A few months ago, our team visited with college girls (just like YOU) across different campuses. We talked. We cried. We dreamed. We laughed. We prayed. And you know what we discovered? Almost every girl is looking for sisterhood, real friendship, and most of all, confidence and freedom to just be themselves.
So, we set out to create a study (we promise this won’t feel like homework!) to help you discover how to find true friendships, live well, and grow in your faith during college. Whether you’re a senior or about to step foot on campus for the first time, this was a project that we had you in mind while creating.
With our launch of the study, TODAY, we want to hit you with a few highlights from our **free** workbook (can I get an amen?) so that you can start preparing NOW for this Fall.
Before we dive into sisterhood, friendship and college campus living, we are going to pause and check in with our own hearts and our own minds.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.“Romans 12:2.
We believe that our minds can be renewed to look at life a little differently. This 8-part workbook offers you conversations, encouragement, and truth to help you step into your true purpose on your college campus. Are you ready? Let’s dive in together!
How awesome was that? Friend, that is only part ONE of this incredible, practical, and perspective-shifting workbook that is yours for free!
Click here to download this whole study now! We pray this workbook will equip you to have confidence in college this year, not because of what you are, but Whose you are.
Note from Team LO: We are SO excited to bring you this month’s post from our LO Fam member, Megan! If you want to know more, check out our online community of sisters here!
Guys, God is good. I can’t say that enough. The last few years of my life have been a whirlwind of ups and downs and yet one thing has remained the same–Him. He has been faithful beyond words and has blown me away with the wonderful ways in which He works. To start this little blog post off I’ll introduce myself. I’m Megan, a twenty-something girl, who loves vegging on the couch watching a favorite show almost as much as getting out in the world and doing some good. A great book can keep me transfixed for hours and a good friend can keep me talking for more. There are days you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between me and a well behaved college student on summer break. At my all-time worst, there would barely be any of me left to see. The thing is I have OCD. The kind of OCD that destroys lives. The kind of OCD that nearly destroyed mine.
Not long before my twentieth birthday I hit rock bottom. I couldn’t function. I spent each day either standing in a room, silently waiting for the time to pass or laying at the end of the bed staring at the ceiling or in a flood of tears totally in crisis mode. Every waking moment I was trying to control my thoughts. Even when that meant not eating, barely sleeping, and certainly not living. This whole downward spiral started around the beginning of 2016. Nearly the same time the following year, I was admitted to a residential treatment facility. Several people told me that I had the most severe case of OCD they had ever seen. One even said I might never have a functioning life again. It was tough. Every step, each day, was a major hurdle. I tell you these things only to show the greatness of our God because if anyone was going to recover, it didn’t look like it was going to be me.
My life was difficult for many reasons, but one heartbreaking reason was OCD affected my ability to be engaged in my faith. I couldn’t pray without ending up in ridiculous rituals and buckets of anxiety. I couldn’t read scripture, and I couldn’t go to church. One form of OCD that I struggle with is called “scrupulosity” which The Peace of Mind Foundation defines as, “the religious form of OCD in which individuals are plagued with obsessions surrounding religion/spirituality and morals. This may include obsessions about sin, offending God, religious or moral failings, and punishment. They are burdened with worry about whether something is ‘the right thing to do’ even in trivial matters, and often perform compulsions including repetitive prayer, confessions, and avoidance.”
As you might be able to tell by all the things I “couldn’t” do, my main behavior in this area was avoidance. I thought if I didn’t engage I couldn’t do anything wrong. Distance from my faith was not what I wanted, but I thought it was necessary to keep the panic and unrelenting anxiety away. I was incorrect on that one. The more I avoided everything, the greater my fears became and the farther I had to run. Although it didn’t really matter that I was running because God was always right there with me, step for step. It can be challenging, when we are in the middle of something, to not wonder where God is in all of it, but let me tell you this, God sends help in the form of amazing people. He works through each one of us. If you’re willing to accept the help, He will meet you where you are. For me, His amazing grace came in the form of wonderful mental health professionals.
My first therapist at residential treatment was Lisa and she was a total gift from God. She is kind, compassionate, and insightful. She was all the things a great therapist is. At my first family session, Lisa quoted the Bible. This was surprising as I wasn’t in a Christian treatment center. I appreciated it more than she knew. I wish I remembered the verse, but regardless, it put my heart at ease. I knew I was in good hands.
During the next ten months, she reminded me of God’s grace and helped me move in a direction where I would again have a close relationship with Him. She sat with me while I poured out my worst fears and agreed with me when I told her there was no way this was all God had planned for me. She knew how much I’d love to attend church and so we even went on a little road trip to find me a good one. About a week later I went to church for the first time in a long time.
My favorite verse is one you probably know, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13. This was the truth I spoke over myself for months–months in which I made more progress than I could have hoped for. With the help of Jesus I was getting my life back! It wasn’t easy and there was a whole long painful process, but in the end, He was faithful as always.
A few weeks before leaving I was thinking about what’s next. After tossing some ideas around, I decided to ask Lisa why she became a therapist. Lisa looked at me. She said she promised herself that if I asked she wouldn’t lie to me and told me that she herself had recovered from OCD. I truly believe God used that situation to speak some things into my heart. One was that we are never alone. Not only is He there, but He is often working to put people in our path to remind us of that truth. For a long time I struggled with the idea that maybe OCD is just an endless cycle of suffering, but through Lisa’s story, God taught me something invaluable. People do recover, they move on and live full wonderful lives. What a blessing! Lastly I knew I wanted to help others the way she helped me. At that time in my life I was continually seeing people not get the resources they needed. God put it on my heart to one day start a treatment facility with an emphasis on Christianity and the hope of Jesus. This lit a fire within me that has continued to motivate me to this day.
After leaving residential, I was scared. I didn’t know if I could possibly find a second therapist as good as the first, but God, in His goodness, did it again. I sat in a new office with my current therapist. I told her about my disorder and my treatment. She was able to talk to Lisa for a handoff. With no expectations whatsoever I told her that Lisa had lived with OCD and that her insight had really helped me. It turns out that she had OCD too. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t believe I ended up with two extraordinary therapists who have walked through this struggle by chance. I think that God placed these women in my life to assure me that, although what I went through was the most difficult process of my life, God would not waste it. Through every hopeless stroll I took that winter, trekking through the freezing snow, hoping the cold might make me feel alive again, He was preparing me for something greater. And every time I was paralyzed with the kind of fear that I will never forget, He was prepping me to show up with the kind of compassion and insight you can only get from experience. It is because of my suffering that God can use me to reach people and I will be beyond honored to share with them, not only the hope of recovery, but the hope of the Lord!
If there is anything you take away from my story I hope it is this: even in the darkest, most hopeless times of our lives, God is preparing us for something greater. He took something so destructive in my life and turned it into my purpose. How absolutely amazing is that! That’s the kind of God we serve! I went from being non-functioning and flooded with anxiety to where I am now–on my last year of undergraduate school, on the path towards grad school, becoming a licensed therapist, and chasing after the life God intended for me. No matter your situation, whether it be mental illness or not, you’re not walking through it alone. Trust me when I tell you, God’s got you!
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ -Isaiah 41:10
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We had SUCH a blast with our very first LO Vlog! And getting to share it all with you is the icing on the cake 🙂
Don’t we all have questions about our purpose in life? And even if we find our purpose, how do we chase it? With all the voices telling us why it won’t succeed, or why we just shouldn’t do it, we wanted to bring some truth today through these dream-chasing sisters.
We sat down with Liz and Olivia, owners of a home goods/lifestyle brand shop in the heart of Franklin, TN. Their homey decor and warm store vibes (and believe us, the vibes are on point) are only the half of it. Let us tell you, these sister have heart. Their desire to bring warmth to peoples homes as well as impacting their customers lives is what gives Living Franklin its magic. The best part of it is, they’re just like us! They’ve seen highs, lows, and everything in between (watch the video below for full details on their journey!) Yet in the end, they hold fast to this gift that God has given them. Even on their hardest days, they recall all that God did to get them to today and it provides hope for the present and future.
Friend, whatever is in your heart to do, we hope this inspires you to take that first, second, third, or final step today in pursuit of the dreams you have been given!
Watch our interview here!
Want the highlights of the story? You know we’ve got you!
After a while of living in the wonderful city of Franklin, Liz and Olivia both starting to grow a mutual love for the city and all of its charming features. Sitting at Frothy Monkey one day (a Franklin staple), they had an idea for creating an Instagram page to feature all the different shops and restaurants in Franklin.
For one of their first round of features, Liz and Olivia decided to interview the owner of a deli right in the heart of downtown. During the conversation, the sisters happen to mention that they would be interested in if the connecting space to the restaurant ever came available. A short two days later, the owner said that the space had indeed become vacant and that they are in the running for it.
Shocked but excited over the idea, they gave their dream of being store owners over to God in that moment.
Low and behold, they got the space. The time in between was a short month and a half but they trusted that anything could be possible with God behind it. Picking out their lovely home decor merchandise, their very own candle scent along with their store name, Living Franklin (named after their Instagram Page), they were on track for opening day, trusting every step of the way that God would allow it to all come together.
Opening day was a success! From a photo booth, to a flower cart, to clear weather (despite the forecast for the day being rain), the store was filled with local friends, family, and new customers! Their hearts were full as their dreams were being turned into reality right before their eyes.
Liz and Olivia admit that owning a store has its highs and lows. For example, they go through seasons when the business slows down or they deal with people making comments regarding the size of the space (it is the smallest store in Franklin– by size, not impact), but in those moments they always go back to the beginning and God’s faithfulness to bring them to a city they love, open up a space for them, and allow them to live out their dreams together. This is what keeps them going when the doubts creep in.
What else keeps them going is getting to witness the impact that this space makes on its customers. One customer in particular, Melinda, has been greatly impacted by the warm spirit of the store and the sisters.
Olivia recalls when Melinda starting coming in the store. Through each visit, they would share more of their hearts and over time got to know each other of a personal level. During the holiday season, Melinda brought the sisters an ornament that she had made out of twigs symbolizing how “God really uses brokenness and turns it into something beautiful”. Through continuing the conversation, Melinda opened up through tears about her season of loneliness and how God has used them as a reminder that she is never alone. “THIS is really what is it all about”, says Olivia.
All in all, Olivia and Liz’s hopes for the future would be that they continue to just take one step at a time in hopes that God would use the store in ways they can never imagine. “God gave us this store, and we pray he can use it in ways that go past our wildest dreams”, says Liz.
Friends, be encouraged by this! Just like these sisters, God has called YOU to a dream and will equip you with every possible thing you need to chase it. Even if your dream seems small, take this encouragement to know that even the smallest of spaces/dreams/ideas/prayers can turn into a huge kingdom impact, one Melinda at a time.
If you are ever in Franklin, be sure to visit Living Franklin and tell these sisters how this has impacted you! And check them out on Instagram to follow along with their dream!
We hope you love this vlog and will take your first step to chase your dream today. What is your dream? We would love to hear it below 🙂
Many of us don’t want to admit this, but if someone were to randomly put you on the spot to ask you a few questions about the holiday that is smothered in red, white, blue and topped off with some hotdogs and homemade ice cream, you might not be able to tell them much.
If you’re like me, you might answer the question with something like, “It’s a day to celebrate our great country!” then you would quickly and discreetly change the subject to one about hoping for good pool weather.
Can you relate??
Let’s break this down: I’ll tell you WHAT it is, IF we should care, and HOW to celebrate.
1. What is it? Otherwise known as “Independence Day” (think of it as the Beyoncé of holidays), this day marks the celebration of our country’s independence from Britain, which is why we don’t have British accents today. That part is a bummer!
Fun fact: The founding fathers actually voted on July 2, 1776, but “declared” it on the fourth, hence the name of the holiday. See what they did there? 🙂
The reason our ancestors fought for our independence is because the British government was making people in the states (then known as colonies, 13 of them to be exact), pay what they thought to be too high of tax prices on goods without having anyone from the colonies being represented in Parliament (British government). That’s kind of a long explanation to say Britain was asking money from the colonists through high taxes.
So, on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence, which states why we should be given the right to start our own thing and be independent, was approved. Ever since then our country has been recognized as our very own, free country.
2. Should we care? Friends, the answer should be a great big–YES!
The people at that time cared and fought deeply for our independence. Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t go about it perfectly. However, through persistence and determination to seek justice, they were able to pull it off. John Adams, our second president, wrote to his wife on the matter:
“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
Although he was off by two days, we can see that there were men and women who went before us to fight for the space that we now live and feel safe in. Their hope in the unseen is what has carried us to today.
Here is the coolest part. Out of the thirteen colonies, there were a total of 56 representatives who went on to sign this monumental document. Of all these men, ages ranged from 26 to 70 with jobs and backgrounds of all different kinds. From lawyers, to farmers, they all came together and pledged, “to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
If this isn’t a picture of unity, friends, I don’t know what is.
These people had differences, arguments, and obstacles along the way that almost caused the whole thing to blow up. Yet, in the end, they realized that without one another, they would never be able to succeed.
And, get this, at the end of the fight for independence, most of these men were poorer than when they started. I’d like to argue that while our founding fathers had less to show on the outside, they had gained something that no one could take away– freedom and peace. And that is something you and I can never repay. If they were here today, I’m sure the only thing they would ask is that we celebrate in that freedom too.
I can’t help but look at this through the lens of Jesus. Guys, isn’t this what Jesus did for us, too? He gave up every earthy treasure and comfort in order to gain freedom for each of us? But instead of fighting for our citizenship in a new country, he fought for and won our citizenship in heaven.
What does Jesus ask of us in return? The only thing He asks of us is, while on earth, we honor Him and celebrate our freedom from death. A freedom He died on the cross to give us.
As we celebrate, God wants us to call others into this celebration as well. (A.k.a. love others. Loving others is a celebration of His gift to us.) This is all God wants for us, for us to live out of the victory He has won. We see this so clearly in Jesus’ answer when asked what is the most important task we have:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:36
When we look through the lens of our new citizenship, we are able to see others who are also citizens of heaven and join them in the celebration. Just like the colonists, we are also called to set our differences aside to come together for the greater good. Jesus cared so much about unity of this kind, that it was actually the last prayer he prayed right before he was taken to be killed:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:20-23
The good news is we don’t have to sign a document for our freedom, like those who signed the Declaration of Independence. Someone signed on our behalf using red ink. Our names were written down with the blood of Jesus.
Our fight is actually over. **Cue fireworks**
3. How do we celebrate? That’s really the easy part. I hope you have the best day this Fourth of July. I hope you do it all–fireworks, pool time, hot dogs, watermelon, red, white and blue tablecloths, and quality time with friends and family. I also pray you take a moment, as you are celebrating, to remember all the men and women who went before you. Those faithful men and women who fought on American soil for your right to be here today.
Above all, I hope you have a moment with the One who, long before America’s founding fathers were on the earth, fought for you in a different way. That fight guaranteed your freedom to choose your heavenly home.
THAT is something to celebrate!
How will you celebrate this July 4th? Share your plans below!
Last month, the LO Team had a BLAST at Alpha’s Leadership Conference in London, England. It was full of leaders from literally ALL over the world. We learned a priceless amount of wisdom and insight from our time there.
Remember as you read this, each one of you are leaders and have been given something in your life to steward well, and we pray you are encouraged and equipped after you read our list of takeaways.
Here are our top ten takeaways from London:
1. The church is the sleeping giant and it is time to wake up: Nicky Gumbel, founder of Alpha, kicked off the conference by explaining that we have been given immense power as the body of Christ (the Church) and it is time for an awakening. He said that instead of being mindful and awake for what God wants to do, we have become a “head down generation.” Leviticus 26:13 says,“I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.”
2. 5 values of Leadership: Nicky went on to speak about the values we should be using as our guiding principles. These are the values that make up true leadership.
Audacity: Aim high. Jesus was a risk taker and we can be, too!
Unity: Jesus prayed that we would be one as Jesus and the Father are one. A good leader listens, apologizes, and forgives in order to maintain unity. Remember, the war is over.
Generosity: Give it away. The son of God loved us and gave himself for us. However, take caution he warned: You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving. Something will be expected of you if you really love God.
Humility: Have a heart that bows down just as Jesus did. Jesus didn’t come wrapped in the clothes of a king, He came with an humble heart. Be someone who doesn’t care about your own name, but live to exalt the name of the savior.
Tenacity: Never give up! Jesus endured the cross to the end so we can endure all of lifes battles.
3. Showing weakness in leadership: Craig Groeschel, head pastor of Life Church, shared that leading will never go without its struggles, setbacks, and temptation to quit. But, anything that is worth accomplishing will never be easy.
If it’s going to be hard, we might as well embrace our weaknesses and struggles and let others see them. He explains that people may admire you for your strengths, but they will connect with you because of your weaknesses. Be a leader who meets people where they are while being relatable and empathetic.
4. Sometimes you just need to re-enter the room:
Spiritually, God can take us out of something that is lost — and take you back in. Does that hit you? Does that relate to you? Charlotte Gambill opened our eyes to the reality that there are times in our life when we need to step out of a room, whether it be a relationship, a job, a position, a perspective, etc. When we step out of the room it allows God to adjust you, your heart, and your perspective.
There is space to re-enter the room. Sometimes we fear stepping away from something because we will miss out. Or perhaps we will be forgotten, replaced, or un-welcomed back in! That’s not the case! When we come back to those rooms, places and situations with an adjusted heart and a renewed perspective, there is room for us.
People who let God adjust them walk differently when they step back in. How many of us feel like we need adjusting? Raising our hands over here. There are always ways God can adjust and refine perspectives. And especially as a leader, as a friend, whatever your position is, you will need adjusting at times. Lean into this!
How do we re-enter the room? Peter is a great example of this:
Re-enter the net (aka your skills!). Jesus asked Peter to throw his net back in the water. What do you need to pick up and try again?
Re-enter the water. Peter was passionate and stepped (literally) into the water. What kind of renewed attitude or passion do you need to step back in?
Re-enter commitment. Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” Then lead and build and be a fisher of men. What kind of people, places or situations do you need to re-commit to?
Friends–lead with love and patience.If you’re about to re-enter the room, do so with thankfulness for who God is and what He has already done.
5. Stride, don’t strive:
There is a pace of grace. Mike Todd shared about when God asked him to let go of his striving to discover his stride. There’s a deep revelation in the meaning of stride.
Stride: to walk, with long, decisive steps in a specific direction. There are so many of us striving, trying hard to use our energy and efforts for the wrong things. Everyone is trying to use our own power to provide what God said He would do. Check your pace. What are you currently striving for? What do you need to say no to? Do you believe that God can do more with less? Are you leading and walking by your own spirit or God’s power?
When we stop striving and start striding, our lives will change. Begin to ask God where He is leading us in the here and now. He has set out steps for us. And when we begin to change the pace of our lives, things will look differently. Psalm 37:23 says, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly and he delights in every detail of their lives.”
Soak in this truth. Let’s learn to lead and walk with dependency on God. It’s not too late for you to step into the pace of grace. So today friends, stop striving, start striding.
6. God is moving in our generation and we all have an influence:
In the historic Royal Albert Hall, in a room full of leaders across the globe, Sadie had an opportunity to take the stage, along with another young gentleman who has overcome a severe physical disability and share their heart for their generation. Make no mistake, God is moving among the young people in this generation. He is calling our generation to stop looking down at our screens, to stop looking around at those around us and to start looking upward to see what God is doing! Will you join us? Sadie had a unique opportunity to challenge leaders across the globe with this same encouragement – and we are inviting you on the journey with us!
7. No matter what you are creating, always create with the purpose to touch someone’s heart: Charlie Mackesy, brilliant English artist, who is famous for his paintings of the Royal Albert Hall, explains that his core motivation of being a leader in his craft is aiming to be a storyteller and a stirrer of people’s affections. He says, these days people overthink things, and, through that, they miss the whole point of doing what we do: to love. “People don’t always like religion, but they can understand love. Keep the bits about the reason you’re alive and cut the fluff.”
When asked what makes people look up to him as a leader, he says it isn’t just the paintings. “You’re most impressive when you’re kind.”
Whatever you are called to, do it for God’s glory and to touch people’s hearts and God will bless your work.
8. Leaders are willing to make big change: During this powerful talk by Craig, he point blank said that the difference in a decent leader and a great leader is their willingness to lead change. Although change is hard, these points on change can lead us to more confidence in order to take the steps that are necessary for a healthy life.
Change how you think about change. People don’t hate change, they hate the way we try to change them. Great leaders don’t cast blame, they take responsibility. When trying to affect change, don’t shame those who you think need help, encourage them by kindness and setting the example.
Discern what needs to change: If we try to change the wrong thing, we will have the wrong outcome.
Obsess about the “why” over the “what.” People will go along with the “what”, but they will give their life for the “why.”
Friends, it’s time to be bold. And be encouraged! Obedience is our responsibility, and the outcome is God’s responsibility. He will guide you through the tough decisions.
9. Shared Experiences Deepen Friendship: It was such a privilege that the whole Live Original team had the chance to travel to London TOGETHER! We laughed together, cried together, drank way too many oak milk lattes together, created inside jokes (Cashews, anybody?), spoke in British accents and explored a delightful country together! Although we all have the privilege of working alongside each other on a daily basis, it was truly special to carve out time with one another to intentionally get to know each other on a deeper level! It doesn’t have to be London, it could just be grabbing your friends, putting phones on silent for a few hours and going for hike together, but don’t miss out on taking time to pause and intentionally invest in the friends around you — even the ones you see every day!
10. LONDON or BUST: Okay, closing with a very practical takeaway – London is worth visiting! If you ever have the chance to travel there – you must go! The city is home to some of the kindest people, incredible coffee shops, stunning architecture, deep history and let’s be honest, the accents are absolutely lovely to the ears. Shout out to all of our readers living in London – your home is delightful.
Sadie Robertson Huff is well known for her engaging smile and energetic personality, but there is a lot more to the 25-year-old star of A&E’s Duck Dynasty and runner up on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars season 19
Sadie Robertson Huff is well known for her engaging smile and energetic personality, but there is a lot more to the 25-year-old star of A&E’s Duck Dynasty and runner up on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars season 19