Lent 2019: What I’m Giving Up & Why

     As an Episcopalian, growing up Lent was something that my family regularly talked about around this time of year.  As I continued to give things up and became a little more vocal about it in high school, I often got funny looks even from friends who were just of different Christian denominations.  Today, on the eve of Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent), I’m sharing a little about the purpose of Lent, what I’m giving up, and why!  I’m hoping this post will help you to understand Lent a little better if you’re unfamiliar with it, and maybe even inspire you to give up or take on something this Lenten season.

     Lent is the observance of Jesus’ forty days and forty nights of fasting in the desert shortly before he was crucified.  Today, many Christians observe this time by giving up something they use or eat a lot that may serve as a distraction from God, or by taking on something new, like reading the Bible more, donating to a charity, or praying more every day, for the forty days leading up to Easter.  Technically, the forty days doesn’t include Sundays (because the time span from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday including Sundays is actually forty-six days), so many choose to break from their Lenten commitments on Sunday (I’ve personally always been too stubborn to do so).  The idea behind continuing to observe Lent today is that we recognize that if it is difficult for us to give up something like dessert, it must have been much more difficult for Jesus to withstand temptation in the desert.  When we crave the thing we gave up or struggle to continue doing the thing we took on, we can be reminded of Jesus and take the moment of temptation as a time to pray.

     This year, I’m giving up a few things that I see as large distractions from the progression of my relationship with Christ.  I am able to step back and recognize that these things are ultimately a waste of time and tend to consume me more than I’d like to admit.  The first thing I’m giving up is chocolate, which including this year I’ve given up three times.  I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic (seriously, I have chocolate at every meal at the very least), so giving up chocolate is not only a healthy break for me, but also the cravings are a reminder to pray.  Second, I’m giving up online shopping.  For me, online shopping is one of the first things I do when I’m bored and clearly this isn’t good for my bank account or my attempt to distance myself from materialistic thinking.  When I catch myself typing in the URL of a store for purposes other than linking things for the blog, I want to begin reaching for Scripture instead.  Lastly, I’m giving up Snapchat, another major pointless time consumer.  In the last several months I’ve been able to recognize Snapchat as pretty toxic for me; in that it creates wishy-washy relationships, gives me ample opportunities to view stories as breeding grounds for feelings of rejection, exclusion, and comparison, and wastes so. much. time.

     Even if you aren’t from a more traditional denomination to whom Lent is customary, I encourage you to give up something or take on a good deed during Lent.  I’ve found it to be a great reminder of Jesus in my daily life and I feel like it fosters a stronger sense of connection with God.  If you’d like to learn more about Jesus’ forty days and forty nights in the desert, I recommend reading Matthew 4:1-11 (here’s a link to the verses in ESV).

Thanks for reading!  If you’re giving up or taking something on for Lent leave a comment and let me know what it is!

Thanks for reading!

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New Year’s Resolutions for 2019 Collab

     Happy New Year!  Today is the first page in the 365-page story of 2019, what a thought!  Today I’m keeping a now three-year tradition (crazy right?) with my sweet blogging friend, Cayleigh from CNPrepster, in collaborating on a post sharing our resolutions for the new year.  I seriously adore Cayleigh’s blog and am so grateful for the friendship we’ve formed through the blogging community over the past few years.  I’m so excited to see what she has in store for her blog and life in 2019!  Be sure to read her post on her resolutions for 2019 here.  As some of you may already know, 2019 is the year that holds my high school graduation, meaning it’ll be full of bittersweet lasts and nervewracking yet exciting firsts!  I’ll be heading to Baylor University in Waco, Texas (14 hours away from my current home in South Carolina) next fall to study journalism and apparel merchandising, and while I can’t wait to begin college I’m also in awe of the fact that my high school career is almost over.  I’m hoping these resolutions will push me towards my ultimate goals for 2019 and serve as reminders of the life I want to live this year, one that finds joy in every moment and never takes a second for granted.  Without further adieu, here are my resolutions for 2019!

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Thanks for reading!  I hope you’ve had a fabulous time celebrating the New Year and that your 2019 is full of blessings, lessons, and fabulous experiences!  Don’t forget to check out Cayleigh’s post here.Screen Shot 2018-08-08 at 12.13.06 PM

December Playlist 2018

     December is without a doubt my favorite month of the year.  I’m forever obsessed with the twinkle lights, Christmas songs, and ice skating rinks.  Today I’m sharing my December playlist, which includes a couple Christmas songs along with my usual mix of electronic, alternative, rap, and worship songs.  My favorite song right now is “Wylin'” by Always Never, but I’ve also been especially loving “God Be” by Chris Renzema and the incredible retake of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Cappa.  Enjoy!

December Playlist

 

Tap on the name of a song below to listen to it on YouTube!

Wylin’ // All I Want for Christmas Is You // Sunflower (Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse) // Superposition // Peach // God Be // You Make My Dreams // Three Words Away // Be Like You // Life In Color // Touch of Heaven (Reimagined) // Drummer Boy // Close To Me // The One // Sleepless Nights

Thanks for reading!  What’s your favorite song right now?

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Five Favorites; November 2018

     Pretty funny how I meant to write these posts every month this year and thought five items would be easy to come up with.  Anywho, this is my ninth “Five Favorites” post, so if you’re interested in reading my favorites from previous months you can find them here!  This month’s list includes three fashion pieces I’ve been loving lately along with a devotional and album.  Enjoy!

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  1. New Balance Heat Down 500D Jacket in Black – This isn’t the exact jacket I have, but it’s the most similar one I could find online.  I recently picked up a variation of this jacket (mine doesn’t have the hood) at my local Marshalls for just $30!  I love the simple black quilting and I think it’s the perfect winter jacket to throw on over a cute top and jeans or even a tee shirt and leggings.  Not to mention, even at the original price it’s still cheaper than the similar Patagonia black quilted jacket I’ve been seeing around lately.
  2. Old Navy Mid-Rise Micro-Flare Jeans – I’d been dying to try the flare jean trend for months now and these did not disappoint!  I seriously love the way these fit, so flattering and they’re under $40!
  3. Jesus Calling devotional – My friend gave this devotional to me as a birthday gift in 2017 and while I’ve been reading it for most of the year I’ve been extra obsessed lately.  I do my best to read Jesus Calling every morning before school and it makes such a difference in my mindset throughout the day.  It somehow always says exactly what I need to hear.
  4. Chan Luu Leopard Print Neckerchief – I purchased this neckerchief at the store I work at a couple months ago and I’ve been wearing it a ton lately (see it styled in this post).  I love putting my hair half up and tying the neckerchief over the elastic or just tying it around my neck with a basic top or sweater!
  5. Sleeping With Roses II album by Chelsea Cutler – I thought I’d never love anything by Chelsea Cutler more than Sleeping With Roses, but then she dropped a part two.  I’m obsessed with the tracks “AF1s,” “Three Words Away,” and “Cold Showers.”

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November Playlist 2018

     I’m not sure if this is my latest monthly playlist post ever but I’m sure it’s pretty close (oops).  I thought about saving this playlist for December but I’ve just found so much good music lately I needed to share it all!  I promise the December playlist is coming in a more timely manner though (December 5th to be exact).  Lately I’ve been obsessed with “So Will I (100 Billion X),” and yes, I know I’m super late to that party.  I’ve also been loving Chelsea Cutler’s new album, “Sleeping With Roses II,” and several songs by Maggie Rogers, especially “Light On.”  Okay, okay, let’s get to the playlist!  Enjoy!

November Playlist

Tap on the name of a song below to listen to it on YouTube!

So Will I (100 Billion X) // When We Were Young // Thick and Thin // AF1s // Sunflower // Light On // Consideration // Again // thank u, next // Nothing I Hold on to (Live) // Beach House // Grown Up // Dreams // Wake Up in the Sky // Falling for U

Thanks for reading!  What’s your favorite song right now?

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Scripture Sunday Vol. 41

     Good morning and happy Sunday!  I feel like it’s been ages since my last “Scripture Sunday” post, and for that I’m so sorry.  Writing these posts is truly my favorite thing about this blog, I love having a platform to share the things God is teaching me.  Today I’m finally sharing a new installment in this Scripture study series and I’m excited for you to read it!  This verse has been so significant for me lately as I hold myself to a standard that I often fall short of.  Enjoy!

Today’s Verses:

Ephesians 2:8-9; For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

     Growing up in two households of families that go to church every Sunday, attending the 10:00am service each week feels like more than a routine, it’s part of who I am.  Even when we’re out of town, we often go to a relative’s church.  Missing a service, while this has never been explicitly said by anyone in my family, makes me feel as though I’m falling short in my faith.  Just last week I spent the night at a friend’s house with plans of going to church in the morning, but I overslept.  I beat myself up over missing church all day, even though I attended a Bible study that evening.  When I miss church, wake up late and don’t have time to read my Bible in the morning before school, or even skip weeks of writing these “Scripture Sunday” posts, I feel like a failure.

     The truth is, I’m falling short in more ways than just missing religious activities, we all are.  Whether it’s a white lie, falling into temptation in a high school relationship, or stealing something at the grocery store, sin invades our lives constantly.  We’re affected by sin every day, and if it’s not our own sin it’s the sin of someone around us.  We can easily see the brokenness in the world, from divorce to mass shootings.  So if we’re all constantly missing the mark, how are we ever supposed to be deserving of heaven?

     We aren’t.  The cool thing about Christianity is that our God isn’t tallying our good and bad actions to determine whether or not we’ve won the game of life and earned a spot in heaven, He’s wrapped up the gift and has His arm outstretched towards us.  All we have to do is accept it and begin to live a life affected by that choice, believing that it makes a difference.  Recently I’ve been loving Ephesians 2:8-9, which says “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

     Grace was defined to me by a YoungLife leader at camp a few years ago as “something the giver knows we don’t deserve, but gives us anyways.”  This definition was followed by the example of baking someone a cake after they punch you.  The “cake,” or gift of eternal life, is given to us by God even though we “punch Him,” or lie and skip church and cheat every day.  All of our sinful acts are like a slap in the face, but His hand never flinches, still outstretched for us.  No one, not Mother Theresa or your saint of a childhood Sunday school teacher, really deserves what He gives us, but that’s kind of the point.

    How crazy is it to think of baking someone a cake after they hit you?  No, not one of those cakes with something sarcastic and vicious iced on top, but the best cake you’ve ever baked.  Imagining receiving that from God is such a vivid picture to me of how recklessly He loves us.  I’m so reassured knowing that there’s nothing in my life I’ve done or will do to earn His love and the eternal life He gives.  What’s important is that I’m trying.  What’s more important is that He still gives eternal love and life to the full regardless of how many times I mess up.  Remember this when you’re beating yourself up for a comment that came out ruder than you meant for it to or when you sleep through your church service.

Thanks for reading!  Have a blessed week!