more than gold

When I like something, I don’t just like it, I’m obsessed with it…the Olympic Games happen to be one of those things.  With Team USA bringing home medal after medal (can I get a hallelujah?) and my denial that the games are ending, I’m reminded of something that I want to share with you:

Of all the gold medals won at the Olympics, you are worth more.

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold…” -1 Peter 1:7

“For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors.  And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” -1 Peter 1:18-19

One thing I catch myself thinking as I sit on the edge of my seat watching every game that involves a medal is that  I wish that could be me.  I think about how I would give almost anything to be talented enough, strong enough, fast enough, or tough enough to win a gold medal for my country. And it’s in those moments I am reminded that God has other plans for me life.  God’s plan for my life does not include an Olympic medal, but the plan he has placed before me is uniquely mine.

The same goes for you.  God has laid a one-of-a-kind plan out for your life. I repeat: God has created a plan specifically for you.  It is a plan laid out step by step by the hands of a loving and all-powerful God with you in mind.  It’s a path that only you are destined to walk.   Your life may not include a medal, but that’s okay beause you have been especially created in the image of the perfect God to follow a path that not even Michael Phelps could walk, because it is only yours.

And while I am relating this specifically to the Olympics because I am 100% obsessed, that moment of looking at someone and wanting what they have because it seems like God gave them a better life relates to almost anything.

The girl you see with the seemingly perfect boyfriend/husband with the cutest kids and the supermodel body.

The guy you see that has your dream job and dream girl.

The neighbor you see with the fancy house and brand-new cars.

The family you pass with 5 kids when you are only praying for one.

The relationship that is perfect by Instagram standards.

The friend who has traveled to more than 25 different countries.

The co-worker who just got the big promotion.

The believer who seems closer to God than you think you could ever be…

There will always be a life you look at and see as better than your own. But here’s what we need to remember: We have been created in the image of the perfect God who makes no mistake.  Our Creator has molded every piece of you to fit the path that only you can live out because he loves and cares for you so deeply.  God’s plan for your life is perfect for you because he made it with you, the one who is more precious to him than all the gold in the world, in mind.


“What is the price of five sparrows–two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them.  And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” -Luke 12:6-7

“Look at the lilies and how they grow.  They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.” -Luke 12:27-28

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” -Psalm 32:8

 

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a time for everything

As I sit here and think about all the blessings I’ve been shown in my now twenty-one years, I am truly in awe.  In awe of the amazing support system I have in my family and friends. In awe of the love I’ve been shown.  In awe of the life I’ve been given.  In awe of the Lord who got me through every up and down along the way.

I am a self-proclaimed old soul, so even at a mere twenty-one I find it fitting that I share a piece of the wisdom I have found throughout my life in hopes of inspiring an “awe” moment for anyone reading…

Life is not simple.  You may look at me and say that I know nothing about “hard times” and that my life has been all sunshine and unending happiness, and to an extent you would be right.  My life has been full of blessings and things I will forever be thankful for, but that doesn’t mean every day has been easy.

Ecclesiastes 3 explains perfectly the life we all live on earth.

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.”
v. 1-8

Life is a constant change.  We are constantly moving from one point to the next, from one place to another. We have ups and downs, laughter and pain, good days and not so good days.

In my life, I’ve experienced all of these. I’ve had times of complete joy; times when I had not a worry in the world because my life was just good.  I’ve had times of sadness, where the loss I was facing seemed too big to overcome.  I’ve had times where life seemed to throw every punch it could, and times where not even a punch could hinder the joy I was experiencing.

But time doesn’t just stand still.  We will not be in any one season forever.  Good times come and go just like bad times.  If you’re in a season of  heartache, find comfort in knowing it will not last forever.  If you’re in a season of laughter, remember to be present in each moment because you don’t know what tomorrow holds.

If you’re like me, change isn’t always the most welcome idea.  Moving into a new season of life, full of uncertainties, and feeling like you’re walking blind is not a fun thing.  But more than simply saying there is a time for everything, the Bible gives us an unwavering hope in the midst of any and every season of life.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.  He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”

This verse reminds me that because God is sovereign, I have no need to worry.  It’s okay that I don’t know what my next season will be or when it will arrive because the Lord’s perspective is much higher than my own. I’m also reminded to look for the beauty of the season I find myself in now, even if that doesn’t seem possible.

Whatever season you find yourself in, remember that “God has made everything beautiful for its own time.” There is beauty in every season because God has made it so. Though the beauty may be hard to find in moments of suffering, trust the Lord’s perspective and know that you will one day see it clearly. He knows the path you will walk because he laid it out for you.  And more than that, he walks with you.  In every season, in every step, God is there and He knows.


John 16:33 – Psalm 139 – 2 Corinthians 5:7 – Romans 12:12 – Psalm 37:23/24

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the pursuit of surrender

When I think of the Lord, I find myself falling into a state of overwhelming awe. So while this post is about abandoning self and chasing wholeheartedly after the God who is in every way superior, I want to share three simple truths about who God is and why he is worthy of our surrender:

God is good.  We serve a God who is so good we, in our humanness, can’t fully understand how the goodness of God steadfastly exists in every situation

God is sovereign.  In every moment and in every situation we come across, God is in control.  Our God is 100% in control of anything that happens in our life.  This may be hard to see when things get hard, but remember that God has promised he will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can stand *with his help* (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Yes, he will allow us to be tempted, but he is sovereign.  Nothing will touch us without God first knowing that we can withstand it as we rely on him for strength.

God is faithful. The Lord has promised that he will never leave or forsake us many times throughout scripture.  His promises never fade, and his faithfulness is eternal.

This is the God to whom I surrender.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” -Matthew 16:24

Surrender is the heart of faith.  It means laying everything at the foot of the cross, trusting the Lord, and accepting His grace.  It’s laying down your problems, your sins, your plans, your dreams, your desires, your life, and picking up the salvation that Jesus died on the cross for you to gain.

Surrender means giving your heart, your whole heart, to the Lord. It means giving up the plans you have in your mind of what your life should be like.  It means seeking the Lord with every ounce of strength that you have inside of you, despite circumstances trying to steal that strength away.

Surrender is more than a one-time decision.  To me, the pursuit of surrender is something I strive for daily.  I have to wake up each morning and decide that God is worthy of my every breath.  I would love to tell you that I made the decision once and I never question it, but that wouldn’t be true.  I’m human. I make mistakes. I lose sight of how good, how sovereign, and how faithful my Lord is every single day.  That is why I’m calling my surrender a pursuit.  I’m pursuing the Lord and the life he has called for me, knowing that I, in my power alone, could never accomplish the plans he has for me.  With each new problem that comes my way I’m striving to lay down at his feet, trusting that he is more capable of handling that situation than I am.

Lauren Daigle’s song “Trust in You” lays out the idea of surrender in such an incredible way.  If you haven’t listened to it, I encourage you to do so.  There is one part specifically that I want to share to sum up what the pursuit of surrender is all about:

“When you don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move.
When you don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through.
When you don’t give the answers as  I cry out to you.
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you.”

Surrender is all about trusting that God’s plans are perfect, and his ways are good.  It’s about acknowledging that he is all-powerful, that He can move mountains, split the sea, and answer any question you come to him with, but also acknowledging that he may not do these things for you because he has other plans in mind.  His plan may be for you to climb to the top of the mountain instead of him moving it out of your way, or to stand and fight rather than him providing you a quick escape, or to wait months or even years before he will answer the questions you have for him.

In your pursuit of surrender, you have to trust that his plans and his timing are perfect.  It’s about having the faith and the trust in God to answer “Here I am Lord, send me.” whenever and wherever he may call you.  The pursuit of surrender is sacrificing yourself for the glory of God, knowing that by laying down your life to him, you gain infinitely more than you could ever lose.

My prayer is that you begin your pursuit of surrender if you haven’t already.  See what the Lord can do in your life.  Experience the joy of knowing and trusting in the One who made you.  Lay down your life, take up your cross, and follow Him.

 

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the Son still shines

To say that I’ve been blessed would be an understatement.  Most of my days have been full of joy and sunshine (for which I am incredibly grateful), but like everyone else I’ve had my share of bad days, too.  It is for the bad days that I write this post.

Life can be hard.

You may have days where you feel like you aren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough, strong enough…days you just feel like you aren’t enough.

You may have days where anxiety holds you captive, and you feel like you’ll never be rid of the anxious thoughts keeping you from enjoying the life you’ve been given.

You may have known days where all you can think to do is literally cry out to God asking for some sense of clarity about why things happened the way they did.

You may have experienced days where you have no energy to even cry to God, where the only thing you’re able to do is look up and silently pray for your world to stop shattering around you.

…Or maybe you’re having one of these days now.

In all of these days, the world seems dark.  The sky seems so full of clouds that you doubt the sun is even there anymore.  I’ve been there, and it’s hard.  But there has been one thing that has steadfastly carried me through each and every dark day: Jesus.

Knowing Jesus changes everything.

You find a shelter in the storm.  You find a place of refuge where, even on the darkest of days, the Son still shines.   Even through the worst situations, He is still good because he is still God.  Through it all, Jesus still lives in you.  He is walking through your storm with you.  He is offering to carry your hurt and your pain and your sorrow.  Let him.

If you’re living through stormy days today, let Jesus carry your burdens, and simply exist in him.  Allow him to wrap you up in all that he is, and rest in his loving light that (I believe) shines the brightest on the dark days.

Let Him shine through your storm, and when you finally find yourself enjoying a sunny day once again, thank him. Thank him for the storm and the sunshine because through it all God is still good and his Son still shines.

 

John 1:5 + Psalm 18:28 + Psalm 91:1 + Isaiah 25:4 + Psalm 107:1 + Joshua 1:5

 

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What do fireworks have to do with Faith?

Let me start by saying that I am definitely not a professional writer.  Grammar has never been my strongest subject, I’m not the best with describing what I’m thinking, and there will no doubt be countless mistakes throughout all of my posts…but I belong to a God who chooses to use me anyway, and so I will write.

So for my very first post in the blogging world, I thought it might make sense to explain my thoughts behind the name “Fireworks.”

I love the 4th of July.  Family, fun, celebrating America, and my personal favorite: fireworks.

Think about fireworks for a second. Someone lights a fuse, lets it burn, and then something absolutely beautiful happens.  An incredible burst of colors and lights fly across the sky in a beautiful display for everyone to see.  All because someone lit a small flame.

Just like a relationship with the Lord.

Every person who has come to Christ has done so because God put a desire in that person’s heart to chase after him, and then He placed someone in their life to light the flame of desire in that same heart.  HOW AMAZING.  The God who created everything and can do anything still wants you.  He offers you anything you could ever need, yet he allows you to decide for yourself whether or not you accept that offer.

I honestly believe that while the Lord ultimately lets you choose for yourself, he does place people in your life that attempt to awaken that desire for himself that has always been in your heart.  Unfortunately, we don’t always take the hint, but when you allow someone to light that flame of desire to know the Lord —  no matter how small — something beautiful happens.

That small flame quickly grows into a fire that consumes your whole heart and soul, and you begin to change from the inside out.  These changes begin internally, but soon your relationship with God becomes just like the firework that explodes and creates something beautiful for everyone to see.  As the Lord works in you, people begin to see the impact he has on your life.

Where you would have normally felt hopeless, you find hope in God. (Romans 15:13)

Where you used to see sadness, you now see joy.  (John 15:11)

How you once felt unlovable, you now know you are loved unconditionally.  (1 John 4:7)

Where you were broken, you find yourself being put back together. (Psalm 31:12)

How you used to feel unworthy, you now know your worth is much more than gold.   (1 Peter 1:18-19)

When you would have felt weary and restless, you now can find rest.  (Matthew 11:28)

How you used to be full of sin and shame, you now are drowning in the grace of God. (Acts 15:11)

Where you once were lost, you are now found in the glorious light of the Creator of the world. (Matthew 18:12-14)

You are a beautiful example of the saving power of the Lord to each person you encounter. You are a firework of faith.  When you feel the Lord tugging at your heart, let your flame grow into a fire that can be seen by everyone.  Allow the beauty of finding God radiate from you, and don’t ever hold back.

Just like you, my relationship with the Lord is like a firework, and for that reason I strive to be a beautiful display of what the Lord can do in the heart of an imperfect person.

“If my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame.” – A. W. Tozer

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