Princess Diaries when Mia exclaims, "Me? A Princess? Shut up!" (Livy, you will appreciate this sentence)
You easily fall in love with each character throughout the book/series. Livy has an excellent way of connecting you to her characters and bringing them to life. I love each of them.
As you may also be aware, Livy released her new novel, The Coronation, at the beginning of this summer. I am in LOVE with every bit of The Coronation and often wish I lived in Tarsurella. With that being said (does this count as a spoiler?), at the end of Regal Hearts Season One, there is a reference to Tarsurella which makes this heart giddy with joy.
Regal Hearts is truly an uplifting, fun, creative, energetic, inspiring read for any girl, young or old. I totally recommend it.
Livy Jarmusch is a twenty-something author, singer, and songwriter. She enjoys crafting YA Christian fiction that is pure, lovely, inspirational, and of course, entertaining! When she's not writing, you can usually find her playing guitar, blogging, drinking peppermint tea, connecting with new friends, planning her next trip to Disney, or pinning images of Europe and Golden Retriever Puppies.
Connect with her here:
When I look around at the people whose lives I pass every day, I notice that many of them are acting.
And if I had to guess, I'd have to say that you have also become pretty good at acting.
I think we all have. We've all become pretty great at "having it all together" on the outside, when inside we're anything but OK.
After all, everyone around us is smiling so we better smile too, right? Everyone around us lives incredible lives, or so Instagram shows us, right? The others aren't standing up and admitting they're not OK, so why should we?
So I'll go first.
Do you mind if I whisper just a little bit? You see, this week has been just a little bit more difficult than I first thought it would be. This week resembles the loss of my dream, the pain of loneliness, and the hurt of what couldn't be for me.
And I'm not OK right now.
The truth is that my heart hurts and I'd really love to ask God why. Why the prayers answered differently than how I prayed, Lord?
Good, because the thing is there comes a time in all of our lives where we're not OK for whatever reason.
We live in a sinful, fallen world and bad things happen. People sin, they get broken hearts, there is pain.
And there comes a time when we fall apart a little bit.
I've often wondered if I had to hide my pain and always cover it up with a smile and, "Everything has a purpose."
Yes, everything does happen for a purpose. God works everything together for my good and His ultimate glory. God is good to me. But when I use those things as a cover up for my pain and I bury my pain under those things, in a way I'm actually dishonoring God.
In the middle of my deepest hurt, when I can admit to myself and others that I am not OK, but even so God is faithful, I have the opportunity to bring Him the greatest glory.
God is faithful in every moment. Even when I want to ask Him why, I know that He is good and His answer is good. But if I bury my pain, force a smile, and tell everyone I'm doing good, I'm not honoring Him in the way that I could.
It's okay to drop the smile and admit that you're not doing good. It's okay to feel the pain. It's okay to cry.
Yet even so, cling to Him through it.
Even when it hurts praise Him.
And wait for Him to show up. Because He always does, friend. He's going to show up, your morning is going to come, and someday it'll all be OK.
But for now, it's okay to not be OK.
He's holding you even then.
Dear beautifully brave you,
First of all, anxiety is real.
I understand that because the honest truth is that I deal with anxiety too. I never would've expected myself to, nor would I have admitted it to myself at first. I was fine, I would tell myself, anxiety does not control me.
But it does.
I write this now not because I have it all figured out and under control, but because I know I don't have to "have it all together" to speak truth to you. To speak truth to myself.
Yes, anxiety is so real. The way it gets difficult to breathe is real. The way your heart starts racing and your palms feel sweaty is real. The way you feel numb inside is real. The way you can look fine on the outside, but inside you're fighting an unseen battle is real.
The way anxiety steals your peace, the way it steals your present moment, the way it steals your joy, it's all real.
The reason I'm telling you it's real is because you need to admit it to yourself to move on.
My anxiety is real.
But my anxiety does not have to control me.
Yes, there it is. The truth that your soul has been missing for so long.
Although your anxiety is real, it does not have to control you, because it does not own you. You belong to Someone greater than your anxiety.
The God who loves you is bigger than the anxiety controlling you right now. The God who loves you is greater than any struggle you will ever face, including anxiety.
I think of the disciples so long ago in Mark chapter 4. I think of the night when the waves and the wind beat into their boat and they feared for their lives. I wonder if any of them had just a little bit of anxiety. After all, they thought they were going to die.
And then Jesus.
Jesus rose in the middle of the storm and rebuked the waves and the wind and said, "Peace, be still," and the sea was calm (vs. 39).
I think about this and I think that sometimes my anxiety feels like a great windstorm. Like the waves and the wind beating in my heart and I'm powerless to stop it.
The disciples were powerless too.
But you know what?
Jesus didn't tell them to get up and work harder or try harder to keep the water out of the boat. He said "Peace, be still."
And the truth is that I think His words were meant as much to the disciples as they were to the waves.
Have peace. Be still here. I will fight this battle for you.
I wonder what I have to do to fight this anxiety. I wonder what I have to do to control it. And I see the answer in 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV).
"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."
That's the answer? Give the anxiety to Him?
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5 NKJV)
As simple and as crazy as it may seem, the truth is that we don't have to figure out our anxiety all on our own because there's a God who cares for you and wants to take it for you. He wants to stand up to the waves and wind in your heart and quiet them. He wants you to trust Him, that even if you don't see what's happening and that makes you anxious, He does. And you can trust Him with everything.
Oh, and another truth for your soul? You--yes you--are brave enough to face this. Over and over the Bible commands us to be strong and courageous. To not fear for He is with us. To be brave. And you, dear heart, have what it takes to be brave. Because you can do all things through God who gives you strength.
So yes, friend, anxiety is real.
But your God is real too.
He's got it from here.
*Quick note here: if you do need to seek counseling or medical help to deal with your severe anxiety, please do so.*
Happy Monday, y'all! First of all, I can't believe that it's November 6th already. Second of all, we're six days into NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I'm having SO much fun. Have you checked out the little bit of friendly competition going on between my twin sister and I? You can check it out on either my Instagram or Facebook.
Well, I've got another blog tour stop here on the blog today and I'm super excited. Chloe, author of the new fiction story "The Light", is a beautiful person and I'm thrilled to be supporting her first self-published book.
So without further ado, I present the author interview I did with Chloe and more about her story, "The Light"....
Bella: Thank you so much for joining us here today, Chloe! <3 Please, share with us just a little bit more about yourself so our readers can get to know you better!
Chloe: Of course! I am nineteen and I live on a farm with my amazing family! I I enjoy doing so many things, it would take a few minutes to name them all, but two are singing and acting, besides writing! I feel God wants me to reach people for Him through acting, singing and writing so I am looking forward to seeing what He's going to do through me! I am also very passionate about purity and reaching people who are hurting.
Bella: Awesome. Now, when did you first begin writing and why is writing important to you?
Chloe: I wrote my first novel in 2014, writing the last words the night before my sixteenth birthday. I have always so enjoyed reading books and if I didn't have anything to do I would probably just read everyday all day! I reckon the reason that it is so important to me is the fact that God can give you a story or a message, and you sit down and He helps you create that story from start to finish. And what you write can change a life, and tell someone about Jesus.
Bella: Where did you come up with the inspiration for The Light?
Chloe: Well, ever since before I was twelve, God has given me stories to be made into movies someday. But when I planned it all out, I always had the people being too perfect-they never did anything wrong before they were saved in regards to purity. I wanted to write a story, putting someone in the worst situation and show how there is a way out through Jesus, and that there is forgiveness. (I can't tell you if the character in The Light comes out or not because that would spoil the end!) I wanted to show people that no matter what you've done in the past, when you ask for forgiveness from God then you are just as pure and forgiven as the next person!
Bella: What is the most important writing advice you've ever been given that you would like to give to another writer?
Chloe: The most important advice...I've been given to much great advice but the two most important that I would want to pass on is to make sure your writing is always pointing to and glorifying Jesus and to write as though you were talking to someone--as though you were sitting down and having a conversation with a friend!
Bella: What is the most important lesson you want readers to take away after reading The Light?
Chloe: I want them to take hold of the courage that God gives them and not be afraid to shine forth for Jesus! And I want them to know that-no matter where they are or what they've done-that there is always a way out through Jesus and there is always forgiveness! Don't you know that He is holding His arms out just waiting for you to run into them so He can hold you!!
Bella: That sounds wonderful, Chloe. And finally, if you could be any of the characters in your story, who would you be and why?
Chloe: Oh, there are different things from each that I admire. I believe that I would take a little from each character and combine it into one!
Thank you so much for doing this and for being apart of my bog tour! God Bless you!
Chloe Hadassah is a Christian gal who strives to live for her Jesus. This is her first published book and she hopes it touches those who read it! God Bless!
To connect with her or purchase "The Light" please visit:
Welcome, my friends! What a special, special day this is. Why? You may ask.
Well, because last week my twin sister (*finally*) released the sequel to her first novel! Her new novel is titled, "Out of the Dark." Cue the cheering and excited squealing. I'm thrilled and what I'm even more thrilled about is the opportunity for you to hear from my twin sister today yourself.
Kenzie is taking over the blog today and sharing a guest post with you and more about, "Out of the Dark." Please, check out her book and purchase it (because you won't regret it) and leave her some love through your comments below.
*passes out the cupcakes* Now let's get this party started...
I’m so excited to be featured on my twin sister’s blog today! Bella has such a beautiful and inspirational blog here, it feels like I’m “star-struck” to be able to write a post here ;) Thank you for participating in the “Out of the Dark” blog tour, Bella! This new novel is book two in the Mission for Freedom series, and deals with the difficult topic of human trafficking. As I thought about what to write today, I struggled with finding the right words. How do I share in a short post about the purpose behind this book, and how it’s so much more than just mere entertainment?
I’d like to start with this. I’d like you to close your eyes and think about things you’re thankful for. Little blessings or luxuries that you have in life that you are blessed with. Maybe you’ll think about your own car, or your family, or the home you live in. Or maybe smaller things, like fall flavors returning to Starbucks, a pretty pink sunset, or listening to your favorite song to cheer you up. Okay, are you starting to think of your own now? Now I want you to do this in only thirty seconds and try to list as many as possible in your head. You can comment below and let me know how many you were able to think of if you’d like. Remember, you only have thirty seconds!
Are you finished? Thirty seconds isn’t a lot of time, is it? But I’m sure you were able to come up with a great list in that time. So while you’re thinking about all those little blessings, I want you to think of something else. I want you to take another thirty seconds, remember all the blessings you just listed, and then imagine having each one ripped away. Taken from your hands. These next thirty seconds I want you to imagine losing everything. Everything that made your heart smile so big when you just brought it to mind.
It’s heartbreaking and even devastating to imagine losing some of these things we hold so dear. But in reality, in those thirty seconds, there’s really someone out there who did just lose everything. Their life, their freedom, their happiness was snatched away in less than a minute. And in another thirty seconds it will happen all over again.
Because every thirty seconds, someone becomes a victim of human trafficking.
I don’t tell you this to make you feel guilty for the blessings you have. This activity was to educate you about this crisis happening all over the world. To help you see it and feel it in your mind. To realize that this crime is taking place in our cities, in our towns. In our own backyards. It’s happening to lives just like you and me. And it’s happening far too much, to far too many innocent lives.
There is an estimated 27 million in slavery around the world today. Only one percent of these victims are ever rescued. The passion in my heart to end this first grew when I listened to a radio interview with a human trafficking survivor. I heard her share about the things in life she never got to experience because she was living in bondage. Things that every person should be able to experience, like going to school or spending weekends hanging out with friends. That was the moment when I went from, “Wow, something needs to be done about this”, to “Wow, I need to do something about this”. But what can one person possibly do to make a difference in a crisis with numbers this staggering? God showed me that we all have the ability to do something. It doesn’t have to be huge. Even small things can make a big impact. For me, it was writing. Writing has always been a God-given ability for me, and that’s what became my something. I could use writing to bring awareness to this topic.
“Not Abandoned”, my debut novel, shares a story of four different girls whose lives are forever affected by this tragedy of human trafficking. Some may find it odd that I chose to use a fiction story, what is usually just used for entertainment, to share such a deep topic. But for me, this novel was never just about entertainment. It was about sparking a revolution. About creating change. Educating young people so that they can protect themselves. Inspiring a generation to get involved and find their something that they can do to end it.
My prayer is the same for “Out of the Dark”. That God will take this story and use it to ignite a passion in your hearts to get involved and save these lives being affected by the modern-day slave trade. For me, all it took was one moment when I heard that radio interview to make me realize that I was going to do something to fight human trafficking. Maybe you’ll find your moment in the pages of my books.
Thirty seconds can change so many lives. They can become the heartbreaking seconds that a life is horribly taken by this evil.
Or the next thirty seconds can become your moment. The moment you choose to find your something that will make a difference in this fight. The moment you rise up and take a stand.
This can be the thirty seconds that not only change your life…but also save someone else’s.
It’s not over yet…
It’s been three years since Haley Hampton rescued her sister, Avery, from a human trafficking ring. They are still struggling through the aftermath as both women desperately long for healing to come. But the emotional wounds are not easily forgotten. And the past is quickly catching up to them. A string of death threats leaves Haley on the hunt for a potential killer. As tensions run high, a single mistake could jeopardize Avery’s life.
Then Haley encounters Elaine, a young teen trapped by human trafficking. Could she be their missing link in the case? Is there anyone they can trust? Haley must rely on God now more than ever if they intend to make it out alive. Will they find a way out of the darkness closing in? Because evil is lurking closer…and determined to win this time.
MacKenzie Morganthal is the author of the Mission for Freedom series. Book one, “Not Abandoned”, was her debut novel. She lives in Pennsylvania where she is a monthly e-magazine columnist, Creative Artist, and musician. She loves Jesus most, sweet tea, singing along to the radio, and spending too much time at Starbucks.
To purchase "Out of the Dark," click here: