Hope that you all have been doing well! It has been an eventful few days on this side of things for sure. And I am having that experience where I am learning things about myself that need some work, and I am learning about some areas in my character and in my heart that need some attention. And so it’s the painful, but the beneficial type of blessing. I am experiencing some unexpected side effects due to covid, and I’m not handling it as well as I thought I would. Ya see I am a busy person typically, the kind that struggles with slowing down. As of right now, I struggle to walk or even drive, at unpredictable times throughout the day, and as you can imagine, that has put quite the damper on my busy schedule.
While I wish that I could say that I have jumped gratefully into this opportunity to rest and spend time with God, as well as on the things that I love, that would not be in any way honest. A more accurate description would be that I have been dragged, kicking, screaming, and crying into a different kind of life than I am used to, and thankfulness has, unfortunately not been a natural part of the equation.
Instead of appreciating the respite from the insanity I was living in, and having the maturity to understand that it will only last a few months at most, I have let my mind dwell on the things that I cannot do. This, as you can probably imagine, does not lead to a grateful heart, nor does it leave me coming to the LORD from a place of joy and gratitude in suffering, which is a posture I have written about many times.
It is an intentional battle to be thankful and count my blessings when my cross country athlete body is shaking so bad that I am unable to walk.
My mind recognizes the opportunities, after all, this is what those inspiring sports movies are made of isn’t it? An athlete that faces unexpected circumstances but still finds ways to be a good student and a blessing to others while selflessly encouraging their team? You know the picture. I am understanding now more than ever why people admire stories such as that so much, because it’s extraordinarily beautiful, and no easy feat, to have a heart like that in the face of things that honestly just suck.
I’m not even in a predicament where the suckiness is permanent, so on top of the problem itself sits this somewhat miserable guilt that I’m not the reflection of God and His unshakable joy that I truly do want to be.
So it’s a fight. And it hurts. But it’s a good kind of hurt. The kind that tells you that you are doing something worthwhile. While my physical muscles may be on mandatory vacation, my spiritual journey is about to head into some hardcore training, as I attempt to make the most of every opportunity that God puts in front of me to use this situation for good.
Trust me when I say that I honestly am excited to see what comes out the other side of this mess. Even if it’s gonna take some struggle to get there. After all, we are to be refined by fire, rejoice always, and persevere, are we not? And even if it takes a mountain of effort, what else am I gonna spend my energy on, right? I really and truly want to move through the pain and reflect joy, because even when my circumstances are not, my God is good. Even when I don’t like where I am, or miss the things I used to do, my God is good. No matter what is going on in this world the God that I serve is so good, so worthy of praise and so worthy of everything that I have to give him, even if all that consists of is my weakest hallelujah and a heart fully surrendered to His service, trusting that the story that He is writing for me has the ending that He wants it to have, as long as I let Him take the reigns.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not yet see. -Hebrews 11:1
So if I ever said that praising God was simple and easy, even in the toughest of circumstances, I apologize for my mistake, but no matter what I have said I do stand on the fact that He is most certainly worthy of that kind of devotion.
That’s my heart right now y’all,
Life is an adventure.
Life is meant, by God to be abundant.
People are the greatest treasure
God is writing a beautiful story in your life, and the most exciting thing we can ever do is learn to embrace it.
I close my eyes and let my mind drift back to a beautiful day in the Colorado mountains in June. My shoulders ached with the weight of the pack. Four more days of food, clothes, water, and my sleeping bag gave me an additional forty pounds to haul up the mountain. I didn’t care, I had never felt more alive.
On my right tiny, crisscrossing streams of water etched their way down the bare rockface. On my left, clung a small collection of scraggly trees, the last few on the tree line, as the elevation of the mountain grew ever higher. Looking forward I faced what seemed to be a wall of mud and rocks, slick from the spattering of rain that threatened our small group’s assent. I glanced at my hands; dirt had collected under my fingernails, as I had clawed my way up the deceptively steep trail. I winced slightly as I leaned too far one way and the weight of my pack pulled me into a thorn bush. My foot slipped slightly, sending pebbles sliding. My eyes followed the loose pieces of rock, and I was both regretting having looked down, and reveling at the wonderous height to which we had climbed. Admiring with unconcealed awe and wonder at the absolute, unmatched beauty of the Colorado Mountains, I glanced down at the valley where we had begun that morning, attempting to catch a glimpse of the river in which the island where we made camp lay. A cool breeze brought my attention back to the climb, and I hurried to catch up with the others.
Here I paused in my daydreaming, remembering that I had later learned that us five adventurous beginners had climbed over 5 miles straight up that day, crossing numerous counter lines, and taking one of the most difficult trails in the area. Goodness, the view had been worth it though! A beautiful valley, and mountain after mountain as far as the eye good see lay in front of us like something from a calendar page. A blue, still, and almost crystal lake also sat at the top, surrounded by loose boulders covered in moss. Occasional drifts of snow lay in the corners, untouched. It was breathtaking, and it was hard to believe, I remember, that it was real. It seemed as if I had stepped into an adventure movie, and this was the scene that the producers had bought the super fancy camera for. A camera could in no way capture how beautiful this was. I remember wondering how anyone could look at this and believe it was all chance.
We made it to the top around four in the afternoon and were sitting and catching our breath. It was here where my then-boyfriend had asked me to take a picture, and I had indignantly protested, gesturing to the mud on my pants, the frizz in my hair, and the absolutely mismatched attire I had dawned in order to stay warm. I could feel a blush creeping up my neck as he insisted. I finally took the hand he offered and stood beside him for a picture. My heart and mind raced as the camera held in place and he got down on one knee. My hand was so cold and swollen that the ring didn’t fit. I barely managed to get out the word yes in my stunned state of surprise. There was laughter and tears and hugs all around. Though it was freezing it was the warmest moment of my whole life. Everything felt real. Surrounded by nature, and mountains so much bigger than myself. That was our mountain now, even though we might never see it again, our story is now etched into the little pile of rocks on that tiny slope of grass that overlooks the lake. It’s beautiful really, no one but us knows about it, but it’s the start of an amazing story, the adventure of our lives together began there, and maybe our story is tiny. Maybe, in a hundred years no one will remember us, but our little stack of rocks will still be there, marking our place, our mountain from the countless others that surround it. I have never since seen as much beauty in nature since those five days in the mountains, but I’ve seen so much of the story that started there, and I’m excited to see what the rest of it brings.
See while I don’t know what our story holds, I know that the pen is in the hand of someone who loves me, someone who is rooting for me to win. I know that I have my happy ending in His kingdom, and I know that whatever happens between now and then is to better prepare me for that happy ending. I know that he put Jaxon in my life because we make a pretty awesome team, and can fight better together than alone for the Kingdom of God. I know that this life truly is an adventure, and I pray that every day God helps me to see past the mundane and have faith in the way He is writing our story.
There is absolute beauty in every day, in the little ways we know each other, in the trips that we take, in the nights we lay in each other’s arms, talking about what God’s doing in our lives. There is absolute beauty in walking with one another when we don’t understand His plan, or how what He is doing is for the best. We both grow and are given opportunities to be patient and build each other up in that growth. It’s most certainly not perfect, but nobody said something has to be perfect to be beautiful. The blessing is found in the messiness, in the imperfections of our life are the greatest opportunities for God’s light to shine through. I just want to learn to embrace it, the masterpiece in the mess, the wonder in the ordinary.
Guess what? When all those people told you to be nice as a kid, they may have been onto something. I’ve got a not-so-secret secret to your health and happiness: Being a nice person. Crazy right? They’ve been searching for this fix-all cure for ages and it’s right here in front of our noses.
I find this topic to be absolutely fascinating, so like it or not I’m going to outline for you the amazing physical and psychological benefits of just being a nice person.
Just to clarify these benefits are not just a long term result of being a good person, but can also be reaped by doing simple small, and easy acts of kindness such as:
-making an effort to be genuinely interested when you ask about someone’s day
-taking the time to check up on someone you haven’t talked to in a while
-getting your friend their favorite drink/snack when they are having a bad day
-random dollar store gift bags
-notes that say why you appreciate someone
-helping someone complete an unpleasant task (dishes, taking out the trash, yard work)
Generally, something doesn’t have to be huge to have a great impact. While huge acts of kindness are great and amazing, the small things can have equal impact.
Committing an act of kindness releases the hormone oxytocin in the brain. Oxytocin is proven to reduce levels of stress and anxiety (Fun fact, this is also the chemical released when building relationships, so on sidetrack relationships with other people, even small short conversations and such do actually take away some of the stress in our lives.)
While the effects of stress are fairly well known:
Being kind is not, but perhaps should be prescribed as an aid to relieve these problems. In fact, in response to stress, we are often told to do the opposite, to not worry about anyone else when we are stressed, to focus, and take care of ourselves. We are told to treat ourselves when we are having a headache and focus on self-care and binge social media and tv shows. These “solutions” often lead to us feeling worse in whatever ails us, and emotionally as well. When our focus is on ourselves our problems are more imminent in our minds. When our focus is on others, we can benefit from the satisfaction of helping them with their problems while keeping our own in a more reasonable perspective.
In addition to this, long-term health problems linked back to stress can also be reduced/eliminated by practicing kindness over long periods of time. (Making kindness a personality habit, maybe a good idea?)
2. Being kind can reduce aging.
Again, being kind releases the hormone oxytocin in our brains. Recent studies have found that this hormone plays a rather large effect in the process of aging. Oxytocin aids in memory, among other neurocognitive processes. Specifically, it enables a person to better recall social stimuli, names, people, and places as well as details about previous social situations.
This hormone also reduces stress on the heart. Prolonging the health and duration of this essential muscle reduces a myriad of health issues later in life
So a small weekly habit of picking up the trash while on a walk, or intentionally taking time out of your day to talk to someone who might be lonely not only helps other people but can lead to a longer and more alert life for you.
3. Endorphins, oh boy!
Being kind just overall makes you happier. From strengthening neural pathways for compassion, and giving yourself a natural boost of dopamine and serotonin (the happy hormones) your body is naturally hard-wired to reward you for being kind.
You ever want the key to happiness, (or at least a cheap and easy to obtain burst of it) just be nice to people.
People who suffer from depression, again, are sucked into this pattern of trying to fix themselves and make themself happy by taking time and doing things for themselves, and while time to do the things you love is important, in this context it is done to achieve a goal (making yourself happy). Research has shown when a reward is expected for doing something you love to do (something you are intrinsically motivated for) it greatly reduces the enjoyment, dopamine and serotonin, you can get from it. On the other hand, taking a few minutes out of your day to do something nice for someone else is a guaranteed way to give yourself a boost of endorphins and improve your mood and outlook.
4. We get to be proud of ourselves, yay!
When we do something nice for someone else we can go to sleep knowing that we accomplished good in the world. Being kind gives us something to pat ourselves on the back for. When a high percentage of the population struggles with self-esteem and self-image, this is a positive and productive way to help build a mental picture of ourselves as something other than the steaming heap of disaster we believe ourselves to be.
Overall, being kind makes the world better. It makes your world better for all the reasons mentioned above, it makes the person you’re being kind to feel like they matter. It raises other people’s self-esteem and image, and all in all, just makes the world a happier and healthier place.
I also would like to point out that our bodies have been designed to reward us for being good people, which I think is super cool. Like God designed us so that when we follow the example he’s given us and the principles he’s laid out for us we are rewarded in happiness and health benefits. Is that awesome or what?
Now go be kind people, and never forget to be curious.
I got locked out of my own website again for like 2 years. So let’s update/start over, sound good?
Here goes nothing. I am Aubrey Batten (formerly Aubrey Carr). I am currently 19 years old and am living with my amazing husband Jaxon. We both attend the same private Christian university. I am a sophomore, majoring in both English and Writing and Psychology with a concentration in counseling. I run cross country and am up before 5 am the majority of school days.
I have had this website since I was about 13 years old, and while I first used it to share and promote my early writing, which consisted of poems and short stories I eventually transitioned it to articles focused on scripture and Christianity. Currently, I am interested in slowly mixing in some articles on general philosophy, psychology, and politics with the best that I am capable of giving a Christian understanding.
I am a passionate person, and I habit of letting that spill over into my writing. Depending on the reader this may be seen as a negative or positive trait! So while I sort of dive into this new realm of topics I ask that you, the reader, have grace and patience. Never hesitate to call me out in the comments because I love broadening my perspective and welcoming civil debate and discourse.
Regarding the consistency of my writing, as a full-time wife, student and athlete you might suspect my consistency in something like this to be pretty much out the window. In this case, you would be correct. While I would love to say that I will be posting weekly or something along those lines, there is no telling where life will take me, or how much I will procrastinate on my homework. So all of that to say, who knows! I will try to be consistent in posting on my social media platforms when I post a new article on here, however. So there is that.
One thing that I think enables me to write the way that I do is that God has created me with a quite childlike spirit. Now we can talk all about the ups and downs of that some other time, but one thing that comes with this is a persistent curiosity about the world around me, how it works, and why people do the things that they do. So when I become interested in something dive all in, wanting to see and understand every aspect of that thing or issue. This applies to Christianity, this applies to politics, psychology, history, and more. There’s more depth and information to everything than I could ever possess. This absolutely fascinates me. I feel like people who lose both hope and interest in the subjects mentioned above forget or fail to ask questions like “why?” they fail to keep digging when they don’t find anything they like on the surface, and so they give up and miss out on the treasure underneath. So, in writing what I do, I hope to provide resources and perspectives on topics that enable and encourage people to keep digging, keep being passionate and keep being curious.
Anywho, enough about me, I hope that you are having a beautiful day, and I hope that in the midst of the current chaos of this world that you still live a life of passion and joy.
Have a great day, and never forget to be curious.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
A new thing. There’s something intriguing about that word. New. Clean, untouched, unspoiled, pure. When you say you got a new shirt it’s significant because you’ve never had it before. When your faith is renewed it’s exciting because all of the impurities, the weaknesses that were there before have been washed away. It’s a newfound passion for God. A new desire that is there because something has changed. It’s easy for faith to get stagnant. It is easy to lose sight of what our goal is, or for the newness to wear off and the passion to fade. Our minds have this human tendency to focus on what is exciting to us, so when our faith has lost its newness it’s no longer exciting and our minds tend to wander. We still believe the things we used to, but there is no new growth, nothing to focus on, no action steps to take that we haven’t taken before. That’s when we begin to feel stuck, we start to feel like we are going nowhere. Questions such as “I’m reading my bible so why am I not learning?” or “I pray every day, so why is nothing changing?” start to surface. It’s difficult. When you don’t know what the next step to take in your faith is, and you are aware you need to grow, but you don’t know where to start, that’s difficult. The first thing I suggest is to pray. Pray as you’ve never prayed before. For me, I never have been able to focus if I just get down on my knees and talk, I’m working on it. I write my prayers. This morning I knew that something needed to change, I had been stuck for way too long. The weeks were flying by and I wasn’t growing, the days blended together as a monotonous blend of school and work, eat and sleep. My passion was gone. I was happy but in an ordinary way. Something needed to be done, the problem needed to be fixed. I got up early this morning, I sat down with my journal and my bible, put on some worship music, and I just wrote. I wrote until my hand hurt. I poured out my heart to God. Yeah, he knew what was happening, but I needed to talk to Him about it. Desperately. Deeply. The shallow 30-second prayers I’d been rushing through before I fell asleep were not cutting it. It was time to really talk. Time to listen. A relationship is nothing without communication and there had been a sad lack of communication between God and me. So that’s the first step. Pray. And listen. Fill up on God’s word! It’s such a precious resource that we truly can never get enough of! If you want to know the heart of God then you need to get into His word! The second thing is to change up your routine. You cannot do the same thing and expect new results, that is actually not far off from the definition of insanity. Do you already pray every day? Great, change up the way you pray. Journal, talk to Him outside away from everything else, go on a walk and talk to Him do something NEW. Have you read the Bible a dozen times? There is still new information or new perspective with which to look at things you already know, get a reading plan, read in a different place. Even switch up the version of your Bible. Ask God to show you what He wants you to see. I promise you that He will! Pray about everything! That is my challenge today. For one day I am going to try very hard to pray about everything I think about. It’s hard, but prayer should be as natural as a conversation because really that’s all it is. So change up the way you’re doing things, change up the way that you are looking at things. God does something new every single day, you just have to be paying attention enough to catch it. His mercies are new every single day. He blesses us in new ways every single day. He is so good and so worthy of praise y’all! So all of this, changing up everything, is to help you renew your passion for God. Renew your faith, keep it fresh, for lack of a better word. I’m not saying that our core beliefs change, because our foundations and beliefs should be the same as those of the original disciples. We are not discarding our old beliefs, but adding to the ways in which we know how to practice them. We’ve got to learn and grow and advance, just as we do with any practice or system that is applicable to life.
Thank You so much for this incredible life You have given us. It is full of blessings on top of blessings. Thank You for Your Word, which is never irrelevent, never out of date. God please keep us always learning, always growing and never stagnent in our faith. Teach us your ways and please help us to discern your ways from the ways of people, even sometimes of people leading in Your name. Help us to know your word, know what is true all of the time. You are good.
There are many types of Christians, but these days it seems that there are two very prominent groups.
Fans and Followers.
Let me describe them and maybe you will see what I mean.
First lets talk about the fans. Those people who say yeah, I’m all for Jesus! We all need Jesus, we all need Christianity. They maybe even have a lot of knowledge about God and Christianity. They’ve read the whole bible, they can quote dozens of scriptures, they know all the words to the most popular Christians music. Nothings wrong with that. But then if we go in and look at their actual day to day lives, it doesn’t look that different than the rest of the world. They don’t live any differently than anyone else. They know all the rules. They have all of the information. But they aren’t living it. A pastor I listen to, Paul Daughtry, said something that’s really stuck with me.
Information is not substitute for relationship.
And that’s so true isn’t it! Sometimes we know all about a person, our favorite singer or actor or actress. We know what their birthday is, what they like and dislike, we read what they write and we soak it in. But if we actually met them in real life they would say that they never knew us. Yeah, we know everything about them, but without relationship that information never actually means anything. The same applies to our relationship with God. We actually have to put time into that relationship. We have to learn about Him, know all of those facts right? But we also have to Talk with Him. We have to LISTEN!
Then there are Followers.
Those people who are willing to follow God no matter where it takes them. Who are willing to follow the commands of His word even when it makes them unpopular. Who are marked not by perfection, but by grace. Who are marked by love. Who are marked by relationship. Marked by a hunger, a desperation for truth, for God. Truly we should hunger for more of God’s love and truth in our lives every single day.
So which are you? Really think about it.
More than anything else I desire to be a true follower. A person who is marked by you. Someone who doesn’t even have to use words to proclaim your truth and goodness. Let my life be marked by you. I love You so much. You are Good. Thank You for your word.
There is this Psalm, it’s always inspired sense of awe as well as convicted me. This Psalm is 149:4.
Sometimes I feel like we are all sleeping. Walking through this life day by day, week by week, never really learning or growing or loving, not even really living. We go through the hours with only a desire to survive through the next task, from the morning we wake up until we go to bed at night. Maybe we don’t want to admit it, but the past few weeks and days probably blur together. Trying to recall a certain ordinary day is almost impossible. What happened on Tuesday? You may be thinking. You are not awake! You are not living fully to the potential that the LORD has set before you! He did not create you to merely survive, but to thrive! That is what sets you apart from the animals! He gave you the ability to be filled with joy every day, and live life to the fullest. Don’t be ignorant of the bad things, but choose to keep thriving in spite of them. Be courageous. Never lose track of where you are going, and keep pushing on. God’s got you. Now go thrive.
Ever wish you lived in a fairy tale? In a wonderful world where yes, there is evil, but good always wins? Yeah. Me too. I especially like the part where a prince in shining armor swoops in and saves the day. But that’s not real life, is it?
See real life there are problems. There are hardships and stuggles, but you don’t always manage to beat them, and sometimes they manage to beat you. It stinks too, and it effects you daily. Sometimes you can’t beat the struggle of addiction, and you let it eat you alive every day. Sometimes you cannot get a to do list done, and you feel like a failure. Sometimes you can’t make a reltaionshipwork, and you wonder either what you did wrong or why the heck you got in that position to begin with. None of those stories are fairy tales. They kind of stink. They are kind of the story of our lives, and yet, none of them to seem to have a happy ending.
So what can we do about it?
What can we do to change these things?
Maybe it’s time to let God author our story.
So how? How to we let the God of the universe steer where we go not only in our day to day lives, but also for eternity? Pray. Spend time with the maker and your heart will become more like his. Worship, put forth an effort, use your actions for His glory.The more time you spend around someone the more you become like them, so maybe another one to add to the list is solitude. Time alone with him. Time to slow down and just be in his wonderful presense.
I don’t know about you, but I think that comes out sounding like a fairy tale. Not everything is good, but there’s a plotline that the Author knows, and it ends in happily ever after, with Jesus, maybe not on a white horse but in a white robe, piercings in his hands and feet, reaching down after having given his all for you and saying that he loves you more than life itself. He proved that.
I am ready to live that fairy tale, that life.
How about you?
Who am I, that you have blessed me as you have? Lord, I am thankful for the blessings you have given me. Thank You for the family I have, the friends that you have put in my life. God thank you for the little things every day that make life worth living. A smile from a co-worker, a laugh from a friend, kindness from a stranger. Oh God, I am so grateful for those things. I am grateful for the things I tend to take for granted, food, water, a home to sleep in, clean air to breathe. Thank You, God, for all of those things. But Lord I am also thankful for the challenges you have put in my life. The difficulties, the tests, the hard things. See you are so good. You can see the big picture, which is something I think us humans struggle with sometimes. You can see that every challenge is an opportunity to overcome it. Challenges make it possible to learn how to be brave, how to get back up when life knocks you down, how to stand strong in the face of adversity. I am grateful for them because they made me who I am. No, I’m not perfect, but I am strong in my faith, I am ready to meet every challenge set before me with prayer and perseverance. I am ready to fight the good fight, run the race and win it all for You. Your word says that you can bring good out of absolutely anything. I believe that God. And I believe that you are there right beside me through every hard thing in life. You are there walking beside me ready to catch me when I trip, You are there holding out Your hand willing to pull me through. You are God. You are good. Thank You for everything you have given me.