God Is In Control

Devotionals

It has been a while since I wrote a devotional post, and I think now more than ever it is definitely needed. In the span of a few short weeks the world has seemed to turn upside down. We are in the midst of a global pandemic, and it is scary. Not only is the situation at hand frightening, but fear of the unknown is as well. I know it keeps many of you up at night, as it does myself. Something that has helped me the past few days is focusing on the fact that God is in control.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the Earth.” Psalm 46:10

We may never know the reasoning for everything that is going on, but God has a purpose for it. During this crisis it is so easy to get caught up in the news and everything else going on that we forget to turn our hearts to the one that can help us the most. It may seem like everything is out of control, but God is working in great and mysterious ways. He wants to hear from you and he wants to take care of your worries.

My mom recently wrote a blog post that I would love for you all to read. In part of the post she talks about the importance of prayer. I cannot stress to you enough how important this really is, especially in a time like this. We need to come together as a nation and lift this world up in prayer. Take a little time out of each day to pray for your loved ones, your community, your governors, president and other countries as well. We may not be able to control the situation at hand, but prayer is one of the biggest things we can do to help.

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“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

Another important thing to remember is to focus on the things you can control, instead of what you can’t. Like I mentioned, we can’t control a lot right now but we can control how often we pray and the precautions we take to keep ourselves safe during this time. I encourage you to stay home as much as you can and take this time to bond with your families, get some work done, or even pick up a new hobby!

I know it all seems like chaos, but in the midst of it all God is our light. He is in control, and we can find peace in this. When you are overcome with worry, pray to Him. This is a scary time in our nation, but we will get through this and I have all the faith in the world that God will deliver us out of these times into better days. I am praying for each and everyone of you!

-Taylor J

Welcoming 2020

Lifestyle

I honestly can’t believe that in a few short days we will be welcoming not only a new year, but a whole new decade.  2019 was one for the books. I’m not gonna lie it really had me in the first half and I began to think I’d never make it through, but things quickly turned around and it turned into my favorite year yet.

This year has taught me so much about life, people, and myself. I learned that life isn’t always going to go your way and that’s okay. One of the hardest things I had to learn how to do is to let go and let God. I have to accept the fact that His plans for my life are way greater than any plans I could make for myself. Getting to experience His blessings and some of His plans for my life this year has been nothing short of amazing.

The lessons that I have learned this year have made me so strong, and while they were painful, I am so thankful. I learned that people aren’t always who you think they are in the beginning. People can put on a mask, but once their real colors start to show that is when you have to be careful and sadly I failed to do so. I cared too much and gave too much time and energy when I shouldn’t have. I got my heart shattered and was left so broken. While at first I thought it was the worst thing that could’ve happened I quickly learned that it was the best. I did not need anyone in my life that was going to leave me feeling any less than loved and worthy everyday.

I felt what I needed to feel, I picked myself up and I was determined to be the strongest and happiest version of myself that I could be. I learned to love myself more and more each day. I knew I was a little broken, but I accepted that and let it make me stronger. For the first time I was living life for myself and not for someone else. I went out, I had fun, and I did things that made me smile from ear to ear. I finally felt free and happiness was written all over my face. Little did I know that God had something big planned for me this year…

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In August I met the love of my life. Out of all the blessings I received this year he is truly my biggest one. I thank God every single day for sending him to me at the perfect time in my life. He made everything I have ever been through feel worth it. All the pain, tears, and heartache were all worth it and I would go through it all a million times if I knew he would always be the end result. Not only did I gain one of the sweetest humans in my life, but I gained a second family as well. His family never fails to make me feel welcome and they love me like their own.

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I am so excited to welcome 2020 with open arms. I get to take on a whole new decade with someone who loves me for everything that I am and who is my absolute best friend. I get to learn more about myself, experience new things with my family, and will be closer to graduating college. There is so many exciting things in the decade to come and I can’t wait to see what God has planned. Let’s make this the best decade yet.

Goodbye 2019… thank you for the memories, lessons learned, and blessings you have given me.

-Taylor J

5 Ways To Give Back During The Holidays

Lifestyle

With the holiday season quickly approaching, I wanted to talk about some ways you can give back during this time! The holidays can get so busy between buying gifts, cooking, family, and planning that we often forget how hard this season is for so many people, not only all over the world, but in our hometowns as well. There are many different ways to give back but these are a few simple ones:

1.) Donate to a food bank.

Many churches, schools, and stores will have food banks around this time of year. This is where you purchase certain food items that will be donated to a family in need. If there are not any places doing a food bank in your area you can even start one of your own!

2.) Participate in/host a toy drive.

Toy Drives during Christmas are great to be a part of. You can purchase toys or even donate toys to the drive. The kids are truly so thankful for any contribution and it helps make their Christmas special.

3.) Donate items to a local homeless shelter and/or animal shelter.

This is the time of year where temperatures drop and many people and animals are in need of clothes/blankets to keep them warm. You can donate things like jackets, scarves, gloves, and socks to the homeless shelter and things such as blankets to the animal shelter.

4.) Volunteer (churches, shelters, nursing homes, etc.)

Since this time of the year is extremely busy it is great to offer your help wherever it may be needed!

5.) Spend quality time with loved ones.

This one is simple, but it’s so important. You can give back to your loved ones by simply giving them your time and attention.

I encourage you to at least give back in one or more of these ways over the holiday season. Giving back will not only make someone else’s day, but its a feeling you will never forget as well.

-Taylor Johns

Trust His Timing

Devotionals

Something that I have slowly begun to learn is that God’s timing is always perfect. Now, this is definitely not an easy concept to grasp, especially when we are going through rough times in life. Many events that have occurred in my life I have sat and wondered why they had to happen in the first place. Certain events broke me, crushed my spirits, and left me without hope. A few months ago I was in one of the worst head spaces I have ever been in. I truly felt defeated. With the help of my family, I got back on my feet and decided to put my full trust in God and His timing.

“Don’t mistake God’s patience for His absence. His timing is perfect and His presence is constant. He is always with you.” -Deuteronomy 3:16 

In the following months I learned to love myself for who God made me to be and felt a sense of worth that I never had before. For the first time in a long time I felt like myself again (but an even better version). I felt like God was preparing me for something great, and sure enough He was. A little over a month ago God brought my boyfriend Clay into my life. So many things had fallen apart in both of our lives but all of it led to us being able to come together. We both not only had gotten stronger from past circumstances, but we had also learned to love ourselves and therefore we were able to give the best version of ourselves to another person.

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While I didn’t understand His timing at first, as soon as I met Clay I knew everything I had gone through before was worth it. There is not a day that goes by that he does not remind me how worthy I am. He accepted me for all that I am, broken pieces included and I am so thankful for him. I am beyond glad I chose to be patient with God’s timing and how He was working in my life because if I hadn’t I may have never received one of my biggest blessings.

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I ask that in the coming weeks, whatever life throws at you be patient. Trust in Gods timing, because even if it may not seem like it, His timing will always be better than ours. The blessings that He has in store are well worth the wait. Sometimes we have to go through bad things in life to appreciate the good even more.

-Taylor Johns

 

5 Tips For Picking Yourself Back Up When You’ve Been Knocked Down

Devotionals

Life. Will. Kick. Your. Butt.

That my friends, is one of the most true statements you will ever hear. Life is beautiful and one of the greatest gifts God has given us, but sometimes it feels like nothing is going right. A little over a month ago I felt like life had truly knocked me on my face. My whole world did a flip flop and I didn’t know how I was going to get back up again. In the past few weeks I have learned ways to help pick myself back up so I wanted to share them incase any of you all are in the same boat:

  1. Let It Out– Whatever you do, do not keep your emotions bottled up. This is one of the worst things I ever did. I am here to tell you that it is 100% okay to feel. Sometimes you need to sit and cry it out, and that’s okay! Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for having emotions, it is normal I promise.
  2. Pray– Not only is God with you through the good times, but He is right by your side through the bad as well. Let him know what is on your mind and He will ease it.
  3. Focus On Things You Are Passionate About- This has helped me so much in the past couple months. Focusing my time and energy on things that I love put me in the best head space.
  4. Exercise- Not only will this focus your mind on something besides the situation you’re going through, but it actually releases “feel good” endorphins in your brain. It doesn’t have to be anything serious, in fact I recommend trying out yoga if you never have. It is so relaxing and really helps you get in tune with both your mind and your body.
  5. Get Out Of The House– I know this one may seem hard. Trust me there are plenty days where I wanted to stay in my pjs all day and binge Netflix (this is okay every now and then of course), but getting dressed up, putting makeup on, and going out helped me so much. Look good for yourself, take a few selfies, and be the most confident you that you can be.

Those are the 5 things that have been helping me the most lately, and I hope they can help those of you who made need it as well. Even though life may kick our butts sometimes, like I said it’s still beautiful. Life is meant to be enjoyed and God wants us to do just that. He knows we will endure hardships, but He is right there to help us through every single one. When life knocks us down it is hard to see the good in things, but we have to have faith that things will get better because I promise, they will. As the verse below says, we have to walk by faith and not by sight. Things may not always be looking up in life, but God is working in ways that can’t be seen and we have to trust that.

“I will walk by faith even when I cannot see.”-2 Corinthians 5:7 

So, if life has got you down lately try these tips and see if they help. Remember that you are a son/daughter of the king of all kings and you deserve everything that this beautiful life has to offer. The struggles we endure are part of what make this life so beautiful, because many times beautiful things bloom out of disaster. Keep your head up and know that you always have a hand to hold.

-Taylor Johns

Accepting Change

Devotionals

I want to start off by saying I am so sorry that it has been such a long time since I last posted, but I’m happy to be back. The past month of my life has been one full of changes and I’m not going to lie, at first I was terrified. I have always been someone who is scared of change. Once I get comfortable and in a routine I don’t want anything to mess it up. I had to quickly realize that change has to happen in order for you to grow to be exactly who God intended for you to be.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord. Whose confidence is in Him.” -Jeremiah 17:7

You see, when things don’t work out in our lives it’s not because God is trying to punish us. He instead is in the process of opening new doors in our lives and because of that He has to close others that aren’t helping us grow. I didn’t want to accept the change in my life and for a few days I was angry at God. I thought I had it all together and had my life figured out, but He showed me that His plans are greater. Over the past few weeks I have learned to accept the changes that have taken place in my life, and I could not be happier. Once I started to see it as a blessing rather than a heart ache my whole perspective changed.

(My sweet nana & I, something that has been so helpful through this process of change is spending time with family, in a season of change surround yourself with people who will help you through it.)

I am learning so much about myself in this process. I have learned that for years I broke my own heart by accepting love that was not what I deserved. I became a version of myself that I never wanted to be, but now I am truly glowing. God has shown me my worth and what I deserve and I believe that I would not have realized either one of those things without change. I would have been stuck in the same downward spiral for the rest of my life.

I know change isn’t easy to accept, but if you don’t like the way life is going right now it is something that has to happen! Pray that God will show you the path for your life and allow Him to help change the negative parts of your life that are hindering you from your true purpose. I was worried that the person I became after this change was not going to be someone I liked, but turns out it’s someone I love. Not only have I realized the love I should have for myself, but others around me have noticed the positive effect change has had on me as well. It is so refreshing to hear people say that I look truly happy and full of life, because that is something I haven’t heard in the longest time.

Change may not always be what we want at first, but God will always show you that it is for the better and all a part of His plan. So accept it, trust it, and let Him guide you. Say this prayer with me, “Lord, I thank you for how you are working in my life and the changes you are bringing. While I may not understand now, I know I will eventually and that these changes will shape me into the person you know I can be. Thank you for being the light that guides me down these new and unfamiliar paths, I will follow you and trust you. Amen.”

-Taylor Johns

Through It All

Devotionals

These past few days have single handedly been some of the hardest of my life. I’ve experienced heartbreak like never before and to be quite honest I’ve thought in my head multiple times “God I dont know how I am ever going to get through this.” I’m feeling broken, defeated, and unmotivated but I find peace in knowing that while everything in our lives may not remain constant, God always does.

My parents have been through a lot in the span of their lives, but over the years they learned that through it all if you keep your eyes on God anything can be made new again. This is the advice they have given to me in the past few days and I could not be more thankful for it. They have been an example to me that good can come from the pain and the hurt.

At first, I was angry at God. I was angry at him that He would let me feel this much pain when I thought I had it all figured out. I never imagined my whole world would be turned upside down this week as it was. I look at my parents and not only see my support system but I see an example of how Gods plans are always greater than our own, and that if things are meant to be they will be. It may take time, but if you keep your eyes and heart focused on God he will show you the way.

As for me right now, my heart is aching but I know that this pain is not for nothing. God has plans and this is is way of telling me that I need to grow and learn more about myself in order to reveal his true purpose for me. I know this won’t be easy, but through it all I will keep my eyes on Him.

“It Is Well” by Bethel Music has always been one of my favorite worship songs because the lyrics are so beautiful. “Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on you”. My friends I ask for prayer as I go through this hard time, as I will be praying for those of you who may be experiencing the same. It will all be well, we just have to keep our eyes on Him through it all.

-Taylor Johns

The Storms of Life

Devotionals

Storms are something that have always amazed me. I have always wondered how they can cause so much destruction, but also be so intriguing and beautiful. When it comes to our everyday life we can experience a lot of storms, but they may not always appear to be so beautiful. I often find my self questioning if these storms are even necessary. Nevertheless, God always answers my question with “of course”.

Whatever storm has or is tearing through your life is doing so for a purpose. Wether your storm be a loss, financial trouble, physical health, mental health etc. I promise that this storm has a purpose to serve, and once it passes that purpose will be revealed. It’s easy to see the ugly in the storm. The dark gloomy clouds, the debris, the damage…but what’s not so easy to see is how beautiful the sky looks when the lightening illuminates it, or the glisten of the ground after the rain has fallen on it. My friend, just as the lightening illuminates the sky, the lightening of your storm illuminates how strong and beautiful you are.

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You may feel weak, tired, and ready to give up but remember…storms always pass. These storms in your life are a chance for you to grow. The growing process may be hard and it can be devastating but you will come out so much stronger in the end. Take each day one step at a time. It’s okay to feel scared and sad and so much more. Feel those things and feel them deeply. Share your heart with God, share your concerns and fears with God. Ask Him to show you the purpose behind your storm and be patient in His reply.

If you are experiencing a storm in your life right now, it may be hard to see through the dark clouds, but good things are coming. This is a promise that he made in the Bible:

“God promises to make something good out of the storms that bring devastation to your life.”-Romans 8:28

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We also have to remember that everyone is going through storms in life the timing may just not be the same as ours. I encourage you to be the sunshine in someone else’s storm. If you have a friend or family member or even a complete stranger that is going through a hard time build them up and pray for them. Shine some light into their darkness and remind them that their storm will pass.

-Taylor Johns

Healthy Mindset

Devotionals

Happy Monday! I used to dread Monday’s, and every now and then I still do. However, instead of looking at them in a bad light, I look at them as a new start. A start to a new week and a chance to start new habits. One of my goals lately has been keeping up with a healthy lifestyle. I tend to forget that not only does this mean getting my body healthy, but my mind as well. Having a healthy mindset has always been hard for me. Surprisingly it is a lot easier to get your body healthy than your mind. Our minds are one of the most powerful tools we have and if we don’t use it for good it can really harm us.

A lot of times when I wake up in the morning, I don’t wake up with a cheerful heart and mind like I should. I automatically start thinking negative thoughts. I am sure many of you all can relate to this as well. This is a bad habit I would like to change and this Monday was the perfect time for me to start a new one. I have been wanting to start waking up earlier, so last night I set my alarm and was ready to wake up bright and early. Well, come alarm time I must have turned it off because instead of waking up at 8:30, I woke up at 10:30. Instead of beating myself up for turning off my alarm or being angry that I slept most of the morning, I said “You know what it’s all going to be okay, I got some extra rest, I’m thankful to be alive another day, and I’m going to have a great day”.

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You see, things aren’t always going to go right. You may wake up late, or mess something up and that is just life. We can’t let small inconveniences ruin our whole day. If we start the day and the week with a cheerful mind and a cheerful heart it makes these inconveniences a lot easier to handle. It will be easier to recognize them for exactly what they are (minor inconveniences) and to move on from them.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine.”-Proverbs 17:22

Let’s start thinking more positive thoughts than we do negative. It’s a new day and a new week, so you have a chance to start fresh. Having a healthy mindset needs to be at the top of your to-do list, and I am so glad I have put it at the top of mine. I’ve realized that if my mind is healthy it will aid in getting my body healthy. A cheerful heart means a cheerful mind, so let’s work on getting our hearts and minds in the right place.

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Here are a few things to kick start a healthy mindset: 

-Start the day with positive thoughts instead of negative ones

-Don’t let minor inconveniences ruin your whole day

-Be kind to yourself, and to others

-Cheerful heart, cheerful mind

Say this prayer with me to start off your week,

Jesus, thank you for this fresh start. I ask for your guidance as I practice a healthy mindset. Let my heart be cheerful as it will be medicine to my mind. Give me patience to handle the inconveniences in my life. Thank you for the mind that you have given me, I promise to use it for good. Help me Lord to recognize when the devil is trying to get in my mind, and allow me the strength to overcome it. I thank you and I love you, Amen.

-Taylor Johns

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