Cultivating a Healthy Relationship with Technology

I’ve made another observation lately. (I know, an observation by the blogger of Wordsmith Observations? So surprising)!

But this, my friends, was an observation I’m not entirely proud of. The observation? That the very first thing that happens in the morning is my arm reaches out, like a pre-programmed robot for my phone. The sad thing? I’ve only recently realized that’s a big problem.

In the morning, I don’t jump up and go to the window to see the refreshed morning landscape, I don’t twirl in a wildflower field like Anne of Green Gables…I don’t stretch, I don’t read, I don’t pray. No, instead I reach for something to numb the sweet morning light, and later I’m left wondering why the feeling of emptiness crowds in all around me so intrusively, no matter how many blessings I know I have in my life.

So, yesterday I chose out of necessity to ignore the screens. The moments I normally would be staring at a YouTube video, I picked up a book; and the moments I normally would be scrolling endlessly through social media feeds, I cleaned the house. I took time to think and I took time to write.

It’s funny how much time I had to be productive and get things done, when normally I’d just shrug and reason that I was just too “busy” to do this or that. As a result, of this newfound productivity, I felt less…awful. Honestly, less useless.

I mean, it’s sad to think that the creations that we were meant to use to our advantage have started to control more of our everyday life than it has given substance. So, I challenge you- and me, from this point on to be conscious of the uses of these screens and…

Place the people in your life before social media.

People are valuable and people need your support. You never know what another human may be going through, so that’s all the reason you need to give your full and undivided attention to your family members, your friends, anyone that comes along your path in life.

And…unfortunately, people are temporary. We are here today and gone tomorrow. So, enjoy every precious moment with those you love.

Take necessary precautions to remind yourself of the importance of real life.

If you’re noticing screens controlling you more than you it, there’s a problem, my friend. One precaution I’ve started to do is charging my phone in a place that is not directly next to my bed. It usually gives you time to choose real life over the virtual first thing in the morning.

Be patient with yourself.

Just because you had a day controlled by social media, doesn’t mean you should get discouraged and let the bad habit continue. Nope! We aren’t giver-uppers like that!

Old habits die hard, they say. But consciousness about a problem is key.

Realize too much screen usage encourages apathy.

What is apathy? Good ol’ Merriam Webster describes it as, “a lack of feeling or emotion, impassiveness.” or “a lack of interest or concern, indifference.”

I don’t know about you, but that is the last way I want to live my life. I want my life to be spent being a light and encouragement to all around me. That, in and of itself, demands a higher level of feeling and emotional intelligence, (not to mention motivation) unlike any other!

Being mindful of the effects of our choices is extremely important. I’ve noticed social media getting in the way of things I love the most. My faith, my family, my writing, my art. I feel like I don’t “have time” for anything, when really I would have plenty if I would place what is most important first.

Another thing apathy does is wiggle its way in front of the goals we want to accomplish in life. Or, it could be preventing goal-making to begin with! I mean, with all this time on screens who even has time to think about what they really want to be doing in life? Apathy is a pro at doing its best to prevent fulfillment and feelings of fulfillment in what we do, what we create, and who we are. It’s a pretty well-rounded villain.

A lot of the times when we wonder, “why am I feeling this empty?” it is because we are choosing what is empty.

Instead, become intrigued with life again. Start seeing the beauty in the little, in the flowers you see randomly while you are walking the streets, in the kind words exchanged by people around you, in the art of the world, and the words that poetic souls come up with.

Which leads us to our another tip to overcome this unbalanced view of media…

Use screens to your advantage, not disadvantage. 

By all means, I am not telling you that media is altogether the antagonist to your protagonist, but it will be that that way if you allow it to be!

We spend hours and hours on things that are virtually useless to us, in the long run.

And as a result of doing this, we neglect the fact that we are in an age that has a remarkable amount of resources at its fingertips. We have the freedom to grow in our knowledge or artistic capabilities, by the availability of countless videos showing tips and tricks.

If we wish to be better writers, we can go online to study vocabulary and poetic forms..If we want to become better painters, we have access to millions of videos of talented artists that give perspective on ways they’ve grown in their art! If you want to learn about history, about carpentry, about architecture…newsflash: you can.

It’s proven that some of the BEST learning is indeed done by our own want to learn, outside the classroom. So, why are we not taking advantage of this? This should be making us jump out of our seats, and yell, “YES!” But that apathy has kicked in, hasn’t it?

See, we humans are very prone to simply wanting the entertainment side of media. We are a nation seeking amusement. Amuse literally meaning to “not think” or to “distract”. That is something we have to make a distinct effort to unlearn.

So, now that we are informed of a well-rounded approach to the technology bombarding us in everyday life…

I wish for you to be in control of your screens, not the other way around.

Search for substance, my friend, even in your screen usage. Find documentaries you think would intrigue you. Search for knowledge. Write! Read! Use all these resources for your creativity. But never let the incessant media presence cloud your mind of what really matters.

Not saying there aren’t times for memes, or cat videos, or Netflix shows…but it’s always a temptation for us to ONLY view these things, losing sight of the real purpose of this life we live. Make the time you do spend on screens less frequent and more useful by viewing it as a tool to grow you as an individual, not to hinder you from any real human connection or growth.

Thanks for listening to my little observations.

Until next time,

Hannah

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Creative Block (a silly little poem)

I have a creative block

I carry it around

Walking to and fro the streets with me throughout all of town

 

I have a creative block

He looks up at me mockingly

He’d be kind of cute if he wouldn’t turn my writing mute and stare at me all day endlessly

 

I have a creative block

He’s a chip off the old block

He cracks me aside the head when I expect genius to be met, but oh no…!

This creative block must be fed

 

Well, I’ve had enough of that

I’ve fed him enough that he’s fat

No, really. He’s been making me quite mad.

 

So, creative block,

You crazy old bat,

I’m taking my art back

Go find a new welcome mat

 

Until next time,

Hannah

And oh, don’t worry…I made sure to throw away that annoying ol’ block. New posts coming soon!

Comparison Kills Contentment

“No one makes you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt

When I knew I wanted to write on this subject, I was a little intimidated. For good reason, I believe.

To uncover and call out all the destructive forms of “comparison” in all its layers and intricacies? That’s a big task to take on, for anyone. But out of all the things we need to address to ourselves, comparison is the elephant in the room. So, here we are.

Let’s start with a little bit of reflection. How exactly do you think comparison has affected your life lately?

You are certainly not alone if the only thing comparison contributes to your life is mostly negative. Feelings of discontent, jealousy, unworthiness, and sadness often stem from when we ourselves compare our behind the scenes moments to the social media highlight reels of another.

So, why exactly do we continue to compare if it has such awful consequences?

Well, first off, because it’s easy. It’s the most second nature thing that we can do. We are always wondering how we rank with people. But, again…it would be so much easier if we didn’t concern ourselves with the constant need to be best. Why do we do it?

Is it because we feel our worth somehow increases if we have the perfect hair, the perfect teeth, the perfect job, the perfect home? Is that why we idealize those we feel do have all those things and more? Do we really think that’s the end all of living? Or is life really about who you are, first and fore most?

It’s easy to say to yourself, “yes! Life is about who you are on the inside, not the outside.” But, when it comes down to the way we live? We contradict ourselves completely, by glorifying any well dressed, rich, and beautiful person like they aren’t entirely as human as we are.

The thing is, if we base our worth on feelings of worth, we will always be on a see-saw of emotions. We will never have a firm foundation of identity and we will never grasp our real worth.

So how are we going to address this comparison monster?

By getting to the heart of comparison, and debunking every little lie it whispers in your ear.

The perfection illusion

The people we compare ourselves to seem to have it all. At least, all that we think we are lacking. Whether that be the looks we think we don’t live up to, or the travel photography we wish we could have taken in person, whether it be the friend that seems like they have it ALL together…

We all are attracted to the ultimate “if only’s” in life. If only I looked like that. If only I had that job. If only I were that outgoing ALL the time. If only I were that perfect. Every time we allow ourselves to think like this, we are bashing who we are in the worst way possible, and truthfully…undermining all the good parts about us as humans.

The truth is, the same people you may be comparing yourself to in everyday life could just as well be comparing themselves to you, just in different ways.

When have we become so harsh on ourselves that we create an observational task force on what features look better on others, than the ones we own? Or the aspects of our life that seem to be less than ideal, compared to the ideal in other people’s lives?

We are not continually in competition with our fellow man.

Believing we are in constant competition will most definitely have detrimental consequences to our own personal growth. Or at least our CONTENTMENT with our own personal growth.

Viewing life as one big competition is a mistake that threatens to take away all the potential encouragement and genuine happiness we could be feeling for others when they succeed!

All of us humans, are at different stages in growth and development. When you hit a certain age, usually many of your friends are at different stages in life. So, don’t beat up on yourself for not being at a certain stage yet, or not feeling you “have it all together” right now. Seriously, who DOES have it all together right away? We learn as we live.

When you remind yourself that you are not in competition with every person that comes along, you give yourself room to SUPPORT others! Be encouraging of others! Love others! It’s extremely freeing to realize this.  This struck me even more, when just the other day a friend was telling me about something new and important going on in their lives, and I got so overwhelmingly and genuinely excited for them!

They told me, “I’m so glad I could tell you and you’re excited about this! Because I told someone else and they weren’t excited. Actually, I think they were jealous.”

I thought, wow. I’m so glad I could be supportive of this friend. What IF I would’ve let the comparison game dominate? That would’ve been an awful mistake. Because the way I reacted is exactly how I would want my friends to react to excited news I would share with them! Support your friends. Be happy for them. Don’t compare. Don’t compete. (And trust me, this is coming from an athlete. You know how hard not competing is for me sometimes)!

Comparison Kills Contentment 

This was told to me by one of my favorite middle school teachers. Comparison kills contentment. I’ve carried that with me ever since then, and it has become so much more prevalent when I realized just how true it is through everyday life. Keep this knowledge with you and pull this saying out from the corners of your mind whenever you need that reminder.

Don’t ever allow yourself to feel inferior by the good qualities another soul possesses. The good qualities in another does not equal the lack of good qualities in yourself.

You yourself have a billion gifts and good qualities about you. Many you’ve yet to learn about! So, please, take the time to hone them, focus on your growth, and embrace all the unique aspects that make up yourself as a person.

There are indeed forms of healthy comparison.

Have mentors and role models before you, that exemplify a life worth living. There are indeed healthy reminders of how to live life. So, follow those healthy reminders wholeheartedly, because your life is a life worth living well.

So, how should we go forward and conquer UNHEALTHY comparison once and for all?

By following these steps every time the comparison bug starts to rear its head.

Remember to…

Acknowledge we are not in constant competition with our fellow man.

Acknowledge that we are on a unique journey and timeline of life, all our own.

Acknowledge comparison, more often than not, kills valuable contentment in our own personal growth.

Acknowledge that the existent of good qualities in another person does not equate the lack of good qualities in yourself.

I hope you can carry these lessons with you, as I try to carry them with me, as well.

A lot of times a writer writes something important like this, they are writing from experience, and they are also writing to remind themselves. So, you are not alone in this journey called life!

I wish you all the best and that you live a life content in the progress you are making.

Until next time,

Hannah

Flower Crowns, Bare-feet, & Chrisstan Photography

What are your first thoughts when the words “Senior Pictures” are uttered in your presence?

I assume, if you’re older, your first thoughts probably go a little something like, “Oh, my gosh, Janice. How precious. I remember when MY kids had their senior photos. All those cute little pictures to send to your grandparents and aunts and cousins!”

The younger people…. yeah, I think their first thoughts would go a little different.

Going into my senior picture photo shoot, I had virtually no clue what to expect. To put things mildly, I was a senior picture skeptic. And putting off pictures until a few days after graduation? That just gave me more time to anticipate all the ways senior pictures could really goof up.

I naturally assumed that when I got there I’d have to pose awkwardly (posing is something I’m very bad at), fake smile (smiling on cue is also something I’m very bad at), and after a few weeks I’d see my Senior Photography fate, which I figured would haunt me for the rest of my days.

Thankfully, I can say all such assumptions were completely off-base..

Immediately as my mother and I arrived at our Senior Photo Shoot destination, Chris, the photographer of Chrisstan Photography, greeted us with a big grin and and loads of enthusiasm. Her radiant and bubbly personality struck me in the best way possible as she exclaimed to us, “I’ve been so excited for this!”

I knew my mom and Chris were old friends, but I’d never met her before. Almost minutes after meeting her, I could confirm all the good things that my mom told me about about her.  She welcomed us into her home, which turned out to be a positively beautiful atmosphere, and I instantly connected with her as I saw the wonderfully crafted paintings of her own creation, lining the walls.

We had established beforehand that I would be wearing a flower crown for some of the pictures I’d be in; the flower crown was an aspect I was very excited about. Although, I think Chris proved she was even more excited about it! She even brought out her whole collection for me to choose from. She said she made one recently, and showed it to me. Right away, I knew that was the one I wanted!

Finally, it was time to get down to business. Our first stop = the field next to Chris’s house.

This is when I thought to myself, “Here come’s the posing.”

But, actually…I was simply told to have fun, maybe twirl a little bit. No poses to hold, just be in action and always make sure you are giving your hands a purpose. I thought this was a revolutionary thing, seeing as I hadn’t heard any other photographer say this to me before. After the initial time it took to loosen up, I was actually having a lot of fun!

Chris also did this thing where she told me to fake laugh with her, leaning forward, and then leaning out…and sure enough, after a while of that silliness it was real laughter!

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After the pictures in the field, we decided to go to a nearby lake and orchard to see what kind of shots we could get there. I was having so much fun at this point, and was hyped for more. Who knew a photo shoot could be so fun?!

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Another aspect to our photo shoot was bringing a few family heirlooms, including a quilt my grandma on my father’s side sewed when she was younger and a teacup my other grandma on my mother’s side gave me. I thought it was really cool being able to incorporate these treasures into my senior pictures.

I was also able to bring a few of my favorite books as props: thus the Charles Spurgeon and Sherlock Holmes books that make an appearance.

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At one point, Chris even hoisted herself up onto one of the small trees in the orchard to get a different angle for the photos. Honestly, I wish I could have taken a picture of HER at that point! But a photographer’s gotta do what a photographer’s gotta do!

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These were some of the ones taken in the orchard.

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And at the end of the photo session, we walked a few steps from the orchard to the lake.

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When I walked away from that shoot, I was happy, I was impressed, AND I was no longer feeling like I’d be haunted forever by my Senior Picture outcome. Actually, I couldn’t wait to see how they turned out!

After this photo session, I would wholeheartedly recommend Chrisstan Photography 1000x over! I do not think I would have enjoyed the Senior Picture process nearly as much if I would have gone with anyone else except Chris.

Chris, thank you for saving me tons of ridicule and laughter later on in life, looking back at my pictures. Instead, I will look back and remember how much fun and laughter I had with flower crowns, bare-feet, and Chrisstan Photography!

Here is a link to Chris’s site, if you want to check out any more of her gorgeous work!

https://chrisstan.com/

I’m also including a slideshow of pictures captured, (most not shown above).

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And as always, thanks for reading, guys! I’ll be posting more and more this summer, after I get this whole college preparation thing down! Stay tuned.

Your high school graduate blogger signing out,

Hannah

Let’s Teach Girls to be Somebodies

Lessons in life tend to have the nasty little habit of tiptoeing up to you and gut punching you out of nowhere. I liken it to a bit of a realization brick aimed straight for your noggin, (…to put it gently, of course). I’ve recently had the pleasure of testing out that hypothesis of mine, and spoiler alert: I was totally right.

I wasn’t looking for a lesson on society that fateful Monday. But that Monday I got one anyway, and it came in the form of a conversation with my  seven-year-old niece a few months ago that really got me thinking…And not in the way I was happy about.

That Monday, I came down from school, my niece and my dad waiting for me by the car. She was bouncing up and down, in her little first grader way, smiling ear to ear. She proudly displayed to me her newest artistic endeavor of a rocket ship hurdling through space. “You can have it, Hannie! Do you want it?”

“I would LOVE it! It’s beautiful…” I smiled at her and got into the car, being sure to dote on it even more, in my typical proud-aunt nature.

While driving down the road, we fell into our normal discussions. You know, how our days were, what new things she was learning at school… when, all of the sudden she proceeds to tell me about the newest developments in first grader gossip- a little boy in her class liked her! I giggled and made sure to remind her she was far too young to have a boyfriend. Wait until you’re older!

“Like when I’m sixteen?” She asked, inquisitively.

“Maybe!”

“How old are you, again, Hannie?”

I inwardly cringed, knowing exactly where this conversation was heading. “I’m 18.”

“Well, then why don’t YOU have a boyfriend? You’re 18, you should have one.”

“You have to wait for the right person,” I replied to her. “I haven’t found the right person yet.”

“Well, why don’t you? You’re 18.”

This persistent question, after all was said and answered, struck me the wrong way. This is a seven-year-old little girl that seemed absolutely bamboozled, not even being able to grasp why someone wouldn’t have a boyfriend at any given time. We kept talking and it seemed she could not fathom the idea of being older and not having a boyfriend.

As the conversation progressed, it seemed this little seven-year-old had already bought into the dreaded lie that many of us women tend to fall into: That we *gasp* need a guy in order to make us happy or complete. If you don’t see that as a societal issue, then it’s okay. We’ll work on that.

By my niece asking this seemingly innocent (yet quite intrusive) question, it revealed something very alarming. A worldview forming already, filled to the brim with all-too-serious implications.

If these young girls continue to believe what society, and perhaps the people around them are teaching them, this will not bode well. The belief that we are not anybody unless we have somebody is a destructive lie being circulated around the populace. A majority of growing up and becoming comfortable with who we are as a person comes from times where we are single. In all honesty, in order to have a healthy steady relationship later on, we must know ourselves and be independent in who we are.

I want to challenge head-on this belief of always needing somebody.

I believe instead of indoctrinating girls that the end-all in life is to settle for quantity of guys and not for quality, we need to tell girls to wait for someone that is worth their time. Knowing yourself and your value is the only way a relationship will really work in the end.

Your sole focus should be on being a somebody, not on being somebody’s. (That’s how the quote goes, right)? I love it.

Many times we love to blame society as a whole, instead of recognizing society is made up of us- everyday people. This means we must make a stand and do whatever we can do to help girls around us, and better ourselves, with the right beliefs.

All those who consist within society (news flash: that’s everyone) need to take a good look at the consequences of what we teach to our youth. Now, I’m only 18, but it’s taken years to realize some of these things for myself, realizing I can be completely content at whatever phase in life.

If we pressure girls to simply be in a relationship for the sole sake of being in a relationship, then we are more often than not pressuring them to settle for people who do not treat them right, and do not care for the greater good of them as individuals.

OR, on the other hand, it pressures girls that every friendship with a guy needs to be, or become, something more.

Not so. I’m a firm believer you need some brothers to have your back. No matter who makes fun of you for it…because, believe it or not, people can be pretty cruel about that, too.

So, how do we teach girls to be somebodies? Or better yet, how do we re-teach ourselves, after years of continually finding our value in a relationship status (or lack thereof)?

Well, first off…

We are responsible for our own happiness

Yes, you will find your person that you instantly just click with! BUT- at the end of the day- YOU alone are the person that can make or break you. YOU are responsible for your happy. Do not base it off of anything or anyone you can lose. And do not base your happiness off of whether you are in a relationship or not.  That will only lead to disappointment.

Know Your Worth

If nobody has ever told you before, you have value. And our value has nothing to do with how great we are at things, or how pretty we are, or the fact that we can juggle ten oranges at one time. (Good thing, because I can’t even juggle a schedule).

Our worth is completely independent from us. So, what does that mean? It means we have worth because we are humans, beautifully and wonderfully made. That’s apart from anything foolish you’ve ever done, or said, or thought. It’s easy to say that…but to act it and remind ourselves that?

Hm. That’s when things get tricky.

You are your own person

You may think this one is a no-brainer, but a lot rides on the full understanding of this belief.

We are individuals responsible for our own happiness, growth, and feelings of being fulfilled in life. If you are looking to find your identity in someone else, that’s not going to do you well. (Oops, I spilled the beans). Yes, our significant others should be people we feel happy around, and that encourage us to be better than we were yesterday. BUT- there is a distinct difference of finding someone that make you happy, and finding your happiness in people.

If we look for a relationship like this, what happens when the hard times come? We run away…because aren’t relationships supposed to be sunshine and roses? Nope. The ones worth it, are the ones worth fighting for.

Before getting to know anyone else, you should know YOURSELF

Before going into a relationship, we should always have a firm grasp on who we are, our values, our beliefs, our intentions…all of it. If you don’t have a good grasp on any of these things, you’re more than likely walking into a relationship blind as a bat.

Be PATIENT

Remember what I said about earlier- the whole pressure from outside sources thing? Well, guess what. IT’S A HUGE DEAL. So, don’t let yourself get pushed around into going along with something for the sake of obligation, or pressure. You’re in charge of your own life, dear. Remember, never go along with something just out of the feeling that you “need a boyfriend”.

Patience is key. And hey- guess what! I’m learning this, too! College is coming up, and I’m going to have to take my own advice. So, you’re not alone if you’re reteaching yourself that you’re a somebody without a somebody.

Quality over quantity.

I hope this post got you thinking and that we can spread this message to all you beautiful souls! (Hey, guess what, fellas)? Honestly, this message that I just said…not gender specific. I recommend it to all humans! Just felt that it was on my heart to write this.

Hannah

Where There’s a Flower, There’s a Photoshoot

Back so soon? Wow. It’s like I’m finally getting the hang of this whole “blogging daily” thing. Whew. Better not jinx it. Let’s move on…

I’m the type of person who tries to find beauty everywhere and in the smallest of things. And, apparently today “everywhere” included the garden section of Lowe’s and Walmart, and “the smallest of things” were flowers. You’re an intelligent human being. You can about guess where I’m going with this scenario.

Well, naturally, any self-respecting photographer-in-training is going to take advantage of the objects before them, thus almost always leading to an impromptu photo shoot.

I mean, come on. This blog is for sharing my work, whatever that may be, and I feel like doing just that with the outcome of this spur of the moment appreciation of nature and gardening stores.

So here are some of my amazing (and very cooperative) models of this high budget photo session. I sure hope you get sarcasm because there sure was a lot of it in here

Welp. That’s it, folks.

Thanks for paying attention to my lil’ ol’ blog and make sure you stick around for another installment. Maybe next time we’ll visit an ACTUAL garden. Hey! Don’t look at me like that. It’s possible..

Hannah

If You’re Passing through the Waters…

I don’t know why I had the urge to write this tonight. It kind of washed over me, like something I knew I had to do. I mean- I haven’t written a blog post in months, but tonight…it’s something I’m doing.

I hope this blog post meets you right where you’re at. Maybe you’re feeling great- I’m glad! Maybe you’re not feeling anything in particular. Maybe you’re feeling the whole world crash around you, and you don’t know why…or you know exactly why.

The thing is, I don’t know you’re situation. All I know is that when we go through heartbreaking moments, moments when we have little to no peace, moments when we are being challenged in all we are and all we stand for, we often feel like the pain will never end, that we’ll just be stuck in it forever. We feel like we are alone in our suffering, and that no one understands. How wrong we are, my friend.

The truth is, there are many of us who feel the same way, we just never speak up. We feel that people won’t look at us the same way when they see us in our struggling moments. Maybe that is the case, but I want to tell you something…nothing in your life happens on accident. I don’t know your worldview, what you believe, what you put your hope in. But I trust that God has an infinitely bigger plan for you than you do yourself right now.

And because nothing happens on accident, as I stated earlier…your story, however unique and tough that may be, was meant to happen just the way it did. Maybe to grow you as an individual, maybe so that you can be challenged in your beliefs, maybe so you can use your pain and lessons to help other people who are going through similar, maybe we won’t completely know why! But-we can take comfort that nothing is going to go to waste!

These waves that are tossing you about tonight, they aren’t meant to drown you, my friend. They’re meant to make you a better swimmer.

So, no. You aren’t alone tonight if you feel like you’re barely getting by. You’re not alone in all those tough moments that no one else sees, and all the pain no one else knows you endure. You’re only being made stronger by the trials that you are going through, and while each wave takes us, we can have full confidence that we will be growing through it all.

Isaiah 43:1-2 says,

“…Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.”

When we place our trust not in ourselves, but onto the God who formed us and takes care of us, we are made that much stronger by His power. The chains that once kept us from being free are released, and we can live happier, more joyful lives, trusting the Lord with all our cares. He promises you won’t drown. He will lift you up through it all.

Your trusty blogger (who seriously needs to find time to blog more),

Hannah