Finding God This Holiday Season In A Second Tier Christmas Song


Honestly, I didn’t really remember much about the song O Come, O Come Emmanuel until the other day when it came on in the car with my uncle and he declared it be a second-tier Christmas song. I agreed with him, after all, it wasn’t exactly one of my favorite hymns to sing in church, I mean it’s not Joy to the World or Angels We Have Heard On High, the classics all good Christmas services sing. However, I found myself inexplicably drawn to listening to the song the other day when driving.

I was surprised, once I listened to the lyrics, how much I resonated with the song, especially considering the books of the Bible I am currently reading. Towards, the end of each year as I finish up my Bible reading plan, I end with some of the heaviest parts of the Bible at what the world declares to be the happiest time of the year.

I just finished up Revelation, and because I didn’t exactly read my Bible every day like I am supposed to, I am a little further behind in my Old Testament reading. That is why during December I find myself camped out in books like Job, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Micah. You know the real joy-filled books.

As I was listening to Lauren Daigle’s voice fill my car, I intently listened to the main chorus of the song. Which is “rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel will come to thee oh Israel.” In my head, I know what the gist of what the song is about. It is about the Israelites rejoicing, though they are in hardship and captive right now, knowing that one day the Messiah that Isaiah and the other prophets prophesied about will come and they will be saved.

However, this is probably the first year that the story of the Israelites throughout the entirety of the Old Testament really stuck with me. You know beyond the ways that our Sunday school classes make fun of the Israelites for being so foolish and pastors get extra laugh points for bringing them down in a sermon. I mean, who doesn’t love a good golden calf joke?

With the help of my trusty Biblical commentary, I was able to understand better the words of the minor prophets and the major prophets like Jeremiah and Isaiah. I was able to understand the true horror that the Israelites would have experienced when they were forcefully removed from their homes and taken captive to Babylon. How much fear they would have had, how they wouldn’t have understood what was happening, how they were thinking to themselves they would never be able to go home.

And yes, I am not defending the Israelites for not making their bed and lying in it so to speak, but my heart is just as idolatrous and sinful as theirs and I have not been uprooted to another country. To put it in perspective when King Nebuchadnezzar came and forced the people of Israel to exile in Babylon, besides a small subset of poor people he left to work the land( Jeremiah was included in this group), he moved an entire people group 1678.2 miles from their home.

Yep, that is right Jersaulem was 1678.2 miles from Babylon. And there were no Ubers to get them there y’all, the Israelites had to literally walk away from their home and know they probably weren’t ever going to see it again.

Now, what does this exile have to do with this Christmas song? I believe it relates because for all the crap that churches and pastors give the Israelites there is one thing that they have that should be commended, and that is their hope. We see this in the minor and major prophets who while prophesying Israel’s demise also prophesy God’s ultimate redemption of His people. We see this in Nehemiah when he literally rebuilds the temple from scratch once returning from exile. We see this in the hope and faith of a people group that didn’t hear from God for 400 years after the book of Malachi.

I think this is important to note because we all face our time in Babylon in the modern world today. For you that might look like losing a job, or a relationship, or not being able to pay your bills. It might be a strained family relationship, crippling loneliness, or not being able to accomplish a dream. You might find yourself in Babylon for a year or so, or for many years at a time. But the point I want to make today is that there is hope in Babylon. There was hope for the Israelites who God literally turned His back on, and there is hope from you. Because no matter how much we mess up, God never abandons those that He loves.

As I have gotten older, I have found that life is less all bad or all good at one period of time but rather a mix. I feel that on most given days I could list out a whole series of things that are good or I am excited about, but in the same token list hard things, I am learning or going through. I once heard on a podcast that our lives are not filled with hills and valleys, but our lives are more like two train tracks running beside one another. One of the train tracks is all the good in life and the other is bad. They run side by side as we make our way through life because there is always some beauty in hardship and always some hardship in beauty.

But, as many of you know, we do experience seasons where we really feel that we are in the thick of Babylon. That we have been banished or punished by God and He is not going to save us.

So if that is how you are feeling going into this New Year or looking back at the year you had and thinking that it wasn’t worthwhile, remember the Israelites. Remember that we too can hold tight to the same promise that Emmanuel is coming again for us soon. Even the book of Lamentations, arguably the most depressing book of the Bible ends in hope.

I know it can be easy to look at the world around us and not see hope, not see that God is coming or anywhere to be found. But He is there. In the Christmas songs that we sing, the funny joke our co-worker tells, the falling of fresh snow, the kind card written from someone we love. He is there in our mundane and in our smallest moments of suffering, as well as in our largest.

I hope that as you look towards 2020, you remember the song O Come O Come Emmanuel, and realize that God is going to set us all free of our sin someday and we will be captives no longer.

Here is the link to the O Come O Come Emmanuel lyrics!


If You Act Like a Spinister, People Will Treat You Like a Spinister: My Take On Modern Singleness


Now, I am the first person to admit that being single and a young adult in today’s modern age is no easy feat. Especially with the almost never-ending parade of couples posing in front of Christmas trees, kissing around you on New Years, or just writing unbearable captions on Instagram. It can be enough to make anyone feel insecure, especially women like myself who find themselves single as they head into the New Year.

I admit that I have fallen into the trap of self-pity during the holiday and winter seasons before, thinking something is wrong with me for being alone while so many people around me on social media seem to be declaring that they have found their soul mate. I have fallen into the thinking that my year won’t be deemed successful unless I find someone to bring home to my family or spend the holidays with this time next year.

But friends, it’s time to stop hating our singleness, to stop comparing ourselves to every touched up and perfectly captioned photo on the internet, and to make goals for the New Year that matter much more than how many dates we can go on.

In today’s article, I want to help you take a break from the monotony of couples pictures, engagement announcements, and tell you some hard truths about singleness in our modern age. Are you ready to stop complaining about your lack of fortune or binging another rom-com on Netflix? Good, let’s get started.

 If You Act Like a Spinster, People Will Treat you Like a Spinster


Sadly, I think that one of the biggest fears that young women, older women, and women of frankly every age face, is the fear of being what is considered a spinster. This is a woman who is typically older who has never been married and has no children. We normally imagine her as a wrinkly, not attractive older woman, who most likely has a mole on the side of her lip or some other unseemly blemish that makes you smile without showing your teeth when you see her.

She may have a lazy eye. She wears too much overwhelming perfume. And all the other old women in the congregation steer clear of her. Sure, there is always someone like Pam who tries to befriend the spinster, or the spinster still attends the church she grew up in so she can sit with her family every week. I know that in my church congregation, there were several women I considered spinsters, who still went to church with their older mother. I was horrified at the thought of that becoming me. However, I just want to say that my mother is fantastic and would be a very good church going companion.

I have found in recent years as I have reached the age that people are getting married, in serious relationships, or want to be, that the fear of becoming a quote on quote spinster, has reached astronomical levels.

But the real concern for you shouldn’t be becoming old and unmarried. In the Bible, Paul praises people that can be single, Jesus talks about how what the world views as status and praiseworthy aren’t important to Him. We as women are called by God to do extraordinary tasks that aren’t only able to be completed if we are married.

So though society places enormous pressure on getting married and pumping out 2.5 kids, God has never put that kind of pressure on his children. But out of this fear of singleness that women have created, I think a new monster has been allowed to be born; she is the young adult spinster.

That is the friend or person at church that we all know. The girl who is constantly bemoaning her singleness, crying woe is me on Facebook about her singleness, and even if you don’t really know her, will inform you of how she didn’t go on a date last year and that there are no single men around.

Friends, don’t become the young adult spinster. Try hard not to be the girl who chooses only to see one side of her singleness. Don’t succumb to being cranky, to cursing your friends who are in relationships, to letting bitterness and envy eat away at your heart until there is nothing left to tempt people to be your friends much less a man.

If you act like something is wrong with you because you are single, people will start to see that you’re single because something is wrong with you. But, if you act like you are beautiful, talented, smart, the daughter of the King which you are, people won’t remember that you are single.

They won’t tell people who ask about you that you’re single, they’ll tell people what a great friend you are, how you’re funny, and how you’re hardworking. They will want to set you up with the people they know who are single because they can see the amazing qualities you have because you show them off.

And yes, there is most definitely a time and place that you can be sad about being single. There are plenty of nights you are welcome to cry yourself to sleep. You are allowed to talk and ask for prayer from close friends to help spur you to grow to be content in singleness. And if you need to talk about the unfairness of that mean girl from high school or college getting engaged, call your mother and talk your heart out. But what you are not allowed to do is let your singleness be the only thing that defines you.

So, this year, instead of being the Debby Downer of singleness, put your identity in Christ and Him alone. Not in how many matches you get on online dating, how many of your friends are engaged when you aren’t, or if you find someone this year at all. Put your identity in the One who created you and cares for you. The One who knows what you need and what you don’t need. The One who understands that you are feeling painfully alone at times in your singleness. But don’t let yourself become a young adult spinster, don’t continue to allow this epidemic to spread.

Put Yourself Out There


I have a real problem with single women complaining about being single but doing absolutely nothing to change that. They are the type of women who are content waiting in their homes and are certain that God will bring them their husband on a silver platter when the time is right. And I am not saying that there isn’t a tremendous amount of God’s hand in the person you end of marrying. But, we can’t just be passive if we are looking to go on dates or find someone to be our boyfriends. We have to do our part so that God can do His.

That might mean that you join a small group that is mixed, or you join a rec league at the Y, or you do online dating. If you aren’t meeting available single men somewhere in your life, then you are going to be alone. That is not meant to be harsh; it’s just a fact. If all you do is sit at home and watch TV, the only guy who could be your husband is the Fed-ex or pizza guy.

I know that this is a flaw I want to work on this year as well. Sometimes I can hide behind the thought of online dating instead of just going up to people at my young adult group and talking to them. Not to say that you should be throwing yourself at any boy that is single and breathing at your church, but, we need to stop being so afraid to approach men. And we need to go up to men, with nothing in our hearts but the desire to find a new friend or work on communicating with the opposite sex better.

We need to get used to talking to more men and having guy friends. To not treat every interaction we have with a person of the opposite sex in the church as a signed contract of marriage. You can talk to guys, not want to date them, and still have them benefit your life. Single women need guy friends. They are the ones who can give you advice, can introduce you to other guys, and add a lot of depth to your relationships when you are still waiting to get married.

I know that many people will say you’ll either marry your guy friends or stop talking to them when you get married. That’s not wrong thinking. Not that you can’t continue to have friendships with the opposite sex when you’re in relationships or married, but it’s not the same. You can’t just go out with Joe to a movie or get pizza when you have a boyfriend. But, guy friendships can teach you so much about life and about the opposite sex. They can help to fill that hole of singleness so that you don’t become the young adult spinster.

So, this year, I am encouraging myself especially, and others, to just go up and talk to actual men. I promise you they aren’t going to think you’re weird or something is wrong with you. Act confident, not like you’re a burden, and people are going to like talking to you, I promise. Find ways to expose yourself to actual single men, and who knows? You might meet someone.

Trust Who God Created You To Be


You need to get to a point where you believe that nothing is wrong with you if you’re single. Try to get to a place this year where you can be happy for those around you in relationships and who are engaged because you genuinely love them and love yourself. An excellent tip to remember is, just because someone is getting into a relationship, doesn’t mean they got into a relationship instead of you.

There are still plenty of great Godly men out there. I definitely have to remind myself of this when someone online asks me if I want to be their friends with benefits, but I assure you it’s true. You are a great, great creation. God has plans, and goals, and purposes for your life. You were not an accident. Just because that boy you like at church hasn’t noticed you, doesn’t mean that you are unworthy of being noticed. You are.

I hope that this article has encouraged you to let go of the stigma and inner judgment that comes with being single, and can permit you to embrace your singleness this coming year. To throw yourself into different activities you want to try. To make and commit to finishing those hard goals you’ve always wanted. To do the hard work of growing in your faith, and other relationships.

Embrace this season, because one day, maybe sooner than you think, it’s going to be over. And you might look back and wonder, did I miss out on truly living out my single life well?

Related Article: Dear Anxiety: How To Rediscover God In Busy Seasons and Especially Anxious Moments

3 Pieces Of Advice For The Scared To Death College Senior

Honestly, sometimes I still have a hard time realizing that I have been out of college for a whole year. Then I’m grocery shopping, getting up much too early, unsuccessfully making jello( real story), and going to work every day, and I remember.  Oh, do I remember.

College is such an amazing time in every young person’s life. It is where you discover who you are, meet friends that last a lifetime, and nap as much as you want.

However, like all good things, college also has to come to an end. Soon enough everyone will walk across the stage and hold a diploma in their hand that signifies everything they have worked and cried for these past four years. And, then, just like that, it’s all over. You pack up the dorm room full of memories, hug your friends tightly goodbye as you scatter across the country, and move back home to wait. Wait for your life to begin or at least get a job.

As much as you may say you are ready and that you loathe college, no one is really ready for the transition that comes after college. One day you’re walking around safe in your college bubble, and then pop! Suddenly you have to cook for yourself, and pay for everything, and get up early.

I hope that in this article I can help to give encouragement and strength to those of you who are about to embark on the messy, hilarious, and incredibly new journey to adulthood. Though the college years are amazing for most, society lies to us when they say that college is the best four years of our lives. They are not the best; they are the start of a much more fulfilling and joyful life. So, if I could go back to this time last year when I was studying hard for my finals and trying to squeeze in every possible second with my best friends, what would I say?

Laugh At Yourself

Adulthood is going to kick you around that first couple of months. You may be starting a job you thought college prepared you for, only to realize that you have retained nothing and have no idea what you are doing. You may move into an apartment for the first time and have to cook for yourself, only to realize that you can only make cereal. You may be moving to a city far from your family and friends, and have to find your own church and a new community.

Times will be tough, confusing, and hilarious. I can’t tell you the number of times that I screwed up cooking, I mean terribly,  and still am, my first year out of college. So learn the difference between the things that should upset you and the things you just need to laugh off.

Be open and willing to learn new things. I have learned more this past year than I did all four years of college combined. Most of that comes from the real experience I am getting at my job, but a lot of it is personal. I have learned how to be a friend outside of college, how to order deli meat at the grocery store, how to go to church by myself, how to be on my own, what I like to do in my spare time, and how to successfully not nap through the day. You will be learning a lot too. So, don’t go into that job thinking you know everything or act that way to your friends. I guarantee after a week of being a real adult you’ll realize just how little you actually know.

For instance, this time last year I had no idea that in two short weeks, the internship I had secured for the summer would be taken away, and several weeks later I would be starting at a company I had never heard of my four years at Grove City. God definitely has a sense of humor, but He also will lead you. When everything else around you is changing, including the scenery, know that the God that you have worshipped and loved for many years never changes.

Action: Keep a journal of that first year after college. This will be a great place to keep your thoughts safe when you need to whine, and to laugh at the misadventures that you are sure to get into. I promise you after your first year out of college you will be able to find yourself chuckling at the entries of you not knowing how to grocery shop or do things that are second nature to you now at your job.

Let Go Of Crazy Expectations

I think that society puts a ton of pressure on college grads, or maybe we just put that pressure on ourselves, to have it all figured out the minute we walk across that stage. But that is completely insane. If anything, you are even more lost and confused after graduation than you were going in. The world is your oyster, and you enter the workforce fresh and having no idea what you are doing. No one is expecting you to get a raise two months after starting that first job, for that first job to be your forever job, or for you to have it all figured out.

Do yourself a favor during this time and take a break from social media. This is especially true if you aren’t quite sure what God has planned for you after graduation. It can be all too easy when you are stuck at home at your parent’s house desperate for anyone to hire you, to compare yourself to those around you. To the people that have those coveted jobs, are getting engaged, are moving to new cities. Everyone looks so pulled together, much more than you are sitting in your childhood bedroom.

But friends, no one posts their tears on social media. No one posts the number of rejection letters they got before landing that job, no one posts when they are crying of loneliness during those first months in a new city, no one vents their frustrations about having to put their own gym into a GPS because they have no idea how to get anywhere in their new strange town.

As a college graduate, I can guarantee that everyone is struggling in some new way. It might not be the same way that you are, but trust me, your peers are just as lost and clueless as you feel.

Action: Pray. Pray on your knees and be honest. Don’t let social media make you question who you are or how much God loves you. Be honest with your friends and family when you are struggling. Vulnerability leads to more vulnerability. Your friends may just be waiting and wanting you to admit you are so freaking lost.  We are all works in progress; we are not completed until we get to heaven. So take the pressure off and realize it’s totally normal to be so lost and so confused. Isn’t that what your 20s are for?

Lean Into Community

One of the hardest parts of leaving college behind for me was the incredible friends that I made. There is a certain bond that is unlike any other that you have with your college friends. You lived with them, learned with them, and experienced life closely together for the past four years. They shaped you into who you are, and you shaped them. It can be hard to set out to find a new community and to keep the old. But here are some tips I have.

Set a schedule

  • Life gets crazy and so busy, make those friendships that you want to keep in your life a priority. Set aside a time each week or month to talk to certain friends. Trust me; if you don’t plan it, it won’t happen. And don’t be worried to initiate talking with friends first. The last time I checked people don’t get upset when you want to continue to invest in them.

Set up visits

  • Yes, phone calls, social media, and Skype are great, but you also need to make time to see these friends. Plan a girls trip, come together for Homecoming, or drive down to see them some weekend. This is especially vital if you are single because when you get married, it is going to be more challenging to visit those dear friends whenever you feel like it.

Community takes work

  • It doesn’t really take any work to make friends in college. Yes, you do have to talk to people and put yourself out there, but from what I remember from my freshman year, pretty much everyone is thirsty for friends. You are surrounded by people that have similar beliefs and are actually your age. You can walk up to someone, introduce yourself, and they are your new best friend. Unfortunately, the real world isn’t quite so easy. The truth is, if you don’t put yourself out there and seek out finding new friends and community, you won’t find it. If you stay in every Saturday night to watch Netflix, you’ll be watching it alone by yourself six months later just the same.

Yes, continue to invest in your college friends, but as Christians, we were created for community. Phone calls from long distance friends every week are great, but we need face to face interaction too. As a very extroverted person, I thought finding community would be so easy. It is NOT! It takes a lot of effort and time. It takes dealing with rejection and awkwardness and showing up to a young adult group again and again when you know no one.

But, after those months of trying your best to find that community, I promise you it will happen. When you put the effort in, pray for Godly friends, and seek them out, you will find them. But don’t expect people just to befriend you automatically.

So here are some tips if you are moving to a new place:

Join a small group

This is an easy way to get close to people and also have a weekly commitment. These are people just like you who are seeking out a community and are willing to put in the effort to find it. Go a couple of times before you throw in the towel, I know that my first judgments of people are usually very wrong.

Connect with other college people

Try to scope out if anyone from your college is moving to or around the area you will be living. Yes, you may not have been close or even known them well in college, but that doesn’t mean they can’t become some of your closet friends post-college.  These are people who can help to fill the college-shaped hole in your heart that throbs so much that first year away.

Go Out

Go to public places. Join a gym, go to a coffee shop, go to church, but don’t sit on your couch, cry, and call your mom. Get out there and make some friends.

Yes, finding community outside of college is a longer and harder process than it is in college, but it is so worth it. God will bring you the friends you need and friends that also need you, but you have to be willing to put in some work.

Action: Make it a goal and priority to invite someone new or someone you met for the first time to hang out with you this week. When I first moved to Lancaster and started meeting people, I made it my goal to try to hang out with two new people each month. Now, I didn’t always meet that goal, but it definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone to meet up with people and make those close relationships happen.

Life after college is a crazy, unexpected, but beautiful journey. I am so excited for you to begin this journey and hope that my advice can help you along the way. Remember that God directs your steps and He will not lead you somewhere He isn’t. Trust that He knows your plan and enjoy the ride.

3 Things To Do When Your Jeans Stop Fitting: Finding Worth In What Matters

To me, and probably every woman on the planet, there isn’t a worse feeling or activity in the world than jean shopping. On Friday I find myself standing under the hot, unflattering yellow lights as I try my best to squeeze my body into a pair of jeans that are supposed to shape me and make me look better, but better I do not look. I step outside my dressing room hoping that the three-way mirror will reveal a different truth.  But instead of satisfaction and happiness,  all I feel is shame and bile slowly rising in my throat.

All I can think at that moment is how much I hate my body. How I hate my thighs, my butt, my calves, my ankles, my kneecaps, pretty much any muscle or bone that goes into making my legs my legs. I don’t think about how my muscular legs can help me to walk and helped me compete in a sport I loved for ten years. I don’t think about how boys like girls with a little meat on their bones or “thicc”- personally a word I would die to be described as. I only think about how further, and further down in the vast heaping pile of jeans my size is starting to become. How at the top where I used to belong with the 0s and 2s, now have given way to much deeper down the pile. And I hate what I see and what I have become.

As I head home that night with a pair of jeans much bigger than I thought I would need tucked in my bag, I am horrified by what I saw in the dressing room. Horrid thoughts race through my head as I make myself dinner. Why am I bigger? Why has my body that used to be so tiny continued to betray me.? Is everyone going to notice that my butt is the size of a small state now?

As I take a deep breath and will myself to eat dinner even though a big part of me wants to skip it all together, I am reminded that the way that I view myself and my lack of thigh gap is not how God sees me. Not even a little bit. And as I start to eat my dinner, I was never one for self-control, I am reminded of the enemy and the lies that he uses to upset us and distance us from God. I just never realized how much my body shame was doing that.

In today’s culture, women really can’t win in how we look. We are expected to have a flat stomach, decent sized boobs, a butt that other women are envious of and men lust over, small stick legs, and a perfect hourglass shape. I have never met such a woman, and if you have, please send me a picture because I would love to see how all of that ends up looking together. Instead, we have so many women that are so unhappy with how they look. Our thighs are too big; our legs are too small, we have too big of boobs, our chests look like 12-year-old boys, our butts are too flat, our butts are too big, I mean when does it ever stop?

And unfortunately, I feel like there are too many beautiful women out there that feel the same way. Women who feel bile rising in their throats as they look in the mirror in the morning and cry when looking at how perfect other girl’s selfies look on Instagram.

Today I want to challenge our way of thinking, and I hope that these tips can help all of us to love ourselves a little better and truly grasp the way that God sees us. My goal today is to show you that:

The number on a scale can seem to define the health of our bodies, but really it defines the health of our hearts.

By this, I mean that the way we react to our fluctuating weight speaks more to the state of our soul and our soul health than our actual physical health. It can be easy to put our identity in how we look, how people expect us to look, what society claims is beautiful, but God luckily has never put that kind of pressure on us. I am ready to have a healthier view of my body, are you?

Put Your Worth In An Identity That Never Fades

“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of the Lord stands forever.”

If we put our identity in the trends of this world, we are always going to be disappointed. There is always going to be another new celebrity we are supposed to look like, a new lip kit to try, and a new contouring style that is supposed to make our skin look effortless. We are never going to measure up or have it all together. Even those amazing Instagram beauty models have to take their makeup off at the end of the day and stare at their naked faces every evening.

God’s love, unlike makeup, once accepted and truly known, can never be washed, peeled, or rubbed off. It will stick to your soul like glue.

Let’s have this perspective when thinking about creating a worth that will never fade away. In Jesus, who formed our faces in our mother’s womb and thinks we are breathtaking without a stitch of makeup. Let’s put our hope and our emotions in words He has written to us, not in a fad that is sure to fade. Jesus died on the cross for all of us, big and small, contoured, perfectly manicured and uncut toenails. Believe that today and let His words replace the lies and expectations our society puts on us.

Move: Write down five Bible verses that talk about worth, appearance, or what Jesus did for you. Put them on your mirror and around your house to remind you of who you are when you forget.

Hone Gifts That Matter

“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?”- 1 Corinthians 12:17

You have all been given distinct and precious gifts through the Holy Spirit. So, this week, instead of spending hours working yourself to death at the gym, online shopping to numb your soul, or watching unrealistic YouTube makeup tutorials, ask God to reveal your gifts to you. Think about the things that set your soul on fire, that you love to do, that you even feel called to do. Spend time harnessing those gifts. Nothing is going to make you feel more beautiful than doing what you are called and have been appointed to do. And, if you don’t know or have any idea where God is leading you, pray. He will show you and prepare you.

Nothing is more beautiful than a woman who is letting her purpose define her, not her poundage.

Unfortunately, I don’t think they make a Fitbit for that quite yet.

Action: So sign up for that ministry class, sign up to serve at your church, start a blog, learn that instrument, do something that nourishes your soul this week, that makes you feel alive in a way no great workout or slim-fitting pair of jeans can.

Find A Healthy Balance

It can be easy in our exercise-crazed, organic world to take the need to be healthy a little too far. To starve yourself to death to be “healthy,” and punish yourself for not working out every day during the week. Don’t let the joy and goodness of being fit and healthy become an idol. It can be easy to think that an idol has to be something that we construct and physically bow down to like the Israelites did in the Bible, but in reality, we bow down to things every day. We do this by giving up our time, our energy, our thoughts, our desires.

We do this when we push ourselves to exercise for an hour every day but neglect to spend any time with God. We do this when we let our makeup collection take precedence over tithing for the month. We do this when we let our horrible negative self-talk define who we are over the God of the universe.

This week I finally realized that I have not had the healthiest view of exercise. I would get angry at myself for only being able to workout four times a week.  I felt like I needed to start pushing myself to exercise more even though it meant giving up other things.  This especially escalated during my jean shopping venture as you can imagine. Thoughts like, “If I hadn’t gotten that smoothie the other day at the café,” and “ If I had worked out instead of getting coffee with a friend the other day this size would fit.”

Unfortunately, we are never going to get to a point where we are skinny enough, toned enough, and fashionable enough.

Contentment in who we are can’t come from broken people, perfectly packaged products, or calories burned; it can only come from the punctured wounds of the only truly whole human being, Jesus Christ.

That is why we need to strike a balance with the world. Where we can still exercise, eat healthily, and dress well, but we don’t let our desire for these things overtake us.

Process: Take a hard look at your “healthy” habits this week. See what has become an idol and what needs to be cut back on. Be honest and train your mind to start seeing exercise and healthy eating as a way to be healthy, not a way you HAVE to live to be a decent person worth loving. You are worth loving because Jesus died on the cross for you, not because you burned x amount of calories at the gym.

I hope today you can look at yourself in the mirror, warts and all, and realize that you are unequivocally and exquisitely enough just how you are. Your weight, face, and waistline were bought at a high price. So give yourself some slack today, and eat that piece of pizza for me, yourself, and Jesus.

5 Essential Ways To Make The Most Of Your Time With God Every Day


I have a confession to make. I have been grocery shopping, for the past nine months that I have lived in Lancaster to be exact, but I still don’t really know how. Everything goes back to the fact that I hate cooking. No, not hate….more like absolutely abhor. I am not one of those girls who has her own apron, or monogrammed kitchen wear, or who saves up for a Kitchenaid mixer. I’m the girl who literally bought Hamburger Helper and was genuinely shocked that the meat didn’t come with it. Personally, I feel victimized by the commercials.

But suffice to say, I hate cooking. I just don’t understand how people enjoy slaving over something for hours, that takes them a few minutes to eat, but a whole night to clean up. Does anyone else think that the science is off on that one? To say that I end up cooking one meal in my crockpot to last me for five days is not an understatement; it’s the life I live.

Let me paint the scene for you when I go into the grocery store. I have a list clutched in my hand, as I try my best to not run into anything or anyone ( a feat that is difficult for someone as accident prone as me), as I zig-zag my way through the aisles desperately trying to find something on my list:

silently praying that I can find the off-brand salad dressing or a package of goldfish crackers, wondering why in the world they keep cool-whip in the freezer section and not in the dairy section, and getting so impatient that I cross off ingredients to my crock-pot meal as I go. I don’t check the prices, when things go bad, or who made them. I grab and push and sweat my way through the grocery store until I collapse in an exhausted heap into my car only to remember I forgot to get the shampoo. Sound familiar?

Now, you might be starting to get embarrassed for me at this point. You may think, Rachel, you can’t talk about how much you hate cooking when you aren’t even married. Or you may be laughing at me because you are Betty Crocker and the fact that I hate cooking is a ridiculous concept to you. But I am hoping there are some of you out there, especially my young adult college grads, that secretly harbor an intense hatred for the grocery store and cooking as much as I do.

I share this with you, not only because I am hoping it will make you chuckle, but because I think we can all relate to going into “grocery-shopping mode” for many things in life. You know the mode, where you don’t really want to do what you’re doing so you just check out for a little bit?

For you, it may be when you go on autopilot talking to your mom. It could be when you are huffing and puffing on the treadmill and are praying to God that it will all be over soon. It could be when you are doing a mundane part of your job, talking to a particularly exhausting friend, or doing something you have done a million times before. You go on autopilot, not always because you know what you are doing, but because you just don’t care enough to pay attention.

And unfortunately, I found a startling resemblance to how I act grocery shopping and my relationship with God.

Because even though I do care about my relationship with God, definitely at church on Sunday morning or talking to my Christian friends, sometimes I go into “grocery shopping mode.” Where I am just trying to check it off my list like items at the grocery store, but I don’t really bother to pay attention to the sell by date or the price. I just go through the motions, sometimes huffing and puffing and wanting to watch Hulu instead, until I’m finished with my devotions for the day and can feel like the good Christian I am.

To explain it better; I want to go through the two parts that I believe encompass going into “grocery shopping mode,” or putting your brain on autopilot. Those are being purposely half-hearted and hoping to get lucky.


For being half-hearted, I am talking about all those times we care, but just not enough.  So, for you, that might mean that you do pray every day, but you only pray for as long as it takes your eyes to close each night. You could read the Bible every day, but you just rummage and jump and open to random parts of the Bible each day hoping to be fed. It may be going to a young adult’s group or church every Sunday only to totally tune out while thinking about your mile-long to-do list or secretly beating your Candy Crush score on your phone. We all have certain tasks that we just go into airplane mood for, and unfortunately, when our faith gets stagnant or boring, it can be one of the first things to go.

Hoping To Get Lucky

The other element to “grocery shopping mode” is that I expect to be the rewarded for the shabby amount of effort I have put into it. Because every time I grocery shop, I expect to get the freshest ingredients, great deals, and not spend a lot of time or money. Unfortunately, what I think is victory normally turns into my salad rotting or my milk spoiling two days after I purchased it.

And we can be the same way with God. We can not want to give Him our full attention and our entire life, but we still expect Him to show up. To give us some truth nuggets when we are just rummaging through our Bibles aimlessly. To get a word or feeling from the Holy Spirit when we only pray right before our head hits the pillow. To provide for us, and protect us, and never cause us any harm, even when we don’t love Him as much as our cell phones.

And yes, we are fallen creatures living in a fallen world, but that doesn’t give us an excuse to put God on autopilot. To shrug him off like a cute, but itchy sweater, that we convinced ourselves we will wear one of these days. No, He deserves our full attention, so that He can give us the goodness, grace, and wisdom we need to get through the day. Because if we stop to take stock of our spiritual life when we are in “grocery shopping mode” we can find out that we hearts are rotting like a salad whose sell-by date is expired. And  I don’t want that to be me anymore.

We need to be careful to not turn our precious time with the Lord into something we resent or feel like we have to cross off our Christian checklists. So, how do we do that? And, how can we take our minds off autopilot?

Stick to a Schedule

Guys, I am still figuring this one out. As a full-time worker and just a person who needs an inordinate amount of sleep, who considers herself to be neither a morning or night person, getting in my time with God is a real challenge. But, don’t get stuck believing that you have to do your time with God in the morning, because that is when Jesus did it, or a certain way because that is what your most spiritual friend does.

Take some time this week to think about what you might need to make that happen. Is it a particular time of day, a specific spot, or a particular book or song you need to incorporate into your time? Find what works for you and stick to it.

The Holy Spirit Is a Breeze Not A Tornado

I mean that we have to invite the Holy Spirit to be apart of our lives, or He is not going to come. The Holy Spirit is not like you or  I. He is not going to hunt or chase us down. He is not going to drop a passive-aggressive email or social media post to get our attention.  He is not going to drop hints or leave missed calls on our cell phone. He is just going to leave us alone.

So every day, you need to invite the Holy Spirit into your day. To guide you, and direct you, and to cheer you up when your crock pot dinner burns. We can’t live this life alone, and the only way we can feel God here on earth is through the Holy Spirit. He is a gentle breeze trying to pull us back to God, but if we forget about Him, we are only going to be irritated by the sudden burst of cold, instead of seeing it as an opportunity to draw us towards God.

Love Is 99% Action And The Other .999% Feeling

There are going to be days where you wake up, and the last thing you want to do is read the Bible. There are going to be days you are so angry with God for something happening or not happening in your life. There are going to be days where you feel apathetic and listless, and just bored. But lean in! Those days will not last forever.

Feeling spiritually dry doesn’t make you spiritually inept, it just makes you human. 

So make sure that you realize that God is the God of joy and peace and faithfulness, but He is also the God of pain and sorrow.

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad consider, God has made one as well as the other. ” – Ecclesiastes 7:14

So no matter how you are feeling about God at this moment or tomorrow when you wake up, make time with Him a priority. I hope that the quote below can give you encouragement when you don’t want to crack open your Bible.

The more that you refrain from God, the more mundane time with Him will become. 


When you are reading God’s word or praying, try writing down your takeaways. Instead of just skimming that chapter again in Matthew or a well known Psalm, really see if there is something there that you haven’t discovered before. Think of the Bible as the ultimate treasure chest, except that you will never stop finding buried treasure. No one has ever read the Bible enough to truly get everything out of it.

And, since we all have such unique gifts, personalities, and circumstances, you never know what verse might stick out to you that wouldn’t happen to someone else. Keep a journal or notebook by your side for those times so that you can remember the unique way that God spoke to you. You never know how many friends and loved ones could benefit from your insight as well.

Pray Anywhere and Everywhere

Especially if you have grown up in the church, it can be easy to think that we can only pray at certain times. Like in the morning or over dinner or on Sunday. That we have to be in our prayer chair with our Bible splayed out in front of us drinking coffee as the sun comes up like the perfect Instagram story.  But friends, that is not true.

We don’t have to be in a special mood, special place, or a special person to pray. 

We can talk to God whenever we want, wherever we want. You can talk to God driving, when you are cooking when you are answering emails at work, and when your stomach is crying out in pain as you do abs at the gym. Now, I am not saying that you shouldn’t set aside a particular time of the day where you really focus in on talking to God. Because if you don’t plan for it, it will never happen.

But, we also need to realize that we can talk to God beyond our perfectly crammed in and timed devotional times.

That He wants to hear from us every second of the day, even when are sick of ourselves. So, here are some of my favorite ways to talk to God during the day.

  • When you shower
  • Brushing your teeth/getting ready in the Am
  • Driving
  • On the elliptical or stair stepper at the gym
  • Running errands
  • Getting your hair done
  • Shopping
  • Doing something mundane at work
  • Cooking
  • Grocery shopping- haha
  • Walking outside

I could go on and on. But the point is, that we don’t have to come to God with our squeaky clean selves dressed in our Sunday bests and at 5 in the morning. We can whisper our need to God as we take in our disheveled appearance in the morning, when the guy in front of us is moving slower than molasses, when we are checking out the other women around us at the gym, or just when we are exhausted and overwhelmed after a long day at the office.

Unlike how we are to God, God never expects us to bring our best, to always be faithful to Him, to give Him our freshest ingredients. He just wants us to come. And when we do come, He will bless us with far more than we deserve.

To wrap up, I hope you learned today two things. 1. That Hamburger Helper does not, in fact, come with hamburger. And more importantly 2. That the God of the universe is just waiting to connect with you on a deeper level today, so are you ready to take your mind off autopilot?