Celebration

Celebration



Have you ever finished a book and simply sighed in a moment of reverence because the story you had just read took your breath away? It was so wonderful and enchanting and deep and real that you would much rather be immersed in the world it presented than in the world you find yourself in.

The truth is that you are immersed in a story just like that.

Your own.

Your story, regardless of the amount of conflict, the antagonists and protagonists, the plot twists, and the resolutions, is worthy to be called a classic, an epic in the library of the world.

Because of that, today is a day for celebration.
You are unique, and your uniqueness is one the greatest reasons for joy there is.
The way you sing, your eye color, your Africa-shaped birthmark, your accent, your ideals, the jokes you laugh at and tell, your values, your tastes—the list continues for miles. You are a beautiful combination that no other person can claim.
As an avid book-lover, I find my heart melting at the mention of my favorite books, characters, and authors. Finding someone else who celebrates the same things makes enjoying them even more fulfilling.
Today, let me be your companion as we fan-girl (or fan-boy) over your story. The book is your amazing, intricate, beautiful life--the heroine is you, surrounded by your supporting characters, or possibly in your case, victorious over many villains--and the author is God, the lover of your soul. I once read this quote, and it struck me so deeply with its simple and yet profound message: "The Bible is the only book where the author is in love with the reader." Your story is the same way.
I encourage you, my dear friend, to love your story. I promise I know how hard that is, but in turning your love toward your own story and not just the enticing stories of others, you begin to learn how truly breathtaking your own story really is.





-Hannah

We are...

We are...


This post is a simple reminder of who we are as God's children.  




We are stunning beings modeled after the Creator of the Universe.

We are people who were thought of before the stars were placed in the sky.

We are perfectly whole through Him who loved us.

We are justified through the blood of our Saviour.

We are free to live without chains of bondage.

We are affirmed by God the Father.

We are safe in the knowledge of knowing that He is able to guard what we have entrusted to Him until that day.

We are each given a unique purpose.

We are called to be different.

We are forgiven; daily, freely, again and again, and again.

And we are loved. So, so loved; infinitely, boundlessly, freely and eternally.

We matter. We matter. We matter.



xo

who we are

who we are

Who we are ≠ what we do. 



 





















Who we are is very simple - what we do is complicated. (Don't misunderstand me ... what we do is beautiful, needed, unique, creative, passionate, important, life-giving ... but complicated.)

Who we are - our identity - is loved. Good. Made holy by the grace of God alone. Forgiven. Full of light. 

But it is not the same thing as what we do. Who we are does not change whether we scale creative highs or get stuck in the slumps. Who we are is not the author, the dreamer, the artist, the failure, the winner, the published novelist, the girl who can't get past the first chapter, the sick, the better-than, the healed, or the lost. 

This is something that is hard for me. I like to stack up my winnings and my failures in two neat lists, and if the first line is longer than the second, then I am good. I am doing things right. I am worth something. I am A Good Person. You might even feel a little intimidated by me, and you should, because I am awesome (just look at my list!)
But if the second line is longer than the first, instantly, I adopt those failings as my identity. Who I am is the girl who didn't get 100% on her assignment. Who I am becomes the number on the page, the 75% or the 57%, with wide-open gaps in all the places I failed to succeed. Who I am quickly becomes the girl who has a dusty Bible on her nightstand. I am the closed laptop and the list with all the boxes unchecked. I am the alarm that blares when you least want to hear it and I am the energy I don't have to make breakfast in the morning.

And so I live in this flip flop where what I do determines who I am, and I spend a lot of time seasick, stuck somewhere in the center of it all, riding the waves as I wait to see whether the odds will end up in my favour today.
I am only just starting to learn that this is not the way it is supposed to work. I am bad bad bad at taking gifts without giving something in return, but I'm just beginning to figure out that I don't have to do anything to change my identity. I don't have to do anything to be good. I don't have to earn the right to hold my head up high - that is a privilege that has been freely given to me. Who I am - my identity, my life, my story has value and worth because it is a story of holiness that has been dropped on me like a blanket by Jesus. 

My story matters not because I have done great things, or helped lots of people, or because I don't swear or do go to church or check off any other number of so-called "list items". My story matters because Jesus says I matter; not because of what I've done, but because of who I am. 

And I want you to know that no matter who you are, or what you have or haven't done, or what kind of marks you get back on your assignments ... your story matters too. Not because of what you do, but because of who you are. 

Your story matters ... and we can't wait to hear it.


What's your story? Do you ever feel tempted to equate what you do with who you are? What raps you on the head and reminds you that you are holy because God made you holy?

xx,
Olivia (s)

you are not a machine

you are not a machine























you, like me, are probably tired.

i see your darkened eyes, your brittling bones, your wry smile that
spreads thinner and thinner.

i see your hungry heart, your hollowed ribcage, and the deep puddle that
you're about to collapse into.

i know your skipping heartbeat, the pain that jolts up your arm as you pound it
against the wooden desk to try again and again and again

i know your adrenaline going to waste because you're sitting through lectures,
taking those exams, working behind the counter, to no avail

i recognize your soul bursting because you're locked inside and you are
overworking yourself

but you will deny it because you, like me, still feel the desire to get things done
because you, like me, will not be contented with enough
because you, like me, would rather go down because you're tired than rest and rise again

but you aren't a machine, and that is the problem.

you are here and you are with me
we are flesh and blood and bone and belief and we still have life
we still have it inside us, curled up like a ball, and it won't let go

we are not rust and steel and cement and rot and death
we are not programmed to work day and night
we are not built of never ending grit

we are more than clockwork, more than rigorous timetables and schedules
we are breathing and sad and happy and mad at all the wrong and right times but that's fine

you, like me, probably need a break

so go for it.

then get back up again.

Safe

Safe























Darling, you are safe.


You are not lost. You are not alone. You are not abandoned. And you are not drowning.

Darling, you are safe.

You are safe because no one can take you from you. You can never leave you, and you have the freedom to love, comfort, and cherish yourself. You have the ability to be your best friend instead of your arch nemesis. Use that ability; it will give you life you never thought you'd experience.

Darling, you are safe.

You are in the arms of a Papa Who sacrificed everything for you to know what true love looks like. No one can take you from Him.

Darling, you are safe.

Your beauty is unchangeable. No one can alter it with their words, actions, or thoughts. It can only grow and mature. You are a part of Beauty itself.

Darling, you are safe.

Love is the essence of who you are as God designed you. That love cannot be broken, bruised, cut, or killed, no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. That love in you is a shining shield, a light protecting you from the illusion of darkness.

Darling, you are safe.

Even if your life up to this point has been dark and empty, there is never a point at which that life cannot be changed, reshaped, and filled with light. Emily Dickinson once said, “Hope is the thing with feathers.” But that bird never flies away.

Darling, you are safe.

Hannah W.


you are beautiful

you are beautiful


























You know that moment, when they tell you you're beautiful and... they actually mean it?
Maybe it's your dad, or mom. Maybe it's your sister or brother or your boyfriend.
I know, cliche as heck, but really. You feel like you can't quite believe them because how could it be true? You've seen yourself. How could that be beautiful? 
Part of you wants to believe them, the other wants to run and douse your face with water till it steams you're blushing so hard.
Part of you wants to cry, another wants to smile. Part of you wants to hide, the other thinks you should say 'thank you’.
And somewhere deep inside, a younger version of you sobs. Thinking about all the lies you were told about how you are plain, or fat, or ugly. 
That you are nobody special.
A little baby girl inside you cries and you feel your heart cracking because of that one person who didn't return your smile, or didn't repeat your 'good mornings’.
A little princess’ fist clenches, trying to keep the sobs in, trying to keep her stomach in.
Trying to fit into jeans two sizes small, and a society that's way smaller than the one she should care about. 
The only one that matters.
It may take a guy to tell you “you're beautiful” in order for you to believe it. It may take that person in the library or the store who smiled at you, and complimented you.
It may take an ounce of love or eight-thousand pounds.
But guess what? You don't have to look far for it. 
It's always there, waiting right behind you.
As you look around and try to find love, look there over your shoulder. See that man? He is bloody. He is bruised. His face doesn't even look human anymore because he's been beaten so badly.
See that cross that is weighing him almost to the ground? 
That's every mean word you've said and was said to you. That's every time you were put down by people and every insult and every lie.
Don't turn away, look at him. Watch him teeter closer and look into his eyes as they find yours.
Listen to him telling you why he is bearing your insults.

because he knows you can't hold them yourself. so he's holding them for you. and he's here to tell you

y o u ‘ r e    b e a u t i f u l

he should know. when he was making you he wanted you to look just like that. 
perfect and beautiful for him.




- Esther 

He remains

He remains



























It's an all too familiar feeling

That soul-sucking, draining, never ebbing hole that rests between who you are and what you strive to be

Who you know you should be, but just..aren't
Your feet are close to the edge, it crumbles, you might fall, and it's too much, too much, too much.

Because you try, try, try

But you're never quite enough, enough, enough

And there's nothing you've ever been so aware of as you are your own inadequacy

The war you're waging has you losing more ground than you're gaining

Your own brokenness is staring you in the face, commanding all of your attention

When you fall into the same temptation again and again and start to wonder how there could ever be enough grace in the world to redeem you

When the rug is pulled out from beneath your feet, suddenly you find yourself not being able to hide anymore

Dirty hands, downcast eyes, the overwhelming knowledge that you've got nothing much to offer

Except for a broken heart and wounds so deep they threaten to swallow you alive

But, friend, what is your patch of darkness when it's held up against an infinite source of light?

Because the truth is, there isn't anything so broken or messed up that grace can't step in to make whole

Lay down your arms, it's safe to trust, He's safe to trust

You don't have to be in the trenches alone

There is One who sits with you

Holding your hand, cradling your heart, and whispering

That He knows exactly what you're going through because He's been in the trenches, too

When it's all said and done, maybe it isn't your job to be enough

Maybe fighting against inadequacy is a false choice

Maybe perfection is a less worthy pursuit than progress

Maybe the mess isn't meant to be fixed, but shaped into a message about grace and hope and light

That is less about who you are or who you are not

And more about who He is in you, through you, and around you

About how when you are faithless

He is forever faithful

When you are weak

He is strong

When all other things fade away

He remains

-ashlyn 

remember, remember [or beating, beating]

remember, remember [or beating, beating]
























it's easy to say you will keep your
beautiful chin up 
when the sun shines, 
when the sky is clear, 
when the fire within you 
glows

it's when it rains, 
when the clouds come, 
when the fire dwindles that it becomes 
hard

but that is when you need
to take your own advice
when you feel like you're a cavern with giving-way walls
that,
oh that is when you need to remember

remember
remember: 

though you be but small,
your skin holds back a 
lion heart;

beating,
beating.






you've got this.
kate



i forgive you

i forgive you





















i remember the play dates we had when we were nine

the dolls, climbing trees, and keeping secrets

'forever?' i asked

'forever.' you said

i thought it was true

they never tell you when you grow older about all the people you would lose

the ones who you know so well

become the ones who tell you that you're no longer worth

anything

i reached out my hand

i called out 'where did you go?'

i guess the stories are true


you're on your own now

and we don't talk

but i've let go of the bitterness

i pushed out the hurt

all i wanted to show you

that i'm not mad at you

and there's forgiveness waiting for you

from God and i

if you decide to ever come around

but if you don't, just know:

i forgive you

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

in past months i've dealt with bitterness and hurt after a very long friendship that ended quite sadly. dear friends do know that holding on to bitterness and hurt is worse than forgiving them. it ultimately harms you more than the person you harbor the feelings for.


"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you" - Ephesians 4:32



- JacyRayn

In Defense of Humility

In Defense of Humility


     "Humility. Thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools." ~C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

     If you've ever been caught in the trap of "I shouldn't think I am pretty. I shouldn't be recognized for my talents. It's wrong to love myself," then you know what destructive and false humility looks and feels like.

     "True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it's thinking of yourself less." ~C.S. Lewis

     Even though we all know this in our deepest being, sometimes we forget.

     So, darling, I'm here to remind you of three things:

     I. We all have unique gifts and talents to use for God's glorybe it beauty, intellect, strength and prowess in sports, creativity, or a myriad of other gifts.

     II. However, we are not to boast in anything but Christ.

     III. And lastly, humility means setting aside any pride we might begin to have in ourselves or our own accomplishments and instead pour our energy into loving others as equals.

     As The Screwtape Letters goes on to say, "[God] wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognize all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things."

     Darling, you are a glorious thing! It's time to recognize both yourself and others as beautiful masterpieces. God wants you to have a gratitude for yourself. He wants you to be able to recognize and celebrate the beautiful people you live alongside.

     When you love others as yourself, you will be able to fully love yourself in good and proper ways. You won't have to worry about having pride in the wrong places because you will have already placed that pride in the right places.

     To see that others are glorious and excellent creatures made by God is a lovely thing.

     It's the essence of humility.

     So don't beat yourself down. Humility isn't about hate. It's about love.

     "Pride goes before destruction," but "humility comes before honor" (Proverbs 16:18, Proverbs 15:33b)

     Humility is the way of gracious and wise people; their spirits sit in awe of an incredible God. Those are the spirits which pour out love for others unreservedly.

~Madeline

Dear Pride

Dear Pride


Dear Pride,
This is going to be a hard letter to write, but I have to do it.
I’ve met someone else.
His name is Humility.
I know, I know, he’s your arch-nemesis. But I’ve had a lot of time to think lately, and I’ve decided that I don’t want to be lied to anymore.
You were always there for me, holding me up and shielding me from the hurts of others. But to what end? You actually separated me from the relationships that would have given me life.
You made my life complex and difficult when it didn’t have to be.
You told me that I didn’t need anyone else, that God was just a support to lean on when things overwhelmed me. Otherwise, I could do life on my own. You made me feel strong, but it was an empty, lonely strength. You made me think I could beat the devil, but instead I drew him to me. No, Pride. No more.
Sometimes you turned the tables on me, abusing me with sharp words and harsh accusations. When I was with you, you told me I was pretty, but underlying your words was your hidden message that my beauty was cheap and utilitarian.
Humility tells me the truth. Sometimes it hurts, but in a way that refines me, as if he were holding my hands as we both pass through a cleansing fire.
He opens me up and allows me to be vulnerable, supporting me in life-giving relationships while encouraging me to be brave and honest.

With him, I am safe. He lives simply, and as long as I stay by his side, I am at rest.
He assures me that life is best done with the source of all Life, that God is more than strong enough to handle the life I can’t handle on my own. He draws me closer to God, and emboldens me to resist the devil. When I am with him, the devil can’t touch me.
Humility loves me. He tells me what he hears God saying: that I am beautiful and sacred and treasured. I am priceless, not inferior. I am a masterpiece, not a tool.
I am leaving you, Pride. And don’t you go looking for a rebound, because she doesn’t need you either.
~Hannah W.
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded…Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
James 4:7-8, 10

walk humbly 

walk humbly 


Last month, some amazing posts were written on the reality of forgiveness.

Madeline taught me about learning to forgive
Grace Anne told me to let go
Abbiee warmed my heart while reminding me of God's reckless love

Forgiveness is hard.
Hard things have to happen for forgiveness to be warranted.
And that?
Errr, not supper duper fun

A little over a month ago, a girl said some very malicious things to me.
And it was horrible.
I don't know why.
I don't understand what happened.
I don't know what sort of internal pain would cause someone to do that.

And it plays
and it plays
and it plays  in my mind.

Sometimes it took everything inside of me to keep from screaming my lungs out when she stood next to me.
I would sweat and shake and fear that she would do it again.

And I started praying these six words,
"God, give me grace to forgive" 

Hundreds of times, "God give me grace to forgive."
"God, please give me grace to forgive."
"Father, give me grace to forgive"

But in order to forgive as Jesus forgave, it takes humility.
It takes abandoning every ounce of pride and self-righteousness.
Humility requires me too look back on the person I was before Christ worked in me.
It shows me my sin,
sin that was pardoned undeservingly.

Humility is required in order to forgive.
And honestly, it's required to fully live.


Today, I encourage you to stop.
Look back at the grace you have received,
and walk in humility.
much love
elissa

Purpose

Purpose





I long to be a woman known by her love.

The Apostle Paul said that everything, every law, every principle, every moral can be summed up in one word: love. For so long, confusion about my purpose and future has silently tried to control me, to manipulate and deceive me.

Your purpose is to be good!

Your purpose is to radically change the world, but you’re already failing.

Your purpose doesn’t involve anything you love, anything that inspires you and lights that fire on the inside; no, your purpose will be hard, grueling, and confusing, because that is the mark of a true follower of Jesus.

But now, I am realizing something holy.

Love is my purpose.

Love is the purpose of each one of us.

How that purpose plays out will differ from you to me because God has created you in all your complexity with a life-path that only you can take, a journey that only you can enjoy to its fullest potential. But one thing we all have in common is that “golden thread,” love.


- Hannah W. 

The Dead Past

The Dead Past























The night was cold and unforgiving
As I walked to the gravesite of the Past.
How I wished I could just keep on living,
But the whispers of shame to the dead chained me fast.

Kneeling before the tombstone in sorrow,
I read the epitaph for the hundredth time:
“Here lie the mistakes, sins, and wishes for tomorrow
Of one human heart; they hold now reason or rhyme

“Only days stained with fear, doubt, and anger,
An occasional laugh and a smile here and there.
The legacy of the Past will be long remembered
As dismal, dark, trying, and unfair.”

Tears came to my eyes before I could think;
Mourning fell over me like a cruel December snow.
Beside the weathered plot, I felt my body sink
To the chilled, stony ground that bedded my dead foe.

Sleep came to me slowly; I welcomed its warm hand
As it slipped over my eyes and drew them closed.
But the darkness turned to dreams; nightmares ran
Before the eyes of my mind, their terrors imposed.

Demons accosted me; voices spoke low
In threat and menace, then screamed in their victory
Over me; I could only lie helpless below
Them, motionless…until a light, a beam of glory

Pierced the darkness, sliced it through,
And filled the atmosphere with songs of joy
Too clean and pure for the darkness and rue
In me to understand. The dreadful noise

Of evil and of the dead ceased in a moment;
The taunting cries, the bitter spite,
The slightest sounds of darkness fell silent
Before the majesty of this holy light.

My eyes snapped open and blinked in the dim
Light of stars and planets distant, yet near just the same.
Suddenly I glimpsed a man; I lay across from him
On the other side of the dead Past’s grave.

He sat, cross-legged, in the frozen dirt,
Silent, though the quiet spoke a volume
Of greatness, of hope, of love; there no hurt
Existed, by the grave of the fallen.


He stood and reached out his hand to me;
I took it, and immediately I knew
The dead Past was dead; it could no longer haunt me—
    Finally, I realized that the Present is the Truth.   
      - Hannah W.

for them//by them {the lost}

for them//by them {the lost}






















hello.
remember me?
the one you passed on the street today without a second glance.

hello.
remember me?
i’m the kid with ripped jeans and scarred face
the one you wouldn't look at.

hello.
remember me?
i’m the girl with a baby, no husband, no home.

hello.
remember me?
i’m the hurt in his eyes when you told him those things.

hello.
remember me?
i’m the pain on her face when you turned away.

hello.
remember me?
i’m the death of that child you ignored today.

hello.
remember me?
i’m the tears on her cheeks
and the scars on his face
and the poison in her body
and the barbs in your words-

HELLO.

remember me?

we've seen eachother so many times.

i know you’ve seen me
heard my voice...
in her anguished sobs
and his voiceless prayers
in her backward glance
in his breaking voice


h e l l o
r e m e m b e r   n o w ?

i’m pain
and fear
and anger
and jealousy
i’m hunger
and thirst
and lust
and greed
i’m forgotten

i’m lost
i’m broken


i   n e e d   y o u r   h e l p

not your pity.
not your tears.
not your wallet.

y o u r   s m i l e

your  l o v e

your  h e a r t

p l e a s e ?



the next time you see me. dirty, poor, ugly, deformed, helpless, sad:
g i v e    m e    h o p e
Today might be my last.



~E

You Are Worth It

You Are Worth It























You are worth it.
You are worth dying for.
You are worth love, honor, and affection.

You may not believe this. You may have been told by others that you were not and would never be enough. That you always came short of the standard. That you were just taking up space, not benefiting anyone.
These words may have come from strangers. They may have come from acquaintances, people who knew you only enough to make conclusions about you without any depth of true knowledge. They may have come from loved ones, nicking the skin of your heart or piercing straight through. They may have come from yourself, which creates the worst pain because you have no one to deny it, to shield you from it. For the last five years, I have been chest-deep in self-torture, not physically, but mentally—thus I know the hopelessness, the emptiness, the loneliness that accompanies that. Only in this last month or so have I realized how dangerous self-hate is.

I almost died.

The will to live in me was simply not there; all I wanted was to be in heaven with Jesus. Because of the distance I perceived there was between me and Him, I felt that the only way that gap could be bridged would be death itself. And so inwardly, I wished to die. However, I had no idea that my body was obeying me. What an awesome body we have. The power God has woven into our bodies is almost beyond comprehension.

About a month or two ago, I had a mineral analysis done that would show me where I was deficient and recommend supplements to get me back on track. The results were staggering. My hormones and minerals were clearly in a death pattern.

I had done that to me because I had felt worthless, hopeless of being deeply loved, stuck in a mental cage I couldn’t get out of. Denying the truth of God’s deep, deep love, I instead held onto a lie that seemed more feasible, more real. But as the character Jack says in the book Crossroads by Wm. Paul Young, “Real is what you believe, even if what you believe does not exist” (47). My reality was not God’s reality. Not even close.

God sees the true you. The One He created. Just because you don’t act like your true self doesn’t change the fact that you are.

You are worth God’s pursuit.

You are worth being caught and cradled in His arms.

You are worth the great Romance.

You are loved to your very core.


- Hannah W.

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