3 steps to pull closer to Christ!

On December 4th, 2013, I lost someone, who once was the closest person to me besides my parents.  A guy I had dated three years ago was killed in a car accident.  I had never lost someone so close to my age that I had been so close to before.  I was absolutely numb for the first couple of days after the accident.  I then started wanting to question God with why.  I soon realized that I was being selfish thanks to some help from some Christian friends.  I was quickly reminded of a few things:

1.    Trust God!  He is the only person who can get us through something this hard.  He is the God of all comfort.  He is the one who is in ultimate control of our lives.  We must put our faith in him.  (Proverbs 3:5-6 and 2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

2.    Count Your Blessings! Be thankful for what you have been blessed to have in your life.  Be thankful for the time you have had with people! Give thanks to God for those things in your life.  (Psalm 118: 1-18)

3.    Pray about everything! Pray for comfort.  Pray for that loved ones family.  Pray for peace.  Pray a prayer of thanksgiving that you were blessed to have that person in your life at one time.  (Philippians 4:6-7)

These things help me cope from day today.  We must remember them and live by them regardless of what we are going through.

 

The Highlight Reel

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks she is something when he is nothing, she deceives himself. Each one should cast her own actions. Than she can take pride in herself, without comparing herself to somebody else, for each one should carry her own load.” Galations 6:2-5

How much of our day is spent thinking about ourselves verses other people or even talking about ourselves compared to other people? There have been days in my life with many hours wasted with where my thoughts and words have gone because of the mentality of comparing myself to others. The world that we live in today doesn’t make this any easier on anyone.

Between instagram, twitter, facebook and other social media opportunities that we have at the tips of our fingers on a daily basis…it’s so easy to inadequate and not enough because of the amount of comparing that we allow to take place. We see all the mess behind the scenes of our lives, we know all of the ick that takes place and is constantly present. The reality is that everyone has a behind the scenes that they are experiencing, but we don’t see everyone’s behind the scenes. We only see peoples highlight reels. We see the good that everyone advertises, the picture they would want on the billboard. While we also see the pimple in the mirror when we wake up….guess what? That girl has a pimple too, she’s just not posting it!! Stop comparing your behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.

Recycled Pain by RAVE guest Allie Seaton

On December 4th, 2013, I lost someone, who once was the closest person to me besides my parents.  A guy I had dated three years ago was killed in a car accident. I had never lost someone so close to my age that I had been so close to before.  I was absolutely numb for the first couple of days after the accident.  I then started wanting to question God with why.  I soon realized that I was being selfish thanks to some help from some Christian friends.  I was quickly reminded of a few things:

 

1.    Trust God!  He is the only person who can get us through something this hard.  He is the God of all comfort.  He is the one who is in ultimate control of our lives.  We must put our faith in him.  (Proverbs 3:5-6 and 2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

2.    Count Your Blessings! Be thankful for what you have been blessed to have in your life.  Be thankful for the time you have had with people! Give thanks to God for those things in your life.  (Psalm 118: 1-18)

3.    Pray about everything! Pray for comfort.  Pray for that loved ones family. Pray for peace.  Pray a prayer of thanksgiving that you were blessed to have that person in your life at one time. (Philippians 4:6-7)

These things help me cope from day today. We must remember them and live by them regardless of what we are going through.

Royals by: Lauren King

James 1:12 

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

The Crown of Life, the wording here is so interesting! So, if we get through our trials and tribulations…we receive a Crown?! Crowns are appealing to us, Royalty is appealing to us. This is why little girls dress up in princess attire, make crowns out of weeds in the yard, and watch movies even into their adulthood about princesses and Royalty. This idea of being crowed isn’t only appealing to girls. Little boys LOVE to win and to be conquerors. This topic is something that I’m passionate about partially because of my name. “Lauren” comes from “Laurel,” which means crown of honor, which is what they place on the head of a winner at the Olympics. What little boy doesn’t want to be a winner, regardless of whether or not he’s into sports? And what little girl doesn’t want to be a princess, regardless of how girly she is?

So this idea of a crown makes sense that it is appealing. But what does the Crown of Life mean? Eternal happiness is referred to as a crown here because of the glory that is associated with both. But does this verse apply to us today? Will we receive crowns?

James wrote this book to Christians that had left Jerusalem encouraging them to still live out there Faith in a new location. He wanted these Christians to hold true to the Lord whether or not they lived in Jerusalem. This is one of the reasons why I really love the book of James, I think that the advice in James can spread out to really reach anyone and everyone to live out their faith to the best of their ability regardless of where they live. This passage particularly is extremely encouraging because we all have faced trials of many kinds, from really hard and challenging trials such as a death, a hard break-up, or parents divorcing to trials that seem more simple such as a bad hair day, a bad grade, or not falling asleep easily. Regardless of the size of the trial, pain is pain in our lives and persevering through hard times can be a tough challenge.

We all face trials, and if you haven’t let me in on your trick!! The encouragement that James is giving here is to persevere with the Lord, for the Lord, alongside the Lord. But how are we supposed to do that? How are we supposed to seek the Lord in times of trials and tribulations? Something that has helped me along the way to hold true to the Lord in times of trouble is to view my mentality somewhat like a fast. We have heard of fasting, this is when we don’t eat food or a particular kind of food and we train ourselves to think and pray about a certain topic every time we would be eating or think about food.

In times of trouble, I fast, not in a way without food but in a way where I use the situation that I’m dealing with to trigger mind to pray. When we are going through hard times, it is really hard to ever get our minds elsewhere, and so I try to use those thoughts to trigger my mind to prayer. Maybe you are one of those people who aren’t in a place of trial, and if that is the case, I would encourage you to live intentionally to pour into others who are going through trials. Encourage them; be their cloud of witnesses on the sideline cheering them on telling the path with straightens out soon! Help those around persevere, we have community, and we need to take advantage of it!

The race can be challenging, there’s bumps and curves on our paths that quite frankly…suck sometimes, but the reality is that Lord is standing at the finish line holding your crown waiting for you to receive the Crown of Life in Him. He’s cheering you on and know that you have the complete ability to finish this race and finish it well by persevering through the trials alongside Him.

Lazy Sun-Days by: Hannah Holt

Yoga pants, dad’s oversized t-shirt, high bun, and my laptop. That’s really all I need. Yes, I have homework that needs doing. I could go run. I could clean out my closet. I could go over to a friend’s house. There are so many things in my life that need attending to right now, but I just don’t feel like doing them.

Sundays are both a blessing and a curse. On Sundays, I get to go to church and worship with my family and friends. I come away, more often than not, encouraged and refreshed. Until I get home that is. Then I just am ready to pass out on the floor, on the bed, in the shower, or even at the kitchen table. The heaviness of the past week finally catches up with me, and I realize how much I have exhausted myself. It is incredible how much we can put aside until we are exhausted.

I think this is why “And on the Seventh day, God rested from the work He had done.” (Genesis 2:2). God did incredible things. He “got work done.” He Created. But, as many Americans try to forget, He rested. He took a minute to recollect and admire the work of His hands. That doesn’t mean that the next day He didn’t get back to work. But in that one moment, He was pleased with His work for the week and just stopped.

As Americans, we forget that by resting we are both rejuvenated and refreshed. We think that the one extra meeting, phone call, post, math problem, or errand is going to put us ahead or in a better tax bracket than had we not done these tasks.

Jesus asks us to give him our troubles. He invites it! “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).

I am not saying that we shouldn’t work. God gave us work to do! Blessed work! But he did not make it a Commandment to work. He made it a Commandment to “Keep the Sabbath Day holy” (Exodus 20:8-11). He WANTS us to rest and to enjoy the fruits of our labor. By resting, we mirror God when He rested. If we claim to want to become more like Christ and grow in Godliness, why not mirror Him? And, honestly, who ever thinks a nap is a bad idea?! So, on Sunday, I am going to rest. I will not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself.

Why we love Frozen; by Lauren King

Some of you have heard of or seen the movie frozen, and as girls, it can be really fun to sing the songs with our friends, jam out to them in car, and talk about this story that so many people have become familiar with. Disney has made many movies that have spiritual lessons that we can learn from these fun characters that our hearts can get attached to within just a couple of hours.

If you have seen the movie, you have heard the song “Let it go” that the character Elsa sings as she’s climbing the mountain before she builds her new house. She sings the lyrics within the song “It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small and the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all!” Elsa then goes on later to sing that the past is in the past, and she’s never going back! There is a lot that we can apply to our Christian walk from these lyrics.

These words help me to remember Philippians 3:13 which says,

 

“No, dear brother and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

 

The past is done. We cannot control what happened yesterday or the outcome that it may have on our lives whether that be positive or negative. We can grow and learn from the situations that have happened in our past, just as Elsa says, “distance makes things clear.” Hindsight is a beautiful thing, and there are so many times in our lives when we are searching and trying to understand why particular situations happened in our lives that may have lead us to be in a state of confusion to the Lord, but distance does make things clear! We have so much to learn from situations that have happened in our past, but we cannot dwell on them in a way that leads us to being unproductive, but learn from them and grow!

We have the opportunity to press on to the goal ahead! We get to chase what the Lord has in store for us, a heavenly goal that will be way beyond worth the pain that may come along the bumpy path that is this walk. There is a prize ahead for all of us, the past truly is in the past, but we can use our past mistakes and trials to help us persevere onto the prize! “Let it go” and GO chase the life that the Lord created for you!! 

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The Fall

I’m sure almost all of us are familiar with the story of Adam and Eve and their time spent in the garden of Eden. These two people were given everything they could ever want, but when sin charmed them, they threw it all away for just one taste. No matter who you are or where you come from, I’m sure that every single one of us can say that we’ve experienced “a fall” in our lives. I’m sure we can all say we’ve had a taste of our own forbidden fruit, and although this has the potential to completely uproot our lives, God is still in control.

Growing up, I always believed that sin had the ability to get in my head and make me do things I didn’t want to do. I thought it was like some sort of robot, controlling my every move..I couldn’t have been more off. The enemy doesn’t drag us into sin kicking and screaming, he usually tempts us with things we are already checking out. Satan gets us to flirt with the very things God knows can be destrcutive in our lives. He knows how we can be tempted, and the best way for us to fight off the temptation, is to admit that we have weaknesses. We need to lay our tempations at the feet of Jesus and admit that sin tempts us to do things we’ve already been thinking about doing. Admitting that we are weak gives God more control and more ability to help us out.

One thing I would encourage you to do whenever you might be sturggling with temptation or self worth, is to look at the way God loves you at your lowest point. I guarentee you that even if everyone else walks out, God will be pushing His way in. You are never too far gone,  no mistake is too big and no sin is ever to powerful to pull us away from the grace of God. This week I want to challenge each of you to admit your temptations to Christ, ask Him to help you fight this temptation instead of hiding it from him. Trust your Father and welcome Him in, He’s knows you and loves you, no matter what.

Why No Makeup November?

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No makeup November has been an incredile experience for many girls around the world to break the expectations society has forced upon women. The expectation to look flawless at all times can be completely exhausting and utterly discouraging, this is why we do No makeup November. We want to take the control away from the world, and place it back in the hands of our Lord.

We have gotten many questions and concerns as to why we embark on this journey. Why does RAVE hate makeup? Are you judging the women who don’t participate? What’s so bad about make up? I want to take the next few minutes to address each of these questions the best way I can.

Do we hate makeup? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Again, we do NOT hate make up and we do not think it is wrong to wear make up AT ALL. In fact, we LOVE makeup. Personally, I love buying new eye shadow and the new mascara to make my eyes  “pop.” I love purchasing the new lip gloss and the latest foundation, honestly I just love it all. Makeup is not a bad thing, we want to stress that to all of you. Our main goal of participating in No makeup November is to form a community. It is so much easier to fast from something when you have so many other people doing it with you. I just recently participated in the Daniel fast, which is a 21 day plant based eating plan with water as the only beverage. I decided to try this fast all by myself, which made it incredibly hard. None of my friends were fasting with me, so watching them bake cookies and snack on potato chips made it an even harder journey. Fasting without a community feels almost impossible. We realize that this fast of no makeup is not for everyone, and that is totally fine! But for the women who choose to participate, our goal is to help you stay connected to others who are going through the same thing. We don’t want any woman to feel isolated or alone during this journey, because it can be a very difficult one to do alone. Again, WE DO NOT HATE MAKEUP, and we do not think less of anyone who does not participate, we just want to provide the best encouragement and support we can for the women who have decided to join us.

Are we judging the women who have decided not to participate? ABSOLUTELY NOT! For those of you who are participating, we beg you not to pressure others into doing it, or make them feel guilty for not participating. That is not the goal. We understand this is not for everyone, and again, that is totally fine! For those of you who aren’t participating in No makeup Novemeber, we love you! For those of you who are, we love you! Either way, we ask that you love and support each other while respecting the opinions of others!

Do we think wearing makeup is a sin? ABSOLUTELY NOT! As I stated earlier, wearing makeup isn’t wrong. Most of us wear it everyday! It is not a sin to wear makeup, we do not want that to be the message of No makeup November!

So why do we do No makeup November? We participate in this fast to challenge ourselves and to appreciate our true beauty, blemishes and all. We look at magazines and articles plastered with women who seem absolutely perfect. Their skin glows, their eyes are the perfect color, their lips are smooth and naturally red, and they don’t have one blemish. We all know this isn’t how these women look naturally. So why are we comparing ourselves to photoshop? Why are we allowing our world view to get in the way of our God view? In Song of Solomon our Creator tells us that we are beautiful…OUR CREATOR. Why have we discarded God’s view of us in exchange for society’s view constantly telling us we aren’t good enough? We want No makeup November to help women see the beauty that God see’s in us everytime  He looks at us. We want you to see and believe that you are worth so much more than what a magazine tells you. “YOU are altogether BEAUTIFUL my darling, there is NO flaw in YOU.”

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“More than enough Grace.”

The power of redemption never ceases to amaze me. There are many stories of restoration and forgiveness to last a lifetime, and I couldn’t be more thankful for those incredible people who have the strength to share their journies with others. Chaney Sanders is absolutely one of those people. Her story of a broken home and teen pregnancy has inspired so many people around her. She has become a role model and a sister to me, and I encourage you all to read all about her incredible journey at:

morethanenoughgrace.blogspot.com

Thank you Chaney, for sharing your story and faith with all of us. You are proof of that the Lord never gives up on anyone, no matter how hopeless we feel.

Mirror

This is a poem our friend Caroline Burch wrote! We loved it and wanted to share it with you all! Let us know what you think, and a big thanks to Caroline for sharing!!

I look in the mirror

And what do I see

What a question? You ask

It’s obviously me

 

But is this me?

Do I really know?

It used to be yes

Now it’s more of a no

 

It’s hard to explain

A predicament too

That no one wil ever know me

Not even you

 

Like a child on Halloween

Hiding behind makeup and a wide eyed smile

You’ll pretend you’re someone else

But only for a little while

 

You don’t even know yourself

The world has told us that

You’ve conformed to their mold

Your reflection now like a stranger looking back