love

Here are my two cents:

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I got mad love for you. Whether you voted Blue or Red, I love you. No conditions or clauses about it. Some of you reading this might believe me to be naive but I’m not. Of course people are going to have differences and seeing eye to eye will seem so near impossible but I just have to believe that whoever you are you voted with the best intentions for our country at heart. In each of our own mad little ways we want to see our home grow and thrive, so let’s go for it! Let’s do it! Let’s come together not as opposing sides who need to have their individual voices heard but as a people with the desire to better our lives, as well as the lives of others and the future of our kids’s too. It’s not gonna be easy, it’s not always gonna be comfortable (in fact 60% of the time it probably won’t be), and there won’t be one straight and narrow path to get there but rather a bumpy one with loops and curves that we can actually be proud of because it was forged by the perseverance of our hands. I believe that we can take our tiny common ground of hope and grow it into something tangible and real. It’s gonna take some laying down of pride, pushing of limits, and giving of self but I’m game if you are. 
And even if you’re not, I'm still in.

Post Post-Grad

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    Some posts ago I said I was finishing up grad school in less than one week, however things have changed! Now, a few blog posts later and grad school has been over for the last 3 weeks (No matter how many times I say that out loud or in my head, realizations like that make me squeel like a little girl who was just hugged by Harry Styles). 

      Given that, I’m sure everybody wants to know what my future plans are (and by everybody I mean probably just my parents, siblings, and a few relatives who have invested a lot of time, words of wisdom, prayers, money, extra bedrooms for me to crash in, and effort into any part of my educational career). Well let me tell you, my plans post post-grad go as follows:

1. Live life. 
2. Repeat step one while doing so in Sydney, Australia. 

      Yep, 12 years of grade school, 4 years of secondary eduction and a one-and-half-year post-graduate degree later the best answer I can come up with is to live life. I’m aware of the fact that my answer doesn’t sound too thorough or stable but still… Isn’t that the best answer any of us can come up with?
      The year before I graduated college I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Truth be told, that was a grand part of the reason why I decided to go to get my master’s degree. Everyone around me at the time had some sense of what they wanted, what they were good at (Maybe I missed the memo about that meeting). So I did what I usually do in situations like that, I prayed. Afterwards I sent in my application for grad school and that was that. 
      While my  time spent in school  did help me figure out more of  what I was interested in it didn’t help me figure out what exactly I could and would do. That part was all God. He helped me realize that the years I spent stuck having a one-track mind were actually limiting me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to make a general goal of where you’d like to be in x-amount of years but we can never successfully devise the actual  steps to get there (Proverbs 16:9 || Jeremiah 29:11). That part, again is all God.
      “Be open to new, to the unknown and the unexperienced”, He said. “That’s where unexpected opportunities and trust in who I Am have the best chance of thriving.” He constantly had to remind me that He knows the desires of my heart - of all of ours - the depths of my mind, and the ability of my hands. He would not have given such things to all of us us if were supposed to stay glued to one thing  for the rest of our lives. 
      So here goes nothing everything. Here is to taking time to design more stuff, starting a  business of my own, volunteering, blogging more, growing roots, listening to people’s stories, taking pride in how far we all have come, late nights followed by late mornings or early mornings preceded by early nights, helping others, sharing my love of Christ with the world, strengthening relationships, travelling, more photos, getting blown away by God’s unconditional and unending grace, new connections, roads less traveled, new customs, old traditions, family, friends, strangers, peers, co-workers, love, never stopping my education long after school has ended, unplanned moments, meticulously planned schedules,
living, imagination, faith, and excitement. 

Dear My Generation, Your actions will outlive you.

"Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

While we may not be old enough to look back and be fully satisfied we are also not young enough to look forward and take our time. There are far too many wonderful and life-impacting  things out there that we have yet to come across. There are so many people we have not yet met. Let’s live fully and leave this world better than we entered it 20+ years ago. 

I take a look back at the life Christ died for, mine. Although He was always there I wasn’t always aware. I was lost but now I am found and f o r e v e r grateful. Not only did I gain an identity in Him but I also gained a purpose, love. I must love others the way He has relentlessly and undauntedly loved me. In that love I pray that the world will see Jesus and be drawn to His light, love, and grace.

I take a look back at the life Christ died for, mine. Although He was always there I wasn’t always aware. I was lost but now I am found and f o r e v e r grateful. Not only did I gain an identity in Him but I also gained a purpose, love. I must love others the way He has relentlessly and undauntedly loved me. In that love I pray that the world will see Jesus and be drawn to His light, love, and grace.

I take a look back at the life Christ died for, mine. Although He was always there I wasn’t always aware. I was lost but now I am found and f o r e v e r grateful. Not only did I gain an identity in Him but I also gained a purpose, love. I must love others the way He has relentlessly and undauntedly loved me. In that love I pray that the world will see Jesus and be drawn to His light, love, and grace.

I take a look back at the life Christ died for, mine. Although He was always there I wasn’t always aware. I was lost but now I am found and f o r e v e r grateful. Not only did I gain an identity in Him but I also gained a purpose, love. I must love others the way He has relentlessly and undauntedly loved me. In that love I pray that the world will see Jesus and be drawn to His light, love, and grace.

Guest Blogger: August

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Here are a few random things I enjoy: I love waterfalls because the very presence of them says “peace”. My favorite flowers are sunflowers not only because they are bright, bold and beautiful but also because they also have purpose, their seeds are used for food and for oils. I truly adore being at the beach at night; ocean waves overwhelm and bewilder me because of their depth and captivating ferociousness. I’m not a huge wilderness person but I truly enjoy walks in the park or mountain top views. I am constantly asking myself the same question whenever I am surrounded or in the midst of nature. What is it about nature that we are just enthralled with? We can sit for hours and talk about the colors in a sunset or sunrise, the beauty of the way the stars trickle themselves like freckles across a sky, and compliment over and over on the various types of flowers that we see. But when someone asks us what our favorite physical attribute is about ourselves we take forever to answer them back. This baffles me, even though I do it all the time. I am a huge advocate for “beauty”, I think I have secretly made it my personal goal to make sure that every women I come in counter with will know that they are beautiful inside and out, created so intricately and with a purpose. But when it comes to myself, I sometimes come up short in this area. I am quick to compliment one of my friends or affirm someone in their physical attributes but once it comes back to me I shut it down or deny it. I know I can’t be alone in this, why do we do it? Nature astounds us because the beauty we find there is simple yet breathtaking, it is not tainted by everything around it trying to compare beauties, it just is beautiful and that’s that. Nature reminds us that we are small and maybe sometimes a seeming insignificant part of a big story. Nature seems not only bigger but also better than us. But it’s not. All things have purpose; I would dare to say that we as human beings have one of the biggest purposes. We were created to bear the image of Christ here on earth… good gosh THAT’S HUGE.

Let’s take a quick look back through the creation story, shall we?

Genesis 1:9 says, “And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.”

Genesis 1:12 says, “The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”

Genesis 1:21 says, “So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”

Genesis 1:25 says, “God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”

Lastly Genesis 1:27-31 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

Do we not realize that God created the ENTIRE WORLD, universes, galaxies, waters and dry lands, animals, insects and us, the human race. It was good, it was good, it was good and then finally it was VERY good. WE are the very good. These creations that he created are so minuscule in comparison to US who were made in the IMAGE OF HIM. We are the only creation made in the image of God WHAT?! How awesome is that?! We as human beings are majestic; we were created with set aside and diligent time, and the breath life from our very creator. We stare in awe of his creations; waterfalls, flowers, beaches, mountains and forget that we too are his beautiful, handcrafted, breathtaking creation. Let us rejoice in that today.

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Every last Thursday of the month I invite different bloggers to write their own pieces specifically for you guys, my readers! This month I have the incredible honor to host guest blogger, Arielle Estoria Wilburn. She runs the blog Chronicles of a Lioness so after you read her heart-warming post here, go check out her page for even more amazing stuff.

According to Plan

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I didn’t read my bible today, oh no…not. More like big whoop.

Faced with getting into a new routine this morning I underestimated the time it would take for me to get a “its a school day so I want to look casual and still remain put together” look. Although I had a general idea of what I wanted to wear the night before I think that only added to my stress of actually getting dressed. Besides that plan - which failed - I had also mentally written out how my morning was going to go:

-530 Wake up and take a few minutes to grudgingly get out of bed
-540 Shower and the be dressed and ready by 630.
-630 I knew I had to be out of the house by 7 so that meant 30 good, solid minutes to spend in the word with the Big Guy upstairs.

Reality:
530 My alarm rings
545 Let’s see how many more times I can hit snooze today
550-605 Man, the warmth of that shower was too hard to depart
605 Five minutes behind schedule but I can make up for it because I know what I want to wear.
610 Outfit is on, now to hair and face. Wait a minute… ew. Who died and made me stylist of the year? This outfit is not cute. Safe to say that multiple shoe changes and shirt alterations later it is now 635 and I still have not done my hair or makeup.
640 Ahhhh God Im so sorry. Ill be with you in just a second. All I have to do is a simple ‘do and apply eyeliner. Ill be right there.
645 and that “right there moment” is finally here… Only to have my cousin tell me that we need to leave earlier than expected.

Long story story short, my day is a few moments away from being done and I have yet complete my daily devotionals.

If my situation sounds familiar it’s probably because you’ve been through something like it yourself. However the point of this is not to sit around and reminisce with each other on how we’ve failed to put God first but to remind us that mistakes happen but grace abounds.

We are humans, yes. We will make mistakes but don’t let that stop you from coming back to the heart of worship. God knows our hearts - each and every one of them personally. He knows that it’s not intentional when we slip up and fall down. With that said, come tomorrow and I will get right back at it and continue doing my daily devos.

This is how we should address every situation. It may be difficult to grasp because no other being has ever been -or will ever be- as forgiving as He is but once we understand God’s unyielding and unconditional love for us it also becomes a humbling experience. Just looking back on today I noticed how He was still with me in every single moment - bible study or not.

Don’t allow room for your slip-ups to continually slip you up. Know that He has already forgiven you. All He wants you to do with your mistakes is to grow from them.

Spoken Word

My new-found love for spoken word brought me to these videos. The words were gorgeously and articulately written and I commend them for having the boldness to stand before so many viewers to speak on their truth, stories, and views.
Take a few moments to watch them. They may not be your exact story but maybe you can relate to one or get advice from another. Anyway, here they are.

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Spoken Word Testimony - Sheena Starks

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I Love You More - Lance Devore

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31 To Be Exact - 31 Status

Ihe Neme (Things Are Happening)

  • You’re thinking of plans on how to entertain the kids.
  • Setting your alarm clock for an  earlier time to squeeze more things on your schedule.
  • Considering how your currently terrible situation can be used as a testimony.
  • Praying for others more than you pray for yourself.
  • Writing down a reminder to buy thank you cards for the volunteer workers.
  • Learning that the choosing your battles have become a part of your nature.
  • Seeing the cool in what you’re even 2-years-younger self would have found embarrassing.
  • Making a little extra dinner for your roommate out of want rather than obligation
  • Simply deciding not to get a manicure because you’re on dish duty the next day and you’re okay with it.
  • Calling your relatives because they would like to talk to you even though the feeling may not be fully mutual.
  • Finding joy in eating alone once in a while rather than fearing it.

Call it whatever you wish, maturity, growing up, life, what have you. All I know is that it is here and although I didn’t even know when it hit realizing how it has slowly altered my everyday actions has made me more appreciative of the life given me. 

God is such a groupie (and other things I learned from #HillsongConf 2013)

To say last night was amazing is… well, I don’t know. All I know is that amazing just would not cut it. To better describe the last night of Hillsong's 2013 Conference one would have to use words like inspiring; revelation; mind-opening; surprising; emotional; humorous; love-filled; spirit-filled; infinite; you know, something along those lines.

However, because it is physically impossible for me to rewind time and bring you with me, I suppose I could just give you the key points I received from Pastor Judah Smith's all-those-above-words-and-a-bit-more message.

1. John 3:16 + Romans 5:6-8 are alive and real because God is love. (1 John 4:8). It is literally impossible for Him not to love us and everyone including the bad people because He knows no other way. He is love and He will always be love

2. God is a groupie. For example, look at Justin Beiber and his groupies. A bunch of people willing to do anything to meet, see, and hear Justin Beiber no matter the cost. They follow him to all - if not, most - of his shows; they dream of the day that he will be theirs; and every thing he does they hope it’s for them even though they know that there’s a strong possibility that won’t ever happen. Hence, God is our groupie. He longs to be with us, to hear us, to speak to us, and to see us even though He knows some will reject Him. God longs for our praises and will never stop looking for them.

3. He’s got a bad case of the so-loves. I mean just look at John 3:16 for example. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not die but have everlasting life.” With that then comes so many other things: 

For God so loves us that…

  • He continues to forgive us EVERY time we stuff up (1 John 1:9)
  • He helps us find our way when we find ourselves lost. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • He wants nothing but an awesome life for us. (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • makeup, muscles, clothes, and looks don’t matter to Him. (1 Samuel 16:7)
  • He will NEVER forget you - even though it feels as though He has. (Isaiah 49: 15-16)
  • His loving ways will remain the same forever - (Hebrews 13:8)

There are so many other cases where His love is evident. It’s not only the Bible that will show you them, just look back at your life ad see the proof! It’s unbelievable to think such a great being can work on such a microscopic level too.

4. He is the Hosea to our Gomer. If you flip through the book of Hosea, you will find a story of a wealthy and prominent man in society who was told by God to marry a woman of lesser value, a prostitute (Mind you, back then that had got to be one of the most embarrassing and awkward things you could do). So Hosea married her and they were living  a pretty good life with their 3 kids until one day she ran out on him. Hosea looked everywhere for her only to finally find her back in the slums selling herself again. It was after he had seen his own wife in her demoralizing position that God told Hosea, take her back (Hosea 3:1). God wanted Hosea to forgive her and have her come back with him. (Just hold on, it gets crazier). Not only did he have to take her back, he then found out that he had to buy her back - his own wife! Being the man he was, Hosea bought her from another and then proclaimed his love with a new set of vows (Hosea 3:3).

    Imagine that, having to buy something that you didn’t lose, that you cherished, that you loved, something that was already yours. That is what God did with us. We were His until sin took us away. He then had to send His only son to die for us as a wage to get us back. If that is not real love I do not know what is.

The message given by Pastor Judah went a bit deeper than what you just read but the whole point of it still remains. We are loved so much by God that it’s too crazy to wrap our heads or hearts around it. In short, we are loved by God.

I just want to end this post with some of the last words Pastor Judah said:

          This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  - 1 John 4:10-11