You don’t need to buy God’s love.

By now you’re probably familiar with the college admissions scandal. Earlier in the week several people were charged with bribery in order to get their children into elite colleges like Yale University, and the University of Southern California and several others.

Such bribes included paying money to forge SAT and ACT scores and paying others to take them and paying coaches large sums of money in order to tell the college office that their kid was an athlete – when they weren’t.

It’s not really a surprise to me. I sort of figured this sort of thing happened all the time in Hollywood anyway.

In general, people think they can throw money at a problem and it’ll go away. People think that they can buy their way into things. Because as much as we want to admit, money factors into a lot of things. Having money is a necessity in life.

I digress.

There is one thing that you can’t buy.

God’s love. 

Ephesians 2:8-8 tells us For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.

No matter what we do.
No matter how we act.
No matter what we say.
No matter how many times we attend Sunday services.
No matter how many times we’ve volunteered and donated to charity.

We can’t earn our salvation.
We can’t buy our way into Heaven.

It is by the grace of God that we have been forgiven.
Salvation is a gift from God – freely given to us by the grace of God.

Why try to earn something when it’s already been given to you freely? 

We think we have to earn God’s love because we are flawed and we fall short of the glory of God daily.

We mess up and think that we need to earn back God’s love.

Romans 8:38-39 tells us, For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our LORD.

You don’t ever have to earn God’s love because it’s already been given to you freely. No matter how many times you’ve messed up, and no matter how many times you’re going to mess up again.

God’s love is unconditional and never changing.

Choose Your Friends Wisely

When you are young it is especially important to choose who you hang out with very carefully. Whoever you decide to spend the majority of your time around can influence you, your life and actions.

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There is truth in the saying, “Who you hang out with is who you become“.

When I was in high school I started to hang out with a group of kids who spent the majority of their time skipping school, and smoking. Because that was the majority of what they did, I ultimately fell into the same pattern as them.

When I started spending my time with people who were actively trying to give back to the community and serving Jesus,  I fell into the pattern of serving and loving others. Because I saw my friends do that, it started to become important to me and I started building good and healthy habits.

Who you surround yourself with matters. The people you spend the most time around end up influencing your life – from what you wear, to what tv shows you watch, to how you act on a daily basis, etc.

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Growing up something that I struggled with was wanting to be friends with everyone. I wanted to get to know everyone, so sometimes I ended up with several different groups of friends who were so vastly different from each other.

It was basically like I combined trail mix, skittles, and m&m’s into a bowl together. I had an eclectic bunch of friends.

When I was 19 I lost a dear friend, in a tragic car accident. He was the type of person who always had a bright smile on his face and could always make a person smile even if they weren’t feeling very smiley that day.

I hadn’t hung out with him very much at that point, due to a change in differences in beliefs. However, from that point on I learned the importance of truly valuing the friends in your life and holding them dear to your heart. They can be gone in a moments notice – and to this day I wish I had gotten to know him better and appreciated his presence more.

I also learned that you can’t always be friends with everyone in life, and you can’t always be there for everyone. Of course, throughout your life as your values, beliefs, and interests continue to evolve the people who you choose to surround yourself with and spend your time with will change and shuffle. Some people will be in your life from a day, some for only a season, and others for a lifetime.

Learn to choose your crowd wisely and appreciate those that you have in your life.

 

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You Can Keep Talking About It Or Do Something

“I want to take culinary classes”.
“I want to eat healthy”.
“I want to start saving money”.
“I want to start a business”.
“I want to travel more”.
“I want to make a change”.

We talk about our wants, desires and goals. When it comes to actually putting them into actions it’s a whole other story.

There is a clear difference in stating that you want to make something happen and actually taking the first step and making that change become a reality.

After working for almost a year at a coffee roasting company as a cook, I decided I wanted to learn more about coffee and roasting. I wanted to push myself. I wanted to do the dash my own coffee roasting business.

For months it remained just a goal in the distance. I found excuses to not start. “I’m exhausted”, or “I have too much going on”. I kept putting it off for “tomorrow”.

In order to make it a reality I would need to take a giant leap of faith into the unknown.

It’s the unknown. It’s uncharted waters.

It’s scary. It’s exciting. It’s stressful. It’s an emotional roller coaster.

Here’s the thing. You can find a million excuses to not try something or make something happen. You can spend your whole life making excuses to put that goal off until “tomorrow” or “next week”.

Or, you can take a small step in the direction of your goal.

Even the smallest step in that direction is a step toward making it become a reality.

Maybe that’s visiting local gyms and finding the right match. Maybe it’s not eating out and packing a lunch. Maybe it’s showing up to a local event in your community.

Whatever it is, take a small step toward making your goals a reality today.

Peeling That Band-Aid Off

You fall down and scrape your knee or elbow and end up with a wound.

What do you do next?

Disinfect the wound and slap a band-aid over it to prevent anymore dirt from getting inside.

When people or situations hurt you and leave you feeling wounded, how do you respond?

How do you let go? How do you forgive those who have hurt you?

Do you just slap a band – aid over the wound and call it a day?

Or do you actually clean out the wound so that you can truly start the healing process?

In past I’ve always just sort of taken the, “slap a band – aid over it” approach. When my ex-boyfriend cheated, I forgave him and slapped a band – aid over the wound. When a friend hurt me, I forgave and slapped a band – aid over the wound.

I always knew that I needed to forgive like God forgives us.

I slapped band – aids over my wounds and never truly allowed healing to begin. Over the years these wounds would fester and eat away at me and consume me.

In order to heal wounds we need to peel that band – aid back and allow it to breathe.

It’s okay to acknowledge the hurt you were left with. Sometimes it helps to acknowledge that pain and to understand that we’re all sinners in need of grace.

Ignoring the wound that’s there doesn’t help. It’ll only grow and fester.

Whatever wounds you currently have, peel that band – aid back and allow healing to happen.

Living With My Dyspraxia: Exercise

Dyspraxia, also known as DCD, Developmental Coordination Disorder affects fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. People with dyspraxia may find it extremely difficult to exercise or even to stay motivated. Many people with dyspraxia often have low muscle tone and poor hand eye coordination, which makes it hard for them to run/jump or even to play team sports.

For me, I feel like I personally have a great amount of muscle from spending an enormous amount of time in the gym and pushing myself to lift weights. When I was younger, my family and friends started nicknaming me, “Herculina”.

My downfall with exercise is that it gets exhausting and when I do run into muscles that might be weaker, I get discouraged from exercising.

Here are some exercises that I find extremely helpful and enjoyable:

Yoga:

As I stated before, I used to be a yoga instructor. At some point I was actually teaching two yoga classes a day, twice a week. When I wasn’t teaching I was in the gym every morning pushing myself to work on muscle tone and balance.

Yoga is helpful regarding balance and coordination. Although for me, I would struggle with the sequences and the timing of the sequences.

Swimming:

I find swimming very therapeutic and refreshing. Swimming is great for people with dyspraxia because it is made up of repetitive movements in a sequence, and with practice it is easy to follow.

Swimming helps with balance, flexibility, and endurance.

Running:

I enjoy running as it gives me an outlet to run off excess steam or frustrations that I may have. It also lets me get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of nature. However, most likely I’ll probably trip over while running. It happened more often when I was younger. I re-call having bruises and torn up knees from tripping and falling constantly.

I usually tend to run/jog, or to do interval running. That’s my way of trying to make sure I don’t fall as much.

Longboarding:

When I was in high school I would longboard more often. I often liked to hang around my guy friends who were often longboarding and/or skateboarding and watch them. Although, I never seriously got into it. I don’t have as much time to longboard as much anymore so my skills are pretty bad.

I find longboarding helpful regarding learning how to balance, however that can also be the downfall. I often lean too far to the right when I actually want to go left, or left when I want to go right. I also have a habit of losing balance as I’m trying to coordinate my movement.

Longboarding may not be for everyone, so I would strongly caution this if your balance is basically non-existent. Or, if you are just starting out, try on a flat surface. Baby steps, y’all.

 

What If I Don’t Like Any Of Those Options?

I also like to walk and go hiking whenever possible. Find an exercise that motivates you to want to workout. It’s never fun to do an exercise that you feel, forced into or bored at. Try to pick sports that’ll improve your coordination, and muscle strength. As with anything, exercising requires determination and practice. Don’t get discouraged. If you don’t succeed, keep at it. It’s okay to start slowly and take things easy. You don’t have to be a pro at it from day one.

A Response To The Annapolis Shooting

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Annapolis is my hometown.
I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve hung out downtown with friends eating hot dogs from Pip’s Dock Street Dogs and licking an ice cream from Storm Bros. Ice Cream Factory as it’s melting faster than I can lick. Or the amount of times I’ve watched the Fourth of July fireworks from one of the parking garages. The amount of times I’ve gone downtown in the middle of the night playing guitar or even playing my drums. Not to mention the church I attend is in the heart of Annapolis.

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In light of Thursday’s shooting at the Capital Gazette, I wanted to give my response.

Workplace shootings happen, and unfortunately in this day and age shootings have become all the more common. More and more people wonder if this type of thing will ever happen in their school, their workplace, or even their hometown.

Most of us actually go about our daily lives hoping that we never have to live in fear of this type of thing happening.

Honestly though, at any given time this could happen.
This could happen anywhere.
This could be your hometown.
This could be your workplace.
These people could be your co-workers, your friends, your family, etc.

 

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This could be your hometown that is getting politicized and used as an example of Trump’s “hateful” rhetoric on the media.

It can happen to anyone, anywhere at any given time. This shouldn’t allow us to live in fear or even stop being lights in a dark world.

Yes, unfortunately shootings happen and politics aside, we need to take a look at our gun laws and our mental health care system – and maybe I’ll write another post about the guns laws and mental health care system soon.

We shouldn’t allow these shootings to break us, to make us spend our whole lives living in fear.

Life is way too short so spend your life worrying about the what if’s. I’ve learned to trust God with my what if’s and but’s, and give Him full control.

Today I want to challenge you guys to be a light, to spread kindness.

Maybe reach out to an old friend, talk with someone who you may disagree with politically, or even call your mom or grandmother just to talk to them. Help a neighbor mow their lawn, pay for someone’s order at the drive through, etc.

There are endless ways that we can spread kindness.
It will cost you $0.00 to be kind to someone.

In times of tragedy is when we need to come together more than ever as a nation, rather than to allow hateful rhetoric and politics divide us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who are you?

Who are you?

How would you answer this question?

For many years whenever someone asked me this, I would begin by listing my hobbies or things I liked.

“I’m Libby. I like coffee and hiking.”

OR

“I’m Libby. I love crystals, and watching anime.”

OR

“I’m Libby. I love exploring abandoned buildings and reading.”

It wasn’t until a friend told me, “That’s great! Though, all you told me was what you liked.”

Now, in the moment I probably looked at this friend like, “Man, you woke up on the wrong side of the bed”, and I probably also rolled my eyes in annoyance.

Looking back, this friend is right.

How, many times as Christians do we tell people, “Your sin and past mistakes don’t define you”, while simultaneously defining ourselves by our hobbies or clothes.

You see, we are still allowing ourselves to be defined by something. Whether that’s grades, fashion, our job, or a relationship.

As people we are constantly learning and growing, and thus our hobbies, fashion taste, and worldview are constantly changing.

While these things do have the power to describe us and provide people with the insight as to who we are, they don’t define us.

Who are you when nobody is around? Who are you underneath your hobbies and labels?

If you don’t know you who are or what you value in life, or even where your worth comes from, you will constantly be searching for your identity in hobbies, interests and even people and allowing those things to define you.

Know who you are underneath the labels.

Who are you?

A Letter to Those Hurt by Christians

To all those who have been hurt  by Christians,

I get why you don’t want to believe in God.
I get why you stopped believing in God.
I get why you may be weary to enter a church building.
I get why you may be weary to approach Christians.
I get it.
I really do.
I was there.

You’ve seen Christians on street corners who are screaming their heads off about people going to hell.
You’ve seen Christians turn a blind eye and “okay” some sins while calling out others for other sins.
You’ve seen Christians not even bothering to pray for others in their time of need.
You’ve seen Christians in church sit there texting and talking all throughout the sermon.
You’ve seen Christians in church act like a clique, not even bothering to greet the new people.
You’ve had Christians treat you and your salvation just like another, number to them that they will soon forget about.

I get it.
I’ve seen it all too.
For awhile it even made me want to leave the church, and I did for some time.

Here’s the thing though:
Christians aren’t Christ.

we are all sinners – in need of the grace and forgiveness of Christ. 

Christians mess up.
We aren’t perfect.
Sometimes, you’ll look at Christians and they may be reflecting Christ.
Sometimes, you’ll look at Christians and they won’t be reflecting Christ.

Are you following Christ or Christians?

We go on Twitter and see people tweeting great and inspirational tweets about Christ.
We go on Instagram and see people posting cool photos with the newest filters about an inspirational Bible story and something they’ve learned that day.
We see Christians outside of church and see them smoking, or drinking or cursing and think, “That must be okay”.

We start to compare ourselves to other christians and want to be, just like them. Forgetting though that they too are – sinners. Imperfect. We all fall short of the glory of God.

I’m sorry.
I’m sorry if you’ve been deeply hurt by a Christian.
I’m sorry if you’ve seen Christian after Christian be a bad witness.
I’m sorry if you’ve ever felt unwelcome in a church.
I’m sorry if you’ve ever been treated unfairly by a Christian.
I’m sorry.

God isn’t us though.
God doesn’t play favorites.
God doesn’t misrepresent himself.
God doesn’t mess up.
God doesn’t make mistakes.
God doesn’t say the wrong thing.
God never leaves or forsakes you.
God will never hurt you.
God will never be too busy to listen to your fears, hurts, cries, joy,etc.

We’re all “Works in Progress”

“I can’t wait until I lose this weight, I’ll be beautiful.”

“I’ll stop working as much, and spend more time with my family once I get this promotion”

“I need to study until I get accepted into Harvard, then I’ll hang out with my friends”

“I can’t stop! I need this to be absolutely perfect!”

We’ve all said something similar. We promise to love ourselves more once we aren’t a “work in progress”.

I used to. I told myself once I lost such and such weight, I would be beautiful. Guys were constantly shaming me and abusing me and making me feel less than perfect because I wasn’t their definition of “beautiful”. I’ve learned to love myself through the works in progress in my life.

Sometimes it’s hard for us to love the version of ourselves that’s still a work-in progress.

It’s easier for us to see the negative in ourselves and we have a habit of beating ourselves up. I’ve been there.

Without realizing, we are all actually works in progress. There’s always something to learn from and improve on. We aren’t perfect.

 

Love yourself where you are, friend.
There’s always something that we can improve on and always something to learn from.  If you’re waiting until you aren’t a “work in progress”, you’ll be waiting a lifetime to love yourself.

 

 

– Elizabeth Louise

How to Fight Temptation

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We all deal with different kinds of temptations.
Often I get messages from people saying, “I’m dealing with temptation, and I can’t seem to overcome it. I keep falling backwards and falling into sin”.

First, let me just say that you aren’t alone. We all go through temptation and deal with it. But, the good news is that you already have victory over your temptation. You are free in Christ and covered by the blood of Christ.

A few months ago I devised my own system on “How to Fight Temptation” in three steps. It’s a system I like to call “ILL“.

First, you need to Identify the problem.
What is it that is causing you to stumble?
If it’s alcohol that is causing you to stumble, perhaps you may need to do eat out for awhile at restaurants or bars where there is alcohol, or perhaps you might be scrolling through Facebook and see a post from friends drinking a beer or two, that might be the time for you to get off Facebook and turn off your phone and get into the word. Or perhaps you may just need to limit the amount of alcohol you have and when you have it.
If it’s lust you’re struggling with or struggling with sexual desires or impulses, maybe perhaps when you see those Twitter accounts with the “sexual gifs” and videos, that might be the time for you for exit out of Twitter or even turn the phone off and get into the Word. You may even decide that deleting your Twitter account might be helpful if you’re really struggling.

Whatever it is, identify it so that you can better help yourself and take the steps to become more aware of what’s causing you to stumble. If you don’t know what you are struggling with, you won’t know how to protect yourself from falling into that temptation.

Secondly, Lean on Christ.
You have already been freed.
You are covered by the blood of Christ and in Him you can claim victory because Jesus already overcame when He overcame death on the cross.
In life you are going to face all sorts of temptations, and we have to rely on Him.
We have to rely on His strength and not ours.

And last but not least, Leave Me Alone Satan.
God allows us to deal with temptation so that we may learn to overcome and master them instead of becoming slaves to our temptations.
As I said before, we all get tempted.
Even Jesus was tempted, only when He was being tempted instead of giving in  He resisted the devil and threw truth at the devil.
In Matthew 4:10 it says, Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”
Jesus threw truth at Satan and told him to leave.
When you are being tempted, surround yourself with God’s truth.
Surround yourself in His word.
James 4:7 tells us, Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 

When we resist the devil, He will flee.

 

Friends, you are a child of God.
You have victory over your temptations because Jesus bought that victory when He overcame death on the cross.
Claim that victory in Christ.