1/27/2016

Sitting in the Silence

We live in a busy world.

We live in a loud world.

And these things don't make the world bad. I love how life always moves and always speaks, for work creates beauty, and words give love. But I discovered this week that I need more than satisfying schedules and gratifying words.

This week I discovered the beauty of silence.



 I sat on my bed last Sunday afternoon, tired from trying, ready to keep trying, and trusting in Jesus. (Yes, I feel the confusion going on here.) Sunday brings me so much joy, and usually prayers bloom out of me during the long afternoon, but last Sunday, I couldn't find the energy to form words. And I didn't feel the need to say them.

And so I just sat there with Jesus. I reminded myself of His wonderful character and believed in my identity in Him. I didn't say anything. I didn't go through the list of prayer requests I built into my mind. I didn't mentally work through all of the events and thoughts from the past week. I just sat there.

It was enough to stay silent in Jesus' presence.

I imagined that the disciples sat with Jesus in silence many a night. I can see them sitting around a fire at night, their feet sore from a long day, their minds unable to grasp Who sat with them, and their hearts full of questions about the day, about the journey, and about Jesus. I can feel them start to utter these complaints, doubts, and questions when they stop. They look at Jesus. And they decide that it is simply enough to sit in silence for tonight.



I've gone a long time thinking that I needed to express every thought, write every idea, and pray with complete sentences. When I drive alone, I turn on the music. When I shower, I pray through the prayer requests I've stored up for the day. When I sit in my room, I'm always thinking, planning, and processing out loud, or at least with loud thoughts. I didn't develop the habit of staying quiet every now and then to sit with Jesus and examine my soul.

But after the silence of Sunday, my soul feels a bit more. My heart beats a bit more. And my mind rests a bit more. Sitting with Jesus changed the way I thought about life. For after that afternoon, I realized that I didn't have to come before God with many words or a focused heart. I could give Him my silence with just as much worship as I give Him my song. I could give Him my confused, tired, and trying heart with joy rather than shame.



The silence in my soul is a welcoming place now. And God wants to move in your silent moments as well. Will you take the challenge with me over the next few days to set aside five minutes (give or take, because we will not be legalistic about this) daily to simply sit with Jesus in silence? Will you turn off your phone, stop dwelling on those thoughts that never seem to leave, and start reminding yourself of Who God is and who you are in Him? Will you come to Him as you are, knowing that He is enough? Will you learn to welcome the mystery of vacancy and the wonder of the quiet minutes?

As I finish this post, sitting in the silence, I feel content and thankful. Not because I had a great day, not because I have it all together, and not because I feel spectacular about things. I don't. But I know that Jesus is with me and loves me right now in the silence. And that is enough.

Comment below if you have ever sat in silence. Also, I know our lives are so busy and loud, but can you share a recent moment where God broke through and showed grace in little or big ways?

Thank-you so much for reading my heartbeat today!

Princess Hannah

1/21/2016

Little Things in the Big Picture

"Enjoy the little things, but never forget the big picture."



yes, I did just quote my own instagram caption, don't judge.

Yesterday I started my first day of my second semester of college, and it felt much different than the first semester. Somehow I have this feeling of joy about things to come. This joy comes from a sense of mission for the gospel, the comfort of friends around me, and the promise of new adventures around the corner. It comes from smiling at the little things while never forgetting the big picture.

For I can easily miss both the little joys and the eternal plan.

And so I want to look around. To laugh with the little things and keep my eyes focused on God's Story. For Christ is with us here and now, but He is so much bigger than here and now.



He's in the little things like:

>the way the sunset plays outside the window in the ballet studio, surrounding the bare trees with pinks and purples.

>the tidbits of conversations that fill my first days of class, talk of welcome and introductions.

>the pieces of cold cookie dough that I spoon out of the bowl, crunchy sugar paired with creamy butter and chocolate chips.

>the giggles that erupt from listening to High School Musical in honor of its 10th anniversary. (Now I feel old!)

>the satisfaction of wearing pearls, especially the huge, real, pearl earrings I got for Christmas.

>the still stars at the end of a long day, stars that each stand for a promise, that each testify to God's faithfulness.



But I also want to train my soul to see the bigger story, for God is writing the Story of the world in ways like:

>the conversations that lead to relationships that lead to grace-sharing opportunities

>the encouragement I give and receive for God's Kingdom with new and old dear friends. 

>the way God's Word I read aligns with what happens in my day and even what songs I end up listening to. 

>the sense of joy in God's mission, which is a new development for me. 



Friends, as I sit here in my pjs at the end of my second day back, I feel so thankful. I'm thankful for the little things and for the big things. And I'm thankful for you. Truly. You're going to see a few changes here on the blog, namely, I want to post shorter things more often, but I'm putting my hope in Jesus and want this blog to be an outflow of that!

Here's to little things in a big picture. Let's chat in the comments about the little things going on in your life and the big picture that God shows you!

Princess Hannah

1/18/2016

16 Movies to Watch 2016

So there's a lot of movies that I've never seen. We all have those movies that we always meant to watch but never got around to watching. Or for me, I never watched the movies that my younger sisters couldn't watch, which limits things. But this year, I'm making a list. It's official, I'm gunna watch some of those movies that I've been putting off for forever!

Coming to Theaters

Star Trek Beyond (2016) Poster

I'm super excited for this fun adventure! We have the witty banter, space shenanigans, and loveable characters to look forward to, not to mention J.J. Abrams! 


Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) Poster

I loved the first whimsical film, and it looks that the magic continues with this next instalment, centered around a race in time to save the Mad Hatter and Wonderland itself. But the cast itself makes this movie worth the excitement, with Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mia Wasikowska, and more. Plus, it was Alan Rickman's last movie! (insert pause for tears)


Captain America: Civil War (2016) Poster

I can't say that I'm 100% looking forward to this movie, as internal conflict frustrates me, but I'm expecting big things. Although the previews make us think that the central conflict is between Cap and Stark, I've learned to not judge a Marvel movie by the preview. 

Movies to Rewatch: 


The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) Poster

Um, yes! We got the extended edition for Christmas, and I'm pretty excited to see those deleted scenes. It's been too long since I've last seen these movies, and now seems like the perfect time! 


Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) Poster

After seeing The Force Awakens (twice), I need to brush up on my Star Wars memories! I think that I'll watch them in this order: episodes 4 and 5, then go back to episodes 1-3 (if we even watch episode 1), and then episdoe 6. I need to see the story of Darth Vader all together to save my emotional sanity. 

Movies That I've Never Seen But Really Should: 


Forrest Gump (1994) Poster

Yes, I've never seen Forest Gump, but I think it's about time! I've lived long enough with references to this movie, now I'm ready to understand what they mean. 

8. Avatar

Avatar (2009) Poster

Saying as this, adjusted for inflation, is the second highest grossing film of all time (although Star Wars is getting close), I think I should give it a watch. Plus, what's not to love about some good sci fi? 


Mean Girls (2004) Poster

I've gotten a lot of looks when I say that I've never seen this movie, and although I'm completely fine to defy the norm, this is one that I think that I should give a watch. Girls night coming up soon!


The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Poster

I have seen the first one, but I never finished the Batman series, although I love a good hero story. I look forward to the different, darker approach of the superhero spin, and my expectations are high. 


Back to the Future (1985) Poster

I've seen bits and pieces of this movie and the sequel, but I want to watch at least the first one all of the way through! Too bad I didn't watch them in time for October 21st, 2015. 

12. E.T. 

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) Poster

Speaking of 80s movies I've never seen, I present to you, E.T. 


The Nun's Story (1959) Poster

You didn't think that I'd forget to include Audrey Hepburn, did you? Although this tale is not as well-known, it looks like a touching film, full of sadness and grace. 


Rear Window (1954) Poster

I've never seen an Alfred Hitchcock movie or many suspense movies in general, so I'm excited to change things up a bit with this murder mystery thriller. Plus, Grace Kelly! 


The Notebook (2004) Poster

Sometimes, I get in the mood to watch something pitifully romantic and sad. This will happen on that day. But other than that, no Nicholas Sparks for me. 

16. X-men and others

X-Men (2000) Poster

Reason one, Marvel. Two, Marvel. Three, Marvel. Oh, and did I mention that this is Marvel? 

And there you have it! These are some of the movies that I want to watch in 2016, but many others that I haven't seen didn't make the list, including these: Unbroken, Miss Potter, Pitch Perfect, The Sandlot, Turning Pointe, A League of Their Own, Mr. Holmes, Titanic (mayyyybe), My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Robin Hood, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, True Grit, and more. 

But I'm always growing my Microsoft Word document titled "Movie List." Please comment movies you think should be on that list, as well as any movies that are on your to-watch list! But in all of these wonderful, gripping stories, never forget the Story written on our hearts by the best Storyteller of all, God. And He gives so many people the gift of small storytelling, as seen through these movies! He alone, though, rules over big storytelling. 

Happy watching, 

Princess Hannah 

1/13/2016

This Changes Everything

There's something that my heart is bursting to tell you. It's a truth buried underneath my skin, ignited in all of our hearts, and whispering to us in the quiet moments and the loud memories of life. This truth brings with it freedom, grace, purpose, and humility. It welcomes us into something bigger than us and yet it is here. Now. 

This truth changes everything. 



You've probably already skimmed the post to read those bold words below, so here they are: 

GOD IS WITH US! 

There. I've said it. In bold. That's when you know it's important. But it's so important, I will say it again, only this time, I want you to slow down. I want to to think about what these words mean. Sit with God for a moment in stillness and awe of the fact that He is with you right now. 

God, God, is with us. Inhale. 

The all-powerful, indescribable, eternal God moves in your heart right now. Exhale. 

God is with me as I sit on my bed, quiet in the rush of the day. Look around you. 

And He is with you. Immanuel. See the invisible. 

I went to Passion a few days ago, and if you don't know about Passion, it is a gathering of young adults following Jesus. And in this large gathering (in three locations this year, over 40,000 people came to worship Jesus from around the world), we worship Jesus. Yes, we listen to amazing speakers who unpack the Word and give us much advice and guidance. Yes we get to praise the Lord in song with the top worship leaders and with great new songs. Yes we get to meet new, cool people through community groups and the groups from home. All of these things are so amazing and incredible. 

But the real joy of Passion for me was simply being with God. And remembering that God is with me. He is with me both at Passion, in the joy and excitement, and at home, in the mundane and work. 

God is with us. His Spirit is in us. 

Oh how that changes everything.

"You, however are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also gave life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who live in you. 

"12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation- but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 

"14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption into sonship. And by Him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17 Now, if we are children, then we are also heirs- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if we share in his sufferings in order than we may share in his glory." (Romans 8:12-17)

God with us means we do not need to fear (Romans 8:15), be it fear of the future, fear of failure, fear of ourselves, or fear of death. His perfect love in us drives out all fear (1 John 4:18). So let us take courage in Immanuel. 

God with us means we have a mission, His mission (Romans 8:17). And in this mission, our lives reach their fullness, but that's for another post (Matthew 28:16-20). So let us live out the mission of Immanuel. 

God with us means we have the truth and can reject the lies of the world (Romans 8:9). Oh how these lies surround us and tempt us to stand on shaking ground (John 8:31-32). There's one particular lie that I tend to believe that I will share with you soon. So let us stand on the truth of Immanuel 

God with us means that we have a hope bigger than anything this world can throw at us (Romans 8:10). And this world knows how to throw some big curveballs. Death. Injury. Shame. Insecurity. Broken hearts. But the God who is in us is greater than the one in this world (1 John 4:4). So let us look unto Immanuel. 

God with us means that we are never alone (Romans 8:15-16). Even as we struggle with the stress of school, the disappointment of people, and the doubt in ourselves, we never go through these things alone. Rather the same Spirit that rose Jesus from the grave is alive in us (Romans 8:11)! So let us live with Immanuel. 


Yes, God with us changes everything. But we must let it change everything. We must also be with God. We must learn how to sit with Him even while we are walking to class, talking over dinner, or dealing with our prideful hearts. And when I say must, I do not mean to make this another rule to follow. Not at all! Rather, being with God brings the greatest joy of our hearts! It contains our rest, purpose, and hope. It gives us eyes to see through the fog of life and a heart ready to love in this broken world. God came to us so that we get to be with Him.

As Passion, God told me powerfully how His presence is enough and necessary in my life, and I almost felt anxious to come home, a strange feeling because I love Passion. But more than singing songs and taking notes, I wanted to live. I felt this pull at my life, a pull of a life lived with God. And excitement for the possibilities of living with God filled me with joy! 

I did come home. And some of that joy and excitement faded away, like I knew that it would. Luckily, God worked in my life using much more than feelings. And I lived. I made mistakes, but God pulled my heart into His mission just a bit more. Little by little, He is showing me what it looks like to live with Him. 

I have so much more to tell you, but I do not want to dilute this simple, life-changing truth for all Sons and Daughters of God: God is with you. 

God is with you. 

Will you live as though that is true? 

Princess Hannah 

1/08/2016

The Year We Called 2015

They say times, flies, and I would agree. But for for me for in 2015, time danced. It danced to a changing tune of growing up, to the captivating sounds of NYC streets, to the soft melodies of challenges and slowness, to the exciting beats of friendship and family, and to the familiar tune of Jesus' grace transforming everything.

It danced with vigor and speed. It danced with grace and beauty. It danced with mystery and a touch of sadness. But it danced, and I wouldn't redo 2015; I wouldn't take it out of the choreography of the dance God plans for my life.

Looking back, I realize that so many things happened this year. It makes me so happy to think of them all that, with the help of the lilting backdrop of the Cinderella soundtrack, I might cry! God did so much this year, and because I love lists, here's 15 things that changed me a bit in 2015 (in my best chronological order):



1. In 2015 I failed my first audition. Before I thought much about going to New York for ballet, I wanted to go to Houston Ballet. But God had other plans; He knew best, and even though I felt pretty bad about messing up those pirouettes, I rejoice for the experience!


2. In 2015 I started truly blogging! I didn't realize how much I would love writing out these posts and interacting with so many wonderful people! I didn't know how much work and time a blog took, how much dedication and editing I needed to make it look nice and reach out to people. But through blogging the past few months, I've learned how to have eyes that see. I see so many more opportunities to interact with God's grace in everything! The theme of this blog probably impacted me more than anyone who read my posts!



3. In 2015 I fell on stage for the first time. But what I didn't realize at the time of the fall was how many times I would be able to give God the glory through that experience! It really blew my mind how such a simple story like a fall on stage could go so many place. First, I shared it with people who came to my recital, then to you guys on the blog, then to many dancers who didn't know Jesus this summer, and also to fellow local dancers. And each time I had the opportunity to share God's grace at work in what would normally be a bad situation.



4. In 2015 I started a Bible study that I'd dreamed of for a while. I had this idea of high school girls mentoring and befriending middle school girls even while the younger girls inspire the older girls. And so I helped get the ball rolling for this great time together, which is still making an impact under my sister's leadership! But this just showed me how sometimes we just need to go and do these brave, new ideas. Faith is paired with action.



5. In 2015 I graduated high school! I felt pretty excited to move on to the next chapter of life and had so much fun going to my last youth group camp as a camper, taking senior pics, going to senior prom, and throwing my best party yet!


6. In 2015 I flew to and stayed in New York for six weeks! This made my year. AAB grew me and gave me much more confidence in life and Christ. And NYC can't be described adequately in this short space, so just read this post if you missed it. I made so many memories this summer that I won't forget quickly, like sharing the gospel at two in the morning to a girl who lives in South Africa and walking into Times Square at one in the morning to be greeted by so many lights and promises of another great day in the city.



7. In 2015 I realized the difference between "could" and "should." In ballet, I didn't dream much of dancing professionally. I think that God just doesn't want that for me, but sometimes I feel like because I could have gone for it that I should have gone for it. Many people around me this summer planned on going so many places with ballet, but I just wanted to teach ballet in my hometown. I felt like I wasted my potential, like I disappointed everyone, including myself. I questioned my decisions in 2015, especially when I got encouragement and challenges from AAB, but I feel confident that God is leading me on the path that I chose. Because winning in life doesn't mean winning according to the world. There is something greater in the world than success.



8. In 2015 I went new places. Namely, NYC. But I also went to concerts, the beach, movies, parties, and many other new and exciting places.



9. In 2015 I started college! I expected it to be harder actually. I think that I'm ready to start really loving college now that I've learned a bit of the ropes. The first semester went by with new friendships, new schedules, and a bit of learning. Now I'm excited for what the other semesters will bring!


10. In 2015 I continued to learn about friendships. Friendships take work. Sometimes I want to give up and just wait for friends to find me, but I fought that temptation this year and started cultivating more friendships. It took time, texts, and tears, but this year brought hope and laughter, some beginnings of what I hope to be wonderful friendships!


11. In 2015 I went in the direction God planned for me. I already talked a bit about this, but I decided not to go off to some expensive school for ballet but to stay at home. And I also decided to switch my major from business to mass communications, and I will have to wait to see how I like that. But I do think that God placed all of these things in order, and I trust Him. I want to follow Him.


12. In 2015 I actually went to football games! Yes, I went to football games, and this is kind of a new thing for me. I only went to two football games during high school, one local college game and one NFL game, but I loved the experience of going to the games, cheering on my team, and being with fun friends!


13. In 2015 I thought more. I am so thankful for a mind ready to learn and a heart that searches for the truth! God gave me such a gift in those things, and this year I made even more connections about the Bible and more thoughts about life. In 2016 I want to take even more advantage of the resources around me and continue to grow in knowledge and truth!



14. In 2015 I finished my first semester of college with a 4.0! The ease of college surprised me, and although I don't expect it to stay that way, I am glad that it didn't start with many challenges. With this first semester done, I feel ready to start embracing college!


15. In 2015 God did some pretty amazing things, but now, at the end of the holidays, I'm reminded that the greatest thing that "I" did this year, I didn't even do! The greatest achievement of 2015 is that God was in me, with me. Immanuel!

How was y'all's year? I want to hear all about it, and please comment if you did a post recapping the year! Here's to a joyful 2016!

Princess Hannah

1/01/2016

Time Inside Eternity

It's the first day of 2016, a year full of promise and uncertainty, 365 days lying ahead, waiting and developing into their time. Some people fear this beginning with the looming future and unknown factors it may bring, and others put on this forced sense of welcome for the hope put in temporary things and soon-forgotten resolutions. I too feel the weight of time, the yearning for something bigger than visits to the gym and a more organized life. I want to do so much, but time limits me. Time. Time. Time.

But I look at this year, and I strain to see something invisible. I look at 2016 and I search for a hope put into something unseen: the Bigger Story.



Let's try for a moment, at the beginning of this small year, to imagine the Story of Glory unfolding even now, though it is so much bigger than now. Close your eyes for a moment and forget all of the plans, questions, doubts, and excitement that usually occupy your thoughts. Remember the Story.

It didn't start in the beginning or "once upon a time," for it began before the beginning, before even the creation of time. It started with God.

And God wrote this Story, writes this Story.  He created time, humans, and a system so complex that, even after thousands of years, we've only scratched the surface of understanding it. For "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1) And "God saw all that he has made, and it was very good." (Genesis 1:31)

But we must remember that God was before that beginning. He knew before the beginning. And He loved us before the beginning of time itself. For God is greater than time.

"A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night." (Psalm 90:4, and while you're at in, please go and read the rest of this wonderful Psalm, today!)

But we know what happened next. Sin. The Fall. Death. Time ripened this darkness, which bread in the created world of time, waiting. Waiting for the light of mankind to come into the darkness, waiting for the light greater than darkness to reign victorious, waiting for the appointed time.

"The true light that give light to everyone was coming into the world." (John 1:9)

Jesus. Immanuel. God with us, come to save and to bring Himself more glory. Jesus Christ turned the Story's direction and furthered the purpose of time, and we now see in glimpses this purpose, which is the gospel (1 Corinthians 13:12). It is the Story of God's glory and grace through the gospel. It is the Story written on our hearts and created in this world and yet greater than anything created.

"He has saved us and called us to a holy life- not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (2 Timothy 1:9-10)

And now comes 2016.

Yes, it will hold many wonderful and challenging things. Big events and little changes will happen over the year, and we will probably look back and marvel at all that it held and all that God did. But I don't want to let my sight see only this year, for my story is in a much bigger Story than 2016. Your story goes far beyond one year too if you make your story His Story.

And so let's look unto the One who never wonders at what a new year will bring and never forgets what He promises. Let's fix our vision on the One who holds the world in His hand and created time itself. This year, let's resolve to stay inside the resolve of the One whose purpose goes outside of one year.

This won't always make sense, this trust in the invisible and hope in the incomprehensible. This year will give us all many chances to do things in light of more than just 2016, and these eternal-minded decisions will baffle the world. But let's not make resolutions for just 2016, let's follow the One whose resolutions last for all eternity, resolutions which only gather more and more momentum and glory. For His Story rumbles throughout time, echoing a glory that exceeds what we can see or can even begin to imagine.

Let's rejoice in 2016, a small part of the greatest tale ever told: His Story. But let us not forget eternity.

Happy New Years!

Princess Hannah