Thursday, December 24, 2015


I sit today, on this Christmas Eve, looking out the window into the foggy sky wondering why I haven't felt very Christmas-y this year.

Maybe it's the warm weather we've been having, maybe it's that exams were just a week and a half ago, maybe it's that this Christmas I've been distracted.

I've been distracted by grades and gifts, by books and Netflix (as relaxing as they may be), by the hustle and bustle of the season.

So today I decided I'd take a moment to sit in the stillness, to reflect on what Christmas really is. Because yes, I know what Christmas is all about, but sometimes my heart forgets to focus and it is then that there really isn't much Christmas spirit left at all.

"The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone...
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore."
Isaiah 9:2, 6-7

Wonderful Counselor to protect us from the enemy, to guide us back into His arms, to remind us of His faithfulness day after day when we doubt Him so often.

Mighty God who breathed the stars and breathed life into my, into your lungs, a Mighty God who has done such great things to bring us close to His heart, to bring us to new life in Him.

Everlasting Father to the orphan, to the lonely, to the abandoned and seemingly forgotten, to those of us who need to be held, to be reminded that we are loved by the Star Breather, our Everlasting Faithful Father.

Prince of Peace to bring us comfort in the midst of the darkest nights, to lift us out of the valleys of life and remind us that in Him we have the "peace that surpasses all understanding."

These characteristics belong to the baby Jesus that was sent to our earth over two thousand years ago in a dirty stable, born to the arms of a teenage girl named Mary.

This Jesus was worshipped first by the lowly shepherds who were told, "Fear not! For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for ALL the people.  For unto you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."

The angels- a multitude of the heavenly host- filled the sky singing glory to God.  Glory to our God who sent His one and only beloved Son to dwell with us.

A baby has come, his name is Immanuel, God with us (Is. 7:14).  God with us to dwell among us and show us the power in His name.  To do miracles, to proclaim the truth into the darkness, to bring light to the lost, to be a Shepherd to His lost sheep...

This Jesus, this baby is God with us.

God with us to sacrifice Himself, to surrender His life that we may live.  To hang upon a cross because of the weight of my sin- of your sin- a crown of thorns resting upon His head, His final words, "It is finished."

The baby who came to bring light into the world, now a man on a rugged cross spoke, "It is finished," and the world went black.  The sky was filled with the mourning of the angels, of His Father in Heaven (Luke 23:44).

But Jesus, He is God with us.  Our Immanuel, our God with us rose from the grave three days later.  Light returned and with His light, our new lives.  No longer in darkness, we live in His freedom...

We live in the knowledge and belief that this same baby born on Christmas in a stable died just decades later upon a cross so that we might really be with God, that we may know Him...that no division stand between us and God because Immanuel, God with us, came.

"And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger." Luke 2:16

So let not this Christmas be about the presents...

But about feeling and knowing and resting in His Presence.

Let not this Christmas be about the gifts under the tree...

But about the Greatest Gift that came to hang upon a tree for you and me.

Let not this Christmas be about having the "Spirit of Christmas..."

But about having God's Spirit living and breathing within you.

Give Him room in your heart this Christmas, that He may show you, as He has done for me this morning, all that Christmas means for each and every one of us who are in Christ.

"She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people form their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken to the prophet Isaiah: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel," which means, God with us." Matthew 1:21-23

Come adore Him-

Immanuel, God with us.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Faithful God

“When we look back and see trials, God sees testimony. When we look back and see suffering, He sees blessing.” -David Nasser

Faithful: loyal, constant, and steadfast

- - - - - -

When I came to visit Liberty back in January, Kari Jobe sang “Great I Am.”  For those of you that are new around here, one of my best friends, Paige, passed away in 2012 and this was her favorite worship song.  Since then it has become my anthem, one that is still emotional and heart wrenching, but so very powerful.

Back to January.  I wrote about this experience in convocation (chapel) in this post, explaining how the Lord was further convincing me that Liberty was where I needed to be.

- - - - - -

Last Wednesday night, I was sitting in campus church and they began to sing “Never Once.”

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Tears filled my eyes as I remembered the Sunday after Paige passed away when I sat in church sobbing while they played this song, wondering how in the world my “faithful” God let her die, how He took her from me.

Again on Sunday morning in church, they played the same song and again I pictured little 15 year old Bailey sitting in church crying, questioning God, angry at Him.

But as the tears started to fall down my cheeks, I was only able to reflect on the last three years and all that God has done to bring me where I am today.

Today I am no longer bitter or angry with God. No, I am completely the opposite. I am thankful to Him for refining me and bringing me through the fire.

Today I no longer question Him and His plan for my life because I know He has my best interest in mind, no matter how hard it may seem in the moment.

Today when a trial comes my way, I hold fast to my Jesus. I hold fast to Him and the promises He’s made to me.

When I shared my testimony with some of my friends here at school, I found myself in tears over God’s faithfulness in my life over these past three years.

This week He has constantly been saying to me, “I am faithful. I am faithful. I am faithful.”

He hasn’t put me down so far…and I know that He will forever have me in His hands. Words can’t express all of the ways He has been showing me His faithfulness…from beautiful sunsets, heartfelt conversations with friends, new friendships that are beautifully brought together by Christ…

Tonight we stood again in campus church and they began to play “Great I Am.”  Tears immediately fell down my cheeks and all I could do was worship.

Because He knows.

He knew that tonight I’d be sharing my testimony with my prayer and life group. He knew that it’s been a long week. He knew that I needed a reminder that it’s okay to miss Paige, especially in this stage of life.

He knows that I need to be constantly reminded of the fact that I desperately need Him every moment, every hour, every minute of every day.  He knows that in a world that fails me, I need someone who is faithful no matter what.  He knows just how much I need Him, His love, His peace…

He knows how much I need my Father, the Great I Am, the One who is greater than any wave of affliction that comes my way, the One who calms every storm and brings us through the fire stronger than ever.

So tonight, in the early, early hours of September 24th, 2015…another 24th is going by and I miss my Paige just as much as I did the day she died.

But it’s another 24th where I’m saying to my Father, Thank You for Your faithfulness to me. Thank You for refining me and bringing me through the fire…and being faithful in every step of this story You’re writing for me. 

Jesus, I am in love with You.

Praise God that when we see trials, He sees testimony, when we see suffering, He sees the most challenging, beautiful, redeeming, grace-filled blessing.

Praise God that He is faithful…always.

Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Lessons at LU


"Accept or act in accordance with"


"Expressing gratitude and relief"

How much.

"What amount or price"

Over this last month at Liberty (I need to write another post devoted to my experiences and college life) God has been teaching me.  I've been trying to stay in a stance of humility so that I'm always able to hear when He speaks to me.

Just in this last week, each time He's spoken it's only been in one or two word phrases.

Abide. Thankful. How much.

He's been teaching me how beautiful it is when I- heart and soul -abide in Him.  When, throughout the day, I stop and remember to rest in Him, to let His peace take over my heart and bring a sense of calm throughout my soul.

The definition of abide reads "Accept or act in accordance with."  But abiding in Christ is so much more than that.  When I choose to abide in Christ, I am choosing not only to accept His plan, but to embrace it, to find joy in each day He has for me.  I am choosing to act and speak with genuine joy and acceptance of His plan, no matter how difficult it may seem.

He's been teaching me that no matter how long the day is, no matter how many homework assignments I have left to do at midnight, there is always something to be thankful for. Whether it be friends who remind you of family, a team of leadership who exemplifies Christ beautifully, or worshipping in chapel earlier that day...there is beauty in every day.  If you're saying, "I'm in the valley, in darkness that seems to deep to crawl out of."  He tells us there is beauty even in the ashes.

Be thankful.

Just tonight as I walked back from the library on the brink of tears over tests and homework and assignments all due at once, I couldn't get this phrase out of my mind: I just can't believe how much I have to get done. It's too much. I don't know how I'll get it done. 

But in that moment, I had a nudging just to glance up at the sky to try to get a peak at the stars. There have only been a handful of times that the stars have outshone the street lights up here on campus. But tonight was one of those nights. I looked up and the stars shone down and God whispered,

My daughter, you have no idea how much love I have for much greater I am than anything you are much grace will be awaiting you when you awake in the many wonderful blessings I have for you in the coming minutes, hours, days, and weeks if you will abide in me and be thankful...and remember just how much love I have for you, that the stars would shine so bright on a night when your heart is so overwhelmed. 

These are lessons He is teaching me up here at Liberty University.  So tonight, as you might expect, I have quite a few things to be thankful for.  As I have been abiding in Him in these last few weeks, and hopefully in the weeks to come, I can't wait to continue to see just how much my Savior has in store for me.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."


P.S. If you haven't purchased With All of Your Heart yet, I would love if you read it and told your friends about it :)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

How to Survive Your Senior Year

Here I am, getting ready to leave for college in less than a week and I find myself reflecting on the last year.

It has been crazy and full of so so so many decisions.

It's been, at time, stressful.

But then others have been simply beautiful, memories that I will remember forever.

Reminiscing on this past year, however, is not the purpose of this post.

This post is for you, yes you, the rising senior (and even junior!) in high school. For as I thought back on my senior year, there were so many things that I wanted to share with you. So after much thought and consideration on just what I would came down to this: a list of five things to keep in mind as you close out your high school chapter.

1. I suppose we'll start on a non-serious note and I'll say this: have fun. Enjoy yourself! Let these last one/two years of your high school career be the best yet. No matter what's going on, make sure you take time aside from studying, applying to colleges, visiting colleges, and stressing about life in general to spend time with friends, be goofy, watch sad movies, laugh until you cry, eat WAY to much candy, and be a kid because soon people will expect you to be very much like an adult.

2. And that brings us to #2. All of your 18 years people expect you to listen to your parents/teachers, let them make your decisions for you and, well, quite honestly, they still (for the most part) treat you like a child.

But something interesting happens about half way through your junior year in high school. Everyone, and I mean, everyone, is going to ask you this: "So what are you doing with the rest of your life? Where are you going to college? What are you majoring in?"

All of the sudden you're being treated like an adult, expected to have all of the answers and know exactly what's going on. These questions won't end...they still haven't for me! Some days you'll get tired of the endless questions, but know this: these people only want the best for you. Let them ask questions, care deeply, and ask how they can pray for you. Because when you leave for college, knowing you have a crowd of prayer warriors will mean the world. So answer the endless questions, let people treat you like an adult even though it may seem hard to act like one.

3. But also know this: it's going to look like everyone else your age knows exactly what they want to do and exactly how they're going to do it. My friend, that is not the case!

From your perspective, it'll seem that everyone else has everything together, but in reality, they're just as wigged out as you are.

It may not seem like it, but while you're scrambling to submit college applications and trying to squeeze in as many credits as possible, and about to lose your mind...everybody else is feeling/thinking/doing the exact same things. 

So friend, you are not alone! Don't let this overwhelm you. Talk about it with your friends and rant together about senior year struggles. We weren't made to do this alone.

4. Treasure every single moment with your family, friends...again, we weren't made to do life by ourselves. Time with those we love should be well treasured, because trust me, when it comes time to leave...or get a job...or do whatever God calls you to'll have wished you would have spent less time on Instagram and Facebook and more with the people you deeply care about.

Friendships are priceless. Family is gold. Time goes by so much faster than we ever think it would. But these relationships are the things you'll remember- and hopefully have- forever. So make them beautiful, memorable, and super fun memories. {I wrote a whole post on this here.}

5. Give it to Jesus.

My friend, turning to people for help is awesome. I highly recommend it. But above that- turn to Jesus. I cannot emphasize that enough.

Turn. To. Jesus. 

Let Him have every single detail of your fragile life. He will make it into the most stunning mosaic you've ever seen. Trust me.

I took the long route. I tried to do this whole college, tuition, huge life changes thing by myself. I tried for SO long before I realized: well this isn't working. To say I failed miserably would be an understatement.

No matter how crazy it may sound, this failing was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Because when I turned to give it to Him, He was waiting with open arms, waiting for me to trust Him and let Him take hold of every detail of my life and work it out better than I could have ever imagined. (See Ephesians 3:20-21)

If you take anything from this post, take this: Give it to Jesus. What is IT? Everything. Admissions. Tuition. Nerves. Stress. All of it. He wants to show you just how good He is at creating marvelous stories.

So, as you enter into your final year(s) of high school, I hope this put some peace into your soul. I hope it reminded you to treasure the little things, to have fun, but most importantly: to trust Jesus with your everything. He wants to give you the best possible future.

And as I head to college next week, I'm so excited to be entering this future He has had prepared for me for such a long time.


If you've been looking for updates on With All of Your Heart, here it is! Book #2 is officially published and available on I'm so excited for all of you to read this new story.

Thanks for supporting me in this journey!

Saturday, July 18, 2015


When I wrote this post about the lasts that this semester would hold, I didn’t realize how beautiful many of them would be.

Here I am and most of them have already taken place.

My last Sunday as a student in our youth ministry when I walked on stage and was announced a graduate of Rich Fork Student Ministry’s class of 2015.  It was that Sunday I stood and sang, “It is well with my soul.”  And in that moment, everything really was well with my soul.

This leads me to talk about the most recent occurrence: camp.  You see, I am sitting here with tired eyes and a soul satisfied in Jesus as we have just gotten back from a week long camp.  Let me tell you, this was by far the most powerful week we have ever spent together as a youth group.  Yes, we laughed until we cried and we sang until our voices are nearly gone.  But the Lord also truly changed lives and worked among us in ways that we would have never imagined.

I don’t have time to share every story and memory that this past week held, because, trust me, it was full of so many.  But I want to share this with you.

As I stood in worship last night, we sang a song that repeated this phrase:

And the grace of Jesus is always wider, it’s growing on and on and always higher. 
And the grace of Jesus lights a fire, light a fire deep down in my soul.

Grace, grace, God’s grace: grace that can pardon and cleanse within.  Grace, grace, God’s grace: grace that is greater than all my sin.

Standing there worshipping I was overcome with so many emotions. Overcome with thankfulness for His grace in my life.  Overcome with the awareness of where I was and all He was doing.

But as I took a quick look around at each of the students around me, I saw these middle school and high school students worshipping Jesus Christ with everything they had.  Whether they had their eyes closed, their hands raised, or both- I knew that it was coming from their heart.

And I also realized why Paige loved so many so well while she was here- it’s not only because it’s what Christ calls us to do, it’s because when you love well and pour into lives until you have nothing left to give…you get to stand and worship and watch lives be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

That’s what I got to experience last night in worship.  I got to watch these students’ lives be changed, miracles be worked in their lives…and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Last night as a youth group, for the first time, we talked about Paige. It’s been nearly three years and last night we cried together and prayed for each other and held each other in our grief.

But more than any of these things we rejoiced in the freedom we have in Christ.  Freedom from the weight of sin and grief and death.  As we learned this week, we are alive and free in Christ.  He is greater than any trial we could ever face.  We surrender to Him not because we know it will be easy, but because we know the God we are serving.

I poured my heart out to these girls last night, thanking them for letting me invest in their lives, spend time with them, get to know them, and watch them worship.  I couldn’t be more proud of them and all they have allowed Christ to do in their lives this week.  I also couldn’t be more thankful for all He did in me, in the ways He revived me and restored my spirit, preparing me for so much coming up in the next weeks.

My heart is full and my soul sings, thank you, Lord, for all that You are to all of us…for all that you have done and will continue to do through this past week…for making us alive and free.  Your daughter, Bailey Elizabeth

*No.  This title is not like Reflections as in the song from Mulan.  Just thought I'd clarify- haha!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Holding All Things

Graduating high school brings in a slew of emotions. Ask my friends, I'm not an emotional person but ever since the beginning of this semester I've been emotional on a whole new level.

Last Sunday I sat in Sunday School in the youth area for the last time. My youth pastor was praying afterwards and his first words were this, "Lord, thank You for these six years we've had together."

And I just about lost it.

Wednesday night I realized I only had two Wednesday nights left as a student in the youth ministry. But while Matt was preaching a verse that I had read a million times popped out at was this:

Colossians 1:17, "And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."

When I'm emotional because my whole life is changing...that verse went straight to the deepest parts of my heart.

This was my train of thought driving home from church:

At the beginning of the year when my financial information wasn't coming through at Liberty and I felt as if maybe college just wasn't going to happen, maybe God had a different plan...

He was holding all things together.

When I was applying for scholarships and crying over essay topics I just didn't understand...

He was holding all things together.

In February when I went to visit Liberty and nothing was set in stone but I knew this was the place I wanted to spend the next four years of my life...

He was holding all things together.

Just weeks ago I spoke at a church about writing my book and my trip to Uganda. But my nerves were eating me alive and I was terrified...

He was holding all things together.

When life is overwhelming and frustrating...when I wanted someone to really talk to, someone who would listen and have the wisdom I needed, but my adopted big brother was in Brazil, my adopted big sister was in California...and the other sister passed away almost three years ago and I missed them so much that it hurt...

He was holding all things together even when it didn't seem like it.

How do I know? How can I be so sure?

Because when I needed that person to talk to, I got a text from Trent (that big brother in Brazil). I got the kind of text that really just said, "Hey, how's your life?" And I knew he wouldn't care if I poured my guts out. We texted back and forth and the tears rose over and over again.

When I went to speak at that church, the Lord gave me such peace and spoke through me as only He could.

Because when my financial information came through it was better than we could have ever imagined. The Lord provided and did it in His time...not mine. All of this is a whole post in itself.

In all of these things He proved to me exactly what that verse says, "in Him all things hold together."

Without Him, I would literally fall apart! My life would crash and burn...but no, in His great love, grace, and mercy, He chooses to hold my life together day in and day out, making sure everything happens exactly when it needs to.

I know, you probably hear that all the time and it probably sounds cliche. Because less than two months ago it sounded cliche to me, too.

But today I can assure you that my God is the One who is making sure the sun will set tonight, the stars (that He knows by name) will be in the right spots, the earth keeps also the God who is executing every detail of your life, and mine, too.

So whatever you're waiting for, whatever you think just isn't going to happen, whatever you've lost hope for and are even doubting God about...know He's holding it all together.

Know He's got you and me and all of us in His hands and is very literally holding all things together.

I know at least for me, that is the greatest hope.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Next Chapter

I wrote this post late last night...reflections on, well, I guess all of my life thus far.

- - - - -

Right now it is 11:35 and I should have been asleep an hour ago.

But just hours ago I got home from having my senior pictures taken. While I’ve already washed my face, my hair is still curled.  For a girl with stick straight hair, curls are too much fun.

My mind is spinning and I’m thinking a thousand things.

A glimpse into my thoughts?

Tonight I wore a dress that I felt beautiful in.  It’s one of the ones you can spin around in and feel five years old again.

As the photographer took my pictures tonight we were in the middle of the woods, bright green spring time colors all around us.  And it looked like a fairy tale…something straight out of a picture book I would have read as a little girl.

When I put on my second change of clothes, I had mom tie a bracelet on to my wrist and I forced my eyes to stay dry. It’s colors are faded and the ends are frayed from months of wear and tear. But Paige made it for me. And while I haven’t worn it in a while…tonight I needed to wear it. For her. And, well, for me, too. Because all of me wanted her to be a part of this: my senior year.

I posed for a picture with my most favorite journal in hand and my hot pink fountain pen: a gift from Trent and Sydney when I published my book. I can remember Sydney handing it to me the first time…signing book after book with it at my party. They’re in Brazil, but again…they should be a part, too.

And Amanda and Nick. Dad just finished visiting with them and so we send pictures to them all, wishing that California wasn’t so far away.

I can’t help but remember this last decade of schooling…the journey has been a story in itself.

It seems impossible that it was nearly 13 years since I was walking into my Kindergarten classroom for the first time, meeting Mrs. Riddle and still getting help to tie my shoes.

And somehow since then I went to camp for the first time. I got glasses. I helped with Summer with the Arts for the first time. I drove a car for the first time. I really wrote for the first time. I went to the movies- just me and the girls- for the first time.

There are sweet memories like my first day at Classical meeting Anna Gray and Brianna…competing in Bible Drill at church…countless summer days at the pool…reading Little Women for the first time and really falling in love with reading.

Then there are the not so great memories, too, like that haircut I got in sixth grade…getting over three dozen stitches (no more flash light tag for this girl!)…the very first disagreements with friends.

But as I look back at all of those firsts, I realize that many of the memories I’m making now are quite often…lasts.

This Sunday I’ll close out my last semester being a weekly teacher in children’s choir.

In a few short weeks I’ll have my last day of high school.

In August, I’ll have my last day of babysitting for my favorite families before heading off to school.

I’ve come to realize so very quickly that these are the last weeks of high school…these are my last weeks of youth ministry and all that comes with it…these are the last days before college.

While it seems bittersweet to look back on the lasts, I can only see it as the closing of one chapter…and the opening of a new one.

The day I walk on Liberty’s campus I will not only hold with me these memories and bring along the characters in my story, but I will turn the page a begin a new adventure: one that will be packed full of firsts, packed with sweet and not so sweet memories…and, one day, lasts as well.

So now it’s 11:55 and I’m totally going to get busted for staying up so late.

But, hey, these are my last weeks of high school, right? Might as well live them well and full.

Here’s to the best last 13 years a girl could ask for: to the best teachers, friends, parents…and everyone else…thanks for giving me a wonderful, magical, incredible 13 years.

And, most importantly, to my Jesus: the author of every first, every memory…and yes, every last in all of my 17 years. Thankfully He’s the author of this next chapter, too.

So it’s with a deep breath and a whole lot of His grace that I’m preparing to turn the page. Here’s to the next chapter.

*Photo credit to Rodney Slate//Autumn Song Photography*

Friday, April 3, 2015

I sat at my desk this morning, reading the account of the crucifixion in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In that moment I let myself breathe in deep, letting my heart become heavy with the realization that my Savior carried all of my sin to the cross.

It's a good Friday.

This afternoon I wrapped up yet another English assignment and I felt victorious. Only one more left this semester. 

It's a good Friday. 

Just two hours ago Sonia and I sat outside drawing princesses and carriages and ballerinas while listening to Disney music. The wind blew and the sky was blue like cotton candy. 

It's a good Friday.

But I sit here tonight and I write a short post. 

It was dark. Jesus is THE light...yet it was dark for hours on end. 

Because many years ago my Jesus had nails in His hands, in His feet...they pierced His side. They placed a crown of thorns upon His brow.

The veil was torn- split in two. 

Tetelestai- It is finished. 

He was dead. They put His body in a tomb. 

His Father looked away because our sins- all of my sins- were piled upon Him. 

Scripture tells us clearly that He was mocked, He was betrayed...He did no wrong. He was perfect.

Yet they crucified Him...because He loved us. Because He wanted us to be free from the chains of sin and shame. 

May we celebrate that in three days...death He defeated. The grave held no power. And our Jesus, He is forever victorious in all of our lives. 

"For God so loved the world..."

Today it is Friday. 

Today it is a good Friday...

Because Sunday is coming.

Praise the Lord!


Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Time is Now.

Last Thursday night I saw Cinderella. And it was such an amazing movie.

This afternoon I saw Insurgent. It was a really good movie.

But tonight I had the opportunity to hear from missionaries to the Middle East, Neil and Lindsey Broere. Along with personal testimonies, they shared a documentary film on their time in the Middle East.

And that was better than any movie I could ever watch.

Because when I left that theater today I wasn’t satisfied. We never are!

But when I was sitting in our church, listening to what God is doing in the lives of believers in the Middle East…the Holy Spirit was moving in me and showing me once again how incredibly powerful He is.

Cinderella had a wonderful, blue eyed Prince with a British accent.

Insurgent had really cool special effects.

But hearing men and women who used to be muslim, used to live in darkness say things like, “I heard you were true Christians and when I saw you- I saw the difference” my heart rejoiced in the salvation so many of them have found and the incredibly powerful testimonies from countless people.

On the other hand…I ached knowing that these hundreds of thousands of people in refugee camps live in darkness day after day without knowing the hope and light of Jesus Christ…

As one of the local pastors said, “They are starving…”

They are starving for hope. These women are starving for love and to be freed from the shame that they live in day after day. They are starving for a personal relationship with the God who loves them…and who they know so little of.

I loved what Neil said in the video (I’m quoting it as closely as possible), “What happens when laid down believes battle and face the darkness in the Middle East?”

And likewise, all over the world.

We are called to live fully surrendered lives.

It makes NO sense for Neil and Lindsey, who is pregnant with their fourth child, to move to the Middle East as missionaries. It’s not safe. It doesn’t follow the American dream.

But how much greater our God is than any of those things.

Like the line of my favorite Rend Collective song says, “I do not need safety as much as I need you. You’re dangerous but Lord you’re beautiful.”

Tonight I was reminded of my own calling. The calling He has placed on my life for so long that I have only become more sure of with each passing year.

Someday I will go somewhere else. Someday I will not live in America. I will live somewhere else to share His hope and His light with people who do not know Him.

But right now…right now He is calling me to do things, too. Like they said in the documentary, “The time is NOW.”

Right now I can shine for Him in this very place that I am in. I don’t have to look to the future to know when I can be used for Him. I can be used for Him right here, right now…in every moment and opportunity He blesses me with.

I ask you to visit Neil and Lindsey’s website and take a look further into the heart of what they will be doing in the future and what God is doing in the Middle East right now. This family is so amazing and God is doing such mighty things through them. I am so thankful for the example of godly surrender they set for me and so many others.

I love their heart for these people and their heart for the Lord.

Visit their website:

There you can find them on facebook, instagram and twitter.

I encourage you to do this and be amazed at how great our God is!

May we ever remember that He is always moving, even if darkness is all that we can see…He is always there, shining His light, preparing His bride to come to Him.

And just knowing that He allows us to be part of His plan, showing people His love and His's the greatest privilege.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

With All of Your Heart Preview

Just to keep you excited for With All of Your's a short preview of chapter 1!

- - - - - -

“We’re proud to present to you this year’s graduating class!” 
Finally! I thought, I’m finished.
I watched as all of our caps flew into the air and shouts of joy were let out from the people in the crowd along with a few of those graduating.  A smile was plastered on my face as I walked off stage (after a photo opp of course) to greet all those who came to see me.  To greet them as an official high school graduate. 
“My babies are all grown up!”  Mom said, engulfing me in a hug, tears brimming in her eyes.
“They sure are,” Dad agreed as he hugged both of us.
“Congrats,” Nathan, Carly’s boyfriend, said to me as he and Carly walked up to join the family pow-wow. 
“Thanks!”  I responded as Carly placed her arm around my shoulder and we walked off the school property for hopefully the last time ever.  
“Where are we headed for lunch? This better be good,” Dad asked as we searched for our car. 
“Um,” all I could think about was getting that awful graduation robe off. Number one, it’s not fashionable.  Number two, I was sweating like a dog underneath that black curtain.  “I don’t know. First I’ve got to get this robe off before I die of heat stroke.”  
“Better?”  Mom asked laughing as she helped me out of it.
“Much,” I said, adjusting my floral dress and necklace.
“So, where to for lunch?”  Dad asked as he started the car.
“He must be really hungry,” I leaned over and whispered to Carly and she laughed.
“Red Robin maybe?” 
“Why don’t I get a say in this?”  Carly asked.  “I thought this was a double graduation lunch?” 
Carly had just graduated from Gardner-Webb University a few weeks earlier.  She graduated with her degree in education and was trying to find a teaching job at an elementary school in the fall.
“Well, where would you like to go?”  Mom asked.
“I guess Red Robin would be okay,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.
“You’re ridiculous,” I said rolling my eyes as I laughed at her.
“Sounds good,” Mom ignored me as we all loaded into the car. 
“Are you getting excited about Uganda?”  Nathan asked me.
My heart beat faster just thinking about it, “Oh yeah. I can’t wait until next week.”
“Speaking of Uganda,” Mom turned around and looked at us all in the backseat.  “Carter wants to Skype us when we get to the restaurant.”
“I know!” 
“We also need to go shopping this week to get all that stuff you said you needed.”
“Yeah.”  A thought popped in my head just as my phone vibrated in my purse at my feet. The screen read: Meg!
Hey girl.  Hope graduation went well this morning.  Wanted to see what day this week would be good to talk about what I need to get for Uganda.  Just let me know which day will work best for you.  Love ya!
My fingers flew across the keys as I responded.  Would Monday morning work?  We could grab coffee!
Perfect!  See you then.
All right! 
We pulled into the Red Robin parking lot a few minutes later and all piled out of the car. 
“I’m going to go get connected to the wi-fi so we can skype Carter,” I said walking quickly to the door.
“All right,” Dad said with a smile as I pulled open the big swinging door.
I took a seat on the bench inside the entrance, relaxing in the cool air. 
“Got it, Chrissy?”  Carly asked, sitting down beside me.
A few clicks later and everything was set up for me to talk to my brother again.
“Remember this time last year?”  Carly asked.
“Yeah,” I said smiling, picturing our family sitting in this restaurant just a year earlier.  I could only think about how different all of our lives were. 
Carter was home from Uganda for a month.  I had just finished my junior year and was still dating Hunter.  Carly was getting ready to be a senior and had just started dating Nathan. 
We hadn’t gotten in a car wreck.  I hadn’t gone to Uganda.  I hadn’t broken up with Hunter. James wasn’t in my life.  God wasn’t important.  My heart was as hard as stone. 
But then I went to Uganda; I met Ava and James.  God changed my heart.  He guided me in a totally different direction than I would have ever imagined.  He put me on a path that was taking me back to Uganda for the summer.  He brought me an amazing friend who kept me accountable in my newly found relationship with God.  Not to mention, he gave her an opportunity to join me in Uganda for a few weeks. 
This past year had been unbelievable.

And I couldn’t wait to leave in just over a week to return to the country that I had grown to love dearly.

- - - - - -


Friday, February 13, 2015

To You, the Girl Looking for Love this Valentine's Day

Today is February 13th, 2015.

It’s the day before Valentine’s Day. My favorite part of Valentine’s Day? The cards from my grandparents and the candy.

Tomorrow is the day husbands treat their wives to a nice dinner and a bouquet of flowers.

It’s the day boyfriends get their girlfriends an oversized teddy bear and a box of chocolates. If they’re lucky, maybe some flowers, too.

It’s the day the restaurants and movie theaters will be full of couples celebrating days, weeks, months, years together.

And it’s the day that so many single girls spend wishing they had a boyfriend who would buy them flowers, tell them they’re beautiful, tell them they love them.

This post is to all of you girls- to all of you girls who are spending this Valentine’s day by yourself watching chick flicks and drowning yourself in self pity and chocolate.

While chick flicks and chocolate are pretty great, let me tell you, sweet girl, it’s not worth wasting your time on. Don’t waste your time, your precious teenage years, seeking after boys.

It’s just not worth it.

It’s not worth the heartbreak, it’s not worth the pieces of yourself that you will lose, it’s not worth hurting yourself like that over…and over…and over again.

Darling young girls, let me tell you something that I have held onto since I was young. Lean in and listen close because it’s really important.

You don’t have to search for love on this earth.

Yes, you heard me right.

No, I’m not crazy!

There is a God who is waiting to love you. He is waiting for you to cherish Him and to run to Him.

And He wants to love you more than any boy on this earth ever could.

His Son died so that He could love you.

Are you hearing that?

You don’t need a boy this Valentine’s day. You need to run to the love of the Father and never, ever let go. Because He won’t let go of you.

Now I know every girl’s dream is to meet a man and fall in love and wear that white dress that makes him cry.

I know because that’s my dream, too.

But here’s something else I’ve held onto for my entire life, throughout all of my teenage years.

The Lord will bring me that man. The Lord will show me exactly who he is and it will be in just the right time.

I look at so many young girls and girls my age…I hear their dating and breakup stories and it absolutely breaks my heart. They’ve given pieces of themselves to someone they knew they weren’t going to marry.

Sweet girl, save your heart for him, for that man you will marry. Wait for him!

Just as I believe God is writing my story, my fairy tale, I believe He is writing your’s, too.

And when it is all said and done, it will be your favorite story yet. You’ll love it more than Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast and maybe even Pride and Prejudice.

I was sitting in youth group two Wednesdays ago with my friend Caroline and we were watching a video of John Piper because our youth pastor was sick. He was speaking on Ephesians 5 and the roles a man and woman play in marriage.

Afterwards Caroline and I stood and talked…we stood and talked about how excited we are to meet that man. To meet the man who will lead us like Christ leads the church. To meet the man who will love us and cherish us like Christ does the church.

My friend, this is what the Lord wants for you. It’s what He wants for me. He wants us to marry the man who will lead us, love us and cherish us. And He wants nothing less because you are His daughter, He loves you and He cherishes you. He wants to see you loved and protected and following in His will.

Two nights ago I was looking at Instagram and came across a post by Ann Voskamp. It was a picture of her husband cleaning the kitchen and part of the caption read this, “I could weep for a quiet love like this, the kind that they don't write movies about, but the Maker writes down in a book of His own. It's not the kind of flashy that makes the red carpet, but it's the unforgettable love that runs red.”

I immediately texted this to Caroline knowing she would love it just as much as I did.

Because that’s just what I want! I want a love that the Maker writes down in a book of His own. I want an unforgettable love that runs red.

I want it in the man that the Lord has set out for me.

And sweet teenage girl, that’s what I want for you, too. It’s what the Father wants for you.

So right now, live in the love of the Father. He’ll give you more love than you ever thought imaginable.

While you live in His love, live being cherished by Him, He’s writing your fairy tale.

Run hard and fast to the love He is holding out for you.

Darling girl, He wants all of you. He made you so beautifully and He made you with a wonderful purpose and plan.

Spend this Valentine’s Day thanking Him for His love for you and this story that He’s writing.

Have no doubt it will be the best story you’ve ever heard.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

There is Liberty

I don’t even know how to begin to tell this story.

Only God.

I guess a good starting point would be this blog post, the one where I talked about what I didn’t know what was coming next in my future.

Around this time I had started looking at three different colleges. I had been to two of them and didn’t feel at home, I didn’t love either of them. Many of my friends who are in college had said, “You’ll know it. You’ll walk on campus and you’ll know it’s where you’re supposed to be.”

I hadn’t felt that at either of these two schools (nothing against either one- they are awesome schools!). So the next week my parents, my friend Caroline, and I traveled up to Lynchburg Virginia to visit Liberty University.

*Let me give a bit of background here: from various things I was basically set I was not going to be attending Liberty University. I just had it in my mind that I was not going to Liberty.*

So. We go on a Thursday night to see The Little Mermaid at their theater. Holy cow, was it amazing. The next day we take a tour to see the campus and to experience convocation (chapel). It was all so very impressive and so beautiful. Every person and every atmosphere shouted Jesus.

Various times throughout the tour I could just picture myself there, growing in my relationship with the Lord there. And I thought, Maybe this is that feeling they were all talking about. 

Fast forward a couple of weeks.

I really wasn’t thinking about the college thing all that much but I had been praying, “Lord, give me clarity, give me undeniable peace.”

I had pretty much already eliminated the other two schools but I wanted to know that Liberty was where I was supposed to be…wanted to know without a shadow of a doubt.

Right after Christmas I had sat down with my mom and dad and just said, “I’m pretty sure Liberty is a yes.” I had begun to sense this peace and contentment about the whole decision.

Little did I know what God had planned.

Soon after, I’m scrolling through Facebook and I see that Liberty has posted something about Karen Kingsbury. I clicked on the link to see that she had just partnered with Liberty to be a visiting professor, would be offering exclusive curriculum to Liberty, and would be offering a significant scholarship to four students.

I turned to my mom, “I could be taught about writing by Karen Kingsbury!!”

Alright, Lord. I’ve got it. Liberty it is.

Friday, January 30th, my dad and I made the two hour drive to Liberty for convocation because Kari Jobe (my favorite female vocalist) and Beth Moore would be there! Obviously we needed to go.

So just my dad and I went. We left bright and early and got there twenty minutes early just in time to see Kari Jobe finishing her sound check. (Yes, it was awesome.)

We met up with my cousins who are there and the service started.

She sang Revelation Song, one of my all time favorites.

But then they started playing the chords to the second song.

Wait, I know this. I thought. Great I Am. 

My heart filled.

For those of you that don’t know, Great I Am was Paige’s favorite worship song. For the first year after she passed away, I couldn’t sing it without breaking down into tears. But the Lord has brought me SO far since then and now it is my own worship anthem to Him.

I stood and worshipped and it was if the Lord leaned down and said, “My Daughter, if she were here, she would love this school and how they proclaim Jesus and she would support you coming here, too.”

As if that wasn’t enough, there was peace. There was clarity. More importantly, there was Jesus. Lifted higher than anything else. Great I Am.

It was all the confirmation I could have ever needed. Tears fill my eyes just typing this.

Only. God.

Only God!

As I was reading my Bible last night before bed, I came across this note I had written on a post-it note and stuck in the book of Esther. It read, “As painful as the process might be, that which shatters us will also shatter our fragility and free us to walk with dignity and might to our destinies. We aren’t the fragile flowers we’ve considered ourselves to be. We are the warrior princesses of God.* Let His name be higher than all He has overcome!”

And the date noted at the bottom? January 30th, 2013.

What was Friday’s date? January 30th, 2015.

I don’t begin to remember what happened on January 30th, 2013. Obviously it was something big. God was doing big things in my heart that prepared me for this day.

But I know that every moment that has shattered me has allowed me to walk with dignity and might to this, what has been my destiny since the creation of the world.

Not only will I walk with dignity and might, I will walk in His love, in His plan…and in His liberty.

2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”


*I do remember I was doing Beth Moore’s study on Esther. This quote is from that study. It is excellent! I highly recommend anything by her.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Library

This is one of those posts I've been meaning to sit down and write for a while.

It's one of those that as an author you feel kind of obligated to do.

So many people ask me, What's your favorite book? or What are you reading? 

Well! I'm here to answer that question.

If you were to ask me what my favorite book is, I would automatically say Little Women. It's a classic and I absolutely love everything about it. It's also the book that made me fall in love with reading in the first place.

Others include Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë...

Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones (she writes Christian fiction and they are absolutely fantastic)...

The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry...

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (this one is absolutely amazing. It's a book that will change you forever.)...

And I think Divergent by Veronica Roth would also make the list.

What am I reading right now?

The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I'm only about 75 pages in but I'm loving it. I also look forward to watching the movie (it has Emma Stone in it and she's one of my favorite actresses) after I finish the book!

I have SO many books I'm wanting to read and are sitting on my shelf waiting for me but my schedule has been jam packed lately so we'll see when I get to those!

From now on, I'll make sure to keep you updated on what I'm reading as I'm always reading SOMETHING!

If you haven't read any of these, I strongly suggest them to you.

Joanne Harris says it best, "Some books you read. Some books you enjoy. But some books just swallow you up heart and soul."

These are the books that have "swallowed me up heart and soul" and I hope they do the same to you as well!


P.S. Aren't all of these covers SO lovely?!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

And We're Off!

Wow! It's the 20th of January and I've spent more days this year in a hotel than in my own house!

But I'm not complaining!

First up was a trip to Disney World celebrating my upcoming High School graduation. We got to meet so many fun characters AND spend an entire week as a family. Not to mention we got to go with my best friend and her family. It was an unforgettable week!

{Again: picture overload! If you follow me on Instagram you've probably seen most of these pictures already.}

It was still decorated for Christmas and I couldn't have been happier.

Yes. I was the 17 year old waiting in line to meet all of the princesses.

Mandatory "It's a Small World" selfie.

Sonia and me in front of Rapunzel's tower.

We ate lunch at the Be Our Guest restaurant inside the Beast's castle. It was so beautiful I almost cried. *no lie*

The boys were almost as excited to meet Rapunzel as Sonia and I were!

Magic Kingdom is the most magical place of all.

Hollywood Studios!

Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen!

Another group picture!

Mary Poppins! We met her, Alice, The Mad Hatter, Tigger and Pooh at 1900 Park Fare for a character breakfast.

Proof that, yes, we saw Anna and Elsa. But no! We didn't wait in the two+ hour line to meet them.

Snow White...

And Belle!

Epcot in the evening!

Animal Kingdom.

Nemo the Musical!

Then less than a week after we returned from Disney I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Atlanta, GA with a group from my church for Passion 2015! If you don't know what that is, here's a brief explanation: it's a conference for 18-25 year olds(and high school seniors) who want to worship Jesus and grow closer to Him. Musicians include people like Chris Tomlin, Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill, Matt Redman and David Crowder. The speakers for this year were Louie Giglio, Christine Caine, and Lecrae. I've watched the live stream of this conference for five years now and it was worth every second of the wait. Needless to say it was three of the best days of my whole entire life.

Courtney and I extremely excited for our first Passion.

Megan, Kristen and me!

The cross and Jesus were the center of our whole weekend.

Community/family groups were fantastic! 

I got the chance to meet up with my lovely cousin, Mary-Gwen and her husband.

This was my family group- seven girls I had never met before and will never forget! They were SO sweet and even though we've all been through incredibly different things we were united through our relationship with Jesus.

Matchy-matchy with the girls.

Seriously- I've never experienced God's Presence like I did this past weekend. He spoke so clearly to me (and the 12,000 other students in attendance) and I will never forget all that the Lord did. We were able to worship Him with nothing else in the way. It was so very beautiful. 

Obviously it's been an incredible beginning to 2015. I can tell that God has amazing things in store for this year and I can't wait to see what else He has planned!


"Like a bride waiting for her groom, we'll be a church ready for you, every heart longing for the King. We sing. Even so come, Lord Jesus come."