25 Days of Christmas (Day 22)

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(Day 22) Jenson Jones (and Joel Thomas)

“If Jesus is the lamb of God and Mary is Jesus’ mother, did Mary have a little lamb?”

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25 Days of Christmas (Day 19)

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(Day 19) Abigail Thomas

“Last year for Christmas, I went to Nina’s house (points at me) and umm it was very fun because we have close family across the street and umm we just all come together at her house and her mom is a very good cook.”

Learning how to love yourself

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Is love something that we are born knowing how to do?  Is love really a choice?

I learned late in life that writing is a lot about learning how to edit, and this is exactly what I’m doing to do in this post.  It started as a post about learning how to love, period.  But now it is a post about learning how to love oneself because this is something I feel a lot of people fail to do.

I grew up most of my life believing love was something natural, something we were born conditioned to do.  And I believed even more strongly that the ability to love was not a choice.  I didn’t love my family because I choose to love, I loved them because I just couldn’t feel anything other than love for them.  Now that I’ve grown up, somewhat, I’ve come to some sort of conclusion.  Loving someone isn’t simply a choice or not a choice.  I know this because sometimes I force myself to show love to people, this is me making a choice.  But there have been times when I’ve been so hurt that all I’ve wanted to do is hate someone, but still I found myself loving them.

There are times when loving people feels so hard.  My mom will say or do something that upsets me and the idea of showing love in that situation seems impossible.  There are times when I find it really hard to love myself.  It doesn’t make sense but sometimes the most hurtful things are not said by strangers, they are thought by ourselves.  We fail to recognize the power and authority held in words, even when these words are said to ourselves.  The bible tests to this fact as well.

Proverbs 18:21 – Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

In the above verse we are taught that life and death are in the power of our tongue!  This doesn’t just apply to what we say to people we love, this is found in the words that we tell ourselves.  The devil is a liar.  To anyone who has ever thought that they were meaningless, that their lives were meaningless or that they are alone- do not believe that lie.  Your body is the temple of God!

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

This is how precious we are!  And we are never truly alone in this world, never at all.  The amazing thing about God is that even if everyone we ever love leaves us, we always have him.  This is something we can put our hope and trust in regardless of circumstance.

I mentioned this in passing earlier but love can also not feel like a choice.  I find myself unwilling to let go of some friendships because regardless of pain I may have felt, I still love that person.  With the same token, sometimes it make feel like we don’t have a choice in how we feel.  Although I believe this is somewhat true- we always have a choice. We may not be able to dictate the way we feel, but we can choose the way we act on these feelings.  This is even more true in regards to how we respect ourselves.  Please, love yourself enough to respect yourself.  If you are feeling hurt by someone or something, remove yourself from that situation.  And if you are hurting yourself, please learn the value held in your life.

The saddest thing for me to think about is the fact that so many people fail to see how amazing they are.  Those people who can be told time and time again that they are beautiful but fail to see it!  If you are someone like that, please just take a second look.  Give yourself a second chance.  Because you are valuable and you are loved.  I can guarantee it.

Everyone feels sad sometimes

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It feels odd to write down, but it’s so true.  Everyone feels sad sometimes.  I don’t know why I imagine that I am the only person who feels the way I do when I go through rough patches in life.  Sometimes that sadness can seem engulfing and the scariest thing in the world to do is to address what I’m feeling.  The bible says that there is a time for weeping and a time for rejoicing.  But all I want to do is rejoice!

I’m sure that there are lots of people who feel the same way that I do.  I don’t want whatever situation I’m going through to burden others.  I don’t want other people to know that I’m experiencing pain.  And I imagine that everyone really is exactly the way they appear to be on the surface.  But nothing could be farther from the truth.

Absolutely everyone we meet in life is facing his or her own battle.  And this is all the more reason to love and to love like never before.

My mother was the first person to make me realize this.  She told me to be kindest to the people who seemed the meanest.  Because when you stopped and took time to get to know them, it’s like peeling an onion!  There are layers and layers underneath and everyone has a reason for being the way that they are.

In particular she told me there was a woman who she saw daily who seemed to hate her.  It’s so hard to love those who hate us.  The bible can vouch for this fact.  But she told me that when she learned of the pain this woman experienced in her life, she suddenly understood the bitterness.  She understood it instantly.  And her love for this woman was not in vain, now they’re actually really great friends!

The perfect biblical model for this kind of compassion is embodied in the life of Jesus.  He looked at the defects and the outcasts of the world and somehow he chose to love them.  I guess he saw us in a way that we cannot even see ourselves.  It’s funny because sometimes it’s not even people who are putting these labels and ideas on us.  We do it to ourselves.

If there is anyone like me, who is reading this, please know that you’re not alone.  Sometimes I feel so sad tears feel like tiny needles shooting from my eyeballs.  Or so angry that my veins will burst!  Or even so happy and loved that I imagine my happiness is contagious.  We are not our emotions or our temporary feelings.  Feelings change.  And we are never ever really alone, never at all.

Hope

People are born inherently selfish.  At the end of the day, all that matters is me, myself and I.  It’s a sad but necessary truth to come to terms with.  I see it in my everyday life; I see this in myself.  As much as I want to believe otherwise the truth is so clear.  Think about it.

In our friendships we care about how we feel.  Would we really continue a friendship with someone who really needed us if being friends with them made us feel bad?  I sincerely doubt it.  I don’t even blame myself for feeling this way.  There have been so many times when I’ve known a friend has needed me, but I have thought about myself instead.  I think about how I feel and whether or not I am being benefitted.  I think about whether or not I will be hurt.  It takes every ounce of love in me not to be this person who I so desperately want to be.

This has been my life’s story.   I feel like so much of my life has been spent struggling with understanding the person I want to be and the person that God wants me to be.  I never wanted to be the Christian girl.  It was a stigma I had avoided as early as possible.  But that is what I am and I am now proud of it.  So much of my time is spent struggling with anger, jealously and pettiness.  This is the person that I want to be in the moment.  This person who feels her blood boil in rage because of whatever reason.  The type of person who only cares about myself at the end of the day, as sad as that may be.  The type of person who I want to be, in the moment.  The person I desperately try not to be.

I sometimes don’t want to be around people.  I do not want to love.  Love is a choice.  I know it because sometimes I choose to love.  But despite everything that I have said, God still sees me and he loves me.  He knows that I am imperfect, petty, angry and sometimes just mean.  God knows this but somehow he loves me so much.

God is selfless.  So selfless that he gave his very own son to die on the cross for our sins.  He chooses to love us knowing our every downfall.

That is why I have hope.  I hope in a world filled with misery and shame.  So much pain and violence and hurt- yet I still have hope.  I have hurt so many people and I have felt so hurt but the only thing I know I can cling to, is my hope.

I remember hearing a song once that said just this.  “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteous”

Where is your hope built?

Beginnings (The Bible)

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The History Channel aired their first episode of a new series called, “The Bible” today.  My Sunday School Class planned on showing us the episodes but a week behind schedule.  I couldn’t help but succumb to temptation and watch it as it aired with my Mom just half an hour ago.  I was pleasantly surprised by how accurate the depiction of the bible was, minus a tad bit of over dramatization.

Then there were the Christian matrimony commercials that seemed to air every other commercial break, or maybe every commercial break.

Despite these few setbacks, the first episode of, “Beginnings” made me think.

The first part of the episode focused on Abraham and Issac, while the second half focused more Moses in Egypt.  For the purpose of this post I want to focus on the relationship between Abraham and Issac.

Watching Abraham painfully reach to sacrifice his child was heartbreaking.  I know that this parallels Jesus dying for our sins but hearing Issac cry out begging broke my heart.  This story is always told from the point of view of Abraham- but what about Issac?  How would we feel as Issacs?  Can we humble ourselves so much that we can accept being laid as an offering.

Surprisingly enough, I think the biggest things Christians today need to deal with is pride.  Lots and lots of pride that shadows over everything that we do.  I struggle with this everyday of my life.  I forget that sometimes, it’s not about me.  Some of us are called to be Abrahams, but some of us are called to be Issacs.  I respect Issac, but I don’t know if I posses enough grace to be okay with my life being put in jeopardy.  I pray that one day I can though.

I’m looking forward to the continuation of this series.  If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend you tune in!

The art of discipline

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Discipline.  This is one of the hardest things in the world to attain.  The above picture is a shout out to one of my closest friends Christine.  She’s studying in a very intensive six year program and I know she reads my blog, every post even.  Keep going love because at the end of the day you work for what you really want.

Something that I’ve been struggling with especially over these last couple of months has been my lack of discipline.  I sincerely have no idea what has been going through my mind lately!  Even those of you who read my blog regularly may have noticed it.  In many ways I’ve kind of just dropped off of the face of the earth.

I was worried about my spiritual growth.  I was worried about what would happen when I started taking classes that demanded more of my time.  I’ve learned that at the end of the day, everything comes down to discipline.  It’s so easy to fall prey to procrastination and wasted time but I urge you not to do so.

There are 14 weeks in a semester, that’s not a lot of time.  If you want to pursue a deeper relationship with God, learn more in your classes and work towards finding your true purpose- you need to put in the time.

Even with something like developing a relationship with God, discipline is the only way to get to know our father.  Pursue him, spend time with him.  Make it a conscious effort and part of your everyday to make God your priority.  I’m going to try to do this and hopefully there will be a visible difference.  No, there will be a visible difference in me.

One thing that really pushes my competitive side was a quote that said something along the lines of, “one day while you slept and did nothing, someone else was working and when you meet that person- they will beat you.”  In terms of our relationship with God, it’s not a competition.  But God deserves our time for no other reason than the fact that he is God.  You become like the things you worship.  And you worship the things you give priority and time to in your life.

Hebrews 12:11

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.