Simplicity & Changes for 2017

micah-6-8Looking ahead holds such hope and excitement, but before we talk about the New Year, we should take a moment to look back and be thankful for all God has done.

My word for 2016 was convergence, and the idea was to move toward a central goal or purpose. As I think back over all that God has done, I see how He guided, not as I expected, but oh so much better.

To read the full post and find a challenge for embracing simplicity in the New Year, click here and over to kristenhogrefe.com.

A website change in the New Year

One way I’m simplifying is to move all my posts to one website: kristenhogrefe.com. I love the journey we’ve taken here at ThinkTrueThoughts.com and the friends I’ve made along the way! Now, I’m just asking you to continue that journey with me at my main site.

The challenges, giveaways, and goodies you found at ThinkTrueThoughts.com aren’t going away! They’re just moving. If you subscribed, you will still receive the email newsletter; it will just have a different name.

I am so thankful for you, my friends! Wishing you all a blessed and simplified New Year!

~ Kristen

 

Love: Purposing Another’s Good

St Aug

I hesitate even to start this post, feeling completely inadequate. Shakespeare wrote sonnets on love that describe it with beautiful honesty and eloquence. Volumes of books have been published about finding love, being in love, staying in love, the types of love, the languages of love, and on and on the list goes.

But Valentine’s Day is Sunday, so here we go anyway.

If you’re a young adult reading this post, chance are that you’re single (or at least not married yet). Regardless of whether or not you’re in a dating relationship, God’s given all of us people to love.

What is love?

Again, we could get lost in a myriad of definitions. The one that sticks with me year after year is from my college Bible professor Dr. Delnay. I have never heard a better one than his.

Love is purposing the good of another.

It may be a simple definition, but its implications are endless. How do we purpose another’s good in our day-to-day world?

What does love look like?

  1. Love means being happy your friend scored the winning shot instead of you.
  2. Love means taking out the trash even when it’s not your turn.
  3. Love means texting your parents to let them know you reached your friend’s house safely and not staying out past a set time.
  4. Love means respecting your teacher even though you don’t like how she graded your paper.
  5. Love means listening to the chapel speaker instead of studying for a test next period.
  6. Love means biting your tongue after a customer’s rude remark and wishing them a good day anyway.
  7. Love means letting your sibling choose the Friday night movie even though you’d rather see something else.

But Kristen, that’s not love. Love is when Cinderella gets her prince. Love is that fluttering in your chest when a special someone notices you. (May I recommend the recent post by Lauren DeMoss on this subject?)

Maybe yes. But not most of the time.

Love is purposing the good of the people God’s placed in our lives. Day in and day out. Whether we’re wearing glass slippers or penny loafers.

How can we show love this week?

Traditional flowers and chocolate have their place, but I encourage you to get even more creative.

  • What simple acts of kindness can you do to purpose someone else’s good?
  • Do you know someone who is lonely? A relative? A widow or widower in your church? A couple whose children have moved away? What could you do to show them love this week?
  • Whose love do you take for granted at times? How can you make them feel extra special?

Please take a minute and share your ideas in the comments below. Your thoughts may be an inspiration or encouragement to someone else.

May the love of Jesus overflow from our lives this week and always.

~ Kristen

 

 

Indescribable Gift, Part 3: The Prophecy of Micah 5:2

Photo credit: Miss Kristen
Photo credit: Miss Kristen

Not only is the Old Testament relevant; it’s amazingly accurate. Last time, we looked at the Old Testament prophecy concerning the virgin birth, and now, we’re going to see another which pinpoints its exact location.

You see, the Old Testament not only predicted that it would happen, but also specified where it would happen.

Seven hundred years in advance.[i]

Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah; while Isaiah was sent to Judah, Micah primarily prophesied to Israel. At this time, both kingdoms were under attack by the dreaded Assyrians.

However, as we saw in Isaiah’s prophecy, Judah would not fall (but later be taken captive by the Babylonians); while Samaria, the capital of Israel, would soon be destroyed by the Assyrians (Micah 1:6).[ii]

The impending judgments of destruction and captivity seemed to spell the end of the Davidic line, but God had long ago promised that a king would not fail of the line of David (2 Samuel 7:13, Jeremiah 33:17). The One – The Messiah – from the line of David would come.

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting. (Micah 5:2 NKJV)

Flash forward those seven hundred years. The wise men of King Herod’s day studied the Old Testament scrolls and were keenly aware of what Micah had said. (Clearly, these wise men found studying the Old Testament worth their time!)

They also knew the prophecy which predicted “a Star shall come out of Jacob” (Numbers 24:17 NKJV).

Thus, when the wise men saw a brilliant star above Bethlehem, they were confident the King of the Jews had been born (Matthew 2:2).

Even more interesting is that King Herod didn’t dismiss them as crazy old men. Instead, his reaction gave validity to their assessment. Herod ordered the mass murder of all male babies in Bethlehem two years old and younger to eradicate any possible threat by another king to his throne (Matthew 2:16-18).

However, in His providence, God warned Jesus’ earthly father Joseph to take Mary and baby Jesus to Egypt to protect Him from Herod (Matthew 2:13).

Once again, the New Testament perfectly fulfilled the prediction of the Old Testament.

The Greatest Gift Possible

The Christmas miracle is God’s “indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15) of His most precious Son Jesus Christ who came to earth to redeem mankind – just as the Old Testament foreshadowed.

True satisfaction doesn’t come from getting a gift you won’t even remember this time next year; it comes from accepting the gift of God’s Son (John 3:16).

~ Miss Kristen

This article in its original form appeared in the Winter 2015 Issue of Girlz 4 Christ. I’m breaking it down here into three parts to share over the Christmas season.

[i] J. Vernon McGee, Jonah and Micah, chap. 5 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), Kindle edition.

[ii] McGee, Jonah and Micah, introduction.

 

Merry Christmas!

20151223_130343
Photo credit: Miss Kristen

I so much appreciate those of you who read, follow and participate here at ThinkTrueThoughts.com. I hope this blog has been an encouragement to you this year and a challenge to think truthfully.

To say thanks and to give you a little light reading over the Christmas holiday, I’d like to share with you a short cozy mystery I’ve written and published on my author website.

To view the story, please click here or on the image below.

Capp for Haleigh

I imagine you sitting in comfy chair by the soft glow of your Christmas tree with a cup of coffee or tea. You scroll through the story and try to solve it along with Beatrice, whose day job at Clancy Coffee, Ice Cream and Bakery is not without its share of mystery and unique personalities.

Wherever you are this Christmas, thank God for the blessings He has given you. If you took part in the November thankfulness challenge, you should have quite the list! Review it, and remember how good our God is.

Wishing you a blessed Christmas! Be sure to check back on Monday for the third and final post about God’s Indescribable Gift.

~ Miss Kristen

 

 

 

 

Indescribable Gift, Part 2: The Prophecy of Isaiah 7:14

20151212_201653If someone has ever broken a promise to you (and chances are, someone has), you understand the sting of disappointment. Often, we develop defense mechanisms or just call into question promises that sound “too good to be true.”

Usually, the more difficult the promise, the more doubtful we are that the person will keep his word.

But there’s one Person who makes impossible promises and keeps them. Always.

Sometimes, people today think the Old Testament is outdated. They don’t see its relevance to their lives.

But as we saw last time, all Scripture is profitable for our learning (II Timothy 3:16); and today, we’re going to look at one Old Testament prophecy that perfectly aligns with the New Testament and see that God always keeps His promises.

Isn’t that truth we need to remember at any age?

In Isaiah chapter seven, God sent the prophet Isaiah to King Ahaz of Judah, a wicked king facing a big problem.

At this time, Israel was divided into two kingdoms, the north (Israel) and the south (Judah). Simply put, neither liked the other very much.

The northern king was teaming up with Syria against Judah, and the outlook looked grim; but God had other plans, and they didn’t include Judah being taken captive just now. In fact, they involved using a mutual enemy, the Assyrians, to attack Israel to prevent them from coming against Judah.

Since Ahaz wasn’t one to trust God, Isaiah challenged him to ask God for a sign that Judah would be spared at present; but stubborn, self-righteous Ahaz refused to ask.

God’s response? He promised a sign, not for unbelieving Ahaz, but for the whole house of David[i].

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14 NKJV)

Jump forward hundreds of years to the familiar passage in Luke chapter one. The angel Gabriel appeared to a virgin named Mary and explained that she would be God’s chosen vessel to bear “the Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:26-33).

Mary asked the same question King Ahaz probably wondered:

How will this be, since I am a virgin? (Luke 1:34b ESV)

One of my favorite verses in all of Scripture is part of Gabriel’s response:

For with God nothing shall be impossible. (Luke 1:37 KJV)

What an amazing thought! Nothing was impossible with God then. Nothing is impossible with God now. An Old Testament sign that contradicted the very laws of nature came to pass in the New Testament.

Because God always keeps His promises. 

~ Miss Kristen

This article in its original form appeared in the Winter 2015 Issue of Girlz 4 Christ. I’m breaking it down here into three parts to share over the Christmas season.

[i] J. Vernon McGee, Isaiah Chapters 1-35, chap. 7 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), Kindle edition.

 

Working Girl Christmas Treats

PicMonkey Collage

Inspired in part by my friend and blogger Ashley Jones of BigSisterKnows.com (whose recipes are amazing!), I’d like to share here a simple and quick Christmas treat idea.

I don’t do complicated, and since I’m a working girl or would rather be writing, I’m all for easy ideas in the kitchen. Many of you students and working friends can relate.

So here’s my solution for when today is suddenly the Christmas party, and you have little time to spare.

Hug the Pretzel and Kiss it with an M&M.

  1. You’ll need: a bag of M&Ms (your favorite kind), a bag of pretzels (whatever is small and on sale), and Hershey’s Hugs (just because they’re pretty).
  2. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Cover your cookie sheet(s) with aluminum foil for easy cleanup, and evenly spread pretzels. Top each pretzel with a Hug.
  4. Bake for 3-4 minutes. Hugs should still have their shape but be soft.
  5. Squish an M&M on each Hug. You’re not supposed to spill the M&Ms, but I did! (The pan is still warm, so the Hugs will continue to melt after you take them out of the oven.)
  6. Immediately refrigerate (pan and all) until ready to serve.
  7. Oh yes, and try one (or two or three or…)

This idea isn’t original with me. You can find numerous variations on Pinterest.

Wishing you all a merry and less-stress Christmas!

~ Miss Kristen

 

 

Indescribable Gift, Part 1: The Flawless Foreshadowing of the Christmas Miracle

20151212_174722Do you have any childhood Christmas memories you’d like to forget?

One that stubbornly sticks with me after all these years happened at my aunt and uncle’s house. When we children opened our gifts, I pouted because I liked my brothers’ better.

Clearly, I missed the point.

Even as young adults, we can still miss the point. We get so wrapped up in shopping, programs, parties and gift exchanges that Christmas passes without us pausing to remember the reason we celebrate: God’s gift of His Son.

Perhaps you’re thinking: I’ve heard the story a hundred times. Manger. Shepherds. Angels. Wise men. Glory to God.

After all, A Charlie Brown Christmas airs at least five times a season.

I enjoy Snoopy like the next girl, but I want us to look deeper. What built up to the familiar account in Luke’s gospel? Why was the gift of Jesus so remarkable?

To answer that question, we need to go back to the Old Testament.

Still Timely Today

Whoa, stop right there. Isn’t the Old Testament outdated?

Just because something is old doesn’t make it outdated. I visited an antique mall a few weeks back and learned that quite the opposite is true. Instead of depreciating, antique items actually increase in value.

II Timothy 3:16 makes clear that all Scripture has merit:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness … (NKJV, emphasis added)

The New Testament doesn’t replace the Old. It underscores its authenticity.

There is an inseparable connection between the two. What is prophesied in the Old Testament we find accurately fulfilled in the New Testament.

The Christmas story is a perfect example. Over the next two weeks, we’ll look at two Old Testament prophecies and see how they came to pass in the New Testament.

Till next time, I’d love to hear what you do to maintain balance and not miss out on the reason we celebrate. How do you enjoy the tinsel but take time out too?

~ Miss Kristen

This article in its original form appeared in the Winter 2015 Issue of Girlz 4 Christ. I’m breaking it down here into three parts to share over the Christmas season.

November Challenges: NANOWRIMO and Thankfulness

Photo credit: Miss Kristen
Photo credit: Miss Kristen

It’s November. Most people think pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Christmas a few short weeks away.

Writers think NANOWRIMO, which stands for National November Writing Month. Essentially, it’s a challenge to write 50,000 words (a novel) in one month. There’s a whole history behind it, and many hard core writers change their whole routines to reach this Denali-sized word count.

Half excitedly, half oh-my-goodness-I’m-going-to-get-no-sleep, I’m taking the plunge this year. I confess I’ve modified the challenge; I’m currently writing a YA Dystopian novel, estimated at 80,000 words. I’m 35,000 into it (and worked hard last week to push my existing word count as far as I could).

Maybe that’s cheating; but I’m all about getting a head start. Ha, I’m going to need it to finish the remaining 45,000 words while juggling a job and existing commitments/plans while cramming in as much family time as possible before my brother leaves for Africa.

So if I say no to anything this month, don’t take it personally. I don’t expect you to join me; feel free to drop me a line every now and then to make sure I’m still breathing.

There’s a second challenge I’d like to tackle this month – one you can join me in doing. An article in a business magazine called Entrepreneur gave me the idea. The author shared that he challenges his clients to do the following:

Write down three things every day for which you are thankful. These must be new things, which means nothing can be repeated. No cheating.

So in this case, I can’t work ahead. Okay, agreed.

He goes on to say:

The purpose of the exercise is to train your brain to constantly search for positive angles, because, believe it or not, finding three new things every day to be thankful about isn’t easy.

No, thankfulness doesn’t come naturally. Complaining does. But if the secular world realizes the power of thankfulness, how much more should we as believers practice it?

After all, Scripture commands it.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. (Colossians 3:15, NKJV, emphasis added)

The sleeves are rolled up. I’ve had my coffee. It’s time to get busy.

What has God given you to do today? Give it everything you have (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Every day, choose to be thankful.

~ Miss Kristen

What If… Book Problem Poll

What if.

That question inspires the imagination and opens endless possibilities. Some of the best ideas in writing can trace back to that question. What if people could fly? What if imaginary lands were real?

It’s summer, so why not give our imaginations something to chew on? Here’s a book problem poll… which would you choose?

 

 

Social-Media-Free (SMF) Friday

I Sam 3Last night at youth group, my 10th grade girls talked about the call of Samuel in I Samuel chapter three. As we saw, the boy Samuel didn’t recognize God’s voice right away; he thought Eli the priest was calling him. Eventually, Eli realized God was calling the boy and told Samuel to respond by telling the Lord that His servant was listening.

God doesn’t speak audibly to us today (though He could if He wanted to), but He does speak to us clearly through His Word. The question is: Are we hearing Him?

Maybe we are – but we’re not willing to do what He says. I asked the girls, “What are some of the hard things God asks us to do?”

Our brave and honest Caitlin went for the kill: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Oh sure, because that one’s anything but easy.

Our big-hearted Theresa added, “Forgive as God forgives us.” Ouch!

So maybe we do know what God wants us to do. Then what’s the hang-up? The answer might be a reach away. Our cell phones.

We all agreed the instant access to social media gives us an escape, a distraction, a reason to procrastinate. Instead of getting real with God and opening our Bibles, we search social media to learn a myriad of unnecessary information. Oh, so and so is at the mall. What cute shoes she bought! Oh, so and so just got a new car, or removed a hairball from the drain, or burned her cupcakes, or ate at Chipotle, or any of the other random things we post.

Whether we need to hear God’s voice or get real about what He’s asking of us, let’s put the phones away and pull out our Bibles. There’s no temptation to surf the web or pin something or face-time with a friend.

I’m going social-media-free (SMF) on Friday. No Facebook. No Instagram. No Pinterest. No Messenger. (You can add your own favorites to the list.)

The goal is to minimize the distractions. Instead of a phone, reach for the Word.

Join me?

~ Miss Kristen