11/28/2015

Thankful For Now

I love breaks, but in a way, they stress me out. I almost prefer the regular rhythm of life then the chaos of trying to decide what I want to do with my "free time." Because, let's admit it, time is anything but free.

Yet at the same time I yearn for a break that I might do all of the things that I don't have time to do during the school year. And trust me, the list is long. It calls to me during the busy times and offers me much fulfilment when the next break comes around.

But what I first think to be "plenty of time" turns out to be "not long enough." And I must inevitably face the fact that I cannot do it all.

I avoided that realization this week until Wednesday night when I sat on the floor in my room, exhausted from staying up until 2 in the morning for the past several days in order to fit more into these 24 hours. I prayed to God while Patches walked around me, distracting me with her fur. And I realized that wanting to do many things is a good thing, as many things can give God glory. But being discontent with my current activity because I'm anxious about having time for the next activity doesn't glorify God or produce thanksgiving.

And so I'm on a new mission, and it isn't to do as many things as possible before Monday. It is to be thankful for now and to take joy in one task at a time, trusting Jesus.

When I think about it, there were probably some things that Jesus wanted to do but didn't have time to do. Like the time that He went to a place to pray and rest but ended up feeding thousands of people. Or maybe when He grew up there came a time when He wanted to practice carpentry and also play games outside and He had to decide.

Even Jesus had to decide to let some things go in life because He left His infinite God-form, completely independent of time, and chose to live within the limits of time because He loves us! He did all that He came here to do, yes, but He was limited by time and had to make decisions on how to use time like every other human being. And we too live within the limits of time, and so we too must decide.

And I choose joy.

I choose to know that I won't be able to do everything but that doesn't mean that I cannot be thankful for the chances I get right now to live, love, and create. I choose to work hard at whatever is in front of me or whatever I've decided to do instead of second-guessing myself or inwardly scheduling my day to fit everything in the limits of time. I choose to be thankful for now. 

I choose to put my hope in eternity, an eternity of time to praise God just how He has created me to praise Him. An eternity of time to revel in the joys of life and the beauty of Jesus! Oh, how our hearts are made for eternity! Our souls are created for more than hours and decades but for eternity, and a conflict erupts from the friction between our souls and the world around us. But Jesus is bigger than this conflict, for He is the bridge between time and eternity, the infinite God come as mortal human. And that is all that we need.

Come. Be thankful for now with me. Choose joy over stress. Use time wisely but do not let it rule over you. Put your hope in eternity, an eternity that is coming soon.

Anyway, it's time for me to enjoy my family! Comment below how your Thanksgiving break is going so far! How did you enjoy the time given to you this Thanksgiving? I'm super thankful for all of you reading this post, and I truly mean that! Every comment makes me smile a bit!

Princess Hannah

11/23/2015

Little Tunes Playlist

There's a spot in my backyard that my first dog, Bonnie, paved in the grass. She paced up and down that line so many times that the grass never grew back the same, even ten years after her death. It was the well-worn path, a comforting way, and I smile a bit every time that I see that path.



On a completely different note that will connect in just a bit (I promise), I've never considered myself a music person. Don't take me wrong, I've always loved listening to music, but I never knew what to listen to. I'm too cheap to buy music I don't love and too busy to find music that I love, so I used to just stick to the good ol' worn path. I listened to the same albums over and over until I knew every word and in which order the songs will play.

But then something happened: I started (with the help of the amazing Amazon Music app which you should check out right now if your family has Amazon Prime because it is FULL of free music) to listen to... wait for it... new music.

I shocked myself a bit too, so if you need to catch your breath right about now, I understand.

Yes, I left the well-worn path and ventured off into the grass beyond. (Am I taking this analogy too far?) And I loved what I found! Well, mostly. There were the few songs that talked of cannibalism or screamed the whole time that I didn't want to think about again, but I found so many playful songs, wonderful artists, and joyful words!

But that didn't mean that I left the well-worn path all together. Instead, I've been working on a playlist that contains bits and pieces from the new and the old to make something even more beautiful!

Here are some new discoveries and well-worn comforts:

Favorite Artist Discovered: 

Ben Rector all the way! Something about his whimsical songs, soothing voice, and charming lyrics make me smile every time I listen to him! In fact, my favorite song of the moment is his song "I Like You." He's the new age of romantic songs that make you feel happy to be alive!

Brand New
Buy his newest album on Amazon here

Favorite Well-Worn Artist:

David Crowder. I think that loving David Crowder is in my genes, but after listening to him as long as I can remember, he still brings talented, truth-filled, moving melodies that point to Jesus and make me want to dance! I've actually seen him in concert three times within the past year, including a time when he came to our church! (Oh, and you NEED to listen to his Christmas album! I could listen to it all day long!)

Oh For Joy
Start the holiday spirit right by purchasing Crowder's Christmas album here

Favorite New Vibe: 

I really like acoustic all of a sudden. Just a hint of country. Some singer-songwriter themes.

Favorite Familiar Vibe: 

Worship music. Worshipping Jesus while listening to music, what can get better!

And so, without further ado, my Little Tunes Playlist, a combination of the well-worn path and the newly-explored frontier!



Now that I've started this business of discovering new music, I'm always looking for more! Please comment below your go-to artists, be they a classic staple in your music tastes or a new favorite! And how do you like the playlist?

Have a happy Thanksgiving break! Try something new and embrace the well-worn paths!

Princess Hannah

11/20/2015

The Kingdom of Love II

Look around you right now.

Do you see love?

When I look around my room right now and see the soft lamplight illuminating dishes that I haven't picked up, the blankets folded about my legs, and an invalid kitty reclined on the bed, I don't think love. When I think love, I think about hands touching and lips meeting. I think about soldiers dying and mothers crying. I think about Paris. But the truth is, the Kingdom of Love is everywhere, even in my pink bedroom on a Wednesday night.

How?

Because the light of Jesus' resurrection shines everywhere. His love shines in my room and in the classrooms. His love pours forth at the dinner tables and in the movie theaters. And, in ways we do not understand, His love is working in the city of love, Paris.

The trouble is, we have a hard time seeing that love. We can't feel it. We can't touch it. We don't understand it. And so, like the little humans we are, we often avoid searching for the true meaning behind God's love. That doesn't mean that we don't love to sing "How He Loves" every other Sunday, but those words struggle to take meaning to our lives.


Last post I talked about the foundations of God's love, and I encourage that you go back and read that post, because I will build upon it today. I wrote about how God is the definition of love and how He chose to love us. But because He loves us, He hates sin, and something needed to clear the sin from our lives. This is where the greatest act of love ever comes in: Jesus.



But what now? Jesus' love covers us and separates our sin from us as far as the east is from the west, but how do we respond?

We get to love God back! 



We live in a culture where "love" is everywhere and anyone can "love" another person, even if they shouldn't. Think about all of these chick flicks where adultery comes into play or the new hot topic of homosexuals. At first, the ability to love God doesn't seem out of the ordinary because we feel entitled to be able to love anything. But look a little closer.

Examine the creation of the world. All of creation, before sin, glorified God, for God created it. But when God made human beings, He did something different. He enabled us to love Him and each other. Which also means we can also hate God and others. Which means that we can choose. Which ushered sin into the world. (See my post about the first sin and the grace found in Genesis 3 here.)

And this ability to chose, this ability God's given us to love Him back, is also the very way we respond to His salvation and love. "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love." (John 15:9) "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matthew 22:37-38)


But how do we love a God we cannot see, touch, or talk to like a person on earth?

We obey Him.

Many times where I see the command to love God, it is so closely tied to the command to obey God that I have trouble separating the two. The above verse in Matthew talks of obedience to God while it talks of loving God. John 15 also connects obedience to loving God when it says in the next verse, "If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love..." We love God, and so we obey Him. And we obey God in order to express our love for Him.

I oftentimes forget that to obey God is to love Him and to love Him is to obey Him. I make things complicated and try to do everything, know everything, and feel everything. But acting in obedience, even if I don't feel it or know exactly what I'm doing, is love towards God. And love towards God spurs obedience.

But I must ask, how do we obey God?

I didn't put this point on the infographic, but I should have. The last point I shall discuss in this foundation of the Kingdom of Love is the act of obedience to God in love expressed in how...

We love others. 


1 John has a lot to say on this subject!

"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." (1 John 4:11-12)

"And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister." (1 John 4:21)

Do the dishes for mom. Share God's grace with those in darkness. Bake cookies for the neighbors. Spend time with your siblings. Make Christmas cards for the people in your life, from your grandmother to the mailman. Stop the gossiping going on behind you in class.

There are so many more opportunities to love others than we know, and we only need to open our eyes to see them. For not every chance to love someone is big and glamorous. It oftentimes looks like work. If you, like me, have trouble identifying ways to love others, let Paul lead your thoughts as he defines what love does in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

"Love never fails."


God's love never fails. And it rests and moves in us! Oh how I forget that so many times, and I hope that you are reminded of the power, simplicity, and work of God's love and how we get to love Him back!

I would like to do one more post on God's Kingdom of Love soon, and in that post I want to answer any questions that y'all have on love! Please comment below your thoughts on today's post as well as any questions you want answered for the next installment in this series!

Love you guys,

Princess Hannah

11/16/2015

The Kingdom of Love I

I've been thinking about love lately. Not the romantic kind of love, but the all-encompassing love of a lifestyle lived for Christ. I've been wondering, in this world which glorifies love, what love really means. Is it just a feeling? Is it expressed in roses and hugs, kisses and midnight conversations? Can it be destroyed by hate, just as terrorists destroyed some of the city of love, Paris, last week?



Basically, what is love? 

And as I've read the Bible the past few weeks, I've discovered something freeing and wonderful: God is love. And His Kingdom is not just a city of love, but a kingdom of love that can never fade away.

These facts seem so basic, so elementary. Duh, God is love; everyone loves to talk about that. But the reality of this love gets lost in translation, and we can miss the crucial elements of God's kingdom of love. We can overlook the simplicity of God's love and how we should respond to it. We get caught up with the whirlwinds of time and the struggle of life that we forget the center of our existence and the starting point of the circle of life.

And so I'm going to remind you of some of the basic truths of God's love. You've probably heard these truths put more elegantly than I will write them, and many of these things seem so simple. But I believe that we all need to remember the foundation of love upon which we stand. So, let me share this infographic with you to illustrate what I've been thinking about:


First, God is love. 

Stop. Stop right now and think about that this really means. It doesn't just mean that God loves. It doesn't mean that God is soft and cuddly. It doesn't mean that God always acts how we think a loving being should act. It means that God is the definition of love, the determining factor of love, and the measuring stick of love. If something is in agreement with God, it is love. And if something is in disagreement with God, it is not love.

1 John talks a lot about God's love and our response to it, and I will refer to many verses from this book. It's not very long, so I recommend reading through it this week and seeing the big picture that I'm trying to write about in John's words. Anyway, in 1 John 4:16, John writes: "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them."

Next, God loves us. 

We all know the words of John 3:16, but they are true! God, the starting point of love, the maker of all creation, and the holy King ruling over all love us! "This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us..." (1 John 4:10). God didn't have to love us. He didn't have to extend His character of love into our lives, BUT HE did.

And this is the signature truth of Christianity. In no other religions does God begin the love. Others believe that people must earn God's love. Those who killed hundreds in Paris believed that they would then earn God's love. They believed that they would first love God, and the God might love them. And so they did whatever it took.

Is that love?

I don't think so. It is rather sin living in us that perverts God's true love into something ugly and despicable.

God hates sin. 

This is the part many people like to skip over, but I cannot ignore it. In Sunday School this morning, the teacher pointed out that to truly love, you must hate. To truly love the people of Paris right now, we must hate the destructive sin of terrorism. To truly love my cat Patches, I must hate the curse of injury which inflicted a torn ACL on her little kitty life. To love one thing we must hate anything that tries to destroy our love.

And so God, being the definition of love, if also the definition of wrath. For God to truly love us, He must hate sin, which kills us. And so, God's wrath and just condemnation of sin is not separate from His love, but an extension of it. In fact, He hates sin so much that He cannot be in the presence of it, which then introduces a problem, because we chose sin and cover ourselves with it from the inside out, making ourselves distant from the love of God. But this didn't change God's love for us.

So Jesus Came. 

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him." (1 John 4:9)

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." (1 John 3:16)

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1)

Enough said. I really can't top John's words here that describe how God's love for us and hate for sin met on the cross and paved a new way: a way of grace. For grace is the meeting point of love and wrath. It is the sacred place where God's wrath for our sin poured upon Christ, leaving His love to shower us with undeserved life!

And this grace changes everything! (cough, cough, Grace in Everything.)

It is bigger than any terrorist.

It is better than any relationship.

It is stronger than any temptation.

Jesus.

I didn't realize that I had so much to say on this simple topic, but that illustrates how magnificent is the basic love of God! These rediscoveries as well as the ones that I will disclose in part two (and possibly three) cleared up the direction I need to go in life. The simple truth of love changed how I thought about God, myself, and others. I hope and pray that you better understand the foundation upon which we stand, but I pray for more than understanding but for greater love for God!

Please comment below what is on your mind lately! And how do you think about God's love? I would love to hear any illustrations that you've found helpful! Also, let us continue to point to the only cure for the curse of sin that destroys so much: God and His love.

God's grace be with you,

Princess Hannah

11/05/2015

Liebster Award

Y'all, something new happened to this blog last week. Something quite fun.

I got nominated for my first award!!!! 

The lovely Madison from Minnie Muse nominated me for the Liebster Award! I love Madison's fashion blog, and in fact, it inspired my fashion-forward week a bit ago. She is such a refreshing breath of authenticity in the fashion-blogging world, and her vintage style makes me want to go thrift shopping and start sewing all at the same time! 

So, needless to say, I'm very excited about this post, and won't wait any longer to get into the questions! 

1. What is one of your favorite birthday memories? 

Starting off hard, are we? After contemplating this question and consulting Mother, I think that I've decided. A bit before my seventeenth birthday I went to see my favorite stage performance ever (and I've seen quite a few by now): Swan Lake. I remember riding home from the magical experience and telling my Mom, "My dream is to be a swan. I don't want to be a professional dancer, but I want to be a swan." 

And guess what? As detailed in this post, I got to be a swan this summer. It was a short excerpt and not very glamourous, but I danced in the corps de ballet as a swan. God works in mysterious ways! 


2. Are you a planner or spontaneous person? 

Planner all the way. In fact, I need to not freak out when something unexpected (be it good or bad) shakes up my pre-existing ideas of how my day should turn out. I deal with planning every aspects of life to such an extent that I named this habit: to-doism. (See my posts about to-doism here and here.) 


3. What is something surprising people wouldn't know about you? 

I consider myself a fairly transparent person, so this question stumped me for a while, and I still couldn't think of a perfect answer, but I do think that my messiness would surprise some people. I usually have things quite put together, but when it comes to my room, I can let it simmer on the backburner for a while until it gets burnt. For example, my parents gave me a ballet barre to hang on my wall for Christmas last year, but I still haven't installed it. Coffee cups can sit on my desk for days before they find their way to the dishwasher, and I recently learned to always pick up air-mattresses because my cat thinks that they make great places to relieve herself. 


4. What is one of your favorite words or  a word your use a lot?

Lovely. I love describing things as lovely, be it blogs, people, or ideas. I may use it too much, but I can't help myself! I feel quite British and whimsical when I utter or type the word! 

5. What is one of your favorite hobbies (apart from blogging)? 

Well, this might be obvious, but ballet is my main hobby. Writing takes second place, though. I really like writing fiction; it just needs to come out of me! If I don't write regularly (cough, cough, like the past while), I feel so enclosed, like my emotions can't circulate properly. Do you writers know the feeling? (See a short story I wrote here.) 

6. What is your favorite TV show (current or past)?

This would prove very hard for me (because I'm indecisive), but for some reason, I like determining my favorites in areas like this. And so I can say with confidence that my favorite TV show is Alias, a spy drama with epic plot-twists and wonderful characters. My sister and parents watched this on Netflix two summers ago, watching at least one episode a night and starting a pretty fun rhythm of watching more grown-up shows once the twins go to bed. Sherlock closely follows as second favorite! 

7. Why did you start blogging? 

I actually had another blog before I started this one. I started that blog because I wanted to get my words out and encourage others. This comes from, in my belief, my gift from God of teaching and pastoring, because through blogging I can teach others and lead people I connect with towards Christ! 

My first blog didn't go far, though. I didn't really understand blogging, only writing. When I started this blog, I started actually reading other blogs and posting more than preachy stuff and diary entries. I wanted to show myself and others that God's grace truly can intersect with every aspect of life! 

8. Oh... what is one of your favorite quotes? 

This is going to sound weird, but oftentimes, my favorite quotes are the ones that I make. 

I like to summarize lessons that God has taught me in little quotes to remind myself of His Story in just moments. My favorite one is the title of my old blog: "I'm not perfect, but I'm perfectly His." 

9. If you could meet anyone dead or alive, who would it be? 

Jesus. 

I know that He lives in me and that I will see Him in heaven, but for my little human, limited experience in earth, how much would change if I had a face-to-face conversation with Jesus? But oh how I forget that I can have this everyday, for God expresses Himself in His word and communicates with me all of the time if I only lean towards Him. So this is kindof a cheating answer. 

Other that Jesus, though, I don't know who to say! I could say Mary the mother of Jesus, Esther, Corrie Ten Boom, C.S. Lewis, Audrey Hepburn, Emily Freemen, or Taylor Swift. I'f be pretty okay meeting any of these people! 

10. What are three things you CANNOT live without? 

One: God's grace. This is a rather literal interpretation of the question, but I cannot even imagine my life without His grace pouring into me, giving me hope to face the future, strength to live in a world of sin, and joy to live in the moment. 

Two: Me-time. Although I am not an introvert, I do need time by myself, to think, write, work-out, or blog. Sitting on my bed doing something creative makes me lose track of time and refreshes me for the rest of life. 

Three: That being said, I also can't live without people especially my family. I really don't know what I'd do without my Mom to gush out my emotions to, my Dad to seek advice from, Rebecca to be my best friend, and the twins to be my crazy dance-party partners. I don't know if I've mentioned this, but my family rocks! 

11. What is your guilty pleasure? 

Hm... Desserts. I can't say chocolate, because I feel no guilt from eating a little chocolate, but I do feel a bit of guilt from eating a piece of cake (more on that and the accompanying insecurities later). That doesn't stop me from enjoying the gift of God in the form of sugar and butter, though! 


11 Random Facts About Me

1. The Incredibles ruled my childhood! (June 21st, 2019 will be a great day.)
2. I am almost always singing something throughout the day (currently Philip Philip's Home). 
3. I wanted to be a fashion designer for a while and made many a Paper Fashion Outfit. (If you know what that is, please send me an email, because we should be friends.)
4. I am a night owl, but please don't ask me to think past midnight. 
5. I wrote a full-length fantasy fiction novel around a girl on a journey to find the only way to defeat the supervillain. (Now I just need to de-cheesify the dialog and de-cliche the plot and I will let you read it.) 
6. I don't like the sight of blood. 
7. I constantly move my feet around, which is a combination of my love for ballet and cats. (Y'all, I truly do knead without even thinking about it. When I'm warm and content, my feet just start to move without my consent!) 
8. I talk to my sister Rebecca every night before going to bed. In fact, we're discussing this post right now. 
9. Potty humor will never get old for me. 
10. My Dad purchased Sirius Black's wand for me at Universal Studios last winter. 
11. I talk to myself all of the time!

Here are the official rules of the Liebster Award:
1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
7. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

11 Questions for My Nominees

1. Who is your favorite Disney Princess now and has it ever changed?
2. How do you style your hair?
3. What was your favorite childhood show or movie?
4. Are you a visual, kinesthetic, or auditory learner?
5. What movie are you currently looking forward to watching?
6. What is the last item that you purchased?
7. What has God said to you recently?
8. Do you like pineapples?
9. What song is on your head?
10. What is your favorite part about fall?
11. What is the first thing that you think of when you wake up in the morning?

My Nominees 

Olivia from Summer of 1998
Chloe from It's a Chloe Thing
Abbey from Miss Abbey Noelle 
Kianna from Kianna Rose Etc.
Meaghan from Meaghan Unscripted 


Thank-you again Madison, for the nomination! It was so fun to make this post, especially because I crafted it alongside my sisters!

Princess Hannah 

11/02/2015

Five Ways to Eat Honey

I love honey.

I think that my love for honey stems for my love for anything sweet, but honey tastes so rich and sticky and wonderful that I just want to put it on everything! My family buys giant jars of local honey from the hardware store, which makes it seem even more special. And because it's natural and healthy, I don't feel bad about smothering all of my food in the deliciousness.

And so I do.

And now I get to share the love of honey with you by listing five ways to use honey in your everyday life:

1. In Coffee

I like to make my coffee strong, with skim milk, stevia, and a good drizzle of honey. Although honey is not low-calorie, just a bit provides a richness and flavor that perfectly sweetens my new morning drink, (I just started drinking coffee while in New York training for ballet), and just a lot works fine too!

2. In Tea





Another drink that I now love also tastes great with honey: tea. Somehow the addition of honey makes the warm comfort of tea go down with even more delight!

3. As a salad dressing



Though a less common use for honey, drizzling it over a salad makes a sweet dressing. It's just so simple and complementary to so many salad combinations, especially fruit salads.

4. On Oatmeal



Ditch the brown sugar, honey is here! A little drizzle of this sweetener gives a bowl of oatmeal an instant boost! Add some dried cranberries and granola and you will look forward to eating breakfast every morning!

5. On Oatmeal Banana Pancakes




Speaking of breakfast, honey tops these oatmeal banana pancakes like none of our business! I may be partial to my first recipe ever posted, but honey could replace syrup for any pancake recipe. But really, you should try these easy and healthy pancakes!


As you can tell, we love honey in our house!

So next time you see some local honey, buy it! If it's a big jar, buy it! And then I hope that you find these ideas delicious and fun as you experiment with how you like to use honey during your everyday lives! Comment below how you use honey and how you can't wait to use it in the future!

Princess Hannah