Sunday, February 26, 2017


Braids and ball caps
Hair bows and stuffed animals
Flower crowns and chipped nail polish
Lover of all things bright and beautiful
Adventures and staying up reading past bedtime

Owner of scraped knees
Porcelain figurines
And worlds created in her imagination
When did you trade the books and toys in your backpack
For the weight and burden of the world?

The one with the caged and wary heart
You're a little weighted down
With lies and tears and promises that weren't kept
Shackles around your ankles
The burden of shattered trust

Did you know those places that seem beyond repair?
Those places..yes, girl, those
Those are the exact same places
That the light gets in and grows
The seeds planted in your soul

I know what you're thinking
How can something that hurts so bad
Ever be turned into anything resembling good?
But I know you
Because I am you

I know the nights you've spent
Sobbing into your pillow
The victim of your own unrelenting thoughts
The days that the hustle of going through the motions
Was enough to send your head spinning

Shaking hands with 'braveheart' written across your palms
Tigress earning her stripes
I know how hard you have fought
To never, ever let the battle make you
Anything, but soft

She who has galaxies in her eyes

The one with a nuclear warhead for a brain

Raging hurricane in the place of your soul

Yes, you, darling, you
Are a mountain shaker
Because you belong to the One
Who casts them into the sea on your behalf

Do you know how bright you shine
Each and every time you reflect
The light of the Morning Star Himself?

Do you know your own preciousness?
That which is Divine became that which is human
In order to not only partake in your brokenness
But free you from it as well?

Do you know how brave you are?
How strength drips from your fingertips
As you sit with a pen and a page
Writing out the psalms of your broken heart?

When you could feel the first cracks of your hopes and dreams
About to avalanche around you
And the tears were streaming down
And you whispered, “Thy will be done,”
You positioned yourself in the safest and most glorious place
On either side of eternity

The next morning
As you began praying for someone else who was hurting
And His voice interrupted you with the reminder,
I AM close to the brokenhearted.”
Pulled you close and invited you to be filled up
Before you began pouring out
And suddenly, your pain didn't seem so overwhelming
Because you realized you weren't alone

Yeah, maybe he left
Took advantage of your gentle heart
Emotionally manipulated you while having the audacity to call it love
And it scares you that something could feel so real
Yet be so far from the truth

But what have you to fear when Love Himself knows you by name?
When He who is Love
Never leaves
Never forsakes
Never abandons
Always pursues

You claimed you were a fool
But aren't we all fools in love?
And if your greatest crime was loving too much
What have you to be sorry for?

Don't let this destroy you
That boy was broken so he did broken things
But you're broken, too
And that can only be fixed by the One
Who was broken to make us whole

You loved and you lost
But if you bow out with grace
Can you ever really lose?

You have a fire inside you
Somewhere deep in your chest
It cannot be quenched by temporary people
Not if you choose to keep the flames lit

You have fought hard battles before
Bruised and bleeding, you have carried on
Step by agonizing step until you saw peace again
You'll make it out of this just fine

You are a royal Daughter of the Most High
And you deserve a love that treats you as such
A love that would go through hell for you
A love that would cross oceans for you
A love like the One who went to the grave and back again
Just to have you by His side

Do you hear me?
You already have a Love you can never be separated from
Not by darkness, not by principalities, or even the powers of hell
So, girl, listen-
Anything less is only a counterfeit

Wait for this love
Give this love
Be this love
Because I AM does not give His heart in pieces
And neither should you

Hey, guys! I wanted to include a link to one of my favorite worship videos of all just seems so fitting in this month that seems to focus on commercialized remind ourselves of our One True Love, Jesus...His love is not broken, not insecure, not fragile, not the restless kind..take a listen xx
Thursday, February 23, 2017

we should stop self-depreciating

I've become the master of looking at the ground, throwing an awkward half-smile, and whispering a barely audible 'thank you' when people compliment me nowadays.

Where there is a high, there is a low; everything has an opposite. In a culture where vanity is huge, it has also become the normal for people also to bash themselves and each other. There is no self-love anywhere- only jealousy and self degrading comments. We live in a culture where you're either self-obsessed or extremely insecure. When people even try to genuinely compliment us, we make it a habit to brush them off and act like they don't mean it!

What a blow to the chest, a blow to the heart, that this realization has brought me. 

I was simply reading a bible study and it's like the words were etched right on that page specifically for me:

"Rather than blowing off words of affirmation with a self-depreciating comment or some sarcasm to deflect the attention away from you, accept the words. Soak them in. Listen for the specific feedback being you're receiving, and accept the love." *

I quickly underlined it and highlighted it while I let that sink in.

Accept the love and stop self depreciating. 

To fully understand this, I always put myself in the shoes of my Creator. If I had made a human being, who even though was flawed, was perfect in my eyes and I loved with my whole heart, but then saw my creation, my child, beating up on themselves, I would feel terrible! I would mourn the fact that they didn't see their own worth. Wouldn't you?

When we accept Christ in our lives, He resides in us. If Christ lives in us, and we are no longer ourselves, when we hate on ourselves and degrade ourselves, are we not degrading Christ who lives in us?

Job 34:19:
"...{He} does not show any partiality to princes, nor regards the rich more than the poor, for they are all the work of His hands." 

You are not a mess up, you are a piece of art.

You are not ugly, I can see Jesus' light shining on your face!

You are worth more than the birds, the sun, the moon, the stars!

He does not see anyone more or less than any other person, we are all equally loved in His eyes.

Everyday we have a choice. Get up, and accept the voices in your head that say "you aren't worth it" and "everyone is better than you". Or fight back, and accept the Word, which says "you are more than a conqueror!".

We all have places that we can improve in. We all have flaws in our lives. But when we hold ourselves in comparison to someone else, it's useless. Most times in our own eyes, we'll never match up. We can never be as good as the people we see through our tiny smart boxes, whose lives look so perfect. The truth is, all of us struggle. Even though we can't see or don't know the challenges they face, trust me, they're there too.

When we stop comparing each other and then look at God's standard, what do we see? God requires a lot of things from us, but He never said we had to be perfect. Never once does the Bible say 'Oh yeah, if you're not as great as Mary Jane down the street and you have areas you need to work on, sorry, I can't love you". He readily accepts us and already forgives us. He's right there, ready to help us work on those rough areas together. God isn't above helping you, and He sure doesn't expect you do handle it all on your own. You have to open up your heart to change, and stop beating yourself up. We are all imperfect; when you realize that you stop trying to reach the unobtainable goal of perfection.

The next time someone compliments you on your smile or your hair, grin, hold your head up, and say 'thank you' with confidence! Then, if they ask you why you're always so happy and secure in yourself, you have a perfect opportunity to mention Jesus to them.

You have an opportunity to show them they are worth something and that they are more than the world's standards of beauty.

It's time to take a stand about being comfortable in your own skin.

You are wonderfully you, own yourself.

love to you beautiful souls.


PSALMS 139:14:

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that well"

*Taken from Gary Chapman's "A Teen's Guide To The Five Love Languages". (This is a great read! I highly recommend it for anyone, even those not in a relationship!)
Monday, February 20, 2017

i want you to know

when I was in sixth grade, I gave the mirror a little bit of power.
I looked and became disgusted.
disgusted with my beautiful, mid-pubescent body. 

I still have the journal where I first wrote about my weight loss goals,
my original week of starvation. 
my 'diet' that started on Wednesday. 
a birthday party-sleepover involving pizza and ice cream over the weekend.  
my records of shame and remorse about something so natural and healthy. 

i gave the mirror a chance to control me.
and it did.

it robbed me of my joy
my hope
my value
my peace.

I gave the mirror an opinion. 
it gave me hate and loathing;
made askew my perspective.
it stole so many good and important things and exchanged them with shame and rules in return.

it called me names.
it laughed at me.

and I let it.
and to a certain extent, I believe we all have.

I think we all have released some power.

power over:
the way you think
the way you talk to yourself
the way you love yourself
the way you feel about certain things
the way you view the world. 

this precious power, this amazing gift, 
that we are so quick to give away! 

we loosen our grip, and hand it over. 
we give it to anything that asks.
and friends, I want you to learn from my original sixth-grade mistake. 

I want you to know something that would have changed my relationship with myself, my body and food forever.
I want you to know that nothing
nothing nothing nothing
other than God himself deserves power over your identity. 
no person
no idea
no lie
no opinion
gets to stake claim in your identity.

so maybe it's not the mirror for you.
it might be the thing that jumped into your head mid-way through reading this.
you might have to think a little bit.
possibly you can't relate to a single thing I just said.
and that's okay.

but I really really really want you to know something!
I want you to know that you-
you precious, strong, beautiful, powerful, amazing, loved child of God-
are perfectly created by the God who's breath created heaven and earth.
and no thing you have ever done,
or will ever do,
can change his unending love for you.

xoxoxox // elissa

Friday, February 17, 2017

// Breathe //

When Katie emailed me about joining Burning Youth, I was absolutely over the moon. I've loved this blog ever since it was first created, and I could not have been more thrilled to be asked to join. I was really excited to learn that February's focus would be self-love, because I think that it's a super important topic, and one that I was looking forward to writing about.

I then sat down to write this post, and absolutely hit a wall.

I'm not even kidding when I say that I started to try to write this at least four or five times. I would write a few paragraphs, decide that I absolutely hated it, pound the backspace key, and start over completely from scratch, changing my topic, the focus of the post, everything. After spending quite a lot of time on this, I started to get really frustrated with myself. Why can't you just write this? What's wrong with you? It shouldn't be this difficult. Look at all of those girls who have their drafts finished already. I bet theirs are absolutely perfect. Why can't you keep up? 

I let all these thoughts run through my head for about twenty minutes before I honestly just started laughing at the irony of it. Here I was, trying to write a post on self-love, all the while beating myself up to no end. Pretty crazy, huh?

I feel like as creatives, we're really hard on ourselves. We want to be perfect. We want to constantly be producing art that we're proud of and that other people love, and when we're not producing, we feel as though we're failing. But not only do we expect ourselves to be creating these amazing pieces 24/7, we also have the expectation that we should be able to keep up with school and work, spend time with family and friends, have the perfect Instagram feed, keep a clean house, knock everything off of the to-do list, and hey, don't forget to have that flawless winged eyeliner. Because you have to be perfect, right?

W  R  O  N  G

Guys, that is not even close to being realistic. You cannot be perfect. You cannot accomplish everything. You just can't. No matter how hard that you try, it's impossible. Things happen. LIFE happens. Things take longer than you expect them to, or you hit a creative block, or you get sick, or schedules change, or you finally realize that you are just too tired to keep trying to reach this unattainable goal

The problem comes in when we realize that we can't do everything that we want to as perfectly as we want to do it. We feel like we've failed. And that's never a fun feeling. Because again, as creatives, we. hate. failure. We hate it with a fiery passion, and will do anything to avoid it.

But allow me to let you in on a little secret.

Just because you're not perfect doesn't mean that you're a failure. 

It doesn't, it truly doesn't. The fact that you are not perfect does not make you a failure, it makes you human. There's a quote that says, "You are a human being, not a human doing." And that can be a hard thing to remember. But it's very true. You are not meant to spend your life scurrying from task to task, doing everything possible to be perfect. All that will come from living that way is stress and burnout, neither of which are very fun.

So, the next time that you're on the verge of a mental breakdown, feeling like an utter failure because you're not perfect, I have a challenge for you.

1. Stop beating yourself up. Don't give me that look, we both know that you're saying all kinds of awful things to yourself in your head, and I want you to stop. It's not fair. Would you be saying that to your best friend? No? Then don't say it to yourself.

2. Take a step back. Honestly, 90% of the time, you just need a break. If you've been going going going, your brain is going to shut down eventually. Do something that will make you feel better. Read your favorite book. Talk to a friend. Go on a walk. Just clear your mind.

3. Look at what you were doing, and see what you can do differently to make it better. Try attempting the task from a different angle. You just might see something that you've been missing.

Perfection is impossible. And oh my goodness, am I thankful for the grace of Jesus, because if we had to attain perfection on our own, we would be in major trouble. But you don't have to be perfect. So give yourself a break. Breathe. You've got this.

Grace Anne
Tuesday, February 14, 2017

created to love

It’s a leap out of my comfort zone to admit this, but for years, I struggled with the idea of self-love.

I always thought the Christian thing to believe was that self-love was selfish love, and selfishness was bad, so loving myself was most definitely a sin.

I’m not exactly sure when this entered my mind – but oh, over the years, the lies built up.

I’ve looked in the mirror so many times, frowning, criticizing. And not just on feeling too flabby or too muscle-y or too short or too whatever – overall accepting the general existence of inadequacy.

I was never good enough for the standard I set for myself.

When I’d read things that told me, “Love yourself!” I laughed bitterly, and had no idea in which context self-love would ever be appropriate. The way I saw it was this: if there was something I didn’t like in myself, I shouldn’t embrace it, but instead whip myself into shape in order to fix my flaws.

It was all on me.

And after years of living like that, I was so, so sick of it.

Christians will often come up with Bible verses to refute selfishness, yet when it comes to accepting fullness in Christ, we stop.

We forget the beautiful love that’s right in front of us, because we’re still in that mindset that it’s all on us.

Here is where I want to look you right in the eyes, and tell you how I know how much of a burden it is to live like this. I want to lead you by the hand and show you this radical love I’ve seen, friend. It starts right here.

I want to tell you that if you feel inadequate, I get it. Because all of us, in one way or another, we’re not enough on our own. We sin, we mess up, we disappoint people – all of us.

So sometimes, it just feels so ridiculously phony to plaster an invisible sticker on ourselves that says “I LOVE ME!” because we see the flaws, we see that inner self.

But self-love begins with the truth.

See, when we emphasize our own goodness, we minimize God’s perfect sacrifice for us, through Christ. We’re essentially saying, “I’m beautiful and perfect and amazing on my own, flaws and all.” But maybe there’s another way?

On the other hand, when we’re so caught up in our brokenness and failures, we completely miss the significance of Christ. He didn’t just die to take away our sin, but to restore us, to make us clean, and holy, and pure in the sight of God.

So how on earth do we find this balance, of loving too much or not enough?

We see Christ’s perfection in us, as God already does.

We have the freedom to love ourselves because we have been given new life, new natures.

We can move on from our self-shaming, guilt, and internal hatred simply because God Himself already has.

Christ died on our behalf, lavishing His righteousness upon us, and making us blameless in the sight of God. When we fully love ourselves, we are NOT loving our sinful nature, for that has been put to death.

Galatians 2:20 - "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me. The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

Loving the self in order to move on to loving others is not anti-Bible or pro-sinfulness. It allows us to move on from the sin inside of us that has already been forgiven by Christ.

True self-love is beautiful, because we are loving the very thing inside us that’s so much greater than ourselves. We are loving the beauty given to us by Christ’s sacrifice for us – the most magnificent thing we have.

Because God loved us so much, He gave up His Son for us, in order to reconcile us to Himself.

He didn’t just wipe our slate clean, He gave us a completely new slate. He made us new, He made us pure, He forgave everything we’ve done and ever will do.

Let us not minimize this greatness He has done inside of us – let’s embrace this.

Let us love deeply, hope abundantly, and dare to reflect the glory of God.

For what else were we created? We were created to live this life to the fullest, friend. Will you take this journey with me?

Saturday, February 11, 2017

you are art

you are art.

all the parts of you.

freckles, scars, blemishes - even the parts you'd maybe rather not have; the parts you cover up, that you would never show.

you are the result of the imagination of God.

you were made in the image of a supreme Being.

you were made because you are needed here.

you were carefully constructed and designed.

can you imagine the pain and sadness He feels when He sees you looking in the mirror despising what He took joy in creating?

you are unique; there is no one else like you.

you have the sky in your eyes and dreams in your heart.

you are enchanting.

you are beloved.

love yourself as you would love your best friend;
you would never tell your best friend that she is not good enough or that she is lacking.

you are not lacking either.

you are 100% whole.

you are complete.

you are absolutely exquisite.



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

change your words || change the world

i often think about how many thousands of problems in this world would change for the better if we just started changing the way we talk to ourselves. If we changed our words.

i've started to notice it in myself, when I'm working, or talking to friends, or working out, or just doing some mundane task. i have this mental benchmark of where i want to be at, and when i miss that mark, right away my brain is like:


"See? Look at you! You can't do it. You're LAAAAME."

Or I'll verbally self depreciate in front of friends and family, laughing at my mistakes and pointing out how klutzy I am, or poking fun at my errors.

"Haha, I know, I'm just lame like that."

"I'm SO awkward."

"Yep, just klutzy lil' me."

Let's just stop here for a minute.

Can you imagine talking to a friend like that? If he or she made a mistake or couldn't do something correctly, would you point and laugh and be all like "LOOK HOW LAME YOU ARE, LOLOL I CANNOT BELIEVE YOUR KLUTZYNESS"?

of course not.

And yet many of us talk to ourselves like this on the regular. We tear ourselves down for things we did well (just maybe not as great as we wanted), we beat ourselves up for things we fail at, and we critique ourselves in the mirror as if we have the right to comment about someone else's work--

someone else's

Because guess what? that's what you are. You are head to toe beauty and purpose.

How many things in the world would change for the better if we started treating ourselves like children made in the image of the Divine?

It's one thing to believe it.
It's another thing to act like it.

It's easy to say yes and amen when you're sipping your tea and reading this post in a good mood. It's harder when you're at work, or in the gym, or neck deep in schoolwork and you're ready to blow your top. But those are the times when it's most important to dig in your heels and say:

"You know what? I'm not happy with my performance right now. I wish I was doing better. I wish I was happier with myself right now-- but you know what? I am a beautiful, intelligent, child of God. I am a champion. I am LOVED and I am LOVING towards myself and others, and I refuse to abuse myself. I will find kindness in this moment; I will find the rich measures of GRACE that He has supplied me with, especially for this moment."

It's hard. It's really, really hard. And you won't get it right every time. You'll fail, and you'll fall, but the sweetness is in the practice. Students practice, and that's what we are; we're learning. We're experimenting. We're learning from trial and error.

I've been trying and failing for months. And yeah, you know, I still talk myself down sometimes. I still call myself "stupid" or groan "ughh I'm so lame, how could I do that" on occasion. But it happens way less often. That "ugh, I hate myself" feeling is a foreign one now, not a local one. I'm catching myself and recognizing that hey, I need to quit that. I'm awesome.

We're re-training our brains. We taking a bulldozer to these roads of "I can't" and "I'll never be good enough" and we're paving new, beautiful roads that declare "we can do ALL THINGS through Him who gives us strength." roads that remind us that this is a journey, and it's a healthy, wonderful thing to embrace and enjoy where we are right here, right now. In work, in play, in art, in life. We're learning. And we don't need to postpone our security for that day when we've mastered our thing; we don't need to hang onto that for our identity. We can love ourselves right now because we are none of those things. What we do is not who we are.

Who we are is sacred. Big like the sky-- expansive. Deep. We were born with a purpose shaking in our bones, and believe me, that purpose has nothing to do with what you look like, or how much you can achieve in your field, or how you can work harder than the person next to you. Nope.

Our purpose is to enjoy. To sing, to dance, yes, to work hard and play hard and to meet goals! But to find a kindness in all of those things. To find a lightness in the hardships. To love ourselves right where we are.

Loving ourselves and speaking kindly to ourselves even when we have writers block,
or when we have a low energy day,
when we feel as though we have not accomplished,
or maybe the day just didn't go as we had planned.

Let's love ourselves. Let's be kind to our spirits, and our bodies.

And let's show that by how we talk to ourselves.

"I am loved. I am loving. I am enough, exactly where I am at today"

what are some other self-love affirmations we can practice? What are little some ways you can show yourself TLC throughout the course of your day?


Sunday, February 5, 2017

let them see you

so, I got a bad haircut.
we've all had that happen. but I was going to visit some friends I usually only see once a year and obviously I wanted to look good. cause, like, I'm human in case you hadn't noticed.
and it's not like I was heartbroken or anything, but I was kinda disappointed. and I just had this thought-
do I need a flawless haircut to serve Jesus? do I need to be pleased with my appearance to love on other people? [spoiler alert: I have never needed any of these things to do any of these things] like, whoa. change of perspective from the world's view of things. and
I know I know I know
this is so much easier said than done
but can we please stop being so concerned with outward appearance?! I'm so tired of it. can we start complimenting people for things we see that are more than skin deep? is it cause we don't take the time to see past the outward that we only compliment people for how they look? let's see people. let's love people. let's love Jesus. and let that overflow out of our hearts and our lives.
so that maybe next time someone sees you they won't see your makeup or your new haircut,
but maybe they'll see Jesus.

- Olivia K.
Thursday, February 2, 2017

you don't have to be...

If there's one thing I've learned in my relatively short life (though I'm eager to stay here for decades) is that here in this great, wild world is that you don't have to be anyone or anything, despite the stigmas and the way people perceive you for your looks, background, or hobbies and passions.

you don't have to be...

you don't have to have charisma or stage presence to make yourself heard.
guess what? motivational speakers stumble, too. yes, delivery counts, but it's the content of your voice that carries itself into the listeners' ears, and sticks in their minds.

you don't have to be stick thin to be a model or be seen as 'beautiful'.
you can be big-boned, tall, and have a perfectly round face and still be beautiful. isn't what really counts inside you, not outside?

you don't have to be fit to be an athlete.
athletes that i personally know don't sport abs or toned arms and calves and muscles. they're swimmers, softball and basketball players, even volleyball players, but they still pack a punch when they're in the court.

you don't have to be a goody two-shoes to be 'good'. 
the word 'good' is too subjective. being obedient, following the rules, and respecting others can make you good, but if there's nothing beyond that, how can you be truly 'good'? to me, being good is extending the limits of help and responsibility. helping those put last, those still lost in their lives, and those seen with no worth.

you don't have to be traumatized or gone through an emotional, or romantic experience to have your heart broken.
words and actions, whether they're romantic or threatening or used against you or not, can hurt, too.

you don't have to be part of a minority to stand up for them.
it doesn't matter at all. the cause you're fighting for unites you, and the difference of your race or age or gender or religion shouldn't divide you.

you don't have to be a genius to be smart.
'smart' is another subjective word to me. whether or not your IQ soars heights, you can still have your wits about you and bring your common sense, opinions, and insight to important situations.

you don't have to be shy or quiet to be an artist.
so, so many amazing writers and photographers and painters and musicians are loud, flamboyant, and yes, extroverts. it's true.

you don't need to have money or connections to change the world.
aren't the most uplifting, inspirational stories the ones of people who came from nowhere, and built their own path to become someone?

you don't have to be successful to inspire people.
i'd rather have touched someone and given them hope to keep up the fight than be written in a history book and reviled. success, especially through treason and corruption and lies, does not equal how many people you inspire. 

you don't have to be anything, or live up to anyone's crushing, mind-numbing expectations, but your own.
and even then, don't be too hard on yourself. there's a thing called being human, and allow yourself to make mistakes along the way. 

you don't have to be anyone, but be real, be honest, be candid.
live your life to the fullest. that's what you need to be.

can you think of any 'you don't have to be...'s to complete?

And I guess I haven't introduced myself yet -- hi, I'm Andrea, a new writer for the Burning Youth blog. It's great to be a part of it, and I can't wait to share this journey through my writing with all of you :)