Saturday, September 14, 2019

Does God Call Us to be... Extroverts??

A couple of weeks ago, I visited a different church with my family. My own church I normally go to is awesome and rock-solid, though I may be a tiny bit biased since I’ve been going there all my life. In my mind, no church could possibly be more reliable and faithful to the Word of God as my church is. So, when I’m visiting a church that’s new to me, I tend to keep my guard up for anything I may disagree with. It’s kind of a bad habit since I’m supposed to be there to learn, but it is still good to be vigilant.

Anyways, it was a lovely church, and very friendly; similar to my church in quite a few ways. The sermon was great! (Of course, it doesn’t match up to my pastors’ sermons.) ;) Something struck me as very thought-provoking.

The sermon was on being part of a church body. The pastor started out with an illustration based on an article he read (this one, I believe). He said that according to the article, where you sit in an airplane is a big deal. Aisle people are flighty introverts and window people are privacy-valuing dreamers. The very tiny leftover percentage are middle seat people. Extroverts--“considerate,” and “highly evolved”. The point of his illustration was that everyone in the church should be a middle seat Christian.

A question arose for me: Does God call us to be extroverts? I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Introverts in the Church by Adam McHugh with my dad, so I was skeptical. To answer this question, we must answer a few other questions first.

What are extroverts? And while we’re at it, What are introverts? Some quick definitions for those of you who aren’t familiar with the whole introvert-extrovert terminology:

Extroverts are energized by being with people. They are often seen are outgoing, social, and expressive.

Introverts are energized by time alone. They’re seen as quiet, aloof people; lone wolves. I am an example of an introvert. =)

Now, from what I’ve observed, there are pretty much two viewpoints you can take on the question, Does God call us to be extroverts?.

Viewpoint A: Yes. Being like Christ absolutely means being an extrovert, even if you don’t like it. You need to fellowship with anybody and everybody. You need to always be in the crowd, building relationships.

Well, actually, Christ liked to get his time alone too… (Luke 5:15-16, ESV: But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.)

Viewpoint B: No. If you don’t fellowship with others, that isn’t your sin nature. That’s your personality. You do you.

I don’t really agree with this one either. Just take a look at what we know that God calls us to do:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. - Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)

Ok, introverts can “consider how to stir one another to love and good works”.  And some are great at encouraging, especially one-on-one. But, if you look at it from a specific angle, “not neglecting to meet together” falls under “socializing,” aka “extroverting.”

This passage, combined with Luke 5:15-16, falls under another viewpoint.

Viewpoint C: Know your personality and play off your strengths. Don’t exhaust yourself--that makes it a lot easier to fall into temptation. But take advantage of your church, and build friendships too. If you call God’s commands for the Christian “extroverting”, then yes, you are called to extrovert. But God also calls us introverts to be introverted, and spend time meditating on the Word and in prayer. Even Jesus got time alone.

This is my viewpoint. As an introvert, it is super important to understand that God calls us to fellowship. God calls us to go outside our comfort zones if we need to and do some hard things. If we cut ourselves off from all other human beings, we are neglecting some important commands. 

But it is also crucial to know that God created your personality, and He can use your introversion for good, too. Of course, your personality is no excuse for being selfish or neglecting to fellowship. Recognize and fight those sins. At the same time, be the introvert you are. Embrace one-on-one friendships. Be independent, thoughtful, observant, and considerate. Own your personality.

What do you think about this subject? Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Daniel and the Veggies: Don't Settle for Low Standards

As I mentioned in the last post, I recently read the book of Daniel. I’m guessing that the word “Daniel”  immediately makes you think of the story of “Daniel and the Lions Den”. But the book of Daniel is actually filled up with many other little, lesser-known stories. Last week, I told you about Nebuchadnezzar. This week is--no, it’s not “Daniel and the Lions Den.” It is “Daniel and the Veggies.”

In chapter 1 of Daniel, we read that the king of Babylon takes over Jerusalem and assigns his chief eunuch, Ashpenaz, to gather up some “youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king's palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.” (Daniel 1:4, ESV.) This included Daniel and his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (whom you probably know as Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego). Note that they were called “youths.” At that part of the story, they were young. I googled it, and different sources said different things, but they were probably somewhere in the range of 11-15 years old.

Anyways, in verse 5, we read, “The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king.” Since all the kids would need to stand before the king later on, it was probably important to Ashpenaz that they were raised right.

But for some reason, little Daniel didn’t want the king’s food. We’re not completely sure why, but it could’ve been that their food was unclean and the grapes for their wine were not grown according to a Jewish rule in Leviticus 19:23-25. It could have also been that the food was dedicated to idols, making it way more unclean than normal unclean food. Whatever the reason, little Daniel was resolved not to defile himself, so he went straight to Ashpenaz, the chief eunuch.

Ashpenaz said, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” (Verse 10.) Note the lower caps when Ashpenaz said he was afraid of his “lord”. Unlike the chief eunuch, Daniel feared the Lord (upper caps), so he didn’t stop there. 

Next, he went to the steward who was in charge of him and his friends (Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego). Daniel requested this: “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king's food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” (Verses 12 and 13.) You can see that Daniel didn’t take up the challenge just to make himself look good because he roped in his friends too!

Well, the steward listened to them and agreed to the test. What happened then? Did they get sick of veggies after three days and beg the steward for their old food back? Did the king kick them out because they weren’t doing well in their studies?

Nope, they actually looked a lot better after switching to this unusual diet. After ten days, their steward decided that they didn’t need the king’s food, so he kept giving them veggies. Daniel and his friends were “better in appearance” than all the other youth! Not only that, but God gave those four kids “learning and skill in all literature and wisdom” and even gave Daniel “understanding in all visions and dreams” (verse 17)! 

How about their meeting with the king at the end of their time there? So, the king spoke with all the youth, and he decided that Daniel and his friends really stood out from the other kids. In fact, they stood out from the whole kingdom! “And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.” (Verse 20.)

Here’s what I got out of Daniel’s story:
  • Daniel had a healthy conscience. He was completely resolved not to defile himself. A Christian teenager today might be tempted to settle for what all the other Christian teenagers were doing, but not Daniel. His conscience didn’t settle for the other Jewish youths’ standards. He felt the need to make a change.
  • Daniel had some initiative. When the Holy Spirit stirred up something in his heart, he actually went and did it. He didn’t just wait for a vision or a dream or the voice of God to do what he thought was right. He did it. 
  • Daniel was faithful. Even when he was so young, he wanted to serve God. He was willing to sacrifice comfort and risk doing what he thought was right, and his youth was no excuse for being unfaithful. Later on in life, he even intentionally broke a law (no praying) for God.
  • Daniel was persistent. He didn’t stop when Ashpenaz turned down his request. Daniel wasn’t afraid of Ashpenaz or even the king. He feared the True King and was determined to not do what he felt was wrong. He didn’t give up! He went to his steward, and his steward listened!

How about you? Are you willing to go above and beyond the standards of Christians around you? Do you have what it takes to make the decisions for yourself? Will you settle for what everyone else is doing when the Holy Spirit stirs up your conscience? 

A new school year is coming, and with it comes challenges. Some of you might be homeschoolers or go to Christian schools, but still, I dare you to be ready to go above and beyond. Be ready to set your spiritual standard higher than the people around you. (But don’t be a Pharisee!) Daniel was surrounded by other Jewish youth eating defiled food, but he didn’t settle for the crowd’s standard. Will you?

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Humility -- the Dreaded Article

Recently, I’ve been reading the book of Daniel. I read about a king named Nebuchadnezzar, and in chapter 4, he had a dream. “I saw a dream that made me afraid. As I lay in bed the fancies and the visions of my head alarmed me.” (Daniel 4:5, ESV.) He envisioned a beautiful, prosperous tree being chopped down. This was Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream in the book of Daniel, and Daniel came and interpreted this one for the troubled king just like how he interpreted the other dream.

This time, Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar, “this is the interpretation, O king… you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” (Verses 24 to 25.) Like the tree in his dream, King Nebuchadnezzar had grown great and strong. And, like the tree, he would be humbled.

Nebuchadnezzar could’ve humbled himself. He could’ve acknowledged “that the Most High rules the kingdom of men” and worshiped God instead of himself. But a year later, he was taking a little walk on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and he said to himself, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” (Verse 30.) 

Uh-oh. God didn’t like that. He immediately fulfilled the king’s dream and humbled him to the level of an animal. “[Nebuchadnezzar] was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers, and his nails were like birds' claws.” 

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled… - Matthew 23:12 (ESV)

A gospel perspective on humility

Confession time: I don’t like to read about humility and putting off pride. It’s tough stuff to read about. It makes me feel bad about the low, low creature I am. I don’t even like to write about it. I was planning to write this article a week earlier, but I procrastinated. Humility isn’t pleasant.

But… (wait for it…) humility is important! (Didn’t see that coming, did you?) ;)

God is an infinitely mighty and holy God. The Creator and what He created are in two completely different categories.

To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? - Isaiah 40:18 (ESV)

We owe God a lot of respect for just who He is. And if you think about what we (and Nebuchadnezzar!) are like…

All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. - Romans 3:12 (ESV)

That makes it very clear why we should be humble before God. But why should we humble ourselves before other people? In the heat of a conflict, we are prone to thoughts like, “I am better than that person in the area of such-and-such. It doesn’t matter what that person thinks about such-and-such. Why should I even listen to so-and-so?” 

Well, looking at this issue through a gospel lens, we can remember how Christ didn’t take his superiority into account before he died for all the unworthy. 

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. - Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV)

After Jesus did all this and redeemed us undeserving sinners, shouldn’t we want to be like Him? If we have been saved by such a wonderful Savior, shouldn’t we strive to imitate His humility? If we forget what Christ has done for us in the moment which we want to put ourselves first, we are as bad as the Unforgiving Servant. The servant was forgiven 10,000 talents by his master, yet he wouldn’t even forgive his fellow servant 100 denarii.

The aforementioned Philippians passage goes on to say:

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2:9-11 (ESV)

After Jesus was brought low, God lifted Him high. We, too, will be exalted for our humility before God and others one day. You can see this pretty clearly in a number of verses--Psalm 138:6, Proverbs 3:34, Proverbs 3:34, Matthew 23:12, Luke 1:52, James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5… Sure, humility is unpleasant, but the average American lifespan is, what, eighty years? Eternal life in heaven will be more than worth it!

Now that I think about it, I should probably tell you the end of King Nebuchadnezzar’s story, too.

At the end of the days that God was humbling the king and making him live like an animal, Nebuchadnezzar lifted his eyes to heaven and worshipped God. “...all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth…” (Verse 35.) The king finally got the idea that God was the Most High, not him. God deserved all the praise and glory, not him.

And God rewarded him for that. “At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Verses 36-37.)

Together, like Nebuchadnezzar, let’s strive to put God first and others first. Humility is found in simple everyday things. Putting others first can literally be letting them go first--waiting until after everyone else has chosen their cookie to take the tiniest one, or maybe taking on the nastiest job so your siblings don’t have to. And a practical way for you to put God first may be setting aside the start of your day to read your Bible. If you are following Christ, you’ve already taken a huge step of humility--all glory be to God!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Counting Every Blessing

Sometimes we wake up, and we immediately start counting our grumblings. The beeping alarm clock, the annoying sibling, the stuffy nose... It is easy to count all the irritations we come across in life. But have you ever tried to literally count your blessings?

At American Heritage Girls Camp this summer, the leaders put out a little jar and some paper and a pen. They called it the "Joy Jar", and that week they invited us campers to put our joys in it. Each evening, the worship leaders read the joys that had been put in the jar that day to us all.

The girls at the camp put many different kinds of joys in the jar. Some joys were little things like seeing a butterfly, a frog, or a bird. Some were bigger things, like "friends" or the name of a staff member. On the first day of the Joy Jar, I put in a note about how fun canoeing was.

Whenever the leaders read all the things individual girls had been grateful for that day, the rest of us would share those girls' joys with them. We would clap and even chant. "Joy Jar, Joy Jar, Joy Jar..."

Of course, it isn't always easy to name your blessings, but I decided to bring a bit of the experience home. When camp ended and I came home, I found a jar and wrote "joy jar" on the front and "feel free to contribute" on the back.

I got into the habit of writing a few joys each week--and I actually found it pretty fun. When I think about gratefulness, it reminds me of the song, "Counting Every Blessing" by Rend Collective. Half of the chorus often gets stuck in my head.

I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Surely every season you are good to me

My siblings and I used to sing that song a lot. God is good, and it feels good to remember His goodness, doesn't it?

I told my eleven-and-a-half-year-old sister, Selah, about my joy jar, and she took on the challenge to help me fill it up. I knew ungratefulness could be like the flu, but I didn't know how contagious thankfulness could be! Last week we counted the blessings of this summer, and (by Selah's estimation) they came to a total of 105!

Our next goal is to have another hundred notes about what we are thankful for by the end of August. Selah is excited and was scribbling down lots of things one night. Movies and dishwashers and sparkles... so much to be grateful for! The Bible has its own list of things, too!

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. - Psalm 107:8-9 (ESV)

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit... - Titus 3:3-5 (ESV)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. - James 1:17 (ESV)

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. - Habukkuk 3:17-18 (ESV)

There is infinite goodness to thank God for, so why not spend our lives "counting every blessing"?

Saturday, August 17, 2019

4 Tips for Being a God-Glorifying Sibling

This week I was published on the Reb for the second time!

I wrote an article with four tips for being a God-glorifying sibling.

Being a sibling is hard. I would know. I have nine unique little brothers and sisters that I’m called to love all the time. Sometimes it drives me bonkers!

It can be hard to treat our siblings right, especially when we’re teenagers and our emotions are extra sensitive. As a brother or a sister, we know we should love our siblings regardless of how we are feeling, but how should we go about this? How can we glorify God in the way we interact with our siblings?

Read the rest here!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The "Tell the Story" Challenge

Hello, folks! Allison Grace @ tagged me for the Tell the Story Challenge, so today I am posting that! Here are its rules:

1. Pick an image out of the choices.
2. Write a short story, poem, or whatever applies to that image.
3. Choose other bloggers to do the challenge.
4. Give your nominees a few more images to choose from.

You can read Allison's post (and her cool poem!) here. When Allison tagged me, I picked this image out of the choices she gave me:

'Cause it's a pig. And pigs are cool. (Think Charlotte's Web.) And it is such an interesting image! So I wrote this pig's story for him. Without further ado, "A Hog's Log: Day #3":


It is so good to be free, but the journey proceeding a pig’s escape is not always easy. Especially when it involves swimming.

I stepped into the ocean this morning with only the knowledge of where I had came from. I knew very well that I was fleeing the bacon farm, but little did I know what lay ahead.

Why am I swimming away from my old home? That is a simple question. You see, some pigs need to act for themselves. Not every pig can have a spider to spin webs with nice things about them. Not every pig can become too famous to be butchered. Some pigs have to escape death themselves.

I’m swimming because I realize I’m not the most important pig in the world, so I won’t survive if I stay at my farm. But it is tough for a pig to leave his farm, too. So I decided that, with a little courage, I could escape a horrible death. With a little courage, I could head toward something else instead.

In a way, everybody is a swimming pig.

Everyone’s swimming away from something, and everyone’s swimming toward the unknown.

Everyone feels as if they are far more suited for dry land, but they must swim, with just as many swimming fins as a pig has.

Everyone has to choose to “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

If you take another angle, you’ll also notice that everyone has a seagull on their back. Sure, he’s your wingman, a loyal companion on a long journey. But he also weighs you down. And to be frank, some seagulls aren’t as helpful as spelling-bee-gold-medalist spiders.

But we’ll get through this. Just keep swimming.


Now to tag some bloggers! After some careful thinking, I choose...

Jessis Bingham @ 

Here are their image choices:

Dog, Bridge, Architecture, Quadruped

Squirrel, Shopping Cart, Nuts, Nager

Fisherman, Hut, Village, Man, Swamp

(All of these are from Pixabay, so don't worry about copyright.) ;)

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Praying for Siblings ~ 3 Things to Remember in Your Prayers

When it comes to praying for people, siblings are very easy to overlook. It’s a simple thing to remember to pray for ourselves and for those starving in Africa before we go to bed. But somehow, the people across the room or down the hallway are easier to forget. We know their spiritual needs better than most people, yet we neglect to pray for them. 

There are many ways we can be a good brother or sister, but one of the best ways — perhaps the biggest way — is to pray for them. 


Our siblings have souls. We might forget that when they are relentlessly interrupting us or are carelessly making messes, but nevertheless it is true. Their spiritual lives are what matter the most when you look at eternity.

Of course, we can’t change their souls. Although we do have an influence on them, we do not have any direct control over our siblings. But God does.

That is why we need to pray for them!

Praying for our siblings can help us to have the right perspective. When we pray for them, we remember what really matters. Not their faults, not the grudges we may have against them, not even the silly choice they made yesterday. What matters is their eternity.

Here are three things anybody with siblings should remember in their prayers:

#1: Pray for their faith.

Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. - Romans 10:1 (ESV)

It is of the highest importance that we pray for the salvation of our unsaved siblings. If you aren’t already praying for this, it is time to start. And even if you have prayed for this hundreds of times, and they still haven’t come to faith, keep praying.

Even if they are growing up in a Christian home, your siblings still need prayer for their faith. I would even say that they need prayer especially if they are growing up in a Christian home. When your parents are Christian, it is easy for your siblings to assume that makes them a Christian as well. With all the times they’ve heard the gospel preached at church, they may block it out effortlessly. A Christian household can be the most difficult place to discover the truth about your sibling’s heart. And as frustrating as they may be, it is scary to think where some of our siblings may be heading if God doesn’t intervene. 

If you have a sibling who has come to faith, praise God! Living next to these fellow believers, you have the opportunity to see the work God is doing in them firsthand. You also get to see the work that is left to be done. Be patient. Make use of that knowledge by praying that their faith would increase and remain steadfast for all of their lives. Pray that God would continue to work in them. Pray that they would be an encouragement to others.

#2: Pray for God’s forgiveness.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. - 1 John 1:9 (ESV)

The second thing we should include in our prayers is to ask for God's forgiveness if we have sinned against our brother or sister. This happens far more often than we like to admit. Many of my daily sins are against my siblings, and often I don't even notice. But sins never go unnoticed in God's eyes. I can pray that He would remind me of the sins I’ve forgotten and when He does, I need to repent of them. 

Remembering our sins, and the sacrifice Jesus made for us, promotes humility. The more we acknowledge how imperfect we are, the more we are amazed by the great love and mercy God showed us. The more aware we are of our imperfections, the more we love the God who first loved us. Asking God for forgiveness keeps our hearts in check.

And if you ask for your sibling's forgiveness too, that is a truly loving and God-glorifying thing! When you ask for your sibling's forgiveness, it shows that you remember the unkind word you spoke or the action that you did against them and that you know it was wrong. It also shows you care for them and that you’re eager to follow Christ's instruction. This is also an opportunity for you to set an example for them and to show them how to repent of their own sins. 

Regarding our siblings’ sins against us, we sometimes feel like Peter.

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” - Matthew 18:21 (ESV)

And then we see Jesus’ response in the next verse:

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

(If you are having trouble forgiving someone, I highly recommend reading the rest of Jesus’ response, one of my favorites, the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant: Matthew 18:23-35.)

If we want to reflect God’s mercy, we’ll need to forgive our siblings a lot. After all, how can we leave our siblings unforgiven in the light of God's forgiveness to us? Remembering God's mercy to us can help us to show mercy to our siblings, whether they repent or not.

#3: Pray for humility and patience for tomorrow

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. - James 1:5-6 (ESV)

No sibling is perfect — ourselves included. We must pray for humility and patience for one another, because none of us can show humility nor patience on our own. The fruit we need to bear with siblings in love comes from God, and God alone -- more specifically, they come from the Holy Spirit.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—have you ever thought of applying these to the way you treat your siblings?

These virtues are so important to show our siblings if we want to shine the light of Christ in their lives. It isn't enough to pray for God to save your siblings. It is not enough to ask for forgiveness from them and to forgive their wrongs against you. We must also show them what Christ is like. If they only see the sinful side of a Jesus-follower, why would they want to take the same path and follow Jesus as well? Your unsaved siblings need to see the change Jesus has sparked in you.

But in order to take on these attributes, we must ask God for them. God tells us in His word that He wants to do all these things in us, so why don’t you ask Him to?


There are multiple ways to remember siblings in our prayers, and many rabbit trails that come off those, but the most important thing to remember is to pray for your siblings

It can be as simple as saying, "Father, please take care of my siblings and help me point them to you in the way I live." Don’t keep your siblings’ lives and your faith life separate. Bearing with siblings is hard, and we can't do it ourselves. But with His help, it is possible!