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Psalm 139 Reflections

I encourage you to read Psalm 139 before reading this post.

I have always wanted to memorize an entire chapter of Scripture, but I have struggled to complete whatever I’m memorizing. When I was contacted by a friend through my church about a group of women who were gathering to memorize Psalm 139 together, I signed up because I knew I needed accountability in this area. I knew parts of this Psalm… even memorized a few verses in the past, so I admittedly wasn’t expecting to be so impacted by words I was already relatively familiar with. But, God’s Word is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12) and He worked in incredible ways over the several weeks of memorizing, studying, and meditating. Today, I wanted to share just three takeaways.

1. God is omniscient – He knows everything about us. 

God knows us intimately. He knows our every thought, every word before we speak them, and every action before we do them. Nothing is hidden from Him. My group wrestled with these truths, because while they gave us a lot of comfort, we also cringed at the reminder that God knows every sinful thought and action.

Reflecting on this reality made us even more grateful for the Gospel. Despite our ugly sin, God still loves us! By His grace, the Father sent His Son to die the death we deserved for our sins so that all who repent and believe in Him will be forgiven and have eternal life. Born again believers can rest in knowing that though God is well aware of our sin, Christ’s righteousness has been credited to us (Romans 4:5). 

I especially found peace in reflecting on how our Father in Heaven understands us completely. One of the things I struggle with most is wanting to be understood by others. Since I was a little girl, I have had a deep longing to be known and understood by others. If I had to choose a quote representative of my childhood and adolescence, “Nobody understands me!” would be in the running.

My husband knows me better than anyone and I have friends and family who love and affirm me as well. But, this insecurity still runs deep within me and Psalm 139 caused me to confront it head-on. By the Holy Spirit’s prompting, I was forced to ask myself, “Do you really believe that God fully understands and loves you?” and, “Is that enough for you?” The answer was yes, so I’m asking the Spirit to help me live in light of this truth.

2. God is omnipresent – He is always present with us.

Before we were even created, wherever we go, whether we acknowledge Him or not, He is with us. We cannot escape the presence of God and when we are in right relationship with Him, we don’t want to. He leads us, holds us, and hems us in – His presence surrounds us and protects us. This is true in every sense. He is present with us physically, mentally, and spiritually. Verse 12 says, “even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”

This truth brings comfort and gives me new strength, especially on the days my heart is heavy about personal struggles and evil in the world. Whether I am in a physical or mental place of darkness, He is there. He is my sure hope – my confident assurance that in His presence all evil is exposed, sin is conquered, and I am not alone.

3. God is omnipotent – His power is limitless.

God is the Creator of all things, seen and unseen by the human eye. By His infinite power, we were created in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). He carefully knitted each one of us together in our mother’s womb, but even before that, He saw us. Verse 16 says, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

I was profoundly impacted by the truth that even before I was conceived, God had the number of my days written down. My life was carefully planned, no mistakes were made. In fact, He delighted in making me. Verse 18 says His thoughts about me are more than the sand. He thinks about every human being – born and unborn – in this deep, personal way. All are equally valuable in His eyes. Only the all-powerful God of the universe has the capacity to create unique individuals and think of each one of us in such an intimate way.


I could go on and on about the many ways memorizing Psalm 139 has impacted me. I am continually amazed by how God speaks to us through His Word as we memorize it and how He uses it for our benefit and to bless others. There have already been specific moments where He has brought the words of this Psalm to my mind to speak truth into my circumstances and cause me to think and act differently. He has also brought these words to mind to encourage friends in their struggles and it was a privilege to be used by God in that way. This is why we memorize Scripture!

Scripture memory glorifies God – He speaks to us personally as we write His Word on our hearts, causes us to live in light of what’s true, and uses it to bless others in profound ways.

I invite you to text a friend, or get a group of friends together, to memorize a passage in the Bible. Plan out how much time you will spend memorizing and hold each other accountable. Study and journal about the passage you choose and watch how God will use His Word and fellowship to bless you in profound ways!

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What is the best way to interpret the Bible?

What is the best way to interpret the Bible? Is there one interpretation of the Bible or many? How do we know the Bible is trustworthy and true? Is everything in the Bible still relevant today?

There are many questions about the Bible and how we should interpret it. Above are just a few common questions I’ve come across recently. I’ve heard some great answers, but I’ve also discovered misleading responses and misconceptions about how to approach the Word of God. If you have asked any of these questions or someone else has asked you a similar one and you didn’t know how to respond, this post is for you! Let’s take some time to break down how to approach the Word of God and accurately interpret it.

Trusting the inerrancy and authority of God’s Word

2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” Hebrews 4:12 says that the Word of God is “living and active” and that it discerns “the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” In other words, God spoke through the men who wrote the books of the Bible, but it is His written Word to us. It is without error, alive, active, and still completely relevant today! All of it helps us understand who God is and who we are. We can trust it, because God is unchanging, His ways are perfect, and His Word literally proves itself true (2 Samuel 22:31 & Psalm 18:30).

Many today believe truth is relative – what’s true for one person may not be true for another. But, the God of the Bible makes it very clear His will and His commands are not up for debate. Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” He is not passive – He speaks intentionally, purposefully, and authoritatively. Therefore, we must accept that there is only one accurate interpretation of the Bible. He has our best interest in mind and is worthy of our trust! Our approach shouldn’t be: “What does this passage mean to me?” But instead, it should be: “What does God want me to understand from this passage?” And we should be diligent in seeking His truth – the only truth.

Interpret the Bible Accurately

So, how do we seek the truth? How do we know when our interpretation of a passage is in alignment with God’s intended message to us? A simple way to start is following 4 steps:

Pray

Before opening your Bible, pray that God would give you humility, wisdom, and discernment to accurately understand what He has spoken through His Word. Pray that He would make you teachable and inspire you to live differently because of what you’ve learned.

Ask: What is the context? Facts? What’s happening? What is literally being said?

Read surrounding verses to understand the context of a verse. What is happening in the passage? Is it a story? A prayer? A Psalm? Get to know what’s happening in the passage in a literal sense. If you have a study Bible, read the introduction to understand who the author was writing to, why, when, etc. This is crucial to having an accurate understanding of God’s Word.

Ask: What do I learn about God? Myself? Humanity?

Once you’ve explored the above question, think about what the passage is communicating about God, yourself, and/or humanity as a whole. If you’re not sure, ask God what He wants you to learn. The answer might come easily or it might take some time and that’s okay too!

Ask: How can I apply this truth to my life? 

As believers, we are meant to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). The Word of God should change us and inspire us to live differently. This is such an important question to ask and not a step in Bible study we should skip!

Other helpful resources and tips

It’s important to get into the habit of praying and asking the questions above as learn to interpret the Bible with accuracy. But, there are also many helpful resources out there to help us dive deeper. One of my favorite resources is GotQuestions.org, where you can look up specific answers to Bible questions and get a biblical response. If you are wanting to dig into the original Hebrew/Greek, Blue Letter Bible is a fantastic resource! You can also find commentaries to help you understand the context, themes, and messages of entire books and specific passages. I’ve used the Matthew Henry Commentary a lot in my studies when I really want to dive deep and understand – it’s free on the Blue Letter Bible website!

And lastly and probably most importantly, make sure you are reading a solid Bible translation. There are many translations out there and I’ve learned that just because it’s on the Bible app, doesn’t mean it’s a good one. I mostly use the ESV, but I sometimes refer to NASB. These are considered word-for-word translations. NIV and NLT are more thought-for-thought, The Message is a paraphrase, and some “translations” are not accurate and should be avoided, like The Passion Translation (TPT) (See this article for more information on TPT). If you are unsure about a translation, do some research online!

In conclusion

The best way – really, the only accurate way – to interpret the Bible is by the power of the Holy Spirit. We must trust the Bible is complete, perfect, living and active Word of God, useful for understanding Jesus’ message of salvation and how to live life the way God intended. Approach Scripture prayerfully and humbly. Be willing to set aside our own opinions, feelings, perceptions, and desires in order to understand God’s intended message through His written Word. Pray God that God would make you teachable and give you discernment. Pray He would reveal what’s true to you and that He would give you a soft heart, willing to accept all He says, even the more challenging truths.

Proverbs 8:17 says, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” God promises to reveal Himself to us when we earnestly seek Him through His Word.

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Book Update & Personal Update

Hello, everyone! It has been a minute since I last posted here on the blog! I’ve been keeping in touch weekly with my community over email. But, those of you who are not on my list haven’t heard from me in quite some time! Sorry about that, but I promise it has been for good reasons! I’m back today with an update on my book and an update on what God’s teaching me right now.

Book Update

I mentioned a few months ago that I was writing a book… I’m happy to announce it is fully written and edited and my publisher is getting the design and layout finalized! We are hoping to have it completed in the next couple weeks, so it will be ready for release in the fall.

I’m keeping the specifics to myself until everything is sent to print. (Just in case something changes at the last minute!) But, I’m really looking forward to sharing what this book is all about. I have never written anything so heavily inspired by God’s Word. The Lord really used the whole experience to grow me in dependence on Him and love for Him. I’m so grateful for the ways He taught me to articulate who He is to others and how knowing Him more deeply impacts our trust in Him in mighty ways.

Personal Update & Reflections

Over the past few months, God has been teaching me about surrender. He’s been teaching me to surrender my time to Him, what I listen to, my work to Him… He’s revealing where I’m still holding onto my will and not surrendering to His will. And, He’s teaching me how to more boldly and intentionally live in light of the Gospel.

When we grow in our understanding of Christ’s loving sacrifice for unworthy sinners, we are led to live differently. We are led to offer our lives as a living sacrifice to God when we recognize what Jesus has done for us. The Son of God left heaven, came into the world as an infant and experienced life as we do. He came to walk with us, teach us, and ultimately, save us by sacrificially dying on a cross. Christ endured the wrath of God we deserved and triumphantly rose from the dead to forgive all who believe. He is oh so worthy of our complete surrender!

Encouragements

I encourage you to ask God how He is calling you to deeper surrender. Maybe you’re like me and you have some fears about that. I’ve realized my main fear is around rest. I worry that if I surrender everything to Him, specifically my free time, I’ll be tired all the time. I fear He’ll call me to more than I can handle and I won’t rest. But, when I focus on what’s true, I know that He promises to equip us for all He calls us to. He also promises to provide for our needs – even rest! What are your fears in surrendering everything to God? What does He say in His Word about those fears? Trust in His promises, surrender in faith, and watch as He works in mighty ways!

Anyway, that’s my update! If you’re in need of more encouragement, subscribe to my mailing list if you haven’t already! I send out weekly emails talking about practical steps to grow in your faith and love for Christ. I send out free resources and all sorts of content exclusive to members of my community who are ready to grow deeper in their relationship with God. I’d love to see you there!

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3 Reasons Why It’s Important to Study the Bible

If you’re a part of my community or have been following me for awhile, you know that I love God’s Word. Studying the Bible excites me. I talk a lot about the Bible and what God is teaching me, but I wanted to share with you why it’s important that we all study the Bible on our own and why we should get excited about it.

It’s important that we study the Bible because it’s God’s written Word to us and the primary way He speaks to us. 

If we want to grow in our faith, studying the Bible is foundational. Many people around the world do not have access to the Bible, but if you are reading this post, I’m gonna assume you do. 😉 So, start reading and studying the Bible online through one of the apps or websites I recommend (visit the link below) and if you can afford it, invest in a study Bible. All scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), living and active (Hebrews 4:12). Learning what messages God has spoken through Scripture for all people, for all time is exciting and it has eternal impact on our lives!

Side note: Do your research on translations. Some are more trusted than others and some are just paraphrases. You want an accurate, word-for-word translation. My personal favorite translation is ESV, second favorite is NASB.

It’s important that we study the Bible to grow in wisdom and discernment.

The world is a confusing place… even the church can be! Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” In other words, as Christians, we are not meant to lean on and live by our own ideas and opinions, we are meant to trust in God’s way and that His way is the best way. We grow in our godly understanding (AKA wisdom and discernment) through studying the Bible. The more we study the Bible, the more we grow in true wisdom, and the better we can discern what’s right and wrong in a world where it’s not always clear.

It’s important that we study the Bible to grow in our love for God and our love for others.

God’s greatest commandment has remained true since the Old Testament, but Jesus reiterates it in Matthew 22:37-38 ESV, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” God’s #1 commandment, the most important, our starting point, is to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind. We grow in our love for God through prayer, worship, and studying the Bible. The second commandment flows from our love for God. The better we know His love, the better we can love others in the way Christ loves us.


I hope this post helped you understand better why we study the Bible. We don’t just study the Word of God to gain knowledge and go about our normal lives. It should change us. It should cause us to live and think differently.

The Creator of the universe wants to speak to you through His written Word—He wants to bless you with His love, gifts of knowledge and discernment, and so much more. This is exciting! Bible study is never boring when we ask God to use it to grow us and transform our lives. Pray daily for wisdom, study His Word, and memorize it. Experience how He speaks through Scripture and will grow You in ways only He can. <3

If you are not yet a part of my community, I would love to help equip you to study the Bible on your own and get excited about it. Sign up to join below to receive exclusive freebies and tips only available via email!

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A couple exciting announcements: New book, exclusive products

Hello, everyone! Coming to you today with some exciting announcements! Firstly, I am working on a new book… this time, with a publisher! After writing and self-publishing my first two devotionals and Guided Prayer Journal, I determined, the next book would need to be with a publisher. I had no idea how that would be possible, how I would get connected with the right publisher, or what the next book would even be. But, I prayed and trusted the Lord would make it happen if it was His will… and He did just that.

My publisher and I spent several weeks planning. We discussed what the book would be about and the timeline to complete it. We are hoping to release it before Christmas… of this year! Which means, for the next two months, I will be focusing all my writing and creating attention on this book and a few smaller projects that are already in the works. This means I will be taking a break from creating and writing for the blog for at least a month, but the shop will remain open. I might have small pockets of time to connect with you all and provide updates. But, it won’t be the same kind of content or consistency you are used to. However, know you are so appreciated! I know many, if not all of you, will be waiting here for me when I return. Thank you so much!

I can hardly wait to share more details with you! I’m thankful for each one of you and I hope you will keep me in your prayers. I will need lots of them in order to write this book! All glory to God!

I said I had more than one announcement, so here’s the next one

I’ve got a few products available exclusively on Amazon through my partnership with Èccolo, including my best-selling Guided Prayer Journal in three cover designs!

I am grateful to be a part of Èccolo’s catalog on Amazon so that more people have access to a great resource that was created to help others grow in their walk with Christ in a more intimate way. Months ago, I prayed God would make these journals more available and affordable. To my joy and amazement, He has answered in the most unexpected and abundant ways!

I have even more products than those pictured available at select T.J.Maxx and TJX stores, but I am thrilled to have links to just a handful of my favorites – especially for those of you who have not been able to find them in stores in your area. If that’s the case, check out the links below!

Anyway… that’s all for now. It will be so strange being so disconnected from this community, but you all will continue to be on my mind as I write my new book. 🖤 Hopefully next time we connect, I’ll have more exciting updates, but until then the shop is still open, you can order one of my self-published devotionals in my shop to read daily, or you can just enjoy the blog archives! 😉 Blessings!

Xo, Lauren

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Psalm 18:30 | The word of the Lord proves true

“This God – his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” -Psalm 18:30 ESV

God is perfect in all His ways and His Word proves true. Let’s pause and think about that for a moment. If God’s Word proves true, it means there is clear evidence of its trustworthiness. But where do we look?

We can look to the Bible (the written Word of God) and even look at our lives, the lives of others, and the world around us to find evidence that the God of the Bible is the one true God and His Word alone is true.

Let’s start with the Bible.

I’ve been studying Genesis this year and what has stood out to me is God’s repeated promises through the line of Abraham. In chapter 12 God promised Abraham that He would make Abraham’s descendants into a great nation and that He would bless those who bless Abraham and curse those who curse him. After several long years, still no children, and Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was well past child-bearing years, God repeated His promise, making a covenant with Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. (Genesis 15) More time passed, many sinful decisions and mistakes were made, but God’s promise prevailed. Sarah bore Abraham a son named Isaac and through his line would come the Messiah – Jesus Christ (Matthew 1). I find it amazing how God remains faithful to His promises through the generations even when people sin against Him.

God’s faithfulness to His promises throughout Scripture

God reminded Isaac of His covenant with Abraham, He reminded Isaac’s son Jacob… and God spoke through the prophets to remind the nation of Israel of who they were, who God was, and that a Messiah was to come. And when Jesus did come, He was the fulfillment of the many promises God made from the very beginning – to redeem a fallen world, promising eternal life to all who put their faith in Him.

But just as God remains faithful to His promises of blessing, God is also faithful to His promises of judgment and wrath. But, we see throughout Scripture God’s compassion through His repeated reminders and warnings to His people. When His people listened, they were blessed, when they ignored or disobeyed God’s warnings, they faced the consequences. Still today, God continues to warn us of the consequences of sin and the realities of hell through His written Word and that Christ alone is the way of salvation. And even this promise is good, because God is good and all His ways are perfect.

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” -2 Peter 3:9 ESV

Have you ever thought about how compassionate God is in making promises and repeating them to forgetful people like you and me?

Our lives and the world around us

God also uses circumstances in our lives, the lives of others, and creation itself to prove the trustworthiness of His Word. I can think of several times in my life I have experienced God’s promises of comfort, peace, strength, and blessing, but of course, I’m always reminded of how He saved me. I shared that story in this post if you’d like to read it. And of course, God uses the lives and stories of others to prove His faithfulness to His promises. I think of the many amazing stories of God’s goodness displayed through the lives of close friends and family members – even the stories of others through books I’ve read or videos I’ve watched. The stories of God’s people throughout every generation are powerful testimonies to His faithfulness.

God even uses His creation to prove He is God and His Word is true:

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” -Psalm 19:1-4 ESV

God uses it all. None of it goes to waste. How have you seen proof of God’s trustworthiness in your own life, the lives of others, or simply in creation?

He is a shield and refuge

God’s Word proves true. That is a promise. But, let’s not forget to look at the second promise in today’s featured verse: “he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” Shields are used to protect and defend. They take the blow of a weapon or threat for the person covered by one. When I think of this picture, I can’t help but think of the Son of God, perfect in every way, nailed to a cross, suffering a horrendous death to save sinners. We deserved that death. He did not. And all who put their faith in His atoning sacrifice will be saved from hell and instead promised eternal life. He truly is our shield.

His Word is true and He protects all who put their faith in Him.

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Philippians 4:8 | How to Overcome Anxiety

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” -Philippians 4:8 ESV

This verse keeps coming to mind these days. God speaks through His Word and when a verse seems like it’s on repeat throughout the day, I know it’s from the Holy Spirit. I’m in a challenging season physically and mentally. Months now of aches, pains, trouble sleeping, sick to my stomach, anxiety, and the blues… I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, but I am guessing the primary cause is anxiety. I’m on a journey to find relief and healing physically, but as I’m learning and growing in that area, God is also teaching me that this is just as much – or more – a spiritual battle as it is a physical one and it’s the spiritual side I’ll be focusing on in this post.

A recent experience

On the early mornings I can’t sleep, I often get up to pray. One recent morning, I felt compelled to write down all the things I was worried about. The list was long and 99% of what I wrote was entirely out of my control. As I wrote, I prayed, “Jesus, I lay these worries at Your feet. I know these are burdens I’m not meant to carry.”

Later that morning while I was driving, this thought came to mind: How do I lay my worries at Jesus’ feet for good? I could still feel myself hanging onto what I prayed to let go of. That’s when the words, “whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable… think about these things,” came to mind. It was the Spirit responding directly to my thoughts, directly from His Word. Through that verse alone, He reminded me of an important step in letting go of anxious, worrisome, fearful, and even sinful thoughts: fill your mind with godly thoughts.

So often we see, hear, and read the “do not be anxious” part of Philippians 4:6 independently from the context of the passage. With just those words, it feels impossible. We wonder how do we just stop being anxious when it feels out of our control? But thankfully, God gives us clear direction in how to do this through the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:4-9.

Let’s start by reading the passage in full – slowly and thoughtfully:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” -Philippians 4:4-9 ESV


How to overcome anxiety (According to Philippians 4:4-9):

Rejoice

Delight in the Lord and remain joyful in Him always. Again, rejoice!

Be reasonable and gentle

Let your gentle spirit and sound judgment be known to others. God is with you!

Pray about everything

Pray to God about everything – He wants you to do this!

Give thanks to God

Practice gratitude. Acknowledge every good thing is from Him.

Allow God’s peace to guard you

Allow the peace of God which surpasses all understanding to guard your heart and mind in Christ.

Think godly thoughts

Think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise.

Trust

God promises peace when we do these things and He is faithful to keep all His promises! Trust Him. Be expectant!

Repeat

Put these things into practice, learn, and grow continually.


Remember…

Remember: Grace abounds! Focus on continual growth, not an impossible standard of perfection. God is faithful to His promises even in our shortcomings. But, we also have to face the truth: There are no shortcuts. The first step is putting our faith in Christ, trusting in Him as our Lord and Savior. The next is renewing our faith in His promises continually and humbly obeying His Word – trusting our loving Father truly knows what’s best for us.

If you are like me and are in need of a clear visual reminder to put this passage into practice, I’ve created a free PDF for you to download and print at home. (Existing mailing list subscribers, check your inbox today!)

And finally, if you are struggling with mental illness of any kind, cling to Jesus. In Him alone there is lasting healing and peace. I believe applying this passage in Philippians will bring peace that surpasses all understanding because God promises it and He is faithful to His promises. Always. I also know that God often uses friends, family, doctors, and licensed therapists to bring about healing as well – to help us apply these truths to our lives and bring about healing where anxiety is effecting our physical health too. There is no shame in reaching out for help if you need it. I’m learning there are so many people in this battle against anxiety right now. You are not alone and our God is a God who sees you, cares for you, and loves you unconditionally. 🖤


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My Faith Story

Nine years ago this week, by the grace of God, I put my faith in Jesus Christ. So, I thought it would be appropriate to share my testimony of faith with you all today.

My life before Christ

When I share with others that I’ve only been a follower of Jesus for the time that I have, many are surprised to hear that I grew up going to church very regularly. Nearly every week growing up, our family would attend a small, traditional church. My sisters and I would go to Sunday school and every summer we would attend church camp. The Bible was read in church and Bible stories were taught in Sunday school. But, I never knew why all the ancient stories mattered. And, I never understood why Jesus dying and being raised from the dead had an impact on my life personally.

My old beliefs and questions

For most of my life, I believed in God, but I was not following Him. I had no idea there even was a difference. To me, God was mostly a holy judge. If I followed the Ten Commandments well enough, I would be accepted into heaven. I remember a specific moment from my childhood where I questioned: How do I know when I’ve done enough for God so I can go to heaven? Which I later learned is the opposite of the Gospel message.

I was a Christian by name, but not at heart, which isn’t a true Christian at all. Aside from having some strong morals based on God’s commands, I followed my own path and my own understanding. But, in my late teens, I started seriously questioning the existence of God. I had a powerful experience my last year at church camp and reflected on that camp high thinking: I feel like God wants us to feel close to Him all the time, not just one week out of the year.

Prayers and doubts

That thought impacted my prayers in a positive way, but not my lifestyle or even my beliefs about God. I prayed before bed many nights that God would show me what it looked like to be close to Him. I wanted that, but had no idea how to experience that. By the time I left for college, those prayers were prayed to a God a seriously doubted even existed.

Coming to faith in Christ

As I drifted from God, I became more self-focused. I was needy for attention and recognition for my accomplishments, the way I dressed, the guys I went out with, and the roles I got in school plays. I started playing ukulele and writing songs and became obsessed with music. A desire for fame grew in me, even though I denied it to myself and others for years. Music became my outlet for anger and I hurt several people because of the songs I wrote and publicly released. I destroyed relationships with the two people closest to me at the time. And, I started realizing I was on a self-destructive path I had no idea how to get off of.

An awkward moment

When I was home for spring break in 2012, I went to a party with a whole bunch of high school friends. A few of my friends told me they’d be leaving to get ice cream and French fries and that I should meet up with them at McDonalds. Being the introvert that I am, I left the big party shortly after my other friends did. I was expecting to show up and we’d talk about boys and gossip. When I arrived, I walked in on a conversation about Jesus and Bible studies that these two friends had joined. I was so confused and felt very awkward. A year ago, these friends were into the same kinds of things I was, not God.

I sat there for awhile, panicking a little because I had absolutely zero to contribute to the conversation. But as they turned to me to ask how I was doing, I told them about my fears. I shared how I felt like my life was spiraling out of control. My friends told me that Jesus could set things right and that I should start pursuing a relationship with Him. They encouraged me to start a prayer journal. They said I should start writing to Jesus about what I was going through. And, to tell Him my regrets and my desires to change.

It all clicked

In that moment, it clicked. Jesus is the answer. I didn’t know it at the time, but I later learned, it was the Holy Spirit who intervened, opened my eyes, made my heart His dwelling place, and made this realization possible. This was the moment God saved me from my sins. A few days later, I went out and bought myself a journal and began praying. Over the course of that week, I also wrote an extremely long letter to God about all my regrets and the idols in my life (the things that I valued more than Him). I expressed to Him how deeply sorry I was for the mistakes I had made. I shared how desperately I desired a relationship with Him and to experience His power in my life.

My new life in Christ

In the beginning

When I returned to campus after what was a completely life-changing spring break, I was a new person. I felt it, but I also didn’t understand what had happened to me. That “camp high” feeling was back again, which I later learned was the presence of the Holy Spirit. I was afraid that I would lose that feeling. I didn’t want to lose the new desires I had to rush back to my dorm between classes to journal, to spend my evenings alone at a picnic table listening to sermons my friend sent me, and eventually reading the Bible myself for the first time.

By the grace of God, I began growing in my new faith fast. I learned that I had been saved by grace through faith as I read in Ephesians 2 and that it was never about my own works. When I put my faith in Christ, I received the Holy Spirit. He was the one who opened my eyes to the truth and gave me the ability to understand the Bible for the first time in my life. I learned that this was not just a phase of my life, but that this change was permanent.

As I time went on

As I grew in Christ, I changed for the better. I became more focused on Christ and less focused on myself. I became obsessed with God. In other words, I was totally in love with Him and hungry to know Him. This was a major shift from my old obsessions and idols. Six months after that night at McDonald’s, I met my husband at a music school we both transferred to. He was such an inspiration, teacher, and encourager to me as a new believer. And he continues to be, though I will admit our path of growth has not always been a pretty or straight one.

As the years passed, by God’s grace, I found reconciliation in both the relationships I had destroyed, which had been a source of guilt for a long time. God has done countless other great works in my life since and I praise Him for it all. I truly wouldn’t be the person I am today without Christ and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I still love Him and I’m beyond grateful that as a doubting teen, He heard my prayers to be close to Him, whatever that meant.

What I know now

I now know that being close to God is not about the things I thought it meant: going to the right church, simply calling myself a Christian, living a moral life in my own eyes, and being good enough to earn God’s favor. I’ve since learned that God used my upbringing to prepare me for that moment at McDonald’s. I’ve learned that I can confidently call myself a Christian, not because of my own efforts, but because of the Gospel message.

Out of God’s goodness and great love for unworthy sinners, He sent His perfect Son to die and be raised from the dead to forgive sins and promise eternal life to all who put their faith in Him! My works are no longer rooted in an attempt to gain His favor. They are now simply an outpouring of my love for Him. I now have a desire to follow His commands, because I trust that following what He says in His Word is what’s best for us. I’ve since learned that though our God is a holy judge, He is also our Savior, Redeemer, and Friend. A healthy balance of understanding all His attributes leads to deeper trust in Him.

Put your faith in Christ

God declares in His Word that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation (John 14:6). Maybe you can relate to my early story of growing up in the church or in some other religion, but you’re not close to God or you don’t feel like your faith has had a significant impact on your life. I encourage you to pray to Jesus. Ask Him to show you what true faith looks like in your life. Start seeking Him diligently, even if you don’t feel His presence. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” That is a promise to cling to.

Reflect on your mistakes, your flaws, what might be idols in your life (the things that you put before God), confess them to Him, and ask Him to redeem those areas of your life and help you change. Put your faith in the Gospel. Faith in Jesus Christ requires full surrender. I know this can be scary, but what He promises is far greater and far better than anything we are tempted to hold onto. He assures us of this over and over again in Scripture and I personally can attest to this as well.

You can trust Him.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” -1 Peter 1:3 ESV

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” -Galatians 2:20 ESV


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New Shop, New Products, Now Live!!

After weeks of anticipation, the new and improved shop is now live!

I am so excited to share this new space and these new products with you. I can hardly wait to see what you pick out! Mailing list subscribers, make sure you check your inbox for an exclusive coupon code to use at checkout. Everyone else will get free shipping if you spend $35 or more!

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts leading up to this launch, I’ve been feeling a stirring in my heart to create this shop for several months. I’ve been on Etsy for over 4 years and I’m extremely thankful for how the Lord used that platform to launch my career as a lettering artist and graphic designer. I hadn’t created a shop on my website up until this point, because I love to simplify. Having a shop here and a shop there felt redundant. But, the experience on Etsy changed and so did my desires. I wanted to create an online space away from distractions to just focus on Jesus. And I realized that I wouldn’t be creating something redundant. I was ready to create something brand new for my community and for myself, all for the glory of God.

It’s my hope that this website and shop will be a blessing to you and your loved ones – a place where you come to get filled up on the Word of God each week, consider how you can apply the truth to your lives, and to share that truth with someone in your life. That’s why I improved the entire website and blog at the beginning of the year. And now, I hope it will be a go-to place where you come to find reminders of God’s character and promises to add to your home and give as gifts to those you care about and want to encourage.

Thank you so much for your love, prayers, and support.

Whether you’ve been with me since the first shop opened or have joined me somewhere in between then and now, I am grateful you are here. It’s a privilege to be a part of your life in this way. I know many creatives experience burnout either through the content they create or the people who follow them. But for me, our great God and His trustworthy Word keep me inspired. And, this wonderfully supportive community keeps me motivated to keep blogging and creating. I love to create, but to me, it’s a means to be a part of something bigger than myself – trusting God will use my works to make a lasting impact for His Kingdom.


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New shop, new products launch in one week!

The shop launch is just one week away!

Boy oh boy, has this transition been a labor of love! I am working on this website all on my own, so it has been a huge learning experience. Thankfully, my husband is a software developer. He has been a huge help when I’ve run into hiccups that I can’t find an answer for on the internet. I’m so grateful for him!

I’ve been thinking back on late October/early November when I thought about getting this shop up and running before Thanksgiving. That would have been a disaster! I’m grateful God gave me patience to wait until I had more time. Even with several weeks to work with, there have been a lot of long afternoons of taking and editing new photos. There have been many late nights uploading and updating products. I’ve spent long hours designing the website and troubleshooting the many problems that pop up. And all of this was on top of my regular work responsibilities with other companies and clients.

It’s been busy around here. A lot of hard work! But, I’ve done several big projects over the years and know it’s the ones that cause you to grind, persevere, and rely on the Lord to give you the abilities to accomplish them that are the most rewarding in the end. Holding onto that hope!

I’ve been asked if opening this new shop means I will close my Etsy shop. For now, I will be leaving it open since about 30% of my sales still come directly from Etsy searches. However, this new shop will be the home base from now on. All new products will be uploaded here first. In fact, I will not have time to get all the new products loaded to Etsy until days or weeks after this launch. I’ll be focused on updating my wholesale shop next, Etsy will come last.

I know Etsy is so convenient, but I invite you to shop here for several reasons.

By shopping directly on my website:

  1. You will be supporting my efforts to create a shopping experience centered on Christ.
    • I’ve been working hard to create an online space that feels cozy, calm, and peaceful – a comfortable place to browse and convenient way to shop, centered on God and His Word.
  2. More of your money will be going directly to me, a Jesus-loving small business owner, and less to giant companies.
    • There are so many hidden expenses on my end with Etsy: transaction fees, listing fees, shipping fees… the list goes on and on. There are significantly less fees on my end when orders are placed right here on my website, so your dollar goes a lot further.
  3. You’ll be able to shop without the distractions of ads and unwanted product suggestions.
    • When you come here, you’ll know what to expect: Jesus-centered, quality, well-designed products.
  4. You’ll be able to create an account for quick and easy transactions in the future!
    • It’s super easy and safe! I don’t see your payment info, and the personal info I do see (name, address, email, phone), I never give away or sell. (See my privacy policy.)

A more mindful way to shop, not just here

If you shop a lot on Etsy, I recommend searching a shop or asking the owner if they have a website you can shop from first. I know it’s slightly inconvenient. But until recently, even I (who has been doing this online shop thing for a few years now) didn’t realize how much more you can support shop owners by shopping directly on their website. I’ve started doing this instead of shopping Amazon when I can too! Some will be like the old me and only be on Etsy, Amazon, or wherever, I get it! It’s a great way to start! But, those who have independent shops on their websites will be so grateful for the extra effort you took to support their small business.

See you next week!

It’s crunch time, so unfortunately, I will not be back this week with my usual art and scripture meditation post. But stick around! There’s plenty more of that to come, as well as a brand new, beautiful shop with tons of new items to choose from (including a super exciting one that I’m still waiting for from a new manufacturer in New York)!

Mailing list subscribers will get an exclusive coupon code, so make sure you join my community and introduce yourself!

Launch day is March 8th! See you then!

Xo Lauren

Shop is now open! Click here to browse.