All posts in “inspiring”

Interview with author, singer & encourager Livy Jarmusch

Today I’m going to do something a little different – an interview with a very inspiring young woman, Livy Jarmusch. Livy is a nineteen year old author, singer, songwriter, and creator of an online magazine for girls, Crown of Beauty Magazine. I met Livy in early August, when she emailed me about Ashes to Beauty being one of the stops on her virtual book tour. A week ago, I reviewed her eBook, When Life Feels Like a Taylor Swift Song: A Girl’s Guide to Boys. I was so impressed that someone her age had so much Godly wisdom and entrepreneurship, so I decided to do an interview as well! So as promised, here it is…

Livy, how long have you been a follower of Jesus? Also, you seem to know a lot about the bible, and you have a lot of wisdom and spiritual authority for someone so young. How did you learn all of these things that you write about and teach?

LJ: That’s a great question! Well, I got to know the Lord at a really young age. I grew up in a Christian family and my Mom introduced me to Jesus when I was about three of four. Some might say that preschool age is too young to understand things like sin and forgiveness. I can’t say that I totally “got it” it at that age, but all I knew was that the Lord was drawing me to Him. I felt attracted to His presence, His peace, and His stories. I spent so much time flipping through my picture Bible, wanting to know more about God and life. I can’t explain why the Lord made it so “easy” for me to find Him, when so many others have to go through a lifetime of regrets before finding their home in His love. All I can say is that it was His grace! You asked how I learned about the things that I am now writing and sharing about…here is the answer! 🙂

“But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true–it is not a lie..”
1 John 2:27

I was so blessed to be homeschooled and had a lot of free time to spend in God’s presence and in the Word! I wish I could say that this all came easily to me, and in a way it did, but the calling always has a cost. I had to sacrifice some fun, normal, “teenage” stuff like going to football games with a boyfriend on Friday nights, or getting all glammed up for prom. There were many times I wished for a “normal” teenage life, but now I am thankful that God has a different path chosen for me.

How did you get started with all the wonderful things you’re doing – your website, e-books, videos and everything else?

LJ: When I was fourteen, one of my close friends struggled with an eating disorder because she didn’t believe she was beautiful. It broke my heart in half to know that she, and so many others daily struggle with these things. So many girls attempt to measure up to the lofty standard of “beauty” that is daily shoved into our faces. But who can compare with glossy magazine covers, and images that have been photo shopped and altered from reality? The pressure to be perfect is slamming into our lives and hearts now more then ever. Yet no matter how hard we try to please our friends, the guy we have a crush on, or the girl in the mirror…the heartbreaking realization is that we will never be enough.

Livy JarmuschThere is a fierce battle for this generation of girls. The enemy wants them to believe they are ugly and worthless, yet God desires for them to see who they truly are…priceless treasures, and beautiful princesses.

Isaiah 62:3 says, “You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.” As God’s girls, we don’t have to try to be beautiful…we already are. I am only one voice, but if I can encourage and inspire one girl to draw closer to God and believe in the person God made her to be…the goal is accomplished! Then that one girl can then reach out and touch another who will touch two, who will touch four, then six, and so on…

I launched Crown of Beauty Magazine in January of this year, writing every article with my “little sisters” in Christ in mind. I try to offer advice and share Godly council to any girl who needs a Godly big sis around! While it’s true that Crown of Beauty Magazine had an official birthday, I can’t say exactly when the whole nature of this ministry was birthed. The unfolding of God’s heart, the pain that He feels for the broken, and the radical dreams He has for this generation, was all revealed by spending time with Him.

This whole thing started with a friendship, I talked to Him about things that mattered to me, and He talked to me about stuff that mattered to Him! God has simply used everything that I love to do, writing, singing, encouraging my friends, web designing, etc…and had a special place for it in His Kingdom!

It’s quite fun actually…I just get to be me! It’s like that with all our gifts. When we’re born, we arrive pre-packed with what we were created to do. So be encouraged! All you need to make a difference in this world is a relationship with the One who made you! Just say, “Here’s my gifts…use me. Here’s my heart…change it. Here’s my life…make it yours.” Obedience opens doors. Ask God to show you what your gifts are. They are given to us so that we can do amazing things alongside Him!

That is so awesome, and true! What would you say is your biggest passion… the thing that makes you come alive?

LJ: I come alive when I sing. I can be having the worst day ever, and if just pull out my guitar and start singing, before I know it, I feel like I’ve entered another world. Music has always been a really huge part of my life. I loved singing and dancing along with Barney as a little girl, and totally enjoyed being on stage in my drama group. I always knew that I wanted to play guitar, and when I go to concerts I feel like I share a special secret with the stage. My friends think it’s funny when I say this, but the stage knows I am supposed to be there and so do I!

 

Another huge passion is encouraging my sisters in Christ. Ahh, I just love it! Maybe because my love language is encouragement, I don’t know, I’ve always adored babysitting my little girl cousins, and I love hanging out and talking with younger girls. They’re so full of life, and they want to wear tiaras and they love pink…I just really connect with them. 😉

It must be difficult for someone your age to publicly stand for things like purity and living for Jesus. How do you stay strong and true to your values?

LJ: I think the hardest thing for me has been my lack of “normal.” My life hasn’t looked anything like the average teenage girl life is “supposed to be.” For a long time I was very hard on myself during high school and had to ask, “What is wrong with me?” Recently, as the Lord has been opening doors and letting me connect with others who are encouraging me in this I find myself saying, “Phew! I guess I’m not as strange as I thought!”

Today, the hardest challenge is facing the adult world and not doing the “norm” of going to college full time, working an eight to six job, and working on chasing down a boyfriend. I have a lot of really encouraging people around me, including my family, who remind me that it’s okay to be “strange for Jesus.”

I’ve always looked at Tricia from Superchick and the Barlow Girls, and said “If they can do it, so can I!” Their music has carried me through a lot of hard days. I recently met Paige Omartian who has an amazing story, and greatly encouraged me with her story about how she did a hard thing in obedience to follow the calling on her life. God has richly rewarded her! I am so inspired by her happily ever after. 🙂

What advice can you give to young girls out there who are hearing a completely different message from society, and are thinking about going down those paths?

LJ: It doesn’t matter how sparkly and pretty the world looks, God has always got a better offer! If you’re feeling bogged down by all these messages that say, “Don’t date! Dress modestly! Don’t drink, don’t go to wild parties!” you might be feeling like God doesn’t want you to have any fun, and desires that you have a dull, miserable life. The enemy of your soul wants you to think this. He is really good at what he does…deception and lies. But the best thing about lies is that they’re NOT true. The Bible says that every good and perfect gift comes from Him. (James 1:17.)

God desires to give His girls good gifts, and He truly wants you to have an amazing life! Making the choice to follow God and be obedient to His Kingdom ways might seem hard and even a lil’ crazy at first…but He absolutely wants you to have an epic life. What this world has to offer might feel good for ten seconds, but there is a worm waiting in the glossy apple. God’s ways might feel uncomfortable and even painful at first, but the eternal rewards FAR outweigh the sacrifice. 🙂 His gifts always trump the enemy because He wants the absolute best for you.

Excellent and encouraging words! I haven’t asked you yet, what’s the story behind your eBook? How did it come about? And what was the most challenging aspect of writing this eBook?

Free e-book download

LJ: Last summer I babysat a few of my little girl cousins several times. I love spending time with them, but this time after hanging out with them, I started thinking about what life would be like for them as they grew up. I thought about where they’ll be getting their boy and relationship advice, and the options frightened me. Who would tell them how to have good relationships? Music, movies, magazines? I shuddered, and then started writing this book!

The most challenging aspect of writing this, was worrying about what people were going to think. How would the readers respond? Would parents think I was young and immature because I didn’t have much “life experience”? Would they say I was too naive to blindly trust in God and encourage other girls to do so? What would the girls my age think…would they think the advice I offered was cool and relevant, or would I sound like an old lady preaching at them? Haha, these are the questions that crossed my mind, and every time I would doubt I had to surrender my worries and fears to God. He was leading me…therefore I had to trust that this book would make a difference in someone’s life!

It’s so cool that you have a heart for helping girls. With the opposing messages they hear from society, I’m so glad that God is using you to encourage and inspire girls and young women. Is there anything else you want to say to the readers?

LJ: Yes! Come on over to Crown of Beauty Magazine and check us out. We want to encourage you, no matter how young or old you are. You’re a princess. You shine with something heavenly, something outta this world. You sparkle with splendor. You might feel awkward and clumsy like you don’t fit into this world (kinda like Mia in Princess Diaries! Hahaha) but just like Mia, it’s because you were created for a DIVINE purpose…you are called to be royalty! You were created to rule and reign with Christ. You have an extravagant purpose that far surpasses your widest dreams. God made you so that He could fulfill you. He won’t leave you broken hearted and empty forever…HE is the King of restoration!

You are beautiful, loved, and there is a place for you in His Kingdom. Your seat is on His lap.

Amen! Thank you so much, Livy, for sharing with us, and for saying “yes” to God and allowing Him to use you to reach so many others!  I’m really glad I met you through the blogging world!  God bless you!

To download a free copy of Livy’s eBook, When Life Feels Like a Taylor Swift Song:
A Girl’s Guide To Boys
, click here. Enjoy!

7 Ways To Love Unlovable People

W
hat comes to mind when you think of the word love? I think it’s safe to say that for most people, the word love brings to mind our spouse or significant other, family, friends, people we admire or people who are just plain adorable. Those types of love – romantic love, familial love and friendship love are indeed beautiful and important. But when we look at this world we live in, and how things like selfishness, indifference or hate have caused so many problems – how does loving only those in our circle change anything? How will there ever be reconciliation and peace in a world where people only love their friends or those who are easy to love? Things won’t change unless we love even the unlovable, and practice a different kind of love, the kind that God teaches us to practice – a selfless, sacrificial love. God’s love. Otherwise known as Agape.

If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that.

Matthew 5:47 (MSG)

I might be preaching to the choir here, for those who know the bible and obey Jesus. But even Christians sometimes need a reminder to love those who are difficult to love. Or we need a reminder on how we can love people who are difficult to love. Here are seven ways to love the unlovable. To make these easier to remember, I ordered them into the acronym UPLIFTS.

 

U
nderstand why they act the way they do by considering their background and life experiences. Sadly, negative events or the way a person was raised can shape people negatively. Like the old saying goes, you can’t really understand someone fully until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Also keep in mind that all human beings are fallible, and we all have our own weaknesses or faults.

 

P
ray for them. This, of course, is what Jesus tells us to do. And it really is amazing how praying for someone or something causes our own heart to change for that person or issue. When we sincerely pray for someone, we begin to have a heart for that person, a true concern for their well-being and a desire for their highest good. It may be difficult, at first, to pray for a mean or unlovable person. But prayer is exactly what a person like that needs, don’t you think? And remember, God can work miracles, so don’t give up on someone or write them off as hopeless.

 

L
ook at them through God’s eyes What do I mean by that? As I mentioned before, sometimes certain experiences in a person’s life change who they really are, or harden their heart. Everyone has an original design – qualities and gifts that God gave us when He created us. Unfortunately, when a person is wounded or broken, they aren’t walking in their original design. So try looking at people through God’s eyes, and see the person God created, rather than the hardened person they have become.

 

I
mpart God’s love and grace. We all know how difficult it can be to love certain people. This is where we need to choose to love them, with God’s love. Remember that all people are created in God’s image, and He loves even that person you see as unlovable. So we can be a vessel of God’s love. This is what changes hearts and wins people for God. It is God’s goodness and kindness that leads people to repentance (Romans 2:4), not arguments, lectures or “punishing” people by the way we treat them. So if you want that unlovable person to change, a good start is to love them with God’s love.

 

F
orgive them. Yes, it can be very difficult to forgive people who have hurt us. But do you really want to live with anger, bitterness and resentment? As Christians, we are commanded to forgive others, as God forgave us. (Eph 4:32) Keep in mind, forgiving people doesn’t mean condoning their actions. It means letting go of your bitterness and resentment toward that person, or a desire for revenge, and handing it over to God. Let God do His job. Forgiveness changes our own heart and attitude and it allows us to move forward and be right with God.

 

T
reat them the way you like people to treat you. This is another action that changes hearts. Treating an unlikeable person the way you like to be treated has a way of changing the spiritual atmosphere, instead of continuing the cycle of negativity. This goes along with operating in the opposite spirit, as I talked about in a previous post. Even if you feel they don’t deserve kindness, treating them the way you like to be treated or moving in the opposite spirit plants a seed with people, and sometimes causes them to rethink their own actions, as the Holy Spirit brings conviction. Imagine a world where everyone practiced the Golden Rule. We can start by practicing it ourselves.

 

S
erve them. “Serve them?” you ask. “Are you crazy, I don’t even like being around this person!” Yes, serve them, the way Jesus served others, which teaches us about love and humility. Serving someone is one way of showing love, and a sincere act of servanthood can soften hearts and plant a seed with people, that can later grow.

 

Love one anotherJesus washed the feet of His disciples, touched lepers and showed love to the kinds of people that others shunned. If the living God of the universe is humble enough to do those things, then how can we be above serving an unlovable person?

Serving someone can mean a variety of things, it doesn’t have to be something big. It can be as simple as helping your neighbor carry the groceries out of their car, or doing the dishes for that unlikeable relative after dinner. Also, as Jesus set an example for us, we in turn set an example for others, through our actions.

I hope this was helpful and inspiring for anyone who wants to mend a relationship with someone, or love that person who is hard to love. I also would love to hear your comments, so don’t hesitate to share your thoughts.

 

Your Amazing Identity in Christ

W
hat does God say about you, me, and all who have made the decision to turn away from our old life and get right with God through faith in Jesus? We’ll find out in just a moment!

First I want to say this…I’m sure that many of you have already seen lists like this, or have read these scriptures. Sometimes, however, we can know something mentally, without truly knowing it and accepting it in our heart. That’s what’s called ‘head knowledge’ as opposed to heart knowledge.

Knowing who you are in Christ – your true identity – is the key to spiritual growth and victory. If we don’t believe who God says we are, then who and what are we believing? Old lies from the past? What the world says? If we don’t believe the truth about who we are, then we are not set free, and we’re not going to be able to grow and move forward.

One more thing. There is power in speaking words out loud, so if you aren’t sure of who you are in Christ, I recommend that you read this list out loud, every day, if necessary. My prayer for you is that God will give you a revelation of your true identity that will change your life! And now, to the list!
 

I AM RENEWED

I am born again. (1 Peter 1:23)

I am a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I have been crucified with Christ. (Galatians 2:20)

I am dead to sin. (Romans 6:2)

I have been made alive with Christ. (Ephesians 2:5)

I have a new spirit. God turned my heart of stone to a heart of flesh. (Ezekial 11:19)

I have put off the old man and have put on the new man, I am renewed in the knowledge according to the image of Him Who created me. (Colossians 3:9-10)

I have received the gift of righteousness. (Romans 5:17)

I have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

I have received the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus. (Ephesians 1:17-18)
 

I AM ACCEPTED

I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. (Colossians 1:14)

I am reconciled to God through Christ’s death and saved through Christ’s life. (Romans 5:10)

I have been adopted as God’s child. (Ephesians 1:5)

I am Christ’s friend. (John 15:15)

I am chosen and dearly loved. (Colossians 3:12)

I am united with the Lord, and I am one spirit with Him. (1 Corinthians 6:17)

I am a fellow citizen with God’s people and a member of God’s household. (Ephesians 2:19)

I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 2:18)

I am holy in God’s sight, without blemish and free of accusation. (Colossians1:22)

I am complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10)
 

I AM SECURE

I am free forever from condemnation. (Romans 8:1)

I am sealed by God with the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13)

I cannot be separated from the love of God. (Romans 8:35)

I am assured that all things work together for good. (Romans 8:28)

I am born of God and the evil one does not touch me. (1 John 5:18)

I am not under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)

I can find grace and mercy in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

I am confident that the good work that God has begun in me will be perfected. (Philippians 1:6)

I am a citizen of heaven. (Philippians 3:20)
 

I AM SIGNIFICANT

I am the branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life. (John 15:5)

I am salt of the earth. (Matthew 5:13)

I am a light of the world. (Matthew 5:14)

I am God’s workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10)

I shine like the stars in the universe in Christ. (Philippians 2:15)

I am a minister of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

I am Christ’s ambassador. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

As a child of God, I am a co-heir with Christ. (Romans 8:17)

I am a temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19)

I am more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37)
 
And God’s people said…..?
 

Wow!!! An amazingly inspiring story. (Nick Vujicic)

I stumbled upon the story of Nick Vujicic, a guy from Australia, who I had never heard of before. (I don’t know how I hadn’t heard about him until now?) He was born without arms OR legs, and he spent a good part of his childhood feeling lost, angry and alone… and questioning God on why he was deprived of limbs. He later realized what his purpose on this earth was, and now he is a global speaker, preacher, and motivator who shares his testimony and inspires people all over the world. Even without arms and legs, this guy does FAR more than I do, he golfs, swims, surfs… but more importantly, he allowed himself to be used by God to inspire hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, and he is an amazing witness for Jesus.

Something that he said really hit me, and the words are so true even if we never really think about it this way. He said that if a person has fear, lack of faith, or doesn’t know the answer to the important questions: “Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going?” then THAT person is more disabled than he is. That person is the ‘disabled’ one, because if someone is broken and incomplete on the inside, what good is it to be complete on the outside?

The bottom line there is the reminder of what is really important. Not our physical bodies, which are just a vessel, something temporary. The important thing is the condition of our soul and spirit, and THAT is what needs to be whole.

Nick Vujicic always has a big smile on his face, and a lot of confidence, and that kind of convicted me, because even though I shouldn’t, I still have silly fears, like a fear of speaking in front of crowds, or doing certain things. Then I see him, a man with no arms or legs, motivating millions of people because of his faith and confidence and joy and love. Makes me feel a bit silly for not being more fearless, when I have limbs and look like a normal person.

Nick is the director of Life Without Limbs, you can check out his website here. I just wanted to share this, I don’t know if anyone out there will appreciate it, but I hope so!