3 Ways God’s Incredible Faithfulness Touches Us

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been meditating on a particular aspect of God’s character – His faithfulness.

That sounds like I initiated it. I didn’t.

About three weeks ago, I read a devotional in the beautiful book Becoming and Beholding by Ruth Chou Simons. (She’s incredible, by the way.) It showed how the rhythms of our mundane, everyday lives actually push us to see God’s sovereignty. The rising and setting of the sun mark our days faithfully, every day, every year. God displays his constancy in the very structure of our lives. The sunset not only radiates God’s beauty and grace but also reminds every living being that today has ended like it started. God is faithful to keep the earth spinning.

He is faithful in the mundane, and he promises to be faithful in the details. We are much more than the sparrows flying across the pink-burnt sky. We are loved so much more.

I meditated on Micah Tyler’s song “New Today.”

Help me rise like the morning sun

Help me see that Your work is not done

When I’m less than what I want to be

Lord, I need You to keep reminding me

That Your mercies are new today

Your mercies are new today

I can rest on Your shoulders

There is grace to start over

Your mercies are new today

This song became my anthem in the next two weeks. How could I finish the task set before me? How could I take that next step? How could I climb this mountain?

The answer was, indeed, his faithfulness. His faithfulness would keep me going.

God’s faithfulness is much more than a fact. It’s a truth that acts – and changes people.

Here are three ways God’s faithfulness applies to people:

God’s Faithfulness is Comforting

When we believe entirely in God’s sovereignty, his eternal reality, and his promise-keeping, we’re able to lay down our burdens. We don’t have to strive to get results. We work hard and leave the fruit up to him. We no longer need to stress over the future and drown in our anxiety because we know we’ll wake each morning to a sky painted by his hand. He’ll lead us gently through the pastures and the valleys of deathly shadows, all of our lives.

Each time we tread through a new dark valley, we can remember His past faithfulness to us. We can trust His word: He will never leave us nor forsake us.

God’s Faithfulness is Humbling

Every attribute of God, when contrasted to yourself, is unattainable and expansive. God is so incredibly faithful that he doesn’t stop holding the universe together, even for one second. He is devoted to the promises he’s kept despite mankind’s constant obstinance. He is God – no matter what.

We are fickle. We change – and I am a prime example of this. I may very well be the queen of mood swings. I’ll be laughing one minute and crying fifteen minutes later.

When our fickle nature is faced with his overwhelming, gracious faithfulness, we’re reminded that we can’t do it. Any consistency and commitment in our lives is his work in us.

When we feel discouraged and stuck, we remember that God is transforming us to the image of Christ, no matter how hard it is to see sometimes. He is faithful – and He transforms us.

God’s Faithfulness is Freeing

God is the one who promised:

‘And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. ‘Philippians 1:6

God is faithful, so we will be sanctified. We will be brought into glory. It’s his work. Period.

We can then choose to live well and love others. We work strenuously and run the race. We reach towards the prize – but we haven’t won it. Jesus purchased eternal life for us through his sacrifice on the cross. His faithfulness to redeem us and His commitment to sanctify and glorify us give us the freedom to live without shame or fear.

God keeps His promises. He will bring His work in us to completion, so we don’t have to fret. We can live fully with everything we have.

Great is Thy Faithfulness

God’s faithfulness is a guiding, reassuring force in our daily steps. As we remind ourselves of the truths mentioned, we can live each moment confidently. We can sing, full-heartedly, breathing at ease:

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father

There is no shadow of turning with Thee

Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not

As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth

Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow

Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside

Great is Thy faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness

Morning by morning, new mercies I see

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Rest Triumphantly

“Do the next thing.”

It’s something I’ve heard my whole life. It’s a wise thought… that we need to keep on going, just looking at the task in front of us, taking the next step. It’s accurate and encouraging. 

But when the things I hoped in disappear, and plans fail, and relationships wane, and even the most constant parts of my life seem to step out of the scene… taking the next step is the last thing I want to do. 

I texted a loved one recently: 

“I’m just so tired of doing the next thing.”

It’s true. I’m so tired. I’m so weary of working my backside off and COVID and not seeing people and online classes.

And no one would blame me if I crawled into my bed and slept for days or binged TV or spent hours doing nothing. After all, as every single person in this world is saying, it’s been a year.

But we aren’t called to that.

As children of God, we are called to triumphant rest. 

We rest in the utmost ability of God to work all things for our good. We trust in His faithfulness. We rest because we know this daily battle has already been won. We are warriors on the winning side, and although the fight is furious, we don’t have to fear.

Jesus Christ holds all things together. (Colossians 1) 

He’s the head of the church, and he’s the Creator of all. He holds every star and ant and galaxy and whale in his power. Nothing comes together or apart without his consent. ‘For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.’ (Colossians 1:16). He’s holding your life together, your heart together, your broken pieces together. 

He’s holding you and every part of this beautiful, war-torn world together. 

And he’s going to make it all new.  

‘Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also, he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” ‘

Revelation 21:1,3,5

If he’s making it new, we know he’s making us new too, and he’ll finish his work when the earth passes away. We can take the next step because we’re being renewed. He gives us hope as he grows us. 

So we rest triumphantly in the glory of what is to come and the truth of what is today. And we do the next thing, not because it’s easy or because we have the strength. We take the next step because Jesus is holding up the ground beneath our feet. He’s holding the air that we breathe. Jesus is holding it all together. 

The Secret to Living Fear-Free as A TCK

What if they think I’m bragging? What if they think I’m weird? What if they think I’m stupid for not knowing who so-and-so is? What if they don’t understand why I’m struggling? What if they don’t get why moving was so hard?

Have you had any of those thoughts before? They may seem like the thoughts of an average self-conscious teenager, but if you look closer, there is something more going on. These are the thoughts of the anxious TCK.

I’ve been there. I’ve been the awkward girl in the US sitting in the Sunday School room. A couple seats over from the end of the row… But not too close to the middle — that might seem weird. Sometimes I’ll sit there and barely talk with anyone. Everyone there has their friends and their clique — no need to try and interrupt. 

Once in a while, there will be a friendly girl. She’ll ask me where I’m from— the dreaded question. I’ll explain. “I don’t live here,” I’ll say. “I live overseas.” 

“Really?”

There is so much locked up in that word — her presuppositions about me, her expectations, curiosity, or lack of it. I don’t know what is coming exactly — but I’m nervous. 

Why?

Why am I nervous? Why do I care so much what people think about me? Why do TCKs especially struggle with this?

After years of moving, trying to fit into multiple cultures, and living an ever-changing life… the TCK finds themselves in another new place. 

And the fear kicks in.

Why Fear of Man Is Problematic

That fear is wrong and sinful. 

As humans, we were made to love and worship our Creator. He is to be first in our minds, our hearts, and our lives. 

When we worry about what the monocultural new person will ask us or think about us, God isn’t in the first place. 

We are fearing the approval of the created more than the Creator. The Creator’s approval is powerful and everlasting. The created’s opinion might seem powerful — but the approval will sway as easily as a blade of grass… and eventually wither up. 

Wanting approval isn’t wrong. What matters is whose validation you are seeking. 

This is where it gets tricky. 

All their life, TCKs have looked to people’s approval to learn multiple cultures and languages. That’s how they’ve navigated life. It’s taken them a lot longer than most to figure out where they stand in a community and culture because those cultures and communities change a lot for most TCKs. 

But here’s what we have to remember: Although people’s approval might teach you, you cannot let it rule you. Because when you fear their disapproval, you become a slave to their opinions. 

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

Proverbs 29:25

Escaping the Handcuffs

Trusting in the attributes of God — who God is — will change your perspective on who you are. Those who are secure in their identity won’t fear others’ opinions… because others’ opinions won’t change who they are. 

My dear TCK friend, if you are in Christ, you are no longer a slave to fear

That doesn’t mean you won’t still struggle with fear. It doesn’t mean you’ll never be anxious again. Nor does it mean you won’t feel awkward around people sometimes. It means your chain binding you to that cell wall has been broken, and you are free to walk out. 

Are you struggling to walk out? Here are 3 ways you can fight against the fear of man in your life: 

  1. Focus on who God is. He is:
  • Faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9)
  • Loving (1 John 4:8,10,16)
  • Kind (Psalm 116)
  • Eternal (Psalm 90:1-2)
  • Powerful (Psalm 90:11; Psalm 24:8)
  • King (Psalm 24:8)
  • Wise (1 Corinthians 1:25)
  • Just (Ezekiel 18:20-26)

If we have such a wonderful God as our Father, then his opinions and thoughts are precious. 

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

Psalm 139:17

Our identity is anchored in Christ. If God is immovable, then who we are in Him is as well. Focus on that.

2. Remember, you can’t control others’ opinions. They don’t define you. 

(…) in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?  Psalm 56:11 

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? Out of my distress, I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.  Psalm 118:5-8

3. Pray that God would take first place in your heart. The higher a place God takes in our hearts, the less important the opinions of others become. 

As I write this, I feel guilty because I have not attained fearlessness. In fact, I am quite often the most fearful and anxious person in the room. But by God’s grace, I will lose fear… day by day.

Lord, please take first place in my life! Please destroy the idols of others’ opinions and take your rightful place on the throne of my heart. Let me take refuge in You. Give me the grace to focus on who You are and the immovability of my identity in You. 


Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash

Truth4TCKs: I’m From… Heaven? – How The TCK Life Is A Blessing In Disguise –

The Confusion Of The TCK: Where They Are From

“So where are you from? “

I paused… Should I give them the long answer? Or the short one?

“Umm, I’m American.”

“Oh, cool.”

It was true. I am American – at least, that’s what my passport says. But I don’t feel like it. Not really. 

I have only lived there for a couple of years. Most of my life was spent in other parts of the world. 

So what? I am still American even if I grew up elsewhere, right?

Wrong. I grew up in a culture and environment very different from those of my cousins and friends in the States. 

I don’t feel patriotic. I am not as worried about American politics as they are. I don’t feel like America is as big of a deal as they crack it up to be. I don’t even think of America as home. 

So, where am I from? 

I don’t know. 

I am literally an in-between. I don’t belong entirely in any of the cultures in which I have lived. I do not belong to them, nor do they to me. I am a Third Culture Kid (TCK). 

Why Where We Are From Matters: Culture & Belonging

In the book Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds, authors Ruth Van Recken and Michael Pollock talk about “cultural balance”. They say: “A sense of cultural balance allows (…) freedom. Once we have internalized a culture’s customs and underlying assumptions, or know who we are in relationship to this culture, an intuitive sense of what is right, humorous, appropriate, or offensive in any particular situation develops.”

When we have grown up in a certain culture, we know who we are in relationship to it. We know if and how we belong. Being rooted in a soil of relationships and community gives people a sense of identity and belonging. 

When we have not grown up in a culture, we do not know how to act or behave or react in a situation within that culture. It becomes more complicated if we have grown up in multiple cultures. We never know which one we belong in because we haven’t had the time to completely absorb the customs and assumptions. Thus the paradox of the TCK: we’re expected to belong in one culture, but we don’t. 

However, we don’t fit into the other cultures in which we have lived. We have moved too often to pick it up, or we have lived in a family who embodied a different culture than the one in which we did daily life.

Since someone who has cultural balance feels free within their society, they find their identity there. Rarely ever does a TCK feel at home. 

A Home with God

One of the most amazing things about the Word of God is that it applies to every single facet of life. This includes the struggles of the TCK. 

When a TCK does not feel as if they belong anywhere, they can be reminded of Hebrews 11: 13-16 and Philippians 3:20.

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:13-16)

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)

There is a common theme in these two passages: as followers of Jesus, we do not belong to this earth. 

We belong somewhere else. 

Heaven.

Paul says in Philippians 3:19 about the people of this earth: “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” When Jesus transforms the life of a wretched sinner, they no longer glory in their shame. They glory in the redeeming work of Christ. They no longer set their minds on earthly things. They set their minds on godly, pure, lovely things (Philippians 4:8)

I think that we could say there are two cultures: the culture of this earth and the culture of Heaven. 

We don’t belong in any way to the culture of the earth anymore. Instead, we live in accord with the culture of heaven, where our citizenship is. 

This is astounding news for the believing TCK. Although we might not feel like we belong in any country or national culture, we know there is one place in which we belong perfectly. A place in which we are loved perfectly by God forever.

What joy! 

Looking On The Flip Side

As my father likes to say, TCKs often feel that wherever they go, they are a dime short of a dollar. Then he’ll add with a smile, in reality, they are two dollars. 

Even though TCKs might not understand cultures 100%, they can understand them very well. Let’s say 90%. If they understand both sides of a cultural divide, they can act as bridges for those on either side of it.

TCKs get to live a multicultural life full of rich beauty and diversity. They grow up living among languages, different cuisines, various expressions of art, and values.

Also, TCKs can learn to be flexible and adapt no matter what the circumstance. This can be a helpful ability in life. What ordinarily might shock someone is less of a shock for the TCK. Flexibility is an asset that global businesses look for in employees.

Therefore, although the TCK may often feel rootless, without a secure national identity and a sense of belonging, they can make their weaknesses their strengths. They can help monocultural people succeed in their attempts at intercultural interactions. 

Rich Life and Hope

Third Culture Kids can feel like nomads. So did Abraham. He roamed the earth, not knowing where he was going, waiting for a better country. His faith was counted to him as righteousness. 

Dear TCK, have faith in the hope to come. You are a citizen of heaven and belong wholly there. Make use of the God-given talents your upbringing has allowed.

Wretches in the Midst of Sanctification

Temptation is sneaky. It creeps up on you at the moment you least expect – but should have been expecting all along. 

We are so short-sighted. 

I had been taking small steps for a long time. Indulging myself in little things that didn’t seem important. They felt good because they were a way to escape my restlessness. They didn’t seem like a sin. They were just feelings.

But then, my flesh saw an opportunity – saw how weak I had been becoming – and struck. 

I failed the test.

We don’t realize how wicked we are ninety-nine percent of the time. But then you fall flat on your face, caught in the middle of a wretched act. You stand distraught in front of your rebellion. 

We are rebellious creatures. We desire worldly, sinful, dirty, lowly things. We look defiantly into the face of God and choose them over Him.

Yet we don’t see it. We think we are holy. We think we are righteous, good people. We compare ourselves with others and think we are doing better.

Down inside, we are all utterly rebellious and wretched. The sinfulness is always there, we just don’t notice it.

Why are we so self-righteous? That’s not what Jesus called us to be.

Jesus called the Pharisees white-washed tombs. Clean on the outside. Rotten on the inside.

 At times like this, it’s discouraging because I see my utter darkness and wonder if I’ll ever be sanctified. Jesus has promised to sanctify us in this life, to an extent, and then fully in the next. 

We are all being sanctified – but that doesn’t mean we are sanctified. 

Think about that.

Paul expresses his disgust at this paradigm in Romans 7:21-24:

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 

We want to serve Him, and yet our flesh doesn’t. Who will deliver us from our state?

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:25)

Through Jesus Christ, although we are sinful and wretched, our sins are atoned for. We are washed clean, presented to God the Father as holy and blameless.

In His eyes, we are holy. 

What mercy!

So how do we deal with the sin that won’t be destroyed until our Savior returns? The more we notice our sin, I think that’s a sign that we are being increasingly sanctified. The older you get, the more you notice your sin. Perhaps it’s like getting closer to the blazing glory of God, and the closer you get you see your blemishes more clearly.

The sin is lessened, but it becomes increasingly visible.

And that is mercy as well. The more we notice our sin, the more we realize the vast distance between God and us. How far He had to go to save us. He had to lay down His own life – the most valuable thing in the universe.

When we are shown this monstrous contrast, we fall humbly before God’s feet, thanking Him for the work of His Son.

Because we are nothing, and He is everything. When we acknowledge that, we are free to live as what we are: wretches saved by the grace of God.

“And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him”

Colossians 1:17-22

Fifteen Blog Tour

Hello dear friends! Today, I have the immense honor of hosting a part of Amie Anne Woleslagle’s Blog Tour & Scavenger Hunt for her new poetry book, Fifteen, which releases on October 23rd! I got to interview her about herself and her book, and I am so happy, practically struck by stars, to be able to share this with you.

I’m happy because I need a book like this. I struggle with thoughts in my mind – dark shadows floating and piercing – and poetry is such a beautiful way to shine a light into people’s hearts.

Also, here is the beautiful cover:


Hello Amie Anne! I’m so glad to have you as a guest on my blog! First of all, if you could describe yourself with four words, what would they be? *Also I really love your name, it’s so unique and beautiful.* 

Awe, thank you. I think I would describe myself as loyal, ingenuitive, dedicated, and vivacious.

Also, what’s your favorite flavor of tea, or if you aren’t a tea person, go-to Starbucks drink?

See, I love both tea and Starbucks, so I shall answer both. My favorite flavor of tea is lemon at the moment, though it changes. I also love chai, Irish breakfast, English breakfast, and Earl Grey. 

Can you give us a quick description of your book?

Absolutely! “You’re not the only person who struggles with mental health issues, not the only person with demons floating in your mind. Fifteen is a book of poems crafted from one teenager dealing with mental health issues to another teenager in the same place. It covers true friendships, embracing joy, self acceptance, and living your faith while struggling with mental illness, all the while showing that, in the end, flowers will bloom in the ashes of your pain.”

Why did you write this book and what was the process like?

I wrote this book as a project given to me by a friend, and then it snowballed from a freebie for my email list to a book that I’m publishing. Definitely not where I saw it going, but I believe God knew just where it needed to go and who needs to read it. 

What has been the funnest (that’s a word) part of the process?

Definitely connecting with people. It’s been such a wild ride, but it’s been amazing to be able to connect with authors and readers alike.

What has been the hardest part?

Not giving in to the anxiety. I’ve never done all of this, and every step of the way there’s been these crippling fears and moments where I just want to scream because I. Don’t. Know. What. I’m. Doing. But God’s been there, and He’s given me grace and people to help me through this. 

Who/what has been the most influential in the creation of this book?

There are so many life experiences and people who have influenced this book. Each of the poems speaks to a different experience and different lessons learned thanks to different people.

What are your plans/dreams for the future?

*laughs* Well, those don’t really exist once the new year appears, so I guess everyone (including myself!) shall just have to see. 


If this hasn’t gotten you excited, I don’t know what will. I am so thankful to have been part of the tour. I have already gone and pre-ordered the book, and you should too! 

You can pre-order the paperback copy here, and the e-book copy here. If you pre-order it, you can sign up for some beautiful pre-order goodies that will be sent to your doorstep! You can fill out the form for the goodies here

Peace by Storm

I am tired, frustrated, and restless. I guess this year was not what any of us expected. I know that’s an understatement.

I just – feel so tired. Physically, spiritually and mentally. I don’t feel peace.

However, God’s truth and love triumph over my feelings. I know that. Then why can’t I bring myself to bathe in the Word?

Why, oh my soul, do you not just breathe and give thanks?

Praise Him, oh my soul! Bless Him.

I thank the Maker of the skies for a blanket of dark blue clouds heavy with rain. I will thank Him for the rain that is yet to come.

I thank the Maker of the birds for the soaring wings of seagulls. They don’t worry or fret. They soar, held up by His hand.

I thank the Maker of the storms for the lightning far away and the gray rolling in. I thank Him for the silence that has hushed all creation before He roars with thunder.

I thank the Maker of the winds for the gentle cool breeze, bearing whispers of a strong loud gale to come.

I thank the Maker of the storms for the thunder I now hear. For the power to be displayed. I thank Him for the reminder that He is. He is.

Hush my soul, be still. He is nearer than you know. Trust Him. He is faithful, it is so.

Rumble. Deep and full. The thunder is His voice stilling my soul. He is powerful and mighty.

The dark gets darker. But I am not afraid.

Even the bird scurries to hide for cover from the oncoming rain. It’s coming.

White. Flash. Like God took a photograph. It’s bright and nothing stands in its way, lighting up all. As to crash down into a busy world and say: “Look! Look! Look!”

Up. The blue patches become scarce as the pregnant clouds form a deep, dark wall. Thick.

The clouds are the backdrop. White flashes through and lights up the wall in purple and blue.

Boom. The thunder yells.

The first drops fall.

Birds scurry.

Windows close.

The long-awaited blessings stream down.

The thunder becomes deeper and louder and closer. The cracks of electricity rip apart the clouds with light.

The rain flows earth-ward.

The hum of raindrops hitting the ground fills the air and it grows louder. It whispers… and shouts. Be still.

Be still.

All are drenched in wet and peace.

The air is full of heavenly waterfalls.

Lavender – neon light fills up the sky.

A display of majesty.

Long-awaited silence.

Hush my soul, be still. He is nearer than you know. Trust Him. He is faithful, it is so.

My Newest Endeavor: Organization and Productivity

When I started up school about a month ago, I knew I was in for a challenge. I had just discovered the world of online writing. I was excited and had posted biweekly on my blog all summer long. I had big plans. Then I realized that school was coming up. What had started as a summer hobby had become a passion, and I didn’t want to stop. 

How was I going to maintain my writing while juggling eleventh grade? I’m not homeschooled. I don’t have the most flexible schedule in the world. Then it hit me. The one major area I lacked in was organization.

Organization: Why It Doesn’t Come Naturally To Me

I am a creative and spontaneous person. My mother will be the first one to tell you that I’m horrible at finishing what I’ve started. I always have a new project to work on. I get so excited about the project that I don’t strive to complete the first one. She’ll also tell you that I think deeply, and she has me repeat instructions to make sure I’ve heard them. Otherwise, I’ll continue on in my own world without realizing what she’s said.

With a personality like that, you can do great things, but you also have many struggles. You guessed it, a significant one is organization. With such a spontaneous personality, I am apt to forget, get lost in some thought or activity, or be lazy. Often because I think a structured schedule would be too hard to maintain. It’s not that I couldn’t do it, it’s that it’d be especially demanding and difficult. 

Organization: Why It Matters

I could just say, “Well, I’m bad at organization. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not one of those people.” Most of society would accept that excuse. After all,  (1) I’m a teenager, and (2) it’s not part of my “personality”. Why in the world would I try?

My writing instructor on YWW (the Young Writer’s Workshop), Brett Harris, encourages teens to rebel against the low expectations the world has for us. My thought was that I couldn’t organize, schedule, and plan easily and therefore I shouldn’t be expected to ever be successful in that area. 

But I needed to answer God’s calling to take on responsibility. I was being lazy. I was making excuses for myself. That’s not the kind of Christian I want to be. 

Productivity and organization isn’t about getting more done. On the surface, yes, that’s the goal. However, what I am learning is that our ultimate goal in organizing our time, energy, and productivity is to serve others as we glorify God. If I have done everything on my to-do list but haven’t served others or done it to the glory of God, it’s been a wasted day. 

That’s a huge struggle. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I waste my day. I’m lazy, or I am productive but for wrong reasons. I want to belong, or be known, or make a mark. 

But what if work and productivity was about creating beauty, serving others, and learning to be humble? What if organization was a tool to be a good steward? What if I was gifted in a certain way so that I could bless others and point them to Christ – not so I could draw attention to myself? What if my driving force in everything I did was that I was not my own? That the Creator has given me a tiny piece of His clay to help shape?

Organization and Productivity: What I’ve Done To Achieve It

I am just starting this journey. I am not an expert on the top five ways to structure your week or what timers you should be using. 

However, there are tiny steps I have been implementing in my days and weeks. Every little thing helps. Here’s what I’ve done so far…

  1. I’ve started a morning routine. My ideal morning routine looks like this: I get up at 6:30 am, make my bed, grab a cup of tea, and sit on the balcony to have devotions. After a half an hour or 40 minutes, I sit down to write for 15 minutes. This 15 minute writing session was inspired by Cassie Watson, a fellow YDubber who’s been doing a class on productivity. Although I often fail to implement this step, when I do, it’s extremely rewarding. I find that I have a ton of mental energy in the mornings so my writing sessions are more productive than a 30 minute session after school. I then go on to have breakfast, get dressed, and sit down for online school.
  1. I’ve bought a paper planner. People structure their time in different ways, but I decided to buy a paper planner this year, and I’m so glad I did. I’m still figuring out all the ways I can use it but it’s helpful to have all your organization & to-do lists in one place. It’s also aesthetically pleasing – a.k.a. happiness.
  1. I’ve made an ideal week schedule. Also inspired by Cassie Watson, I’ve created a Google Sheets schedule of what an ideal week of mine would look like, from 6:00 am to 10:30 pm. It’s color coded, and I have school, lunch, writing sessions, breaks, family time, and other things planned out in blocks. The idea is to plan my actual week around this schedule. I’ve yet to do this – it is a recent addition to my productivity endeavor – but I’m hoping to use it next week, and if I stick to it, for months after that. 

Those are three things I’ve tried to do to help myself out, but there are many other tricks and tips. I’d love to chat with you all about organization and productivity. What do you do to manage your time? What does your schedule organization look like? 

A Lesson For Young People from Crime and Punishment

This summer, I had to read Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky as assigned reading. When I first started the book, I was frustrated, because it seemed like a boring and useless way to spend my summer. (And that’s coming from someone who likes books.) But about halfway through, things started to make sense and I began to enjoy it. 

The novel isn’t called a classic for no reason. The characters are masterpieces in and of themselves. It is known as one of the first psychological thrillers. Although some parts really were thrilling, it was the psychology that intrigued me.

In case you’ve never heard of this book, I’ll give you some background. The story is about a young Russian student who decides to quit college because he is poor and can’t afford it. He then contemplates killing a horrid pawnbroker who cheats people out of their money. The money-desperate student hates the idea and pushes it to the back of his mind. However, over time, he can’t get rid of it. He ends up killing her and the rest of the book is about his conscience and the way the murder affects him and his relationships. 

In the story, the young man has a theory about humankind. To explain it quickly, he divides humanity into two groups: the inferior group, and the superior group. Inferior humans have to abide by the law and have little value. They follow whatever the superior humans do. The “superiors” have the right to kill to accomplish their goals. This right isn’t a legal one, it’s just something that is necessary to bring actual change to the world. His example is Napoleon: according to the young man, Napoleon brought great change to society, but he did it through slaughtering thousands. Was it necessary? In his eyes, yes. 

So that’s his theory in a nutshell. It’s also what he uses to justify his murder of the pawnbroker at first. Throughout the story, he grows more and more aware of, and at the same time more and more resentful to the fact that his theory was wrong. He doesn’t want to admit that he isn’t superior, and his theory itself isn’t valid. 

In the last couple of paragraphs of the book, the young man is in a prison camp. He’s gone through excruciating hardship, which was his own fault, and he is looking into the future. He realizes he loves someone and he wonders what life will be like when he gets out of prison. (And to find out who that someone is, you’ll just have to read the book. She’s one of my favorite characters.)

And then there’s this line:

“Life had taken theories’ place.”

I couldn’t stop thinking about that sentence for weeks. 

How many young people have theories? How many young people are passionate about the ideas they have? How many young people get in arguments and riot and yell – all because they cling to a “theory”?

The answer to those questions is quite obvious: most young people have theories or ideas and are passionate about them. Myself included. 

But here’s the thing: only ideas grounded in life experience and wisdom will stand the test of time. 

And here’s the dilemma: young people don’t have life experience. At least, not that much of it – we think we know a lot more than we actually do. 

So how do we fix this? How do we make sure that our ideas aren’t baloney? How do we make sure our theories are well-grounded and that we are fighting for the right things?

To that I have two answers:

  1.  The Bible
  2. People who are much wiser than us 

God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 

Colossians 2:2b-3

Ultimate wisdom and truth are found in Christ. When we root ourselves and are built up in Him (Colossians 2:7), we will gain wisdom. The more a young person is hiding God’s truths in their heart, the wiser they become. This is an amazing privilege because as teenagers and twenty-somethings, we don’t have that much life experience or personally-gained wisdom. However, if we hide God’s Word in our hearts, we will become much wiser than the average young person.

Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.

Proverbs 4:1-5

Wisdom is a treasure. According to Proverbs, one of the places we can find that treasure is our parents. They have more life experience than us and they are wiser than us. We should be quick to listen to their words. 

Young people should also be listening to other people around them who are wiser. Teachers, grandparents, wise (and perhaps older) friends, elderly believers, pastors, mentors, etc. We all have people in our circles who we can listen to and learn from. 

The young man in Crime and Punishment discovered that life is much more reliable than mere theories. Real experiences are more valuable than intangible ideas. Wisdom is gained as one gains years. 

Dear young person, you don’t know everything. You actually know much less than you think. Be humble. Be quick to listen. Learn from wise and godly people around you. This will serve you far more than any endeavor for a theory or cause. 

Then maybe we’ll become wiser, earlier.

5 Podcasts For Encouragement & Entertainment

So sorry for not posting last week. I struggled with time management and I was working on another email article for an email list, and wasn’t able to crank this out fast enough. So you get it this weekend. I’ll try to be more consistent.


Hello, my lovely friends! 

I decided to take a break from serious writing and give y’all a fun post instead. 

As probably none of you know, I adore listening to podcasts. They are one of my favorite pastimes. I believe they are so great for so many reasons and want to share them with you. Here are four reasons why you should listen to podcasts:

  1. They make consuming “non-fiction” content so much easier!
  2. You can listen to them at any time!
  3. There are podcasts on every subject imaginable.
  4. It’s a great way to multi-task. 
  5. (Yes, I know I said four reasons.) They are amazing!

Thus, I’ll be listing my top five podcasts. These are ones I have either listened to a lot in the past or listen to at the moment. Whether you have never listened to a podcast in your life or you listen to them religiously as I do, I hope this list will be a helpful addition to your life. *Smirk* (Also, the podcasts are not in order, they are just five ones I thought would be the best to share.)

  1. Age of Minority

Age of Minority is a podcast “for youth about the gospel” and is hosted by Jaquelle Ferris, author of This Changes Everything (how the Gospel transforms the teen years) and Sean Crowe, her father, and pastor. 

There are a couple reasons why I highly recommend this podcast. First off, Jaquelle and Sean have strong, biblical theology and aren’t scared to say things that are counter-cultural or “not cool”. This is the number one reason why the podcast is of such quality. They are also hilarious and fun, which makes their message relatable. Their enjoyable father-daughter relationship connects tremendously with the audience. 

The podcast regularly goes through different topics and discusses how the gospel changes those things and the way we look at them. For example, they did an episode on sleep and another one on pets. How in the world do they talk about those things in light of the Gospel? Well, they do and fill whole 30-40 minutes episodes, too. They also have done series on apologetics, hard topics in the bible, and more. 

Website

  1. Call to Mastery with Jordan Raynor

Call to Mastery with Jordan Raynor is an excellent podcast that I discovered recently. Jordan Raynor is the best selling author of Called to Create (which I have read) and Master of One. He is passionate about encouraging Christians to pursue excellence in their work for the glory of God. In his podcast, he interviews believers who have become masters in their particular vocation or field. It’s insightful, enjoyable, inspiring, and practical. 

Not an adult? Don’t worry. This podcast is remarkably encouraging to me as a teenager. I am reminded to be faithful in what God has called me to do in this season. Also, I am taught by the experience of those who are far ahead of me. 

Website

  1. Instrumental with JJ Heller

This podcast is hosted by JJ and Dave Heller. (I have a funny backstory about this podcast. I was already a fan of JJ Heller’s music when she started to come out with these episodes and on the cover of the videos she put on YouTube, there was a picture of her and the words “Instrumental”. I thought she was putting instrumental tracks of her music on her channel. I decided to listen to one day, and to my sheer delight, found out it was a podcast.) 

“Instrumental is a show about the big and small moments that shape our lives.” Every episode, they interview people and talk about their life stories, going backward. They start at the current season of life the person is in, and end at the beginning. It’s amazing to see how God orchestrates our stories and uses us in ways we never would have expected.

Website

YouTube Channel / Link

  1. Ask Pastor John

The Ask Pastor John podcast is a practical and quality podcast I recommend to someone looking for answers to difficult questions. The show is hosted by Tony Reinke, and Pastor John Piper is “featured” on every episode as he tries to answer questions that listeners send to him biblically. 

I would listen to this podcast with prudence as some of the topics aren’t ones that teenagers or even young adults should really be thinking about. Listeners will occasionally ask questions about marriage, relationships, and sometimes more sex-related topics that just aren’t what teens need to be listening to. 

However, John Piper has incredible wisdom and biblical insight which is hard to find. The episodes are relatively short, like little nuggets of truth and deeper thought to fit into your day.

Website

YouTube Channel / Link

  1. Hymn Partial 

My friend Cara Devereux and her friend Monet Funke co-host this podcast. I am not recommending this just because Cara is my friend. Their podcast is genuinely high-quality and interesting. 

In case you didn’t get the name, it’s a play on the words “impartial” and “hymn”. The podcast talks about all things church music. They have talked about the history of certain hymns, music genres in the church, and debates over music in the church. 

You should listen to this podcast if:

  • You like music.
  • You love history.
  • You love hymns.
  • You geek out unnecessarily over everything.

I wait with anticipation for their episode to drop every week. I seriously adore this podcast because I learn so much, and have become a church music geek because of it.

Website

YouTube Channel / Link

I hope you check out these podcasts, but most of all, I hope you find encouragement and wisdom and entertainment and hope through them. I do.

Do you listen to podcasts? If you do, which ones? What things have you done to entertain but also encourage yourself during these hard times?