Monday, 29 April 2013

Break My Plans

This might go down in history as one of the shortest, most simple blog posts of all time, but I believe that this is powerful message that needs to be spoken. 

Ever had something not go your way? I sure have. As of lately, I've been struggling in the area of relationships and love. My parents and I have been talking through how old they feeling the appropriate  age to date/court is and what that would look like. And it's been frustrating because we agree on some things, but others, we seem to be butting heads. But I through all this, I hear God saying "My will be done." I realized that I need to give all of this to him. This whole situation brought a song to mind. It's by a band called This Hope and the title is "Break My Plans." This gives us a beautiful reminder that no matter what we want or we think should happen, God's plan for us is perfect (Jeremiah 29:11).

I encourage you to take a moment to listen to this beautiful song. Ask God today to break your plans and make them His.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD."
 Isaiah 55:8

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Your Voice: Do More than Complain

Be Heard by rachel_titiriga"Be the change you wish to see in the world." This wise phrase has become cliché, but try looking at it anew for a moment.

What change do you wish to see?

I live in a tiny town in Arkansas, and when I say tiny I mean population-of-six-hundred-tiny. We don't have much going for us. Driving down the roads you hit more potholes than pavement, litter lines the ditches, our city park is in sad disrepair, our tennis courts have been locked up for about a year, our beautiful lake is filled with gravel, the city government is petty and ineffective, and we can't keep more than four or five businesses alive at a time. It's pretty pathetic, and I join my friends and family quite often in complaint-fests where we moan and make sarcastic remarks about our town.

But then I see people who are really doing something, the few dedicated ones who get out there with their trash bags to attack the litter, who run for political office, who raise money to make town celebrations something special. Maybe the case looks hopeless, but I can see that somebody is doing something about it. Then I want to stop my mouth and get to work. 

Do you see the same thing happening in your country?

If you don't agree with the current government and wish for a change in your nation, what have you done about it? Complained? Debated? Sat back and prophesied doom? I have. It's easy for me to get into heated political and economic debates and conveniently forget that I have done nothing to help matters. 

When we say, "The people of America need to wake up," who do we expect to wake them? 
When we say, "We need revival," what are we doing to help initiate that?

Of course we need to listen for God's will and follow Him in his timing, but it's easy to say that we're just too little, and give up before we've even tired. If you're in the United States then you have a say in your government!

The next time you feel the urge to complain, think about what you can do about it. Many of us are in seasons of life when we feel useless, but if you're a young, single, Christian homeschool girl there is so much you can do for this world!
  • Vote, and Then Some: If you're over 18, voting is the most obvious way to make your voice known in government, but it's really just the beginning. It's important to vote, but go a few steps further too.
  • Start Small: Don't start planning your presidential campaign just yet. Your city council matters too.
  • Donate to Candidates: If you've got some extra money after all your expenses, consider donating to the election fund of a candidate who stands for what you believe. Let him or her be your representative in Washington.
  • Rally and Petition: Attending a rally or signing a petition might not look like much--you're just one of thousands--but getting involved is a great way to introduce your friends and family to important issues. Share your beliefs on Facebook and let the truth be known.
  • Volunteer: Whether it’s making copies at City Hall, cleaning up the local park, or setting out election yard signs, you can use your passion and energy to make a difference. Who knows, maybe someone will see your hard work and get inspired too.
Be Heard, a photo by rachel_titiriga on Flickr.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Fans vs. Followers

Hey there. :)

In this article, I was given the freedom to write about whatever is currently on my heart. And currently, there's a whole lot of things I could write about. Believe me, bearing my soul to y'all could take ages...
But somewhere in the jumbled mess that is my brain, there's one thing that Jesus has been showing me in particular lately that I feel like I should share. And that is are we really followers of Jesus?

In youth group the past couple weeks we've been watching a video series called "Not a Fan" (also available via book) and journaling our thoughts on the series. And oh my goodness, this series will turn your life around. The videos follow the life of a man named Eric, from his teen years, to his radical transformation into a believer of Christ, up until his unexpected death in his mid-fourties. The loss crushes his family and friends, but also prompts them to examine his lifestyle and how he blatantly and unashamedly followed Christ. Each episode follows one of Eric's family members or friends and how they reacted during his life and after his death. Meanwhile, the narrator and author, Pastor Kyle Idleman, parallels the person with someone in the Bible and how they responded to Jesus, distinguishing the fans from the followers.

What does being a follower of Jesus really look like? Going to church on Sundays and Wednesdays? Dressing modestly? Refraining from sin whenever possible? Contributing to a Christian blog?

Sure these are all good things to do, but believe it or not, that is not only what following Christ should look like. Jesus never said "to follow me, you can just be a good girl and just go about your day." Jesus wasn't about the mamby-pamby stuff. He commanded His followers in Luke 9:23: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." I don't know about y'all, but my relationship with God hasn't exactly been costing me my comfort, or my happiness, or my reputation. 

Fans are the people who admire from the sidelines, they're the Christians who worship Jesus on Sundays, give their tithe every week, and even help out with church programs. But they're not willing to give everything. EVERYTHING YOU GUYS! That's what Jesus calls from us. He calls us to sacrifice. He calls us to obey without question. He calls us to do the insane...the impossible. He calls us to death.

Does this sound like your current walk with God? Honestly, mine is far from measuring up to this. I mean, I haven't been persecuted much lately. I haven't given up anything for anyone else, let alone God. He says in Revelation 3:15 - 16 to pick a side: "I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." 

Fans let stuff get in the way. People. Email. Clothes. iPod. Food. Addictions. Excuses. Whatever. You cannot be a true follower of Christ until you are willing to give it all away. Willing to do whatever. And I believe that when we do, He will bless us with joy and peace beyond any compare. If we are only willing to listen. Listen and obey and let go.

What are we waiting for!?

Monday, 8 April 2013

Thoughts on Abortion

So this is a very important topic, one I am certain that I am not qualified to speak about. Therefore, I'll leave the actual arguing against it to the people who know what they're doing over at abort73 .
This story and what I've concluded from it, however, is mine.

April 12, 2006. A happy, growing family of eight is expecting their seventh child, due in September. They recently purchased a bright red fifteen passenger van, which they named "Big Red" (for obvious reasons) so as to accommodate all of them. They are very excited, from the oldest to the youngest, for "Peanut's" arrival.

The kids and dad are working out in the garden while mom is at her doctor's appointment. When the phone rings, the blonde eight-year-old runs to answer it and bring it to her daddy.
"Get Daddy," her mom's strangely urgent voice commands.
After a few minutes, the dad breaks the news to the children. "Peanut is dead."

The world stops.
What could this mean?
How could a little baby, not even born, die?
To me, it made no sense.
At eight years old, I believe I was too young to even really grieve properly.
My great-grandmother had died recently, but that was different. I had known her. I had talked to her. I had loved her.
I hadn't really loved "Peanut," in the same way, I suppose.
But it hurt. A lot. It still does sometimes.

On April 15th, 2006, the day before Easter, my mother delivered her dead child, my little brother.
He was eighteen weeks old.
We named him Joseph, after a man in the Old Testament who claimed the promise of Romans 8:28 for himself. We trust that although his death was a terrible thing, God would use it for good. We also had hope through Easter that year, that death is nothing to fear now that our risen Savior has conquered it. I look forward, Lord willing, to someday meeting my little brother in heaven.
I have pictures of him, you know.
At only eighteen weeks, he had a little nose.
Little toes.
Little fingers.
Little eyelids.
He fit into my dad's hand.
And yes, I firmly believe that he was alive. He was a human being, just like you and me.
I may not be a scientist, or a doctor, and I don't claim to be really knowledgeable at all about this topic.
But to look at his little face, the face of a fetus, and say, "If he's going to have a bad life, if his mother doesn't want him, if he was never expected or wanted by anyone in the first place, if his family will have a hard time caring for his handicap, then he doesn't deserve to live. He's not human yet, anyway."

Excuse me? 

You can't honestly be telling me that I am any more human than that little boy, that I have more of a right to live than my little brother simply because I have already been born. You can't be telling me that he's not a person yet simply because he hasn't yet taken his first breath. I believe that Joseph was a person, even in his  eighteen short weeks of life.
     "Like toddler and adolescent, the terms embryo and fetus do not refer to nonhumans but to humans at various stages of development. It is scientifically inaccurate to say a human embryo or a fetus is not a human being simply because he is at an earlier stage than an infant. This is like saying that a toddler is not a human being because he is not yet an adolescent. Does someone become more human as he gets bigger? If so, then adults are more human than children, and football players are more human than jockeys. Something nonhuman does not become human or more human by getting older or bigger; whatever is human is human from the beginning, or it can never be human at all. The right to live does not increase with age and size; otherwise, toddlers and adolescents have less right to live than adults." ---Randy Alcorn, quoted from his article "Abortion" in the April 2013 edition of Tabletalk Magazine.

This is my story.
These are my thoughts.
What are yours?

Saturday, 6 April 2013

April 2013 Featured Girl: Haley Forbeck

This month the AS Bloggirls are thrilled to present Haley Forbeck as our featured follower! She describes herself as a Christian, fifteen years old, living on a farm in Kansas with her family. She has two little sisters (12 years and 1 month) and likes springtime, crafting, knitting, crocheting, blogging, photography, journaling, painting, flowers, books, letters, reading, and more! 

Let's get to know Haley a bit better.

What are the five words that best describe you?

Christian. Fifteen. Oldest-of-three. Thinker. Documenter.

What has been going on in your life this past month?

The birth of my new little sister, Charlotte Rose! She was born February 26, 2013.

What do you love about homeschooling, and what are your greatest struggles with it?

I really, really like homeschooling! I love that my mom and dad get to be my teachers, that I get to be with my mom and sisters all day long, that our schedule is more flexible, and that I'm taught from materials that have a Christian worldview. As for struggles with it, probably the sometimes mundane-ness of some days. We're usually pretty busy people, but when things start to slow down, I think that's when I struggle with doing the same thing everyday.

You have some amazing photographs on your blog. How did you get into photography in the first place, and how have you become so skilled?

Well, thank you! How I got into photography was through my mom. She got into it from my grandpa. Mom always had a camera from the time I was born. It was just sort of a natural thing. As for any skills, Mom taught me everything I know. Other than that, practice practice practice!

What has God been doing in your life lately?

He has been teaching me patience, that to everything there is a season, and to not be anxious.

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

Two things: talk to people more and write more. If I knew for sure there would not be failure at the end of both those things, I would do them more.

Do you have a favorite book or author?

I don't exactly have a favorite book, but for a favorite book series I like the Viking Quest series by Lois Walfrid Johnson. And for a favorite author I like Janette Oke.

To view Haley's wonderful photos (and see a tutorial for the marvelous denim and lace jacket she's wearing), visit her blog at You can also find her on Instagram, Goodreads, and Polyvore.  

You can be featured too! Just drop us a line via our contact form to nominate yourself or another homeschool girl who is living large with Jesus.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

How to Get More Out of the Bible

I have to admit, Bible study is a struggle for me. I know that it’s important—if my Creator and Savior is going to bother to give me a message the least I can do is read it—but studying, comprehending, and applying God’s Word isn’t easy.

Here I’ve set out 10 ways to get more out of the Bible. I’ve gleaned these from personal experience as well as older and wiser Christians. While I’m still struggling, these tips have helped me learn more from the scriptures, rather than glazing over or forgetting what I’ve “studied” ten minutes after closing the book.    
  1. Dedicate to Daily Study: Reading scripture has to be a priority and a habit, or it will inevitably slip down the to-do list. Yesterday I made phone calls, played around with my new Nexus 7, exercised, and then remembered my morning devotions at about 3:30 PM. When I finally plopped down with my Bible I felt burned out.  If I just think it would be nice to read some scripture, that won't be enough. I've got to make a concrete resolution, set myself a goal, and then strive to meet it. The daily discipline of getting out a devotional book, writing notes, and spending a few minutes in prayer has been good for me. It would help if I could always do it at the same time of day—but I’m working on that.
  2. Get God’s Word Firsthand: It can be unwise—or downright dangerous—to delve into books about the Bible without a firm grounding in the Bible itself. Who knows what you're being spoon-fed if you haven't studied the real, unfiltered thing? Sure, it's easier to take someone else's word for it, but Paul praised the Bereans in Acts 17:11 who “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” If you haven’t yet read the Bible through in its entirety, I would encourage you to do so now. I highly recommend reading through the Bible in a year.
  3. Devotions and Commentaries: On the flipside of #2, giants of the faith have so much to offer us. Reading works by Elizabeth Elliot, C.S. Lewis, James Dobson, Eric and Leslie Ludy, Ravi Zacharias, Max Lucado and many others can revolutionize your perspective on verses you’ve been reading your whole life! Lately I've been loving The Indwelling Life of Christ by Major W. Ian Thomas.
  4. Feed Constantly: Sometimes it takes an inundation of scripture to break through the absorbing chaos of everyday life. If you fill your day with spiritual books, newsletters, blogs (like this one!), films, and music, you’ll find yourself digging deeper than you’d ever dreamed. This also gives you the benefit of other perspectives. For example, I'm from conservative background but I regularly listen to podcasts from a more charismatic church. Seeing scripture from another perspective has expanded my spiritual horizons, and drawn me closer to the Lord.
  5. Write It Down: For tactile learners and writers, this could make a huge difference in your Bible study. Take notes during sermons, keep a scripture journal where you can record insights, or write notes in the margins (I love the freedom of my wide margin Bible, where I have room to scribble down thoughts right beside the verses).
  6. Try Bite-Size: Dietrich Bonhoeffer had a habit of concentrating on small doses of scripture. He gave his seminary students 12 verses to study for six days, half an hour a day. They weren’t allowed to use commentaries or read the verses in their original languages. The point was to deal with the scripture as if it were God’s words spoken directly to them. I have studied a single verse for 15 minutes, taking notes along the way, and found it surprisingly rewarding. Maybe you just take five or ten minutes, but try it out and see what you discover.
  7. Know Your Roots: Learning the definition of biblical words in their original language could change how you see them forever. A free resource like Strong's Concordance can reveal amazing facets in the simplest Greek and Hebrew words. You might also get a book about life in Bible times, to better understand parables, illustrations, and cultural oddities. Why were city gates significant? What was unique about the cedars of Lebanon? My NIV Quest Study Bible has answered many an itching question.
  8. Partner With Others: The Christian walk really is about relationships. If you have some likeminded friends, family, or church members, you might consider joining or creating a group Bible study. I’ve found that sometimes my deepest fears and questions are cleared up just by talking them out with someone else.
  9. Memorize It: By internalizing God's Word to the level of memorization, we’re able to whip it out when we need it most. Mary Kate has given some great suggestions in her post, "5 Ways to Memorize Scripture."
I know that there are many, many more techniques. 
How do you get the most out of your Bible study?

Original Photo: Untitled, a photo by db Photography | Demi-Brooke on Flickr.

Monday, 1 April 2013

5 Ways to Memorize Scripture

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness..."
2 Timothy 3:16

Did any of you any attend AWANA as a kid? AWANA is a fantastic program that my church holds for youth from 3 years old to 5th graders, and the goal is to teach kids to memorize Scripture - good stuff, right? Every week, the kids come excitedly to church proudly sporting their AWANA vests which bear colorful patches and pins showing how many verses they've memorized. I'll never forget my experiences at AWANA and I still haven't forgotten the Bible verses I learned as a kid.

After I outgrew AWANA, my drive to memorize verses faded. But, honestly, I shouldn't have stopped. As we grow older, we need God's Word more and more in our lives. I can't tell you how many times I wish I knew Bible verses right off the top of my head to give someone for advice or encouragement. Memorizing Scripture is an imperative part of our walks with God - after all, how can we witness to others, teach others, learn about the mind and heart of our Maker without memorizing the Word?

So, how do we go about doing this? Here are five helpful hints on memorizing Scripture that have helped me:

1. Pick a verse and write it down. You may want to start off by memorizing one verse (or passage) a week. Once you find one you like, take the time to write it down - not just some quick scribbles on a Post-it note - but find some nice paper and write it slowly, neatly, and meaningfully, taking time to soak in the words. This will help to begin engraining the verse in your mind. Repeating this step is really helpful.

2. Read the verse aloud. Find a quiet spot and read the verse or passage slowly. Experimenting with different voices sometimes helps (and it makes it more fun ;). If you're a musically gifted person, put the verse to song (WARNING: the song will get stuck in your head for a while). Also, reading it aloud with another person can help.

3. Put the verse in places you can see them. Go to town with sticky notes! You could use the bathroom mirror, your car, a message board, your dresser, the toilet, even your forehead. The point is to make sure that this verse can be seen anywhere you go. That way there's the constant reminder and it starts to become natural to see it - thusly, becoming engrained in your mind.

4. Pray the verse back to God. Doing this step will make it personal for you. For example, if you are memorizing Romans 3:23 you could pray "Father, I know I have sinned and I fall short of Your Glory, but I thank You that You redeem us and give us the gift of eternal life." 

5. Teach the verse to another person. Doing this will not only help the student learn the verse, but you learn it better as well. 

Memorizing Scripture is 100% necessary for a healthy relationship with God. Why wouldn't we want to memorize God's most innermost thoughts? We can respect His Word by applying it to our lives in this way, learning his teachings so that "we might not sin against [Him] (Psalm 119:11)."

How do you teach yourself to memorize Scripture? What's a verse that means the most to you?
Photo Credit: 193.365 - Bible-keh!, a photo by Josh Liba on Flickr.
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