Making A Masterpiece

Devotionals

Happy July everyone! I just got back from a great vacation with my family, and my time away allowed me to really take in all the wonderful things God has created. It is easy to look at the ocean and the glistening sand and think “wow, how beautiful”, but it is not so easy to look at ourselves in the mirror and have that same thought. When we look at ourselves most of the time we don’t see a masterpiece. We don’t think of someones hands carefully placing every detail and planning out even more details to come. I want to make a huge effort to not only take in the beauty of God’s masterpieces around me, but to realize that I am also one of his many masterpieces as well.

The thing about a masterpiece is…it takes time. God created us and who we are before we came into this world, but that doesn’t mean he was finished then and there. Each day he is still crafting and molding us into something magnificent. He can see that the end result will be a masterpiece, but we may not always see that. In fact, we may feel more like a disaster than a masterpiece and that’s okay! Life can get hard, the devil will try to win over your mind when you are at your lowest, but you have to hang on to the truth that YOU are a masterpiece in the making.

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“You are God’s masterpiece”-Ephesians 2:10

I like to think about it this way…When we were born God had crafted a beautiful blank and fresh canvas. Throughout our lives as we grow God takes his paintbrush and adds a little more to that canvas day by day. Somedays the details are so fine and so small that we may not even notice, and other days the colors are so bright and loud that we radiate them with every action. We may not always notice the work that God is doing in our lives, but trust me he is a painter hard at work on each one of us every single day.

To get to where they are, masterpieces endure a lot of hard work, testing trials, and dedication. In order for us to become the masterpiece that God is so carefully creating we must understand that in order to do so we have to work hard, and follow him even through the darkest of times. Life and the devil is going to constantly throw things at you that may put smudges or cracks in your canvas, but it doesn’t have to break it. Let those cracks and smudges be signs of strength in the making of who you are. Trust that God is creating something amazing, because I promise you that He is. Remember that masterpieces aren’t created in a day, or even months, it can be a long process but the end result will be worth the wait.

-Taylor Johns

Joy Comes In The Morning

Devotionals

The past few weeks I have been feeling a little under the weather both physically and mentally. I have been extremely unmotivated and have wanted to do nothing but sleep. These spells in my life come and go, but this one has been one of the hardest ones to kick for some reason. At the end of last week I knew I needed something to get me out of the rut I was in. My sister and I planned a sunrise photoshoot, and even though the last thing I felt like doing was getting up at 5 and getting ready for pictures, I did it…and I am so glad that I did.

If you have never seen the sunrise, I can’t even begin to explain the true beauty of it and the calmness that it brings over your life. As I watched the sun rise and saw it’s rays light up the world, I sat in awe at the true beauty of God’s creations. It was truly breathtaking. It was the most beautiful fresh start to the day. As I began thinking, I realized that no matter what happened the day or night before the sun still rises in the morning. It rises and shines it light on everything regardless of if it was the most beautiful day previous, or if it was a dark and grey stormy night.

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I began to think about my life and how the sunrise applies to it. Some days I am filled with so much joy and light, and other days that light tends to get dimmed by past or present storms that swirl through my head. I have begun to realize that not everyday is going to be sunshine and rainbows but that’s okay. God allows the sun to rise every day giving us a brand new fresh start.

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning.”-Psalm 30:5

On the sunny days, take time to soak it all in. Feel the warmth on your skin and take in the beauty of the world around you. On the rainy days, don’t let the clouds dim your light, shine so bright that your rays come through even the darkest of clouds. Just as the verse says, joy comes in the morning, so don’t focus to much on what may have happened yesterday.

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This is something I plan to practice more and more everyday. I forget how blessed that I truly am and how thankful I should be for each day that God gives me here on this Earth. So I encourage you to practice this as well. Wake up, soak up the sunshine and know that it’s a fresh start. Let your light shine for Jesus and know that no matter what, joy comes in the morning.

-Taylor Johns

Do Not Worry About Tomorrow

Devotionals

This week I started a new devotional study book that I received while attending Sunday school at my boyfriend’s church. There was a verse in the very first lesson that stood out to me and it was like God knew I needed to see it. The verse was Matthew 6:33-34.

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Lately I have been worrying nonstop about my future. I worry that it will not be as I imagined or that I am not paving the way to a good future for my future self and family. These thoughts run through my head all day long and keep me up at night. When I saw this verse it was almost as if it had big flashing lights around it prompting me to pay attention to it.

A lot of the times, because I am constantly worried about my future I can’t enjoy the present moment. I am determined to make this happen no longer. As the verse says ” do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself”. I want to focus more on living in the present each day and just appreciate the fact that God has given me another day on this beautiful Earth. Each day I want to seek His kingdom more and more, instead of worrying about what tomorrow may bring.

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I have to learn that you never know what tomorrow, or the future may hold. Tomorrow could be the best or the worst day of your life, but that’s okay because God has plans for your today that you need to pay attention to. He is constantly at work in our lives, and most of the time we are to busy worrying about other things to even notice. I want to learn to appreciate each day, appreciate what God is doing in my life, and put my trust in Him for my future and lean not on my understanding but on His.

If you are struggling with worrying about your past or your future say this prayer with me today:

Dear Lord,

I thank you for another day you have given me here on this Earth. I pray that you calm the worries in my mind about the future. I trust in you to lead and guide me down the right paths and I know you will be with me even in times of trouble. Help me God to lean not on my understanding but on yours, for your plans for my life are greater than I could ever imagine. Help me to remain patient in the process, and know that I can always count on you. Thank you Lord for constantly being at work in my life and for loving me unconditionally.

Amen

-Taylor Johns

Dear Mom,

Devotionals

I wanted to dedicate this blog post to none other then my beautiful mom. With Mother’s Day being this past Sunday, my family and I got the chance to show my mom how much we truly appreciate her. I loved seeing her light up when she opened her gifts and saw the video we made for her, but this feeling of appreciation is one I want her to have every day, not only just on Mother’s Day.

Mom, I want you to know how truly blessed I am to have you in my life. You have taught me so much, and above all else you have taught me to seek Jesus in both times of joy and times of pain. I know there are times you may feel as if you have failed, but just know that me, Emma, Elle and Abby look up to you more then you will ever know. You have not only set an example for us as to what a woman should be, but what a mother should be as well. Your beauty shines from the inside out.

“As is the mother so is her daughter.”-Ezekiel 16:4

My prayer is that if you are a mom, or a mother figure in someones life that you feel appreciated not just on mothers day, but every day. The role God gave you here on this Earth as a mother is one of the most important roles there is. I thank God every day for the mom I have, for it is because of her that I am strong.

So, mom thank you for all that you are and all that you do. To all the other moms out there, thank you as well for just being you. The sacrifices you make on a daily basis show just how much love is in your heart. I encourage everyone to pray for all the moms, as their job is not always easy, but I know they wouldn’t trade it for the world.

-Taylor Johns

God’s Goodness

Devotionals

As I was scrolling down Pinterest for some weekly motivation I came across a bible verse that really stood out to me.

“God, you have been so good to me.”-Psalms 116:7 

Some days life gets so busy that instead of focusing on the goodness in my life, I am quick to focus on the things that are giving me stress. I get so caught up in the craziness that is life that I fail to realize the blessings that are all around me. When I saw this verse, it brought tears to my eyes because God truly has been so good to me, and I don’t give Him the “thank you” that He deserves most days.

I read a quote once that said “What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things that you were thankful for yesterday?” This really changed my perspective on things. I am always so thankful for the things and blessings that I receive, however I don’t always show it like I should. So I have decided to challenge myself to start doing two things:

1.Instead of waking up in the morning and have the first thoughts in my head be about what I need to get done for the day, I am going to make them more about what I am thankful for first thing in the morning. This will allow me to start the day with a positive and refreshed mindset.

2. I am going to keep a journal beside my bed and write down 5 things I am thankful for and thank God for those things before going to sleep.

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I encourage you to challenge yourself to do these things as well. It will really put into perspective all the things that we have to be thankful for no matter how big or small they may be.

God has been so good to me, especially just within the past couple of years. I am ready to show Him how thankful that I am for blessing me day in and day out. Having a thankful heart will not only make you shine from within, but people will be able to see it from the outside as well.  I know it is easy to get caught up in the stresses of life, but just keep in mind the goodness of God, especially on days when you feel down. His goodness never fails.

-Taylor Johns

Coping With Stress

Devotionals

These last couple weeks of school have really challenged me when it comes to being stressed. This week in particular…finals week. This semester has been one of my hardest ones in college so far and there have been so many times where I have let the stress get to me. With it being finals week I knew I was going to be more stressed than usual, so I have been doing a few things to help cope with what I am feeling and I thought I would share those today. These tips help with the overwhelming feelings of stress that life may bring and allow you to find comfort in knowing that you are not alone.

1.) Give it to God! 

This one may seem easy, but for me it has been one of the hardest things to do. I try to cope with the stress all on my own, instead of giving it to who wants to help me most! In the Bible it says, “Cast your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you”-1 Peter 5:7  

Praying and talking to God about the things that are giving me stress always leaves my mind in a more positive refreshed state.

2.) Take Your Time! 

For me, when there are deadlines and multiple tests to study for, my mind just wants to rush through everything and get it done. I have learned to space things out and focus on bits at a time instead of rushing to get everything done at once. One of my favorite ways to do this is writing down what I need to do in a planner and spacing it out over my week. I try my best to get everything done on Mondays-Thursdays so that I have free time on my weekends.

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3.) Just Breathe, It Will All Workout!

“Be Still and know that I am God”- Psalm 46: 10

Finally, just breathe! Take a break from whatever it may be that you are working on and take some time for yourself. One of my favorite things to do is sit out on my little balcony and read or just simply listen to everything around me. This gives me a chance to refresh my mind so that whenever I do go back to my tasks, I won’t feel so drained. I can sit and find calmness in the fact that God is in control.

Ollie really enjoys it as well…

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These have been my top 3 ways of coping with my stress lately. Life can get crazy busy and it is easy to feel like the world is on our shoulders, but just remember God cares for you more than you could ever imagine and He is willing to carry that weight for you. Whatever your stresses may be this week I pray that you find comfort in knowing that God is with you and everything will be just fine!

-Taylor Johns

 

 

No Rain, No Flowers

Devotionals

I have always loved the saying “No rain, no flowers”. When the rain comes we often times tend to despise it wishing it away, without realizing the true beauty it can bring. Without rain, the flowers would not bloom. While the rain pours down, it turns the sky dark and gloomy, making everything around grey. Nasty puddles fill the roads and it seems as if it will never go away, but it does. The rain always passes.

This past week I shared my story of overcoming an eating disorder on my youtube channel. Never in a million years did I think it would be something I would publicly share. For years I was so embarrassed of it and I let it cause me so much pain. It was a very rainy season in my life, and I felt as if it would never go away. My head was like a dark cloud constantly pouring out negative thoughts and feelings about myself. These thoughts told me “you aren’t skinny enough” “you are pretty enough” “you’ll never be enough”.

For ten years I have let these same thoughts run ramped in my mind. These thoughts have robbed me of so much joy in my life. Instead of my story being something that I was ashamed about, I decided I wanted it to be something that I could use to help others. I want to bring more awareness to eating disorders and mental health because they are things that so many people are struggling with everyday. Just as I did, people learn to hide it well. You never know what someone may be going through.

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“I will send down showers in season there will be showers of blessings.” – Ezekiel 34:26

God allowed me to see the beauty and the blessings that the rain brings. When the rain is pouring, you will feel like it will never end, but when it passes you will see things in a whole new light. Don’t get me wrong, I still have days where those thoughts try to ruin my mood, but I am doing my best to learn how to control them. I quit being ashamed, finally got the help I needed, and now I am ready to let my light shine.

It was so hard for me to understand why I was going through the things that I was, and I am sure many of you have felt the same way. I found a quote on Pinterest a couple weeks ago that explains it perfectly:

“May the flowers remind us why the rain was so necessary.”- Xan Oku

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If you are going through a rainy season of life, just know that God has a reason for it all. This rain will allow you to grow and bloom in ways that you never have before. He knows you are strong, and He will help guide you through it. God is the light peaking behind that dark grey cloud. This storm will pass, and from it will come beauty and blessings.

-Taylor Johns

He Has Risen

Devotionals

One of my absolute favorite holidays is quickly approaching this weekend…Easter! I have loved Easter ever since I was little. Not only because of getting to spend cherished time with family, but also because of the whole meaning behind it. The story of Jesus’s resurrection will continue to amaze me for years.

There are tons of wonderful stories about Jesus and the miracles He performed throughout the Bible. Reading about them never fails to leave me in awe, but the Easter story always gives me chills. For me, this is the story where I always saw just how truly like us that Jesus was. It’s easy to think of Him as a “super hero” with all of these powers who never feels pain, but this wasn’t the case. Jesus loved, protected, trusted, and hurt just like me and you. 

Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice by dying on the cross for our sins. Knowing the pain He endured during this time breaks my heart, but just think He did it all because He loved us with a love that is beyond what we could ever imagine. While many were sad to see Jesus part from the Earth for a period of time, Jesus knew that His time on Earth was not done. One of my favorite verses in the Bible comes from Matthew 28:6.

“He is not here for He has risen just as He said.”

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The stone blocking the tomb was rolled away and death was defeated! I have always imagined what it would have been like to have been there on the day of His resurrection. What a joyous day, and the fact we still celebrate it so many years later makes my heart so happy.

There is so much about this event to be celebrated. The everlasting love Jesus has for us, the promises He keeps, and the fact that He defeated death. If Jesus can defeat death, just imagine all the other things He can defeat for you. No matter what battles your facing, He will be ready to guide you through. His love for you never fails.

It is easy to get caught up in the material aspects of Easter, but truly remember the real meaning. Jesus loved us so much that He died for us, and made the promise of a lifetime. He proved that not even death could break this promise, and that He would be there for us for eternity. If you know someone who might not know the true meaning of Easter, invite them to church with you on Easter Sunday you never know the impact it could have on their life. I hope you all have a blessed Easter!

-Taylor Johns

Beauty In The Sadness

Devotionals

There are so many things in the life that happen that we will never understand. Why people are taken to soon, or why or sweet pets can’t live as long as we do. There is a lot of joy and happiness in this world, but there is also a lot of sadness. It is easy during these times to question God, to ask him a million “why’s?”…but we have to remember that it is all part of God’s plan, and that He will bring beauty out of the sadness that you are enduring.

At the beginning of this year we lost our sweet pup Lulu. She had been with us since I was in 2nd grade, so she was definitely old in age. However, she was still full of life. She loved being outside and always wanted to be wherever we were. It all happened so quickly over Christmas she was perfectly fine and within the matter of days her health began to take a turn for the worst. On January 2nd, Lulu got to cross the rainbow bridge, and while we were all glad she was no longer in pain, our hearts were broken. Pets become like family, and when one of them is lost it leaves a whole in your heart that will never be filled.

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This past weekend my sisters and I went to visit where she was buried. I had been hesitant to visit it, because I knew it would break my heart into a million pieces. However when we walked over, I saw such a beautiful sight. There had never been many flowers that grew on that hillside, but all around there were tons of little purple wildflowers. It was beautiful, and instead of crying, I smiled because I thought “how is it that in sadness, God always finds a way to bring out the beauty in it”.

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Throughout our lives here on Earth we will endure a lot of sadness, because death does exist and with death comes loss. But God does not allow us to feel this way because He wants to hurt us, He knows that it is all part of His plan and that one day something beautiful will come from it. It may not be weeks after, or even months after but it will.

“Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” -Psalm 30:5

So, if you are currently going through a time of sadness remember this verse. There may be an aching in your heart that will last, but one day the weeping will be over and joy will come. God will make something beautiful out of the sadness, you just have to be patient. He is with you through the happiness and the sadness, and He will never let you down.

-Taylor Johns

 

Ohana

Devotionals

“Ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” -Lilo and Stitch

This is one of my all time favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies. In the movie, Lilo took a chance on Stitch, and even though he was different, she loved him and accepted him into their family. When things got hard, Lilo never gave up or left Stitch behind, she supported him and believed in him when no one else did. I have remembered this quote as I have gone throughout my life, and it is something I hope to never to forget. When I think about this quote I not only think about how it relates to our families, but what it means to be in the family of God as well.

This is my puppy Ollie…

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A little over a year ago he became my family. Ollie is a rescue, and did not come from a purebred line of dogs. As you can see he has some different colorings on his ears (and what you can’t see is his cute little overbite). He is not perfect, but in my eyes he is beautiful. I strive to give him the life he deserves, and to teach him what it truly means to be loved. He may be different and he may make mistakes, but that does not make me love him any less. I accepted him into my family, just as Lilo accepted Stitch into hers, and just as God accepted us into His. Just as I strive to give Ollie the best life, God does the same for us! This life was one of the greatest gifts He gave us, and He wants us to enjoy it and along the way find the true meaning of love through Him.

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We are all one big family under God. He loves each of us the same and will never leave us behind or forget us when things get tough. He is there to support us and guide us through whatever comes our way. Not only will He support us, but He wants us to support each other as well. In being brothers and sisters in Christ we need to look for ways to lift each other up and be a light in the dark times. We all make mistakes, and we all are going to have bad days and that is totally okay! Forgive your siblings in Christ just as you would your actual siblings. Love your siblings in Christ as well. Jesus was the perfect example of what love should be, he truly loved everyone no matter their past, their looks, or their background. He just loved, and this is how we should be as well.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”-Matthew 22:39

Making mistakes doe not make God love you any less either. We are human, and mistakes are going to happen! God will believe in you, when no one else does. When you are feeling left behind or forgotten, talk to Him. He will be ready and eager to listen to whatever you have to say. Just like a real father, He will support you and guide you. The path he guides you down may not always make sense in the beginning, but it will in the end.

“I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name.” -Isaiah 49:16

I know that it is so easy to feel alone, but you have God as your heavenly father and a huge family in Christ that you can turn to. Don’t feel like that because of your mistakes or because you may be different that God will love you any less. He will accept you into His family with open arms, just as I accepted Ollie into mine. In the family of God you are loved, supported, and never left behind or forgotten.

-Taylor Johns