Seventeen

My 365 days of being sixteen have been more than sweet! They have held challenges, hugs, church services, trips of a lifetime, friendships that have awaken my soul, and memories I will cherish forever. Some of my most favorite memories of being sixteen include: getting my license and enjoying Valerie (my Volkswagen Beetle), long afternoons with my siblings waiting for ball practices to end, days in Greenville with my mom and family, beach trips over the summer, gathering loved ones around our kitchen table, Black Friday shopping, church conferences, seeing God grow me personally, and being used by God in ways far greater than I could ever imagine. I have held Jesus’ hand and poured my heart out to Him through many walks and talks in the woods. We have accomplished so much together! He has sustained me. He has given me provision for the visions He has placed on my heart. In September, He gave me the most special weekend at Liberty University, where I stayed with my friend Natalie and participated in the Unashamed Project Scholarship. I have used my freedom in Christ to live fearless. I am no longer allowing the enemy to keep me trapped in a box of uselessness!

I have realized that there is nothing more important in life than our relationships with Jesus and other people. We were not made to do life alone! Life is short. We are not promised tomorrow. Just this week, I have been reminded of that truth. So often you and I take for granted the time and opportunities we have to love others. Instead of pushing our siblings, children, or spouses away, we need to embrace, hug, and cherish them! We need to quit worrying and start living abundantly. Comparison must be quenched in our lives. God has given each of us an unique mission that only we can fulfill through Him. There are no two humans on Earth who are exactly the same. Every life matters and has value. It is easy to become irritated with the people around us who are hard to love, but we are called to go the extra mile to minister unto them. It is easy to judge others, but mercy triumphs over judgment. I have been praying to see others through eyes of God’s mercy rather than fleshly judgment. Synonyms for mercy are compassion, grace, love, forgiveness, and patience.

Waiting on seeing the Lord fulfill His promises to me has been a journey. God has told me to be patient while He works all things out for my good and His glory. Because my confidence is in Him alone, I know I will not be shaken. My emotions do not have to falter since my hope is in Christ, Who is forever constant.

God wants my obedience rather than my perfection. He created me with an unusual desire to see and clean things, but I cannot let that desire distract me from seeking God first.

I have to do heart work before art work and focus on ministry before thinking about money.

My sweet children at church have my heart. They reflect our Father in vibrant ways and it is one of my deepest joys to plant seeds in their lives!

God has blessed me in ways I have not deserved this year. His mercy and grace overwhelm me. He, more than anyone else, sees the best and worse in me. Yet, He loves me more than anyone else ever could.

He is the lover of my soul and I continuously long for Him.

I pray that He would use all the pieces of my life to further His kingdom for eternity.

God is more than my faithful Father. He is my best friend.

Today I embark on chapter seventeen of my life. It is honestly crazy to think I am already this old! I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams and am overflowing with thankfulness for all God has given me! My life is not my own. This World is not my home. I pray I spend each minute of my life intentionally, making the most of every opportunity for Christ.

I sincerely strive to be an encouragement to you, wherever you may be. It is probably not your birthday today, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start over and begin a new chapter of your life as well. Each breath we breathe is another opportunity we have to communicate with God. No matter how old you are, your life has divine purpose and potential to change the World! Never underestimate the Power living inside of you. Your life matters. You are deeply loved and already chosen. Nothing you have ever done or will ever do (no matter how bad it may be) can change God’s love for you. He gave His life so that you could find yours in Him. It is okay to not know all the answers or Bible stories. God doesn’t want perfection. He wants a surrendered heart.

My birthday wish is that your spirit would be convicted, challenged, comforted, and cherished deeply today.

I am thankful for each of you!

Haley

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