Thursday, July 10, 2014

Small Actions = Big Differences: A Guest Post by Austi Garrett

Summer 2014 Guest Post by His Yes Girl, Austi Garrett

These days there are so many campaigns going on that are meant for us, to promote and help one another: bullying, hunger, self-image, suicide, acceptance, abuse, disease, and the list goes on and on. It is simple for us to join these campaigns on social media sites, we just change our profile pictures, ‘like’ pages, share ad-slogans, etc. But what are we really doing to help and make a difference? Praying? Begging God to help?

I heard such a beautiful and inspirational song a few weeks ago called “Do Something” by Matthew West. (Listen to it HERE!) The lyrics go:

“So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t you do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something”

Most of us can’t go out and speak at functions, travel across the world to feed the hungry, donate a bunch of money to causes, or treat the sick. But what we can do is reach out to the people around us and be the type of person that people need & depend upon (even in small ways). The type of person who makes a difference (big or small) in the lives of every single person around us.

We can never know the difference a simple smile or a kind word can make in someone’s day. I have heard a few stories where people were in desperate situations contemplating suicide and because a stranger smiled and asked how they were they didn’t go through with it.

I cannot tell you the amount of times that I have been to a church or a ‘religions/Christian’ function where I was made to feel like a pariah. The members of the church or function had already developed their little cliques and groups. Honestly, many of the people there seemed like the most unfriendly and unwelcoming people I had ever came across.

We, as Christians, claim that we want to show everyone the grace of God, lend a helping hand, love everyone equally, and welcome with open arms. But how often do we actually act upon those things? When was the last time that we went out of our way to speak to a complete stranger just to see how they were doing? Stepped out of our comfort zone to help someone else?

Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan? Luke 10:30-36

30 Jesus replied, “A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He encountered thieves, who stripped him naked, beat him up, and left him near death. 31 Now it just so happened that a priest was also going down the same road. When he saw the injured man, he crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. 32 Likewise, a Levite came by that spot, saw the injured man, and crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. 33 A Samaritan, who was on a journey, came to where the man was. But when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. 34 The Samaritan went to him and bandaged his wounds, tending them with oil and wine. Then he placed the wounded man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day, he took two full days’ worth of wages and gave them to the innkeeper. He said, ‘Take care of him, and when I return, I will pay you back for any additional costs.’36 What do you think? Which one of these three was a neighbor to the man who encountered thieves?”

This parable is a beautiful example of a kind hearted and compassionate person helping a fellow man. However, the fact that the man needed help was very obvious, and sometimes the ones that need the most help are not entirely apparent. That is why it is so important that we constantly show love, kindness, and compassion to everyone around us.

Just Remember, the smallest of actions that take little to no effort can make the biggest of differences in the lives of others! That is living a Christ-like life!!!! So get out and Do Something!!!


Fulfilling His Purpose | Philippians 2:13 His Yes GirlAusti

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Living in Time

“Welcome to a world where time has become the ultimate currency. You stop aging at 25, but there's a catch: you're genetically-engineered to live only one more year, unless you can buy your way out of it. The rich "earn" decades at a time (remaining at age 25), becoming essentially immortal, while the rest beg, borrow or steal enough hours to make it through the day. When a man from the wrong side of the tracks is falsely accused of murder, he is forced to go on the run with a beautiful hostage. Living minute to minute, the duo's love becomes a powerful tool in their war against the system.” ~Written by Twentieth Century Fox

In Time is a movie that unsettled me. I mean seriously unsettled me. Why? Find out by visiting His Yes Girls blog where you will find my summertime guest post.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Perfect love: A book review about "Audrey Bunny"

Audrey Bunny is a children’s book written by Angie Smith with illustrations by Breezy Brookshire. 

The text of the book is neatly organized into clusters of three to four sentences per page with the exception of one or two sentences on pages where the illustrations take center stage.

Smith weaves a beautiful tale filled with vivid imagery of a stuffed toy bunny and a written message that portrays perfect love. Smith uses two key questions on page 5 of the book that are a page turner: “What happened to bunnies that were never chosen? Did they live in the barrel forever?” Instantly the reader wants to know what happens to the bunny in the barrel, these questions prompt the reader to turn the page.

The illustrations by Brookshire are breathtakingly beautiful and capture the whimsical feel of the tale weaved by Smith. The front cover has a beautiful sketch of what looks like a cherry blossom tree in full bloom. The deep rose-pink petals cascade from the tree’s brown limbs, showering a young girl with carrot red hair who is holding up a bunny in mid-air and apparently twirling in delight. The sway of the girl’s flowing white dress and arrangement of her green sweater give the reader the impression that it is a slightly windy day. The cover picture serves as foreshadowing as to how the story will unfold: Girl finds a stuffed animal bunny, presumably at a toy store. Girl’s parent buys the bunny. Girl falls in love with her new toy and treats it like her very own best friend.

As the book is opened, the reader discovers in the first few pages in which the setting is a toy store, that the young girl’s name is Caroline. As the story progresses, the reader learns that Caroline names the bunny Audrey which was her grandmother’s name. The sketches by Brookshire are essential to the journey between Audrey and her bunny. Every page of the book tells the reader something about the bunny’s plight to be loved despite an unsightly mark on her chest, and the young girl’s desire to find a new toy to love.

Children can relate to Caroline and appreciate her happy spirit and sweet personality. They most definitely will understand Caroline’s eagerness to include the bunny in her everyday activities—from tea time and dress-up to reading books and falling asleep. Children will make a text-to-self connection when Caroline showcases Audrey Bunny to all of her friends at school for show and tell. The entire book is incredibly relatable for children—especially young girls—in their early years of education. Parents, especially mothers, will love this book and may want to use it as the traditional bedtime story as they lull their daughters to sleep.

Unconditional love is the theme of this story. The girl loves her bunny despite its imperfection. Perhaps Smith meant this story to be a portrayal of how God loves us perfectly, as imperfect as we as humans are. Maybe the message at the heart of this story shows us how God’s love is unfailing as He looks past our broken, brings out our beautiful and restores us completely. We may still have our imperfections such as Audrey Bunny’s mark which can be used as a metaphor in the real world, but we have the perfect love and providence of a Savior.

I would recommend this book to every parent who wants to show their child—especially ones who feel that they do not fit in or are not good enough—that they are loved not just by their parents and family members but by the Creator of the Universe whose love is pure, perfect and unconditional.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thankful Thursday: God's got this

It's Thursday and I'm thankful to serve a God who assures me in so many ways that He's "got this" meaning no matter what I face, God has my back and He proves it in the most creative ways!

Case in point, earlier this week the editor of Collegiate Quarterly (CQ) for whom I used to work for as the Growing Up columnist (for five years), contacted me. She asked me if I could coordinate a week's worth of lessons for CQ Bible Study Guide for Young Adults. This involves finding six writers--one has to be a pastor or trained theologian--and asking them to write one article to be published in CQ. It is a process that usually takes a few weeks, maybe a month. But as soon as I told the editor that I'd be one of her coordinators, I sent out an all-call to everyone I knew and seconds after sending it, I had two writers then one more and before that very hour was over, I had five writers! The first pastor whose name popped in my head was the person I contacted first to write the section for pastors, agreed a few hours later. So in less than 10 hours on the very same day of signing on as a coordinator, I had all of my writers!

Now the amazing aspect of this testimony is that I've been a coordinator for CQ about five times now and never, ever have I gotten all of my writers in ONE DAY!

I believe this was meant to be so I'm glad I said "yes" to being a coordinator again.

After seeing how quickly the process of signing on my writers was, I was encouraged because I realize that God cares about every aspect of my life and He answers prayers before they are even spoken (Isaiah 65:24). I did not know I was going to be asked to be a coordinator that day and I don't think I said a prayer to God to help me find my writers. But God knew this is what I needed and He worked it out for me, moving on the hearts and minds of the people who were to be my writers for this round, in record time!

Essentially, this situation has taught me to trust God with everything and know that He's got this (He covers me with His Providence, Grace and Mercy).

What about you? Do you have a testimony to share? If yes, leave a comment below this message.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Guest Post about Love and Open Hearts

Today, I am delighted to share a blog post with you written by our guest, Jennifer Watson. 

But before I share the post, I need to share a story. 

It’s wonderful how God brings people together to encourage each other on their faith walk with Him. One of those people in my life is Jennifer Watson. We connected about four years ago through her Broken Girl website. After I submitted a few encouraging comments about the posts written by Jennifer and Keri Lynn Bullington (with whom Jennifer co-founded the Broken Girl blog), Jennifer invited me to share my "broken girl story" on her blog. After thinking about it for like a minute, I agreed to share my story because I believe there are people in the world who may be encouraged in their life journey through reading my story about how God turned my broken into beautiful. 

So I wrote the guest post, sent it to Jennifer and it was published on Feb. 27, 2012. But our connection did not end with that one guest post, it continued in the form of an encouragement ministry. If I need prayer, I know I can talk to Jennifer who will not only pray but offer words of encouragement that help me in my journey through life. I value the prayer support and encouragement given through the words Jennifer shares with me and the world via the Broken Girl blog which I call a ministry. 

I hope you will appreciate and receive encouragement in your journey through life as you read the words from Jennifer’s heart presented in her first guest post for my blog! 

My Adoption Story: When Hearts Break Wide Open 
Written by Jennifer Watson 

Almost two years ago we welcomed a little boy into our home for four months, we were in the process of adopting him when his mother decided she wanted him back. Those four months were extremely difficult. I wanted the boy, just not all the strings attached and baggage that came from his family fighting us. But love is about welcoming the chaos and opening your heart wide enough for it to break wide-open changing you forever. I watched love change my heart as I loved a stranger like he was flesh and blood, no different from my children. 

I was never one to fall in love so easily, but sometimes love is like driving a car fast without any brakes. You brace yourself and hold your breath uncertain of the outcome. What once was invigorating and exciting hits the brick wall of change and you emerge different. The hope is that eventually the whiplash will fade to nothingness and your heart will be mended yet remain wide-open. 

Love is bringing in all the baggage and dirty clothes with stains. It's staying up late and rearranging all your space for one more. It's saying, “You belong here, please untidy all the things that I think have to remain in a certain place.” 

Love is letting go of your fears of loving someone you might not get to keep and loving so much it hurts in the best possible way. Love wrecks you turning you inside out, it's the furthest thing from selfish and the closest thing to sacred we could ever feel. It's messy and beautiful and worth it. The messy beautiful walk hand-in-hand and sometimes it hurts in ways words can’t express. 

People always ask me if I would open my home again and I say yes, a million times, yes. I'll leave the light on for you, little buddy. I'll take your baggage and all your stains because fear doesn't live here, love does. And I'll leave my heart wide-open for my sister who feels like her world and heart has been split wide-open. Come and sit on my couch, you can cry and I'll feed you chocolate. Together we can unpack your baggage, mending the tattered garments of your heart. 

In our churches, in our homes, and in our hearts let us leave room for all the broken, baggage carriers because at one time that was us. Let’s love each other enough and help them unpack their baggage. We will never regret loving fiercely and allowing our hearts to split wide-open. Love isn't about counting the costs and being careful; it's about saying it's worth it. Come on, love, wreck me. 

Loving the way Jesus does is risky, but with all my heart I believe it’s worth it. Jesus walked this earth with every intention of laying down His life for us, even for the ones who rejected and mocked Him. Laying it all down and living a life of putting others first is risky, but I want to love like that. My heart is full of gratitude for a cross, an empty tomb, and a risky, unending love. 

There is room enough in my heart to be wrecked, split wide-open for those in need around me and I want more than anything to stop being so dang careful. 

Author bio: Jennifer Watson is a self-professed girly-girl who is convinced that coloring your hair is addictive. She has an undying affection for refined sugar and red lipstick. She is a mother of two miracle babies and is an out-of-the-box minister’s wife. She loves weaving words together to speak to the hearts of women. You can hang out with Jennifer and her words at the Broken Girl blog.