Just Be

I pride myself in having a very accurate memory that stretches quite a ways back. I can often remember details of conversations from months ago, and I can remember lots of specific instances from when I was quite a lot younger.

I think one of my earliest memories; certainly my earliest church memory, is sitting on the end of a pew in church, squished next to my mom, watching my dad go up on stage- either to preach or do the welcome. In my memory of this moment, all the typical church background noise is drowned out and I was focused completely on my dad- I was so excited to see him up at the front of the church!

A few years after that, my family left that church and my parents planted a church in the backroom of our house. The next ‘chapter’, if you will, of my church memories are all from home.

I remember things like jumping on my bed with my friends and sister after my mom finished teaching Sunday school in the dining room. I remember the alphabet spaghetti some of the moms would heat up for the kids whilst the adults were finishing the services. I remember sledging in the winter and go-kart building in the summer with our church family.

Then we got gifted a building. I remember what the tiny Sunday school room looked like before the building works made it more modern. It was a strange lime green colour. I remember the first coffee bar we had- it had wheels so it could be moved out of the way after the service. I remember my friends of all different ages- my best friends who I still see today, the friends who passed through church and the unlikely friendships that I formed because of church.  

I remember lots and lots of things from church over the past years. But most of all, I remember how simple everything used to be.

How I didn’t care what everyone would think of me if I danced in fancy dress during the service because I was only five. How no one at school would judge me for knowing I went to church because it was just something I did. How it was never a struggle to read my Bible or pray because it was just something my parents did with me every night.

As we grow up, things become more complicated. It sort of feels like loving Jesus isn’t as simple as it used to be.

Now, it matters what our opinions on abortion and gay marriage are. It matters if we read the Bible daily because our relationships with God are not our parents anymore- they are our own. It matters if we do our school work and our chores without grumbling because that is part of honouring the Lord.

And sometimes, it can feel overwhelming. Like we just want everything to pause- just for a moment- so we can just be in the presence of the Lord. So we can just be still and be.

And friend, if you ever feel like this too, I want to encourage you that you can just be. You can forget the worries of the world and sit at the Saviour’s feet for a minute and breathe.

Of course, these other things are super important! Having Biblically grounded opinions on abortion and gay marriage is important. Reading the Bible daily is very important! And honouring the Lord in everything we do and working without grumbling is an important attitude. It’s a way we can show little bits of Jesus to the people around us.

But if, for just a moment, you need to sit in the presence of the Lord and rest there, that’s okay too.  

Matthew 11:28-29 says, ‘Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’

When we feel weary; when things are complicated, we can turn to Jesus and find true rest. We can turn to Jesus and just be. 

5 Books for the Christian Teen Girl

I love to read. I haven’t done an awful lot of it recently, but that doesn’t change the fact that I love to read. From mysteries and murders, to, well, more mysteries and murder, I love a good book!

So, I thought it would be super fun to do a post sharing a few of my favourite books… except not just any books. Not mysteries and murders at least. No, these are better! These are the five books I would recommend to the Christian teen girl or young woman trying to find her identity in Christ in this strange age in which we live. These five books are game-changers! Each one of them taught me something about strengthening my faith and standing firm in my identity. Each one of them inspired me in one way or another. And now, I want to share them with YOU!!

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Your Will Be Done

Okay, so here’s a fact about me: I am one of those people who always needs to know the plan.

When I say always, I mean 120% of the time.

Whether it’s a leisurely day in the summer or a busy Saturday afternoon, I need to know the exact movements of every member of my family and the precise timings of the day- virtually to the minute! But, it doesn’t just stop there! If there is no plan, I will make one, and if I can’t make one, I start to stress!

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The Joy of The Lord

What makes you happy?

For me, it’s lots of little things. Like the way the sun streams gracefully through the window in the spring. And how bees knock up against your window and then fly away again, reminding you summer is on the way. And the taste of soft-serve ice cream from an ice cream truck somewhere along the British coastline. It’s how my puppy’s face looks all smushed up when he wakes up from a nap. It’s how my cousins and I put frozen yoghurt on our noses in the summer, just because. It’s walking into a coffee shop and smelling the coffee beans. It’s eating lunch every day with my friends and all their different smiles and laughs.

But sometimes, when these things are stripped away, I no longer feel happy.

Like when a friend or a family member leaves. Or when I have to say a goodbye I’ve been dreading. Or when I hear disappointing news. These things hit me in the very centre, and suddenly, I don’t feel so happy anymore.

But before too long, the sun will come streaming through the window again, casting pretty shadows on the counter and reminding me that there are, in fact, still things to be happy for.

And that, my sweet friend, is just what happiness is. It’s ever-changing; not at all constant. Some mornings, you’ll wake up overflowing with it, but other mornings, you’ll have to remind yourself to look for it in the small things. And other mornings still, it might not even be there at all.

And although those dark and difficult mornings where we roll out of bed, completely lacking any happiness, may get us down, there is still hope. There is still hope because we can hold on to joy.

Psalm 16:11 says, ‘You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.’ (NIV) I love this… that in the presence of the Lord there is a fullness of joy- a joy that comes not from placing our happiness in earthly things but from being with the Lord.

Even when we feel void of happiness and even when things aren’t going our way, we can still feel joyful. This joy we can feel- it might not stop us feeling sad, but it can stop us from feeling despaired because we have this fullness of joy when we are in the presence of the Lord.

And what’s even better is that this fullness of joy gives us strength! Nehemiah 8:10 says, ‘[…]Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.’ (NIV)

With this knowledge, we can be joyful even when things are difficult. We can dance our way through trials and sing in the middle of the storm. Our hearts can be full of joy even when we stumble and fall. We can lift our hand and praise God in the valley because His joy gives us strength.

This doesn’t mean that difficult times won’t still be difficult. Because they will be. They will ask more of us than we could imagine, they will test us in ways we never expected and they may hurt us like never before. It might be a struggle to get out of bed in the mornings or to check things off your to-do list, or to smile when someone asks you a question. But, amidst the struggle, there is joy. A joy that comes from being in the presence of the Lord. And there is a strength to be found too. A strength that comes from this fullness of joy.

So let the joy of the Lord be your strength, sweet friend. Look to the Lord and bask in His glorious presence, and be filled with joy. The joy of the Lord.

Smoothie Bowl Dump

Hey, hello, sweet friends! How are you doing today! I can’t believe it’s still only Wednesday, how is your week going?

Here in London, spring has definitely arrived- it’s a lot milder outside and the cherry trees are just beginning to blossom! With the change in weather has come a change in other things too- fewer winter clothes, more outdoor activities and different foods- most namely breakfast! The winter just seemed a little too cold for smoothies and refrigerated food first thing in the morning, but now spring is here smoothie bowls are back on the table (literally)!

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Follow pt. 2

Simon Peter. Andrew. James. John. Philip. Bartholomew. Thomas. Matthew. James. Thaddeus. Simon. Matthias. 12 ordinary men who gave up their lives; their homes; their everyday-normal at another man’s call to ‘come follow me’. 12 boring, normal, not-extra-special, sinful men who were called to be the closest earthly friends of the extraordinary Jesus Christ.

What I love about the calling of all of Jesus’ disciples it that Jesus barely bats an eyelid at how ‘normal’ they are. He called Levi (Matthew)- a tax collector; the lowest of the low. He called Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John- fishermen; people who caught fish and cleaned nets for a living. None of the 12 He called were particularly special. None of them were rich or famous. None of them were royalty or nobility- the kinds of people you’d expect a King to spend his time with. No, instead, Jesus called tax collectors and fishermen and sinners.

And you know what’s awesome?! He calls us too!

Like we talked about in part 1 of this post, we live in an age full of this ‘following culture’- a culture where we are surrounded by people to follow; people who inevitably influence us in some way or another. It’s practically impossible to avoid the pull of the ‘follow’ button, and before we know it, we’ve added another influencer to our list of people who influence us through what they say, do, post, write and wear.

And even though it’s not always bad to be influenced by other people, it can become bad when we begin to get led in the wrong direction… away from Jesus; away from the cross.

So whilst it’s okay to follow other people, we need to make sure we’re following Jesus first and foremost. It can be tough, but every single day we need to choose Jesus… we need to reject other people and follow Jesus before we even think about following anyone else.

In order to put Jesus first, we need to be wise and discerning. Set boundaries and limitations. If you feel someone is leading you away from Jesus, unfollow! It’s really that simple. Just hit the unfollow button, and don’t look back. If you find it difficult to get in the Word before you check Instagram or even your WordPress reader, then set boundaries. Don’t go on your phone/laptop before, say, 9 am. Only check your WordPress reader 5 days out of 7. No Instagram on Sundays. It’s precautionary measures like these that help us stay on track to following Jesus, not other people.

The truth is, it breaks Jesus’ heart when we follow other people before we follow Him.

The was a time in my life a few years ago where I thought I had to ‘have it all together’ before I could be a Christian. I thought that until I could ‘be less sinful’, I didn’t have to read my Bible or pay attention in Church. I thought I had to better; more disciplined, before I could get baptised. But, friends, this is NOT the case! Jesus calls us to follow Him right here, right NOW! He doesn’t want us to waste a second… it doesn’t matter how sinful we are or how messy our lives are. We do NOT have to clean ourselves up before we turn to the Father, he wants us just as we are!

That is the kind of love that Jesus has for us, shown in Romans 5:8- ‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’

WHILST WE WERE STILL SINNERS, He loved us. He loves us. And he calls us, just like that, to follow Him.

Just as Jesus called to these men ‘come follow me’, He calls to us too. And just as Jesus didn’t care that these men were poor and sinful, He doesn’t care that we are. When we respond to His call of ‘come follow me’, He takes what little we have and rejoices.

Weekly Inspo + Art Dump

Hey there, sweet friend! How are you doing today? How has your week gotten off to a start?

Last week I had the week off school and it’s never very fun going back to school after a break, but here we are! One upside to the misery that is school is the weather- it’s been really lovely (especially for February) the past few days! The sun has been out and I’ve been outside without a coat or jacket plenty of times! Last Sunday I went for a walk with my dad and my pup- the sun was shining and little purple and white flowers were pushing their way out of the ground under the trees- spring is most definitely on the way, and my heart leaps with that knowledge!

I don’t have an awful lot for you today, but I thought it might be fun to share some encouraging quotes and artwork I’ve designed recently… I’m sure I’m not the only one of us who loves a little bit of midweek encouragement!

I hope you find something here to encourage or inspire you, sweet friend!

And let’s chat in the comments below! I love love love hearing what you’ve been up to or how you’re doing, or even if there is anything I can be praying about for you! Tell me something exciting, or let me know how the weather is by you! What have you baked recently? What are you listening too at the moment? Whatever it is, I love hearing from you!!

Follow pt. 1

Have you ever thought about how many people you follow?

The dictionary has lots of definitions for the word ‘follow’. It can mean to trace the movement or direction of something/someone. It can mean to conform to, or to act according to someone’s directions. It can mean to pay close attention to. But the definition I like most is that it can mean to copy what something/someone does.

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Liebster Award

Hello, sweet friends! How are you all doing today? How has your week been?

Today’s post is slightly different to normal… I got nominated for the Liebster Award by the lovely Makayla, so I’ve got a bunch of questions to answer, and some for you too!

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