Repost: Giving Thanks in Everything

Thanksgiving is here, and, to most of us Americans, that means turkey dinners, a couple I’m-thankful-for statements, the Macy’s Day parade, and football. It’s easy to be thankful when there’s a giant turkey on the table with all the trimmings, family and friends gathered around in a jolly mood, and your favorite team is winning on the big screen. But what about when there’s no pumpkin pie, fuzzy feelings, or smiling faces? What happens then?

In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he gives his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ some final instructions before closing. He says this in 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Did you see that? Give thanks in all circumstances.

But wait a second there, Paul, you may say. Are you sure about that? Giving thanks in ALL circumstances? What about when my grandma dies or I have to move to another state? What about when my grades are low and my best friend just starts hating on me for no reason? You want me to be thankful when everything is, well falling apart and going downhill?

Yes, actually. That is what Paul is saying.

More Than A Hiding Place by Emily S. Smith chronicles the story of a woman who lived during World War II in Haarlem, the Netherlands. This woman’s name was Corrie ten Boom. The daughter of a watchmaker, Corrie loved Jesus with all of her heart. When WWII came to her country, she and her family helped many Jews escape the clutches of the Nazis (I actually got to visit Corrie’s house and saw where they hid the Jews!). Sadly, the ten Boom family was caught by the Nazis. Corrie and her sister Betsie punished by being sent to a concentration camp, Ravensbrück.

The barracks where the women in the camp slept were filthy and crowded. Lice was a big problem amongst the prisoners. One day, Corrie complained to Betsie about their living conditions. And do you want to know what Betsie said?

“You must thank God for everything, even for the lice.”

And guess what? Those lice are the one thing that kept the German guards from searching the barracks. Therefore, Betsie and Corrie could hide a tiny Bible that they used to hold Bible studies twice a week in the barracks, even though the Bible was forbidden. The women of Ravensbrück found hope in the Word and studied it eagerly. It was then that Corrie learned to be thankful for even the lice.

Give thanks for everything. Isn’t it beautiful that a woman who’s been through so much can give thanks for a thing such as lice in the filthy barracks of a concentration camp?

Give thanks for everything. Give thanks in all circumstances. Two radical challenges in today’s world.

This Thanksgiving, I want to challenge all of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to give thanks for everything no matter the circumstances. To adopt an attitude of thanksgiving for all we’ve been richly blessed with, though it may not seem like it at the time. Turkey or no turkey, great circumstances or not-so-great ones, let us all take Paul’s instruction and follow Corrie’s lead.

It’s God’s will for us in Christ Jesus, after all.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever.”

2 Chronicles 20:21

Be sure to check back next week for some more of my thoughts on thankfulness and for practical tips on cultivating a life full of gratitude, even after Thanksgiving! In the meantime, I want to know… What are you thankful for?

This Changes Everything By Jaquelle Crowe Book Review

As an avid reader of The Rebelution, I’ve heard so many good things about This Changes Everything by Jaquelle Crowe. Once I found it at a Christian bookstore, I couldn’t help but buy it straight away. Here are my thoughts on this impressive little book!

My Rating: Four Shining Stars

Back Cover Blurb…

Image result for This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years

The teen years have been hijacked—by fashion, music, movies, and games; by the pressures of school, peers, and society; and by superficial expectations set by the world. But there is something more glorious than all these influences that has the power to change the life of a teenager: the gospel.

Written by a teenager for teenagers, This Changes Everything is a deeply theological yet practical and accessible book on how the gospel radically transforms every aspect of the teen years, including pursuing relationships, managing time, combating personal sin, and cultivating healthy habits. In a culture awash with low expectations for young people, this book exhorts teenagers to embrace a gospel-centered perspective on their lives and pursue wholehearted devotion to Christ now.

Buy This Changes Everything on Amazon ~ View This Changes Everything on Goodreads

What I Loved…

The challenge it presented the reader. It simply can’t be possible for one to read this book and not be challenged in some way. Each chapter led to deep questions and a hard look at one’s life. The Gospel really does change everything. The question this book asks is will you let it change you? 

The points Jaquelle touched on. Jaquelle touched on eight major areas of our lives that the Gospel changes: our lives, stories, communities, sin, disciplines, growth, time, and relationships. I’m so glad that all of these had a chapter to themselves. My favorite chapters were the ones on time and disciplines, although all of them were top notch!

The writing style. Jaquelle’s writing style made this book easy to read. The stories, examples, and lists that she provided made everything easy to understand and remember. It wasn’t like reading one big sermon–it was more like reading a letter from a friend. A letter with really good advice, that is!

What I Didn’t Love…

Where was baptism? I believe that baptism is a very important part of the Gospel. I was shocked to not find it in this book! I can’t recall a time when Jaquelle talked about baptism’s significance, or what it had to do with the Gospel message. In the Gospels themselves, we see Jesus get baptized (Mark 1:9-11) by John the Baptist. Jesus commissioned His disciples to not only make disciples, but to baptize those disciples in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). In Acts 2:38 (emphasis mine), after Pentecost, Peter tells people to,” Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”

I could go on with examples, but the point I want to make is this: All over the rest of the New Testament, all over the Gospels, there is baptism. Within the Gospel message that the Apostles delivered, there is baptism. Obviously, baptism is integral to the Gospel message and important to Jesus. Therefore, baptism should be important to us.

Overall…

This is a book that I would definitely recommend to all of my fellow teens. It’s not just a book that one can label as “read” and walk away from. It’s a book that challenges you to live all out for Jesus, because the Gospel changes everything. Now that’s a book that we all, teen or not, desperately need today.

About The Author…

Jaquelle Crowe

Jaquelle Crowe (BA, Thomas Edison State University) is a young writer from eastern Canada. She’s the lead writer and editor-in-chief of TheRebelution.com and a contributor to the Gospel Coalition, desiringGod.org, and Unlocking the Bible. Her first book is This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years.

Jaquelle’s Website ~ FaceBook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram

Have you read This Changes Everything? What is one of the most challenging books you’ve read?

Giving Thanks in Everything

Thanksgiving is here, and, to the average American, that means turkey dinners, a couple I’m-thankful-for statements, the Macy’s Day parade, and football. It’s easy to be thankful when there’s a giant turkey on the table with all the trimmings, family and friends gathered around in a jolly mood, and your favorite team is winning on the big screen. But what about when there’s no pumpkin pie, fuzzy feelings, or smiling faces? What happens then?

In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he gives his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ some final instructions before closing. He says this in 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Did you see that? Give thanks in all circumstances.

But wait a second there, Paul, you may say. Are you sure about that? Giving thanks in ALL circumstances? What about when my grandma dies or I have to move to another state? What about when my grades are low and my best friend just starts hating on me for no reason? You want me to be thankful when everything is, well falling apart and going downhill?

Yes, actually. That is what Paul is saying.

More Than A Hiding Place by Emily S. Smith chronicles the story of a woman who lived during World War II in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Her name was Corrie ten Boom. The daughter of a watchmaker, Corrie loved Jesus with all of her heart. When WWII came to her country, she and her family helped many Jews escape the clutches of the Nazis (I actually got to visit her house and saw where they hid the Jews!). Sadly, the ten Boom family was caught.  Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to a concentration camp, Ravensbrück.

The barracks where the women in the camp slept were filthy and crowded. Lice was a big problem amongst the prisoners. One day, Corrie complained to Betsie about their living conditions. And do you want to know what Betsie said?

“You must thank God for everything, even for the lice.”

And guess what? Those lice are the one thing that kept the German guards from searching the barracks. Therefore, Betsie and Corrie could hide a tiny Bible that they used to hold Bible studies twice a week in the barracks, even though the Bible was forbidden. The women of Ravensbrück found hope in the Word and studied it eagerly. It was then that Corrie learned to be thankful for even the lice.

Give thanks for everything. Isn’t it beautiful that a woman who’s been through so much can give thanks in the filthy barracks of a concentration camp?

Give thanks for everything. Give thanks in all circumstances. Two radical challenges in today’s world.

This Thanksgiving, I want to challenge all of my fellow teens to give thanks for everything no matter the circumstances. To adopt an attitude of thanksgiving for all we’ve been richly blessed with, though it may not seem like it at the time. Turkey or no turkey, great circumstances or not-so-great ones, let us all take Paul’s instruction and follow Corrie’s lead.

It’s God’s will for us in Christ Jesus, after all.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever.”

2 Chronicles 20:21

What are five unlikely things that you are thankful for?

IT’S INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY!

IT’S INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY!

It’s International Literacy Day today! Can you imagine not being able to read or write? I certainly can’t! Yet the sad reality is that millions of people in poverty are illiterate. Why is literacy so important? There are so many reasons that literacy is important, but I’m going to give you three.

For one, literacy is important because it helps people unlock their full potential. 

So many people are kept in the clutches of poverty simply because they cannot read or write. Without literacy, they cannot get better jobs to support themselves and their families. And without better jobs, many families find themselves unable to send their children to school, which contributes to the cycle of illiteracy. Literacy is important not only for individuals caught in this cycle, but also whole societies. 

Literacy helps people unlock their full potential and rise above this cycle. Let’s look at the United States for example. Back in the day, when colonists were coming from Europe to the New World, they put an emphasis on education for the common people. They broke the mold of illiteracy that had been the social norm in Europe. And guess what? America grew to be a strong, prosperous nation with many citizens that have made an impact on the world today. That’s the power of a good education, my friends.

Secondly, literacy is important because it brings joy and helps people dream

Can you imagine not being able to pick up a book and read? Not knowing how to write your own name? Looking at this blog post and wondering what in the world all of these letters meant? Think of all of the joy from reading and writing that would be taken away! Think of all of the places you wouldn’t visit through reading, the people you wouldn’t meet, the things you wouldn’t learn. Think of the dreams that wouldn’t be there… Imagine all of the kids who don’t have the joy and the dreams that we have all because they can’t read or write. It’s heartbreaking to me, an avid reader and writer. I have a hard time imagining this reality.

Not only that, but literacy helps decrease the risk of human trafficking and exploitation. Have you noticed something? Poverty is something that greatly contributes to illiteracy. But armed with literacy, people in poverty can rise above the risks that come from human trafficking and exploitation. They can better themselves with literacy, which in turn can help get them out of poverty. I could go on about this, friends.


That’s the power of words in a nutshell. So now what can we do? How can we help break the chains of illiteracy? For one, we can join together and pray. Pray that people all over the world will be able to gain literacy skills. Prayer is one of the most important things we can join together in.

Secondly, we can help break the cycle of poverty that also keeps people mired in illiteracy. Great Christian organizations such as Compassion International and Amazima Ministries help educate children not only to read and write, but also provide material needs (such as food and medical attention) and, most importantly, the Gospel. Supporting ministries such as these helps educate children and breaks this cycle of poverty and illiteracy.

These are just some of the ways we can break the cycle of illiteracy. Let’s go change the world, my friends. ❤

Below is a list of the sources I used while writing this blog post: 
Compassion International “International Literacy Day” https://www.compassion.com/world-days/international-literacy-day.htm
Compassion International “Effects of Poverty on Children” https://www.compassion.com/poverty/effects-of-poverty-on-children.htm 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Do you have any ideas as to how we can help stomp out illiteracy?   

Guest Post By Tessa Emily Hall: Can Our “Imperfections” Further Our God-Given Calling?

Guest Post By Tessa Emily Hall: Can Our “Imperfections” Further Our God-Given Calling?
I’m super excited to be hosting Tessa Emily Hall of Christ Is Write here on Notebooks and Novels today! Her next first devotional for teens, Coffee Shop Devos, releases next month, and I cannot WAIT to get my hands on a copy! =D 
About Coffee Shop Devos

There’s something special about spending time at a coffee shop with a friend–engaging in a meaningful conversation, then leaving refueled and ready to tackle the rest of the day. What if your quiet times with God energized you the same way?

Coffee Shop Devos offers a warm atmosphere that will inspire you to discover your God-given purpose and live to your greatest potential. Choose your devo flavor in the Menu of Contents based on your current need. Then lean into deeper intimacy with Christ through reflection and prayer. Along the way, you’ll pick up tips and recipes for making your own coffee-shop beverage–regular or decaf–to enjoy while you read. And don’t forget to share your journey with your friends! #CoffeeShopDevos

Each of the 180 challenging and motivational devotions will leave you feeling refreshed and reinvigorated–almost as though you’ve shared a steaming pot of brew at a coffee shop with your Creator.

Click here to pre-order Coffee Shop Devos on Amazon.
Click here to mark Coffee Shop Devos as “to read” on Goodreads.

Doesn’t it look fantastic? I’m excited to get to read it! =D But for now, I’m happy to get to read this lovely guest post that Tessa wrote. It’s not only encouraging, but it is also a challenge for us to discover who God made us to be and what He put us on this earth to do. I’m excited to get to share this with you all! =) Happy reading! 

Have you ever felt different from others your age? Maybe you’re not into the same hobbies your friends are into. Perhaps you’re not as social, don’t have as many followers on social media, or don’t care about shopping.

This is how I felt in middle and high school. Like I stood out. Like I was the only introverted girl my age—the only one who preferred to stay at home on the weekends and write rather than hang out with friends.

I felt like something was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I fit in?

The thing is–I didn’t want to fit in. I didn’t want to become someone that I wasn’t just so I could receive acceptance. Yet even this made me feel as though I needed to be “fixed”.

It wasn’t until I grew closer in my relationship with Christ that my desire to receive approval from man began to fade. It wasn’t until then that the truth laid out in Psalms 139:13-16–which says that every detail of myself was selected with a purpose–that I began to accept who I am. And during this time, I had a realization:

My “imperfections”–what I once thought were flaws–are actually the very traits God will use to further my calling. 
You see, the enemy doesn’t want me to love who I am. Instead, he wants me to resent the very aspects about myself that God views as beautiful. Why? Because he wants me to refrain from embracing my potential and pursuing my calling. A calling that could result in the furthering of God’s Kingdom. 
But now that I’ve learned this tactic, I can allow God to transform these “flaws” into strengths. Just as He originally intended. No, not even so I can gain human acceptance–but so I can play my role in building the Body of Christ. So I can tap into my fullest potential and pursue my calling.
Does this mean perhaps God created each of us in a way that could aid us in pursuing our unique path? Does this mean He gave us our personality, strengths, gifts, desires—and, yes, quirks—for a reason?
I believe so. I believe He purposely crafted each us differently so we could contribute to the work of His Body (The Church) in various ways. He wants to send His message throughout the ends of the earth, and we are His hands and His feet (1 Corin. 12:12). The way He formed us is directly correlated with how He wants us to further His ministry on earth.
What I once viewed as a weakness — being introverted — was actually a God-given strength to help me fulfill my calling: writing. If I wasn’t an introvert then I wouldn’t have the ability to stay quiet and observe in a social setting. I would also probably go crazy if I had to stay at home and write for hours on end!
What is it God has called you to pursue? You might not know the entire picture, but perhaps you have an understanding how you’re different. You’re familiar with your personality type. You understand your various strengths and interests. What if these unique facets that make up you are arrows pointing you toward your unique calling—or at least hints that could give you a glimpse into what He might want you to accomplish on this earth?
My challenge to youSpend time with God today. Ask Him to help you accept every part of who you are–yes, even the “flaws”. Then, see if He reveals ways you can begin to tap into your potential and pursue your unique path.

About Tessa

Tessa Emily Hall is an award-winning author who writes inspirational yet authentic books to show teens they’re not alone. Her first teen devotional, COFFEE SHOP DEVOS, will release with Bethany House September 2018. Tessa’s passion for shedding light on clean entertainment and media for teens led her to a career as an Associate Agent for Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA (LPC Imprint), and Founder/Editor of PURSUE Magazine. She’s guilty of making way too many lattes and never finishing her to-read list. When her fingers aren’t flying 116 WPM across the keyboard, she can be found speaking to teens, decorating art journals, and acting in Christian films. Her favorite way to procrastinate is by connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website: www.tessaemilyhall.com.

Visit Tessa on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook and subscribe to her mailing list

What is one of your “imperfections” that could be pointing to your God-given calling? What’s your favorite coffee shop drink? 

A Very BIG Announcement!

I have big news people. Big, ginormous, humungous news. Drumroll, please…

I WON THE ONE TEEN STORY WRITING CONTEST!!!

*insert confetti, fireworks, and my screaming here* 

My short story “Dear Jamie, Love Rory” won the 13-15 age category in One Teen Story’s writing contest! You can read the announcement here. And here’s a snippet (the same one from the announcement post):

“I hate that I had to sing happy birthday to a blurry figure on a screen that looks like you, but at the same time, with his buzz cut and camouflage…Doesn’t.”

So, dear readers, “Dear Jamie, Love Rory” is going to be PUBLISHED IN AN ISSUE OF ONE TEEN STORY!!! I am SO excited and blessed! God is so good! I am extremely honored to have won, and I would like to congratulate the other winners and thank everyone at One Story for this opportunity. I can’t wait for you all to meet Jamie and Rory in “Dear Jamie, Love Rory.” =) 

Also, happy early Easter, everyone! ❤ I hope that you all have a great Easter weekend! 


P.S. I know this is a short announcement, but don’t worry, I will have a regular post coming next week. =) 

Girl Defined Book Review

Who knew that March was National Women’s History Month? Certainly not me! At least, not until my cousin sent me a sweet text and reminded me. =) And now that I know that March is National Women’s History Month, I want to share with you all one of my favorite books on Biblical womanhood: Girl Defined by Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird. Warning: You might be surprised as to how radical this book is.
My Rating: Four and a Half Stars out of Five
Back Cover Blurb (Taken From Amazon)

In a culture where airbrushed models and career-driven women define beauty and success, it’s no wonder we have a distorted view of femininity. Our impossible standards place an incredible burden of stress on the backs of women and girls of all ages, resulting in anxiety, eating disorders, and depression. One question we often forget to ask is this: What is God’s design for womanhood?

In Girl Defined, sisters and popular bloggers Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird offer women a countercultural view of beauty, femininity, and self-worth. Based firmly in God’s design for their lives, this book helps women rethink what true success and beauty look like. It invites them on a liberating journey toward a radically better vision for femininity that ends with the discovery of the kind of hope, purpose, and fulfillment they’ve been yearning for.

My Review
It is my belief that every Christian woman should read Girl Defined. This book has truly changed my view on womanhood. At first, one of the reasons I bought Girl Defined was the pretty cover (yes, that’s how shallow I can be xD), but as I started reading, my eyes were opened to the lies about womanhood that our culture has fed me. Culture says that my womanhood doesn’t define me, that I can be whoever I want to be. But God designed us as women for a reason. 
In Girl Defined, I was introduced to the idea of women being equal in value to men but purposefully different. Women are just as important and valuable as men, but we have different purposes. Let me try to illustrate this: Just like a paintbrush and paints are equally important in an artist’s repertoire (he couldn’t paint without them!), but they both serve different purposes. It’s the same with gender. There is a purpose to our being womanhood, not some biological accident! 
Womanhood isn’t about liberation and domination. It isn’t about pink, sparkles, and tea parties. Womanhood isn’t a curse to be reversed. Womanhood defined by God is one of the most beautiful things in the world. 
Girl Defined doesn’t just touch on the topic of Biblical womanhood. It talks about romance, beauty, and identity. It’s full of incredible stories, eye-opening Biblical concepts, and plenty of encouragement. There are also some great study guides at the end of every chapter. It’s quite an easy read; I had to pace myself so I didn’t read it all in one day! =) Yet it has such a powerful and life-changing message. I encourage every woman to pick up this book with an open mind and allow God to shape her beliefs through the message it presents. Go grab your copy now! 
About the Authors (Taken From the GirlDefined Website)

Kristen Clark is married to her high school sweetheart, Zack and is the co-founder of GirlDefined Ministries. She is passionate about promoting the message of biblical womanhood through blogging, speaking around the country, mentoring young women, and hosting Bible studies in her living room. In the end, she’s just a fun-lovin Texas girl who loves all things outdoors and eats dark chocolate whenever possible.

Bethany Baird is a Texas born and raised girl doing life with her parents and seven siblings. She is the co-founder of GirlDefined Ministries and is passionate about spreading the truth of biblical womanhood through blogging, speaking and mentoring young women. To her family and close friends, she is simply a tall blonde girl who loves any form of competition, drinks way too much coffee, and can’t get enough of her little fluffy dog.

Have you read Girl Defined or any posts from the Girl Defined blog? What is one word you’d use to describe your view of womanhood? Why? How has God shaped your ideas of womanhood?