12/20/2016

Receiving Christmas

"Behold, the Lord himself will give you a sign.
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and shall call his name Immanuel."
Isaiah 7:14

"All the prophets testify about Him that though His name everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins."
Acts 10:43

"For to us a son is born,
to us a son is given."
Isaiah 9:6

"For God so loves the world in this way; He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."
John 3:16-17

"He has sent me [Jesus] to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Luke 4:18-19

"The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent me. I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit- the Father will send Him in My name- will each you all things and remind you of everything that I have told you."
John 14:24-26

"He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name."
John 1:10-12

"Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
1 John 4:10

"Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time."
Hebrews 4:16

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 15:57

(Holman Christian Standard Bible, italics mine.)





Christmas is the season of giving. We give gifts, time, cheer, cookies. We gives little bits of ourselves to the people that we love. I'm pretty sure I've purchased more things to give this year than any other year. And we love it. We love giving gifts and love.

But there's a flip to the coin: receiving.

At first glance, this sounds like the really fun part. Who doesn't like opening presents and receiving gifts? The inner kid in each of us is screaming right now at the thought of opening presents in five days. GETTING!!!!

What is the true gift of Christmas, though? Nope, it's not a Sephora makeup set or a Polaroid camera, it's Jesus. Jesus is the gift that God reminds us of each Christmas. He's the gift that we all need more than we could ever imagine. He's the gift that fills us up more than we thought possible. He's the gift of joy, of peace, of reconciliation, of forgiveness, of a new life, and of celebration. He's the gift of salvation, of grace, of mercy, and of righteousness. He's the greatest gift. 

How come, then, we don't like receiving Jesus?


There's a certain code in adult gift giving that makes the whole process happier. I give you something. You give me someone of relatively equal value. It works. That way no one feels lesser, no one feels humbled, and no one really came out richer in the end.

Have you ever exchanged gifts with someone only to discover that they gave you something much more extravagant? It's awkward. It's humbling. You kinda want to run to Target right that moment to add on to your gift.

I think that's one of the reasons why we don't want to fully receive the gift of Jesus. When God gave Jesus to us, it was an unequal exchange. He asks for our belief and in exchange He gives us the life of His One and Only Son. Wait a minute? That's not equal. It's humbling because the exchange favors us. So we rush to the Good Works aisle of the store to try and match God's gift, but we can buy the entire aisle- the entire store for that matter- and still come out with more than we gave. God will always out-give us.

Santa's got nothing on God.

Remember when I said that the code of matching gift values was an adult code. Well, children have a different code: PRESENTS. That's their code. It's simple. Presents. They like to give presents, and they especially like to receive presents. They don't really know how much things cost, but they for sure know that they can't buy anything like what they've been given. They simply receive their gifts with squeals and joy. They use their gifts. They share their gifts. They receive.



This Christmas God's calling me- and you too- to receive Jesus. The verses I posted above (as well as so many others not included) all came from the She Reads Truth study that I'm doing. They study isn't necessarily about the giving/receiving process, but almost every day a verse talks about it. Every time I open my Bible, there they are, the words give, receive, sent. 

So this Christmas I'm learning how to humbly receive the gifts God gives- gifts of life, forgiveness, grace, and His Spirit. He gives and gives and doesn't ever run out of goodness. So even though we turn out the richer out of His gift unto us, His glory isn't lessened because He gave grace to us. His glory is exalted. We both come out the richer.

Rest in the richness of God's grace in the form of a baby in a manger. Bow down in praise to the One who gives abundantly more than all we ask or imagine. Live in the gifts that He gives with gratitude and joy.

This Christmas, instead of trying to buy, create, or decorate the gifts of the season, receive the gift of God like a child. This makes all of the difference.

12/16/2016

Balancing the Holidays

Christmas and the holiday season is well in our midst, accompanied by presents, cookies, family, and many other things that happen only once a year. I'm not sure if you've noticed, though, but the holiday season gets more and more extreme every year. Every years it's earlier, brighter, louder, faster. Every year we want to do more, buy more, be more. This extravagant festive season is beautiful and wonderful (especially because it is a chance to spend more time focused on Jesus), but sometimes balance can be hard to find. 




We want to eat all of the Christmas cookies, but we also don't want to gain fifty pounds. We want to go to all of the parties, but we also need time to ourselves. We want to sing songs about Santa and snow, but we don't want them to dilute the message of the gospel. I feel this struggle, the fight for balance during the holidays. And so I present three ways to find balance and peace during Christmas. After all, we are celebrating the Prince of Peace! 


1. Find Balance in Body


Christmas is the season for indulgences, especially when it comes to food. Christmas cookies. Christmas dressing. Christmas candy. Christmas coffee. Christmas everything. Christmas is also a weird time of year where our regular habits of exercise and taking care of our bodies can be abandoned. How can we find balance during this season of excess? 

Here's my strategy: eat the Christmas cookies. 

Yes, eat the cookies. But only when it is special. When you're at Grandma's house and she baked you cookies, don't feel bad eating them. Give yourself permission to celebrate Christmas cookies at these special times. Buuut, don’t live off of Christmas cookies and such just because it's December and they're Christmas cookies. In your normal meals, try to make an extra effort to eat something that's good for your body because then you can enjoy those special meals and snacks even more. 

Also, be proactive in making time to be active. Maybe instead of watching two Christmas movies with your friend, go take a walk and then watch one. Exercise how you like to exercise, and have fun. Play Christmas music as you run, do yoga, or whatever you do. Every time the characters in a Hallmark movie stare dramatically at each other, do twenty squats. Be festive in your exercise! 


2. Find Balance in Mind


Christmas is a very social holiday, filled with family, friends, and random other people who all of a sudden feel connected to you. There are countless opportunities to celebrate with those around you, from Christmas parties to family reunions to Church festivities. On top of that, there are so many things to do in preparation for these gatherings. You must buy presents, bake a cake, find a white elephant gift, clean the house, and more. This can all get a little much, and some may desire a day of rest and alone time. 




That is okay. It is okay not to go to every party and see every friend in town. If you stretch yourself too thin, you won’t enjoy any of it. That said, with a little foresight, you can prepare for the avalanche of things to do and places to go by making sure that you spend quality alone time. Do something every day that rejuvenates you and gives you comfort. For me, I like to watch movies and read blogs. For you it might be reading, going outside, playing with your pet, or making something. Balance out the crazy schedule of Christmas with a relaxing time of peace and rest. (For more about how to meaningfully spend time alone, check out my article The Art of Being Alone.


3. Find Balance in Spirit


Sometimes the spirit of Christmas isn’t too easy on your spirit. The fluff and stuff of Christmas can distract our spirits from the Spirit of Christ. Now, I’m not about to go and say “Jesus is the reason for the season,” because saying that doesn’t really help much. No, we have to live in Jesus’ spirit of grace lavished upon us. We have to receive the gift of salvation from the hands of God, but we can’t receive this gift if we are busy holding onto everything else. We have to let go of trying to force the Christmas spirit into our lives, seeking that feeling that we cherished as kids. When we let go of our own efforts and simply receive the gift of Christ, we will find a joy in our spirits much like that we felt as children. Maybe that’s because as children we didn’t try to create, buy, and decorate Christmas. We simply received Christmas. Maybe it’s time for us to receive the spirit of Christ like little children. 




One way that I loved receiving the gift of grace from God during the holidays is through Advent. To learn more about Advent, check out my 2016 Advent Guide. Saturating yourself with the Word of God, prayer, and wisdom from other Christians continually points our souls to Jesus, the source of all joy and peace. If you do nothing else this Christmas, receive the gift of Jesus with a humble and joyful heart. 

As it turns out, balance isn’t a foreign concept during the holidays. Finding health in your body, peace in your mind, and joy in your spirit make the holidays a season that you will look forward to in every aspect. So embrace Christmas cookies while you also take care of your body. Celebrate with friends and family while you also take time to rest. Enjoy the dazzle of Christmas while humbling yourself to God as He gives us all something that we can never earn, deserve, or even understand: Immanuel. May God be with you this Christmas like never before. 

Comment below how you find balance during the holidays. Also, WHO' FREAKING OUT THAT CHRISTMAS IS NINE DAYS AWAY????? Do you have big plans? 

Princess Hannah

12/10/2016

Chipped Nail Polish and Busy Schedules

"I'll be sure to add three writers by the end of the week."

"I'll get the team's articles edited by Saturday."

"Can I take responsibility for the social media accounts for this ministry?"

"I'm starting a girl's community group!"

"Sure, I'll help you with your research paper."

"I'll bring the twins home tonight."

"Can I film a documentary here?"

"I'll choreograph the dance for next week."

Chip, chip.



~~~~~~~~


12:30 a.m.- I've got plenty of time to edit these stories for my creative writing class.

1:30 a.m.- I can't keep my eyes open any more. Why do I keep staying up this late? Why is there still more work to do? I don't think that I can move, but I haven't brushed my teeth.

2:15 a.m.- Stupid thoughts, stop bothering me. I know that it's late, but I'll go to bed earlier tomorrow.

Tomorrow- ha.

Chip, chip. 


~~~~~~~~


"Thanks for letting me sit by you," I told a girl I just met that day at lunch. For never having talked before, we talked about a lot of things, from school to movies to church to family.

"You know," she said, "for this entire semester, I've never had anyone I didn't know just come and eat with me."

"Really? I do it all the time."

"That's cool."

Yes, I thought. It is pretty cool. I thought back to the handful of times that the little lunchtime conversations I pursued turned into something that gave God glory. It enboldened me every time I was tempted to simply sit with my phone over lunch. Sure, it was easier to catch up on Instagram or schoolwork, but kingdom work is so much cooler.

Chip, chip. 


~~~~~~~~


"We never see you anymore, Hannah," someone said. Well, more than one person said that this semester.

"I have a weird schedule." One that invloves staying up until 2:00 and sleeping in until 9:00. One that has a lot of school and work and ballet and not a lot of friendships.

"I've got to go, sorry I can't stay."

Chip, chip. 


~~~~~~~~


"You don't seem as happy this semester," Mom said one night as I talked about the stress of getting everything done before Monday.

"I don't?" The thought surprised me. I didn't feel unhappy. Just busy. And busy isn't bad. This is the prime of my life, and I've been waiting so long for opportunities like the ones I'm accepting now. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that some of these opportunities blocked the sun from the flowers that I carefully planted in my life: flowers like friendship, blogging, and rest.

I couldn't stop the tears.

Chip, chip. 


~~~~~~~~



"This semester beat me up a bit," I said to a couple of friends this week as we gathered around a table at a Christmas party. The semester just ended, and lights glittered in the room hardly compared to the lights in our hearts as we contemplated six weeks with no school. 

"Same, girl," one of the girls replied, leaning back into her chair.

"Same," one of my roommates added.

 "I think it's because I isolated myself," I said, "Because I thought that I could get more done that way. I don't want to repeat that again."

Chip, chip. 


~~~~~~~~



This is a picture of my nails at the moment. They are badly chipped, wearing away and pretty hideous. I should've taken the polish off two days after I painted them, but little things like that have slipped into the pile of less-important things to do, especially before and during finals.

So the weeks went by and life continued to chip nail polish off of my nails. I kept living.

There is something about chipped nails that give me a strange comfort. I know, this is very unlike me. I like to have everything together. My eyebrows must be on fleck. My homework must get a A. My spiritual life must be meaningful. But there is something refreshing about chipped nails. There is a freedom in remembering that I don't have to have everything together. There is a breath in remembering that I don't have to do it all, but what I am doing is more important than keeping up with my nails.

Because even if life is tiring, even if it chips at our nails, that doens't mean that life is bad. Busy doesn't equal bad, this I am learning. This semester I've been busier than ever before, but I've learned to embrace the busyness as well as the rest. We need both.

Life chipped at my nails, reminding me of the briefness of my time on earth and the smallness with which I can live on my own. I leanred how to do things and how not to do things. It took a toll, but it also left a little sparkle everwhere I went. Chip, chip. 

There is also a hope that my nails don't have to stay chipped forever. I don't have to busy myself all of the time. I don't have to isolate myself for long. Yes, these things may chip at my nails, this living may wear me down, but there is hope. There is hope that Jesus will take away the old and make us new.

"Because of the LORD's great love we are now consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion, therefore I will wait for him. The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young." (Lamantations 3:22-27)

"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I think I'm going to paint my nails this weekend. I think I'm going to try life on a little differently going forward, and hopefully this includes more blogging than I was able to do this semester. I've learned. I've laughed. I've cried.  Thank you for being with me during the hectic seasons and peaceful season. And thanks most of all to Jesus, who is with me in all seasons.

Comment below if my ramblings made any sense! Also, catch me up on the blogging world. I've been rather absent as of late, so tell me all the news, even if it's only that you painted your nails last week.

God's grace be with you all,

Princess Hannah

11/27/2016

Your Ultimate Advent 2016 Resource

With all of the lights and cookies and carols that exploded Friday, a smaller, quieter landmark holiday joy starts today- Advent. Advent is one of my favorite parts of Christmas because it leads me to Jesus, it grows in me a joy at the name Emmanuel, and it stills my heart in a time where distractions call for my attention like giant flashing lights- wait, they are giant flashing lights. No wonder I get distracted.
She Reads Truth

The word Advent means "to come." Christ came. He came to earth with a mission, and Christmas points to that first day, that first breath Jesus took as God in the flesh. We are also invited to come. Come to Jesus. Come and adore Him. Come and see of the wonders of His love. This is where Advent leads us on a journey of coming. We come to understand more, we come to love more, and we come to worship the Savior of the world, for He is Christ the Lord.
I've come to cherish Advent, the four weeks preceeding Christmas, and the time of coming that it brings. Throughout years of celebrating Advent and coming to see a bit closer the King who came close to us, I've assembled some different ways you can celebrate Advent too. Here are three ways to make Advent a part of your Christmas this year.

1. Do an Advent Bible study

There are several studies out there specifically designed to lead you through Advent. I've done a couple of them, including Ann Voskamp's The Greatest Gift and She Read Truth's yearly Advent studies.
The Greatest Gift
The Greatest Gift
The Greatest Gift ignited a passion for Advent in me. Ann gracefully traces the lineage of Christ, showing how each figure points to Christ. Each day contains a reading of scripture, thoughts from Ann, an action response idea, and questions to spur thoughts. I had so many thoughts in response to this book that I had to write in a separate journal to fit them all in one place!
She Reads Truth is an online community of Jesus followers that is always producing great content, containing scripture, thoughts, prayer, scripture memorization, and an uplifting community atmosphere. This year for Advent they are doing a study on how Christ perfectly fulfills the roles of priest, prophet, and king. The great thing about this study is that it is online and you don't need to buy anything! Just go to their website every day of Advent for a new scripture! You can also go to their archives and use last year's Advent study, which was great!
She Reads Truth
Other devotionals that I have't tried but want to include John Piper's The Dawning of Indestructible Joy, Louie Giglio's Waiting Here for You, and Dietrich Boenhoffer's God Is In The Manger

2. Read an Advent book

With the extra time you have during the holidays, use a little bit of it to read a book about Advent or the coming of Christ. A couple that I/my Mom (an indefinite resource on books in my house) recommend include Timothy Keller's Hidden ChristmasLiz Curtis Higgs's The Women of Christmasand Russ Ramsey's Behold the Lamb of God Also, for families, or anyone who wants to know more about how Christmas traditions come about, check out Lisa Whelchel's The ADVENTure of ChristmasI learned a lot from this book growing up. Now I just have to decide which book I am going to read this year...
Hidden Christmas
Hidden Christmas

3. Light an Advent wreath

An Advent wreath contains a candle for each week leading up to Christmas and a candle for Christmas Day. It looks like the picture below, with three purple candles and one pink candle surrounding one white candle. During the first week of Advent, you light only one purple candle. During the second week you light two. On the third week you add in the pink candle. And you guessed it, you light the last purple candle on the fourth week of Advent. The white candle is reserved for Christmas Day. (See DIY ideas here, although many of them lack a center candle.) 
Image result for advent wreath
To learn more about the specific meaning of the Advent wreath, check out this article. My favorite part of doing an Advent wreath is that it reminds me each night that Jesus is coming. It reminds me to come as well, and that's what Advent is all about.
I do go as far to say that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but because of the joy, humility, peace, and unity that Christ brings. He is coming. He has come. He is coming again. Come and celebrate Christ meaningfully this Christmas by participating in Advent through one or more of these ideas.

10/25/2016

Discover Your Soul

I discovered something last year that revolutionized my life. It made me see God's kingdom, it inspired me to live in joy, and it guided me towards authentic prayer. I discovered my soul.
unsplash




                                  I discovered a little bit more of that "inner being" that the Bible talks so much about, the place where the heart and mind meet to become the very essence of who we are. I discovered more of what the Bible means when it says, "Love the Lord your God with all you heart with all your soul and with all your strength." (Deuteronomy 6:5)
How did I discover my soul? What even is our soul? And how can you discover this inner being as well? (So many questions.) 

  • the spiritual part of a person that is believed to give life to the body and in many religions is believed to live forever
  • a person's deeply felt moral and emotional nature
  • the ability of a person to feel kindness and sympathy for others, to appreciate beauty and art, etc.
Our soul is the mystery of our being, the core of our existence. It is not physical nor loud, yet it directs our ways. From our soul we derive our identities and respond to the truer things, the eternal things, the deeper things. Through our inner being we see the invisible, take joy in the unthinkable, and understand the incomprehensible.
God is as work in our souls. He brings to our souls conviction, peace, passion, and restoration. "He restores my soul." (Psalm 23:3) In our soul He teaches us the things that our heart cannot feel completely, our mind cannot comprehend fully, and our strength cannot complete in this world.
But how do we discover our souls?
In searching for the answer to this question, I have found three ways to understand our souls and then use that understanding to praise God.

1. Soul Sessions


I started a weekly time where I sat down in the quiet and wrote. I wrote out a long prayer of sorts where I reflected on what God taught me the past week. I looked for ways that God moved in my heart. I watched for how the world influenced my identity. I call these times Soul Sessions. David thought about soul matter too, like when he wrote "Why are you so downcast, O my soul?" (Psalm 42:11) Soul Sessions brought me to a greater sensitivity as to what went on in my inner being, and they helped me to live more purposefully for God's kingdom.
You can have Soul Sessions by setting aside a certain time weekly to think, journal, talk aloud, or just pray. Tune in with sensitivity how God works in the little things. Tune into some soft worship music if that helps. 

2. Encouraging Community


I didn't start truly thinking about my soul- apart from singing "it is well with my soul"-until I read Simply Tuesday by Emily Freemen (read all about the book in my review). In the book she talked so much about matters of the soul that I felt inspired to think about these things for myself.
Surrounding yourself with other people who seek to live life on a soul level creates accountability and inspiration to follow God with all of who you are. Some people that inspire soul thoughts include Amanda from Scattered Journal Pages, Erin from Accoustic Erin, Aaliyah from Growing in His Image, Grace from Totally Graced, Abbiee from Abbiee Music Blog, Olivia from Summer of 1999, and so many more! 

3. Worshiping Jesus

John Piper says "To see Him and know Him and be in His presence is the soul’s final feast. Beyond this there is no quest. Words fail. We call it pleasure, joy, delight. But these are weak pointers to the unspeakable experience."
When we take our eyes off of ourselves and fix them on the glory of God, He restores our souls. He created our souls to worship Him and revel in His beauty. That is the true joy our our being, the deepest pleasure of our souls.
"My soul finds rest in God alone." (Psalm 62:1)
"Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being praise his holy name." (Psalm 103:1)
Understanding our souls and how God works in them, directing them towards Christ, and worshiping God with our inner beings gives life a new dimension. Living life on a soul level brings with it joy, humility, peace, and love. This journey of soul discovery will take you upon waters of grace and paths of obedience.
"My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice." (Psalm 34:2)
How have your discovered your soul? Do any verses or rhythms help you? 
Princess Hannah

10/19/2016

It's Okay Not to Fit In

Do you ever feel like a puzzle piece that never fits in the puzzle? It's like you're almost there, almost in the picture, surrounded by other pieces that all fit in with you. But your edges are different. They just don't quite fit.


This can be a dissatisfying place to stay. You stand there, on the outskirts of a group that you can't quite connect with. I feel like I've been there my whole life, a stray puzzle piece missing her puzzle. I mingle with a lot of different groups; one edge of my personality puzzle piece fits with the bloggers, another with the ballerinas, another with the church group, and so on. One of my biggest dreams is to fit- all of the way- with a group and let that group be my group, the place where I don't feel different, don't feel even a little bit on the outside.

Now I'm thinking that will never happen.

I've realized, however, that my mismatched personality is a gift, not a curse. To stand a bit aloof doesn't mean that I'm not important and doesn't mean I can't enjoy the company of others. My uniqueness doesn't need to hold me back; instead I should take joy in the fact that God's made me different, a puzzle piece completely unique.

In this state of uniqueness, I also have the opportunity to help the various groups that I almost fit in. I bring to them a splash of color that they didn't expect.

I'm a practical thinker in an artsy blog world.

I'm a balance seeker in the extreme of the ballet world.

I'm a passionate truth seeker, big-picture watcher, in a Church filled with opinions.

I'm different. Not better, not worse. Maybe one day I'll find the group that possesses all of the right edges for me, but until then, I will find joy in the outskirts, in the almosts. I will grow where God's planted me and help others to grow as well.

So here's to the stray puzzle pieces, the people who don't have a group, who don't quite fit in. Keep following Jesus, because He's making a home for you where you will fit so perfectly that you'll never leave!

"Jesus replied, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to rest his head.'" (Matthew 8:20)

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father's house there are many rooms; if it were no so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you." (John 14:1-2)

God's grace be with you,

Princess Hannah

10/12/2016

I'm a White Girl, But I'm Far From Basic

It's fall, and you know what that means: crisp air, hot drinks, cozy clothes, and #typicalwhitegirl posts.



Every post using the hashtag #basic, #pumpkinspicelattelife or #typicalwhitegirl makes me cringe. I understand the urge to use these trendy tags, but I don't think we understand what they mean. I don't think that we realize how these thoughts destroy a little bit of our unique personalities.

I wrote an article about these thoughts on Odyssey, so check it out and leave a comment describing how you view these hashtags and self-identity claims.

Sorry for the short post, but it's been a busy week! (It's been a busy semester, so I apologize for my absence on your blogs.) This is something that's been on my heart, so I hope you enjoy! Many more thoughts and post ideas are brewing in my heart, so stay tuned!

Love you guys!

Princess Hannah

10/03/2016

Hopeful Romantics



why do we call it hopeless,

this state of romanticism? 

the hopeless romantic. 

the fearless day-dreamer. 

the chick flick watcher. 

she waits on prince charming, 

knowing that he won't come on a horse

but imagining it anyway. 

she waits for her "ever after," 

dreaming that it comes with roses

but knowing that her heart truly desires

wildflowers. 

i don't know what you call this, 

but i call it hope. 

the hopeful romantic. 

still hopeful that one day,

one day,

she will meet someone bold

gentlemanly. 

passionate. 

authentic in his pursuit of Jesus. 

one day

he will pursue her,

and she will pursue him.

he will buy a ring,

and she will buy a white dress.

they will fight.

and he will hold her hand.

they will make a mess in the kitchen

and dance at every wedding.

one day. 

there is hope there,

not immediate satisfaction

nor hopeless exasperation

there is hope. 

hope that she won't give up,

not yet.

for she is a hopeful romantic

and she is strong.

but her hope is bigger than romance,

stronger than patience.

her hope is filled with an empty grave.

it is intersected at every moment

with a cross.

her hope is joyful in unfulfilled dreams,

because every dream is a shadow

a mirror,

a copy of the one true dream placed on her heart.

and that dream,

that hope,

is Jesus.

so with her eyes fixed

on the sure hope of Christ,

she dances through this tangled world

of romance.

of dreams.

of happily ever afters

and not quite yets.

she's not fazed by disappointment,

because her true hope never disappoints.

she's not wavering in insecurity,

because her hold is firm forever.

she sets her heart on hope.

the rest is still unknown to her. 



Oh, how I felt like Anne of Green Gables mixed with every Christian girl post about "Waiting for Prince Charming" right here, but it is so true. I am a hopeful romantic. Hopeful that my story ends well because I know Who writes it. Hopeful because I know that the end to my romance here on earth it isn't something I will see all of right now. Hopeful because my hope is in the One who holds the universe, not in any Prince Charming. This is hard, and sometimes this hope hurts my heart. But I'm choosing to hold onto hope in romance and more importantly, Jesus. 

"But hope that is seen in no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." (Roman 8:24-25)

Are you a hopeful romantic? How do you hold onto hope? And what are your hopeful romantic indulgences? Me, I love a good romantic subplot in a movie or story. (Or main plot...) 

Much love, 

Princess Hannah

9/21/2016

Finding Beauty: Defying Normality pt. 1












Let me tell you a story. 

When I was in middle school, everyone wore jeans to church on Sunday. And when I say everyone, I mean the cool girls that I desperately wanted to like me. Naturally, I wanted to wear jeans. I begged Mom to let me, but she stood by her Baptist-mother mentality and said "no." 

When my Dad started a church plant and we met in apartment complexes and coffee shops, Mom changed her outlook on Sunday dress code. Finally, I could wear jeans! 

But something differed in this new situation: I had no peers around me at church off of which to gauge my fashion. There was no "cool crowd;" there was only me. It was then that I discovered that, when there was no one to please, I preferred dresses. I liked getting dressed up and feeling the swish of a skirt, the flair of a dress. 

That was the turnaround point for my fashion choices. Ever since then, I've dressed according to who I am and how I like to dress. I wear pink. I wear skirts. I put on lipstick and pearl necklaces. And I love it. (See my Creed of a Girly Girl article that I just wrote for Odyssey.) 

With this lesson I learned about personal style, I am gladly aware that not everyone dresses like me. That's a good thing, because I'm pretty happy with their being only one style like mine (although my younger sister is quickly taking my style, aka borrowing all of my clothes). Some people wear t-shirts and Nike shorts, and that is great! Others wear cowboy boots and buttons ups. I love that too! 

What I desire in everyone's style is for them to be themselves. When there's no one to please, what do you like to wear? What makes you a bit happier when you wear it? Find your style and live it out gracefully. Experiment and wonder a bit at what your style is and what it can become. Defy normality for a bit and try on your unique fashion sense. You won't look back. 

I hope you enjoyed this little post that's been on my mind for a while. Stay tuned for the next post: Finding Beauty: Defying Normality Pt 2, where I will write about the struggle of dressing cute, a struggle many would never imagine existed. It's a bit uglier than you think too, full of pride and insecurity. 



How do you dress to show your personality? Have you ever struggled with wanting to conform your fashion to look like those around you? 

Have a fabulous week, 

Princess Hannah 

9/06/2016

Honestly Hannah: Sometimes (Most of the Time)

Can I be honest here?

Raw.

Open.

Plain and simply Hannah. 

Sometimes (most of the time) my life doesn't look worthy of Instagram. I mean, I struggled for wayyy too long to even structure my own Instagram (follow Grace in Everything here), let alone make every part of my life look like that!

Sometimes (most of the time) my prayers are scattered and whispered heartbeats because I've lost the ability to make words.

Sometimes (most of the time) I feel too busy to slow down and take life in.

Sometimes (most of the time) I let this busy-ness steal my joy. I let it steal my ability to form useful blog posts. I let it steal my thoughts, breathing, and withness. 

Sometimes (most of the time) I compare myself to others. Is she skinnier? Is he smarter? Is she a better blogger? 

Sometimes (most of the time) I feel a conflict of what I say and what I do.

Sometimes (most of the time) I feel inadequate.

But guess what? There is hope in these sometimes (most of the time) moments. There is a hope that is stronger than death, larger than life, greater than the forces of this world, and gentle with the strings of my heart. There is a hope that asks to be seen in the sometimes (most of the time) places, in the honest, plain, and simple. In the homework and frustrated drives. In the tears streaming forth because I don't want to grow up. In the tired eyes because I can't quite wake up.

There is hope.

Not a sometimes hope.

Not a most of the time hope.

An all of the time, until the end of time hope.

And beyond.

And this hope is not that I can do it or that it will all work out. This hope has actually nothing to do with me and everything to do with the glory of God, the sure and beautiful glory of God.

So when the sometimes (most of the time) moments drag you down, look up and take hope in the glory of God.

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into the grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know what suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit." 

Romans 5:1-5

What are some of your sometimes (most of the time) moments? And how has God revealed His hope to you this beginning of the school year?

Princess Hannah

8/31/2016

Dive Into the Living Water

source

dive into the Word. 

what does that even mean?

do i dive like an Olympian,

with fancy twists?

bends?

jumps?

spins?

is there a judge

on the other side

qualifying my worthiness

to enjoy God's Word?

or do i dive because

that's the fastest way.

i need my mind

cleansed,

refocused.

and since diving goes head first

i dive.

since I am cold,

dirty,

tired

up here on the diving board,

anxious that i'll go in the

wrong way,

i will simply dive.

submerge.

get swallowed up in the

blurry water of grace

found in Your Word.

because i need You, Jesus,

because i love You,

i dive in

not counting on how i get there

but counting fully upon

there. 

You. You, Jesus, are there. 

You invite me to come,

not with a perfect heart,

creative soul,

attentive mind,

quiet body.

You invite me to come

because You know my

soul is thirsty and

You are the Living Water.

i'm diving in.



Princess Hannah

8/23/2016

Vanquishing Fears




                                                     I am afraid.

Afraid that the world is moving too fast.

Afraid that I chose wrong.

Afraid that I'm missing the point.

And this fear makes me sick.

It makes me sad.

It makes me feel trapped in a room with no escape.

But then, look!

Look up and see a Light.

Fix your eyes on that Light,

Never let it go.

Let it be your guide,

Your hope.

Your vision.

Let this Light fill you with love,

A perfect love that drives out fear.

For this Light has conquered sin,

It reigns over darkness.

It is with me. 

And so the darkness isn't as dark anymore,

Because I'm holding onto the Light,

Holding on with all that I have.

And the fear, well it can't get close,

For as soon as it does,

The Light vanquishes it.



"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Let us consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men that you may not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:2-3)

I've been thinking a lot about fear this week, so head on over to my newest Odyssey article to read my thoughts. Also, say a prayer for me as I move into the dorms and start this next year of challenging and wonderful adventures! And comment below how I can specifically pray for you.

Princess Hannah

8/16/2016

Simply Tuesday- Review and Giveaway!!!!

I've been hinting forever at a Simply Tuesday review, but I kept putting it off and life got in the way and you know what I mean. I wanted to give this book the attention it deserves. And so, on its one year anniversary (which is this Thursday), I'm finally telling you all about this wonderful book, and even more, giving you a chance to win the book!


Simply Tuesday, where do I begin? It is a book of grace, of moments, of God's whisper that His power is made perfect in weakness. It is a book that slowly comes into your life and changes you when you're not looking. It is a book that soon fills with pink highlighter marks and hurried penciled notes on almost every page. And for me, it is a book that changed my life.

But I get ahead of myself.


Simply Tuesday's purpose is for Christians to have "small moment living in a fast-moving world." Which is why I don't think that Emily would mind that I took my time reading it. It grew with my my freshmen year, comforting me in just the right times, often bring tears to my eyes.

Because Emily speak so much truth in this book. Truth that speaks to the soul. Truth the helped me understand the soul. Mainly, though, truth about the Truth, Jesus, and how He works among us even now.

She talked of how to be where we are, not where we want to be. She wrote on how to work for excellence instead of perform for perfection. She invites us to look for meaningful, soul-inspiring community and not competition. She describes how to joyfully sit with Jesus in the fog of life, in the crossroads of desire and disappointment. And in all of this she speaks with a Christ-centered focus that's refreshing and real.


Emily writes with such elegance and rawness that I ended up underlining every other sentence and wanting to scream out "YESSSSS" several times, even when I sat in public. Throughout the book I seriously considered if Emily and I were the same person because she oftentimes described life just as I see it. And then she talked of how Jesus taught her to see Him more clearly in this life, and I just had to freak out a bit.

One of my favorite quotes from the book, one that encompass the theme so concisely is as follows:

"Let's dig deep, not to create meaning where there isn't any, but to see Christ, our companion, where he actually is, not where we wish he was. Let's gently poke our sleepy souls, refusing to wait for a big event to wake us up. Let's stop running from ordinary time but begin to sit right in the middle of it." (page 48)


Oh how this book taught me to sit in the ordinary time and see something extraordinary. This extraordinary life isn't always beautiful, but is good and for the glory of God. This book taught me joy even in the midst disappointment. It taught me a soul-rest that transformed last year to something of true beauty.

All of this to say, I recommend this book highly to all of those seeking a soul-rest and adventure in Christ. In fact, thinking back on this book, I convinced even myself to read it again!


Because I want you to read this book so much, that I'm giving a copy of it away! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment. I didn't want to make this giveaway about gaining followers or promoting something, for something always seems fishy about that. No, I'm just giving it away because I so very much want to see what y'all think about it! (Too bad I don't have funds enough to buy a book for each one of you!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, be sure to check out Emily Freeman's encouraging, soul-opening blog.

Leave a comment about one of the books that has changed your life. Do you now want to read Simply Tuesday? And y'all, I cleaned my desk for these pictures, and I'm pretty darn proud of it!

Princess Hannah

8/09/2016

Mountain Wind in Your Hair


                                                        Impossibilities. Imagination. Imperial delight. 


Creativity. Chilly mornings. Colorado time. 


Soul inspiring. Spirit rising. Sunsets rising up. 



This is the mountain. Hear its song. 


I am back from my last trip of the summer! And, oh, I do not think that I have the words to describe it. The mountains. The fresh air. The freedom of my soul rolling to and fro these majestic mounds of glory crafted by big hands of love. 

Take that back, I have many words to describe it. It just doesn't seem enough.

And so I will let the pictures do (most of) the talking, and let your imagination fill in the rest. Let your spirit feel the cool breeze of the mountain air. Feel it play with your hair. Smell the pine trees and watch the aspen leaves glitter as you pass them by. Smile to yourself. Mostly, give glory to the One who stands taller than any mountain, Whose shadow creates a haven of grace and a fearsome awe. 

Drive up the 14,110 Colorado mountain with me and taste His grace. For the mountain has fallen upon us, crushed us under its weight. Yet it gives life, and not death. Freedom and not slavery to sin. 



This is great reason to dance, smile, create, sing. This is reason to live. 

Do you feel that?


It is a song of joy. The earth praising its Creator because it knows nothing else.

Shall we not join in its song? Shall we not praise the Creator and Savior not because we have to but because we know nothing else better? We are created to worship, and only when we stop worshiping our pebbles of pride will we be able to look up and see the mountain ahead and understand.

Only then will we see. 

So look up. 

His glory is all around you, even at a laptop in a dim bedroom with clothes hanging over a chair. His glory is there, just as in the mountains. For He is in you. He is working in the hearts of people all around you. He is. And isn't that enough?

Oh His beauty and righteousness is abundantly more than enough. 

Breathe in. Breathe out. And feel the mountain wind in your hair. 

Have you been to the mountains? Comment below your experience. Also, what ways have you seen God work in His glory and grace? How does this make you see the world just a bit differently? 

Much love, 

Princess Hannah