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6/14/16

Christian Creative: Kate Ashbrook



Hello! I am so excited to come to you with another blog post in this series, Christian Creative. Today, we are meeting one of my favorite Instagrammers. She certainly knows how to use her platform to spread the light of our awesome God. Kate has such a joyful spirit and that is why I definitely wanted for you all to meet her.

xoxo,
Mikayla


Hey, Kate! Okay, so tell me who are you?

Well for starters, I'm Kate. I'll be 21 at the end of this month. I love coincidence, black coffee + Audrey Hepburn. I love putting smiles on people's faces, even if they're a complete stranger. A smile is all the satisfaction I need. I love vintage, candles that smell like Christmas, and the ocean. I love the way snow sparkles when the sun hits it just right. I love the color purple, baking, and the sound an acoustic guitar makes. I love deep conversations, and hot chocolate, the sun on my face and sweaters. My faith is an important factor of my life, though at times, I won't be as strong in it as I hope. My perfect day would have to be singing, playing music, or a day on the beach. I'm easily tempered at injustice as well as just the right amount of snarky. I'm an old soul that feels like she doesn't quite belong in the era she was born in. 

 I hate these kinds of questions but tell me three quirky or weird facts about yourself.

Three quirky or weird facts about myself would probably be that I can lick my elbow, I know weird right? I really dislike bacon...I don't know why, I've just never been a fan of it and I'm also strangely good at picking things up with my feet, somewhat like a chimp! hahaha! 

What is your favorite place for coffee?

My favorite place for coffee would either have to be La Farm Bakery in Cary or Thanks A Latte in Holly Springs! :)

When you started your Instagram, what ultimately was your vision?

Oh goodness, when I started my Instagram, I just made because it was the thing everyone was doing! I got my first iPhone, so I made an Instagram! I never thought I would meet the people I have through a social media application and I never thought many would want to follow me and/or care what I had to say. Over the years, as I started sharing my heart and sharing my story through Instagram, I would get messages from others telling me how my story gave them strength or they found me inspiring and look forward to my posts every day. This is an honor that I will forever be grateful for and will never know how to thank those enough who care to listen to me! I love sharing love and truth through written word as well as artistic and visual expression. I've always been a fan of taking photographs, so Instagram is a wonderful place to showcase that! 

Your photos are all so beautiful. What is your favorite photo editing app?

My very favorite photo editing app is VSCO ...I use it for everything and always suggest it to my friends to use because I love it so much! I also am a fan of Afterlight :) 

Describe your style.

If I had to describe my style, I would say that it is boho/vintage/grandma chic...does that make sense? hahaha I just adore vintage floral patterns, big knit cardigans, oxfords, and I'm definitely a fan of anything high waisted! I'm not one for bright colors, I tend to wear a lotttt of neutrals! Burgundy/maroon would have to be my very favorite! Also, I'm a HUGE fan of funky tights, ones with pattern or a unique color such as mustard yellow or forest green!

I know you were recently baptized. What led you to being baptized?

I was recently baptized on May 15th and what a wonderful day it was! I've been a Christian my whole life, growing up in a faith-based household, going to church every Sunday, but my faith has been through many highs and lows...every Christian experiences this. Especially with my struggles with mental illness, I would often question and be mad at God for making me this way. Why do I feel things so very deeply? It's still a question I ask myself every day, but I'm accepting that that's the way Christ made me and how He wants me to be in this world! I hit a very low point of my life at the end of my sophomore year of college where I was sent home by the university and took time off to heal myself. It was this year where I learned the most about myself and grew in my faith tremendously. I was starting to recognize the value that I had in being a child of the King and Creator and how after all the ways I have upset Him and sinned, He still chases for me, there's nothing more that he wants than a relationship with us.  I had always seen people getting baptized and never had the courage to do so until about a couple months ago, where I wanted to publicly declare Him as my Savior and I have been REDEEMED!! 

What has God been teaching you lately?

God has been teaching me lately that I am not in control no matter how much I want to be.  I'm a person to very much like handling things by myself and I feel like I know what's best for me, when the truth is, I don't know anything...I need to give it all to Him and just trust that He has a plan + it will always be for me to prosper!

Brunch date outfit?

Ahhh brunch is my very favorite!! As far as outfits go, I usually go for a dress over pants! Something that makes me feel good is the best! I'm not a fan of heels whatsoever, so I will pair a dress with combat boots and lace socks to add a bit more of a feminine/vintage touch!

What is a mantra that you live by?

There's a quote of Plato's that I love that says "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle" and I try my very best to live by this every day.  Showing kindness will never fail! Also it's a way of showing the unconditional love of Christ to others! 

I have so many favorite verses, and I would love to know yours, Kate!

My absolute favorite verse is Micah 7:8 that says "Rejoice not over me, O' my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light to me" -- so true for so many parts of my life! He is such a good, good Father!! 

Isn't she such a beautiful soul?! Follow Kate on her journey with Christ on her Instagram.

6/8/16

As a Young Christian Creative


Through all things, we are to glorify the One who created us -- the One who allowed us to do those "things". The One who gifted us with our wondrous talents, the One who molded us with His gentle hands, the One who made us new in the sight of Him. As a young Christian creative, I am called to give back the praise. While people may repeat how great I am, I am to repeat how great my God is. I am to repeat that this was not through me alone. There is to be a constant -- a constant of my praise toward Christ and not myself. 

I am a young Christian creative living in a world that encourages one to praise one's self. I live in a place replaces validation with self-deprecation. My mind is so easily deceptable to glorify my name. My focus can so quickly go to myself. I am human. I am vulnerable to the temptations of the world. We all have different gifts - some physical, some spiritual. We all have that "special spark" within us that makes us us. Whether your gift is being an amazing musician, equipped athlete, talented artist, mind-blowing photographer, you are to glorify God. Whether He has given you patience, kindness, or gentleness, we are to glorify Him. As Christian Creatives, we need to acknowledge something -- our talent comes from the Lord. 

God has given us an abundance -- an abundance of joy, love, beauty, and talent. Our worth is not defined by the world but by Christ. Oh, how I fall deeper in love with God whenever I think of His overwhelming grace. When I think of His love, it is refreshing. It is relieving. I have peace in my Creator. I have confidence that He is still working on me. He is molding me. He is designing me. He knew before I was even born, who I was going to be. He had already created a perfect plan for me. He already knew the gifts He would give me and how I would progress in my talent. Our talents are not for us. The gifts placed within us is not just for our own benefit. Our gifts are for the benefit of helping others and glorifying God. 

When we live for God, we are doing what we were created to do.

Genesis 1:1 // "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."

God is the best example of an artist. He created the heavens. He did not just create the heavens for Himself, but also for us. He created the earth not just for Him but for us. God used His sovereignty and power for us all. We are unveiled God's beautiful handiwork. Our creativity is the result of being created by the greatest artist. We are made in His own image. We are designed in the likeness of Him. We have a natural desire to explore the different arts and ways to delve into creativity. Our creativity shows who we were made by, but it also shows that we are not sovereign. We are limited. We cannot do all. God has showed us what to do with our creative hearts -- pour them into other people. Pour our gifts out. Use them for expressing God's story, for spreading light to other people.

We serve an amazing God -- a God who paints the pinks, purples, oranges, and blues in the night sky, a God who delicately placed each petal on a flower, a God who made darkness into light, a God who unleashed His power for all. Young Christian Creatives, let's create. Let's not hide our desire anymore. Do not let fear win the battle. Use your pen and paper to write about the amazing mercies of God. Use your paint and brush to portray the love of Him. Use your voice to shout praises to the Most High, because He is worth it. Our God is worth a million of our praises and even more. Use your talents to worship. God has invested so much into us. Let's invest into Him and into others.



Verses Related:


Ephesians 2:10 // "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

Amos 4:13 // "For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth— theLord, the God of hosts, is his name!"

Exodus 35:31 // "And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship”.


New Blog Series:

I am excited to use my creativity to share about other's God's given gifts. A new series featuring Christian Creatives will be on the blog soon. We will be digging into some of the stories that God has given these talented creatives.
If you would like to participate in this series or recommend anyone to be interviewed, please email me a little about yourself and your social media links.

6/6/16

Tribal Print Summer Pants


This past weekend, my family and I hit the Outer Banks. Waking up to still waters and seeing how great my God's creation is, was revitalizing. Realizing how like a wave God's grace never ceases was uplifting. I love seeing how God's creation really reveals who our God is.
It is finally summer. I can finally pull out my tank tops and my flowy pants. Oh, I have missed my summer attire. I know I say that every outfit season is my favorite but seriously summer outfits would have to be a favorite. I am not one to wear a lot of bright colors (or says so my mom). When I don't feel like looking totally dull of color, I love wearing bright accessories. One of my favorite accessories to wear is Puravida Bracelets. I am all about stacking, so I stack a ton on my wrist. You can get 20% Puravida with the code 'MIKAYLAC20'.










xoxo,




5/11/16

To The Christian Too Scared To Share


Hey Christian Who Is Scared to Share Their Story,

Sharing is scary. Being vulnerable is hard. Opening your heart is not easy. The fear of shortness of words or lack of vernacular is standing in the way of being bold for Christ. You might be thinking that you are unqualified. My story isn't amazing. It doesn't include overcoming this horrible trial and falling to the ground in surrender. I don't have this amazing talent to say my words in an eloquent way. Compared to this person, my story is small and inadequate. This is so out of my comfort zone. I would rather stay in my little box. I can't spit out Bible verses like how Kanye spits out raps. I am not an Einstein of the Bible. I am so unqualified.

 God isn't looking for the qualified. If that were the case, then no one would be sharing. God isn't just looking for just the people who leaped through trials and mountains and found redemption in His name to share their story. The Devil is going to taunt us and say that we are inadequate. He is going to say we have no right to share the righteousness of the Lord. But hey, Jesus did not die for the holy, He died for the broken. We are chosen. We are His chosen people. As His chosen people, we are commanded to go into the world and preach His Word (Mark 16:15). We are to declare His beauty and delight in His great name. We are all equal. All of us were paid for. Regardless if you came to Christ out of rebellion or came to Christ from your future rebellion, our testimony is a witness to God's amazing grace and mercy.

Our testimony is an amazing thing. In telling your story, you are telling how God worked and moved in your life. This story is not about you but about God. When we tell others about how Jesus made in you a new creation, we can gain this deeper understanding. We are called to be the vessels of God. We are His hands and feet on this earth. Yes, sharing is scary. It's intimidating. God bridges that gap that stands in the way from you sharing your heart. He stands beside us and put in us the words to say. We don't need to know all the words in the dictionary to describe how amazing and powerful our God is. All we need is Christ. He will give us words. He will help us plant those seeds within people.

Roman 10: 15 // "And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" We can be those people. We can preach because God has entrusted us with His words of life. He has given us the tools to do it. He has given us the Bible to proclaim it and prayer to lift it. He has given us truth upon truth so that we can share that truth. The Gospel is powerful within itself. We can all ignore that push to share our story. I tried. My heart began to grow weary and longed for something more. The burden of fear was overcoming me. I hate being vulnerable and raw. I could not sleep with the devotions from that morning prompting me to share or the verse I came across that gave a certain commandment. I wrestled with this fear and could not win. I could not win without Christ.

Sometimes in our walk with God, it is going to be uncomfortable. But God doesn't say our walk is going to be all rainbows and butterflies, the Christian walk can be kind of bumpy and this world is going to try to knock us down. It's going to push us in the opposite direction. The narrow path is not easy. God tells us to step out of our comfort zone and be His disciples. As disciples, we are chosen to spread His name. Our mission is to spread the Gospel. We are called to be bold. Go out on a limb. Trust that God can work through you. Let's be brave. Let's lift up our hearts and remember that God has an amazing plan.
Lift your battered heart up to God. Let Him take you up and wrap you in His comforting arms.
God wants to use you, mold you, and grow you. He wants for His name to be ever so glorified. He wants for us to spread His love to His lost children, and we have the opportunity to do that.  God will remove this fear if you just let Him.Our story can be the truth that sets someone else free.
The truth sets us free from our fears. Faith speaks louder than our fears. So Christians, let's step out and overcome the fears that have burdened us and grown us weary. Let's share the story that God gave us.

5/5/16

When You Don't Get What You Want



You know that disappointment of not receiving that gift you really wanted for Christmas? or the one thing you asked for for your birthday? or not receiving the raise you had pushed for for the last few months? or the "wrong" answer to your prayer? Yes, that disappointment. 
There is not only disappointment but a lot of times anger. Anger rises when the answer you want isn't received. When the answer you so badly needed now, did not appear quick enough. Notice how much I said "you" instead of God in those last two sentences. We get angry and blame that on God. We get angry and forget our purpose as sons and daughters of Christ. We forget to listen before we react. We confuse ourselves when we don't get what we want by saying "God didn't answer my prayer".  
Many times we take the passage of Matthew 7:7 out of context: 

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

Simple, right? Ask and you will receive what you want. No, ask and you will receive what is best for God's plan for you. Prayer is not just a vending machine, and we put in a little bit of change to receive what we want. Prayer is a two way conversation -- not just a one way where we can ask and ask and ask and not give anything back. He wants our praise. He wants our joy to be His joy (John 15:11).

I remember asking God for certain healing and not getting the answer I wanted. I wanted something that I knew God had the power to give. I knew that God was an all powerful God. Why should I even of asked if I didn't get the answer I wanted? Why should've I even bothered? I am a daughter of the King. Why am I asked to pray when there is a chance I will receive disappointment? I was fighting a battle with the illusion that I was wronged. I was fighting the battle that did not only leave me with pain but also a lack of faith. I did not look at the bigger picture and how God would transform my life through this trial. 

In the moment where I was throwing my stone at Christ, I remembered "God is good". While my trust was wavering, my God was working. He was working in my life. Our life is God's vessel. We are His hands and feet. We are the tools in His toolbox. I remembered when I accepted Christ as my Lord I said "not my will, but yours be done". If our hearts align with God's and we are focused on God, then most likely the answer we are looking for is the answer God will give. He wants us to delight in Him -- be growing and falling more in love with Jesus. If we start focusing on Him and knowing Him more, we will walk the path of His. Our desires will become His desires. Our thoughts will become His thoughts.

Sometimes we getting an even harder answer -- wait. Patience is definitely not a virtue I have yet to possess wholly. Waiting is so hard for me. As humans living in this century, it is only natural for us t get what we want now. Because of the fast-pace technology we have, we are use to getting a quick response. If God is asking you to wait, that doesn't mean no. It means that there is a perfect time for the answer. It means God is intentionally giving us time to grow. As I wait for God to put me out on the mission field, I have this time to get to know Him more. I have this time to explore His Word and dig deeper so that I can fulfill His plan for me.

God loves and wants to answer our prayer. He loves us enough to answer us to protect us. He knows so much more than us. We may not know why He said "no" to this specific prayer, but we should know that God is protecting us. God never makes a bad decision. He never mistakes. He always answers. 

While we may not always get that answer of healing, for the raise, for the restoration that we asked for, we can be assured that God has this awesome plan Yeah, it is hard. It's hard to understand. We aren't all-knowing, but we have an awesome God who is.
What do you do when you don't get what you want? You trust God and remember that His plan for you is perfect and is best for your future (Jeremiah 29:11).

4/18/16

An Open Letter to Christian Millennials


Dear Christian Millennials,

We are a technology changing generation. We are an ever changing generation. Throughout the years, fads have faded in and out. Our fashion style has shifted to the past styles. Conformity of the world has been an ongoing battle in all of us. I want to tell you something. There is no such thing as a "good Christian". Your actions do not contribute to how "good" of a Christian you are. You do not have to have a certain look to be a Christian. Your Instagram feed does not have to be filled with aesthetically pleasing photos of coffee, outdoor adventures, open Bibles, and captions that go on like a book. You do not have to wear flannels and chacos all the time. You do not have to have an interesting testimony to go and spread your love for Christ. 

To be a Christian, you only need God alone. You need His grace, His peace, His strength, and His wisdom. You need His sufficient love. You do not have a certain standard to be a Christian. Don't just let your light and joy for the Lord shine through your social media posts. Let your light shine through every word you say and every action to another person. As you blast Lauren Daigle and Hillsong music in your car, do not just let the words be just something you sing. Let the words empower you to spread your love for His name that we praise. 

Let your heart be overwhelmed from the sunset that you captured. Do not just let it be something that fits your Instagram theme. Let His creation be a reminder of how great and powerful our Creator is. When you post that picture of your open Bible, what are your true intentions? Are they to glorify Christ or to glorify you? Instead of being full of pride in yourself when you do something good and worthy, glorify Christ and give Him all the glory. Besides doing something good should be done on a daily basis and not just on special occasions. You do not have to go out of the country to be a missionary for God. God's plan for you may be to be a disciple right where you are. Serve humbly, act justly, and glorify Him freely. Let's not be worried more about our likes and our snapchat streaks rather than our streak with God. As the world evolves, resist evolving around with it. Be separate. Be the change. Allow God to be your strength and to be your Rock. You cannot fight this battle alone. 

Let's be the generation who makes this a God generation. Let's actively pursue a life with God and not just on social media. Do not let being a Christian be just a trend. Instead of just keeping a constant theme on Instagram, keep a constant theme of love in your life. We will never be able to spread His Word and make a change if we do not truly live by the Word. We will not make a change if we celebrate ourselves rather than celebrate God. Let your faith be more than just attractive, let it be always active. 

Sincerely,

A Christian Millennial Who Is Guilty Of Letting Her Faith Be Attractive More Than Active

3/11/16

Waiting | Devotions of the Week Vol.13

"Psalm 27:14 // Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord."

Oh, how patience is a virtue I am definitely lacking. Waiting in the "fast" food line, I tap my foot in complete annoyance as the customer in front of me orders slowly. As I walk with an unnaturally, slow pace due to the crowd in front of me with their current gate, I am try to hold myself from stormily, running past them. As I wait for God to really use me in a mighty way, I try to bring that task upon myself. As I wait for God to place the man He has chosen for me, I long for Him to place that in my life now. 

As I struggled with patience this week, I was encouraged by the words:

His timing is always perfect, never failing. 

There is beauty in this waiting period, because there is a reason for it. God's timing is always perfect. While the aches of your heart may say other wise, it is. This battle may seem like a horrible burden to carry, but it doesn't have to be. Surrender this to God, and He will carry you. His strength will become your own.

As I lifted up this desire of my heart, I put my trust in Him. I know His plans are exactly what He wants for me. In this season, He is encouraging me to grow and build my faith so that I will be prepared. There is beauty in singleness. God has given me time to fully focus on growth. While I am looking for a treasure of this world, He wants me to refocus on the treasure that is our God. 

As David waited for his crown and Abraham waited for his child, they all grew deeper in their faith during that period. 

As we wait for the Lord to place His perfect plan in our lives, we are called to put our trust and hope in Him. He rewards those who trust Him. The question He will continue to ask you is, "Will you trust me when my answer is wait?"

As a human being, we want everything to go according to our own plan. Our life is not our own. Live with an attitude of faith. Our God is a God of love and of good.

Reflection:

God's timing is always good and perfect. He will answer you always. If He directs you to wait, remember it is, because He wants to prepare you and give you time to refocus on Him. Treasure waits for the one who puts their trust in Him. Surrender this situation to Him, and He will direct you. He will always give you strength.

Verses:

 Psalm 16:11// "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

Matthew 6:33 // "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
  
Psalm 37:4 // "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart"