I just wanted to pop on here real quick and tell y'all that I've gotten the wonderful opportunity to guest post on one of my favorite bloggers' blog! I've mentioned the blog before here on my blog (every time I've mentioned on here a blog that I read, I was talking about this one!). Cami Dahms is this blogger's name and she put on Instagram a few days ago that she was looking for guest bloggers that she could feature on her blog, and I'm one of them! I'm super excited about this and I want you all to be there for it, tomorrow at 10 am! Here's the link for her blog: thoughtfromcami.com
Don't miss it! It'll be up at 10, Saturday, May 23! Hope to see you there!
P.S. Also, while I'm on here, I wanted to tell y'all that I've made a couple changes here on the blog, so if you notice something missing or new, you'll know why.
Okay, that's all this time, bye.
I've been waiting for a good time to get back on here. Yes, I finished school weeks ago. Yes, I'm quarantining myself. Yes, I do have a lot of time on my hands. But I'm using my time on lots of other things. I've been catching up on so much stuff. I've finished 3 books and I'm still in the middle of 4. I've cleaned out my closet, I've worked on my piano, I've watched all the online sermons and lessons from my church, I've caught up on all my TV shows, I've inventoried our deep freeze. I've been crazy busy with brushing up on my Spanish with Duolingo, with reading, with practicing my piano, with putting old books on eBay (I finally sold three today [all to the same guy, actually], out of the 12 I've put on there so far, so that's great!), with reading a blog, with doing Bible plans on the Bible app, with reading my Bible, with everything that up-keeping a house entails. I've been working at a lot of things, waiting for those things to become fewer so I could get back on here and write to y'all. And, alas, here am I.
I've been praying for y'all. I pray every Saturday for my readers, that God would bless them and keep them. That you would have patience for me when I'm not writing, that when I am, you would here my words and learn from them, that God would direct my words and tell y'all what you've been needing to hear. And if you have any specific prayer requests, please let me know. I would love to have something more specific to pray for for you. I'm so grateful for all of you.
So a quick update about this ol' life of mine. You already know I graduated. But what you don't know is that less than a week after I graduated, I got my acceptance letter from TIBS. My dad said that it's not everyday that someone graduates and gets their college acceptance letter in the same week. I was going to try to get my driver's license when I finished school so I could have that and start looking for a job. But then the pandemic happened, so I have done neither of those things yet. But my dad did teach me to parallel park (it's hard, y'all!), so that's something. Grace, my younger sister, also finished school a while ago, saying goodbye to Junior year. My nephew turned 5 last month. My mom is now in Arizona with my older sister and brother-in-law and nephew, dying of boredom as they're shut in as well. I also celebrated year number two of my vegetarianism last month, whoop whoop, go me. And I think that's all. Yeah.
So the lesson for today will be inspired by my oh-so-wonderful life. I will begin with a story.
Once upon a time I was at a youth group Christmas party at my church. An important fact for you to know is that at this point and for years before, my youth group was composed of mainly boys. We're about even now, but it was boys galore back in the day. (This was about 2 Christmases ago, I think.) So because of this masculine dominance, sports has always been a go-to for party activities. By the way, as you read this, if you're a sporty girl, good for you. That's really awesome, seriously. Sports is not only a guy thing. I'm just saying here that for boy-girl parties in my youth group, if you're not a sporty girl (like me), these parties are far more fun for guys (because guys are sporty, duh), because there is nothing to do but play sports (which for me is dangerous, not even kidding) or watch everyone else play sports. So my point here is that our parties always have some sort of sports game--everything from Nerf wars (which, I know, isn't sports, but anything where you have to run is sports in my mind) to basketball to kickball to dodge ball to everything ball, hahahaha. So anyway.
Quick note: When I'm telling a story, I go everywhere. All these different tangents, side stories, you name it, I go there. I've already done it, like, three times. I'm an over-explainer. I always give, like, all the details, even when they're unnecessary. So just try your best to hang with me, we'll get to the end eventually.
SO they were going to have a Nerf war. Grace and I decided that we would try being involved and active this time--why not, right? So the team captains were appointed and everyone got into a group in front of these two guys to be picked off one by one. I bet you can see where this is going. Guess who the last two people standing there were? Yep. Me and Grace. And then just Grace.
We probably had a real reason for being the last two standing there. Everyone had seen me nearly fall over one time when I tried to kick a ball (which moved a whole two feet, by the way, ugh). They knew I wasn't good at. . . anything like this at all. And Grace was my sister, so she was probably like me, and no one knew her that well, so of course they wouldn't be too eager to pick either of us. But even with all of these real facts that I am aware of, it still stung. It stings now, writing about it. Me and my sister were chosen last. How could that not sting?
Now rewind even more, way back to when I was a little 11-year-old baby. I wasn't in the youth group yet, I had a different teacher, different classmates. My teacher liked making these competitions where you had to do things like memorize Scripture or attend class regularly to win. The competition she chose to make this time was. . . actually something I can't remember, hahaha. But here's what I do remember: she appointed two team captains and the more people these captains chose that regularly attended Sunday school, the better. So my team captain was careful to choose those who came often, while the other chose those who wouldn't be coming back after that day for more than a month. Yikes.
The point to made here is that my captain chose me. Pretty early off, actually. He chose me because he knew I would show up faithfully to church when I needed to be there to win this competition. My team did win.
I bet you're probably getting what I'm trying to say here. I was chosen last when it came to my physical abilities. I was chosen first when it came to my faithfulness to the church.
I'm proud of this. I'm proud of the fact that I've been known for my faithfulness. And even though it would be nice to also be known for my mean muscles and agility and stamina and all that good stuff, I'm glad I got this instead.
So now comes the part where you soul-search. What are you known for? If you were to be picked first by a team captain, what you be picked for? If you were the last picked, is it for something good? Or bad? If I was a team captain, would I want to choose you to sit with me every Sunday? How about God? Should He choose you for His team of servants? Prayer warriors? Or would you be the last one picked?
It's a terrible feeling to be left there alone in the center of the floor, unwanted. To be taken in by the second team captain simply because he needs one more player to fill the empty space. The awesome thing here is, as cheesy as it sounds, God will always pick you because He wants you. You may be the very least qualified, the last one left after team captain #1 (this would be the world, darling) has taken his pick. But God doesn't just take you in because He needs one more, even if you deserve to be left alone and ignored. He chooses you because He loves you. He wants you on His team. Be proud of this. He is.
Just remember to think about it. What team are you on? God's team? Or the world's?
I find it kind of funny how my last post was about my visit to my hopefully-future-college, and now here I am writing a post about graduation from high school. Can you tell my life has been moving pretty fast lately?
So I graduated. There's not much to say about it since I haven't had and won't have a ceremony. It's just as simple as this: I finished my last day of schoolwork last Friday. There was no more work to do. I'm now a graduate.
The act of graduating for me was small and nothing special. But I am looking forward to the parts of celebrating that won't be small and will be special. Here they are:
And just to catch y'all up on the current affairs of my life, I'm doing my best to relax. This week is purely dedicated to trying to catch up on a few things, mainly books, writing, and a TV show my mom wishes she didn't have to see stocked up on the DVR. I have this huge list of to-dos I made yesterday morning for this week, but I'm realizing more and more as the days go by that I really don't want to do those things. So we'll see what happens with that.
The plan for the time between graduation and college is to get my driver's license (nope, still don't have it), get a job, get accepted to my college, and just work up enough money at least for registration, but hopefully more than that. So right now I'm just trying to grow my relationship with God, get reconnected to His Word and strengthen my prayer game, especially in this time of pandemic pandemonium.
Alrighty, guys, I hope y'all are doing well, staying socially distant yet faithfully present. I'll talk to y'all again soon, hopefully, and I'm praying for ya.
Alrighty, so, here's the deal. I expected to get tons of pictures and maybe some videos and to blow up my Instagram with them. . . but I didn't get a single one. BUT, that does not mean that I'm gonna skip out on a play-by-play for y'all. I don't actually know that anyone cares about this, but here you go.
So, Wednesday afternoon, me and my family took off to Longview and attended a Wednesday night service at Emmanuel Baptist Church (formerly known as Longview Baptist Temple, if that rings any bells for y'all). After the service, we had a meeting with the pastor, during which I was questioned (I'm pretty sure I gave all the wrong answers--and I'm not even joking, guys) and he said that he thought I was a perfect fit for the college. And then we were taken to the dorms of the college (which, by the way, is right next to the church) where we spent the night. After a dreadfully early morning (and I actually didn't make that choice, my body just decided that 6 hours of sleep was enough and 5 was the perfect time to be wide awake) Grace and I went to breakfast and then immediately after, we went to music class. Music Theory 2--and please, don't ask me what music theory is, I have no idea. And then there was Chapel. And then we went to Cults class, which, I know, sounds very unappealing, but I actually learned a few things about Catholics (I know, right? Catholicism is a cult? Yes. Yes, it is.) And after that we went to lunch and headed back home. The end.
So now that you know what exactly we did, I'll move more into detail. Are you ready for this? I'm a very wordy person.
It was all good. I told my family during our drive back home that for a while I had felt like this was where I wanted to go for a while. My dad had previously planted the thought in my mind that we could go visit and I could end up realizing that I didn't want to go there, so I was afraid that that would happen and I'd be back to square one. What I said after that was that everything that happened there at the college, everything I learned about it and everyone that I met and everything just seemed to be reaffirming that feeling in my gut that this was it. This is where I want to go.
Texas Independent Baptist Seminary and Schools. TIBS. I'll be going for the music program. Don't go looking for the website just yet, because they were recently hacked (yikes) and they're still working to restore it. It should be back up in a week or two. But now ya know. I haven't sent in my application yet, so there's no promise that I'll for sure go there. But this is my choice. Up until now, there were only a select few that knew I wanted to go here, that knew the name specifically, that knew that it was a seminary. It's out now and I hope you all can be happy for me. And I just want to ask all of you that you pray over this with and for me. Things are still yet to fall into place and that definite yes from God hasn't arrived yet and so many other things that I can't even explain still have to be worked out. So please pray that it does work out. That if it be in God's will, I'll be accepted and all the other connected things that me and my family will have to sort out will be resolved. Thank you. And I'll talk y'all next week. Praying for ya!
Okay, before I get to the God part of this post, I just wanted to give you all a quick life update, because I've got news! I've talked before about going to visit my hopefully-to-be college relatively soon, and, even though I haven't said this before, to announce to my friends and family what college that is after I hand in my application and (prayerfully!) receive an acceptance email or whatever it is I'll get. Well, at last, me and my family have a set time to go and visit and it's next week! I'm super excited to go and finally see what my ideal college is like and I can't wait to share it all with y'all! If you follow me on social media, be sure to stay tuned this coming Wednesday and Thursday for photos and such, and if you don't, be sure to stay tuned for the post I'll be writing on here about it sometime next week. Super excited!
Alrighty, moving on. So my last post was about New Year resolutions and I think that I'm gonna try and branch out from that topic a bit more in this post, so sit down and grab the nearest pillow and stuff it behind your back as you get comfortable with a preferably healthy snack to keep your hands and mouth occupied. Because it's gonna get real.
I was thinking about my goals the other day and how (as I've also talked about in one of my previous posts) lately I've just felt so much better about the way I'm spending my days because I'm actually getting things done. When I get the chance to sit down and write down a list of goals for the week, it makes them so much more concrete and I end up getting them done--yes, actually done. I haven't been wasting my free time with whatever book or show presents itself and then dedicating a whole one day, maybe every couple of weeks, for actually important things. I've been staying on top of things and I've also been getting way more done because of it. I've been working on the same book for months and months and I was just ignoring it every time I looked over at it and choosing to do something else. But since I've been setting goals, I've almost finished it. I'll finish it tomorrow. That's huge for me. That book has been staring me in the face for the last half a year and challenging me to pick it up more often than just when I have to go wait in the doctor's office waiting room for a while. And tomorrow? That book will finally go back on the bookshelf. It's a great thought.
But when I started thinking about it a bit more, I started realizing that even though I feel so much better--I'm getting that feeling of accomplishment nearly every day--something was missing. It was God. Sure, I was setting goals and accomplishing them. But these goals were lacking a service for God. I've been setting too many goals that only get me further in this world and in my world, and not enough goals that get God further in this world and in my world.
So what I'm saying is, I'm gonna try and be more kingdom minded in these upcoming weeks as I make and set my goals. I'm gonna try to think of where my head and heart are rather than where my to-do list is. And I encourage you to try for this with me. To feel the need to be closer to God and dive deeper into His Word and be on our knees in prayer more, and to fill that need like He wants us to. So let's do it. Together.
I'm going to be starting with things like reading faith-based books more often (I'm actually in the middle of 2), watching/listening to more sermons on YouTube, and just setting more time aside to pray. You can join me in these (I actually have quite a few faith-based books, so if you don't have any and we see each other regularly, I could happily lend you one!) or go your own way and do something else! Just do your best to move in the right direction with your relationship with God. So that's all for now, but I'll post again next week. See ya then! Praying for you!
So, here is the post that I promised y'all last week. I'm gonna talk about the new year resolutions that I've made this year, because I was hoping that putting them on here would help me stay more accountable to these resolutions, instead of kinda just keeping all my ideas and plans in my head so that if I fail, no one will judge me--which we all know just makes failing easier.
So, I guess I'll just dive right in.
When one of my friends asked me if I had any New Year resolutions, I told her that I did. That really I just had one resolution, one big resolution, that envelopes a large general area in my life that I want to work on. My resolution is this: to be more goal-oriented.
I have struggled my whole life with making goals for myself. I had it in my head that setting goals was really just trying to think of all these things that I wanted to do almost to "fix" myself. Not eating healthy enough? Fix yourself by setting a goal to eat healthier. Not reading your Bible enough? Fix yourself by setting a goal to read your Bible more often. And then, as I said, if I did end up setting a goal for myself, I didn't want anyone to know about it. I didn't want to tell someone that I was cutting desserts out for a certain amount of time so that I could change my mind any time I wanted and go eat that piece of cake--no one would tell me not to. And that's the way I wanted it. I wanted zero accountability and I didn't want to be trying constantly to improve my habits, stepping far past the line where "Love yourself as you are" was pulled out of context and twisted into what I wanted it to mean.
But the hard truth is. . . we all need improvement. And no matter how much we may improve, there is always still room for more.
I've changed my perspective on all of that since then. I know and believe that goals are good and accountability is better, because there is always room for improvement.
I didn't really have a plan for any resolutions outside of the usual "just do better in everything" resolution that I love to challenge myself with, even every day. But then my dad got home one day and he had had a Christmas party at work. He was showing us everything he got and then he pulled out this pretty little 2020 planner.
"Do you want this? I didn't get it as a gift, but someone gave it to me," he said.
I shrugged, wanting to say yes to the pretty little 2020 planner, but instead saying, "Does Mom want it?"
"I don't know, she's sleeping. I'll ask her later, but if she doesn't want it, it's yours."
A while later, in he walked, and over he handed the pretty little 2020 planner. "Mom doesn't want it?"
"No, she said it's a weekly planner and it would be hard for her to use it."
As soon as he was gone, I flipped it open and then I was excited. I had gotten the pretty little 2020 planner and the New Year was coming up soon and this was exactly what I needed for some real resolutions. This planner is pictured at the beginning of this post. As you can see, I've put it to good use. Every day I write down my to-do list and little messages to myself that I felt I needed that day. My first day back to school last Monday was rough. It was probably the longest day I've had all school year, and that actually had nothing to do with it being my first day back. It still would have been exactly as long if I had done it before the break. At the end of the day, I wrote a message to myself about how school can be hard, but I shouldn't give it the power to ruin my day--to keep my chin up, really. Those 2 pages are full of things like that, even song lyrics, Scripture, and prayers.
When I first opened that pretty little 2020 planner, I was thinking about all the things I'd be planning. My visit to my (hopefully) future college. My graduation. My first day at my (hopefully) future college. My first day at my (hopefully) future job. All the things I'll do and learn and see and the people I'll meet and the places I'll go. And I just stopped and thanked God for that planner. Because I can only imagine the things it'll hold by the end of the year.
I'm gonna make that pretty little 2020 planner the thing that keeps my goals afloat in this crazy ocean of life. I'm gonna keep writing down my goals and achieve my goal of achieving goals and I'm gonna fill that planner up. Watch me, Satan, God. Watch me as I fight for improvement and stay accountable for what I say and fight off the "Love yourself as you are" philosophy because I will not love myself as I am, as the person that fights for what she wants instead of what God wants. I will love myself because of the person that I know I can be, by the grace of God, the person that improves and improves and improves--all for God. Watch me. (Whoa, guys, I feel super empowered now, what did I just write?)
So I'm gonna be more goal-oriented. I'm gonna be accountable for meeting those goals. But most importantly, I'm gonna make my goals worth achieving. What are your New Year resolutions? How are you going to stay accountable for keeping them? What are you making the thing that keeps your goals afloat? Comment below and let me know! Thanks for reading! Always praying for you guys!
I am making the sacrifice of my silly "wants" so I can sit here and write this. What with the new year, I have lots of new goals for myself (which I don't want to get too into, because I have a post planned for that specifically, comin' atcha at the end of the week) and writing a post (and story chapter!!) once a week is one of those goals. I know I can do it, it's just the matter of getting it done, making this "sacrifice" more than just this week. So y'all be praying for me as I challenge myself in my writing!
So, I am planning to get back into the Ephesians 6--armor of God study very soon, but not today. Today, I have something different planned and it all begins with a story! *Yay, we love stories, tell us, tell us!* Okay, okay, if you insist.
Once upon a time I went on a missions trip to New York and met an awesome person named Emily. I only spent a week in New York and then she was gone and I was gone and I didn't really want that to be the end, so we eventually got each other's phone numbers and tried to keep in touch. I haven't seen Emily in a year and half, and as anyone can understand, that puts a huge strain on "keeping in touch". But, because of the awesome person she is, she has made it a point to keep up with me, and I'm trying to return the efforts, as well. So, we've texted plenty and we've spoken on the phone twice now, one of these times being last night. Hence, my point:
She was telling me that someone once said "Your quiet time isn't over until you tell somebody about what you learned." So she told me about what she learned in her quiet time and then, being the awesome person she is, she put me on the spot and asked me what I had learned in my quiet time. I said "um" three times in a row, guys, and then proceeded to tell her that I hadn't really gotten anything specific out of my quiet time that day and then I launched into a long explanation about what I had been learning OUTSIDE of my quiet time. I've got to do better than that! So, from now on, I'm going to make it a point to make sure I have an answer--a real, concrete, free of "um"s answer--to that question. So here I am. And here's what I learned from my quiet time today:
I was reading in Genesis 20. (I do suggest that you stop and read Gen. 20 now or after you finish reading this post, so you can really grasp what I'll be referring to here. Chill out, it's only 18 verses, it'll take you, like, five minutes, just do it. And yes, I know I'm a bossy person. You still should do it.) So, in this chapter, this is the second time that Abraham and Sarah lie about being married. (See chapter 12 to read about the first time.) Basically, Abraham asks to Sarah to say that she is his sister, not his wife, so that--as our buddy Abe thinks will happen--he won't be killed because she's "a fair woman to look upon" and the Egyptians will want her all to themselves. (Plus, it's not actually a lie, Abraham and Sarah were actually half siblings. They had the same father. Ugh, I know.)
So here's the story: Abe and Sarah "sojourn" to a place called Gerar. And again, just like in chapter 12, the people find Sarah beautiful. Even beautiful enough for the king, Abimelech, who calls her in to his castle. But before Abimelech can make any arrangements to wed Sarah, he has a dream one night, in which God speaks to him. To paraphrase the dream. . . .
God: Abimelech, you're a dead man. Sarah's married. I've cursed everyone in your family so none of you can have kids anymore.
Abimelech: Are you really gonna kill me? I'm a good guy, honestly. Abraham and Sarah both told me they were brother and sister. I promise, I didn't know, and if I had, I wouldn't have called Sarah in.
God: I know you didn't know. But that's why I'm here, to keep you from sinning. So go ahead and let Sarah go and give her back to Abraham. Abraham will pray for you and I'll hear his prayer and lift the curse. And if you don't let her go, you are definitely a dead man--and your family.
So Abimelech gets up early the next morning (who can blame him, right? I probably would, too.) and he goes and finds ole Abe, and to paraphrase their conversation. . . .
Abimelech: Why did you do this to me, dude? You practically cursed me and my family, everyone I'm related to can't have any babies. Why did you lie?
Abe: Well, I thought that, this being a pretty Godless looking place, the people--or you, to be specific to the situation--would kill me so they could have Sarah. But, hey, I didn't actually lie to you. Sarah is my sister. She and I have the same dad. But, yeah, she is my wife. And none of this is her fault, I asked her to say we weren't married.
So then Abimelech gave Sarah back to Abe, along with lots of other gifts, and told Abe that he could live wherever he wanted, and gave Sarah a slap on the wrists. And then Abraham prayed for Abimelech and God took the curse away, and they all lived happily ever after.
So what I want to focus on now is the different people--Abimelech, God, and Abe and what they did.
Abraham ~ Here's what I learned about Abe. First of all, he married his sister. Yuck. Oh, wait, no, that's not what I want to talk about. No, that's not the point. Here's the point: Abe didn't trust God. Instead, he asked his wife to pretend to be only his sister, because he was afraid that he would get hurt. The only reason they were travelling around and going to the places that made him think he needed to lie was because they were following God's direction and going where He wanted them to. So, from Abe's experiences, I have learned that I need to trust God and not be silly and do silly things because I'm afraid--I especially don't need to be afraid when the reason I am where I am is because that's where God led me to be. Isn't there a saying that goes, "Where God guides, He provides"? Yeah, that's what I learned from Abe.
God ~ Here's what I learned about God. You know how in 1 Corinthians 10:13 Paul says that God always gives us a way out of temptation? I think this right here is a very good example of that. Abimelech didn't know he was doing anything wrong, just like we sometimes don't when we're being tempted. And because Abimelech didn't know, God stepped in, so that he wouldn't make a mess of things without even knowing, just like I know God would for us if we found ourselves in the same situation. And God was quick to instruct Abimelech of what to do next, and then, in turn, to forgive him, just like I know He would for us. So, from God's interference, I have learned that God is always faithful to warn us when we head in the wrong direction, to help us out of the sticky situations we land ourselves in, and to forgive us when we sin, whether we know we're sinning or not.
Abimelech ~ Here's what I learned about Abimelech. Abimelech did trust God. When he went to sleep one night and ended up in the middle of a dream with God calling him a dead man, he listened. He didn't deny that he had called Sarah into his castle or that he planned to marry her; he simply confessed that he hadn't known that was wrong. When God told him that he needed to fix what he had done, he didn't refuse; he got up early the next morning and went straight to Abraham to sort things out. And his obedience was rewarded with the retracting of the curse on his family. So, from Abimelech's experiences, I have learned that listening to what God has to say, no matter how hard it may be to hear, and obeying His commands will be rewarded. And to always trust His word.
So, thanks for reading and be looking for my next post, hopefully to come this weekend. I'm praying for you guys!
I love writing. The problem? I love to work on things that I don't need to work on while the things that I do need to work on sit on the sidelines untouched. I have been writing. I actually wrote just a few hours ago. But guess what? I wrote and added on to something that is not priority. I sat down and I stared at my laptop and then decided that instead of writing for the story that I have on here or writing for this blog, I wrote for a story I've been working on for over a year that has been on the back burner for nearly as long. Why is it that I reorganize my stove top again and again according to my fluctuating moods? Why can't I cook one dish at a time, leave what's on the back burner on the back burner until I can move it when it actually should be moved?
Okay, stepping away from the stove top analogies, let's talk about something real. A real problem that we all face. It's what I just droned on about. Yep, you guessed it. Priorities. Procrastination. Tackling both and doing better all around. (Boy, that sounded kind of like motivational speech. Ignore that.)
I've never thought of myself as a procrastinator. I've even been known to call myself a "non-procrastinator". I'm the kind of person that knows what they need to do and does it first off before they settle down for R&R. If I don't get all of my to-dos done before I sit down to waste my time, I might go crazy. I like to have all of my things done so that the rest of my day is, as my sister would say, "free real estate".
But, so I'm discovering, I apparently have a hard time with priorities when it comes to my free time. When my daily to-dos are done (whoa, say that 5 times fast), I have a bad habit of reading, watching TV, or writing. Reading wouldn't be so bad if I actually read the books that I need to. Watching TV is always bad, let's be real, especially with the junk on today. And writing wouldn't be so bad if, as I said earlier, I would write what needed to be written. But I don't and my life is a bit of a mess because of it. I have absolutely no self-discipline.
On occasion I'll take a day to knock out a list that I've been building up in my head for a while. I took a day like that just a few days ago. And normally it does me so much good for me in more ways than one. I normally, obviously, have way smaller of a "when I have the time I'll do it" list and I also feel way accomplished and that I've made lots of progress versus if I sat down and read for 5 hours straight, like I really want to. But this past week when I took a "do-it day", I did not feel that way at all. I felt almost empty. Like all of those things I had been telling myself to do for weeks that I had finally gotten done were just meaningless and a waste of time.
I was expecting a good feeling. I didn't get it. What changed?
And then, of course, God. He's great, you should meet Him, talk to Him, get to know Him. He sent something that I needed to get the answer to that question.
I had been waiting for an update on a blog I've been reading for a while now and I just happened to open up the website to check for the day if there was an update. There was and it was exactly what I needed. The author of the blog had written about how when we're not passionate for God, all of our other passions just kind of. . . fizzle out. We feel lost and empty and purposeless. Oh my goodness! That was exactly what I was feeling! This author showed me (or reminded me, really) that if God isn't the reason we do what we do, then, you know, what is? God won't bless something that won't bless Him. (Whoa, guys, somebody write that down, that was super philosophical, and I just made that up. Obviously, God has a hand in what I'm writing right now.)
So I've been feeling a little pushed lately to write to y'all and, again, God always has something to do with things. This was just something small, something I'd be able to write in less than hour (record time, people!), that I hope can be a blessing to y'all, even if it was a little scatter brained and superficial (compared to what I've written on here before).
I guess what I'm trying to say is (just like the author of that blog said) priorities become way more manageable if they are centered around God. It's way easier to be passionate about your priorities if you are most passionate about the top priority--God. As for the procrastination, I have no advise, hahaha. You'll just have to find another blog post somewhere for that.
Well, thanks for sticking around and reading this crazy, unplanned, spur-of-the-moment post and Happy Christmas and I'll talk to guys soon! (Excuse any typos, it's late, I'm not about to proofread this.)
So, my mom has finished up her PT and therefore here I am finally forcing myself to sit down because I no longer have that hour of sitting around and watching her work herself to death. Sorry it's taken me so long, I know it's been over a week. But I'm here now, so let's get started.
Today we'll be talking about crosses--but not just any crosses. We're talking about those crosses that hang around people's beautiful necks on chains or maybe strings.
I wanted to talk about this because there seems to be a lot of controversy about wearing crosses. A couple years ago at church camp, my youth pastor's wife brought up wearing crosses during a nightly devotional. I had never heard of anyone disliking the thought of wearing a cross, I had been doing it since I started wearing jewelry and it never bothered me. And then a few months later I was going to church with my grandmother one Sunday night and she was telling me about how she had my grandfather remove the little cross beads from one of her bracelets for the same reason we had discussed that night at church camp. So I just wanted to touch on this subject to kind of work out my perspective on wearing crosses.
The perspective I learned of from my youth pastor's wife was this:
Crosses are a symbol of death. Jesus was beaten and spit upon and scourged (if you don't know the technical meaning of scourge, stop now and look it up and also find a picture of a scourge--also, a scourging traditionally consisted of 50 lashes) and humiliated and mocked and He had a ring of thorny sticks shoved onto His head. And this was only the beginning of His punishment for what He was accused of--blasphemy, which, by the way, was not reason enough for crucifixion. After they finished with all that, they gave Jesus a crossbeam to carry, which was over 100 lbs. From there He carried it as far as He could and then they joined it to the rest of the cross, from which He was hung. They mocked Him some more, and then He died. Just like that, the Son of God was killed. Talk about depressing. (References for Jesus' crucifixion can be found in all 4 Gospels of the Bible [Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John] and the rest of the information given not mentioned in Scripture is from research.)
Those were Jesus' darkest moments. That was the entire world's darkest moment, when He died. I can totally understand why people wouldn't want to wear a cross when that's what they think about when they put it on. When they see it as a reminder of the torture Jesus went through not only for us, but in our place. When they see it as the thing that Jesus hung on as He breathed His last breath. I get it. And that's what my grandmother thinks of as well as my youth pastor's wife. So they don't wear crosses.
And then there are the people that are the way I used to be before that perspective slapped me in the face and kept me far away from crosses for years. Whether they're oblivious of such a way of seeing it and they just wear crosses because they're fashionable. Or they wear crosses because they're a symbol of their salvation, their Christianity, the way Jesus died for them because He loves them, the way He conquered death and is still alive. I get that perspective, too. That one's not so heavy and you can still wear your cute crosses.
But I want to bring to the table a new perspective, my perspective.
There are multiple times when Jesus talks about crosses, crosses besides His own. (See Matthew 10:38 & 16:24, Luke 9:23 & 14:27) This is where I hinge my own perspective. I do where crosses, but I do not do so lightly. When I put on a cross, I do not wear it as a symbol of death or salvation, I wear it as a symbol of my own responsibilities toward God and Jesus. I wear it as my own cross, a reminder that tomorrow is not guaranteed so live today like it's your last day to share and live in the Word. That I'm not here to live a life of comfort and pleasure, but rather persecution and service. That Jesus sacrificed Himself for me and I can't--I won't--let that be for nothing. When I put on a cross, I wear it as a burden for the Lord.
So I just wanted to write a little post about this because I felt like God has put it on my heart to share my viewpoint to y'all and maybe teach you and myself something about this. I hope you enjoyed reading it.
Tell me in the comments what you believe about wearing crosses! I'd love to hear from y'all! Any ideas about what else I should write about? Let me know! Talk to you soon!
So, I have approximately 45 minutes before I have to get up and go cook dinner and I honestly didn't think that I'd be sitting here writing this right now. I was just going to curl up on my bed and waste my time away with some relaxing music and just scroll through Pinterest and look at cute photos that would hopefully inspire and/or motivate me to do something with my life. But then I glanced up at all my open tabs on my computer and I saw the little Ws there that are my blog and the editing page and I just decided to get on here and write to y'all, though I have no idea about what. Well, let's see. I haven't gotten any suggestions from y'all yet (but I'm still holding out!), so I'll just go with something simple and quick. How about. . . the long term effects of irregular sleeping habits and how to start on your routine sleep schedule?
Kidding! Just kidding, I'm not in the mood to bore you with an essay that I don't want to write. But that was funny, right? Right?
No, but seriously, how about I talk about. . . um, stories from my childhood? Yeah, okay.
So, my childhood. I grew up in a house of 6. I have 2 sisters and a brother. When I was young I was really close with my older sister, closer even than I was with Grace, my younger sister. And if you know me and Grace, than the fact that I wasn't close to her for most of my childhood is probably coming as a shock to you. I always fought with Grace because. . . well, I don't know. Because I didn't like her, I guess. We never wanted to do the same things and that's kind of key when you only have each other to play with and one of you wants to play Barbies but the other wants to play Littlest Pet Shop. So, yeah. She being the younger one, I always had to have MY way or I would throw a fit. (or throw something at her. Aw, memories.) So we didn't get along much and I hung out with my older sister. But on occasion, I would want to hang out with Grace AND my brother, David, which was a miracle. And those days were nice. We would play on the PlayStation (the first one, guys, the oldest one that is now unknown to man) together all day and it was great. And then sometimes, miracle of miracles, guys, all 4 of us got together and did something. Sometimes we would go to the playground behind our apartment, sometimes we would have a water balloon fight, sometimes we'd all go in David's room and pile on and around his bed and watch him play a car racing game and laugh and wow. Serious nostalgia right now, y'all. I never really understood how much I would look back at this and be so thankful that I have so many siblings that I got to hang out with when I was young. Actually, I have so many memories of the entire family. I remember when my parents had bought a new dining room table and then sold the old one so we had no table for a couple days before the new one was delivered and David and my older sister, MacKenzie, and my parents all ate in the living room at the coffee table, but Grace and I wanted to be civilized and eat in the dining room, so my dad got out a box that we could use as a table and we sat on our little stools and ate alone in the dining room in the dark. And I remember coming home from church and everyone congregating in our tiny kitchen at once to get water and to start on lunch and then just talking about random things like how people are deaf not death, and how they make special bras for women that are nursing. And I remember getting in huge trouble for giving Grace the idea that if we write things on little pieces of paper and wrap the paper around a pencil and tape it and then open David's bedroom window that lets out on the roof (the only window in the apartment without a screen) and ROLL THE PAPER WRAPPED PENCILS DOWN THE ROOF AND INTO THE GUTTERS that angels in the sky would know what we wrote and the pencils and paper would disappear when the angels read them. We must have rolled 10-15 pencils down that roof that day before we got caught and then my parents found out so my dad had to grab a chair from the dining room table and bring it outside and stand on it and pick the pencils out of the gutters one by one and then we all had to go sit down to dinner and not a word was spoken, I wasn't punished at all, but the looks that were passed around, the silence around that meal. . . . I regretted it more than I had regretted anything in my life up to that day. And I remember one quiet night sitting in the living room, no lights on except for the Christmas tree, laying across Mackenzie's lap as she ran her finger up and down my throat rapidly to make my laughter sound like Spongebob's, which made me laugh even more. Or when all 3 of us sisters slept in the same bed one Christmas Eve night and she woke us up in the middle of the night to ask if we had heard the sleigh bells on the roof and we tried and tried to hear them, but couldn't, but we were so filled with anticipation we couldn't hardly sleep anymore that night. Wow. I miss that. Thanks for remembering all these things with me and I hope that gave y'all a little more insight into who I am. (FYI, I definitely did not finish this in 45 minutes.) Talk to you soon.
So, I'm going to be doing something a little different from now on. But don't worry, I'm not abandoning our study in Ephesians--I'm only adding more. You see, I was reading this blog for a couple months and it was definitely teaching me a few things, even more so than what I thought it would--than what it was supposed to. Not only was I learning about God and the author of the blog, but I was also learning a lot about blogging and how I might improve my own blog. So here I go.
I'm going to at least try to start writing more. When I started to blog on here, I didn't exactly have it in my mind that I would do it the way I have been--long posts that would take 4+ hours to write, edit, publish, and publicize. I was planning on having it filled with short, fun posts about life and stuff, as well as the long posts that I already have on here, which is the way the blog I was reading was written. I want my blog to be an assortment of all things me, brief or extensive, light or enlightening, all the things. I may even start putting pictures with my posts or give them actual titles! And I'm also super open to suggestions for things to write about, whether that be hobbies, favorite books, certain Bible verses, recipes, anything! Please don't be a silent reader (and that goes for everyone who reads my blog, whether I know you or not, whether you think it would be weird or awkward, don't overthink it, just let me know!). And you don't necessarily have to comment here on the blog, either! I know that the site requires your email and that's stupid and the comments on here are public so everyone would see and that's not cool. So if you don't want to comment on here, the blog is on social media, too (icons can be found here on this page). Private message me, comment on my posts, you can even email me! Pick your poison and speak your mind. I'm waiting.
I'm hoping to post at least once a week, because my mom has PT twice a week for an undetermined amount of time, which gives me an hour to sit around and write two days in a week--that's time that I definitely would not have cleared otherwise. I'm actually sitting in the center now as I write this! So I have hope for this blog yet. Also, normally when I write a post, I take an excerpt from it and post it in nice big letters on the Journal Entries page on here. But I'm not going to worry about that for my short posts, just long, planned out ones. But I will still post about them on the socials so you can still keep track of them. Cool? Cool.
So anyway, just wanted to let y'all know my big plans for this Suddenly, Grace community that we've got here. I'm excited! I hope you are, too. See you soon!
It's been 84 days since my last post on here. Nearly 3 months. A lot has changed. I went to long awaited church camp at the beginning of July, celebrated my 17th birthday while there, came home and saw my mom for the first time in 2 weeks, went to a missions conference later that month, started school the first full week of August, celebrated my grandmother's 75th birthday later that week, met my cousin's son for the first time, and continued getting back into the routine of school.
Smaller things that happened were watching as one of my friends met a boy that liked her, learning of a crush in my youth group, discovering that gelatin is basically ground-up animal (and then cutting gummies out of my diet), becoming closer with one of the girls in my youth group, starting a little youth-girls-sit-together-in-church thing, accidentally eating some meat (and being seriously mentally wrecked afterward), deciding what college I'm going to go to, starting my senior year of high school (!!!), watching my brother leave for California for the second time, and getting a few stains out of a brand new dress I got for my birthday--stains that essentially ruined the dress and wouldn't come out even after washing the dress 3 times WITH oxi AND stain remover. (I soaked the dress in hot water with oxi for about 3 hours and then washed it with nothing but detergent and the stains finally came out, which made me so happy, for real. I only got to wear that dress once, guys, and then my mom found a spot on it so I washed it later that week with the rest of my laundry--with oxi and stain remover spray--and then there were more spots. So then I washed it again on its own with a different detergent and some more oxi and absolutely nothing happened. So I threw it in my closet for about a week, upset about it, then showed it to my dad, so he tried washing it and again, nothing happened. So then back in the closet it went, but yesterday I decided to try one last time so I tried soaking it and it worked! And no, I have no idea how the spots multiplied. But whatever. It's all better now.)
I've really been looking forward to getting on here again, for multiple reasons, and so I'm glad that today the opportunity presented itself. I've got so much to say and I really don't know where to start.
I've heard people say how senior year is the best year and I'm kind of starting to get it now. My dad figured out that I didn't need to do a science class this year, so instead I'm doing high school electives to rack up my credits for graduation. And because I'm going out into the real world next year (and also because I'm not one of those math wizes that can multiply 654 by 82 in their head in 2 seconds flat), I'm doing business math instead of calculus. So instead of struggling through another year of science that I don't understand (nor do I want to learn) and math that would no doubt give me a headache just thinking about doing it, I'm taking the easier, more practical route that in essence makes my senior year way less dreadful. Plus the average time it takes me to get through a day's worth of school (for the time being) is probably around 3-and-a-half-ish hours, so that's definitely nice. BUT, I've only gotten through 3 and a half weeks of school so far, so there is definitely room for change. We'll just have to see.
But, you guys, don't be fooled. I know I'm making it out to seem like I'm living in a paradise with only a few hiccups along the way, but that's just because I'm not sharing the bad stuff (which, trust me, you don't want to know). The past few months haven't been easy at all. Sometimes I just have to stop everything I'm doing and get somewhere quiet so I can get my thoughts back in a line before I explode in either anger or sadness, effectively making everything worse. It's far from paradise--I'm just glad that most of the time the good outweighs the bad.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
I don't know who all reads my posts, but if you don't use the KJV version of the Bible, sorry, but I do. This is where I throw in a quick history lesson. The Bible has had many translations prior to KJV, many of them not actually English. In the early times of the written Bible, most literature of any kind (which written literature was hard to come by--this was before the invention of movable type when, if it was written, it was handwritten) was in Latin. However, not everyone spoke Latin. In fact, Latin was actually an uncommon language. And if you didn't speak Latin, the only way you had of reading the Bible was listening to a translator--a translator that made mistakes--read out to a congregation of people from the written Latin Bible, orally translating it into the common language.
Eventually, William Tyndale and John Wycliffe both worked at translating the Bible into English, a gigantic feat in their times. It's been said that it would have taken them over two years to complete such a work. And then when movable type was invented and brought over to England, the Bible was one of the first literary works to be printed. The person accredited to that shiny new translation of God's Word, the first complete English translation in print, is a man by the name of Miles Coverdale.
After many more different translations of the English Bible (the English in use changing and evolving as English itself was updated), different denominations making their own translations to be suitable in their eyes, King James I saw that the latest translation could be seen as offensive to certain people--people who believed differently. So he passed that another translation should be made, this translation known today as the King James Version. It was found to be acceptable to many peoples--not leaning toward any one denomination--and, of course, it was in the most modern form of English at the time, making it the most sensical translation yet.
Now that we know the (most likely flawed by me--if I got something wrong, don't say I didn't warn you) history of the KJV Bible, I'm going to state my opinion on this. I have only ever used, and will only ever use, the KJV version of the Bible. It's the oldest available version of the Bible, and therefore the version that is least subject to the opinions of today. I personally think that after KJV, people began to change the Bible in whatever way they saw fit. They could paraphrase and add in and cut out whatever they wanted to, according to what the people of the time wanted to hear.
And sure, you could say that the King James Version is 400 years old, get with the times, you can't even understand the Old English in KJV. But that's like saying to a journalist to write a historically sound column on the story of Jesus' resurrection and handing him the latest Bible movie as his only form of research. Would you read that column?
If you want to study and research something the right way, you go to the most original and accurate source possible. Not the paraphrased source that left some stuff out and threw in a few things because that's what supports the philosophy of today. So I read the Old English of KJV (the Old English that I have studied for a long time and understand quite well because of my studies) because I believe it to be the most accurate source. The version that is least subject to the opinions of today. The purest truth to be found. And I highly recommend that you read the King James Version as well.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood"
So, this verse has had a history of confusing me. People like to say that it's impossible to be righteous because of the desires and weaknesses of the flesh. That sinning is something that everybody does because it's natural--because we are fleshly beings. But this verse tells us that, in fact, it's not the flesh that we are fighting. So what do we believe?
I like to think that it's not in our nature to sin, despite what people say. Instead, I think that it's in our nature to follow God and listen to His commands and live in His will. But that doesn't make sense, right? If it's not in our nature to sin, then why do we do it without even trying? And if it's in our nature to follow God, then why do we have such a hard time doing that?
The answer is very simple: the Devil.
From practically the beginning, Satan has been there to ruin things for us. He was the one that put the idea in our heads to disobey God in the first place. So why shouldn't he be the one to make it easy for us to sin? And hard for us to follow God? I mean, yeah, our eyes being opened to good and evil certainly made it harder for us to be righteous. But think about it. It wasn't knowing of good and evil that was the sin; it was disobeying God. If God hadn't told Adam and Eve not to eat of that tree, would they have sinned? No. They would have eaten from it eventually (without the nudge of the Devil), and then they would have known of good and evil; but they wouldn't have sinned. And even after that, when they knew the difference between good and evil, it wouldn't have come naturally for them to sin. If anything, it would have come naturally to see the evil, turn away from it, and choose the good. Sinning didn't come naturally for them. They were coaxed into it. If Satan hadn't come along, Adam and Eve wouldn't so much as have questioned God's command. They would have naturally followed God.
Are you following me?
And for us? Some 4,000 or so years later? It's not really that much different. We grow up becoming familiar with the Devil's voice. As children, we don't think twice and we follow what he says. And as we get older, we understand more what that voice is saying and we begin to resist it. Sure, it's easier to just do what it says, because it's what we're used to. It feels like it comes naturally. But instead, we want to resist. Why? Because there's the other voice. The other voice that God gifted to us to help us fight. We want to follow that voice instead. Because that is the voice that we naturally want to hear. And that voice gets louder when we let God into our heart, when we begin to hear His voice instead and decide that that's what we want to follow.
So here in the letter to the Ephesians, when Paul says that it's not the flesh that we wrestle against, now we know what he means. Because we don't fight against the desires of the flesh; we fight against the desires of the Devil.
So, because this post has already gotten so long (thanks to my laundry tale and that not-so-brief history recap) and I feel like we actually did dig pretty deep into this verse already, I think I'm going to stop here. We'll continue studying the rest of this verse in my next post (whenever that's gonna come) and until then I hope that you keep thinking about what we talked about today--I know I will. Thanks for being patient as you waited nearly 3 months for this post to finally come and I hope you'll keep hanging around for a while to come. Until next time.
I have a lot to complain about. I could probably fill a book with the things that I would like to change, with the things that just, to put it simply, stink. But I also have twice that in things that I have to be grateful for. So that's where I put my focus today. Even though there are a lot of things I could wish I didn't have to do, I woke up today ready to change that habit and to carry on in thanksgiving. So let's see what good I have to say for this post.
I woke up today. There was electricity and shelter and A/C and I was in a bed with semi-clean sheets (amiright?) on a mattress that (praise the Lord!) no one else has slept on and is less than 5 years old. I had indoor plumbing available to me and a Bible to read with freedom and time to do so and I had food to eat and water to drink and vitamins to take and water and toothpaste to clean my teeth and a hairbrush to brush my hair and fresh clothes to wear and technology to get emails on so I could get a music list to practice on the keyboard in the corner of my bedroom so I'll be ready to practice tomorrow night at a church that I do not fear going to where good people will be so we can be prepared for the worship service in said church on Sunday where more good people will be. I had more food and more water and a turtle to take care of and dogs to take care of and family to be with and a dad to provide for me and a computer to be typing this out on while listening to the blessing of rain outside the window, no fear that the roof/ceiling will drip and/or leak, or even cave in, no fear of getting wet and not being able to dry off with clean, dry towels and put on more clean, dry clothes that are not old. I have access to everything I need and on top of all of that I have a God who will hear my thanks for these blessings and will continue to deliver them to me, though I do not deserve them and never will. This is what I woke up to. This is what I have to be thankful for.
And then there's the little things. I have mobility. I can chew and swallow my food. I have hair on my head. I am not in pain. I have nail polish on my fingernails on my fingers on my hands on my arms. I am in my home. I can see. I can hear. I can smell. I can taste. I can feel. I can breathe.
I am healthy and alive.
What an amazing thing to have woken up today. What an amazing thing to have a God that woke me up today.
Ephesians 6:11 - "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
Last time we talked about strength. This time we'll be talking about armor.
"Put on the whole armour of God". We'll talk more extensively about the armor of God later, so we're just gonna skip that part for now.
JUST KIDDING. Number one rule of Bible study: NEVER skip a part just because it doesn't go along with what you're studying right then. Because it does. Obviously it does, because it's there, isn't it? And every part of the Bible is there for a reason.
So, this line right here does not lead directly into the listing of the armor, as it is followed rather by a list of things we fight against as Christians.
NOTE: As you can see, the date for this post is the 5th, and today is the 6th. Everything I wrote above is from the 5th, and much more that was lost due to the rain mentioned above. I had just finished a long post and was just going through it, adding and taking away where I thought it needed it, when suddenly more than half of it disappeared, followed shortly by the internet going out. So, unfortunately, a lot of hard and long work was lost yesterday and I'm going to try to follow this up with a disappointing second try of the rest of this post. And if you know anything about what I'm talking about, than you know that it will never be quite as good as the first time. *SIGH*
So, this line right here does not lead directly into the listing of the armor, as it is followed rather by a list of things we fight against as Christians. But that just goes to show that we do not need to know what the Armor is to realize it's importance. All we need to know is that it's from God and that we are to utilize it.
There are many times in the Bible where God asked something of someone and they did not know what God had in mind; what exactly His plan was. The story I'll be using here is the one of the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus 14. The story begins with God telling Moses to lead the Israelites to the edge of the sea where they would set up camp for a while. But God also informs Moses that He would harden Pharaoh's heart against them and that Pharaoh would then follow them to the sea and trap them there. And Moses does as God says, all of the things above coming to pass. The Israelites did not know that Pharaoh would trap them at the water's edge (and good thing for that, might I add) so when Pharaoh and his army come into sight, they panic and beg Moses to pray to God to save them. Moses reassures them and then prays to God, to which God responds that Moses raise his rod before the waters and part the sea.
We all know the story. But what many of us don't know is Moses' faith behind the story. Moses knew that he and the Israelites would be trapped between the water and Pharaoh's army; but Moses did not know that God would give him the ability to part the waters. Did you get that? Moses knew the events that lie ahead, but he did not know how they would be delivered out of them. No doubting, no hesitation, not even a, "Are You sure, God?" He fearlessly followed God's commands in faith.
Paul mentions the Armor here, even though we don't know what it is. Though here in Ephesians there is no miracle, no peril, and no prophet, it is the same story. Instructions are given and, despite the ignorance of reason and outcome, we are expected to follow in faith. If it has God written all over it (and the Armor literally does), trust that it's God's gift and that it's meant for you.
And let's not forget that one little word that precedes "armour" everywhere you find it in this passage. Whole. "Put on the whole armour of God" (emphasis mine). Not one part of it. Not just a few parts of it. The whole thing. We can learn from this single word that if we don't have it all, we may as well not have any of it. Though we don't know what it is yet, if we undermine one section, it will not be as strong as it should. If you leave a hole in a structure, it will not be as stable as it should. If you leave a crack in the foundation, it will not last as long as it should. If you forget a part of your armor, it will not protect as it should. We need to wear the whole Armor.
"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
"That ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Here is the first little bit of information that we get about the Armor: putting it on will help us in our stand against Satan's attacks. We are constantly under attack. And we have no chance of winning a fight against Satan without God. We cannot defeat such a strong power without a stronger power (the strongest power) in our arsenal. The terrible truth is that Satan is real, and he never rests, and he will never stop wanting us to reject God. But with that comes the wonderful truth that God is real, and He never rests, and He will never stop wanting us to reject Satan. So God gave us His Armor so we can "stand against the wiles of the devil."
So what exactly is Ephesians 6:11 telling us?
"Put on every part of God's Armor, not yet knowing what it is, but knowing that it's meant for you, so that you can put up a good fight against Satan's attacks."
First thing I'm gonna do is give you all a follow up on the few things I put on here in my last post. Let's see, I have been working on my driver's ed, though definitely not as much as I should. But I'm down to 3 more modules and I've reached the 84% mark on the course! So that's progress.
I did finally start looking into colleges and it's surprisingly not as hard as I thought it would be. In my mind I just imagined it to be a long list of options (seemingly never ending), not being entirely sure what I wanted to look into studying, and also not sure what type of college I wanted to attend. Looking at that, that's pretty much going off of nothing, which is why it freaked me out so much. But then I decided definitively what I felt I should study, what type of college to look into, and also the general location. So with those issues settled, it gave me a lot more peace when it came to actually researching colleges and requesting information and so on. So I did get some stuff done there and I feel a lot better about it now.
I'm still looking forward to the upcoming summer trips with my church, but not quite so desperately as before. I was just wishing time would speed up so I could just get the summer out of the way, but now the summer is actually starting for other kids because school is being let out all around and I just wish time would slow down because I'm losing that extra time I had to get ahead of some things and these trips are nearing all the more quickly.
And I haven't died yet. As I said, I was way more stressed out about that stuff than I am now.
I survived filling in as lead (somehow) and I never thought I would miss my fellow pianist so much. I'm so glad he's back and that I'm sitting in my rightful place again.
I think we've mowed our grass twice since last time I was on here, but it still keeps raining.
I did, in fact, put away with my comforter and now I'm down to a Snuggie.
I'm still driving my mom everywhere, but my grandfather is coming over again next week to help with that a bit.
And I found a vegetarian Worcestershire sauce and my mom bought it for me and came home one day and surprised me with it and I never thought I'd be so happy to receive Worcestershire sauce but anyway, I'm okay now. But still. Why.
Moving on to the current festivities, here are the things now arising:
There are, like, a thousand things I've been meaning to get on here and write about, but then the list got so long that I forgot all of them, but I think that has something to do with what God wants me to do.
A while ago I decided that I was going to do a little series in my posts about the armor of God, studying together what they are, what they do, and how to use them. But then I just kept finding things more pressing to write about and therefore putting it off and even forgetting about it all together. BUT I've really been meaning to get into His Word a lot more and I think that this will be a really good way to start. So I guess we're going to start working on the Armor of God.
First, I'll put the Scripture. This Scripture is one that I have been reading daily for I don't know how long and that's kinda why I thought I'd do this mini series with y'all, because the more I meditated (I know, sounds weird, but that's really the exact word to use here) on these verses, the more I realized about them, and I just thought I'd share that with you.
It's in the letter to the Ephesians, final chapter (chapter 6) and starting in verse 10:
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Okay, so even though the list of the articles of the Armor of God starts in verse 14 and ends in verse 17, I wanted to include verses 10-13 and 18 because they have a lot of importance here, too. And so what we'll be focusing on today is verse 1.
So if you haven't already (and even if you have) I strongly recommend that you read through the book of Ephesians as we work through this small portion of it. Ephesians is one of my favorite books of the Bible and I can't say enough good things about it, so please just consider reading through it and trying your best to learn from it, because, trust me, there is a lot to learn from it.
Okay, so, Ephesians was allegedly written by Paul (though some believe that one of the disciples working with Paul wrote it after reading and in accordance to the letter to the Colossians) supposedly while he was in prison. This Paul is the same as the Apostle Paul, previously known more largely by the name Saul. Paul's/Saul's story is one that's worth reading as well as we go through this study together and it can be found through nearly the entire book of Acts, starting at the rear end of chapter 7 and continuing to the end of the book.
So here in verse 10 Paul begins to finish out his letter to the Ephesians with the "finally". One thing that I love about this verse is how Paul doesn't just say "brethren" like you'll see in most other books in this section of letters in the New Testament written by Paul (see 1 Corinthians 16:15; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Galatians 6:1,18). He says "my brethren" (emphasis mine). In this letter Paul adds a bit of a personal element for the Ephesians that he doesn't usually include in his letters, which shows us something. This tells us that Paul is either personally close with the Ephesians in a way he is not with the Corinthians or the Galatians, or he is trying that much harder to put an emphasis into this letter, or maybe even both. He is essentially saying in this that he cares for these people and he wants for them to hear what he is saying. And not only to hear, but to listen.
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."
"Be strong in the Lord". There is a big difference between personal strength and strength found in the Lord. Personal strength comes when you can beat it on your own and you only need a moment to realize it. Strength found in the Lord comes when you cannot beat it on your own and you just have to trust that God's strength will be what gets you through it.
A long time ago I was struggling in math to the point of tears. They were giving me problems that I was having a hard time understanding, much less solving, and they were giving them to me in boat loads. What I needed then was not strength found in the Lord (though that does come in handy on all occasions). I needed personal strength. I needed to take a moment and realize that I was capable of completing the work--difficult or not--and do it. I needed to realize my strength and stop concentrating on my weaknesses.
Being strong in the Lord is what you do when you cannot be strong on your own any more. It is what you do when you have gone as far as you can and it's time to let God handle the rest. Being strong in the Lord is realizing your weaknesses and concentrating on God's strength.
So when Paul says this, he's not just saying to live in the shadow of God's wing, letting His strength keep you strong. He's saying to let God be your strength. Give it over (and I mean all of it) and let God handle it. Don't hold back. Don't try and take it back. Let it go and leave it there and let God be your strength.
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."
"Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." The power of His might. What does that mean? Isn't being strong in the Lord in general enough? And if not, how do we go further?
There's God's might. And then there's the power of God's might. If we were to just be strong in God's might it would probably be fairly similar to being strong in Him. It's simply adding to it that we need to not only remember that God is greater, but also that He is mighty. God is strong and He is mighty. To be strong is one thing, but to be mighty? Might is and always will be greater than strength.
But the power of His might? Yes, God is mighty. But how mighty? Are there varying degrees of might? I would like to think that Paul's use of the word "power" here is indicating 2 things: 1) That God's might is the greatest of all. He is the mightiest. The Mighty of the mighties. 2) God's might is powerful. POWERFUL.
Not only is God strong and mighty, but in that lies power. And that power is what Paul is referring to here. Not only should we bask in His strength and might, but we should delve into the power of His might and see exactly what it can do. Test the waters. See how big the waves can get.
So what is Paul saying to the Ephesians here?
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."
Here's what I think we should learn from this today:
"Lastly, my brethren, those for whom I wish the best and those who I hope learn so much from this, live in the Lord. Let Him be your strength. And live in His power. Remember that He is greater and powerful and mighty and strong, and let that be your foundation. Let Him be your life."
Wow, I did not anticipate that I would spend over two hours writing this, or that it would turn out so long, or that there was so much to learn from just 15 words. But I wouldn't trade this for anything. I'm so excited to explore this small portion of God's Word with you and I hope you are, too. Until next time.
I've been struggling to get myself back on here. School was a really good excuse to give myself for not writing another post, but now I'm done with school and I have been for two weeks as of today. Another reason would be that I haven't been feeling super confident in my spiritual standing, but that's also been improving, so. . . *shrug*. But, hey, I'm on here now, aren't I? Besides, I'm pretty sure my, what, 2 or 3 readers haven't really been missing me too much anyway. Maybe that's why. I don't have a whole lot riding on this blog, so, yeah.
So anyway, I just did the thing where I read my previous posts and I spotted something recurring in all of them. I'll say only a few things about myself, usually an apology and excuse as to why I haven't been on here for a while, and then move right on to the mini devotional, sometimes apologizing for making any of the post about me. But I'm just thinking about this; blogs are SUPPOSED to be about the blogger. That's what blogs are for: people talking about themselves. So I'm gonna try and fix that a bit, making the mini devotional no less important, mind you.
Okay, then, let's see what I have to say.
As I said, I finished school. That in itself was like letting out a breath that I had been holding in for 8 months. But then I took another deep breath in and realized that this summer was not going to be simple. I just finished my junior year. I have one more year of high school and then I'll graduate. So what will I do with my summer, besides the obvious given stress? Here's a short list:
Something else to say is that my grandpa is unexpectedly spending a few nights over at our small house due to an also unexpected few nights spent over at the hospital by my mom (long story). So that's nice.
A few more small things are:
Lately I've been thinking (I know, shocker). There are bad words. Some people (like me) have a sort of scale to tell which words are worse than others. And yet here I stand finding it far too easy to spot these words on the internet, in books, or just hearing them as I walk past someone in a public setting. And here's what I don't get:
If people say that certain words are bad words, why can I hear them or read them without even trying? Why can people say these words in every other sentence despite the fact that they were most likely raised being taught that they were not to be said?
I know that this is a very touchy subject, but I seriously could not care less because I want to say this and I want whomever will read this to hear it.
I think I may understand it on some level. It's like the faulty choice in knowing that you can sin and still be forgiven no matter how much you sin so you're just gonna keep living life in sin. Someone may say a bad word one day and feel terrible that it slipped, but then it accidentally happens again and again, so why stop fighting it? If you can't beat them, join them. If you can't win the game, change the rules. These words that you once thought of as bad become common vocabulary.
Or maybe you hang around the wrong people and they use these words, so why shouldn't you? If it's okay with them, it's okay with you. And if you talk like them, maybe they'll accept you more. Like you more. These words that you once thought of as bad become common vocabulary.
There's just something so wrong about that that it's been rubbing me the wrong way for a while now. Why, under any circumstances, should something that was once bad become acceptable? It's just like smoking, drinking, doing drugs, no-marriage relationships, abortion, same-sex marriages, gender dysphoria, the list goes on. Why do standards change?
I guess my point in this is that we Christians need to avoid that. Our standards must not change. What the Bible says is bad is what is bad and the Bible does not change. And neither should our thoughts on it.
So, yeah. Stay in school, kids.
I'm not really gonna write a post this time. What I am gonna do is put on here an excerpt from a book that I recently had to read for school. But don't worry, it's not boring. This book was actually quite enjoyable to read (advantage of being home schooled with a Christian curriculum)--at least to me, a person who enjoys reading. But anyway, it's from the last chapter of In His Steps by Charles M. Sheldon. I really hope that if you find what I'm about to type out on here good for the soul--which I did--that you look into reading the book. It's not that long, really. Read this with an open mind and heart:
Pastor Maxwell had planned, when he came to the city, to return to Raymond and be in his own pulpit on Sunday. But Friday morning he had received at the Settlement a call from the pastor of one of the largest churches in Chicago and had been invited to fill the pulpit for both the morning and evening services. At first he hesitated, but finally accepted, seeing in it the hand of the Spirit's guiding power. He would test his own question. He would prove the truth or falsity of the charge made against the church at the Settlement meeting. How far would it go in its self-denial for Jesus' sake? How closely would it walk in His steps? Was the church willing to suffer for its Master?
Saturday night he spent in prayer, nearly the whole night. There had never been so great a wrestling in his soul, not even during his strongest experiences in Raymond. He had in fact entered upon another new experience. The definition of his own discipleship was receiving an added test at this time, and he was being led into a larger truth of the Lord.
Sunday morning the great church was filled to its utmost. Pastor Maxwell, coming into the pulpit from that all-night vigil, felt the pressure of a great curiosity on the part of the people. They had heard of the Raymond movement, as all the churches had; and the recent action of Dr. Bruce had added to the general interest in the pledge. With this curiosity was something deeper, more serious. Pastor Maxwell felt that also. And in the knowledge that the Spirit's presence was his living strength, he brought his message and gave it to that church that day.
He had never been what would be called a great preacher. He had not the force nor the quality that makes remarkable preachers. But ever since he had promised to do as Jesus would do, he had grown in a certain quality of persuasiveness that had all the essentials of true eloquence. This morning the people felt the complete sincerity and humility of a man who had gone deep into the heart of a great truth.
After telling briefly of some results in his own church in Raymond since the pledge was taken, he went on to ask the question he had been asking since the Settlement meeting. He had taken for this theme the story of the young man who came to Jesus asking what he must do to obtain eternal life. Jesus had tested him. 'Sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.' But the young man was not willing to suffer to that extent. If following Jesus meant suffering in that way, he was not willing. He would like to follow Jesus, but not if he had to give so much.
'Is it true,' continued Pastor Maxwell, and his fine, thoughtful face glowed with a passion of appeal that stirred the people as they had seldom been stirred, 'is it true that the church of today, the church that is called after Christ's own name, would refuse to follow Him at the expense of suffering, of physical loss, and of temporary gain?
'The statement was made at a large gathering in the Settlement last week by a leader of workingmen that it was hopeless to look to the church for any reform or redemption of society. On what was that statement based? Plainly on the assumption that the church contains for the most part men and women who think more of their own ease and luxury than of the sufferings and needs and sins of humanity. How far is that true? Are the Christians of America ready to have their discipleship tested? How about the men who possess large wealth? Are they ready to take that wealth and use it as Jesus would? How about the men and women of great talent? Are they ready to consecrate that talent to humanity as Jesus undoubtedly would do?
'Is it not true that the call has come in this age for a new exhibition of Christian discipleship? You who live in this great sinful city must know that better than I do. Is it possible you can go your ways careless or thoughtless of the awful condition of men and women and children who are dying, body and soul, for need of Christian help? Is it not a matter of concern to you personally that the saloon kills its thousands more surely than war? Is it not a matter of personal suffering in some form for you that thousands of able-bodied, willing men tramp the streets of this city and all cities, crying for work and drifting into crime because they cannot find it? Can you say that this is none of your business? Let each man look after himself? Would it not be true, think you, that if every Christian in America did as Jesus would do, society itself, the business world, yes, the very political system under which our commercial and governmental activity is carried on would be so changed that human suffering would be reduced to a minimum?
'What would be the result if all the Christians of this city tried to do as Jesus would do? It is not possible to say in detail what the effect would be. But it is easy to say, and it is true, that instantly the human problem would begin to find an adequate answer.
'What is the test of Christian discipleship? Is it not the same as in Christ's own time? Have our surroundings modified or changed the test? If Jesus were here today, would he not call some of the members of this very church to do just what He commanded the young man, and ask them to give up their wealth and literally follow him? I believe He would do that if He felt certain that any church member thought more of his possessions than of the Saviour. The test would be the same today as then. I believe Jesus would demand--He does demand now--as close a following, as much suffering, as great self-denial as when He lived in person on the earth. Jesus said, in essence, that unless we are willing to suffer for His sake, we cannot be His disciples.
'What would be the result if in this city every church member should begin to do as Jesus would do? It is not easy to go into details of the result. But we all know that certain things would be impossible that are now practiced by church members. What would Jesus do in the matter of wealth? How would He spend it? What principle would regulate His use of money? Would He be likely to live in great luxury and spend ten times as much on personal adornment and entertainment as He spent to relieve the needs of suffering humanity? How would Jesus be governed in the making of money? Would He take rentals from saloons and other disreputable property, or even from tenement property that was so constructed that those living there had no such thing as a home and no possibility of privacy or cleanliness?
'What would Jesus do about the great army of unemployed and desperate who tramp the streets and despise the church, or are indifferent to it, lost in the bitter struggle for the bread that tastes bitter when it is earned on account of the desperate conflict to get it? Would Jesus care nothing for them? Would He go His way in comparative ease and comfort? Would He say that it was none of His business? Would He excuse Himself from all responsibility to remove the causes of such a condition?
'What would Jesus do in the center of a civilization that hurries so fast after money that the very girls employed in great business houses are not paid enough to keep soul and body together; where the demands of trade sacrifice hundreds of lads in a business that ignores all Christian duties toward them in the way of education and moral training and personal affection? Would Jesus, if He were here today as a part of our age and commercial industry, feel nothing, do nothing, and say nothing in the face of these facts which every businessman knows?
'What would Jesus do? Is not that what the disciple ought to do? Is he not commanded to follow in His steps? How much is the Christianity of the age suffering for Him? Is it denying itself at the cost of ease, comfort, luxury, and elegance of living? What does the age need more than personal sacrifice? Does the church do its duty in following Jesus when it gives a little money to establish missions or relieve extreme cases of want? Is it any sacrifice for a man who is worth ten million dollars simply to give ten thousand dollars for some benevolent work? Is he not giving something that cost him practically nothing so far as any personal suffering goes? Is it true that the Christian disciples today in most of our churches are living soft, easy, selfish lives, very far from any sacrifice that can be called sacrifice? What would Jesus do?
'It is the personal element that Christian discipleship needs to emphasize. 'The gift without the giver is bare.' The Christianity that attempts to suffer by proxy is not the Christianity of Christ. Each individual Christian businessman and citizen needs to follow in His steps along the path of personal sacrifice to Him. There is not a different path today from that of Jesus' own times. It is the same path. The call of this dying century and of the new one soon to be is a call for new discipleship, a new following of Jesus, more like the early, simple, apostolic Christianity, when the disciples left all and literally followed the Master. Nothing but a discipleship of this kind can face the destructive selfishness of the age with any hope of overcoming it. There is a great quantity of nominal Christianity today. There is need of more of the real kind. We need revival of the Christianity of Christ. We have, unconsciously, lazily, selfishly, formally grown into a discipleship that Jesus Himself would not acknowledge. He would say to many of us when we cry, 'Lord, Lord,' 'I never knew you!' Are we ready to take up the cross? Is it possible for this church to sing with exact truth,
'Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee'?
If we can sing that truly, then we may claim discipleship. But if our definition of being a Christian is simply to enjoy the privileges of worship, be generous at no expense to ourselves, have a good, easy time surrounded by pleasant friends and by comfortable things, live respectably and at the same time avoid the world's great stress of sin and trouble because it is too much pain to bear it--if this is our definition of Christianity, surely we are a long way from following the steps of Him Who trod the way with groans and tears and sobs of anguish for a lost humanity; Who sweat, as it were, great drops of blood; Who cried out on the upreared cross, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'
'Are we ready to make and live a new discipleship? Are we ready to reconsider our definition of a Christian? What is it to be a Christian? It is to let Jesus live through us. It is to imitate Jesus. It is to do as He would do. It is to walk in His steps.'. . ."
Every time I get around to writing another blog post, I go back and read my previous one. What I've learned in all of my, oh my goodness, years of writing (How have I been writing for years? And how am I only just realizing that now?) is that it helps to feel what you're writing if you read through what you've already written.
I've recently posted two chapters in my story that I've been publishing chapter by chapter over on the Stories page. It's very easy to get out of the routine of writing. You can sit for hours in one place diving into a fictional world that you're creating all in your head, word by word. And then you can go to sleep and wake up the next day and do the same. But if you wake up with a drive to write and are forced by your to-do list to ignore that drive, it goes away. Quickly. So then you sit down to write but all that comes out is yuck, yuck, yuck. I can't publish this! Delete, delete, delete. And then all that hard work is wasted. So you don't write at all. Writers' block. It's a terrible thing.
Anyway, where was I? Oh, a good way to avoid writers' block and yuck, yuck, yuck is to reread what you've already written. It's hard to just jump back into the middle of a story.
So what do you do to avoid that? Go take a few steps back and relive it. Feel that sadness again, that sting, that excitement. And then you can continue on, feeling what you're writing.
Why did I just tell you all that? Well, I don't really know why I told you all of that, but here's why I said some of it: because I just read my last post again. And I don't remember writing the half of it.
All that stuff at the end, and in the beginning, and in the middle? I don't know where any of that came from. I'm not wise or philosophical or whatever. Clearly, I mean, really, I just used the word "whatever". But I wrote that.
There is no way I'm taking the credit, though. If I just made this blog all for me, no little devotionals in every post, it would probably be full of junk. Now, I'm not just saying "junk" because I'm Texan, which is a pretty good reason. Everything's junk 'round here. I'm saying it because that's exactly the write word. It would all be worth nothing. To you or to me. In objective thinking, it's all a waste of hard work without God. So what do I do instead? I write what isn't mine and then read it again before I write again. I do it every time. Because it keeps me feeling what I'm writing. And feeling what you're writing is how you write what they call "best-sellers."
I have no idea what you could possibly be getting out of this post if you're not a writer, which most people aren't outside of essays and checks. But this is what I'm saying to you now.
This is very important. If you plan on doing anything for the Lord in your life, this is one the most important things you can remember. When you do something that's for God, or, like what I'm doing now, for you and others in the name of God and involving God, you must realize when it's your masterpiece or God's.
A lot of what I've written here on my blog, especially what I've written in my story, is my masterpiece. It comes from my talent (which, yes, comes from God), my knowledge, my hard work, myself. But what I wrote that I know I don't know (how confusing), that's God's masterpiece. When He works through you in what you do, what you say, what you write, that's His. And you can tell. You know that you could never have done that, known that, on your own, from and in your own strength. That's God. And, oh, the joy, that's wonderful. If you can see that in your life, He's using you. How amazing is that? Little ole you. And God saw that you were willing, you were ready. Little ole me. God saw that I was doing this, writing, and doing my best to do my best. So He intervened and used me. Little ole me.
And while on that subject, before I finish this up, I'm going to go a little deeper.
If you're anything like me, you can feel insignificant a lot of the time. But this being the beginning of the new year, I began to read my Bible through for the fifth time in my life (Don't mean the toot my own horn, but toot toot.). I'm in Genesis now (Duh, it's the beginning of the Bible and we're two days into the year.) and so I read about the Creation yesterday. And here's what really struck me: that one phrase that's repeated over and over again. "And God saw that it was good." This got me thinking yesterday. If God, the amazing Creator that not only created but also designed and devised everything in six days, saw what He created and called it good, why should He stop? After all this time after the Creation, when He still creates human beings every day, why should He stop calling it good? He shouldn't. So here's my conclusion:
We should never, ever think of ourselves as insignificant. God chose to create us. He made us the way we are. He has not forgotten us. And one more thing.
"God saw that it was good."
This week was Thanksgiving week. I got the entire week off of school (Yay!) and I went down state to visit my grandparents for the holiday (and also because my mom's birthday was yesterday, so she wanted to see her family). I had a cool week that ended in decorating the house with Christmas decorations. It's been nice.
And now we get back into the routine of school, work, doctor's appointments, all that fun stuff. But I'm okay with that. Because routine is good for me, keeps me on my feet. And also because I only have to do four weeks of school before the two week Christmas break that I'm already looking forward to. But enough of that talk about routines and breaks and blah, blah, blah, et cetera.
The Monday before last (the 12th) I challenged myself. I didn't plan it or have all the rules written down in my official rulebook beforehand. I just kind of woke up that morning and thought I'd give it a shot.
My pastor has challenged my church to do it multiple times, actually, but I'd always failed either because I didn't even try or simply because I forgot about it immediately. So I knew that it had to be good for me. (I mean, why else would my pastor challenge the entire church to it if it wouldn't benefit us in some way?)
I challenged myself to pray. No, that's not all, and yes, I do actually pray daily without challenging myself. I dared myself to pray without asking. For anything. At all. Whatsoever.
Just hearing it like that seems almost impossible. How can you think of anything to pray if you avoid asking? For anything? At all? Whatsoever?
Well, at first it wasn't easy. I was constantly catching myself trying to say "And, God, please. . . ." and then thoughtfully turning it to "And, God, thank you for. . . ." This was the secret. Changing my greediness into gratefulness. My prayers into praise.
I was having a hard time with having things that I actually did need to pray for, though. Things like family and church members, especially the ones that I had personally promised I would pray for. I was so worried that my lack of prayer for those around me might somehow end in an irrevocable depressing demise of a loved one. But, praise the Lord, God gave me wisdom about that. He showed me, once again, something that He had already taught me countless times. Something that I've even talked about here on my blog. He reminded me that He already knows the desires of my heart. I don't need to ask Him to watch over my family. Why? Because I've been praying for that for years on a day to day basis, because He knows my thoughts before I think them, because He already watches over my loved ones without me having to consistently request He do so. He taught me that all that needed to be prayed was "God, you know my concerns. You know what I wish of You and what I'm trying my best not to ask of You. And I thank You for that."
I learned something so valuable in this challenge, and, boy-oh-boy, I pray I can help you to learn it too. Even though I may challenge myself to refrain from it, or just forget to pray for it, we pray it through our praise. God hears what we request in what we thank Him for. Allow me to give you a few examples:
Try changing your "God, bless this meal. Nourish it to my body, my body to Your service." into "God, thank You for this meal. I thank You for providing it to the nourishment of my body that I might serve You."
Or try changing your "Father, get me through this day. Help me to equip the fruit of the spirit that I might serve You through my actions today." into "Father, thank You for another day to serve You. I promise to do my best at applying the fruit of the spirit that You've given me to serve You through my actions today. And thank You for blessing me with the fruit of the spirit."
My point is, as I said in my last post, God blesses the efforts of those who love Him. If you try to refrain from asking and instead give thanks, God hears your praise and blesses the things You thank Him for because You've actually taken the time to thank Him for it. So why don't you give it a shot? It teaches you so much more than what I've already mentioned.
I'm gonna be frank with you. I'm a Jesus freak. And not just because of the fact that I'm a regular church goer and I own a Bible. I'm a Jesus freak in the fact that I care. I care about my relationship with God. About trying to read my Bible and memorize Bible verses and read good, encouraging books about things like prayer, and faith, and blessings. I care about trying to be around Christians, about trying to hear the words of the songs that are sung at church every Sunday, I care about trying to be a good Christian friend.
Sometimes it can weigh on me so much that I wonder why I cared in the first place. I have to really think about it sometimes because it can feel so much like a pointless task. And with that, I look around and see the kids in my youth group coming to church just because it's the thing to do. I can't even express how badly I wish I had a friend my age that cared as much as me, a friend that I could just talk about God with for hours because He's unmistakably worthy of those hours spent bringing glory to Him. A friend that has the same priorities as me, the same life goals, the same motivation.
I want to be that annoying girl that can't stop smiling, won't stop thanking God for everything. That sees God in every situation and circumstance, that sings with her whole heart during worship because He has been so good to me. I want to be a blessing just because I'm a Christian.
So, now that I've been totally transparent with you, I want you to think. Not about how honest I just was or about how I'm one of those hard-to-find teenagers that actually care. I want you to think about yourself. To zero in on what you know to be your priorities, your life goals, your motivation. What gets you out of bed in the morning? Is it your job? Your family? Your school? What do want to do with your life? Do you want to change the world? To make money? Or do you just want to live a simple, white-picket-fence life?
If you are just living by the books--trying to survive just to survive--then (and I say this as kindly as I can) you're doing it wrong. Now, hold on a second before you start thinking that I'm judging you because of how you choose to live your own life. Just think about it. Would God have put you on this earth just to live a normal, invisible life? Do you think it was His plan to put you here in your life just to fill an empty space? I refuse to believe that.
I choose to believe that you are here to make a difference. That I'm here to make a difference. Even if only to have written these very words that you are reading is my purpose, then I rest in knowing that I have done what God has planned. BUT, because I don't know what my purpose on this earth is (rather than to glorify God through my life)--or if I have more than one purpose--then I will wake up tomorrow and live like I have not fulfilled that very thing. Every day that God gives us carries an opportunity, even if that just be to live for Him.
So, as I approach the point (and the end) of this post, I encourage you, every day when you wake up, to reevaluate what you live your life for. Because if the answer is not God, then how is God supposed to work through your life? All I ask from you is that you get on the wagon, get in the boat. Join me as a Jesus freak (I could use the company).
And if you're questioning everything that I'm proposing to you now, wondering if it would even be worth it--if it would be too much work--then just say yes. Do it. I promise you it's worth it. God abundantly blesses those who love Him, those who care. And on top of that, what do you have to lose? Is trading a few minutes of social media or games to read a chapter in the Bible really that costly?
I send out a text to a few of my friends six days a week. This text is what I like to call a Daily Message. It consists of things like quotes, bible verses, song lyrics, etc. that always revolve around God. So if you're not already on the list of recipients and you'd like to be a part of this, you can contact me through any one of the social media icons found on the right or at the bottom of this page and I can email or PM you through the social media site--or if you know me personally you can text me and I can add you to my list. If you are making the decision to say yes to caring, then this would be a great kick-starter for your resolution. I hope it will be an encouragement to you.
Okay, so, hi! Sorry, sorry, sorry about how long it's taken me to post again. I just can't find time to do anything these days. I think back to the day that I built this site, how I spent hours just sitting there picking out pictures and fonts. And now I can't even set aside one hour a day because it's so chaotic around my house.
School is starting for everyone, teacher friends are going back to work, once-high-school friends are going off to college, and I'm just struggling to get through my third--wait, fourth? Oh, I can't even remember--week of school. All I know is that yesterday was the second day in all of the three--four??--weeks of school that I didn't have to study for a test the next day. Even the second day of school I had a test.
Okay, enough ranting about time (or rather the lack thereof). I am so glad to be getting back to this nice website that I've been ignoring. No, wait. Ignoring? Nah. Putting off? Yeah, that's more accurate. I've been putting off writing a new post like I've been putting off plucking my eyebrows--for a while, even though I really need to. SO, here I am, trying my best to be funny, light, totally tubular, all the things. Unlike my story that I started writing--hey, if you haven't looked it up, pop on by and check out the Stories page here on my blog! I've already got chapter 1 all cued up and ready to go!
So, ignoring the quick advertisement I added in here just now, moving on. I. AM. STRESSED. Are you stressed? Probably. As I said earlier, school is back in session and, man, is it bringing a hurricane along with it. We are all swept up in a tornado of To-Dos, yawns, and "Wait, what's today?"-s. I wouldn't even be surprised if you're dozing off right now while reading this. I'm nearly dozing off writing this.
Okay, my point. . . . Ah, yes. While we may be slowly drifting off into the oblivion of sleep, somehow we still manage to think about everything we still have to do. For me the list isn't too bad for tonight. But then there's tomorrow. The huge, daunting mountain of the dreaded tomorrow. Why don't we all join together in a nice, long uuuuuggggghhhhh. Why me? Why this? Why now? The questions, the tasks, the complaints, they all swirl around in our heads over and over again until our brains become a sea of mush that we like to call exhaustion.
So, where am I going with this, you ask? You may have guessed it. God. God is somehow, someway, still imbedded in our minds in this sea of mush. He is trying to swim His way to the surface so He can catch our attention. Let us know He's still there. In all of this chaos, God is still here. Isn't that amazing?
That big Guy that lives in the sky? Yeah, He loves you. A lot. And I mean a lot. Think about it. 7.5 billion people on earth and here He is, sitting beside you as you read this. Who would even care beside Him?
I know it's a huge cliché. But seriously. God loves you. I just want you to know that. Today. Tomorrow. And every day after that. And it gets even better.
All that stress that you've got winding your muscles into tight knots, giving you that headache, keeping you up at night--He cares about that, too. He wants you to be happy, and with that He doesn't want you to be stressed. How does He propose to fix that? By taking it away? Yeah, that's kinda exactly it. He wants to take it away. Remember in my last post when I said that literally everything that we have is His? That we have absolutely nothing that belongs to us, and us alone? Your stress is His as well as yours. God feels what you feel. He designed it that way so that He'd be able to relate to you more as His child. When you feel bogged down by your responsibilities, He feels that with you. And He knows the way it makes you feel, because He feels it with you. So why wouldn't He want to take it away? Why would He decide to turn the other way and leave all of that stress on you? It's your life, after all. It's not His problem. Right?
It is His problem, because you are His and everything you have is His. When we decide not to share that burden of stress with God, not to put half (or all!!) of it on His shoulders, we are essentially insulting Him. Telling Him that He shouldn't have what's His. That He shouldn't be doing what His sole purpose is.
What I'm saying is that we don't need to have stress. Sure, there are definitely things to be stressed about. But let God stress about it for you. He's really good at it. After all, He does feel what you feel. He knows the immensity of what is happening in your life that causes that stress. He knows just how important what you are stressing about is. So, yes, He will do it justice. He will stress better than you've ever seen someone stress before.
I've been going back and forth about what to make my next blog post about all week and I finally decided this morning. . . then I forgot. So, scrap that.
First, I just want to explain why I'm just now posting again after nearly a week of launching the site. You see, there's this perfect word to explain it all--busy. I've been busy. You may be thinking, "Busy? How can a homeschooled teenager be busy in the summer?" I wonder the same thing all the time. How can I possibly be busy? But somehow I am. Here are a few things that may help my cause:
Basically, I do have a life, surprisingly enough. And life takes time, apparently. So I'm busy.
Anyway, since I put a mini devotion at the end of my last post, I'm kinda just gonna stick to that and make it the closer for all of my posts. So, something about God. . . .
Okay, so, there's this really cool passage in Philippians. Philippians 4:4-8, look it up, highlight it, underline it. It's a great set of verses. I read it every day.
Basically, it's one of those places in the Bible, kinda like in Proverbs, where every individual verse has it's own message to convey. Always rejoice in the Lord; Be gentle and let others see God in you--He's watching; Care about nothing, but make your requests known unto God--worry about nothing, pray about everything; God will give you peace beyond all understanding; Let your thoughts dwell on things above--things of virtue and praise. But what I want you to focus on is verse 6. "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."
I went to church camp at the beginning of July and this verse was preached on. That would be where I got "worry about nothing, pray about everything." Read that again. And again. Worry about nothing, pray about everything. We struggle with that in every aspect. I don't know about you, but worrying is pretty much all I do. In one way or another. You may be thinking, "I don't really worry. I'm a cool, calm, and collected person." Think again. We. Are. Human. Just catching a cold can rock our world. Of course you worry. We're weak and dependent on God, so He gave us worry to remind us that no, we actually can't handle this on our own. But even then, after we worry and worry about that one thing that just won't resolve itself, we're still too distracted to realize that, wait, I have no reason to worry. We have no reason to worry! Why can't we get that through our thick bird brain skull? We need to worry about nothing and pray about everything.
Prayer can be difficult, believe me, I know. What do you say? How do you say it? I've got news for you. You say everything. And you say it as if you were talking to your best friend, your spouse, your favorite sibling. Tell God everything. Talk about your day, that grumpy old lady that ran you over with her shopping cart at the grocery store, that cute cat that you saw on the side of the road, that super nice cashier at the gas station. God wants to hear everything. You may be thinking, "But God sees everything. Why would He want to hear me relay it all?" Because you are His child. He loves to hear from you! And He hasn't gotten a chance to hear it from your perspective.
So I finish with this: worry about nothing, pray about everything. I've given you good reason to do just that.
Side note: Sorry about all the "You may be thinking. . ." psychic stuff. What can I say? It's been a long day.
So, to put it simply, I've been told many times that I'm a talented writer. That I have a gift. Basically, I'm good at finding the right words and making the bad situations humorous. I've seen it myself, actually. A memory came up on my social media a couple months ago and when I looked at it I was kinda shocked. "I wrote this? How is it so good?" I thought.
Anyway, I've been going on a lot of trips this summer and that apparently leaves me more philosophical, because my social media posts are coming out way cool. I put something up last night and my friend texted me and told me how much she loved it and how I should start a blog. . . . Well, I'm sure you're beginning to see the connection here. I have spent all day getting this blog together, and let me tell ya. . . it's hard. Serious cudos to people who do this everyday in half the time it took me. But I'm so pleased at how this turned out, my blog is beautiful.
So, here I am trying out blogging. I'm excited to see where this goes, if people actually read it, if I actually have stuff to say. I seriously have trouble thinking of anything cool about myself, but after all, I have a life that I live everyday. Just like everyone else. And my life is awesome! God has blessed me with nutritious food to eat every day. Clean water to drink and bathe in. Not to mention that water comes from indoor plumbing. I have an indoor, too. Shelter over my head. Air conditioning/heating. Electricity. I'm only scraping the surface here, and I've already mentioned so much that has given me a simple and easy life. I can't keep up with the blessings I'm given every day, they're so plenteous. Counting them is impossible.
Okay, before I make everyone (including myself) feel awful about how they don't praise the Lord Almighty ever day for the simplest yet most precious things, let me get one thing straight. We. Are. Distracted. By life, by family, by work, by school. Distractions are everywhere. And it's not our fault that we're distracted. Because fault is good. Fault is what drives us to improvement. What reminds us that we are not perfect, but that God is. Fault is good. Being distracted is something of Satan. He uses our routine to pull us away from God. We get caught up in the mundane and it draws our attention away from the miraculous. So forgetting to thank God for our cold soup and 2 carrot stick lunch during a busy work day is fine. We just need to make sure that we come back to Him at some point or another. While we shower. While we drive. While we eat. While we cook. While we rest. Just take time for Him when you have time.
Thank you for being here and reading the start up of my blog. Let me know how I did and where I can improve. I'm not really sure what the main idea of this post was, but whatever. This was fun.
Table of Contents:
What Team Are You on?
My College Visit
Feel the Need, Fill the Need
New Year Resolutions
What I Learned
December 22nd, 2019
August 28th, 2019
June 05th, 2019
May 14th, 2019
April 11th, 2019
February 02nd, 2019
January 02nd, 2019
November 25th, 2018
October 15th, 2018
August 23rd, 2018
August 01st, 2018
July 26th, 2018