16 Things I Learned in 2016

There's only one day left in 2016. One. And that's kind of hard for me to comprehend. So much has happened this year that it's sad to think that it's nearly over. But you know what? A new year is also on the horizon. A new year, with new hopes and new dreams and new excitement and adventures. But before the old year is gone, I'd like to share a few of the most important things that, by God's grace,  I've learned in 2016.

1.  Jesus' love is the only perfect love- it never fails, it never gives up, and it never ends. No other kind of love is as perfect, as agape, as amazing, as Jesus' love. It's forever.

2. It's okay to make mistakes. Those of us who tend to be perfectionists have a hard time accepting this one- me included. I've been in a few circumstances where I haven't tried something simply becuase I was afraid to fail. God's given me a  new perspective on this- one that says it's okay to make honest mistakes. Failures are how we grow.

3. God's plans don't always match yours. That's okay, becuase His plans are infinitely better than ours. 2016 has been full of examples of this one, both in the world and in my personal life. I tend to be the type that tries to plan everything in life out perfectly, then get disappointed when my "perfect plans" come crashing down around me. Realizing that God's plans are always better than ours was a big realization for me this year.

4. People can (and will) let you down. God never will. *sigh* What do you really say about this one? We've all experienced it. I've learned that it's best to not to depend on other people without first depending on God. If they leave you, who will you depend on?

5. You don't have to be good at everything. You also don't have to be everything, either. I truly think that's why God blesses different people with different abilities- so we can all serve Him in the areas that He's called us to. And it's not going to be the same for everyone.

6. Comparison really is one of the biggest thieves of joy. It's an old saying with a lasting importance. Comparing yourself to others is also one of the biggest time wasters ever. We're all different for a reason, and you're beautiful and amazing to God just how you are.

7.  It's really hard to be yourself sometimes. It really is. When I wrote this post a couple of months ago, it was something that I was really thinking about it a lot. God has shown me a lot more since then, and I'm glad, but I've come to realize that it's always going to to be hard to be yourself sometimes. And that's okay, since God's grace is sufficient.

8.  It takes a lot of strength and courage to go against the flow. God never promised that it would be easy. In fact, He said that it would be hard to live differently than the world and go against the flow. But He's also promised us that He'll never leave us, and that His strength can be our victory.

9. Courage doesn't always mean that you're not afraid- it means doing what's right, even if you are afraid. It always bothered me to hear that courage was "doing something unafraid". Actually, that's not courage at all. Courage is doing what's right, no matter what you feel like.

10. Leaning to balance and prioritize are two of the best lessons you'll ever learn. I feel like I really learned (sometimes the hard way) this one in a whole new light this year. I've had a lot more going on with school and life and extracurricular activities this year then I can ever remember having before. Instead of having a million and one different things just to do,  I've had to really prioritize which activities I'm going to throw myself into and be serious about and committed to, and stick to those. And of course, there's so much more to balance and prioritize later on in life, so I'm glad that it's something I can practice ahead of time!

11. There's a lot to be thankful for in life. There really is .Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 

12. God is preparing you for something bigger. This one is one of the biggest things that I've learned this year. It seems basic, but it's what really gives me hope that the upcoming year will be something big. Because He's preparing us for something bigger.

13. Staying close to Jesus is the only way to find true joy, fulfillment, and peace. There's a lot of things in life that I find joy from. There's certain things that give me a sense of fulfillment and peace, but they're not always going to last. Jesus will.

14. Goals and ambitions are a good thing. This may seem kind of silly, but for a while, I kind of avoided having big goals and ambitions for things, mainly becuase of #2. I was afraid to fail. However, I've since learned to accept that to succeed, you have to try. If you don't try, it's true you can't fail (but it's also true that you can't  succeed, either).

15. Both the big things and the little things are important in life- don't overlook one for the other. There's so much emphasis on "enjoying the little things", right? And I understand that- people have become to totally wrapped up in their "big" stuff that they fail to appreciate the "little" blessings in life, and that's not good. But some people live wholly for the little things of life, and that's not good either. It all comes back to balance- live to enjoy what God sends your way, big or little or in between.

16. God is King over all, and He's in control, no matter what happens. So much has happened in 2016, including lots of anxious moments about the future and what it might hold. But it's also included a lot of truly beautiful moments that I wouldn't trade for anything. And above it all, there's the hope that God holds it all.


Thank you so much, dear readers! Thank you for reading and commenting and following and encouraging throughout this year. I appreciate you all so much! I hope that your 2017 will be one of your best years ever. ♥  What's something special that you learned in 2016?



Tuesday Thoughts [3]- Shadows

{my picture}

lurk in the corners
and in the folds
of the unknown 
they're composed
of so many things
too nameless to count
but all so dark
the unknown waits 
as it's drawn back
the light floods in
erasing the shadows
up to the edge
of the dark future
there's still the shadows
of darkness
hiding in the darkness
of the unrevealed
that seems to stretch
on and on
but the shadows are gone
for the moment
and when they arrive again
there'll always be
more light
that will erase
the never ending
but always defeated


The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. // John 1:5

...And He said "I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life". // John 8:12


The Gift of Christmas

Every year, it's kind of the same, isn't it? Christmastime comes around. We see the same sights, watch the same movies, hear the same songs, and listen to the same story. It's all so familiar. 

  the jingle bells

         the red and green lights

                   the piles of presents 

                               the waiting 

                                         and the little baby in the manger 


Honestly, I don't really think that's the way it's supposed to be. Christmas is the time of year that we've set aside to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus! It's supposed to be a time of joy and hope and peace- not of stress and chaos and trouble. It's rather ironic, isn't it? With all the crazy rushing around that this time of the year tends to bring, I forget, too. I get worried and stressed about the presents to buy and wrap and the packages to mail and the parties to go to and the cookies to make...

All of those things are great and wonderful in their place! I love buying and giving gifts, and going to parties, and making cookies, and decorating. But that's not the point of the Christmas season. The point of the Christmas season is that God cared about us so much that He sent His perfect Son to be born as a baby and take on human form and live on earth as a man- all so He could grow up and be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. When I think about it that way, I'm suddenly not as concerned about that gift I  haven't bought yet and that party that I missed.


The first Christmas was nothing like what we usually imagine it as. It wasn't a perfect little scene in a clean stable with a few sheep standing around while Mary gazes at a baby with a halo around his head. In reality, it was a time of wondering and waiting and unfamiliarity. 

  the dusty and crowded roads

           the noise and chaos 

                     the unfamiliarity of it all 

                                the waiting 

                                          and the little baby in the manger 

Remember, this was Mary's first child, and she was most likely quite young- a teenager- when she was chosen to bear God's Son. I honestly can't imagine what she felt like during that time! But she did know that God had chosen her, and that His plans were infinitely the best.

{my pic}

With these thoughts in mind, I was thinking them over and feeling a bit ashamed of how many times I have heard or read the Christmas story this season, and how I've gotten so familiar with it that it didn't really effect me in the way that it should. I think all of us that have grown up hearing it every year can get like that sometimes. So I was trying to get back on track with remembering the real reason for this season and how unfamiliar and exciting and awe-striking it should be- and feeling rather guilty and un-joyful because of my previous mindset.

Then another thought came to mind. God sent the angels to tell the shepherds the good news, and they rejoiced! It was most certainly a time of rejoicing and celebration for those who knew and believed what had happened! It should be like that for Christians, too. With that in mind, it was much easier to get in the spirit of the holiday and be joyful again.

 So it's perfectly okay- and a blessing- to celebrate the season in the many different ways that we do. And I really think that when we do it with the right heart behind it, it truly honors Him. He gave the best gift of all to us, so we should be sharing that gift with others, especially this time of the year!
Even with only two days left until Christmas, it's not too late. We can still spread the love and joy and hope of this special season with others, and do it for the right reason. After all, the angels did say: "I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord."

Merry Christmas!



Christmas... In {Some} Photos and Quotes

{all images my own}

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 

~ Luke 2: 10-12

I heard the bells on Christmas Day; Their old familiar carols play; And wild and sweet, the words repeat; Of peace on earth, good-will to men.  
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Merry Christmas! Long live the true king! 
-The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Let earth receive her King!
-Joy to the World

Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life. 
~Corrie Ten Boom 

“Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” … Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  
~ Luke 1:28-33 

The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.
-C.S. Lewis 

“Hark the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born king.” Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled! 
~ Hark the Herald Angels Sing

"Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world." 
~ C.S. Lewis

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
-Isaiah 9:6 


I'm sorry that this post is late today, but I know ya'll understand! It's been one of those days where everything take much longer than you imagined it would- which is why you get a photography post with a few quotes thrown in, instead of what I was originally planning. I'm sorry for the lack of "real" posts lately, but they'll resume soon- I promise!

Have a fantastic week celebrating the birth of our Savoir, Jesus Christ!



Need Him

You're on your highest peak of life
And everything's just fine
You think you've finally figured out
Life's ever changing design
Until the peaks all disappear 
Amid the clouds of doubt
You're plunged into the valley 
And you think there's no way out

We need Him in the desert, we need Him in the rain
We need Him when our hopes and dreams have gone up into flames
We need Him in our highs, we need Him in our lows
We need Him all the time, because He's the one who knows

It's been a while since He came
And turned your life around
The valley's gone and now you think
You're fine, 'cause grace abounds
You've slipped back to your old ways
You're trying to run your life
You forgot the One who saved you 
From your guilt and strife

We need Him in the desert, we need Him in the rain
We need Him when our hopes and dreams have gone up into flames
We need Him in our highs, we need Him in our lows
We need Him all the time, because He's the one who knows

Life is going well for you
Since He rescued you again
You're on the mend, and life is good
'Cause you're forgiven and free of sin
But when you're tempted to forget
That you can't control it all
His words remind you of the time
When you first understood and saw

It's easy to forget
That we can't save ourselves
We get prideful and we think
We've got it all somehow
But when life starts to slip
Out of our control
We realize all too late
That we don't know it all

We need Him
We need Him all the time
I need Him
I need Him all the time
You need Him
You need Him all the time

We need Him in the desert, we need Him in the rain
We need Him when our hopes and dreams have gone up into flames
We need Him in our highs, we need Him in our lows
We need Him all the time, because He's the one who knows

We need Him
We need Him all the time
I need Him
I need Him all the time
You need Him
You need Him all the time
We need Him
We need Him all the time


Just a little reminder to not forget that we need Him, every second of every day- because we all forget. I do. You do. We all do. And we need Him. I do. You do. We all do. May we all seek to grow closer and want to need Him every day! ♥


Survey Results and Updates

Hello, readers!
I am so happy to be back! I had a great break, and am excited to get back to posting again. =)  This post is full of random tidbits, as well as survey results, so consider it a bit of a catch-up post. My normal types of posts will resume next week.

Several of you had mentioned that you would like to see some of the results from my most recent  blog survey. Therefore, I've compiled some of the results below for you. ( And I do realize that this post is not the most atheistic- I tried to make some more cutesy and interesting pie charts to display the information, but my efforts failed, so you'll just have to stick to reading the facts- sorry!)

52%  have been reading for about 8-5 months
35%  have been reading for around 2-4 months
9%  have been reading since the beginning
4%  have been reading less than a month

87%  think that it's perfect
9%  think that it's not enough posts a month
4%  think that  it's too many posts a month

26%  think I should keep my current blog design
17%  think I definitely need a design upgrade
26%  weren't sure
31%  added extra thoughts, and generally suggested a  design change or a few changes

52%  follow with GFC
26%  follow with email
13%  don't follow
9%  follow with Bloglovin'

70%  think the name is perfect
17%  think it's nice
13%  think it's okay, but another name might suit better

52%  are ages 16-19
35%  are ages 13-15
9%  are ages 10-12
4%  are 20 or older

I always love reading survey results. :) What statistics surprised you the most?
Thanks again to everyone who took the time to complete  the survey. I really appreciate the feedback and comments, which helped me out a lot in deciding a few things about what to update and change. There will be a few slight changes to A Purpose and A Promise in the next couple months, although nothing too drastic until the New Year (yes, more surprises!) Please bear with me in the next few weeks as I adjust a few things. :)

There's one other random thing that I wanted to address, since I haven't yet done it and I should- about photo credit.  All the photos that I use on my blog are either from Unsplash. com or Pexels.com (and therefore free and in the public domain), or are my own. I always want to give proper credit where it's due, especially as a photographer myself. All photographers work really hard for their photos, and they deserve the credit for them! I don't use Pinterest photos for that reason, and from now on, I'll try to make it clear where the credit goes to for any photos I use on my blog. Photos that I use for title images that don't have a credit underneath are ones from the public domain that I edited. My own photos are marked as mine, whether I edit them or not. If I have ever failed to give proper credit anywhere, I apologize, and please make sure to let me know if I ever forget in the future! Sorry to ramble, I just wanted to get that out there. ;)

Thank you all for being amazing readers! Have a wonderful weekend. =)