Monday, October 8, 2012

Girl Talk!

I am thoroughly ecstatic to announce that Girl Talk has been officially launched!

Girl Talk is a new website created just for Christian teen girls. This site provides devotionals, beauty and modesty tips, music suggestions, book reviews, and more! God put it on my heart to start this new ministry in July of 2012 and then later that month revealed that he intended for my dear friend Taylor to assist me in this ministry. We are excited to see what God plans to do with this site and would appreciate it if you would take a look and share it with all of the teens that you know!

We set up a booth and publicly launched the site at the Gospel Baptist Church Women's Conference on October 6, 2012.

We had so much fun talking to all of the girls who stopped by the booth!

Please pray for us and this ministry!

Monday, August 27, 2012


This morning I have been thinking quite a bit about relationships, specifically friendships. Friends can enjoy times of laughter, encourage when we are sad, inspire growth in us spiritually, and so much more. A good friendship is more valuable than any game, book, movie, or song.

The thing about friendships though, is that it has to be both ways. You can't be someone's friend if they don't want to be your friend. So, maybe they do "want" to be your friend but still the effort is very one-sided. Maybe you work at it and invite them to do things and try to engage them in deeper conversation, but if they do not reciprocate the same effort you will get no where. You will be left feeling tired and maybe even hurt.

A real friendship goes both ways. Real friends seek each other out, look for and cherish opportunities for deeper more intimate conversations. Real friends sacrifice their time and effort to make sure that somehow, one way or another, they get to spend some time together and invest in each other. The friendship becomes strong and one does not become weary because both are equally investing in the other. Real friends truly love each other.

God wants to have a real friendship with us. He seeks us out and works at the relationship. He invites us to spend time with Him. He offers encouragement and strength and support. He is always there. Never failing, never wavering, with an unending ever constant love for us. His side of the friendship never stops at a shallow level, but runs deeper and more intimate than any other relationship you will ever have.

Unlike us, when we don't seek God back, when we don't show effort to build on our friendship with God like he does with us, he never gives up. He will always welcome us into his arms and will never fail to be that same encouraging, strengthening, supportive, loving friend that we need. That doesn't mean that he isn't hurt by our neglect of effort on our half of the friendship. He longs for us to love him.

Today, I challenge you. If you have not already embraced the friendship that you can have have with God, start now. Don't let it be a one-sided friendship any longer. Put effort into spending time with God daily. Talk with him constantly. Seek Him, love Him, trust Him, and never forget that He is there for you. Embrace the most intimate and deep friendship that you will ever have.

I made my decision to embrace my friendship with God in January 2012. It has changed my life. I have never felt so close to God, so peaceful, so carefree. I know that He is always there.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Letter from Zambia

Back at the very beginning of June, Ben and I began sponsoring a little boy from Zambia through World Vision. It was one of those things where I knew without a doubt that God was asking us to do this. I had been at the Beautiful Life conference in Greensboro on June 1, and was supposed to be going back on the morning of June 2nd to finish up the conference. On Friday they had been talking about World Vision and sharing some stories and I felt a little tug at my heart for the thousands and thousands of children out there that still need sponsors. A few hours later, 1:00 am Saturday morning to be specific, I was waking Ben up telling him that we had to sponsor a child. I'm not sure he fully understood what I was saying, but I finally got a sleepily mumbled, "talk to me about it in the morning," and I was satisfied to go back to sleep. So, on Saturday I shared with him what I was feeling and he agreed that I should choose a child for us to sponsor that day.

When I went to the table, I was a little overwhelmed by the number of children whose forms were lying there waiting for sponsors. I didn't know where to begin, how could I choose just one? As I looked through the forms and photos, I came across a little boy from Zambia that was six years old. He was so cute, and his birthday just happened to be our anniversary. Immediately I knew, this was the one, Egnitious.

I was so excited to begin writing letters, sending e-mails, and praying for this little boy. As soon as I got my packet with contact information I wrote my first letter and began to anxiously await an annual report and a reply to my letter.

This weekend, I received his first annual report. It contained a little more information about Egnitious, his hobbies, chores, etc. There was even a little picture that he drew us of, best I can tell, a barrel. But, the thing that excited me most out of the whole report, was a new picture! In this new picture my little boy actually looks happy, and I was thrilled to have it!

Now, I will continue to pray, continue to write, and continue to love this little Zambian boy. God has truly blessed me with the privilege of supporting him and sharing His love with Egnitious. If it crosses your mind, please join me in praying for protection, provision, and a growing knowledge of the love of Christ for this little boy.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hope Lauren Photography

I have stayed quite busy the first summer months, and I have really enjoyed it! I have a newly designed website which I would love for you to visit! Take a look around and let me know what you think.

Click here to visit, or type in your browser.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It is My Mission...

To live my life in full surrender to my Lord, denying myself and being obedient to His commands. To spend time daily in intimate prayer with God, and to read and meditate on His word. To be always joyful, thankful and worshipful in all circumstances, humble, and Spirit-filled.

To be the kind of wife that makes Ben feel ten feet tall through love, respect, encouragement, submission, and faithfulness. To be attentive to his needs, and to persistently pray for him.

To lead a life that encourages others to passionately pursue a deeper relationship with God through being a trustworthy and loving sister in Christ. To always be available for my sisters in Christ, studying God’s word alongside them, and lifting them up both with encouragement and in prayer. To be transparent with them: always honest with gentleness.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Where is our Faith in the Storm?

"Then, He said to them, 'Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith'?" Mark 4:40

The disciples have been with Jesus and witnessed many miracles at this point. They have seen His great power and all the things that he can do, yet when the storm comes they wake him up and say "Don't you care that we are going to die?" Picture that... things get rough out at sea and they wake him up fearfully proclaiming that they are about to die! I find it wonderful how calmly he handles the situation. He simply rebukes the wind and there is a great calm. Then he asks them, 'Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?'. I think there is a lot packed into that little word "still". How many miracles do they have to see before they fully trust and have faith in Jesus? One storm comes along and they are already fearing for their lives. How great is it that even in their doubt and fear, God chooses to step up and show himself powerful again.

Don't we do the same thing the disciples did though? We have all of these blessings... a roof over our head, food on the table, family, a free country where we can worship without persecution, and most of all salvation through Jesus' sacrifice. Yet, when one little storm blows our way and the waters of life get rough we quickly lose sight of all that Jesus has done and we become fearful. We start proclaiming to God, "God help me here, I'm dying! Don't you see what is going on? How am I supposed to handle this? Do you see this, are you asleep?" Where is our faith?! Hasn't God provided and taken care of us every other time?

When we face life's next storm, let us remember that God has always been in control and that He has never failed us. He will be there to take care of us. Have faith. 

Pray for the people living in constant persecution in the horn of Africa.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Secret Church

I was privileged to spend last night at a simulcast viewing of Secret Church lead by Dr. David Platt. This is a meeting inspired by the commitment that is found in believers across the world who are under severe persecution, yet they join together for hours on end in the smallest of rooms to study God's word. Throughout the night we were focusing on prayer for the Christians in the horn of Africa (pray for the horn) who are persecuted daily and risking their lives to follow Christ and spread the gospel.

So, here we are with all of this in mind sitting in a room full of people as the simulcast begins. At 7:00 pm we began with the welcome and some worship, and by 7:30 Dr. David Platt was beginning his lesson on the cross and suffering that would go through what the bible had to say about suffering from Genesis to Revelation over the next seven hours.

All people experience suffering, Christians and non-Christians. Some suffering is universal for all people, such as cancer, death, etc. Other suffering is uniquely suffering that Christians endure, such as persecution. Satan intends every type of suffering to sabotage us, but God intends every type of suffering to sanctify us. The encouraging reality here is that God is the sovereign creator of all things, and Satan is simply a creature. Don't be fooled though, Satan is smart, but he is still only a creature. He can do nothing outside of the sovereignty of God.

The cross of Christ is the key to understanding all suffering. We want to embrace suffering in our lives not because suffering is easy, but because suffering is worth it. It is worth it to experience the sufficiency of Christ in our weakness, to share the sufferings of Christ on this earth, to show the supremacy of Christ to all nations, and to experience the satisfaction of Christ for all eternity.

It is important to remember that we are created in the image of God for the purpose of God. Our purpose is to enjoy a relationship with God, rule over all creation, and most of all to reproduce God's glory to the ends of the earth. We must also remember that the consequence of sin is immediate spiritual death (Gen 3:22-24), and eventual physical death.

Our God is the ever-present Lord, ever-subtle King, and the ever-faithful Savior. We have a Lord who is with us, we have a King who is guiding us, and we have a Savior who will redeem us. God's providence is the only foundation for embracing life's pain. God takes suffering and turns it into satisfaction. God is holy, merciful, ever-present, all-powerful, self-sufficient, eternal, immutable, faithful, sovereign, just, and HE IS GOD! Do not focus on the circumstances around you, rather focus on the character of the One who has called you.

We cannot be casual with God.
"The awareness of sin, a deep awareness of disobedience, and painful confession of sin used to be our shadow. Christians hated sin. They feared it, they fled from it, they grieved over it. Some of our [forefathers] agonized over their sins. A man who lost his temper might wonder if he could still go to holy communion. ... That shadow has dimmed. Nowadays the accusation, 'You have sinned', is often said with a grin and with a tone that signals an inside joke. At one time this accusation still had the power to jolt people."                                                                        - Cornelius Plantinga

God is committed to sovereignly providing for His people. He is sovereign over everything; He is sovereign over all suffering. Even when we cannot understand His manner, we can always trust his mercy. His path to our joy is not always smooth and straight, but it is always satisfying. When we suffer, He is still worthy! God's sovereign design for our lives on this earth includes suffering. The sovereignty of God is the only foundation for praise in the middle of pain. Ultimately, our pain on earth can be rightly understood only from the sovereign perspective of heaven. When the pain of suffering persists, God is still present. When God seems the farthest away from you, He may be in reality setting the stage for His greatest display of faithfulness to you. When our greatest treasure is in Christ and not the gifts that he gives us, then when we lose those gifts we a driven deeper into the source of our treasure. God has a purpose. His purpose is sometimes different, but God's purpose is always good.

God uses suffering to refine our faith and to reveal His glory. God uses suffering to teach us to rely on Him. He uses suffering to bring us to repent of and renounce the sin in our lives, and He uses suffering to lead us to our reward in Him. Satan's attempts to attack God's people only serve to accomplish God's will. Suffering drives us to God's word: to learn it, believe it, obey it, and love it. Christ suffered in our place so that we would not have to endure an eternity of suffering and so that we could fully fulfill our purpose of bringing glory to His name.

God's capacity to forgive is greater than our capacity to sin! We are dead in our sin. Sin is too strong for us, and we are desperate for a Savior. Only Jesus can change the hearts of people. Therefore, proclaiming the gospel of Jesus is the foremost, fundamental, necessary, nonnegotiable way to address evil and suffering in the world. The work against evil and suffering in the world apart from proclaiming the gospel of Jesus will ultimately be futile.

We may not be certain of the cause of suffering, but we can always be confident that the purpose of our suffering is to bring glory to God. God's word tells us that if we follow him we will be betrayed, we will be hated, and we will be persecuted. (Matt 10:16-18, 21-22) The reality that we must face is that the danger of our lives increases in direct proportion to the depth of our relationship with Christ. We are to confess Him publicly, love Him supremely, take the ultimate risk, and then find the ultimate reward.
And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. - Matthew 10:38-39
Jesus suffered to obey the Father's will and fulfill the Father's word, to ransom people from slavery to sin, to give all who believe unhindered access to the Father, to deliver people from the Evil One, to deliver people from the wrath of God, to proclaim the message of salvation to the nations, to bring sheep into the fold of the Good Shepherd, to establish a new, eternal covenant with the people of God, to demonstrate God's supreme love for sinners by giving eternal life to all who believe, and to glorify the Father. (John 12:27-28)

Jesus is Lord over life and death, Lord over sin, suffering, and Satan, and He is Lord over you and me! (1 Cor 15:55-57, Romans 10:8-10)  Proclamation of the gospel will always be challenged in this world, and it will always be costly in your life. Proclamation of the gospel will always necessitate confidence in God's sovereignty.

Our great hope is the glory of God, and our path to this great hope is the suffering of this world. Our suffering produces endurance, character, and hope. So we joyfully embrace suffering as the means by which our hope in the glory of God (which is infinitely greater than everything else in the world that we could imagine) grows. (Rom 5:3-5, 8:28-30)

Suffering is often necessary for the Christian. Suffering is a proving ground for your faith that results in glory for God. It is given to you by God for you inexpressible joy. (1 Peter 3:13) Suffering leads you to find your security and confidence in Christ alone, and is spurs you toward Christlike belief and behavior. Suffering leads you away from sinful lusts and suffering believers must trust in the judgement of God and the fact that suffering is part of the good plan and sovereign purpose of God. Suffering unites you ultimately with Christ himself. It is an opportunity to glorify God, entrusting your soul to the care of your Creator. It is a temporary stop on the path that leads to eternal glory. (1 Peter 5:10)

The starting point for understanding suffering is realizing that God is the center of the universe... not you. You have been created to know and enjoy his glory, and you are commissioned to show and exclaim his glory. Live to know, enjoy, and declare the sovereign glory of God!

In order to see suffering for why it is here, we must see sin for what it is, and we must see ourselves for who we are. The ultimate reason suffering exists is to exalt the glory of God's grace through the suffering of God's son for the salvation of undeserving sinners. God saves us by his grace. God planned the crucifixion of Jesus before the creation of the world. God permits sin into the world, ordains suffering in the world, and sent his son to suffer for sinners. This was not plan B, this was always plan A. He saves us for His glory. (Rev 5:9-14) Forever we will praise Jesus for the glory of God's grace. The health and wealth prosperity gospel is false! God may accomplish higher purposes in our death than in our life. He may accomplish more in our sickness than in our health. The prosperity gospel overlooks the design of suffering and fails to acknowledge the necessity of suffering. (Luke 9:23-24)

The completion of the Great Commission will include great suffering, but eternity will prove it was worth the price.

So for all who reject the King, Hell will be a place of irreversible justice. For those who revere the King, Heaven will be a place of inexpressible joy. We will be with Him! We will see His face! Christ is coming soon!

So, at 2:00 am we conclude this evening of studying God's word and I am left with a renewed passion to love God, follow Him with all my heart, surrender every cell of my entire being to His purpose. How could I want anything else seeing the great love, mercy, and grace that He has shown to me. I will follow Him wherever, whenever, whatever. I was created by Him and for Him, and to Him will be given all the glory!

*The majority of the text in this post was taken either directly from the secret church study guide (which can be found in PDF format at the secret church website) or the ideas within it.*

Sunday, February 26, 2012

French Silk Chocolate Pie

This is a recipe that I got from my mom, and I love it! The chocolate is so creamy. 

  • 1 Graham cracker pie crust
  • 1 square unsweetened baker's chocolate (melted and cooled)
  • 1 8oz cool whip
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  •  1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Cream butter and sugar, blend in chocolate and add vanilla.
  2. Add eggs one at a time beating 4-5 minutes after each.
  3. Pour into graham cracker pie shell and chill thoroughly.
  4. Top with cool whip and sprinkle with shaved chocolate.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Holy, Faultless, & Blameless

"But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him." 
Colossians 1:22
What a sacrifice. We often forget the weight of what Christ has done for us. God sent his only son, to die a miserable, drawn out death, for us. He was perfect, completely perfect. He never sinned, and yet he bore the weight of the sins of the entire world so that all may have the chance to be presented by Him, holy, faultless, and blameless to the Father. Let's take time to thank Him for the sacrifice that He made for us. We do not deserve the gift of salvation, and yet we often take it for granted.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A few thoughts...

"Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7

"Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable - if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise - dwell on these things."
Philippians 4:8

"...In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content - whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me."
Philippians 4: 12-13
Wow, I really do love chapter 4 of Philippians. There is so much good here. So much for us to cling to, so much to learn from. 
We really do worry a lot, but it is clearly stated in God's not worry about anything! Instead of worrying, we should always let God know what is on our hearts, talk to Him, and trust Him. His peace will guard our hearts and minds. 
Then, there is the reminder to dwell on the good things, and not the bad. If it is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, or commendable...dwell on that! Moral excellence and praise, that should be a wake up call. So much of our world today does not fall into the "if there is any moral excellence" category. Much of our world today is far from it. Let's think for a moment about the word "dwell". What does the regular old dictionary have to say about that word? 
Dwell - to linger over, emphasize, or ponder in thought, speech, or writing
Hmm, linger over... Do we linger over the things in life that true, the things that are pure, and the things with moral excellence, or do we simply let them pass by and go on to what has become normalcy, what has become acceptable, even some of it in christian circles. Why do we let sin creep its way in and think that it is okay? Sex before marriage, not okay. Getting drunk, not okay. Dressing immodestly, not okay! Disrespecting elders, not okay. Cheating, lying, gossiping, making fun of others, NOT OKAY!
Another thing that isn't okay... our complaining. Why have we not learned by now that complaining gets us nowhere. Complaining pushes us farther away from God, and nobody wants to be around a complainer.. but for some reason everyone wants to be the complainer? The children of Israel were not allowed into the promised land because of their disobedience to God. When you look at their attitudes, they were always complaining! We need to focus on learning to be content in all situations with the strength of Christ.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Be A Star

Night Sky Grand Canyon

"Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a cooked and perverted generation, among who you shine like stars in the world."
Philippians 2:14-15

In the two verses above, Paul is telling the people not to grumble or argue about anything so that they will shine like stars in the world. This reminds me of my strong desire, especially here recently, to be a light in the darkness of this world. Stars are millions of miles away from where we are here on Earth, but yet they shine so brightly that even one star in the midst of the dark night sky will stand out clearly for us to see. A sky full of bright stars is an even more beautiful scene to see, and just think how beautiful it would be to God to look down at us as Christians, if we were to not complain and argue, and see us as a group of bright stars shining in the darkness of this world. All for Him.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Need a good Laugh?

Check out this video that the Youth Pastor and Worship Pastor at my church put together for N.O.W (night of worship).