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.*
If you didn't know this already, I'm just a little bit weird.
I'm not talking about the way I like to eat beets with ranch for dinner or the way I get irritated if someone leaves my closet doors open. I'm not even talking about the way I hate the taste of pumpkin spice drinks, but love the way it sounds to say I ordered a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks (weird, I know).
Nope. I'm talking about the way I'm weird, because I'm different from the world.
Like the way I decided I was going to change the world when I was twelve. Or the way I hated talking only about boys and fashion trends, when I would much rather talk about making a difference with my life. And even the way I felt disconnected from my youth group as a teenager, because it felt more like social club than Bible study.
Yep. I said it.
Growing up, youth group felt more like a place to go hang out and have fun than a place to go and learn how to impact my world for Jesus.
I went to youth group off and on throughout my teenage years, mostly only attending regularly when I joined the youth band.
I loved it for awhile.
It was something new and fun to do on Wednesdays nights. Someplace to go see my friends and also play great music.
But something was always missing.
I never felt like I was actually learning something new and real.
And unfortunately it's something that I see missing in so many youth groups today.
In the name of "meeting teenagers where they are," youth groups decided to create a place where teenagers could come and "have fun" and, oh, at the last ten minutes open our Bibles.
First of all, let's get one thing straight. I love youth ministry and I am not condemning it in any way. I'm also not saying that you can't have fun at church or have fellowship while playing games. I'm not saying any of that. I'm talking about balance. And if anything I say offends you, I only pray that it offends you into action. Because this is my call for action. My call for a change.
Let's stop being the generation that goes to youth group to see who can drink the most soda in five minutes, and let's become the generation that goes to youth group to join forces and become mighty warriors for the Kingdom of God.
This is where we have it all wrong, friends:
We've gotten so caught up in entertainment, that we've become apathetic. We keep our focus on what makes us feel good, instead of what makes us grow in Christ. We've settled for comfortable Christianity and it is starting in our youth groups.
Luke 9:23 says: "Then He said to them all, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."
This verse says nothing about, "When you become an adult, then take up your cross and follow Him." Nope. Jesus is talking to anyone who wants to follow Him, telling them to take up their cross today.
Are we teaching that to our youth? In between the relay races and the nerf gun battles, are we teaching them that our Christian walk should be about denying ourselves, taking up our daily cross, and following Him? Or did we miss this somewhere along the way?
Are we training up a generation of selfless warriors for God, or a generation of selfish, comfortable Christians of the world?
Yes, there is absolutely a time to have fun together. There is definitely a place to joke around and goof off. But are we putting that time first in our youth groups and missing out on the precious time of becoming students of the Word of God?
To anyone in the youth group generation--young person, leader, or youth pastor--this is my call to you...rise up and be the change. Seek to change the world, not be like it. Study the hard truths of the Gospel, not just the ones you want to hear. Put the Bible first, and your comfort last. Find ways to get your hands dirty in this business of making a difference and don't just stay in the shallow end. Take up your cross daily and follow Him. Be the generation that sets the standard high for the generation of youth coming after you. Be the generation that makes history. Be the change.
Rise up and be the generation that I know you can be.
Rise up and be the generation that God is calling you to be.
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:
Hi, friends! Happy Thursday. Today I have a special article planned for you. Miss Moriah Simonowich is guest posting here on the blog today and I'm honored to share her encouraging words with you. Please, take a moment to comment below and show her some love for joining us. :)
What if the fiercest point of intensity during a trial proves the sweetest place--the only true place—to experience the nearness of God’s presence?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew their God in the furnace flames. Their circumstances burned and raged, but they were safely sustained, unharmed, by His presence with them in the valley of the shadow of death (see Daniel 3, Psalm 23:4).
They came through that blazing fire completely untouched when survival was deemed absolutely impossible.
They didn’t smell of smoke; they weren’t singed, but oh, they must have shined at having been with Him (v. 27).
God is a God who performs miraculous impossibilities. Nothing is ever too hard for Him. He breathes hope when our hope exhales its last and dies (Luke 1:37; Jer 32:27).
Mining for gold
I’ve always dreaded hardship; most people do.
When trials surface, a lie from Satan is quick to slither through my mind:
This difficulty must go away for me to be happy again.
The truth is, invaluable lessons about God's character and His Word are nuggets of gold that must be mined in the deep bedrock of hardship. Blood, sweat, and tears—repenting of sin and stretching of our faith—are all necessary to claim the treasure of knowing Him more deeply because it simply doesn't come by walking a smooth road of ease.
Experiencing affliction in my body and the fears that have surfaced because of it has taught me to cry out for God in a way that would have never, ever been possible had my life been straight and smooth, no bumps, no trying of my faith.
In trials, God's nearness quells fear
I never thought I would type these words, but after a grueling week of fighting anxiety and scary symptoms from Lyme disease, I can say even trials are a costly gift.
Fear may leap as a fiery flame to lick at us, but it cannot consume because He’s there, His love driving out everything else that’s thieving ugly at our peace and joy...
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior… -Isaiah 43:2-3a
Sin purged during hardship
Trials have a way of erasing all the insignificant comforts and trinkets we cling to that wile away precious, precious time.
Tears flow just thinking of all the moments that I've squandered in my lifetime on foolish sin instead of pursuing Christ, the only way to holiness and sanctification.
How we live our lives as a Christians is how we express our genuine gratitude for what Christ has done for us.
Often, I’ve lived my days quite carelessly.
If the One who knit me together in my mother’s womb, breathed life into my lungs and even now sustains me on this earth came as a baby, the God-man, to die in my place, King of kings dying for the lowest of the low, how am I living to demonstrate thanks?
Do I pour my life out in return or shrug indifferently, maybe unknowingly?
It’s so shameful.
Confess and press on
But, there is a choice. I can cry out to God, asking for forgiveness for all that heinous sin. I can follow Him with fresh fervor.
Isn’t it a mercy that trials do this? It is a chance for closer, richer, deeper communion with God. He gently calls our attention to what Spirit quenching sin must go so our fellowship with Him can be rekindled and our souls purged.
The undying promise
Hunger for God is the most important thing in this world. Anything God allows to come our way that cultivates that hunger is extremely beautiful, dear…
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. -1 Peter 1:6-7
It is indeed precious that Jesus would use trials as a means to purge and purify us until He etches more of Himself onto our souls, made malleable by affliction.
Nothing else matters but the undying promise of God’s nearness—Him never leaving or forsaking, but allowing us to be comforted, held and sustained by the joy of His presence.
No matter what happens or what tragedy comes, the one truth that refutes every arising fear throughout our trials is the comfort of His nearness.
Moriah Simonowich a twenty-year-old living in North Carolina who loves porch swings, wide open skies, lattes, lab puppies, and the crispness of October. It’s rare that she misses an opportunity to slip outside and quietly capture sunsets. Writing is like oxygen to her heart. You can connect with Moriah here:
Sometimes I forget to be bold with the gospel.
Sometimes I miss an opportunity to tell others about the greatest Gift they could ever receive. And sometimes...sometimes I let people carry on with their lives without asking them if they've considered whether they're going to spend eternity in heaven or hell.
The other day it occurred to me that I've never posted a message on my blog about salvation. I write this blog for Christians. I write it so that I can encourage my fellow believers to live out their identity as a child of the King.
But what if you're reading this and you never thought much about Jesus before?
What if you're reading this and you're even, possibly, hostile to Christianity?
It would be wrong of me--a tragedy in fact--to not take a moment to stop and tell you of a story that changed my life.
Because that's really all I want to take a moment to do.
I don't want to be one of those Christians that shoves religion down your throat.
I don't want to give you a list of all the reasons why you're a sinner and need saved, or even offer you a neat, highly-practiced "sinner's prayer."
I just want to tell you a story.
The greatest story I've ever been told. The greatest of all stories. The story of how Someone loved me so much, He couldn't imagine eternity without me, so He did everything He had to do to have my heart forever.
This is the story of my Jesus.
A very long time ago a Story greater than any other story we have ever heard began to unfold.
A Story of beauty, temptation, sin, danger, death, rescue, redemption, and most importantly…love.
This Story was like none other and it would change the world forever.
It would change me forever.
A Hero came down to a fallen world ravaged by sin and destruction to save a people that did not even know Him. A people that would only laugh and turn their backs on Him.
Death would be the only way to break the cycle of death and separation in the world and He would pay that costly price.
All for love.
Because He loved His people too much to be separated from them forever.
It was a love that felt our pain and healed our hearts. Love that knew our temptation and provided an escape. Love that was so deep nothing could stop it…not even death.
We all long for it. That love that is so unconditional nothing can change it. A love that won’t leave or desert you if you make a mistake. A love that will keep loving and being faithful, even when you are not. A love that only One can ultimately give to us.
We search for it everywhere.
We search for it in our families, in our friends, in romance. We search for it in another person. We search for it in our dreams and in our hopes. We search for it in our jobs or in our money.
But nothing can satisfy that desire to be loved completely and unconditionally.
And yet we look at the Story told for centuries and choose to look past it or ignore it. We don’t listen to the Story that could change our lives because we don’t believe it.
But the best part of this Story is that it is real. It is a part of our history and it is a part of our present. It is the love we long for so deeply but can never seem to find elsewhere.
You see, the Hero of our Story is Jesus Christ.
With a love that only Jesus could possess, He willingly became the Hero of our Story because it was the only way to save us. And as our Hero, He would have to give His life and die.
Jesus came to earth as a little baby, born in a humble stable, to give each and every one of us life. He lived a life of a true Hero, perfect and sinless. He taught, He healed, He changed lives.
And when the moment came for Him to lay down His life, He did it with you in mind.
Our Story changed a long time ago in a beautiful, perfect garden when one woman and one man decided to disobey God’s plan and His instructions. This one act of disobedience changed everything forever. Separation from God was the cost. And there was no way for us to get back to Him on our own. We were lost until Jesus came. We have all sinned. We have all done our thing, gone our own way. No amount of good deeds would help us. No other ways could save us.
You may be hurting right now. You may not trust anyone. Everyone and everything you have ever loved may have left you. Your heart may be shattered in pieces around you.
But even when everyone else leaves or hurts you, Jesus will always be right there to pick you back up, look into your eyes and tell you how much He loves you…
“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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
“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.”
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 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 4:9-10
God’s love is unconditional. He will love you no matter what. He will never leave you. His love will never stop.
Forgiveness for your sins is just a prayer away. God’s arms are outstretched to you right now. The gap between you and God can be filled by His love for you if you just ask.
There's no fancy way to do it. No string of perfect words to get you in.
You don’t have to do anything to earn His love. You can’t do anything to earn His forgiveness.
It is a gift and it is a gift that is being extended to you right this very moment.
All you have to do is believe and accept.
Welcome to the greatest story of your life.
I'm one of those book nerds that walks into a bookstore, closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, and imagines all the stories trapped inside the covers surrounding me. I can smell the fresh covers and my eyes dance with happiness as I run my fingers along the spines of each treasure.
Okay, I'll stop before you decide I'm too weird to read any further.
I'm slightly obsessed with books. Ask anyone. Or just take a look at my bedroom that is being overrun with books everywhere.
I've been reading for as long as I can remember and over the years I've definitely had my share of reading books that inspire, encourage, and challenge me. Because I know it can be hard to find good, godly material for young ladies to read today, I've decided to compile a short list of 20 books I would recommend. And also because the lovely Grace suggested this fun topic. :)
Since I couldn't narrow it down to five, ten, or even fifteen, you get the joy of 20 suggestions. And here they are:
Not Abandoned, by MacKenzie Morganthal.
Hold up, I promise there is no bias here! Not Abandoned is inspiring, suspenseful, and life-changing. Although the author and I are related, I would recommend this book either way. The story of girls trapped in the dark world of human trafficking, and their sister's journey to se them free, it is intriguing and uplifting, as there is a positive message weaved throughout. Seriously order it:
Recommended for ages 13+ because of the subject matter.
You're Made for a God-Sized Dream: Opening the Door to All God Has for You, by Holley Gerth.
This was the first book that I read by Holley Gerth, and oh my, was it amazing. Not only did this book push me to realize that my God-sized dream was publishing my first book I Dare You, but it also inspired me to take hold of all God had for me. I've read it more than once and definitely recommend it. If you're especially wondering about the purpose or meaning for your life, read this book.
The Divine Dance: If the world is your stage, who are you performing for? by Shannon Kubiak Primicerio.
I read this book for the first time when I was like 11 or 12. I've read it so many times it's all marked up and worn out, haha. This book is about living for an audience of One. Every word is carefully written to draw you in and inspire you to dance only for your King. Get it and read it.
Get Lost: Your Guide to Finding True Love, by Dannah Gresh. I've read Dannah's other books, "And the Bride Wore White," and "The Secret of the Lord," which are also both fantastic. But this one made an especially profound impact on me as a young teenager. In a world so focused with finding "the one" and "true love," Dannah presents a fresh, truthful look at what love is and how you can find the love of your life in God. Totally worth a read.
Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption, by Katie Davis.
Ah, yes, this one. Kisses from Katie changed my life in so many ways. I've read it oh, let's see, five or six times? Too many to count really. Every time I open the pages I almost can feel the red dirt soil of Uganda beneath my feet (yes, I'm dramatic). Uganda is my heart and soul...my deepest dream. Hearing Katie's stories, reading her encouragement, hearing about this beautiful country, it was all amazing. Just, please, get a copy of this book.
Daring to Hope: Finding God's Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful, by Katie Davis Majors.
Cheers for another book by Katie! This book...oh, my heart. <3 I was blessed to be on the launch team for this book and read it early, which was so fun. Every word was like reading a masterpiece. This book is for anyone who has endured a tragedy, felt the pain of loss, or been heart broken (which includes everyone at some point). This book encourages you to keep hoping in the God who never disappoints even when hope is hard. Read it!
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, by Ann Voskamp.
Ann is the writer I've always dreamed of being. Her words are like art that touch the deepest places of your soul and make you feel something that normal words don't. She's an artist with words. She's one of the best. She's amazing. One Thousand Gifts is about the miracle of thanksgiving in the midst of every day, mundane, or heart-breaking moments. Every word of this book was worth buying it.
The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life, by Ann Voskamp.
Ann definitely did not disappoint with this next book. Every page, every word, captivated me. I cried throughout reading as I felt the emotion of each phrase. This book is about living broken. So many of us try to hide our scars, hide our brokenness. This book is about letting them show and how when we give to others, our lives are changed. Ah, I loved every moment of reading this book.
Before You Meet Prince Charming: A Guide to Radiant Purity, by Sarah Mally.
My mom read this book with my sister and I right before we became teenagers. Since then, I've read it a few more times. Sarah's writing is godly, encouraging, and true. I've also done her Bright Lights curriculum which is also fantastic. This book is about (obviously) purity, and the joy of waiting for God's perfect timing for love. I find it's also encouraging that the book was written from the perspective of a single young lady.
Be The Change: Your Guide to Freeing Slaves and Changing the World, by Zach Hunter.
Take one look at the subtitle and you may understand why I'm slightly obsessed with this book. ;) I was thirteen when I first read Zach's book (which he wrote as a young teenager, by the way) and it changed my life then, by awakening me to the epidemic of slavery in the world around us. I loved this book and have read it several times since. Although I always recommend this book, unfortunately, I'm unable to stand behind some of his beliefs today.
Authentic Beauty: the Shaping of a Set-Apart Young Woman, by Leslie Ludy.
Leslie was one of my favorite authors as a young teenager when I was thirteen and fourteen. Her book Set-Apart Femininity is also very good. I loved this book and the way Leslie talked about being a princess (that's my thing, ya know) loved by our true Prince. This book is about living beautiful on the inside and experiencing the romance of your life with the King of the universe. Definitely check it out.
Will Our Generation Speak: A Call to Be Bold with the Gospel, by Grace Mally.
This book ignites the passion in you to spread the Gospel around you. So many young people today have become apathetic about spreading the Gospel. We seem to forget that everyone is going to die and a lot of people are going to die and go to hell if we don't tell them about the Gospel. This book is all about sharing the Gospel and gives practical tips on how to do so, as well as relatable stories of other young people sharing the Gospel around them.
Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex and Brett Harris.
This was another book that changed my life when I was thirteen. This book is inspiring, challenging, and vital to young people in this generation. So many teenagers are growing up without any direction or passion, waiting until they're "older" to do something with their life and be more mature. This book reminds them that we are called to so much more. Love this book.
My Life His Mission: A Six Week Challenge to Change the World, by Kim P. Davis.
This was the first book about missions that I read after I received my call to missions in Africa. This is another one of those books I've read so many times that it's worn out and marked up. This book provides you with real-life stories of young people serving the Lord and changing their world. Every page is super inspiring and it also includes journaling space/questions to apply what you learn.
Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely, by Lysa TerKeurst.
This book came into my life last year in the middle of a season where I felt extremely left out, lonely, and rejected. But it couldn't have come at a better time. Each word made sense, connected with my heart, and encouraged me to live in God's love for me, even when my feelings told me differently. Excellent book and would definitely recommend it.
A Young Woman's Walk with God: Growing More Like Jesus, by Elizabeth George.
I've read all of Elizabeth's books for young women, but this one was my favorite. I read it as a young teenager, and it was especially encouraging. This book takes you through the fruits of the Spirit and encourages you to live more like Jesus every day. It also includes journaling space and questions to help you reflect on what you learned in each chapter.
Millie's Grand Adventure: Book Six in the Millie Keith Series, by Martha Finley.
Although you really, really should read all of the series from the beginning (yes, read them in order), I'm highlighting this one from the series because it's my favorite. Growing up the Millie Keith series was my favorite. I read every book in the series at least four times, but this one I probably read six times. Not only does this series have fun stories, but it also teaches encouraging, and uplifting messages.
The Coronation, by Livy Jarmusch.
This book, oh my goodness. Livy is such a dear friend and I promise I'm not biased with this book either. I loved every moment of my adventure in Tarsurella, throughout these pages. You quickly get wrapped up in the lives of each character, but my personal favorite is Vanessa Bennett. You may remember her from a character interview I did here on the blog. This story is a treasure and if you love suspense, humor, a touch of romance, and uplifting messages: get this book!
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All Glorious Within: Journeying as the King's Daughter, by Tiffany Schlichter.
I know the Schlichter family through the Bible Bee, and I first read All Glorious Within when I was fifteen. This book is an encouragement to young girls to live as a daughter of the King and let their lives glorify Him. Tiffany is very relatable and encouraging in her writing. I love this book.
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A Trophy in My Heart: Learning, Speaking, & Living God's Word, by Brittany Schlichter.
It was an honor and joy to compete alongside Brittany in the National Bible Bee and her book was a tremendous encouragement to me throughout my years with the Bible Bee. She not only shares her experience with the first-ever Bible Bee in 2009, but she also encourages readers to learn, speak, and live God's Word in their own lives. Even if you don't do Bible Bee, it's definitely still worth reading. :)
Well, there you have it! My top 20 book recommendations for girls! Of course, there are so many more I could've listed here.
Have you read any of these books? What are some of your own recommendations? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Sometimes I like to make the joke that I must have been born with a book in my hand.
If I think I've been writing for as long as I can remember, I've been reading for even longer. Reading is like an escape and refuge for me. I'm slightly a book nerd. And not ashamed of it.
Although I'm twenty now (seriously), I still know exactly how hard it is to be a Christian teenager in today's world. And sometimes it's so nice to just have someone else to encourage you along the way. When I was a young teenager I discovered just exactly how hard it is to find clean, godly writing material to read. Because of this, I founded my own magazine, The King's Princess, when I was fifteen.
However, over the years God has also brought dozens of encouraging, godly authors, magazines editors, and writers into my path. Today I wanted to take a moment to highlight four magazines that you, as a Christian young lady, should totally check out.
1) Crown of Beauty Magazine. Although Crown of Beauty no longer prints new magazine issues, you are still able to access all of the old issues right on their website! I interned with Crown of Beauty for several months and it was amazing. The founder, Livy Jarmusch, puts out godly, clean material for young Christian girls that is totally uplifting, fun, and inspirational. Although she no longer publishes Crown of Beauty issues, she still writes godly fiction. If you're interested in checking her writing out, visit her blog: www.livylynnblog.com.
2) Christ's Light Magazine. This is a brand new magazine for young ladies, but oh my goodness, I already know you need to be subscribed to it. (Like, please, go subscribe) Christ's Light is a free, bi-monthly e-magazine published by my dear friend, Olivia Bell. Olivia puts together fun, beautiful, easy-to-read, godly magazine issues that capture your attention. Her articles are super inspiring and I just love everything about this magazine. I also have the absolute honor of being a columnist for the mag. Although she doesn't have a website, if you would like to subscribe, please fill out the contact form here on my site and I'll be sure to forward it on to Olivia.
3) Every Girl's Adventure. A free, quarterly e-magazine run by the beautiful and wonderful, Bethany Smith. <3 This magazine is for--like it says--every girl. Much like me, Bethany was tired of not being able to find good magazines to read that talked about anything else besides crushes, Hollywood, and things like that. She wanted to give Christian young girls a better alternative. Every Girl's Adventure includes modest fashion tips for the fashion loving girl, and outdoorsy related articles for the adventure-loving girl. Whatever you're interested in, Every Girl's Adventure has it.
4) Guard Your Heart Magazine. This free monthly e-magazine is published by some more wonderful friends of mine! It was founded by the incredible Beth Hale, along with her sisters. Guard Your Heart inspires young Christian girls to walk in a way that is worthy of their identity in Christ and encourages them with fun and exciting articles. Definitely worth subscribing to and you can do so by checking out their website!
I hope you find these to be helpful and encouraging as you connect with other Christian young ladies seeking to serve God with all of their hearts as well. And of course...
My magazine, The King's Princess, was founded in 2013. This ministry God has given me has never ceased to amaze and humble me. I don't deserve this place of serving Him by serving His daughters, but I'm so grateful. If you'd like to subscribe, I'd love to have you visit my website for the magazine and join our princess family. <3
Do you have any suggestions for godly Christian magazines for girls? Share your suggestions in the comments below!
When I was a pre-teen/young teenager, I felt very lonely.
At that time I didn't have many friends my age who I truly connected with. I have always been different than most people my age (think fourteen-year-old homeschooler who believes she can change the world and wants to talk about ending human trafficking, not boys or the latest style trends). On top of that I was a crazy extrovert who was more sociable than a lot of my public schooled friends (shocking, right?).
Because of these things I felt distant and disconnected from my peers. I craved a deeper connection than what I was being offered.
And while that wasn't a bad thing, my thinking that a deeper friendship would satisfy me was a bad thing.
I thought that if I had at least just one friend who was as deep and passionate as I was, then I wouldn't be lonely anymore.
I made friendship all about me.
And the truth is that friendship isn't really just about me at all.
Friendship is more about what we give to it, instead of what we get from it. This is totally opposite thinking from a world that claims everything is about us and how we feel.
When we shift our thinking about friendship, things change. Instead of thinking, "I really wish they were more like me," or "I really wish she would think about my feelings right now," let's change our thought patterns. Instead ask ourselves, "How can I serve my friend today?" or "What ways can I be there for my friend?"
God didn't create friendship to satisfy you, because He wants to use friendship to grow you.
Placing all of our hope in a friendship to complete us and make us happy will only hurt us in the end. We are only made to be complete in Christ.
Friendship is a beautiful gift. I look around at the friends God has blessed me with now and I'm humbled and amazed by these beautiful, wonderful women I call "friend."
However, friendship is also a gift I must give away. A gift I must extend to someone else. I have to be the friend I want to have. My goal in friendship should be to serve, give, and love unconditionally.
In Proverbs 27:17 it says: "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
Just as a godly, sweet friendship encourages and challenges us to pursue more of Jesus, we must also be willing to become a friend that encourages and challenges someone else to pursue more of Jesus.
If you're feeling lonely today, look around you at the people God has placed in your life. Who can you reach out to today and be a friend? Who can you serve and give love to?
You'll be amazed at the things God will do, when you give the gift of friendship.
To everything there is a season.
It's a constant struggle between what is and what I think should be. It's a battle between normality and a constant state of change. For nothing really stays the same in an ever changing world, where even the seasons come and go faster than I could ever imagine.
Sure, I make my plans. I set my goals. I was born a planner who has planned out her entire life.
"By the time this gets here, I will be there." Or, "When I grow up, I will do this and that."
But life is so much different than you or I imagine as children. For that certain time gets here and we aren't anywhere near where we thought we would be. Or we look around and here we are, all grown up, and we still haven't accomplished that goal or dream we always thought we would.
Life is change.
And sometimes I wish it wasn't.
A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
So I can mourn for what I think should be, but isn't. I grow bitter towards the changing seasons. Because just as our world turns from the bright, vibrant colors of summer into the darker, cooler winds of winter, so our lives change seasons too. We grow up. We become caught up in the fast pace of life, until we look around and we're so far from what we always wanted. Sometimes it's by our own doing. And sometimes...sometimes it's just life.
I cry out. I beg God for answers why. Because I don't understand why life can't just be what I always imagined it would. I don't understand why dreams can't always come true, or people can't always stay, or seasons have to change.
A time of war, and a time of peace.
So I fight against what I have no control over.
Perhaps, I wouldn't call it that. I might call it, "keeping busy” or “distraction.”
But I’m fighting it.
Instead of looking around at the darker colors of autumn and admiring their beauty too, I get bitter about losing the vibrant colors of summer.
I angrily wipe away my tears over things that I wish could be different and I shake my fist towards heaven.
"Why have things turned out this way?" I demand an answer. "Why has the beauty faded?"
Ah, yes. The beauty.
It's easy for you and I to see the beauty of the springtime and summertime colors. The vibrant hues of pink or blue. We laugh and rejoice in it. This is how beauty should be, we convince ourselves.
And when life's beauty turns out to be different than we imagined?
We push it away. It's not how we want it and we want the beauty to be our way. We don't want to find beauty here in the grey ash colors of winter. We don't want to find beauty in something we never wanted to come.
Maybe in doing this, we're missing something...
Perhaps we're missing the beauty God intended for us all along.
I ponder this. Could it be?
Could it be that there is a different kind of beauty in the changing seasons than I ever knew? For if winter never came I would never get to jump into piles of perfect white snow and laugh at the cold on my skin. If winter never came I would never learn to search with anticipation for the blossoming buds of springtime flowers.
Yes, life does not always turn out how I imagined it would once upon a time.
Life changes and the seasons come and go faster than I would sometimes like.
Life is different.
But different doesn't mean less beautiful. Different doesn't mean worthless.
It's simply a different kind of beautiful than I imagined it would be.
Life is beautiful. A different kind of beautiful, but so very beautiful.
God whispers it to me in every changing season. Look for My beauty here. Look for the beauty I want to give you in this place.
And His different is so much more beautiful than anything I ever had planned.
He has made everything beautiful in His time.
The first book I read by Holley Gerth was "You Were Made for a God-Sized Dream" (which was amazing, and if you haven't read it, please do).
Her book not only encouraged my heart, but it also inspired me to pursue my God-sized dream of publishing a book. (I released I Dare You two years after reading Holley's book)
Since then I have read all of Holley's books and when I got accepted to the launch team for her newest book, Fiercehearted, I was thrilled.
Fiercehearted is a lot different than Holley's other books, but different in an awesome way. I might even go as far as to say it's my favorite book from Holley yet. (Which is saying a lot)
Her book, once again, inspired my heart.
I have always loved Holley's writing style because she writes as a friend, not as an author. If you don't understand what I mean by that, let me explain. Some writers write a book and you can tell from reading it that they're writing more to fans. And while this is good too, I love Holley's style best because she writes like she's writing to a dear friend, not a fan she doesn't know.
You instantly fall in love with Holley's funny, sweet, and touching stories that she shares throughout Fiercehearted. For me, I related to so many of the lessons she shared throughout the book.
Holley encourages those who read her book to love, no matter how much it hurts, and I think I appreciated that message the most throughout reading.
I would recommend Fiercehearted to anyone who desires to be brave, to love and live a different way. But I also recommend it to those who don't desire that, because this book will change you.
Thank you, Holley, for another wonderful book! ♥
Fiercehearted became available on October 3rd and you can visit Holley's website to see where you can purchase it! www.fiercehearted.com
Sometimes I ignore the miracle of the everyday.
Or maybe it's not so much that I ignore it, as it is that I miss it. I miss it in the midst of a schedule always on the go and a to-do list that ever demands my attention. Perhaps I've even set it up this way for a reason. Constantly filling my life with tasks and goals so that every day becomes a little less, well...ordinary.
And that's when I miss it.
You see, every day has the potential to be your best day ever.
It doesn't need to be filled to the brim with dishes in the morning, coffee at noon with that friend you haven't seen in months, art class at four, and Bible study in the evening. Oh, and don't forget the project due by midnight and the emails that have been sitting in your inbox for, oh, five months.
A beautiful day does not always mean a full day. Sometimes the most beautiful days, the ones we remember most, are the ones that weren't all that crazy busy.
And sometimes, we miss our best days by trying so hard to make them our best days. Do you know what I'm saying, friend?
Right here in this moment, I want you to breathe. I want you to take in a deep breath and let out. Then I want you to look around at the world surrounding you. Do you notice the way the birds tilt their heads as they sing and the way the sun likes to play peek-a-boo behind the clouds? It's beautiful.
Now I want you to look at the calendar and notice what today is.
I stare at this round box on my calendar and I choose to look at it differently.
This is my 20th October 5th.
This is the 20th October 5th I've had and because I'm not guaranteed so many years, I don't even know how many more October 5th's I will have. But I have this one.
Friend, this may be your 15th, your 25th, or your 55th October 5th. But whatever it is for you, you don't know how many of them you will have left. All you are guaranteed is this one, right now.
Isn't it an amazing way to look at life? Every day of this year has been my 20th time living that specific date. I can either make it amazing or let it be just another average, everyday date on the calendar.
I don't need to fill the day with a to-do list the size of the Grand Canyon. Of course, there are seasons of busy and days for the crazy to-do list. But, I also need to remember there are seasons for the here and now, and seasons for the still and quiet.
Today is all you have right now. Today could be the best day of your life. Today holds more possibility than yesterday.
And I think that makes today pretty ridiculously, unbelievably...amazing.
I was about fourteen years old when I held a book in my hands for the first time that was written by a young woman halfway across the world from me.
When I picked up "Kisses from Katie" and read the words, my heart did a little bit of a happy dance. Since that time, Katie Davis Majors has been an inspiration and influential person in my life. Not only do I look up to her as a writer, but I look up to her and admire her for her strong faith and dedication to the God who relentlessly loves each of us.
Uganda was given a piece of my heart when I was eleven years old. God was asking me if I would give up everything to serve Him there one day. And it's funny now, nine years later, that I still have not gone to Uganda. Will I someday? Absolutely, unless God changes my path. But for now, my heart will always love Uganda, even though I've never stepped foot there.
Maybe that's why I connected so well with "Kisses from Katie." Maybe that's why I will shamelessly tell you I read that book about five or six times over.
And maybe that's why I was just a tad bit giddy with excitement when I got accepted to the launch team for Katie Davis Major's brand new book, "Daring to Hope."
Yet this book entered my life and changed my heart in a way I wasn't expecting.
Just like with "Kisses from Katie," I picked up this book and could not stop reading.
Every beautiful word she wrote, every gripping story she told, it all resonated with my heart. Katie is like an artist of words and "Daring to Hope," is her masterpiece.
The thing I probably loved most about this book is that Katie is very real and honest. She doesn't hide her feelings. In perfect honesty, she shared the way she questioned God when hard things happened. And I related to that. Because sometimes I question God too. Why would You let this illness go unhealed, God, if You are good? Why would You take away this dream, if You have a good plan for my life?
Sometimes if we believe the lies these questions feed us, we will lose our hope. We will stop hoping because we learn that hoping hurts.
Yet Katie assures us through her book that no matter what you are facing, God is a good God and He is safe to put your hope in.
Katie writes about deep pain and suffering and yet the beauty that she found in those places of hurt. I connect there, her words are real to me. And that's what I love. Because no matter what you've been through, Katie's words will dare you to hope again.
Would I recommend this book to others? Absolutely, 100%, please, I beg you, get this book.
Katie, thank you for writing "Daring to Hope." Thank you for serving Jesus passionately. Sending much love and support your way! <3
Daring to Hope, the brand new release from Katie Davis Majors is available TODAY!!! Have you gotten your copy yet?? Comment below and tell me if you did! <3 If not, you can order it now! You won't want to miss it. :)
And do you know something else super exciting? (I know, it's hard to top this book release!) Katie is doing a US book signing tour this fall! Check out the dates below and see if she's coming to a city near YOU!
October 7th - Nashville: Book Signing at Lifeway. Details here.
October 8th - Garden Grove (So Cal): Katie Davis Majors Speaking at Shepherd's Grove Church. Details here.
October 10th - Dallas/Fort Worth Area: Katie Davis Majors in Studio at LifeToday with James Robison. Details here.
October 11th - Colorado Springs: Katie Davis Majors at Rocky Mountain Calvary Chapel. Details here.
Whew, it's October already?!
Cue the pumpkin spice everything (that I'm not even really into), apple pies (yes, please), the changing leaves and cooling temperatures.
Despite my bittersweet feelings towards leaving summer, I am looking forward to wearing sweaters and boots, baking pumpkin pies, and going to fall festivals, and maybe even a corn maze or two.
But with the brand new start of October comes the realization that September came and went faster than I could imagine. And September was filled to the brim with writing!
First of all, can I just take a minute and say...God is good, y'all. Yeah, life is hard. But God is good. And that doesn't mean life isn't hard, it just means that the hard stuff will never change who God is.
With that said, I am so humbled at the ways God showed His faithfulness to me throughout September. He provided me with incredible writing opportunities that blew my mind. I am so grateful.
And because I am so blessed to have all of you special blog friends, I wanted to get the chance to share all of my recent guest articles with you as well! So I've compiled links to most of my September guest posts and hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. <3
The Rebelution: "Don't Let Your Feelings Control You"
Project Inspired: "9 Ways to Make a Difference This School Year"
The Modern Abolitionist Blog: "I Dare You"
Kaitlyn Bouchillon's Blog: "When Your Prayers Go (Seemingly) Unanswered"
Truly Beautiful Ministries: "Interview"
Christ Centered Girls: "Holding Onto Hope"
Lane of Roses: "We Don't Have to Be Strong (Daily Devotion)" (I became a writing ambassador for Lane of Roses last month and this devotion I wrote for them will be posted October 4th, so check back for it!)
I'm so excited to see what else God has in store for the coming month.
Happy October, friends! Thank you for being such faithful readers. All my love <3
To God be the glory!
I'd love to hear how your September went! What are you most looking forward to about October? Do you have anything special on your fall bucket list?
Isabella Morganthal (20) 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.