Tuesday, November 29, 2016

break through

i will fight till the very end

i will write till the very end

i will stand with my light till the very end

take hold of my rights till the very end

take hold of my life till the very end

i will not let the black get close

no it will not get too close

it will not win

i keep playing near the edges

but i'm stopping. i'm confessing

i'm running towards the light

i'm grabbing my torch

i'll set myself ablaze in this war

the fire will consume me it will not go out

it will push all the darkness out

my God will sustain me, keep the flame blazing within me

i will fight till the very end

and when we reach the end,

we will win.


no, this most definitely not the best piece of poetry I have written. but that's not what it's for! it's here to signify a breaking point. this point is me saying that i will not lose. i'm tired of giving in to my fleshly ways and letting my sin hold me hostage. i'm breaking through, these chains aren't going to hold me, and that's a choice. what's holding you back? break through is a choice, change is a choice. keep the faith and hold strong. these waters may rage but God is still King. the battle was already won for you, my dear. i feel like i'm writing these words to myself just as much as i am to you.
 we will break through, hand in hand.

-jacyrayn xx
Saturday, November 26, 2016

What Long Distance Relationships Teach us about Gratitude

When we think about gratitude, I think we often conjure up mental images of being with our family, spending time with those we love, traveling together, having dinner together, doing things. All the things.

But over the past few months, and especially as the air grows crisp and the holiday season rolls around, I've found that I've come to look at gratitude in a different way than I used to-- in a deeper way.

My boyfriend is in the Air Force, and is currently deployed. It's rough being away from someone you love so deeply for almost 7 months. But being apart has begun to lead me into a fuller understanding of thankfulness. So here are 7 things this deployment has taught me so far about gratitude. (and this applies to any long distance relationship, or friendship.)

1. the little things are the big things

talking on the phone, or getting a simple "good morning" text... normally these things are seen as small, but when you're long distance, you begin to find that these things are SO full of joy. You look forward to sending and receiving those texts, and those moments of hearing their voice, or seeing their pixel-y face through a Skype call.

The gifts they've given you, like the token on your desk, a bracelet around your wrist, or the sweatshirt they gave you, become more than just gifts; they're vivid reminders of that person and how much they mean to you; what a blessing they are in your life and how grateful you are for them.

2. your consciousness of who they are increases

When you're with someone in person, you're often overwhelmed by a lot of things, like... YOU'RE WITH THEM IN PERSON EGHIOBGSDFIUH YAAAY. Let's do things, let's party! 

Don't get me wrong, you can definitely become aware of so many qualities someone has when you're with them in person. But when you're in a long distance relationship, or friendship, you're given space and distance to really appreciate all the little things that make them who they are-- things that you may not necessarily notice when you are with them in person. 

Like their thoughtfulness: when they snapchat you pictures of something they saw that reminded them of you, or when they write you letters and send long emails or sweet "thinking of you" texts. When they take the time to ask you how you're feeling, or what's been on your mind lately-- these are all things that really get emphasized in a long distance relationship.

3. you become SUPER grateful for technology.

Your phone and your laptop are LIFELINES. Bless everyone who stayed up late drinking red bulls in a basement somewhere inventing Skype and Face Time. We love you. A lot. And we don't take you for granted.

As rough as LDRs can be... it's nothing compared to what it would be like sans phones, computers, and technology. I don't even want to imagine what waiting weeks for letters must have been like.

4. you learn new ways to express your thankfulness for that person

When your with someone in person, you can give them a big hug and tell them how much you love them. You can stay up and watch a movie together, go out for a bite to eat, grab ice cream, or go for long rides to watch the sunset and listen to your favorite albums.

But in LDRs you have to get a little more creative. Because you can't do any of that. :')

You think of new ways to express your love and gratitude for that person; creative snaps, or short video messages via Messenger. Your plan "Skype Dates", you send super sweet care packages, you write letters, you read a book together and discuss it chapter-by-chapter, you download the same work-out challenge apps and do them together. In other words, you EXPAND the communication of your thankfulness in ways that you may not have if you lived next door to that person, or if you were with them 24/7.

5. it creates a very, very DEEP appreciation for when you DO get to spend time with them in person

So often we take for granted the fact that we get to sit across the table from someone and share a meal with them, or go out for coffee with our best friend in the flesh. Being in a long distance relationship has taught me to savor the time I spend with my boyfriend when we're together, because we can't always be together in person.

Having several more months to go before his deployment is over, we often find ourselves talking about all the little coffee dates and day trips we went on together before he left, going over small details that we may not have even thought that much about when they were happening. The distance only reminds us of how sweet, and deeply valuable all those many little experiences are.

6. you become aware of what a blessing family and friends can be

When a close friend texts you to ask how you're holding up, or when your mom takes you our for a London Fog and a pep talk, you begin to feel this sense of how deeply your friends and family care, and how much you care about them.

I am so thankful for my family, and I have become even more aware of my gratitude for them because of this deployment. When my sister stays up late and talks with me, or when my mom and I spend time together, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for them, and the fact that I have such amazing and supportive people in my life, and that I am not alone.

7. Strong long distance relationships always include a third party

In order to have a strong relationship or friendship with someone long distance, you have to rely on something bigger than the two of you.

For us, the belief that God's got us is what keeps us going and keeps our relationship strong. Yes, of course there are fears and doubts and uncertainties when we're thousands of miles apart, but if we spent all of our time with our eyes focused on us and all the "what ifs", our relationship would be a weak, unhappy, and fear-oriented one.

Instead, in relationships, friendships, and life in general, what makes our hearts feel the fullest is when we focus not on the turbulence of this world, but on the promises God has so boldly declared to us, giving us His protection, His love, and His grace.

 “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.  I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.  When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place,  it won’t be a dead end—Because I am God, your personal God,  The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you:  all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to me!  That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,  trade the creation just for you.
[ Isaiah 43:1-4 from the Message translation]

Long distance relationships and friendships give us a hardcore opportunity to really, honestly trust our Papa, and trust that His plans are to "...prosper us and not to harm us." That His plans are to "give us hope and a future." [Jeremiah 29:11]

And sometimes this is a hard thing to do. Sometimes trusting is something you have to actively make yourself do. But the process only makes you stronger-- and in my experience, much happier.

Are you in the long distance relationship or friendship? What are some of the things that keep you going? How has gratitude surfaced more in your life because of your LDR?


so so so thankful for all of you! <3 I hope you guys have a wonderful thanksgiving! 
Wednesday, November 23, 2016

a constant state

gratitude is an attitude.

attitude is defined as:

"a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, 
typically one that is reflected in a person's behavior"

thinking or feeling.

an attitude of gratitude is not you saying every day 


it's feeling the gratitude for life, Salvation, cozy evenings, and words.

little things like popcorn and friends <3
it's remembering that you are not alone,

not forgotten.

don't feel the pressure of having to solidify a word or a thought on gratitude,

don't tell yourself that you have to make sure you're grateful
for one thing every day,

just BE grateful.

just like prayer should be a constant stream of conversation towards Jesus,

gratefulness should be something that floods our life in everything.

live your life in a constant state of gratefulness and I believe, 
that Christ will use it to help you be content.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

I'm scared of the night

I've been hiding from the night.

Night always has a way of getting me thinking.
But I don't want to think.
I don't want to feel.
So why not just hide?

I can keep my mind busy,
Push my thoughts away,
Stay inside the protected bubble I've made for myself,
And not have to deal with it.


It's easier this way.
Avoiding the questions that are placed in your mind.
Avoiding anything that might bring you pain.
Avoiding anything that could cause you confusion.

But that can only last for so long, can't it?

So here I sit.
In the dark.
I'm facing the night.
And I'm scared.

I don't know what I'm scared of.
Maybe it's the feelings that I don't want to deal with.
A broken heart.
Growing up.

I don't know.

But here I am.
Hanging on to Jesus.
Asking Him to hold me tight.
Here I go.

-aaliyah xx
Thursday, November 17, 2016

work in progress

in case you've been living underground, a week from today is thanksgiving. and before this year, I've never really thought much about it before the day of. thanks to this community, and this past year, and my Savior ( :') sometimes I still get all emotional at the fact that I can actually say that ya know) I've actually come a long way. hah, that's funny I never thought I'd be saying that.

from my relax board on pinterest

but close to a year ago now, I started working everyday after going to class and I realized how quickly I dilapidated into grudging apathy in the face of an inevitably monotonous schedule. it was at that point that I realized I didn't want to live like that (*there's a pin for that that says I wasn't born to just pay bills and die* and I FEEL). so I began to progressively and purposefully and frequently failurely (*this is a new word that I just made up ok*) think of and appreciate small things that I enjoyed or are beautiful or anything at all! like the sunset, or someone actually smiling at you in passing, being at home with a blanket, home cooked meals, having a body that is healthy (like how do I not think about this everyday), new headphones, the fact that I have a pretty much endless supply of paper to write on, the people that God has placed in my life, God's promises, WAFFLES, and more!! it also prompted me to take time for myself, but also to go out of my way to brighten someone else's day in a small way. this is a win-win situation, y'all.
honestly, I entitled this WIP for work in progress, because it was a draft and I didn't want Kate or Abbie to get too excited about it and publish it in advance or something hahaha. but it's actually true to the post. because gratitude will always be a work in progress. you'll never be perfect in this area. you are a work in progress. and guess what? that's ok! give yourself time and grace and you will see progress eventually! I don't think I really thought that I would, but here I am. haha, God has a funny way of doing that.
turns out, taking it day by day will actually get you a long way. so, let's get started. let's do this together as a community. there's never a better day than today. what are YOU grateful for today?

- Olivia K
Friday, November 11, 2016

songs of joy

May we all see the joy in life today. 
Peace will win, fear will lose.

- - -

Just a small graphic arts project I put together for y'all.
Quoted from: Psalm 126.
Keep burning and shining and being grateful.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

what no one wants to say about gratitude

I have a confession.

I sometimes quit being thankful.

room goes quiet
men gasp
ladies clutch their purls and cover their children's ears
clock ticks loudly

I, the perfect Christian child, have quit being thankful before.
In fact, I've been tempted to do it again in these past few weeks.
So when Katie e-mailed me saying that our BY theme for November was gratitude, I shriveled my nose.

Because in all reality, reading and writing things like
we should give thanks in all circumstances
we have so much to be thankful for
count your blessings
just be thankful for what you do have
sounds so awful and fake.

A very dear friend of mine ended her life a month ago.
I'm not thankful.
I'm not thankful for funerals and tears and therapy.

Right now, I don't give thanks when think about sitting on Madison's bed with her mom two days after she committed suicide.
Right now, I don't give thanks for the pain and suffering of this world.
Right now, I don't give thanks when it punches my chest every morning.

Telling you that gratitude is nothing more than instagram worthy pictures of coffee, boots and leaves feels wrong.
Because gratitude is so much deeper than that. 
It's the response of your heart when you find Jesus in the broken and the beautiful.

So if you find joy in coffee and boots {like me}?
But if not?
You're awesome too.

Don't throw gratitude away.
Don't be thankful because it's the Christian thing to be.
Don't act like it's all good, all the time.

Please dear sisters, know that it's not fine all the time.
Please be sincere in your thanksgiving.
Please know that there are, and will, always be things to be thankful for.


it's okay to not be thankful.
it's okay to feel pain and anger,
loneliness and depression.
And in those things?

 You are held.
 You are precious.
 You will fight until you see beauty in the world.
 Because it's there.
 This earth contains so much joy, just for you to  feel.
 There are blessings to be received.
 There is warmth to be felt,
 and light to be seen.

So it's okay to quit being thankful in your pursuit of fearless authenticity.
Just don't forget there is still reason to give thanks.

Friday, November 4, 2016

November: Gratitude



My sister and I have been talking about this a lot. We talked about it in the latest podcast (episode #2), and I feel like these verses point us to the very backbone of gratitude.

Paul leads us to a meditation; whatsoever things are pure, lovely, righteous, truthful-- think on these things. How often have I chosen to think of the dark, the failing, the shortcomings? often.

I've broken down to my mom so many times before "how do I stop? I don't know how to stop these negative, destructive thoughts... I don't know how to stop them." and my mom always so graciously points out, that it's not so much about stopping, as it is about starting.

it's not so much saying 'no' to something, as it is saying a great, big 'YES' to something else. something better.

Gratitude is saying "YES". Yes, I chose to be awake. I chose to be conscious, and I chose to focus not on the things (lies) that my wandering mind tells me, but on the bold declaration my creator makes about me. I am more than a  conqueror, and I am blessed beyond measure. I choose to focus on the good, on the light, and on the beauty-- and in doing so, I set myself free. I bring more of it into the world.