Bless This Mess

Bless This Mess

2018 has been one the “messiest” years of my life. Don’t get me wrong, it really was a great year filled with so many fun memories and amazing people, and I feel so thankful for that. But as I reflect on this past year, and read over my thoughts in my journal, I come face to face with the real, scatter-brained me. My dad once told me, “You are the most put together person I know!” Thanks Dad, but I only wish. This year I had many days I felt like doing absolutely nothing, completely lacking motivation, and the worst thing about it was, I did not know why. This year I can remember times when I looked into the mirror and wondered, “What am I doing?” I went from thinking too much of myself, to thinking too low of myself, and the looping around in circles was making me dizzy. I could not get into a daily routine of bringing my struggles to God and spending time in His Word, and I, therefore, would try to take the  issues into my own hands. I wanted to be a “better Christian,” but I kept failing. So yeah, it was another year of ups and downs, like every other year is, but this one just had more emotional twists and turns than I would have liked it to have. But that’s okay. I’m okay, because God’s got this. 🙂

One Thursday afternoon, (anyone else feel Thursdays are one of the least productive days ever??) I looked in the back of my Bible for some inspiration. I read some of notes and journal entries I have written over the past years, and came across this:

If you think about it, life is actually a pretty rad adventure. It’s exciting because there’re all these twists and turns and curveballs thrown in your way where you thought you knew it all. We get to ride the craziest roller coast ever, but the cool thing is, it will never ever break, so there’s nothing left but to enjoy the ride!”

Someday, when I am going through the toughest thing that I will ever endure, I might laugh at the young, naive, 17 year old who wrote this. But I really do think it is a great perspective to have as a believer. God will never ever let me go. I might spiral out of control in my life, but He remains steadfast and His love is unchanging. Let us rest and rejoice in the fact that our past has been forgiven, our present is met with the presence of the King of Kings, and our future is known. Praise God!

And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.   -Isaiah 58:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.   -Jeremiah 29:11 

I heard this quote recently,  and it has been inspiring to me:

“Abraham was old, Jacob was insecure, Leah was unattractive, Joseph was abused,  Moses stuttered, Gideon was poor, Samson was codependent, Rahab was immoral, David had an affair and all kinds of family problems, Elijah was suicidal, Jeremiah was depressed, Jonah was reluctant, Naomi was a widow, John the Baptist was eccentric to say the least, Peter was impulsive and hot-tempered, Martha worried a lot, the Samaritan woman had several failed marriages, Zacchaeus was unpopular, Thomas had doubts, Paul had poor health, and Timothy was timid. That is quite a variety of misfits, but God used each of them in his service. He will use you, too, if you stop making excuses.”    -Rick Warren

Yes, I am a mess. We all are. But God does not ask for perfection. Jesus was the only perfect being on earth, and His death was not in vain. He covered us with His blood so that we would be washed clean, white as snow. By His wounds we are healed.

God’s grace covers my past, my present, and my future. I need to accept that He has taken care of it all. What is left for me to do other then praise Him, be thankful, and start living and serving for His eternal glory? That’s my hope for 2019 and for the rest of my life.

Thank you, Lord, for your endless grace, your steadfast love, and your many, many blessings. I am an undeserving, yet thankful child of yours. Amen. 

Game Plan

Game Plan

With a sport like golf, with any sport and everything else in life for that matter, there are bound to be a lot of ups and downs. So, how do you deal with everything life throws at you? A few months ago, as the competitive high school season rolled around, I was trying to figure out what mentality I should have as I play. I knew that repeating to myself things like, “I can do this,”  “I’ve got this,” and  “I deserve to win,” would not be the biblical approach. The truth is, I can’t do it on my own, I don’t have it together, and I don’t deserve any good thing at all. After searching and praying for God’s wisdom in this area of my life, here is what I wrote down:

In pressure filled moments, why rely on myself to get me through it? Why use my own words, try to build my own self up, and all for my own selfish gain? What a sad and exhausting struggle to try to gain success, and one all in vain. If we want perfection, why settle for anyone less than our perfect Father in heaven? If I rely on Him, He will help me through it. I need to use His own words to build Him up, to lift Him high, so it can all be for His glory! The focus cannot be on myself. By doing this, I will trade temporary glory for eternal treasure. I will not be crushed by the trials hurled at me in life, but will rise victorious because Jesus Christ has defeated sin and concurred death!

So how can I do this, and what does it look like?

  1. Pray before
  2. Meditate and recite Scripture during 
  3. Surrender the results after

And there’s my game plan, right there. Nothing in life, whether it’s sports, music, hobbies, work, etc. should ever cause me to “take a break from Jesus.” All of life is all for Jesus. So you better believe that I’m going to play my heart out for Him!

If you’re wondering where to start, I would advise you to simply memorize one simple verse and practice reciting it to yourself. I recite a verse before hitting every single shot. It’s a way of reminding myself what’s most important and who I’m doing it for. God uses His words to give me peace in even the most pressuring situations.

Scriptures to recite:

Isaiah 41:10

Psalm 73:26

Joshua 1:9

Proverbs 3:5-6

As I spend hours on end in matches and tournaments, hitting shot after shot, walking mile after mile on the course, this needs to be my mentality. This needs to be what gets me through and what I’m playing for, because it is what truly matters in the end.

 

I Know Who I Am

I Know Who I Am

September 3rd, 2017

I know who I am: I am a child of God. Loved by the Creator. Precious in His sight. My identity lies in Christ and what HE accomplished on the cross, not what I can do. This life is not about finding out who I am. That’s taken care of. My life is for Christ alone. My life now becomes about others. I am free to focus on God’s desires because He has fulfilled the desires of my heart. I am free from myself and free to worship the one who became sin and gave me His righteousness.

In Christ Alone,

Belle Balkan

 

 

Rejoice Always

Rejoice Always

Reasons to rejoice:

1. God is always with me.

2. God has a purpose for everything.

3. God is my helper, and I don’t need to rely on myself. I can rely on Him to come through.

4. I get to live forever and ever and ever for ETERNITY WITH MY JESUS!

5. There is always a reason to hope, and Jesus IS that hope.

6. God’s got this. I think the Bible shows that God’s main desire for us is to look to Him as our Heavenly Father and to be fully satisfied in Him. That’s it. He does the rest.

7. Life is beautiful. It is a glimpse of what is to come. God’s creation is beautiful. And He made it for you and me to enjoy!

There are seasons of joy, seasons of lament, but surely in every season God is good to us. Through whatever season, He calls us to rejoice because of that!

Remember to count every blessing, always rejoice for who God is and what He has done, and finally, decide to be thankful in whatever your circumstance.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” Phil. 4:4

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How To Be More Productive

How To Be More Productive

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This is my brain dump of what works for me. I wanted to share these tips with you, and hopefully you find it helpful!

Here’s my disclaimer: By no means do I have my life put together and always do these things. I’m learning just like you and would benefit from listening to my own advice sometimes. 🙂 The purpose of productivity for me is to make time to enjoy life and not waist precious moments being stressed out. Remember, “Do not be anxious about anything.” (Phil. 4:6)

With that said, here are my ten tips to a more productive lifestyle:

1. Put away the phone

Spend less time concerning yourself with the virtual world and more time being present in the real one. It’s becoming concerning how much time we waste on our phones when we should be actually getting things done. Consider allotting specific times when you can look at social media, post a picture, or respond to texts or emails. Maybe delete the social media app for a time.

2. Read more

Instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media before I go to bed at night, I’ve started reading a few pages of a book. Not only do I sleep better because my mind isn’t constantly running through things, I’ve noticed that I retain information better, and I listen and focus better in class. Instead of stunting my brain with my phone, I’m constantly feeding it new knowledge and vocabulary by reading. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge reader and it takes a very interesting book to get me through it, but I’m learning to enjoy it and the benefits that come with it.

3. Use two planners – one daily and one weekly

Every Sunday I usually get everything organized for the upcoming week. This includes planning out Monday through Friday, hour by hour, all at once. Of course, things come up and you need to be flexible, but I find that blocking out my week keeps me mentally on check and on top of things. Here’s how I plan out the week: I have 5am-9pm as my day and I first fill in my morning routine which usually looks like Bible, exercise, breakfast, and dress for the day. Then I fill in my classes, my golf practice, my work, any appointments or plans on my monthly calendar, and what time I plan on getting to bed. At this point, I’ll go to my weekly calendar and plan out all the assignments I need to get done that week and what days I’ll do them. Then I’ll assign subjects to the remaining time in my daily planner. Every morning I’ll look at my planned out day, I’ll cross out things as I complete them, and every night I’ll look at the following day to see what I have going on. This seems like a lot, and it might be a hassle on Sunday night to spend time doing this, but it actually frees you up during the week because you’re less stressed out and more able to focus on the task in front of you.

4. Sticky notes and more sticky notes

I think I have a thing for sticky notes. It’s quite tempting when I see a stack of post it notes in new colors at the store and have to resist buying them. Honestly though, sticky notes are pretty amazing. I have a stack on my desk and some in my backpack. Whenever a task comes to my head or something I feel I need to remember, down it goes on that colored little paper and I slap it down in one of my planners. Don’t expect me to remember anything if it’s not in my handy dandy planner, people.

5. Wake up early

Resist the snooze button and get your butt out of bed, my friends! It’s always worth it. I think I memorized this quote back in like 6th grade when I finally got around to using an alarm clock, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” -Benjamin Franklin. What’s early? Well that’s up to you, but for me, a good productive day starts at 5am, and it’s been like that since 7th grade. I slack off here and there, but I try to get up around that time or else I don’t get in that much needed quiet time with the Lord first thing in the morning. It’s just me and God time, and I don’t like the whole house being up to disturb that. 🙂 Here are my tips on actually getting up on time: 1) get the right alarm. I recommend an actual alarm clock (not your phone) or an app such as Alarmy if you do use your phone. Alarmy really works because I set it so I have to solve math problems before it turns off. It’s super annoying, but again, it works. 2) Get to bed on time. When you go to bed 8 hours before you need to wake up, you won’t be making excuses that you didn’t get enough sleep and press snooze. Plus, you will feel more rested and motivated to get out of bed if you go to bed at a set time. 3) Just do it. Don’t think about it. Don’t focus on your feelings and just turn on the light, get out of bed, and grab a cup of coffee.

6. Eat a healthy breakfast

I love talking about this one because breakfast is my very favorite meal! And the most important one too I’ve heard. I find that eating a healthy breakfast in the morning starts my day on an energetic and positive note. I’m not distracted about my empty stomach in class, and I’m not reaching for a quick snack to get me by until lunch which is usually not the healthiest option. I’ll often make a protein shake with fruit and spinach, or I’ll have a fried egg with toast, cheese, and avocado.

7. Lay out your outfit the night before

If I forget to do this, it’s honestly embarrassing how much time I spend the next morning staring at my closet fussing over what I should wear. End of story. Okay, moving on.

8. Listen to classical music when you’re studying

I stay focused better when I’m listening to classical piano on my Pandora station. It’s like queueing my brain to shut out outside distractions and be like, “okay, it’s actually time to study now.”

9. Take breaks

When your brain’s fried on a subject, don’t keep waisting time sluggishly moving through that subject. Move on to another or get up and refresh yourself for a bit. If I start getting really sleeping, I’ll plop down on the carpet and take a 20 minute nap. It would actually be interesting to count how many times I do that during the school year. It would be a very very high number I think.

Finally, you know the drill…

10. Don’t procrastinate and don’t multi-task!

That’s all I have for you folks! Now turn off your phone/computer and do something productive!

God First

God First

e3485918-752f-4ac4-b5e9-82cfe3bb982eI’m a goal setter. I feel like I’m not getting anywhere in life or getting anything done without my goals written down and a todo list on my desk. Some are specific and others are very broad; some I can simply check the box when I’ve completed them, and some are life habits.

As senior year approaches I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want this year to look. I want to work hard in school to get those A’s. I want to strive to be the best athlete I can be and score low in tournaments. I want to be more creative, embrace opportunities, seize the moment, invest in people, be a leader, encourage others, and here’s a funny one, smile more 🙂

Whatever your goals are or whatever you want to achieve as each year goes by, I just want to encourage you, believers, to always put Jesus Christ first and foremost in your life. Life gets busy, and it can be hard sometimes to make time for God and strengthening your relationship with Him when school, time with friends, extracurricular activities, work and just life seems to keep pulling you away. But let me remind you, don’t settle for the temporary. Don’t loose sight of eternity and what really matters to God.

So what is our #1 goal in life as Christians? Here it is: So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. -2 Corinthians 5:9

How are we to glorify God? I’ve collected some verses that I think are great reminders of how we can do just that.

1. Simply spend time with Jesus

Luke 10:41-42 says,

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Jesus rebuked Martha for being distracted on the work she was doing while he praised Mary for simply sitting at his feet and listening to his teaching. Hardly anything lasts in this world, therefore, we can’t afford to put Jesus on the back burner of our life. Jesus says we have a choice, so let’s choose the good portion that can never be taken away.

2. Do what Jesus would do

Ephesians 5:1-2 reminds us,

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

3. Pursue Christ above all else

In Philippians 3:7-8 Paul says,

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

Nothing you pursue in life could be of greater value than getting to know our Lord Jesus Christ. Realize what a treasure it is that you know the one true, holy, and good God and that you have a relationship with Him. Treasure that relationship.

Thank goodness this isn’t about earning God’s favor. There is nothing you could do to make God love you any more or less. But this is about living for Him and putting Him first in our lives because we owe Him everything. Always “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

My Bible Study Materials

My Bible Study Materials

ffcfbad7-d4cc-42ba-bd39-6116a3ee80d0I know every Christian has a personal relationship with God and his or her own unique Bible study method. It looks different for every person. But I wanted to share what I do. I’m that girl who enjoys scrolling through Pinterest pins of morning routines, fitness plans, and Bible Study blogs, and I knew I couldn’t be the only one. 🙂 Maybe this will be helpful or inspiring for you!

Here are the materials I use:

My Bible

I use The New Inductive Study Bible in the ESV version. I love how it has margins large enough to write my thoughts or sermon notes in. I highlight or underline verses that stand out to me, and if I’m using colored pencils, sometimes I’ll color verses green for God’s commands, red for what He tells us not to do, yellow for His attributes, orange for mankind, blue for God’s blessings, and purple and pink for random things. 🙂 I use the blank pages in the back of my Bible to write down quotes, notes, and prayers.

Prayer notebook

I list my prayer requests, praises, and scriptures to pray in this notebook.

Prayer journal

This is where I actually write out prayers to God. They are more like my letters to Him. It has become so special for me to have, because I can look back over my prayers and see how God worked through the situation and I can then praise Him for that.

Topical Scripture notebook

One of my Bible study mentors taught me this method, and it is really helpful to keep all my favorite verses organized by topic. Maybe I want to learn more about what God says on a specific topic, or a verse stands out to me as I read a chapter. Whatever the case, I always have a place to write it down and refer to later on.

Personal Bible Study

I usually will be going through a study, whether it’s through my church, or the girl’s Bible studies I attend. My friends and I just finished a study of 2 Corinthians called, All Things New by Kelly Minter.

Sermon Notebook

This is where I journal, record sermon notes, and write down what I’m learning from my Bible studies.

3×5 card holder for memory verses

I don’t really have a system for this one yet 🙂 It’s simply where I keep my scripture flashcards. I would love to hear what works for you!

Cute mug with writing utensils

I keep all my pens, pencils, and highlighters for my Bible here.

Not pictured is my mug of tea or coffee. Can’t forget that!