June: Love (Fruits of the Spirit project, Month #1!)

If you missed this post, I recently embarked on a Fruits of the Spirit project, deciding to focus on one of the Fruits of the Spirit each month beginning this summer. June was the month of love, and it was SUCH a good month! Let’s dive in to what I learned, and recap some highlights.

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and I want to love everyone–because that’s what He does. (x)

Love is listed first because it is the most important. Jesus Himself said that the most important commandment is to love God above anything, and love your neighbor as yourself: the Christian life is based around love. All of the other fruits of the spirit are WAYS to love. Loving others is hard sometimes–as C.S. Lewis said, God loves us not because we are lovable, but because He is love.

During the month, I listened to this sermon. Something that really hit me: in Jesus’s time, everyone knew who His disciples were because they (the disciples) would physically follow Him from place to place. But suddenly, Jesus was leaving, and that was no longer possible. So how would the world know who Jesus’s disciples were? By their love. (Side note–if you want love, just read 1 John. The word “love” is used thirty-five times in that short little book, and it’s SO good.)

This is something else that I read this month that stuck with me:

“Fruit is a direct result of the root… What I produce on the outside is a direct byproduct of what’s going on deep inside the soil of my soul. If it is not love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that oozes from every fiber of my being, I need to check in with the pursuit of my soul and what I’m feeding it. Notice, though, how the fruit of the Spirit doesn’t say PERFECTION, it says patience… Perhaps in some twisted way, we are resisting the Holy Spirit in favor of pursuing perfection.” (via SoulScripts)

I was listening to a song by Hillsong Worship in my car this month that took the Love Chapter (1 Corinthians 13) and inserted God’s name for the word “love.” “God is patient, God is kind; He does not envy, He does not boast.” Could the same be said if I inserted my name? Nope–definitely not. That’s certainly something to strive for. I spent a ton of time in 1 Corinthians 13 this month–go read it! I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Love Chapter also talks about putting away childish things; growing up really requires embodying the characteristics of love towards others, more than ever before.

The great thing about loving others is that it doesn’t have to fit into a mold! You may have heard of the five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. The idea is that everyone has a way in which they prefer to show love to others, plus a way in which love being shown to them is most meaningful. Personally, I love giving others gifts. Some homeschool + church friends of ours had a baby this month, and I went to the store and bought a bunch of fun stuff (craft kits, jump ropes, water guns) for their five older kids. Taking it to them yesterday was SO fun! We also had VBS at my church this month. That was a great opportunity to love others, whether through carting toddlers around in the nursery or leading Worship Rally/Family Night or just lying on the stage talking with some younger teenagers.

Honestly, this was such a great month focusing on loving others that I want to do it every month! I’m really excited for the month of joy in July, though. If you’re just learning about this project, please jump in! If you did June with me, let me know in the comments what you learned about loving others this month.

How I #liveBANGS!

#liveBANGS. It’s a phrase that might mean nothing to you right now. But to myself and to thousands of other Bangs ambassadors and customers, it’s not only a phrase that we’re well acquainted with–it’s a phrase that sums up our entire lifestyle. By the end of this post, my goal is for it to sum up yours, as well. Let’s dive in!

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My initial introduction to Bangs, a brand of cute and functional shoes, was through Instagram. There were a few trendy accounts I followed–girls who lived in my area and were friends of friends of friends. More to the point, these girls were ambassadors for Bangs shoes. Although I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, something about their posts made me realize that this was more than just a brand and that the Bangs ambassador program was more than just your typical brand ambassador program. This past spring when ambassador applications opened up, I made sure to get mine in fast. As I learned more about Bangs, I found out their slogan:

Your adventure helps others find theirs.

I realized that that motto, even though I didn’t know it at the time, was exactly what had drawn me to the Bangs brand. Those girls I followed on Instagram? All of them perfectly embodied this catchphrase, and soon it became my goal to embody it as well. To me, the phrase #liveBANGS can be summed up in three main categories. Here they are, and here’s how I attempt to display them.

1. Having cool adventures.

Bangs are the perfect adventuring shoe, and really, the perfect anything shoe. They’re sturdy, water-resistant, and have a flat sole–great for hiking, other outdoor activities, and even weightlifting. But they’re cute and trendy enough that you could transition to a night out on the town with no problem at all! I’ve been a lot of cool places in my Bangs; I love visiting Colombia, South America (photo below), and taking in all of the beauty there. Plus, it’s coffee central, so book those plane tickets! But I since I live in America, I’m extremely busy, and I’m also kind of broke (who am I kidding: I’m VERY broke), something I’ve started focusing on lately is finding amazing adventures in my own backyard. For instance, who would have guessed that this palace is just an hour or two away from me in Georgia?! I plan on visiting very soon–while, of course, wearing my Bangs!

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2. Meeting all kinds of fun people!

When you become a Bangs ambassador, or even a Bangs customer, you’re immediately drawn into a huge community. I have a Bangs pen pal, and we write multiple letters a week; I’ve also been able to connect with so many great people online. But making friends through Bangs isn’t limited to solely other Bangs customers–I love meeting new people no matter where I am or what I’m doing!

3. Helping others.

I love, love, love the fact that BANGS actually means “help” in Mandarin and that the brand is so focused on giving back to others–currently, Bangs has invested in 672 entrepreneurs in 63 different countries. Wow! As a young entrepreneur myself, I completely love this aspect of the brand. I’ve also realized that to help others, I don’t have to travel to South America. Just like I can have adventures in my own backyard, I can help others in my own backyard! For instance, a few months ago I was going to the store. On the way, I noticed that my friend’s car was in the parking lot at her work. I bought a $3 bouquet of flowers, stuck them in the handle of her door, and laughed secretly when she texted me later saying, “Someone left flowers on my car while I was at work. I have no idea who, but it made my day!” If you’re a broke college student like me, I definitely encourage you to look for simple but meaningful ways to encourage and help others. Pro tip: Walmart has beautiful $3 bouquets of flowers! 😉

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So at the end of the day, yes: Bangs are cute and functional shoes. But they’re so much more than that! To #liveBANGS means to live for something bigger than yourself. To #liveBANGS means to live wild and free, to live expansively, to embrace every new opportunity with open arms and to love and share with others along the way. To #liveBANGS truly does mean that your adventure helps others find theirs.

Comment or email me to find out how you can become a part of the Bangs family–I promise you won’t regret it!

Hailey Rants About Entitlement (or, Get Over It)

I have a soapbox I’ve been needing to get on for a long time, so just bear with me for a few minutes.

Entitlement: the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

I know someone around my age who expects their parents to buy him/her a car. But not just any car will do–this kid expects a specific make, a specific model, and a specific color of car. They have made it very clear that if they don’t get this exact kind of car very soon, they will not be happy.

Recently I sat down to watch my favorite YouTuber’s spring try-on haul. The first item of clothing (a T-shirt) that she’d bought was $99, and my jaw just dropped. When the video was finished, this girl had spent over $400 on half a dozen shirts that she planned to only wear in spring 2017. This YouTuber had also just spent a lot of money to have her bedroom (which looked perfectly fine to me) redone, and then she spent an entire video complaining that her interior designer got her a new desk from Ikea instead of one from a higher-quality store. Along the same lines, a couple of years ago I stopped watching House Hunters with my parents because it drove me so crazy that a couple with a budget of $1.2 million would be annoyed when their prospective house didn’t have granite countertops.

I remember being really upset last fall when almost everyone I knew was complaining about going back to school. Do people even realize how lucky they are to live in a country where, although the education system could certainly be much better, they can at least go to school at all and learn something? In some countries, parents are too poor to send their children to school. Some kids have to work, or they’re sold into human trafficking, and in some countries girls aren’t allowed to attend school. This doesn’t just happen in foreign countries, either–I was talking to a foster mom in my neighborhood last August who said that the birth mother of one of her foster kids didn’t let the teen go to school, although the girl really wanted to.

American teenagers (and, honestly, Americans in general) embody the sentiment of entitlement that I’ve just illustrated so perfectly, and it makes me sick. Why are we so self-absorbed? So the Wi-Fi went out. Get over it. Read a book. GOSH. We’re so spoiled, and we’re so extravagant. Americans are a selfish and narcissistic culture. (And believe me–I’m preaching to the choir here. Don’t be offended, because I act selfish and narcissistic and complain about the slow Wi-Fi every day.) If you’re a teenager and you expect your parents to buy you a car and do your laundry and get you up for school in the mornings while you complain that you have to leave the house, I’m sorry, but it’s time to get over it. No, I take that back. I’m not sorry, but it is time to get over it.

Let’s delve a little deeper into this issue of school. Many of my friends who complained about school last fall (and, actually, all throughout the year) were Christians. Honestly, they could not have a better mission field–maybe teachers can’t talk about Jesus, but kids can! I know an eight-year-old who takes her Bible to school and reads it on the playground to the other girls, and I also know eighteen-year-olds who groan and gripe about getting up in the morning to go to school. Something is wrong with that picture.

The two major complaints I seemed to hear were complaints about friend drama, and complaints about homework (God forbid someone tell me that I have to do work *shudder*). I realize that I might not always know the situation, and sadly, many people are being seriously bullied. But in most cases, my friends were sharing the whooole situation on social media, and they were making a huge deal of out petty things. Correct me if I’m just an introverted homeschooler, but although the social aspect of school is great and probably beneficial in many ways, the point of school is to learn and get an education to prepare you for the real world–where, I hate to break it to you, you’ll have to work. Like, work a lot. And again, I’m preaching to the choir here. Even though I love learning and I enjoyed most of my classes, I certainly have complained about homework volume before–probably even on this very blog. My bottom line here is that even if you don’t love learning or you have some friend troubles, you have to go to school anyway, so get over it and recognize it for the privilege that it is.

So, what do we do about it? How do we combat this sense of entitlement that seems to have permeated our culture to the point where it’s completely normal and accepted and even smiled upon? First of all, we need to stop basing our worth in our material things. Then we need to differentiate–really differentiate–between needs and wants. If you can, I’d highly encourage you to go on an overseas mission trip to help you understand this difference. If you can’t, well, we can all start to cultivate a spirit of gratefulness for our many blessings. We can pray for those who don’t have as much as us. We can actively try to get rid of the mindset I deserve a nice car and my parents should buy it for me. Look, you are rich. Considering the demographic that typically reads my blog, I think that this is a statement I can make with a great degree of assurance: YOU are RICH. And I do mean rich in the financial sense. Go here and enter your family’s yearly income. Do it. Then come back here and complain about all your riches.

I realize this post is different than my usual posts. I realize it’s kind of passive-aggressive. I realize that, well, I sound angry in this post. But it’s because I am angry. I’m angry about the girls in India who aren’t allowed to attend school and I’m angry about the people dying of preventable diseases in Africa and I’m angry about the children in my own county who don’t get enough to eat. I’m angry that a large part of the world and the church, including myself, just sit back in our air-conditioned houses and do nothing. We are entitled, and it’s driving me crazy. What am I going to do about it? I’m not sure yet. But this post is a start.

This post has been in the works for many months and I want to hear your thoughts. Do you notice this sense of entitlement in yourself and other people you know, especially teenagers? Were you shocked at how your family stacks up on the Global Rich List? (I was!)  How do you propose to combat entitlement and the I-deserve-it mindset?

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Writing Tag!

Laura at FlowersInMyBasket tagged me (a long time ago… oops) in a super-fun writing tag that I can’t wait to share! Go here to read her answers (and follow her blog while you’re at it), and keep scrolling to read mine!

1. What genres, styles, and topics do you write about?

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Um. EVERYTHING? The three genres I write the most are probably YA contemporary, YA dystopian, and historical fiction. I also can’t write a story without including the sky/the stars/astronomy in at least some small way.

2. How long have you been writing?

The first “story” (I use the term very loosely) that I ever wrote was when I was around four; I dictated it to my mom. Things just took off from there, I guess, and I’ve been writing feverishly ever since!

3. Why do you write?

I write because I can’t NOT write. Seriously, I’ve tried to stop writing before, and it was torture. Stories just won’t stop writing themselves in my head, and I have to get them out. I write because I love words, I’m passionate about stories, and I have a lot to say.

4. When is the best time to write?

I write best either first thing in the morning (because I’m more likely to be awake and alert) or very late at night (because the house is quiet and it’s dark and I don’t know, I just feel super creative when I’m supposed to be asleep?).

5. What parts of writing do you love? What parts do you hate?

I actually LOVE editing. Like, seriously. I know a lot of people hate it, but I really enjoy fine-tuning my stories and watching the end products come together. As for what I hate, I don’t hate plot bunnies themselves, but I hate that I allow myself to get distracted by them. 🙂

6. How do you overcome writer’s block?

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(I couldn’t choose between Edmund and Ron, so enjoy them both.)

You’re asking me this? Uhm. I don’t? Like, seriously, I’m the worst at this because I just quit writing and get up and walk away. I once read that Gail Levine said you should “write junk” when you’re stuck–open a blank document and just type whatever comes to mind. “My thumb itches and it looks like it’s about to rain. I will never forgive J.K. Rowling for killing so many of my favorite people. I have a ton of homework to do.” Which is a great idea in theory, but I don’t actually do it.

7. Are you working on something at the moment?

Yes! Outside of my writing job and entering short fiction into some contests, I’m outlining my novel for camp. (EEP.) I’m supposed to be editing Angelica, but I’m–not. Things are so crazy right now with my new job and a new puppy and VBS coming up at church that I decided to just focus on preparing for NaNo.

8. What are your writing goals for this year?

Refer to this post!

Since I waited so long, it looks like pretty much everyone has already been tagged for this one. If you haven’t been and you want to do it, be my guest! Regardless, choose your two favorite questions and answer them in the comments!

You Can Do This (Book Review)

I enjoyed You Can Do This by Tricia Lott Williford SO much! It was a quick read, and I liked the format in which it was written. Also, not gonna lie–a few times I almost cried.

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Here are several of my takeaways from this book, which is about having confidence…

–“I have complete confidence, O God; I will sing and praise You!” Psalm 57:7

–Any confidence I have in myself is ultimately confidence in the One who made me.

–Don’t get too caught up in WHAT you are: just worry about WHOSE you are.

–Confidence is a belief that there is a place for us. We are welcome beside Him.

–Artists: follow the creation model of our Creator. Create, call it good, and then rest.

–All people have chapters of their life that they don’t read out loud.

–Healing comes in telling the story a thousand times.

–For the sake of humanity, be a person who smiles.

–One of the foundational pieces of a confident life is being who you will be, offering your own beauty into the world, and believing there is a place for it in the darkness.

–The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.

–Confident girls set boundaries that are clearly defined and that they don’t explain or apologize for. Learn the art of saying no. Boundaries and balance mean you know what you need as far as time, scheduling, and relationships.

–The art of managing many things is to never drop the same thing two days in a row.

–Harry Truman, after writing an angry letter, would put it in his desk for twenty-four hours. Then he would decide whether or not to mail it.

 

Whew! That’s not even half of the stuff I’d like to discuss, but I want to leave some surprises for you to discover when you preorder this book on Amazon. Get to it!

Do you struggle with having confidence in who God has made you to be? Is it difficult for you to set boundaries in your schedule and relationships?