Being a teen girl living in today’s world is just not the same thing as it was even a decade ago. They face new challenges, new experiences. They face things that most adults could never even dream of.
Years ago, I read Mirror Mirror… Am I Beautiful? by Shelley Hitz and immediately thought that it was the book I wished I would have had when I was a teen. It was like the perfect handbook for Christian girls living in the real world. It didn’t just cover the pretty Christian topics, but the real-life, nitty-gritty issues that you are faced with in high school: Insecurities. Guys. Fashion. Evolution. Faith. Sex. It was all there.
And it was about a decade too late for me.
As my own daughters approach their teen years, I didn’t want it to be too late for them. So, I partnered with Shelley to update and expand the book so it is relevant for today’s teens. I so strongly believe in the message this book holds that I am willing to literally give it away.
But I know sometimes the best books are books that you can hold in your hand.
When you buy our book, either the paperback or Kindle edition, now through Saturday, you’ll get a free coloring book and have a chance to enter to win five more true beauty books.
In 2015 I stepped down from my position at TrainingAuthors.com because I felt like God was calling me back to ministry. I had helped build TrainingAuthors.com from the ground up, so it was really hard for me to do, and it took an entire year for me to really come to grips with it and surrender that decision completely to God. However, I am so glad that I did.
I have been working on getting back to the root of the ministry God called me to, discipling and encouraging Christian women and teen girls. I have been struggling with how best to do this online. Starting from scratch is never easy. But this week God knocked my socks off.
I received an e-mail on Sunday night from the owner of FindYourTrueBeauty.com, the ministry that published my first book in 2010. I knew God had called her to minister to a different group of people, and that ministry hadn’t been overly active for several years now, which is part of the reason I was so lost on how to move forward. But in her e-mail she wanted to know if I would be interested it taking over the ministry completely.
I was floored.
It’s exactly what God had placed in my heart. You know, one of those God sized dreams that you don’t think could ever really happen and you would never dream of actually asking for. I get teared up every time I think about it.
So, I am writing today today to tell you that I am officially the new owner/director of the ministry FindYourTrueBeauty.com. I am working hard on updating the website, our books, etc. And it will be a long process of getting everything up to speed, but I would love for you to check it out and let me know what you think.
In 2015 my theme for the year was “Called by Christ” – I spent the year reflecting on what God has called me to do, and it changed my life. The more I dug in, the more I realized I wasn’t leading the life He has called me to live.
One of the first things I did was resign from my position at TrainingAuthors.com. It cut me to the core but it opened me up to discover more about who God has called me to be and it allowed me the time to listen as God spoke to my heart. I won’t say that I always obeyed what I was hearing. Changing your entire life is hard. But I had to learn to let go.
That was my call for 2015, to let go. To wait. To get my feet on solid ground, before I took a leap of faith.
Moving into 2016, my theme for the year is twofold. I want to own the reality of my life. Really build a strong foundation of who I am in Christ, who He created me to be, where He has placed me, and what He has called me to do. And then I want to embrace it. I want to take who God made me and use every ounce of me to bring Him glory.
I want to live with a firm foundation that springs me into action.
At the end of 2014 I was burned out and confused. I didn’t know what I wanted or really even who I was apart from my work. While I had surpassed all of my goals, my family was suffering. I needed change. I am so happy now as we approach the end of 2015 that I know my calling. I know who I am, but I want to know more. I have a hunger to develop my relationship with Jesus like never before.
I have learned a ton during the year, and I want to take it deeper. I want it to move from head knowledge to really owning and embracing the life God has in store for me.
I am still crazy passionate about helping others, which is why I will be blogging regularly throughout the year and sharing what God is teaching me. Eventually, I hope to publish a book on this topic, but I really need to walk through it first and totally immerse myself in it.
I would love to hear what you are focusing on in the coming year. Do you have a theme, or a word for the year? A scripture? Do you make resolutions? Share your answers in the comments below!
I will add that in 2015, my theme verse for the year was 1 Thessalonians 5:14, “The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” (It went really well with my theme, “Called by Christ”.) For 2016, I am going with Psalm 118:17 which has already implanted itself in my heart, “I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.”
Our lives have hit a change in season. For the past several years, I have worked as an author coach with Shelley Hitz at TrainingAuthors.com. In fact, I helped her build it from the ground up. Earlier this year, however, I decided to step down.
It wasn’t an easy decision, and I have spilled many tears over the past several months as I have grieved the loss of this part of my life. I have wrestled with this decision over and over again, but it was the right decision.
Our kids are growing fast, and I need to spend more time with them.
I am still wrestling with what that looks like. Just how far I am stepping back from my online work. Should I rebuild slowly on my own? Should I step back all together? Should I just keep plugging away until I figure it all out?
What it comes down to is that I really don’t have the answers yet. I have gone back and forth multiple times, and all I know is that it was the right decision. I may not know where I am or what’s ahead of me, but God does. And I can trust that His plan is perfect.
My theme for 2015 is “Called by Christ” – I don’t know what He is calling me to, but I totally trust Him. And as strange as it may sound, even though I don’t know where all of this is going, I know deep inside that I am going in the right direction.
Anyway, we are retiring all of the products from the TrainingAuthors.com store this week, and everything is 75% off with the coupon code “CLOSEOUT”. So if you are an author, I highly recommend checking out our resources before they are gone here: https://www.paulandheatherhart.com/authors
I’ve been working hard behind the scenes for months on my new ministry for Christian women, CandidlyChristian.com. My goal was to create a safe place where women could be honest about their faith, failures, and forgiveness. Let’s face it, life isn’t always neat and tidy, being a Christian doesn’t change that.
Those of you who know my testimony, know that God has used the honesty of other Christian women to grow my faith more than anything else. Knowing that other Christian women don’t have it all together is a huge blessing. Knowing it’s okay to be less than perfect, what a relief!
I will never forget the first time a Christian woman admitted to me that she didn’t have it all together. She wasn’t just any Christian woman, she was our pastor’s daughter-in-law, super fit, a stay-at-home, super mom who was part of the worship team and an international missionary. I’m telling you, she was everything a good Christian should be, and she knew her Bible inside and out.
And then she confessed that she struggled with depression. That she questioned her faith because of an overwhelming feeling of worthlessness. This was super woman, and she struggled with some of the same things I did.
Another time the woman who hosted our Bible study confessed that her house wasn’t always as clean as we saw it each week. In fact, she said if we showed up unannounced at any other time during the week, that it would be a wreck.
Again, a huge burden was lifted. Not because I rejoiced in their struggles, but because it made me realize that struggling was okay.
Who knew it was okay to be less than perfect?
Her candid confession was a balm to my soul.
Many other candid confessions have followed. Some of them speak to me, others make me hurt for the women who are going through them all alone.
When I’ve shared my own candid confessions with other christian women, I usually get one of two responses.
Encouraging Support or Utter Condemnation
Sometimes well-meaning christian women come across the wrong way. Most of them don’t mean to, but it happens from time to time. And it happens often enough to make us scared to be honest.
If you are a Christian woman, I would love to have you join me at CandidlyChristian.com: A safe place to be open and honest about faith, failure, and forgiveness.
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
~ Luke 23:34
This is probably the shortest prayer we will look at during this study, but it is also one of the most powerful. The power of this one sentence prayer is in the context.
Jesus prayed for those persecuting Him. He was betrayed, abandoned, beaten, and nailed to a cross for sins He never committed, and in the heat of the moment He prayed for the very people who were to blame.
If you were in a similar situation, how do you think you would react?
Would you remember to pray for your enemies?
I doubt I would.
I would be tempted to lash out in anger. To scream my innocence at the top of my lungs. At the very least I would most likely be absorbed in the unfairness of it all.
But not our Savior.
Jesus didn’t wallow in self-pity or spew hatred, His heart was full of love for the unlovable.
In what must have been the lowest moment of His life–His rock bottom–He asked God to forgive those who were against him.
What an amazing Savior we have.
It isn’t always easy to be imitators of our King.
However, there are certain things we can do, to make following Him easier.
We can be in His Word daily.
We can pray continuously.
We can memorize Scriptures.
The more we immerse ourselves in our relationship with Christ, the easier it will be to honor Him with our thoughts, our words, and our actions.
The more we immerse ourselves in our relationship with Christ, the easier it will be to imitate Him.
Do you pray for your enemies? Is there someone you specifically need to pray for today?
What are some of your default reactions when people sin against you?
Do you have a verse that helps you remember to honor God, and choose to imitate Him over the sinful desires of your heart?
Take it Deeper
Read the following Scriptures: Romans 12:14; Matthew 5:43-48; Matthew 5:10-12; 1 Corinthians 4:10-13; Luke 6:27-31; Matthew 18:21-22; Matthew 5:38-42; Colossians 3:13
“Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges!”
~ Acts 4:19
The believer’s life isn’t always an easy one. In Acts 4, Peter and John are thrown in prison for proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus. Only for one night, but being arrested is still being arrested. When morning came around, they were released, but not until after they were threatened and commanded not to teach God’s Word.
Have you ever thought God was calling you to do something, but then the results made you question that calling?
Often times we want to think that if it’s God’s will, it will go smoothly. That He will bless it and we will shine.
But that’s not what Peter and John experienced.
Instead of second guessing their calling, they gathered together and prayed with other believers that God would give them strength to keep going.
I admire their faith and dedication, but not their situation.
I don’t want to be thrown in jail for proclaiming Christ, and I pray that if it does ever come to that, that I will be able to stand faithfully as these two men did so ever long ago.
Let’s take a look at their prayer:
“Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
“‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.’
Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:24-30 NIV)
There is so much in that prayer.
Praise for who God is and what He’s done (vs. 24-25).
They prayed Scripture (vs. 25-26).
They told God what had happened (vs. 27), and confirmed that it was God’s will — that He is sovereign (vs. 28).
And then they asked Him to strengthen them, and enable them to fulfill their calling and bring Him glory (vs. 29-30).
But my favorite part of that prayer is actually what happens after the prayer in verse 31:
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
They came before God, and God listened.
I love that God answers prayers, don’t you?
These were Christians who made a difficult decision to stand up for their faith and live lives that honored God, but they knew they needed His help.
We will face trials as Christians, as people in general. But if our God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
My encouragement to you this week is not to let hardships or trials keep you from doing what God has called you to do.
For if we are trying to please men, we aren’t servants of Christ (Gal. 1:10)
Today I wanted to share one of the devotions I write for teen girls with you. This one was actually written a couple of years ago, and I was amazed at how much I have grown in Christ since writing it, however, it’s still spot on.
You can sign up to get this devotion and others like it delivered to your inbox daily or weekly for free here.
Living by Faith
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
~ Galatians 2:20
Wow! Did you read that verse?
Those are the words Paul wrote to the Galatians, can you echo his words with your own?
Do you live by faith in the Son of God… do I?
Normally I would say absolutely, but the first part of the verse implies a much deeper meaning. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” That’s a powerful statement. Paul literally gave up all of his personal dreams (and belongings) to live for Christ, and Christ alone. I can fully admit that I haven’t done that.
You see, I get up each morning and decide what I want to do, what I want to wear, what I want to eat, and what I think is important to get done that day. Yes, I try to make sure that I spend time reading my Bible and pray that I accomplish what God wants me to do during the day… but I’m still living for me.
I know that Jesus gave up His life for me, yet I still live for myself.
I don’t spend my day focusing on He has done, but on me and my own little world.
Can you relate to that?
I don’t think that to live for Christ we all have to sell everything we own, and travel the world preaching Christ to the nations. Sure, some people are called by God to do that, but others Jesus commanded to stay where they were and share His love with those around them (Mark 5:18-20).
I think it’s harder to do that.
To stay in the same life we have always been living, but to change what we are living for. It’s harder to break habits when we are in the same situation – but that is exactly what God has called many of us to do.
So what about you? Are you continuing to live for yourself, or are you living by faith in Christ and allowing Him to live through you?
Write Galatians 2:20 on a note card and spend the next week memorizing it. Read it aloud first thing each morning, and then to yourself several times throughout the day – and pay attention to whether or not you are actually living it.
Father God, I have been living for myself. I want to live for You, I really do, but my flesh gets in the way. I want the words that Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20 to be my own, but I need Your help with that. Help me to live my life by faith in Your Son, so much so that I no longer live, but that He lives in me. It is in His name that I pray, amen.
“If we aren’t changed by Christ, how can He use us to change the world?”
That’s the question that has stuck with me ever since my pastor’s sermon on Sunday. I want God to use me to do great things for Him, but before He can do that, I first have to let Him do great things within me.
Can you relate?
The sermon my pastor preached this past weekend, was more about what it meant to prosper in God’s eyes. Here’s the definition I left with:
“To prosper in God’s eyes means to be ready to answer when He calls. To be prepared to do His will. To be waiting to take part in the plans He has for us, and ready to join Him in doing His work.”
Prospering is not about being plentiful, it’s about having what we need to serve God.
And part of what we need is more of Him.
I’ve been reading The Prayer that Changes Everything by Stormie Omartian. And the focus of the book is on praising God and getting to know who He is. I didn’t even get past the first page before I started highlighting. She was writing about entering into a close relationship with God, a “really close” relationship. And she posed the question, “How close is really close exactly?” Here’s her answer:
“It’s close enough to know Him intimately. Close enough to communicate your whole heart to Him on an ongoing basis. Close enough to be able to direct your attention away from yourself completely and place it on Him entirely. Close enough to understand who He really is and then allow that knowledge of Him to define who you really are. It’s loving Him with all your heart and letting Him love you with all of His.”
I want that kind of a relationship with God, don’t you?
My theme this year is “Called by Christ” and it has transformed my life in just a couple of short weeks. But one thing is painfully clear, part of the reason He has called me to stay where I am right now, is because I need to know Him more. I need more of Him in my life, if I want to be used by Him on a grand scale. Failing to be equipped by Him will lead to catastrophe later.
I’m not saying that you have to clean yourself up to be used by God, that’s not it at all! In fact, I know that He is using me right where I am right now. He is using me in the lives of my family, the women in my Bible study, and even in the women I meet online. He uses every Christian in some way. However, He also knows what He has equipped us to handle. If we aren’t ready for a big ministry, He won’t send us into one.
I know the saying goes that God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. But there is still a process to becoming qualified. You can’t teach God’s Word if you aren’t IN God’s Word. You can’t minister to others if you don’t let God minister to you. God’s love can’t pour out of you, if you don’t let it pour into you.
That’s where I am.
I’m basking in the love of my Savior. Deepening my relationship with Him, and letting Him pour out of me onto the people He has placed in my life right where I am.
I think that is one of the very first ways that God prospers us. He prospers us by taking us deeper into our relationships with Him.
Deeper in Christ.
That alone is amazing, but He doesn’t stop there.
He loves us to the point that it can’t help but spill out onto those around us and He calls us to be ambassadors for Him.
When He transforms us through our relationship with Him, He works through us for His own glory, but in order to be used by Him, we first have to come to Him.
So I want to close by asking you a question:
Where are you today?
Are you being transformed by Christ? Are you letting Him pour into you so that His love can overflow onto others? Or are you working to serve Him with all that you have, and depending on your own strength to bring Him glory?
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
For those of you who don’t know, my theme for 2015 is “Called by Christ.” I know God has called me to be His. I am His child, and I am more excited about serving Him than I have ever been. However, the biggest calling He has placed in my heart right now is the call to wait.
The call to remain where I am right now.
1 Corinthians 7:20 says, “Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.”
Now, I don’t know if you have ever been excited about something, but sitting and doing nothing, isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do in that situation.
The sermon my pastor preached on Sunday was on the book of Jeremiah. How God had a plan to prosper His people, but not for 70 years after He told them about His plan. That’s a long time. I’m hoping above all hope that God doesn’t want me to wait 70 years before He reveals His plans for my ministry to me, I’d be over 100 years old! However, I know that His timing is perfect.
One thing I am thankful for is knowing His plan for my life.
I won’t be trying out 1,000 new things this year, or striving for something and failing, because I know that I am right where God wants me to be.
I have security in that.
I think part of the reason He is calling me to stay where I am is because I’m not ready for more. I have been struggling to balance my current workload, family life, and ministry goals for a while now. The end of 2014 was rough for me. And while I thought cutting back was the answer, God has prompted me that what I really need to do is sink into Him.
He can’t use me for great things if I don’t rely on Him and trust His calling and will.
So for now, He has called me to stay. Not to step back, not move forward, but to stay right where I am, and lean into Him.