6/21/2017

Chasing Summer

Every summer I make so many plans. I want to hang out with friends and make ice cream and watch movies and write books and read books and go on adventures and learn things and sleep and laugh and the list goes on and on. (There are a lot of "ands" in that sentence!)

In the beginning of the summer, I feel so sure that I can do all of these things. After all, summer is a wide open field for me to run around dancing in like Troy Bolton. 

 high school musical 2 GIF


The truth is, life isn't a dance number in a Disney Channel movie. It doesn't always turn out sunny and organized. Even summer gets chaotic and crazy. We can forget the steps or trip over our own feet. 

It's time that we let go of our expectation of a perfect summer and started to enjoy it for the normal, messy, wonderful opportunity that it is. 

It's time that we stopped chasing a perfect summer and started living in the time given to us. 

So, instead of chasing a perfectly Instagram-worthy summer, how about we... 

1. Celebrate the small steps

 zac efron vanessa hudgens pbp disneyedit listofdcoms GIF


I cleaned out my closet today. Sure, that's boring and not particularly noteworthy, but I'm celebrating that accomplishment. I've needed to clean out my closet for a while, and it feels good to complete that chore. Thank you, summer, for giving me time to clean my closet. 

2. Do normal things with summer flair

 zac efron vanessa hudgens pbp disneyedit listofdcoms GIF

While you're driving to the grocery store, blast your favorite summer tunes (preferably Ben Rector). Wear a sundress while shopping. Watch your favorite shows while cleaning. (I may or may not have gone through a dozen episodes of Parks and Rec while organizing my closet...) 

3. Prioritize your days

 disney summer beach oh my disney high school musical 2 GIF


Let's face it, there are a lot of normal things that can eat away our days. This isn't bad, but it does mean that we have to be intentional on how we want to spend our time, because if not, our time will spend itself. Do you want to throw a summer bash? Make sure that you set aside the time to do that. Want to make a scrapbook? Do it, even if that means you can't do something else. Without placing value on the things that you want to accomplish, they won't get done. 

4. Remember what it's all about



Summer is great, but it only lasts a couple of months. Let's not live our summers in light of our momentary happiness but in light of the eternal joy of God. He has given us this summer to enjoy and use for His kingdom. 

"Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all of these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)

5. Compare less



Your summer will not look like my summer. It won't look like your favorite Instagramer's summer. It will be unique and wonderful, but if you're caught up in the comparison game, you may miss the beauty of your own summer. Look up. See the great gift before you and don't undervalue it because it looks different from someone else's gift.




May this not be a summer of high expectations or busy nothings. May this summer be a summer of joy, productivity, memories, and grace. It's about time that we stopped letting our expectation about summer steal our summer joy. It's time to reclaim the moments that this summer offers to us and enjoy them as what they are, moments.

How are you enjoying your summer so far? What are your summer plans? Do you love HSM 2 as much as I do? Answer in the comments!

Princess Hannah

6/11/2017

The Lesson of Disappointment

I planned on going to NYC this summer to study with American Ballet Theatre, one of the top ballet companies in the world. It was a dream of mine, a wonderful, crazy dream.

When I broke my foot, I stopped dreaming. It hurt too much to anticipate something clouded in uncertainty and pain. I thought it better to not desire this opportunity at all than to desire it and then have it taken away. 

I didn't want to desire something, because to desire something is to face disappointment in the eye. That is a hard battle. 

I lost.

And so, the disappointment of the broken foot claimed yet another dream. 




"Mom," I said a few days ago. "I thought that I already learned my lesson. I missed recital. I went through the pain, complications and inconveniences of breaking my foot. I've learned so much about trusting God. Why couldn't He have let me have this?"

What she said stuck with me. 

"Sometimes, we have to learn the lesson of disappointment." 

When I face a trial, I want to know why. Why did I go through this? There must be some lesson that I need to learn, some person that I am supposed to inspire. I put the pressure on myself to make the suffering worth my while. If I’m going to go through this suffering, I might as well write a book about what I learned through it.

If I’m honest, though, sometimes the lesson learned isn't something big and inspiring.

Sometimes, I have to learn the lesson of disappointment.

I don’t mean to sound pessimistic. I don’t mean to say that life is a pit of sorrow, and we should just give up and watch Netflix all day. What I mean is that on this earth, we will face disappointment. It’s part of sin. It’s part of learning. It’s simply part of life before eternity.

This rhythm of disappointment points us in two directions: pity parties or praise parties.

No one throws a pity party like a disappointed person. Trust me, I know. And the world expects us to throw spectacular pity parties. After all, Adele makes her living off of pity parties!

There is another reaction to disappointment, though. Hope. Praising God in hope.

I don’t mean that we hope that our disappointment will go away. I am talking about a deeper, more secure hope. An eternal one. I am talking about the hope of Jesus.

Jesus comes to us in our disappointment and reminds us that this world is broken, but He has fixed our souls in His grace. He reminds us that this world is fading, but He has built an eternal home for us. He reminds us that our lives are not about us, but He has given us a purpose far bigger than any disappointment.

Jesus comes to us in our disappointment and reminds us of Himself. He gives us the chance to take our eyes off of our disappointments and onto His faithfulness. He takes our desires and holds them carefully, all the while making Himself the chief desire of our soul. (See my Tangled post for more of those thoughts.)

God doesn't promise us a life without disappointments. He does, however, promise strength for the suffering, grace for the hurting, and rest for the weary. He teaches us so much through trials, and sometimes, He teaches us the lesson of disappointment.

The lesson of disappointment is a slow one. It is a humble one. It is a quiet one. You have to really hush down the pity parties to hear it, but when you do, you will find that the disappointments are invitations to let go.

Let go of trying to force everything to be clear. Let go of seeking to understand the lesson in suffering and simply seek Christ in suffering.

That's the beautiful thing about the lesson of disappointment, it points us to Christ. It forces us to lean in faith upon His goodness even when we can hardly see the path beneath our feet, let alone five feet ahead or behind. It shows us just how wonderful He is because the things around us- and even our own selves- seem so frail. 

Emily Freemen’s book Simply Tuesday has a chapter that inspired part of this blog post. On page 178 of her book, she says:

“I confess how disappointed I am that I don’t have clarity. But in the confession, I begin to see Christ. I begin to release my obsession with building my life into something linear, something I can figure out. Instead, I believe that letting go doesn’t mean I’ll be left with nothing. It means I can more fully hold on to Christ and trust the life he is building within me. I sense him inviting me to trust him, not because I’ll finally understand, but because I’ll begin to believe that he understands me.”

Here it goes. Life, a life full of desire and disappointment, lies ahead of us. We could go about it scared. Scared of desires which disappoint. Scared of disappointments which crush our desires. Or, we could live confident in Christ. Confident that He is bigger than any disappointment, even the ones that don’t make sense. We can live with Him as our chief, secure desire and hope.

Have you dealt with disappointment? Are you getting tired of this rather lengthy string of posts about suffering? Tell me your thoughts and experiences in the comments!


Princess Hannah

5/25/2017

14 Years Ago- My Story of Adoption

14 years ago, I came alive.

After Mom and Dad put me to bed, 5-year-old me opened my eyes and prayed for the eyes of my heart to be opened. I guess I saved important decisions for bedtime thinking. Not much has changed.

I don't remember what led me to this decision. I don't remember many of the thoughts leading up to the night I prayed on my bed in the dark. God called my soul, though, and I answered.


I didn't stop at the ABCs of faith. I don't think that I even went over those steps. I simply recognized that without Jesus, I am dead. Without God's grace, I will struggle and struggle without true life. I wanted to do life with God.

14 years ago, God adopted me into His family. He took away all of my sins (sins like stealing candy every day while Mom slept) and clothed me with his goodness. He claimed me forever as a loved daughter of God. He is still claiming me.

What makes my heart smile even more is what I prayed after I received new life. I prayed that God would come and change every aspect of my little life. I realized that being God's princess meant that I would live differently. I would obey Him with all I am.

I prayed over everything in my 5-year-old life including obedience to my parents, love for my sisters, faithfulness (aka, not complaining) in school and dance, and joy in church. I don't distinctly remember everything, but I remember that the prayer lasted for, what seemed to me then as, eternity.

I treasure these fragments of memories. They remind me that nothing has changed. Every day, God still challenges me (and you) to surrender everything we have to Him, not because of some meaningless rule-book but because WE HAVE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. Won't we want to walk step-in-step with Him?

14 years later, I prayed again. I rejoiced in how far God has brought me. Oh, He has done marvelous things! I surrendered the things in my 19-year-old life to Him. He is trustworthy. He is the Life-Giver. He is worthy.



Step by step, let us surrender to His will and ways, not because of guilt or routine but because of His life that shine in every aspect of our being. Let us, in light of our adoption into God's family, rejoice in how we can live grace in everything.

I guess the theme of this blog started 14 years ago where I prayed for the first time to live out grace in everything. Let us not give up.

Princess Hannah

5/18/2017

How Sweet it Is to Trust in God

God is trustworthy.  He never fails to deserve our complete and joyful trust. His ways are perfect; there is no flaw in them.

I can't see those truths clearly now, but I see them clearer than before.

As I reflected upon this past school year, I realized that trusting God united all of the lessons I learned



I faced the truth that my future won't necessarily involve marriage/dating, at least not in my preferred timeline. 

I realized that the career I'm set upon isn't set in stone. God could call me elsewhere, and I would be joyful in that. 

I realized that trusting God means not being in control. Like breaking my foot. 

In all of these things, I see God's Spirit in me, leading me toward a greater joy in trusting God. He wants to lead You in this trust as well. Isn't that exciting?

Join with me in this prayer, a prayer inspired by a Bible study I did on trusting God. Say it out loud if you can. Investigate scripture that speaks truth into your worries about the future. Start with Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 16:1-4, Matthew 6:19-34, Romans 15:13, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, Philippians 4:4-7, Hebrews 13:8, and 1 John 3:2-3.




Father, 

You are all-knowing. Nothing takes You by surprise or catches You off guard. You have written out the Story of the world, including my small part. You have taken time to plan every day of mine before I took a breath in this world. You plan it perfectly, too. Not like I would.

Oh, how good You are and worthy of trust. 

Oh, how good it is for me to trust You. 

But this is hard. I like to know, to control. I like neat lists and a good five year plan. In the moment, I am prone to worry about every little thing. I worry about my body, friendships, schooling, career, family, and even the weather and how it will change my daily schedule. 

What would it look like, though, if I followed Your ways and didn't worry? What if I walked into the storm confidently obeying You and trusting You to either provide an umbrella or teach me to dance in the rain? What if I took every chance I got to bear Your fruit and have joy in Your Spirit?



Thank You for being You, a good, loving, all-knowing Author of the greatest Story ever. Thank You for never changing. Thank You for Your Spirit who is helping me to walk in trust and live with courage. 

May Your name shine in my life, wherever You lead me, 

Your Princess




What has God been teaching (or challenging) you about trust? 

Princess Hannah

5/03/2017

Trusting God in Times of Stress: An Infographic

It's that time of year again. Finals. Big projects. Late nights. Empty coffee cups piling up.

Who is our companion during this time?

Stress.

It's simply assumed that we students will be stressed during the end of the school year. We go into this season expecting anxiety and all-nighters. We don't always fight the approaching worries. Instead we tweet about them and complain to our friends.

What if I told you that we didn't need to be stressed? What if this year we didn't give into overwhelming anxiety or nervousness?

What if this year we kicked stress in the butt and completely trusted in God? 

"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:6-7

"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today."

Matthew 6:33-34

These are familiar verses to many of us, but what if we lived like they were true and trustworthy? How would we go into this last stretch of the school year if we based our lives off of those verses and God's trustworthiness?

I made a little infographic to help illustrate how we can approach stress differently as children of God.





How will you go into finals? What truths will you cling to? What verses will guide you? Will your response to stress be the same as the world or set apart?

Princess Hannah

4/29/2017

10 Ways to Feel Beautiful (Even When You Don't)

Some days, you feel like a movie star. Your hair is put together, someone complimented your outfit, and you seem to radiate confidence and beauty. 

Most of the time, however, you don't feel that way. You feel gross. Unattractive. Messy. Most definitely not beautiful. 

The key word here is feel.

The truth is, we are beautiful whether we feel it or not, but we often don't believe that we are beautiful because we don't feel beautiful.

Stop right now and remind yourself that feelings aren't truth.  They are wonderful and helpful, but they are not to rule over us. God is to rule over our feelings.

Here are 10 ways to embrace your beauty even when you don't feel it:


1. Pray


Talk to God about your feelings of inadequacy. He cares for you. More than that, His Spirit will guide you to live in His way of love. Give Him thanks instead of comparing yourself to others. Praise His name instead of wallowing in a pity party. 


2. Smile


I know this sounds cheesy, but a smile is the best makeup a girl can wear and is even scientifically proven to lighten up moods. Enjoy life, and you will find beauty everywhere. 




3. Stand Up Straight


Don’t shrink back from life because you don’t feel beautiful. Stand up straight and start doing the beautiful work of God! Be confident in the grace of God and the beauty He gives you.





4. Remember God's Word


The best methods I’ve discovered to stop body image insecurity is to replace it with the truth. 1 Samuel 16:7 is my favorite verse for this because it reminds me how to see things as God sees them: 




5. Give Someone a Compliment


You are not the only one who feels un-beautiful sometimes. By helping someone else remember that they are beautiful, you remind yourself what truly is beautiful- love. Nothing is more encouraging than giving encouragement. 


5. Eat Something Healthy


Sometimes you need to put something beautiful in to feel beautiful out. Eating fruit always lifts my spirits and has me feeling ready to take on the day beautifully. Here are five other healthy snack foods!


6. Wear Something Special


This doesn’t mean that you should only feel beautiful in beautiful clothes, but sometimes a new dress or nice necklace helps! Know which clothes fit you best and complement your beauty.




7. Do Something Beautiful


Beauty is, as we all know, found on the inside more than on the outside. Don’t let outward beauty steal our inward beauty!

Instead, focus on doing beautiful things. Give someone a ride and encourage them. Bake cookies for your neighbor for no reason. Make a note for your pastor. Do the dishes for your sister. There are so many beautiful things in the world, most of them in disguise.


8. Give Media a Break


Media fills you with lies. “You should look like her.” “You should own these things.” “Your life should look like this.” I’m not saying that we should avoid media. However, you should know when you are susceptible to believe the lies and not the truth.


9. Don't Give the Lies Thought


Sometimes you get so focused on trying to fix your thoughts about beauty that you get stuck in a thought-loop where you don’t stop thinking about your failures and problems. Sometimes the best thing to do is to simply think about something else and not give those lies another thought.


10. Use Your Gifts


Beauty is more than skin deep. It is also more your abilities to do everything. You are given specific gifts and talents from God. You are meant to use those gifts and talents and should never let insecurity stop you from giving glory to God through the gifts He has given you.



You might not feel beautiful right now, but dear sister, you are beautiful. Isn’t time that you started living beautifully? Isn’t it time that you started believing the truth that you are beautiful no matter what, not because of who you are but because of who God is?

Let us not forget.

Comment your ways to feel beautiful!


Princess Hannah

4/26/2017

When Suffering Comes


So, I broke my foot.

Six weeks ago I slipped during pointe class and fractured my fifth metatarsal (commonly known as the "dancer's fracture"). The little crack in one of my 26 bones in my left foot changed the following weeks in more ways than I anticipated. 



Even though a broken foot hardly qualifies as intense suffering, it is a consequence of the fall. It is suffering, even if on a smaller scale. It was especially hard because it meant that I couldn't dance for six plus weeks, including the week of my studio's recital. 

But who says that we can't learn big lessons from small things like missed recitals and broken feet? I've learned a lot about suffering through this ordeal. I've learned about hope. Patience. Joy. Sorrow. Let's just say it's been a crazy few weeks. 

Here are a few things that I learned about suffering that might help you too when (not if) suffering comes:

(Try listening to Hillsong's "Even When It Hurts" while reading this.)




1. Remind yourself of the truth

Suffering likes to take over our entire lives. 

Don't let it. 


Don't give into the temptation to view all of life through your suffering. Sure, I broke my foot. That doesn't mean that my family, friendships, and grades are broken too. Sure, you are really stressed. That doesn't mean that you are a failure at relationships. Sure, you're lonely, but that doesn't mean that all of your life is gloomy. 

The victim mindset is dangerous. It is a slippery slope of pity party days and hopeless nights. 

We can't let that happen. 

Instead, we must step back and remind ourselves of the truth; we are loved. Treasured. Bought. We have a purpose. We are given skills. We have some family and friends that love us. We have learned things in the past and we are learning things right now. Not everything is underneath the filter of suffering unless we want to view it that way.


2. Don't go through it alone


Satan best attacks our souls during suffering if we isolate ourselves. I know this from experience. 

When I broke my foot, I stopped hanging out with my friends. I stopped connecting via social media. I stopped texting people. Something about breaking my foot made me feel like no one understood me. It made me feel so alone. 


We must remind ourselves of the truth, though. Most people relate to our suffering more than we think that they can. Our loved ones care for us, even when we are going though a hard time. We just have to let ourselves be vulnerable and available. 

It is worth the effort to reach out to others for help and encouragement, even if that means hobbling on one foot to see them. It is also worth the effort to encourage others. There is no better way to find purpose and encouragement than to serve others and give encouragement.


3. Chose a specific Bible verse or passage to guide you


Immediately after I broke my foot and started down this road of injury, I knew that I would need a Bible passage to cling to. Somehow I stumbled across Romans 5, and I knew that I had found the one. 

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, though whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. As we boast in the hope of the glory of God. No only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame because God's love has been poured into our hearts though the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." 

Romans 5:1-5




"Tribulation worketh patience, not in and of itself, but the powerful grace of God working in and with the tribulation." 

Matthew Henry on Romans 5:1-5

This passage helped me to give the lies and sorrows of suffering to God. They reminded me that what I see now is preparing me for more kingdom work. They reminded me that true life points to the glory of God, not to my own comfort or dreams. I kept these verses close and even wrote them on my cast! 



These tips are by no means three ways to ease your suffering. They won't fix your problems in three easy steps. They are rather ways to fully embrace the lessons that suffering can give you. They are ideas on how to cling to truth even when it hurts.

I know that this is a heavier topic, but it is something that I've obviously thought a lot about lately. Comment below ways that you grow through suffering.

Princess Hannah


P.S. After writing this post, I went to the orthopedist. I AM NOW FREE!!! No more boot. Let the prepping for dancing begin.