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

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

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

 

 

Beautiful

Devotionals

Beautiful… There are many words to describe my little sister Elle, but this is definitely one. Not only is she beautiful on the outside but on the inside as well. This past weekend I had the pleasure of getting her ready for her 7th grade Winter Formal. As I was getting her all fixed up, some of the things she was saying about her self broke my heart. As she talked about her insecurities, I couldn’t help but look at her and think how in the world she could have them, because she was nothing short of beautiful. That is exactly how God sees us every time we are insecure about something….

“We are God’s Masterpiece.” -Ephesians 2:20

The teenage years are something we all know is rough. Either you are going through it now or you have “been there done that”. Whatever the case may be, we know that these years sometimes seemed like they may never end. While they are some of the best years of our lives, they also are years in which we struggle with who we are. The years that we constantly looked to society as an example of what we should look like and because of that, our self esteem was damaged. Now, you don’t have to be a teen to experience insecurities, it happens to everyone no matter what age, but what if we started teaching kids at a younger age about a God that loves them and made them to be exactly who they are?

IMG_8197My beautiful little sister.

I have struggled with insecurities from the time I was very young. I always had a bad body image, and still struggle with it today (I would love to share my story on this in another post).  Learning to be confident in myself and who God made me to be is something I am still learning how to do. With having 3 little sisters, my main goal is to get to a point where I am confident and can help them feel that way as well. I never want them to feel unloved or unworthy or not beautiful because God made them each so special in their own unique way. I try to encourage them every single day, and this is what we should be doing with everyone! If you have younger siblings, kids etc. I encourage you to tell them something positive about themselves every day. Let them know that you not only see them as special, but that God does to.

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made”. Psalm 139:14

It is okay to not be like every one  else! God made us all different for a reason! He has a special purpose for each and every one of His children and He also sees beauty in us all. As the verse says above, we are his masterpieces! Think of how you would feel if someone was constantly tearing down something you had spent so much time creating? This past week I have been working on being more positive and confident in who I am. Aubrie Patrick, one of the sweet girls I am blessed to know through Lane of Roses, came up with an activity that I have been doing, and would love for you to participate in as well. Here is how it works:

~Cut out some hearts on a plain white sheet of paper.

~Each time you have a thought about an insecurity that is not truthful, write something that is truthful and that comes from God on the heart. This can be as simple as a word or a bible verse.

~Tape the heart to your mirror so that you are reminded everyday that God made you beautiful and He made you to do great things!

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This week I challenge you all to do this activity, practice more self love, and practice loving others more as well. My goal is to be a light to not only my little sisters, but to everyone when it comes to a positive self image. The devil will try his best to whisper lies in your ear everyday, but we have to know who we belong to, and that is God! We are His masterpiece and we were made to be wonderful.

“Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant, or insecure, remember to whom you belong.” -Ephesians 2:19-22

-Taylor Johns