Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reflections on 2015

2015 was a year of new experiences. It was year of some good times. It was a year of difficulties and lessons learned. 
2015 was one of those years that helped to mold and define me more as a person.

2015 showed me these things:

1. There is a lot of hate, pride, murders, and materialism in this world, but....
There were many times this year that I felt as if I were losing my faith in humanity. I would see all the things people would say or do to their fellow man. 
I also saw many of my Brothers and Sisters come together pray for a young man with cancer. They prayed for the family, friends, of a woman who had been murdered. They prayed for a little boy under that woman's care who had been kidnapped. Who, thank the Lord, was found safe. 
 I saw people pray for a family who lost their child too soon. I  saw people "paying it forward". I saw a photographer giving people's stories to the world. They helped us become more empathetic and understanding. I saw the generosity of our community to my foster sisters on Christmas. Many came together to pray and help a  world  in turmoil.
I have  to remember that the best thing I can do is pray. Pray for the people being hurt. Pray for those doing the hurting. 
Change starts with me. I need to take the opportunities to do good and speak up about the Gospel. I need to take these opportunities and not look the other way.
In 2016, one of my resolutions is to reach out and do good at every opportunity. If I want to love as Christ loved, I must to be willing to humble myself. I must become a servant.

2.     Perfection is Impossible. 
In the Jan-May semester this year, my grades were less than desirable. After the semester was over, I felt horrible. I began to doubt myself again because college has been difficult for me. I was determined to do well, and was heartbroken to hear my final grades for that semester. 

My family and friends reminded me that it was going to be OKAY. They reminded me that my grades don't define me. Sure, I messed up. But I learned what I can and can't do as a college student. As a result, my grades this past semester were ten times better. 

The only thing I can do is my best, and to keep strive to push the boundaries of what I think is my best.

In 2016, I want to stop being afraid of mistakes and embrace them. I want to use them to be better than I am now. 

3. Life is so Fragile.

So many things, including my Grandfather's passing, made me take a hard look at how I was spending my time. How much good are we doing for the world? Are we spreading the Gospel? Are we allowing fear to hold us back? What is holding us back from spending more time in prayer or in God's word? I want to stop looking for excuses why I don't have time or can't do these things. 

In 2016, let's do more good for the world. Let's love more instead of talking bad about others. Let's study God's word more and pray more. 

4. I Want Christ, not our society's Americanized version of Him.

Materialism. Obsession with politics and parties. Comfort. I want to have those removed in my daily walk with Christ. I want to look at scripture and actually see what He says without them. I want no part of this cheapened "Christianity".

In 2016,  I just want to live the way God intended-my eyes on Him. I want my first thought to be to serve Him when I wake up. I want His word to guide my steps. Not our society's mindset.

5. I Don't Want to Be Held Back by Regrets and Anger

I am sure all of us have regrets we can't seem to break away from,  and memories we can't erase.
In 2016, I don't want my focus to be on the past. I don't want it to be on everything I have done wrong. I want to keep moving forward and let these regrets go.

This year, and the past few years have taught me some difficult lessons.  I have survived another year. Lord willing, I will have another. Each year, each month, and each day is our opportunity to do good. This time is God's gift to us. Are we using it wisely? Are we really giving Him our all? 

Tonight I will bring in the New Year singing with my brothers and sisters in Christ. That is how I want to end every year, and start every year. God brought us through it, and He will be with us through another one.

May God bless you in the New Year. I also pray that you will seek Him with all your heart!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Have we Lost the True Meaning of Modesty?

What is modesty really about?
It is an important question that needs answering.  I believe that the main purpose of modesty is being pushed to the back burner. Nearly every lesson I have heard  uses this as the main argument for modest dress: “Women, if you don't dress modestly, you will make men lust!”  
First, let me emphasize that I believe in modesty. I believe it is important. However, we have made lust the forefront of the issue. Which, it actually isn't.
I do not claim to fully understand how my brothers struggle. I am also not denying that modesty helps them out some with this sin. 
Which leads me to this: the main reasons for modesty are not because of lust.
So, the big question is this: What does the bible say about it?
“…likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” (1st Timothy 2:9-10.) (emp. added.)
 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” (1st Peter 3:4-5.) (emp. added)
In 1st Timothy it says for clothing to be “respectable”. It is to have “modesty” and “self-control”. The Greek word for “respectable” in this verse is the word Kosmios. This word means “Orderly and virtuous”.  
I looked up definitions for “modesty” and “self-control” as well. These words are saying that our clothing doesn't need to be super flashy. Clothing can be immodest by either wearing too little, or even too much. 
God expects us to dress in a tasteful way. A way that makes sense with how you are trying to live. Modesty allows our works and hearts to speak louder than our dress and appearance. That is the biggest reason behind modesty based on scripture. 
Here is why lust is only a small part of the equation.  Even if pants aren’t tight, you can still see the shape of a woman’s legs or behind. Skirts can reveal the outline of a woman’s hips. Some skirts reveal calves. Lots of men find legs sexy, even if women are covered to the knee. Some women are so blessed up top, that no amount of coverage can make their breasts non-existent. Often times, the female form itself is just enough, no matter how well-covered. Some women have very curvy figures that are difficult to hide.  Hey, some men even find modest dress sexy. 
It is impossible for women to figure out every little thing that could make a man lust.  It varies greatly from man to man. I don't think God intended for women to bear that heavy of a burden.
Modest dress is only an aid-not the answer-to lust. That is a whole other topic in itself. We need to remember the MAIN reasons for dressing modestly: 
1. Allowing our focus to be on developing our virtue and relationship with God over appearance. 
2. To allow our works and our hearts to speak louder than our outfit.
We must be careful how we tread with this issue. Too many girls have been given the idea that their bodies are bad.When we make this issue mostly about lust, many girls begin to see their bodies as something to be ashamed of. If we aren't careful, can give them the false impression of why God wants us to be modest in the first place. 
To conclude, if you can keep those standards in mind, it should make it easier to know what God has in mind for dress. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

God's Side? Or America's Side?

Patriotism has been rooted in our nation since it began. Citizens of the U.S. from day one have had a great amount of pride in our nation.
People often try to merge ideas of American Patriotism, or  man-made principles with scripture. When you really think about it, some of these ideas don't actually jive with scripture at all.
Before I get into the heavy stuff, I want to clarify a few things. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with a healthy love for your country. Nor am I saying that there is necessarily a problem with saying you are proud to be an American. Nor am I saying that we should never be involved with politics in some way.
I want you to consider these next few questions with an open mind.

1. Are we quicker to think of ourselves as American citizens before being members of the Lord's body?
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession. As a result, you can show others the excellencies of Him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light." (1 Pet. 2:9.)
"And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever," (Daniel 2:44)
We were chosen by God to be a part of something greater than a worldly government or kingdom. We are a spiritual nation, and each one of us is spiritual royalty! The truth is, until Jesus returns, all nations will fall eventually. We aren't going to last forever. Our nation as well as others were formed by men. God Himself created the Church, His kingdom. This means His kingdom will endure forever! 

2. Are we quicker to defend the constitution and nation before the Bible and God?
"For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12.)
"See that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." (Colossians 2:8.)

3. Do we obsess over trying to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is on our side in regard to politics?
How can we possibly gauge that? The truth is, the two biggest political parties hold beliefs that are not in line with biblical principles. The bible says nothing on political-economic issues, except on one issue. We are to pay taxes and be respectful to our governing authorities. This will be explained further on in the article.
Abraham Lincoln famously once said, "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side. My concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right."

4. Do you spend more time bashing our enemies or political leaders than you do praying for them?
"First of all then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way." (1 Timothy 2:2)
(This includes celebrities...and yes, even our President and Congress.)

5.  Do you spend most of your time debating politics, or telling others about the good news of Christ?
This is pretty self-explanatory. Why wouldn't our first thought be to evangelize?  American politics isn't the Good News. Actually, it is pretty much the opposite.
"And He said to them, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation.'" (Mark 16:15)

6. Do we rely too much on the government to help the poor and needy? Or do we get our hands dirty to help these people? On the other hand, do we fight for less government involvement? As a result, do we do little to nothing to help the poor?
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." (James 1:27.)
"Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."(Luke 12:33-34)
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,  I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’  Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:41-46)
The past few years, I have been rethinking a lot of things about politics and my role as a citizen of the United States. I am still avidly Pro-life, and stand for traditional marriage.  Those are things that God has been clear on. Where God stands, is where I stand. The rest are just opinions. Whether you agree, everything else pales in comparison to our duty as Christians. 
Our job as Christians is to be about God's business, plain and simple. Our first thought when we get up should be how we can serve God that day.
Here is what I know the bible says about politics:
When asked by the Pharisees whether it was right to pay taxes to Caesar, Jesus said, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and render to God the things that are God's." (Matt. 22:21)
Money came from the government. Therefore, the money goes to the government. We are to pay our taxes and to be obedient to the government (unless they tell us to do something against God's word).  (Romans 13:7.)
1 Peter 2: 13-15 says: "Be subject to the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people."
Romans 13:5 says: "Therefore one must be in subjection to the authorities, not because of possible punishment from God, but also for the sake of conscience."

God never gives us an exception to the rule. God means what He says.  In everything else we are to respect the government, and be good, law-abiding citizens. Also, if we have opportunity, we should try to influence the government peacefully and respectfully. 
 I want to serve God. I want to be what he needs me to be.  I want to read scripture in the way He intended me to, without the pollution of worldly ideas.
I love our nation, but in the end, my true citizenship is in heaven.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Time, Precious Time.

Losing a loved one is one of those things that everyone reacts to differently. Each one of us experiences it and grieves differently.

My sister and I came home last Friday evening. We knew that this would most likely be my Grandpa's last weekend alive. When we came, he was unresponsive.  On Sunday, at around 11:20 a.m., my Grandpa, Dalton Mansel, lost his battle to cancer and went to be with God.

We spent most of the weekend at his bedside. We talked and reminisced with family. We cried and laughed. We held his hand. We gave him morphine and other medications to keep him comfortable. Saturday night, my sister and I sang hymns to him, such as “Farther Along” and “Amazing Grace”. I don’t know if he could hear them, but I know that if he did happen to hear them, he would have loved it. I know he enjoyed listening to us sing in church whenever we came for a visit.

The moment he passed Sunday morning was a surreal one. I had woken up at around 9:00 a.m., and had had eaten breakfast and talked some with my Aunt Gail. That morning was a blur up until the moment he passed. We kept constant vigil, as his breathing became more shallow. Then, I saw it. He breathed his last. It has been difficult for me to process this moment. It has left me with all kinds of emotions I didn’t, and still don't entirely know what to do with.

It was humbling. Oh, how feeble we are. Oh, how quickly something like a tumor can take the breath from our lips. We try not to think that one day we are going to die. Especially as young people, we don’t want to think about it.  You get a different perspective when you are there with a loved one until the moment they pass.

My Grandpa and my Grandma (who died five years earlier) got it. They knew that life is temporary, and what it’s really about. It’s about God. My Grandpa was a minister for some years, and helped to spread God’s word. Later, he was an elder, and taught bible classes. My Grandma Carolyn served and gave her all in everything that she did.  My other Grandfather, Russell Butcher, loved God with all his heart. He was so loving and kind, and spread that love to everyone he came in contact with. I can never repay them for the love they showed me, and the example they set.

What are we doing with the precious time that God has given to us? Our lives are so short. It’s been said before, I will say it again: we can die anytime. Anywhere. Jesus could come back at any moment. Are we ready for the moment our heart stops or when we hear that trumpet blast? We don’t know when either of these things will occur. We must be ready.

How much time do we spend complaining, when we could be on our knees in prayer or doing something to change it? How often do we walk past someone who needs help and could use a little love? How often do we say, “I’ll pray later.” Or, “I’ll read my bible later.” And it never gets done? Why are we so negligent when it comes to things that actually matter? These things matter so much more.

The bible says, “…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14.)

It also says, “Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but my words shall never pass away. But concerning that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the son, but the Father only.” (Matt. 24:35-36.)

If there is anything that I have been reminded of the past few weeks, it’s this: Life is short, and uncertain. What are we doing with our time? I want to be a hard worker for the Lord until the end. What about you? Will you give Him your all?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sharing our Blessings

The saying, “Better eat your food. There are children starving in Africa!” had always puzzled me.  I often questioned what starving children in Africa had to do with whether  I ate the food on my plate or not.  Today it occurred to me what that saying means. It was one of those humbling "AHA"  moments.

I found myself in Freed-Hardeman University’s Premiere eatery of cuisine, Gano. (Okay, so ‘premiere’ is a stretch-a huge one.) Their food isn’t amazing, but some days are better than others. One section in Gano serves international food. I  am a big fan of Asian cuisine. On days that they have it, I usually get some just to see how it is. Normally, they do it pretty well.

Yesterday they had sweet and sour chicken. When I sat down to eat it at dinner, I studied it for a moment.  The thought crossed through my mind that I would hate to waste this if it didn’t taste that great. I took one bite, and, it tasted pretty good.

But then I began to question my own thought of throwing the food away if it was bad.

It is amazing how much we take for granted in our country. Our food is no exception. If something tastes bad to us, we can just throw it out. We have the liberty to do that if we want. We have options, and choices. We can eat pretty much anything we desire. There is an unlimited supply of food in our nation. 

I have never, ever gone without food in my life. Granted, there have been times growing up where we ate off of soups, or beans and rice for a few days to save money. But never did we go without. I have never experienced a night where there wasn’t food on my table of some kind.

It hit me that the saying about the "starving Children in Africa" is about being thankful. People who are starving elsewhere in the world would give anything to have the food we are wasting.

Let’s face it; as a nation, we are so wasteful and ungrateful. We have so much that we don’t even know what to do with. The majority of people in our nation are able to buy so much food. When we cook, we often have stuff leftover to eat. Often, the leftover food goes untouched and ends up going bad and never gets eaten.

 We have so much more than most people in the world could even ask for! Pretty much everyone has electricity. We have running water. Access to medical care should we need it. We have things to keep us entertained-books, movies, music, and television galore! Most of us have more clothes than we know what to do with. We have a great military that protects us.

All the “good things” in life we have come to expect, and  feel  entitled to are not permanent. Nothing in this world is permanent. Are we focusing on what actually matters? Do we realize just how lucky and blessed we are? Why do you think so many people are trying to come here right now?

So many Christians, Jews, as well as Muslims are seeking refuge in Europe or even here. ISIS is threatening and murdering innocent people and their families. People in Mexico are trying to bring their children here because the government has become so corrupt. People in Africa are still suffering from various illnesses and starvation. The world is suffering. Many of us are so focused on our own small-potato problems to care or try to help in some kind of way. We mostly focus our prayers on self or on local issues. What about the rest of the world?

When will we stop being selfish and use our blessings to benefit those who need it? God never meant for us keep our blessings to ourselves. If we have blessings, we are supposed to share them with others.

Jesus means for us to share our blessings and to love others indiscriminately. We can use all the excuses in the world not to not help the needy. But, in the end, they are still just empty excuses that pale in comparison to what God has commanded us to do.

James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

Galatians 6:10 says, “Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

I also remember Jesus’ chilling words in Matt. 25:41-46: “Then he will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and His angels. 
For I was hungry and you gave me no food. I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink. I was a stranger, and you did not welcome me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 
Then they also will answer saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you? 
Then He will answer them saying, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did not do it to the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
How often do we spend our lives sitting in worship talking and singing about helping the world? Then, for some reason when someone in our world is suffering, we ignore it or turn up our noses.

We think things like...
We don’t want them in our country. 
We don’t want them around us. 
We don’t want to help those that won’t help themselves. 

Again, this is pure selfishness, and not in line with  God's commandments.

Truth is, God told us to love others and help them. I cannot even begin to tell you how many people I have heard of being led to Christ because of LOVE shown to them by Christians. What about the people in the world we are so skeptical to help? When we help others, we open up opportunities to share the Gospel with them as God has commanded us to do.

 When we choose to love them, it opens up doors for them, and us. I’m tired of not spreading my blessings around to those who need it. I want to reach out to others in love and help them and not worry about their background. Jesus did that, no matter their background, race, religion, or monetary situation. Why don’t we do it too?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

It's Okay to be Sensitive...

If you are an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), I’m sure you’ve had people tell you to toughen up.  I'm sure you've  been ridiculed for being moved by something that seems insignificant.

 People say things like, “I don’t know what you’re getting so emotional about. It’s not like we can do anything about it!” You may have also encountered dishonesty because others didn’t “want to hurt your feelings”.  (When the truth is, it hurts more when you find out about their dishonesty.)

Being sensitive is often considered negative in our society. You are usually expected to always be tough, strong, and independent. Many consider sensitivity to be a weakness.

In some ways, we do have to learn to adapt and toughen up in some situations.  Yet, I want to make the point that there is nothing wrong with your sensitivity. It can even be useful in Christ’s cause. There is nothing sinful or  wrong about it. It’s just you being you.

This year, Disney/Pixar released the film Inside Out. The film was about personified emotions living inside a girl named Riley’s mind. Their names were Joy, Anger, Sadness, Disgust and Fear. Joy, the emotion who put herself in charge, does everything she can to keep Riley happy and joyful. She rarely lets Sadness do anything, and doesn’t see the purpose in having her there. Sadness has a tendency to be glum, pessimistic, and lethargic. But Sadness is also intelligent, intuitive, and empathetic.
Sadness. She can't even today.

Throughout the movie, Joy begins to see that Sadness has her place. Sadness had the ability to empathize with and comfort others. She could help Riley connect with her loved ones on a deeper level. We can learn things from our sadness, and all our emotions. This includes how we express our emotions and comfort others.
Sadness comforts Bing Bong.

This mirrors real life. People who are sensitive are also often  empathetic. They feel what others are feeling, and can be incredible comforters and encouragers.  People who are sensitive can change the world. 

Barnabas was an encourager, and was loving to his brethren (Acts 4:36.) Jeremiah wept for his people who had fallen into sin (Jeremiah 13:17.) People who feel deeply can do great things for God and for the church. If you fall into the category of “bleeding hearts”, guess what? You’re in good company.

While we have this sensitivity, we must be careful to not let it rule us. Sensitivity can lead to cowardice and dishonesty. We must fight to develop a thicker skin to keep moving forward in Christ’s cause. We must continue to hope and trust God that he will not leave us. With that knowledge, keep using that big, beautiful heart to change the world!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Response to the video "Dear Fat People"

Dear Nicole Arbour and other Fat-shamers:
I weigh 320 lbs. at 5”8. Yes, I know I am obese. Yes I am big. Yes; I know that the weight I am at is unhealthy. But you know what? I LOVE myself and my body anyway.  The reason I love myself is because of this: God loves me and crafted me with his bare hands (Psalm 139:15.)

I have NEVER been skinny. Even when I was little, I was chubby. Certain emotional issues and health issues have led to me being the size that I am. There are so many reasons a person could be obese, and guess what? It is NOT your place to judge someone and make the assumption that they are that way because, well, food.

 I was so hurt by the description of how you acted towards that family at the airport. The way how you described how grossed out by that kid and his parents you were screams shallowness.

I have already admitted that my weight is unhealthy. But you know what? I am taking steps to correct that; but you would never know that. Based on your behavior at the airport and in your “comedic” video, you would be too busy judging me to try and figure that out.

Fat-shaming does exist. The argument you made about fat people crying discrimination because they can't f fit in a door was lame. Bullying someone because of their appearance is a real thing. It has happened to me. It came in guys telling me things like, “you are ugly n fat.” Others whispering about how disgusting I was. If you can’t admit that it happens, you are either a liar or live under a rock.

As a child I dealt with the loss of a parent. I was shunned as a child and made fun of by peers for my appearance and other things. I hated myself. Later on, I developed depression and OCD. I would cut myself as a way to punish myself for not being good enough. I would eat to ease my stress. I handled my issues in an unhealthy way.

Yet, despite all this, God has been caring and looking out for me. He saw more in me than what I could see in myself. That is why I love myself and love others: because He first loved me. Jesus, despite my brokenness, hurt, and imperfections, LOVES me!  It is because of Him that I came to this point of loving myself and wanting to do more to take care of my body.

Let me make this clear: you cannot always judge a person’s health by their clothing size. And, no, plus-size does not ALWAYS mean “plus diabetes” or “plus heart disease", as you put it. There are so many plus size models and women who eat well and exercise. They are sizes 12-20 and are perfectly healthy. And, yes, bone structure and thickness can and does play a part in what size you are.

 At the end of my life, it will not matter if I was fit. My sole purpose in life is to honor and serve my God. My Lord and Savior cares more about my heart than my appearance.  I am to love others first, no matter what they may look like.

Nicole, I don’t understand why you said the things that you did. Truth is, what you said was not funny. Telling people “not to eat” is not funny. There are so many impressionable, hurting girls who already hate themselves enough. They don’t need to hear that garbage disguised as “comedy”.

 Talking about how disgusted you are with fat people will not encourage them to change. It actually has the opposite effect. The more you berate them, the more they see themselves as worthless. The worst thing you can do is call them "ugly" or "disgusting". For people dealing with emotional issues/disorders, those are the the last things they need to hear! In the end, those words are nothing more than verbal abuse-even if your intentions appear to be good.

Girls, you are beautiful no matter your size! Why? Because God made you and He loves you so much! He ADORES you. If you gave Him that chance, you could see that for yourself. Even if it seems that your heart is too broken, He can mend it. He can take your life and make it something beautiful.

To Nicole (and others like her) I don’t know what religion you are, or if you even claim to have one. I have to wonder if you  understand what love is. The bible describes love in this way: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy. It is not proud, or boastful. Love does not behave rudely. It is not selfish. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not rejoice in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things. Believes all things. Hopes all things. Love never fails….” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8.)

This is what love is; not the feeling. Love is action in a way that is gentle, kind, thoughtful, and honest. Christ displayed this love in all that he did. Let’s face it and be blunt about it: There was no love in your video. End of story. I hope and pray that you will learn what love actually is and that you will find Jesus. He loves you, too. He loves everyone despite the fact that we fail Him everyday. You never truly know what love is until you encounter His love and what He did for you.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Dear Future Husband

Dear Future Husband:
If you get down on one knee, it is because you fit the qualities I have been looking for. I am not wanting perfection, but there are things I expect.
If you make it to this point, it will be because you respected me. When I set physical boundaries, you didn’t manipulate me to go further. I trusted that you would encourage purity for both of us. And you did.
If I say yes, it is because you will be the spiritual leader I need. I want and need you to pray with me. I  need you to pray for me. I want you and need you to study God's word with me. When we have children, I want to know that you will show them God's loveI need to know that you will lead us to Christ.
If my parents walk me down the aisle, it will be because you respected and loved them. They helped shape me into the woman I am today. They taught me about God, and encouraged me. 

If you disrespect your parents (especially your Mom), I will wonder if you will respect me.  Family conflicts are inevitable, but I know you will handle them in a Godly way. 
If I vow to submit to you as the spiritual leader of our home, it will be because I trust that you will love and respect meIf issues arise, I can trust that you will work them out with me. I can trust you won’t walk away from me when problems do come up. You have held my hands. You held me close during difficult times. You never belittled me for my feelings. You were honest in telling me that you disagree; but you never made me feel like I couldn’t open up to you.
Lastly, if I say ‘I Do’, it is because I can see, with your whole heart, that you love God.  I can see it in the way that you worship God. I can see it in the way you treat other people. I can see it in the way you realize you have made mistakes, and try to make it right. I can see it in the way God rules every part of your life.
In the end, what I want is a spiritual leader, best friend, confidante, and lover. I believe this is what God intended for marriage. I know that while it won’t be perfect, I will know I have found the love of my life.
Much love,

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Let it Go!

This past summer has been pretty stressful and crazy.  Stressful because I was feeling  anxiety about this upcoming semester. When you've had as much difficulty as I have had in school, it can be easy for your mind to start being uncertain.

Last semester didn't exactly turn out the way that I had planned. Granted, I have some good memories from last semester. Yet, there are some things that I did that I will never do again at school. Not bad things, but not realistic for me and what I am trying to achieve.

When I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to go to college, but I had no idea what in the world I was going to do. When I started off at a local tech school, and then later on at an online college, things did not go well. I had so much trouble with school and my classes, that I ended up convincing myself that I wasn't capable. I told myself that I would never go back, and that it wasn't worth it.

 Sometime after I left beauty school, confused about my life. I felt disoriented and not sure of where to go next. Thankfully, God showed me the way through a job I had. Not only that, but through my sister who convinced me to give college another go.

During my first semester at Freed-Hardeman, I did better than I ever had before. That showed me, that yes, I am capable of doing this. And then, this past semester while I didn't do as well as I would have liked, I know what went wrong and I'm determined to fix it. I know that I can do this, because I have done it before.

I say all this to bring this up: regrets, mistakes, they are all inevitable. We are human and prone to these things. I have made some really dumb decisions in my life, but there is nothing I can do about them now. Where they were just silly human mistakes, I learned from them. Where they were sinful in nature, I asked God for forgiveness, and learned from them. 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Life is way too short to have regrets looming over our heads; especially in regards to sin. If you've repented and asked God for forgiveness, we should find joy in that fact! Our God has redeemed us! (Eph. 2:8-9, Phil. 4:4.) 

The longer we allow regret to consume us, we won't be very useful to God in His kingdom. We will eventually bear no fruit, growth stunted by a 'why bother?' attitude (John 15.)  In the words of Elsa of Arendelle, it's time for us (and myself included) to...