Three Things To Remember This Christmas Season

Photo by KoolShooters on Pexels.com

It’s offically Christmas.

The snow is gently falling (or not, if you’re in the southern region of the world like me 😄) red and green lights decorate the traffic poles and hot cocoa has become a staple in your home. It’s a time to sit back and relax, stuff yourself with fruit cake and hold the ones you love a little bit closer.

It can also can be a time of immense stress. Between franticly shopping for presents at the last minute and baking for Aunt Gertrude’s family potluck, Christmas can seem more like a chore than a season of joy and good cheer.

I put together a list of a few things to keep in mind as we enter this lively time of snowball fights, late nights, and glorifying the birth of our Savior.

1. Remember To Unplug

Turn it off. All of it. Your phone, your TV… turn off your Snap notifications and your Messenger app. Throw your computer in the dumpster. ( No don’t do that 😂)

We all hear this valuable piece of advice, but how many of us truly use it? I’ve found myself getting more and more involved with my friends online and keeping up my Instagram feed and less and less in touch with my family. So, I want to challenge myself and you to turn it off this holiday season and enjoy the blessings of having your loved ones near.

2. Remember To Enjoy

That may seem like an odd thing to say when Christmas is associated with jolliness; but it can be easy to get caught up in the “Christmas to-do lists,” and forget to slow down.
This may be the one day out of the year when all your family is together, so who cares if the pie is a little runny or the potatoes are not crisped to a perfectly toasted brown? Don your fuzzy Santa hat and join your herd underneath the Christmas tree, and make memories that will truly last a lifetime!

3. Remember Who This Season Is About

The world will make it seem like Christmas is about the gifts under the tree or meeting your honey underneath the mistletoe, but we as Christians know exactly WHO this season is about!
Eating roasted chestnuts and going for sleigh rides is fun and exhilarating, but don’t forget that Christmas is truly about celebrating the birth of our Lord and King, Jesus Christ!
He humbled himself and agreed to come to earth to be born and then die for our sins and take our place for God’s righteous judgment. I think that his birth, the very beginning stages of the most incredible plan to save humanity, deserves to be honored and celebrated.

I hope that these few gentle reminders help you to refocus and truly relax and to ultimately remind you that the season is not about how well decorated your Christmas tree is or how many lights you put up on your house, but that it is meant to celebrate the arrival of God’s greatest gift to humanity, his son Jesus.

What To Do When You’re About To Blow a Brain Cell

Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

Honestly, these past few weeks have been stressful to say the least.

Not only with what’s going on in America but with the tedious, day to day things that have been consuming my time like a hungry hippo.

Between writing deadlines, serving at my beloved church, piling school assignments and a weird type of cold inflicted on me earlier this week (conveniently right before I had a model shoot) it’s been a peachy week.

Trust me, if trying to hide bloodshot eyes under fifteen layers of mascara doesn’t add a pleasant dose of anxiety to your day, I don’t know what will.

If you find yourself with knots in your shoulders and a doozy of a 2020 stress headache, I have a few tips and tricks to sooth your frazzled nerves and help you re-focus on the tasks at hand so you can get the most done in your hectic day.

1. Read Your Bible.

Okay, okay, before your eyes do a 360 roll and you mutter under your breath about how many times you’ve read this, just bear with me. Even though it may be a bit over stated, reading your Bible is honestly the best way to help you re-focus on what truly matters in this life. Spending time with the good and gracious Father, the One whom you can cast your disquieting burdens upon, and resting in his affirmations will not only take your eyes off this wearisome world and the problems at hand, but bring peace to your tumultuous soul that only the Lord can give.

2. Go For A Stroll.

Sometimes you just need to escape for a minute, and taking a brisk walk might just do the trick. Humans weren’t made to sit twenty-four-seven, and taking a walk is an amazing way to blow off some of that steam building inside. We’re people, after all, not pressure cookers.

Getting out in nature or observing the antics of the neighborhood, feeling the sun shining down on you or gazing at the magnificent stars, will hopefully help to melt some of the stress of the day and help you to tackle your giants with renewed vigor!

3. Have A Warm Gulp.

It’s fall, and that means it’s time for hot spicy ciders and savory coffee. Sometimes ditching your problems for a few hours to read or take a hike isn’t in the picture, so taking a minute to grab a hot tea or whip up some coffee might be the ticket to help take a load off your shoulders, even if only for a moment.

4. Take A Chill, Jill.

Honestly, how many of us can legitimately say that we take an actual break?

No phone, no music, no distractions… just you and your thoughts. Alone. With no outside stimulation. Although this may be a scary thought because many of us are not okay with being left alone with our musing brains (myself included,) this is an amazing way to process through the situations you find yourself in. I want to challenge you to sit in a quite place with nothing that will catch your eye or distract you, grab a piece of paper or your favorite journal, and write down all the thoughts that pop into your brain. I’ve been doing this a lot lately, and I can honestly say it is so freeing just to get it all out there in the open and actually see your thoughts on paper. Personally, I tend to find that once I read them over, they prove to be quite silly and add needless stress and worry to my life.

My favorite part of this exercise? You get to burn the paper and see your worries go up in smoke!

I hope these tips help you de-stress a little during this time and refocus on what’s truly important. Stay strong, my brothers and sisters!

No One Can Be Thankful For This Year.

Okay, I think we can all admit that this year has been one HECTIC mess. I mean, everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. Everything was taken from us and now we’ve been told we need to start building up again just to have new waves of covid right around the corner. Everything we had was torn from our fingertips, right?

When you read that first paragraph, I bet you agreed with it. I agreed with it for a long time, but I’m here to tell you that’s not the truth. While school, contact and jobs might have been taken and stolen from us, I can boldly say that God was still there. He was not taken from us, and he never will be.

During this time of life, it can be hard to sit back and think about all the things you’re thankful for. Theres a lot of anxiety about the election and this new wave of covid coming up, people fearing that Christmas might be spent in another isolated quarantine with our families. But I want to take a second to remind you that there is so much more around us than fear, we just need to look for it!

We have so much to be thankful for this season. Lots of us are surrounded by a family that loves and cares for us. Most of us have a roof over our heads and a device at our fingertips. Some of us have running cars with heat and deicer.

But what about the people who don’t have those things? What can they be thankful for? I’m talking about the homeless, the ones left to the streets and the ones who are just barley getting by. What can they be thankful for? There are two things that every single human being can be VERY thankful. Those are Gods word and his son he gave for us. So Instead of looking at the negative side of things, I want to look at the positive side of things.

This year, I am thankful for a God who is so very patient and forgiving, but also very providing. Throughout all of covid, there has always been food on the table, family around and much more than I needed. Even when jobs were lost, there were always new ones found. 

When you’re stuck inside of a house for 4 months with your family, you have to have patience with those around you, and that gets tough! But then I sit back and think about how God has a whole world where people are yelling, angry, and cursing at him yet he’s so patient with them. Just simply being patient with others is a way to be God to others.

When you wonder when it’s going to be over, when you’ll be able to see your friends and when you’ll be able to hug your grandparents. It gets old, just waiting around and everything. Luckily, when you have patience and learn to be patient, those things get easier and are worth waiting for. And that is something my eyes were really opened to during quarantine. 

I’m thankful that even throughout this whole thing, I’ve had a place and church to worship at. Not just one church, but multiple. I’m thankful for all the opportunities given to meet and serve new people in different ways. I’m thankful that my dad is still here and able to attend church with us. There are just so many opportunities and things around us that we tend to take advantage of and we never step back to see what we really have. There are people out there being executed because of their faith, and I’m thankful for people like them too. Thankful for people who are so bold in their faith that they don’t hide, they stand and take the consequences, even extreme and life changing ones. 

This year has been crazy and hectic in pretty much every way, but that doesn’t mean it’s been bad. There have been a lot of things, new spiritual challenges that have been exciting to take on. I might have said more than one thing I’m thankful for, but they all relate back to one central theme. 

There is a quote that I really enjoy. I think it relates back to the message very well and that is this,

“I’m thankful for so many things, but mostly God. Without him, I’d have nothing else to be thankful for.”

Anonymus

Adoption IS an Option

(This weeks guest post is by Esther Laws. Stay until the end to find out more about Esther!)

Well, you probably already know what this blog post is going to be about by the title. Bear with me, here. 

When I tell people that I’m adopted, they usually don’t know what to say. They’ll look at me awkwardly, ignore me completely, or ask in a surprised tone: “You are?!” 

Adoption is not an alien thing. Some of you have experienced it; maybe you’re adopted, some of you have heard of it or have a friend/family member/etc. who’s adopted. We, as Christians, should realize that technically we are adopted, through Jesus Christ, so that we can call God our Father. “He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” – Ephesians 1:5. Being adopted has been a real blessing to me and has helped me better understand the concept of Jesus being my adoptive Father. 

But how does being adopted relate to the issue on hand? 

A lot of people view a fetus as tissue. That’s what you’ll hear over and over and over. It’s just tissue. It’s not anything important yet; it’s not a baby.

Taking that into account, what if my birthmother believed that? Not only that, what if she acted on it? What if I was aborted? 

My birthmother totally could have aborted me. It would’ve been legal. She would’ve still had support from family and friends. 

But she didn’t. And I love her for it. Because otherwise I wouldn’t be alive right now.

What a lot of people don’t get is that the fetus is a miracle. It’s tissue, sure, but it’s alive, it’s growing, it’s a little human being. You can call it what you want, it doesn’t change what it is. 

If you’re a decent human being, which you probably are, I don’t think you’re going to find a troublesome baby (maybe it’s been crying 24/7) and kill it in order to shut it up.

Of course not! Babies are beautiful beings who are living, breathing children. It isn’t their fault they cry. It’s their way to communicate. They’re innocent; they don’t know right from wrong. 

It’s the same with a fetus.

It’s a living, innocent human being. Nothing you can do or say makes it something different. They didn’t do anything wrong, it’s not their fault their mom is pregnant. 

And we kill them. 

Google defines murder as: “the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.” You may argue that abortion is legal. 

Just because it’s legal, does that mean it’s right? Should we do things just because the law allows us to do them?

I recently watched the movie God’s Not Dead 2, where Grace Westly, a teacher, is sent to court because she talked about Jesus in her classroom. She said something that is very significant, and I would like to share it with you. After refusing to apologize to the board for speaking about Jesus in the classroom, when the board would’ve cleared all charges if she had done so, she told her attorney: “I would rather stand by God and be judged by the world, than stand by the world and be judged by God.”

In Canada last year (2019) there were a total of 85,195 abortions. That’s 85,195 babies that lost their lives to the cruelty of humans. 85,195 lives down the drain. 85,195 babies that never grew into adults. 

But there is hope.

In the book Unplanned (which was also made into a movie), written by Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood leader, there is a recurring event that was started by the Coalition for Life (pro-life group) that prayed at the gate of Planned Parenthood. There was constantly someone praying at the fence surrounding Planned Parenthood. When Abby left Planned Parenthood, she met up with Coalition for Life and told them something amazing. Some of the leaders of the Coalition were discouraged, wondering if their prayers were doing anything, if they were worth it. Abby told them that when people were praying at the fence, a large percent of women who had scheduled abortions at the clinic never showed up. They would drive around the perimeter of the clinic, but never went in. This was classified information that Planned Parenthood kept secret, knowing it would encourage the pro-lifers. 

And one other thing I forgot to mention. Planned Parenthood eventually closed its doors for good. It is now no longer in business. 

See? Your prayers do matter. They do get answered. God’s working behind the scenes! He’s got a plan. He’s working through you to perform it. You’re His precious child, and He wants you to fight for those that can’t fight for themselves. 

So, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s take up that shield of faith and the sword of the spirit, and let’s fight for what we know to be true!

And it’s scary, I know. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12

But we have strength and hope and love. We have God. Let me leave you with a verse, one of my favorites. Hebrews 13:6:

“So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’”

The Lord is your helper.

Do not fear.

For what can man do to you?

I would now like to share an eye opening snippet by the amazing Eliya Harshbarger 22 days after conception, and a babies’ heart starts to beat. That means all the blood cells, veins, arteries, capillaries, tissues, cardiac muscles, and so much more has already formed. 22 DAYS. Sure, the baby doesn’t have some of the things you and I do, like fingers, toes, eyes and ears, but it’s NOT just a bundle of cells. It is a human, stamped with our Creator’s image and fully capable of shaking the world. How could people in our modern day think it is just a nuisance?

They hear the term pregnancy and immediately think of all the pain and chores involved, not the joy of holding new life in your arms. We feel we the right to decide this tiny person’s fate. We kill millions on a whim, just because we don’t want to deal with them right now, or because their conception was an accident. Let me put this in perspective. In the holocaust, 11,000,000 people died. They were the unlucky victims of the Nazis, who were on a mission to destroy all those who they deemed ‘inferior’ to the supreme German race. But much more heinous acts are being committed in our cities today. In the US alone, about 2,900 babies each day are denied what the constitution says is an unalienable right. The right to life. **2,900. Every. Single. Day.** 

One of America’s patriotic songs, “From Sea to Shining Sea,” says ‘God shed his grace on thee,’ But how can we ask God to favor something so deliberately set against what his words repeat over and over again? How could He support such deliberate disobedience? In Genesis 4:11-16, you can read how strongly God feels about murder.

A while ago, I wrote a short story on the subject of Abortion. The main character was a woman who ‘did away with’ her child. She felt no shame about it, even turning it into a joke with some close friends. The only twist? The child was a three-year-old girl. That should horrify you. No one would do that. The girl was a defenseless, and her mother took the life of one she should have protected, even to the point of death. But that is what we are doing, isn’t it? Abortion is accepted, even encouraged.

We are destroying the ones most needing our protection. But if you are reading this as one who has committed abortion, this post is condemning. A non-Christian would simply shrug it off and continue life. But us believers should be deeply convicted. You murdered another human being, one stamped with Christ’s Image. Our heavenly father cannot stand sin. His perfection and holiness are so complete that, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit, he knew our relationship would never be the same.

If you have found your refuge in the only One who can weather the storm of life, then simply saying “I’m sorry,” isn’t enough. God can only a heartfelt apology, with a sincere plea for forgiveness. But this is the part where God flips everything on its head. He makes a beautiful masterpiece out of the shattered glass of your life. When you ask Him to look at His Son’s righteousness instead of our filthiness, He will forgive you. No strings attached, no small print. He WILL forgive.

Esther Lawe spends much of her time writing, reading good literature, writing songs, and dancing. She has currently finished one novel, The Order of Veritas, and is working on editing it now. She loves her Lord Jesus Christ and strives to live for Him in whatever she does. One of her favorite verses is Hebrews 13:6. You can find her at her blog, Esther Josephine Writes.

Eliya “Ellie” Harshbarger has a big passion for writing and a big passion for Christ. Some of her favorite authors include N. D. Wilson, J. R. R. Tolkien, and C. S. Louis. When she was younger, she truggled with putting a pen and paper together, although you would never think that now! Even though she wasn’t a writer early on, she has always loved words. You can depend on her to be bursting with random facts you probably didn’t know and didn’t kneed to know.

What Is Reformation Day And Should I Celebrate It?

Martin Luther Posting The 95 Theses

“What is Reformation day?” you may ask. Reformation day is when on October 31st 1517, Martin Luther posted the 95 theses on the front door of the Catholic church in Wittenberg Germany.

What are the 95 theses?

They are 95 reasons why the Catholic church was corrupt. Luther was a monk and saw first-hand how the church used its power to get money from the people of the empire. The theses opened the eyes of many people and they changed their loyalties. They followed Luther. I am going to show you a few of the many points that Luther wrote. Here are numbers 26 through 31:

26. The pope does well when he grants remission to souls [in purgatory], not by the power of the keys (which he does not possess), but by way of intercession.

27. They preach man who say that so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out [of purgatory].

28. It is certain that when the penny jingles into the money-box, gain and avarice can be increased, but the result of the intercession of the Church is in the power of God alone.

29. Who knows whether all the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of Sts. Severus and Paschal.

30. No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.

31. Rare as is the man that is truly penitent, so rare is also the man who truly buys indulgences, i. e., such men are most rare.

Why Did Martin Luther Post The 95 Theses?

Luther posted the theses because of a new order by the pope of the time, Pope Leo X. The pope wanted money to rebuild the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. So he sent Johann Tetzel to sell indulgences. (Selling indulgences is monetary payment of penalty which, supposedly, absolved one of past sins and/or released one from purgatory after death.) Luther greatly disliked this and wrote a letter to his Bishop, Albrecht von Brandenburg and protested against the selling of indulgences. He enclosed the 95 theses in the letter and sent it on. He copied the theses and sent it on to several of his friends. On the evening of October 31st, In The Year Of Our Lord 1517, Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the front door of the Wittenberg church. No one thought much because someone was always posting something on the door. But when someone did read it, oh boy! Was that paper criticized and rebuked! Luther’s name was everywhere! On every tongue, in every ear, and mouth. The entire church was upset. They put Luther on a trial called the Diet Of Worms. (pronounced Verms). But that is another subject.

Should I celebrate Reformation Day?

If you are a Christian, by all means! Coincidentally, Reformation day is the same day as Halloween. I would recommend that you read this post by my fellow blogger and friend, Alexis Craig. She is a wonderful writer and she dives into Halloweens origin and if Christians should celebrate it! Millions celebrate Halloween, thousands celebrate Reformation day. Reformation day is what we Christians should be celebrating, not Halloween.

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

As the second most popular holiday next to Christmas, it is easy to see why children and adults alike wait with bated breath for the one single night of the year when they can dress up, carve personalities into pumpkins, gather hordes of candy, and get a dose of supernatural thrill.  

But is All-Hallows-Eve really the over industrializedand innocent day as it appears to be? Or is there a darker side lurking under the plastic jack-o-lantern that should send Christians running for the hills? 

Fellow followers of Christ, if you are struggling with the question that comes around once a year to ”haunt” us ( To Halloween or not to Halloween?) I’m going to give you a slight glimpse into the history of this celebrated day so you can make an informed decision for yourself and those you love.      

The Early Origins OThe Seemingly Harmless Pumpkin Smashing Day 

We can trace the first beginnings of Halloween back to the ancient Celts, where it was originally named Samhain. This pagan autumn festival marked the end of the Celtic year, the calendar being divided into two main categories; the dark part of the year and the light part ( Or summer and winter).

October 31st was the turning point of the lighter part of the year towards the darker part, and to the Celtics, it represented the time where the veil dividing the demonic beings and spirits from us was thinned, allowing them to mingle among humans and wreck devilish havoc. Goblins, sprits, ghosts, witches, black cats, devils and other hellish beings were said to be spotted roaming about on that night, and thus we have the signature characters that make up this night of trick-or treats. Some of the Celtics would dress themselves in costumes made of animal bones and skin to protect their identity from any vengeful spritsthat might be lurking among them. To the founders of Halloween, October 31st was a time to placate the supernatural beings that controlled nature. 

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory the III made an effort to make the Samhain holiday a more “Christianized” event, thus forming All Saints Day on November first. Needless to say, a lot of the more demonic traits of Samhain stayed, and in the end didn’t effect it much.  

How Did WCome TDecapitating Vegetables? 

The history of the jack-o-lantern is a fascinating one. 

Though there are many variations of how the story went, most agree that the jack-o-lantern is connected with the legend of a drunkard named Stingy Jack, who was a Celtic lad that loved his liquor, someone you wouldn’t want your children around, and whose ”ghost” struck terror into the hearts of ancient Celts. 

A lazy yet shrewd man, he was stumbling around the countryside after taking a shot too many when he came across the devil. Realizing his time had come, he made a deal with the devil, and to make a very long story short, tricked him by using a cross to strip the devil’s power. Eventually the man died, but due to a earlier deal, the devil could not take his soul. So he gave him an ember from the ashes of hell, which Jack put into a random turnip he happened to have on hand. 

Ancient Celts probably didn’t have access to pumpkins, so they found and carved out turnips to ward off the evil sprits lurking about on Samhain day and, ultimately, to ward off  the ghost of Stingy Jack.  

So in reality, the cute little plastic jack-o-lantern you just bought is a symbol used in pagan rituals to keep demons from stealing souls and dragging them into the gates of Hades. 

Satanists Views On Halloween

In Satanism the high holy day is guess what? 

Halloween. 

Gee, I wonder why? Maybe it has something to do with the origins of this holiday.

Anton LaVey, founder of the church of Satan and author of The Satanic Bible,  had this to say about Halloween. 

After one’s own birthday, the two major Satanic holidays are Walpurgisnacht (May 1st) and Halloween.” (LaVey, Anton Szandor, The Satanic Bible, 1969, p. 96)    

   The official site for the church of Satan states on the FAQ that;

“”We see this holiday as the night when the mundane folk try to reach down inside and touch the “darkness” which for Satanists is a daily mode of existence. Particularly in the United States, Halloween is a time for celebrating monster films, wearing costumes of a macabre nature, and evoking the thrill of “fun fear.” Children (of all ages) can indulge their fantasies by donning costumes that allow for intense role-playing and the release of their “demonic cores,” the parts of their personalities often hidden from their friends, co-workers and families.”” (FAQ answer on the church of Satan website, emphasis added.)  

And they have much more to say.

”This night, we smile at the amateur explorers of their own inner darkness, for we know that they enjoy their brief dip into the pool of the “shadow world.” We encourage their tenebrous fantasies, the candied indulgence, and the wide-ranging evocation of our aesthetics (while tolerating some of the chintzy versions) even if it is but once a year. For the rest of the time, when those not of our meta-tribe shake their heads in wonder at us, we can point out they may find some understanding by their own All Hallows Eve doings, but we generally find it simpler to just say: “Think of the Addams Family and you’ll begin to see what we’re about.”” ( FAQ answer on the church of Satan website, emphasis added.) 

An Interesting Quote From The Director OA Horror Movie

While doing extensive research for this article, I came across a fascinating documentary produced by The History Channel on Halloween.

In one part of the show they interviewed the director of Nightmare on Elm Street, and the History channel had this to say about horror movies and Halloween.  “…. Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, or Halloween, are inspiring leagues of growing kids to kill.” ( History Channel, The Real Story  of Halloween)

Then director of a Nightmare on Elm Street says “To wear the mask of the killer or ghost or skeleton gives the kids a sense of a lot of power and safety, because the monster can’t get you if you are the monster at that moment” Wes Craven, director of A Nightmare On Elm Street, emphasis added.)

Although the director may have a twisted and sick point, surly there must be a better way for us to help our children get over their fears of a mass murder instead of letting them act and feel like a serial killer.   

Soooo….Should Christians Celebrate All-Hallows-Eve?

My dear brothers and sisters, I can’t answer the question for you if you should or should not celebrate Halloween, instead I wanted to give you a peek behind the scenes at some of the history and meaningbehind those symbols associated with this day, so you could make an informed decision wither or not youand your family will participate in this day of apple bobbing trick-or-treating.

I know its not an easy choice to make ( I very much understand the dilemma!) but here are some Bible verses that may help you as you seek out His will foryour life. 

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22- “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstainfrom every form of evil.” (NASB) 

3 John 1:11- “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good….”  (NIV) 

Ephesians 6: 12- ” For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (NIV)  

Ephesians 5:15-16- “Be very careful then, how you live. Not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, for the days are evil.” (NIV)

We’re Being Drowned Out.

“I’m being drowned out.”  They cry

About 186 babies are aborted every day. We can’t hear them, they can’t advocate for themselves so we just have the right to push them away? People look at these lives and call them a cluster of cells. It always confused me, didn’t our biology teachers tell us that even a single-celled organism is a living thing? 

This life in your womb is very alive, it has a heartbeat, it can breathe but we can’t hear their voices. Society uses the womb to silence these lives, is that what it’s come to? You’re not valued unless you have a voice. To further, you’re not valued unless you have a voice we can agree with?

“I’m being drowned out!” They all yell. `

Our children are being prayed upon every day in a lot of different ways. Kids are put in churches where they’re led to believe that doing a coloring sheet and putting their quarters in a piggy bank is the same thing as spending valuable time with God. A lot of our churches aren’t pushing our children to reach out in their faith because well, they’re only children. 

We have children in the depths of poverty and abuse screaming, looking for something. They want comfort, guidance, help, and for someone to just simply acknowledge them! Why are we so blind to all the hurt going on around us? Our children have voices, so why don’t we teach them to use it?

“I’m being drowned out!” We scream. 

Teenagers walk the streets, halls, and roads every day surrounded by all types of evil. The lies of the world lie in a device that sits in our pockets all day, and we allow it to affect us. We listen to our friends and peers as they speak with cruel and wrong language, so we tell them it’s cool and join in with them. We’re peer pressured into doing stupid and harmful things just for the approval of our peers. 

When our friends talk about their relationships with the same sex or about transitioning into another gender, we listen but that’s all. Maybe we even encourage that because we are led to believe friends should ALWAYS support each other. Society puts these low expectations on our teens and it’s getting to be enough. We don’t put them face to face with challenges because what would we ever do if one of them failed?

“I’m being drowned out!” They pray.

I live in a pretty small town. We have lots of amazing churches in our area, but I never realized how I take that for granted. I have at least 20 great churches I could get up and go to on Sunday that would allow me to worship and listen to a sermon. But there are a lot of areas where that’s not the case. 

There are areas that are polluted by the world’s toxic lies, so when hurt people do go into a church they’re deceived. And there are areas where great churches sit and are hurt, polluted, and drowned out by all of the noise around them. They’re not being heard, the leaders are absent. 

“We’re being drowned!” They all explain. 

We all need to step up, however, today’s adults are the key right now. We need the previous generation to lead while there’s still time. It seems that the closer Generation Z gets to adulthood, the more our adults step back. Stop it! We need your leadership more than some may think.

Rather than shrugging and thinking it’s already too late, step up! You still have a few years! Truthfully, my generation is looking for some kind of guidance but we’re finding it in the wrong places. While leaders are absent, lies and deception step up. So don’t let us all drown and don’t settle for the bare minimum. I’m asking you, we’re all asking you to take lead again so we can be better leaders in the future. 

“We drowned,” They say, regretfully. 

What about the people who die never knowing who God is? Why do these people die without knowing God? Surely everyone’s been to church… at least once. I’ve met people who were never saved that search for God. I’ve also met people who have been saved and now don’t acknowledge God. So far, I’ve come to one conclusion. 

People die without knowing God for two reasons. Because they have worked so hard to drown us out. 

And we let them. 

When they cry I’m being drowned out,” God acknowledges them as a life, he hears their cry. His voice is their voice. While society tells us they’re nothing but cells, God tells us they have purpose and life. 

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

As they yell “I’m being drowned out!” God whispers in their ears, he’s beside them. They are a gift that deserve to be listened to. 

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Psalm 127:3

As we scream “I’m being drowned out!” God hear us, and he comforts us when we reach out. He will give as much as we ask for. 

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

As they pray “I’m being drowned out!” God answers them in multiple ways. Through touch, feelings, overwhelming love, visions, and answers. 

And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31

As they explain, “We’re being drowned!”  God tells them that is not the truth. God gives them the strength to get up and lead with him behind them all. 

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

And when another soul regrets “We drowned” God is sad, he’s been fighting for them. But he knows our decisions before we make them. And we believers get angry, we should be rightfully angry. Not at God but at the world. And more importantly it should give us newfound motivation. It should put fuel in our spiritual tank. 

I am here to reach through your screen and grab you by the shoulders. I have something to tell you, something we all should have heard and done a long time ago. Are you ready for it? Okay….

DON’T LET THEM DROWN US OUT!

We have God on our side! The creator of the universe is on our side so what are we waiting for? Why are we so timid and frightful? 

If you advocate for life, you’re advocating for the voiceless. When we acknowledge our children, we give God an opportunity to speak into our hearts. When we have hard conversations and don’t listen to the world’s lies, we give heaven a victory! When we step up to lead, we can allow others to experience God through us! And most importantly, when we don’t give up we can cause a breakthrough. 

When I was thinking about a way to end this piece, I couldn’t come up with anything. I wanted something that would leave an impact. And then I came across a bible verse that’s a good reminder that we all could use and I feel this article reflects it very well. 

“God is on your side” Romans 8:31

Stop Trying to Decipher God’s Messages

Humility.

Humility, Humility, Humility.

What God says about humility.

Does Humility define you?

Humility, what it is and what it’s not.

In the course of two days I saw all of these. I saw them as article titles, in my devotional, on my Facebook page. This word was everywhere! I was positive that God was trying to tell me something.

I went looking for what he was trying to tell me. I looked up google definitions, searched my bible and went looking at devotionals. I still didn’t understand what he was trying to tell me, so I texted my friend and told her how frustrated I was. And she gave me some pretty great advice.

She said, “You don’t have to decode it. If you go looking for this message you’ll come up with your own meaning and completely miss what God would’ve otherwise told you.” While I read her message I was searching for other Christian blogs where I could send submissions. Well, yet again another article popped up. “Humility, What it is and What it’s not.” I put my phone down and clicked on it.

I don’t know why this is the article I clicked on, I had scrolled through a lot more with the word humility in the title. This one stuck out to me, and God gave me a message through this article. The article talked about how it is easy to let God bleed into your life when you’re alone or have the time, but what about when you don’t have the time or you’re not alone?

Through this quarantine I’ve grown a lot in my faith. I’ve been doing lots of devotions on my own and with friends. I’ve been trusting God a lot more, which actually led to having 2 years of weight lifted off of my shoulders. I’ve been praying in a stronger way. And finally, I’ve been reading the life changing book Live Fearless by Sadie Robertson.

God has provided us lots of time to grow closer to him. I have learned so much from my devotions. Honestly, my little brother who is nearing the end of his 5th grade year is a very deep person when it comes to the bible.

In the bible app there is a spot where you can “talk it over” with everyone doing the devotional. One day my brother wrote, “Make your best sacrifice for God and always believe in him, no matter what. Bring joy by thinking of others and put God and others first.” In these times, are you making your best sacrifice for God? Are you bringing joy into the lives of others by putting them first?

In these times, yes. I am making my best sacrifice for God. Yes, I am putting others first by choosing to stay home and taking extra precautions when I do have to go out. In times like these, it’s a lot easier to say yes. But after this all resolves, are we going to continue to make our best sacrifice for God? Are we going to continue to put others first?

I want to continue to trust God when this is over. I want to continue to do a devotional when this is all over. I want to continue to pray strongly when this is all over. And if that applies to you too, here’s what I want you to pray.

“Dear Lord, please allow me to have the strength and courage to continue to trust in you. Allow me to see time slots available for spending time with you. Let my prayers be powerful. Open my eyes to you during these tough times so I’ll be more prepared when things go back. Amen.”

Trust God. Lots of people look at these times and say these are the tough ones. But in reality, these times can be a blessing. We’ve been given the time and resources minister to others from afar. And most importantly, we have a God that gave us that time.

Dear Class of 2020

Dear Class of 2020 Seniors,

The first time you walked through those doors, you were probably scared to say goodbye to your parents. How long will you be here? Where do you sit? What if your new teacher doesn’t like you? What if one of the other kids doesn’t like me?

By the end of the day, you might not have wanted to leave! You’ve made so many new friends! You love your teacher! How much time before you get to go back? Maybe you were ready to get out of there. Maybe the questions and thoughts racing through your head were more like, “Those kids make me nervous. I don’t like my teacher. When can I leave?”

Either way, the moment you walked through those doors, you had a connection to that building. It had a place in your heart, good or bad. Those first 5 to 6 years were just the beginning. They were practice, but they were also the most fun. 

In just the blink of an eye, you walked out of those doors for the last time. Now there is a new set of doors opened, but these doors are only the “middle ground.” For some of you, what hid behind these doors would be some of toughest years to face. 

Everything had changed so fast. Friends, sports, feelings, and the list goes on. People start getting freedom to show who they are, but they don’t always show the prettiest sides of themselves. But don’t worry, you’ll move on and get some really great friends. Or maybe it’s not your time, you might keep old friends or just focus on school work. 

The middle ground will also be fun, you just won’t realize it while you’re there. You’ll be too busy trying to discover yourself, which is a great thing! Each and everyone of you are a beautiful and unique individual. Maybe you found your first “true love” that lasted about 3 weeks. Or maybe you were looking to join and after school activity and instead found yourself a family. 

The middle ground is such a beautiful place, but at the moment it’s just so confusing and horrible. It’s one of many places where we need Gods guidance most. In reality, the middle ground is a test, but it’s not your final exam. You all probably have mixed feelings about your 6th-8th grade years, but slow down and reflect on them. They really weren’t that bad, were they?

You’ve made it through the test. And now is where it gets real, because these next years, these are the ones that really count. And these next 4 years look different for everyone. I myself am only a year and a half in. But through these years, the one thing a lot of us get is a mix of comfort and routine. 

Let me explain. We go to the first day of school and we know when we wake up tomorrow we will have to go to school. 180 days out of the year, we know we will be getting up, walking down the school hallways, opening up our locker, getting through the day with friends and teachers, maybe going to a sports practice and then leaving. And we’ll do the same thing the next day. 

But right now, our comfort and routine has been interrupted. We won’t be getting up and going to school tomorrow. Tomorrow, freshman won’t be rushing out of the halls and Seniors won’t be wandering the halls with their heads held high. Tomorrow we won’t get to go and click in our locker combinations. Tomorrow we won’t be seeing our friends and teachers. Tomorrow, well we don’t know what tomorrow holds for the 2020 Seniors.

Throughout all of these years, we wait for so many exciting events. Prom, graduation, our last and final day of school. Seniors want to savor their last moments in those halls. But the class of 2020, the future is uncertain. But one thing is for sure, because of all these unknowns, you’re going to be a strong class.

Not all classes have to adapt to these changes. Not all classes are having to face these hard life experiences before they’ve even left highschool. But class of 2020, you were made strong enough to do all of these things. Class of 2020, my heart hurts for you, but you will come out of this stronger. 

Your Freedom Isn’t the Same as Your Neighbors

I’ve started working on my next big project. A collection of 5 short stories based on one word. Free. Just through drafting not half of one of the stories, I have learned a lot already.

We all lead very different lives and we all have very different views and beliefs.  We’ve all heard the saying “freedom isn’t free,” but have we ever taken time to really relate to this? Have we ever thought, “How does that relate to me?”

Let’s look into a few different lives. We’ll start simple. Think of a high school student whose bound down by the chains of exams, stress, judgement and/or anxiety. Maybe freedom to them is just a free day. Or maybe freedom to them is not having a curfew, something plain and simple. 

Okay, now lets change a few factors. Still a high school student, but let’s say they come from a line of african american slaves as ancestors. Maybe they don’t really pay attention to their bloodline, and they just want a free day too. Or maybe they do pay attention to bloodlines, and they discovered their definition of freedom as they read the journals of their ancestors. Read about the terrible beatings, sex trades, and crowded diseased filled slave ships. Maybe they’re already free where they are, even with all of the stress and exams on their shoulders. 

443,000 children in foster care in the United States alone. Foster care can have a good and bad toll on kids. Maybe a child in foster care has found a great loving home. That home, no matter how small or cluttered it is, it could be their freedom. Or maybe there’s a child in the system who came from an abusive foster care home, or just an abusive home in general. What if school was their freedom, can you imagine that?

How about we increase age a bit? A 30 year old woman is in an abusive relationship. The smell of beer slips into her nose and the sound of footsteps cause chills to travel down her spine, the same steps that used to make her heart skip a beat out of love. What does freedom mean to her? Maybe it’s just being out of the house, going to the grocery store. Or maybe it’s having a house a little bit away from her friends and family. 

Modern day Israel. Christains are being held, beaten, and even decapitated for their beliefs. What do you think freedom looks like for them? Maybe it’s just one more night of knowing that they will be alive tomorrow. Maybe their dreams are their freedom, or even worse, maybe their deaths are their freedom. And unfortunately, it’s not just the people in Israel being affected. People are being beaten, held, and even killed for their beliefs everyday. 

Okay, let’s take a step back. Look at yourself. Now that you’ve seen all of these situations, I’m going to ask, what’s freedom to you? Okay, now I’m going to ask you a few more vital questions. 

Do you have access to a public school? Do you have stress and exams? Do you have a house, small and/or cluttered? Are you able to go grocery shopping and run errands? Do you sleep and have dreams? 

These small stressful things could be someone else’s freedom. Never take anything for granted and most importantly, remember why you’re free. I don’t mean free like not having a curfew, I mean a freedom that goes beyond this earth. Jesus died on that cross to give you freedom from the heavy chains he wore, so please, don’t take that for granted.