Lifestyle

Never Enough

If the title of this post got you singing a song from The Greatest Showman, you’re not alone! While this post is not about the film, it does take a bit of inspiration from the song’s lyrics.

We as humans struggle with contentment, with finding “enough-ness.” We want it all and once we get it, we want more. We believe if we only had x, y or z, we would feel complete. This notion is completely false but very distinctly human.

..without you, all the shine of a thousand spotlights; all the stars we steal from the night sky will never be enough. Never be enough. Towers of gold are still too little, these hands could hold the world and it’ll never be enough; never be enough for me…”

In this song, the character Jenny Lind was clearly singing to someone, referring to the idea that she could have everything and it would mean nothing if she didn’t have that someone. Now, as her character was a performer, it doesn’t deliberately address who that someone is, but it is clearly a love song.

As a Christian, this song resonates with me because without God, I’d have nothing & nothing would have purpose or meaning. I could have every “good” and “desirable” thing in the world, and it would never fulfill me or bring me happiness. Only God’s love and peace can calm my spirit and fill me with unending joy in all situations. I like to listen to this song and take it in as a love song to our creator.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really began to hear the song in this way until I attended a Women’s event hosted by the Christian radio station, KSBJ, when Francesca Battistelli sang it at the start of her set. She sang it beautifully and it really got me thinking throughout the rest of the night, thus inspiring me to write this.

This reminds me of Luke 9:25 where Jesus says:

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?”

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Without our faith, Christ’s sacrifice and an eternity to look forward to in Heaven, nothing means anything. Having everything we desire will not fulfill us or make us happy. Getting lost in obsessions for the material things of this world can cause us to lose sight of who we are and what’s truly important.

Now, to avoid rambling on because I could honestly talk about this for days, I’ll just leave you to ruminate on these words. It’s such a simple, seemingly redundant concept that I still think we all struggle grasping from time to time.

If this is relatable to you, feel free to use this prayer:

Heavenly Father,

I know I so often lose sight of you and of what’s truly important. I pray for guidance and ask you to refocus what is on my heart so that I can live a more meaningful life that pleases you. Help me remember that the luxuries of this world do not follow me to Heaven when my time on earth comes to an end; remind me that there are far better things waiting for me in your Kingdom. God, help me serve others and find contentment and gratefulness for the things I have instead of lusting for the unnecessary luxuries that will not ignite my soul with hope and goodness. Help me not lose sight of who I am in the pursuit of said luxuries. I don’t want to gain the world if it means losing my soul. Lord without you, all of the good things this world has to offer will never be enough for me.

In your heavenly name I pray,

Amen.”

Until next time,

Lifestyle

I’m not that girl.

I am not that girl.

I am not the girl who has a ton of friends to hang out with every weekend.

I am not the girl who guys take much/any interest in.

I am not the girl with 1000’s of followers or likes on Instagram.

I am not the girl with extreme smarts, talents or perfect skin.

I am not the girl who can eat all she wants and not gain weight.

I am not the girl who memorizes every scripture flawlessly.

I am not the girl who keeps a perfect diet and workout routine

I am not that girl.

And that’s okay.

We are not called to fit societies expectations, or to be like everyone else. We are not called to have it all together. None of us actually have it all together, but sometimes we’re pretty good at faking it.

Let us not covet what we don’t have, but appreciate what we do. I know it’s not easy, but let’s be honest, comparing ourselves to others is not productive.

Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Theodore Roosevelt

I think it’s remember for us all to remember that we are made in God’s image. This may sound cliché, but it’s honestly a beautiful thing. How boring would life be if we all looked and a acted the same? Here’s my challenge to you: stop focusing on who you are not, and embrace who you are.

Now, I don’t mean to never improve or better yourself- as we should all strive to be better- just don’t consider “bettering yourself” to be turning yourself into someone you’re not. Realize who you are & whose you are.

No, I’m not all those girls I often long to be, but here’s who I am:

I am the girl who laughs loudly and often, probably pretty obnoxiously- but that because I have great joy and a sense of humor.

I am the girl who is considered sick “all the time,” and that’s fine because it’s a part of my testimony and God can (and does) use it!

I am the girl who enjoys hanging out with her parents, because I’ve dealt with loss from a young age & have come to understand and cherish the little time we have on this earth with the ones we love.

I am the girl who’s voice gets high-pitched & who’s eyes tear up when they see a dog, because though I’m a allergic to them, they’re the cutest things and bring me so much joy.

I am the girl who owns more comic books than she does makeup, shoes or hair tools- but that’s because I received that interest from family members I’ve always looked up to.

I am the girl who can’t sing worth a hoot, but does it anyway because it makes her worst days better & actually helps some of her chronic pain subside.

I am the girl who loves puns more than anyone should, and that’s okay because I realize that such small, silly things are capable of bringing me so much joy and amusement- it makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

I am the girl who is often considered a “fan girl,” just because I really love many characters, shows, music artists and books- and people find it weird- but I can accept that because it’s helped me realize my spiritual gift of exhortations (encouragement) and lifting others up.

I am the girl who realizes she’s loved by the creator of the universe & who, no matter what’s going in her life, understands she is desired, loved & has an eternity of peace, joy and bliss waiting for her.

There’s a bright side to everything if you want there to be. Realize who you are. Take those traits you don’t like about yourself & find the positives about them. Define them for yourself & don’t let them define you. If your accentuate the positives, the negative mindset can drift away a little bit. Maybe not all at once. Believe me, I still struggle with insecurity, depression, anxiety & self-doubt all the time. While positivity may not cure these things, it sure does make them easier to fight. I didn’t find this optimism on my own- it came from Christ who has pulled me out of the deepest waters and most turbulent storms in my life. The hope of his promise for our eternity anchors the soul and makes everything worth it to me, and it can for you too.

Jesus loves you SO much, my friends. Never forget that.

Until next time,

Faith, Lifestyle

Choosing Barabbas

You may or not be familiar with the story biblical account of the holiday known as Easter, but that is the inspiration behind this post. At the time I began writing this, it was Holy Week, and I’ve delayed posting it due to getting way too caught up in my studies to make time to edit my blog, but I still think it is of value (to someone) to share.

While Jesus of Nazareth was on trial by Pontius Pilate, the Jews & Pharisees did not believe Jesus was the Christ and wanted him to be executed for claiming to be. Pilate was willing to let Jesus go because he didn’t believe he was guilty of any crime, but the crowd protested. Following custom, Pilate gave in and allowed the crowd to select one criminal to be set free: Jesus of Nazareth, or thief & murderer, Barabbas. The crowd was so convinced Jesus was falsely claiming to be the Christ, that they pressed on with the idea of his crucifixion. Who should be set free? “Barabbas! Give us Barabbas!” They yelled. Pilate let the criminal Barabbas go & allowed Jesus to be sentenced to crucifixion.

You know what I find interesting about this? The crowd was okay justifying a man’s evil, hateful & illegal actions and letting him go free of consequences so that they could punish a peaceful man who says things they didn’t like. If you really think about this, we do this kind of thing all the time. When taking a look at mainstream media & celebrity culture, we often excuse or continue supporting people who have been convicted of horrendous felonies and even come up with hashtags like “#freeSoAndSo,” but as soon as someone in the limelight says one thing we disagree with, be it politically, religiously or whatnot, we ostracize them and say that “celebrities should stay out of this,” “they’re only here to entertain us,” and decide we are no longer going to see any film they’re in or listen to any song they release.

Now, I’m not saying that if you do this you’re horrible- you’re not. We all do it. And it’s fine to not want to associate with something that contradicts your values, but that choice should have continuity across issues & not hold double standards. If we excuse theft, violence & disregard of the law, but ostracize free speech or opinions (and I don’t mean in the hateful or threatening sense) that differ from ours, we are making ourselves out to be hypocritical. We are, in a sense, choosing Barabbas.

You may remember by my recent post chronicling my Holy Week/Easter weekend. In that post, I briefly mentioned that I participated in my University’s Easter Pageant. I was a crowd member, meaning I had to angrily yell at “Jesus” on the cross, and had to beg Pilate to release Barabbas instead of Jesus. This experience was very emotional & really brought things into perspective. I felt bad that I was saying the things I was, even though it was just acting, because in real life I know Jesus is the Christ. During these moments in rehearsal, as well as our devotional time, the idea that we “choose” Barabbas daily was brought up and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I can’t help but think that some of those people in the crowd, denying Jesus, were once followers of Jesus who succumbed to the pressures of those around them to condemn him. I’ve realized that that’s exactly what I do all the time, whenever I decide not to share my faith, or do something I know is against God’s will for me. If it’s available and the world accepts it, but it’s wrong, it’s much easier to accept it yourself. If it’s not widely accepting but others and it is right, it’s much more difficult to believe and accept it while standing alone.

Friends: it’s not easy to admit, but we choose Barabbas everyday. I don’t like that thought, but it’s so true. It’s important that we recognize this so we can find the strength to resist. Would you rather choose a murderous thief or an honorable & peaceful man? I, for one, would much rather choose Jesus. I still slip up & make bad decisions, but with God at my side, I know I can stand up and be strong.

Let’s think things through and evaluate our choices. Let’s pay attention to how we live our lives and seek out the goodness. Let’s stop choosing Barabbas and start choosing Jesus.

Until next time,

College, Faith, Lifestyle

Chronically Optimistic

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve always been pretty good at being- or at least acting optimistic and cheery.  Before I truly found God, however, this optimism was often a façade; I acted optimistic in order to feel better about my life and hide my true feelings from the world. Once I made my relationship with God a priority, I have truly felt hopeful and optimistic, regardless of what life throws at me. Now that I’ve shared a little background info, let’s move on to the nitty-gritty. How does optimism and hope impact my life?

If you’ve been around a while, you may know that I have a chronic illness known as Dysautonomia, with a subset of the illness called POTS- or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. Basically what this means is that my heart rate escalated quite high just from slight changes in posture- especially the switch from sitting to standing. Because this is a syndrome, it comes with a very long list of symptoms that I’m not going to list here due to the fact that A) I’m not an expert in the topic, just a patient, and B) the point of this post is not to solely inform you about one of many invisible illnesses. No, this is much deeper than that.

You see, there are many things that occur to me chronically- I live with pain, chronic fatigue & exhaustion, temperature intolerance and extreme discomfort everyday- but my chronic symptoms far surpass just the physiological ones. I have battled with depression and anxiety, I often still do. I, like many of you, have been known to be very insecure and have low self-esteem. It happens to all of us, but our feelings about ourselves don’t define who we are.

Sure, my life doesn’t look like a lot of people I know, but imagine how boring life would be if it did! To be completely honest, the past two weeks have been extremely rough for me, and I got stuck in a dark, low place I hadn’t been in for a while. I was still optimistic and was clinging on to the little hopefulness I still felt to get me through. One of the most instrumental things pulling me through this slump was a small, emotion-filled worship and prayer service on my campus last week. My spirit was unsettled and fighting off the lies of Satan and his cronies, but the presence of the Holy Spirit overtook the darkness and freed my soul from the gripping evil presence that was trying to destroy it. Many tears were shed, but I began to feel calm again. At peace, rather than in pieces.

Now, this is not to say that I still didn’t struggle this past week, but that I survived the struggle. College is hard. Having a chronic illness is hard. Life is hard. But difficulty is not impossibility. I cant explain to y’all how close I was to giving up and tossing my dreams and future plans aside- but I couldn’t. You see, the thing is, I never give up. Its like an impossible thing for me to do- believe me, I’ve tried. Deep in my soul, no matter how tough life gets, I still have the tendency to remain hopeful and optimistic. It’s in my DNA. God gave me an optimistic spirit and I believe that is why I am where I am today. No matter what obstacles come my way, I am able to search for alternate routes to get where I need to be. The optimism deep inside me overcomes all the negativity- and this optimism came from God. The further I separate myself from Him, the more negativity and self loathing fills my brain.

Dysautonomia & POTS make everyday a battle- and some days are worse than others. As much as it has affected my life negatively, this illness has also been one of my greatest blessings. By having dysautonomia, I have found a passion for research, reaching out to others with the various forms of autonomic dysfunction, chronic illness and autoimmune diseases, and being an advocate for increasing public knowledge of invisible illnesses. I believe I will get better, and that in the future, we will learn more about it and find more effective treatments, quicker diagnostic timelines and eventually a cure!

Now, 6 years ago, I would’ve thought that was an impossible pipe-dream, felt extreme self-pity and accepted my fate as someone who was going to be sick forever. This illness has helped me grow and turn my test into a testimony. Any time something goes wrong in my life or others’, I now encourage them to be hopeful and insist that things will get better. Some people may think I’m naïve for being so hopeful, but God has given me all the hope I need. I may not get better during my time on this Earth, but when I join my Father in heaven, all pain, sorrow and struggle will end- and I think that’s wonderful to look forward to.

Yes, I have a chronic, not-yet-curable health condition. Yes, I have had to make a lot of lifestyle changes and give up things I love in order to cope with it, but the only direction I have to go is up. You could say I’m chronically ill, but I say I’m chronically optimistic. 🙂

Til next time,

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Lifestyle

Holy Week/Easter Weekend: A Week In My Life

••• This is not the type of post I typically do, but I love looking at lifestyle blogs and seeing the little trips & weekly reflection journals some people do and decided to make my own! I want to start posting more regularly, so I thought that incorporating some fun lifestyle-blog inspired posts would be an easy way for me to do that and explore other creative outlets than my more “thought-provoked” or planned posts- this one is just for fun, as I think blogs should be! Come along with me on my little adventure. •••


Easter 2018: Weekend In My LifeWednesday 3/28: 79th annual Easter Pageant.

My school, UMHB, has an annual tradition of students doing a dramatic re-enactment of Christ’s life, death & resurrection. It’s a beautiful and powerful event, and this year I got to participate as a member of the crowd with my peers! I am currently working on a post inspired by this experience that’ll be up soon- so watch out for it. If you want to see the Easter Pageant, it can be viewed here. It was a long, beautiful, emotional, exhausting & powerful day. God is SO good!

Good Friday, 3/30: Prayer Gardens.

On Good Friday, I had to wake up at the crack of dawn to load up on a bus full of people from my home church for a road trip to Kerrville, Texas to visit the Coming King Prayer Garden. It was absolutely stunning, serene and filled with God’s presence. The town was settled by German immigrants, which is why you’ll see German translations in photos below (the culture is all through the town, it’s so cute!) We snapped a few photos, prayed and wrote on prayer rocks as a group so that our requests would continue to be prayed over by others who visit the prayer garden. We then drove down to the edge of town to visit a pretty little creek before stopping for some dinner and heading back to our hotel to sleep!

Saturday 3/31: Enchanted Rock State Park.

Like Friday, we got up before the sun to drive a few towns over to Fredericksburg, Texas, another German settler town. We arrived around 9am to get in the cue for the Enchanted Rock State Park & then we began the climb! I’m severely out of shape, but I made it to the top in about 30 minutes, thankfully. It was a beautiful 65 degree, breezy morning that made the journey to the top much more enjoyable. Once we explored around the top edges of the Rock a bit, the “kids” of the group- some college students like me, others in high school- decided to navigate our way through a dark, tight cave, which was super fun. After leaving Enchanted Rock, we headed to downtown Fredericksburg to do touristy things & tried some AMAZING German food before loading up the van and heading back to Houston to rest up for Sunday morning.

Sunday 4/1: Easter Sunday.

Today was not as busy, but it sure was lovely! My mom & I went to our home church for Easter service to celebrate the resurrection of our God & savior, Jesus Christ! Easter Sunday is a day well spent with family & being thankful for the lives we get to live free of the debt of sin because Jesus PAID IT ALL! We had a nice roast for lunch and were joined by my older sister, her boyfriend & some friends from church. After a couple of rounds of “Apples to Apples,” we did what anyone would do on a Sunday afternoon- nap! Unfortunately I had to get up and study for a chemistry test I had the following Monday, but after such a great weekend, it wasn’t so bad. After all, the tomb was empty, Christ lives on, and I’m thankful for the opportunities he’s given me!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Easter celebrating the ultimate sacrifice and the defeat of sin and death. He is risen, indeed! Until next time,

College, Faith, Lifestyle

From Now On…

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably obsessed with all things The Greatest Showman. I could talk for hours about how much I love everything about this movie- from the music, the choreography, the casting, the costuming, everything.

Despite that wee fan-girl moment you just witnessed, this blog post is not a movie review. It is, however, inspired by the movie.

If you’ve seen the film or listened to the soundtrack, you know that it’s almost possible to pick a favorite song as they are all so beautiful lyrically, but one that’s really inspired me lately is the powerful ballad at the climax of the movie- “From Now On.” From Now On is the the song PT Barnum (Hugh Jackman) sings with the circus cast after an unfortunate event, when he realizes he hadn’t been acting like himself due to chasing the fame and glamor of the world. He decides that he is no longer going to focus on the things that don’t matter, but instead shift his attention to the things that do.

What does this mean to me? Well, let’s take a look at some of the chorus’ lyrics really quick:

And from now on, these eyes will not be blinded by the lights.

From now on, what’s waited till tomorrow starts tonight.

It starts tonight.”

As a Christian college student in 2018, these lyrics pierced into me.

“…these eyes will not be blinded by the lights..” In this age of social media and television, it’s so easy to become distracted by, even obsessed with popularity. By how many followers we have on our social networks, by how many people we know, by the idea of having people know your name, or having some type of fame. We often end up, in a sense, “blinded by the lights.”

As a Christian, I recognize that this is something to be wary of- we are warned against this kind of idolatry of worldly things, or the desire to be of the world. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” The apostle Paul wrote this because it was relevant to the people culture in Rome thousands of years ago, but it’s still very relevant today.

If we are so focused on fulfilling the glamorous, glittery expectations of the world in order to “fit in” or be seen as “like-able,” we are not paying attention to God’s beautiful and perfect will, his plan for our lives. By doing this, we’re sending ourselves down a road of destruction. We lose the very depths of who we are by not utilizing our spiritual gifts and opportunities- just like PT Barnum lost who he was in the film. In The Greatest Showman, we see Barnum get caught up in fame, esteem and wealth- so much so that he neglects his circus family and brushes off his wife and children in order to pursue more wealth and fame.

As viewers, we may think “Seriously, P.T.? You have so much greatness happening right in front of you- why would you run off?” But we know deep inside that we do the same thing all the time. We don’t appreciate what we have in the pursuit of something we perceive as better, even if it ends up hurting us or leaving us dissatisfied. If we turn our focus back on to what we have, from now on, back to God and his plan for us, we will be more satisfied. That satisfaction may not come during our time on Earth, but it surely will once we’re in Heaven with our creator, living in eternal satisfaction.

Another struggle we face is procrastination. We wait to do things, and I’m not just talking about homework! When faced with the opportunity to pray out loud, share our testimonies or tell someone about God, we often think “eh, I’ll do it next time/week/month/year.” This response becomes repetitive & we continue on this trail of putting things off that could’ve planted seeds. We keep neglecting our garden that’s right in front of us. God knows when we recognize an opportunity he’s called us to & neglect to take advantage of it. I can name numerous times I had the opportunity to share the gospel or show God’s love to people where I didn’t, and I feel upset about it.

Those days of waiting are over, my friends. I challenge y’all to join me in prayer and challenging yourself to use the opportunities before you. Seize the moment, share the love & work together with other believers to spread the word of God to everyone who hasn’t felt it. Stop procrastinating life, stop procrastinating sharing the Gospel & stop procrastinating everything because the time is now. As the Greatest Showman said, “what’s waited for tomorrow starts tonight!”

God Bless,

Lifestyle

Getting Real: A Few Thoughts & Where I’ve Been

Being a Christian is hard. No doubt about it. Being a young Christian in a world that is increasingly becoming more and more secular is very hard. But it’s not impossible & it is worth it, that I can promise.

Look, I struggle. All the time. I doubt myself. And believe it or not, I doubt God’s plan. I hate saying that, but I’m just trying to be real with y’all. I know God has a plan for me, but I’m a human and I am selfish. If things aren’t going according to my plan, I feel like I’m hopeless. I worry way more than I should. Sometimes, when things go wrong, I doubt that God loves me. And I know that’s not true, but you see, the enemy likes to plant seeds of doubt in us. The devils WANTS us to lose faith, he wants us to doubt God. And I do, because I am human.

I hate that I have these thoughts, I hate that I disobey God & I hate that I let him down so constantly. But ya know what? No matter what I do- no matter what you do- He loves us. God loves us so much more than we can comprehend. That is comforting. So yeah, life is hard. We have rough seasons. The enemy gets us down; we doubt and we’re insecure. We feel lonely. We screw up.

But if we didn’t, why would we need a savior? If we were perfect, what would be the point of seeking salvation? Where would our freedom lie? If we were perfect, we’d perfectly comply to all rules and standards, we’d never make mistakes.

I make mistakes ALL THE TIME, but you know what? God’s grace & love are stronger. //

I’ll be honest with y’all. I haven’t posted on my blog since November and I don’t really have any excuses other than I felt like I was in the dark. It was a tough semester, and the holiday season was hectic and my faith was shaking a wee bit, as much as I hate to admit it (but hey, it happens). When I had time to write, I felt uninspired, too weak or unmotivated to write and that’s weird to me because usually I’m constantly hitting down ideas. Now, I did plan out some posts, but the writing I had was scrapped because it didn’t feel like me. It didn’t feel like my content. I was in the mindset of making blog posts like other bloggers, and not being true to who I am as a content creator. I want to share things that are meaningful and that reflect my thoughts genuinely, but as I veered away from my personal blogging style & into that of others, my content was mediocre at best, didn’t excite me and just felt…. “bleh” to me. During the past few months, I just didn’t feel like myself. My focus was on making content that receives attention, that gains more followers, that people love reading- and not on the foundation I built this website upon. You see, my initial intention was never to (and still isn’t) become a viral blogger whose platform was for beauty, fashion & clickbait. I made this blog as a way to express my thoughts and share them. I made it to glorify my creator & savior. I made it to fuel my creativity in a time when I had nowhere else to channel it. I made it to be genuine & relatable. To let people know I’m here for them. To do my best to be a light, but I failed myself as I got caught up in the media aspect of blogging. I’ve been dealing with a lot, and I let those feelings mask my true thoughts, making writing hard. I dealt with spiritual warfare, I had doubts about my faith- my worthiness to go to Heaven. Truth is, I don’t deserve to, but that’s what’s so beautiful about God’s never ending and reckless love (yes, I did reference that beautiful song “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury. Check it out because it honestly is such a great reminder). No matter what you do, where you go or how you feel, don’t close off. Don’t run away & lose yourself in the process. Let God keep you anchored and strong; with Christ as your anchor, you can stand firm and steady even when it seems like nothing is going right, like you’re all alone. //

What does that tangent have to do with what I was talking about earlier? Well, everything. You see, I messed up. I had a purpose, a goal as a blogger. And then I let the glamorous ideals of the blogosphere cloud my mind and fill it with ideas that are great, but that are not true to me. This is true to us as Christians. Though if you’re reading this, you may not necessarily run a blog, I bet you’ve sacrificed your intentions, or changed your actions in order to please the masses, and lost yourself in the process. Maybe you haven’t (and if that’s the case, pleeeease tell me how you managed to do that because you’re much stronger than I am), but you’ve had thoughts about it. You get stuck in a rut. Your personality is in a conflict with the world, or with God. Maybe it’s spiritual warfare, but whatever it is- you’ve felt it. That feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen, what you’re doing or who you are. Just an overall conflicted, hot mess. Truth is, though, we’re all a little messy- that’s why we need God!

Maybe something made you doubt if God loves you or if he even exists, or maybe it’s made you feel guilty and unworthy of his love. Maybe you’ve just had so many unhealthy thoughts you don’t turn to God anymore. You’re just plain stuck. Let me tell you something, it happens to ALL of us. The devil is trying to drag us down, to get us to walk away from God. He wants us to hurt & fall into a life of reckless, carefree sin that’s is perceived as meaningless. And though that may be, don’t let these little adversities or objections cause you to lose sight of your faith, of Christ. Being a Christian is about having faith & sticking to your beliefs. It’s about standing up for them and sticking to them even if you feel like you’re being beaten down & crumbling. Just look at the stories of the biblical martyrs. Those like Stephen and Paul, who kept declaring their faith until their last breaths. No one said life is becomes easier as a Christian, but it does become meaningful and worth living, striving towards an eternity of love, peace and bliss with our Heavenly Father.

I’ve found that every time I’m true to what I believe, to my faith in God, life is meaningful & worth living no matter how difficult it gets. On the other hand, when I separate myself from my values and from God, life feels meaningless and not purposeful. I become complacent, unmotivated, unhappy, insecure, etc. This is my personal experience but I know for a fact I’m not alone- because God just put this on my heart today. Someone, somewhere is reading this and thinking “oh… I do that too…” and I want to let them know:

You are not walking alone. Christ is before you so keep marching, and I’ll be right by your side. Stop taking the opinion of the media or society to heart so much that you feel like you should change yourself into someone you are not. Do not let these worldly things make you give up your values just to be accepted and likable. You ARE likable, you ARE loved. Don’t let anyone dim your candle. Be true & be honest. Don’t act like you have it all together when you don’t, don’t hold back on sharing your faith out of fear of what others will say. Yes, you’ll more than likely get rejected for unashamedly sharing your faith a time or two, but so did JESUS.

If Jesus, the miraculous and perfect son of God was rejected by people, but still continued to love and minister to them, that’s what we should strive to do. If people reject or make fun of us, we can move on. If the creator of everything could sacrifice his own perfect son to save mankind from sin, we can face a little bit of rejection, criticism and skepticism from the people around us. I know I’m not perfect, and neither are you, so of course we are criticized. Our every action is watched by onlookers who can see when we mess up or when we aren’t acting like ourselves. Live honestly, live genuinely.

Friends, just like I lost myself in the clutches of desire for internet popularity, we all lose ourselves for the desire of being “better” or “acceptable.” It’s not worth it, but it happens & God always seems to intervene and stick with me. Being a Christian is hard, but it’s worth it, and community helps. Find a good group of Christian friends to keep you accountable for your actions & prayer life. People you can trust to vent to about your spiritual, emotional & physical struggles. I veered away from that for the past few months, and it only make me feel more alone, broken and hopeless- so fellowship and accountability are major keys to life as a Christian!

From here on out, I pledge to live genuinely, boldly and make my internet presence match my real one (to the best of my ability” and pray that you will do the same.

Happy new year & God Bless,

Verses of the day:

– 1Peter 4:16

– Hebrews 6:19

College, Faith, Lifestyle

19 things I’m thankful for

Psalm 95:1-2 NIV:

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”

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I’ve been on this Earth for 19 years now, so I’ve learned quite a bit and have found myself to realize what is important, and how much I truly have. I will keep learning and growing and developing appreciation for things, but that is a topic for another time.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, which is one of my favorite holidays that happens to have just happened, I thought I would share with you all a few things I am thankful that year. 19 specifically, just because I have 19 years of experience and learning what to be appreciative of.

Without further ado, here are 19 things I am thankful for this year :

1. Life. I am thankful to have been able to be on this earth the past 19 years, many people don’t get the chance to live this long, or much at all. I’m thankful to be alive & have experiences that make me feel less like I’m idly existing and more like I’m truly living.

2. Family. I’m beyond blessed to have a family that loves me. We’re all a little weird and crazy, but we have each other through the good times and bad. I’m thankful to have people in my corner to do life, because it’d be so much harder if I were alone. This goes for biological family and otherwise.

3. Freedom. I’m beyond grateful to have grown up in the United States. I know this may seem cliché, but it’s true. I have gotten to live with an abundance of freedoms in a land of opportunity. This is possible in other countries as well, but there are far more countries who don’t have the freedoms and safety I have. I’m thankful to be a citizen of one of the greatest countries that provides me with unlimited opportunities to achieve my dreams.

4. My church. I’m so thankful for a family of people that offer genuine fellowship and accountability. To my home church and to my college life group- thank you. So blessed and appreciative for the love and support you people give me. Everyone needs this kind of community & I’m extremely blessed to have it- because again, some people don’t have the freedom to gather or praise God like we do here in the U.S., and some haven’t found the right church family for them. I’m grateful I have.

5. Education. As a woman, the fact that I have the opportunity to pursue an education in whatever field I desire to is something the be immensely thankful for. There was a time even here in the states this wasn’t a foreseeable or realistic task, but now that it’s a reality, I’m so blessed to have the chance to study, stress & have a sleepless night or too. The end result will be well worth it.

6. Our troops. I cannot express my gratitude to those who risk everything to defend our country and protect our freedoms. They are making the ultimate sacrifice and doing/seeing things most of us could never imagine or willingly take part in. If it wasn’t for them, who knows what kinds of things we’d be dealing with. To our service members- active, reserve, veteran or passed on- thank you. So much. You are heroes.

7. Healthcare. Though the economic side of this topic often leads to debate, which I am not going into on this post, I truly believe that I’m blessed to have the healthcare I’ve received here in Texas. As someone with a chronic illness who has spent a fair amount of time in the US healthcare system, I can say I’m extremely thankful for all of the doctors, nurses, PA’s, medical assistants, physical therapists etc who have helped me. Our medical technology and training has and continues to improve and I feel extremely blessed to live in an era where medical research and treatment is at a new height- and more about our bodies chemical and anatomical composition is understood. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to live with certain conditions- or potentially die from them- if I were experiencing them 50+ years ago. It’s astounding honestly.

8. Service. I’m so thankful to be able to help other people, and to serve God’s kingdom freely. I am thankful to have gotten to go on mission trips and participate in service projects that were often uncomfortable for me but were used for the betterment of myself & others. I’m grateful for those who have pushed me and funded me to get there- and to have been allowed to participate in said things. Some service opportunities are difficult to come by without connections or certain strings & specific stipulations, but I’m thankful to have had as many as I have.

9. My friends. I’m not going to sit here and name all of you, because I don’t think that is necessary. You know who you are. Whether we are super close, not as close as we once were, hang out daily/weekly, see each other a couple times a year, etc., I’m thankful for you. I’m thankful you’re part of my life and have been here for me, experienced life with me, laughed with me, cried with me, danced in the rain with me. I’m thankful that y’all are who you are and have shared parts of your life with me.

10. UMHB. I cannot say how thankful I am for the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor for providing me with such a Godly environment to grow and learn in. This university has challenged and pushed me spiritually and academically & has been one of my life’s biggest blessings. From the Christian fellowship to the small class sizes, the awesome professors that actually care about my life, education and future, the people who I don’t know well that pray for me and offer me comfort- to the coursework that applies my faith and creativity while challenging my intellect.. I couldn’t ask for more from an academic institution. This place is so much more than a school, it’s home.

11. Theatre. I grew up doing community theatre, as well as school theatre. Though I’m not extraordinarily gifted in the theatrical arts, theatre has helped me grow in many ways and I am so thankful God brought it into my life. Theatre helped improve my confidence, my speech, my memory and more while stretching me to be creative- and being fun all at the same time. It also brought me together with people just as quirky as me- from all walks of life, and gave me a comfortable environment to let loose without fear of being judged as weird, so much so that I’m able to be myself anywhere I go now, though I was once extremely shy.

12. Having a home. This one is simple. I’ve moved a few times, and we’ve had financial struggles throughout the year, but I’m blessed to have always had a roof over my head & food in my belly. Many people in the world could only dream of this luxury and we often take it for granted. As I’ve grown and seen poverty in the world around me and seen the extreme circumstances many have had to live through, I’ve come to realize just how good I have it and made it a point to always remember that what I have is a luxury and not a given with life- it’s something I must always remain appreciative of- especially as I didn’t contribute to the finances because I was a child, and will have to work to provide for myself in the next few years.

13. Science. Like healthcare, science has come a long way throughout the years. It’s one of the most interesting subjects to me- and it helps me to further realize the complexity and greatness of our creator. I believe God gave us science to learn and understand more about his creation, and I think it helps to prove God’s existence, because it’s so complex yet perfectly thought out- a greater power HAD to have constructed this. I’m so thankful for this field I’m able to study and how it helps us help others, understand more about ourselves and our planet- and about how powerful and all-knowing our amazing God is.

14. Dancing. Like theatre, God brought me to dance when I needed it most. It taught me many life lessons & has provided me with many memories- some good & some bad. Dance pushed and challenged me mentally and physically, but helped me develop my work ethic and desire to keep pushing through adversity in order to achieve what I’m capable of. It taught me the value of discipline and hard work.

15. Teachers. The people who don’t get enough recognition, nor enough pay. I’ve been blessed with many AMAZING teachers throughout my life, and they’ve all left a mark on me. Again, not gonna name each one individually, but I have many former teachers on Facebook- and if they’re on my Facebook, I consider them to be a great teacher. So I’m writing this to those who have impacted me greatly: you are awesome & you are a light. Your passion to educate young minds and pour your heart into you work inspires me & I thank God for you. I’ve dealt with teachers who seemed detached, uninterested and bored who made school pretty i enjoyable at times, but you guys who love what you do made me feel motivated to do my best and keep chasing after my goals- and you helped me with all of my struggles for countless hours after school and didn’t stop until you knew I understood. You were there for me when I felt unconfident or blue & you brightened my day. Never forget that what you do is worth it & many students are extremely grateful for you- even though we don’t tell you enough.

16. My roommate. I’m thankful that you’re always down to jam out to Hamilton, bake junk food or have an existential crisis with me. And also that you’ll procrastinate with me by stress cleaning or watching cheesy movies, tagging me in memes and for reminding me that I’m not stupid. Thanks for understanding the struggle by having the same major/minor as me so we can both stress about the same classes. Thanks for knowing the things I don’t know and for being a hard worker who motivates me to get stuff done. Thanks for teaching me what it’s like to live with one other person and share the responsibilities of chores like a team. And for being there for my rants, mental breakdowns & POTS flare ups (oh and taking my moms calls to drive me to the doctor when I won’t go). Also thank you for not being a crazy roommate like those I hear about in horror stories that cause unnecessary drama and stuff. I am blessed to have a roommate that I can call a friend, even though you’re not as quiet as I thought you were at camp… (which is good because I’m not quiet either!) Hahaha but really, you rock.

17. My hometown. I know I make jokes about it and was happy to leave- but that’s just because I needed to branch out and grow and find myself. I’m proud of where I grew up because I met great people, learned a lot and created a plethora of memories. La Porte will always be home and I’m not gonna lie, I miss the comfort and ease of it at times- especially because I don’t return often and being in a new place is overwhelming at times, no matter how big or small it is. I’m thankful to have experienced my childhood and teenage years in the place my parents and siblings did, where my family name is known by many in the district- where my name and family ties left me no choice but to behave in school. And of course- the opportunity to take college classes for FREE that I was able to transfer- not many districts provide that luxury and I’m grateful (it also gave me many of the teachers I mentioned earlier and that’s awesome!!). Now that I gone, I can really appreciate what all this place offered and I think my life would be way different had I grown up anywhere else.

18. England. Yeah, y’all have probably heard me talk about this place a lot in the last year… but seriously. I’m so grateful to have experienced this place and taken in its history and culture. I’m so thankful for the bonds I made- both my my mission team and with the people I met across the pond. Travel and immersing yourself in a new place is eye opening and challenging, but it’s one of the greatest things you can do, in my opinion. I’m so grateful I was able to embark on the trip and have this opportunity. I’m thankful for what it revealed to me and how God is using the experience in my life and in his for me. I’m thankful for my family across the pond, my hosts that took me in graciously and treated me like they’d known me forever. I’m grateful for the newfound awareness I have for spiritual warfare. I’m all around thankful for this country that my family originated from, and for the connection I felt with it. Wow oh wow.

19. My blogging community. Y’all, I’m so thankful for my fellow bloggers who encourage me and push me to develop better, deeper content. I’m grateful to have found people who share the desire and passion to spread God’s love and goodness through this kind of platform, those who love writing and channeling their creativity to reach others. I can’t say how many times I’ve thought about giving up on this whole blogging thing out of discouragement or lack of time, because your kind words, comments & discussions help me keep going & taught me to make time and plan out content. This goes for fellow bloggers as well as my readers. I’m so so grateful and thankful for all of you who take the time to read what I put on my corner of the internet & interact with me! I hope you get something out of my work, whether it be serious or silly, as I post a little of both.

Thanks from the bottom of my heart for reading this and joining me on my journey. Be on the look out for lots of new posts soon, after I survive finals! Hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving and I wish you safe travels!!

God bless you,

College, Faith, Lifestyle, World Issues & Current Events

Living Sober

“Why do you wear that bracelet?” “What does it mean to you?” “Are you Sober?”

I know what you’re probably thinking after reading the title of this post, but it’s not what you think. This post is talking about sobriety, but I’m not referring to alcohol sobriety, per se.

I will say, my inspiration for this post, however, did stem from experiences I’ve had watching loved ones face & overcome addictions. This has become a large part of my testimony, and I always wear a purple “live sober” bracelet as a constant reminder of the hardships, strength & trust in God it took to get through that situation. I never take this bracelet off, and it is constantly there reminding me to remember what is important in life. It’s a great conversation started that often leads to me being able to share my testimony (boom, God works is many ways my friends!) with new people & cultivate fellowship. It reminds me to walk through life soberly.

I’ll also tell you that posting this was incredibly difficult. I’ve been working on this post for 3 months and constantly editing it, trying to get it right because this is an important topic to me. It’s still imperfect and redundant, but I found getting too wrapped up in the intricacies of this post pretty much contradicted the point I was trying to get across, so I decided it was time to stop stalling.

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After listening to many sermons, attending revival at my university and diving into the word, I got to thinking. God put it on my heart to dig deeper into this topic and write a post to share about it & here goes:

Sobriety is typically associated with not being under the influence of drugs and alcohol, but to me it’s so much more than that. Sobriety is living clearly, without worldly distractions clouding the sky. Living without getting tangled up in distractions and addictions of any kind.

As a college student in this society, I know first hand that life is full of things that distract us from truly living & from our focus on God. From social events to social media, from GPA to finances, from embracing the freedoms of singleness to chasing the possibility of relationships- we all get caught up in things that are so minute in the grand scheme of things. If all we do is focus all of our attention to any of these things, among many others, we aren’t really living. Our judgement becomes clouded and we often miss out on the little things that truly matter.

You see, we tend to get so caught up in how many followers we have on social media, how aesthetically appealing our instagram feeds look, how good our GPA is, how pretty we look, how much money we have, etc. that we obsess over them. We let these things consume our minds, even if we do not mean to. These are not necessarily bad things, but we shouldn’t put any of them in front of our relationship with God. I know I am guilty of this, and if you’re reading this, you probably are to, in some way or another. Maybe you struggle with obsessing over social status, maybe school comes before everything, maybe you are caught up in the clutches of drug and alcohol misuse.

I know, I know, what does “sobriety” have to do with this? Daily distractions are waaaaay different than drunkenness and drug use, aren’t they?

The quick answer is no- they’re not. Anything that we obsess over so much that it hurts or threatens our ability to socially interact, connect or direct our focus is an intoxicant. It distorts reality- just like social media, for example. People usually portray themselves differently on apps like Instagram, Facebook & twitter than in real life- or only show the best parts of their lives. Those sites are great, but they don’t paint the whole picture. We don’t know the full story unless we make real interactions and act intentionally and genuinely. Be vulnerable, be real. Don’t hide behind a screen, a GPA, a relationship, etc. Just like alcoholics don’t want to be identified or known solely as alcoholics, we should not allow ourselves to be defined by things of this world. Be in it and not of it, but don’t simply be in it. Live fully in it.

Wherever you stand, I have a challenge for you. Get your priorities in order. School, finances and relationships are important, but they mean nothing if you idolize them. They mean nothing if you’re not using them to glorify the creator. Don’t let them blind you. Don’t worship worldly things, and don’t let the world tell you that they are more important than God, or your well-being, or living. If you’re doing something or addicted to something, no matter what it is, that is harmful or stops you from living a meaningful and purposeful life, stop it. Sober up. Stop doing the things that hurt yourself and others.

To be fully aware and in tune with life, to truly live, we must remember what we were created for. We must remember WHO created us. Don’t let the distractions affect your focus on the Lord. Be sober in mind, body and spirit.

I’m not suggesting that you should throw all of these things out the window; I am just suggesting taking a step back.

Put things in perspective, and reprioritize God. If we put God first, everything else will fall into place. We just have to be genuine & yes- intentional. Don’t allow yourself to drown your focus in unimportant, material or media based things. They block your focus from God & also from your daily relationships. If we get distracted from God but daily, worldly things, how often do these things distract us from discipleship? From the great commission?

We need focus and clarity in order to truly live- and God is the source who clears the fog.

I know this is beginning to sound redundant, but bear with me, please. Let us all try not to be so intoxicated by the things of this world that we forget who created it, and why we are here. It’s difficult to go make disciples if we are too wrapped up in the superficial, temporary things of this world. Life here is important, but it’s short. Eternity is at stake, so don’t forget about your purpose & don’t count other people out either. As a church, we are in this together, and we need to reach out to as many as possible.

Thanks for reading this, but now is the time. Lock your phone, close your computer. Go out and disciple. Make fellowship, interact with people and build relationships. Spend some time with God, be purposeful.

Live Sober, my friends. And live fully.

Xoxo,

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