In a world with so much disaster, so much heartache,
A world where compassion is running out and love is scarce,
there is hope.
It's hard to constantly witness the state of humanity on an everyday basis. Not only is it plastered all over the news, but as a volunteer at the animal shelter, such experiences happen daily. People give up their dogs or cats for often any and every reason they can find. I've witnessed old dogs, dogs who have known their owners all their lives, come in. I've seen pets turned in because they're moving, or had kids, and any and every reason, and while some situations are not the owner's fault, it's not so much the case the majority of the time. It's heartbreaking to see. It's heartbreaking to see the lack of love and compassion that people have for life.
It's like life no longer has value in our society. Pets are turned into a kill shelter, even though they're told the shelter might euthanize if need be. And not just that, human life has been devalued as well. Abortion, the termination of a baby's life during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy, has become controversial throughout the country. Murder has existed since the days of Cain and Abel, but nonetheless, crime has just increased more and more. Greed has run rampant in professions, such as many in the medical field, and life has lost so much value to many.
But even though this world lacks goodness and compassion, there is hope. There are still good people in this world. There are still those who are willing to be a voice for those who cannot speak. There are still those who value human life and would sacrifice their own lives for the benefit of another.
There are still people fighting for freedom for our country. There are still many people dedicated to the cause of healthier and happier lives. There are still people who treasure their pets and find joy in the beauty of creation.
Most of all, there is a God, a God of grace and love and compassion, who is reigning on the throne. And even though this world is in utter chaos, our God is still ruling. And one day, all things will be made new.
Only then could we truly soak in every moment.
In a world of hurry and rush and constant moving and getting things done at the fastest possible, minutes of precious time, of a life that is only temporal, are so often rushed past. Minutes turn into hours, hours turn into days, days turn into months, and months turn into years, and before we know it, life has changed. We are older, life is different, and there is no going back to the moments of yesterday. What is done is done.
Yet we live life always in a constant hurry, always on the go. We go through the McDonalds drive thru and get impatient when we have to wait more than a minute for our food. We don't like standing in line at a store or for a big event longer than what is expected to wait. We are always rushing.
What if we decided to slow down and truly live life, thoroughly taking the time with the people around us and enjoying every second?
Life is temporary.
If life had a pause button, maybe we would truly see the beauty of what is around us. Maybe we would finally discover that life isn't so bad after all. We would find that the people around us, whether we enjoy their presence or not, are in this life for a reason. God doesn't make mistakes. We would find that when we stop rushing, and going through the motions, we will see the wonderful moments, future bits of memories, that only a God as good as the God we serve could bless our lives with.
We may finally see that we truly are blessed. We are covered by His love. We have been called to live life to the fullest, because that is the kind of life that we are called to in Christ.
The enemy sucks away life, but in Christ, we can live life abundantly.
Maybe if we could pause the moments of today, we would finally see it.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
Dear Incoming Freshmen:
So you're excited. Your first year of high school is about to begin. Feelings of excitement as well as anxiety are overcoming your thoughts. A new stage of life is on its way, a period of new opportunities, friends, classmates, and memories that will be remembered for a lifetime. This is a time of renewal, of identity; the days of your 'high school self' will begin shortly.
As I approach my last year of high school, I've learned a lot over the past several years:
1. Your identity is not defined by what others think or say. Regardless of what people think, you are YOU. You are created by the hands of an Almighty God. Don't let the words of others or the labels that others place on you define who you are or what you can do. There is no one like you, so embrace yourself. Smile at the little things that would normally lower your self esteem and remind yourself that you have been created by a God who is holier than holy (no one can raise the bar of perfection above Him!). He knows what He is doing and that certainly didn't change when He created you.
2. From the first day of high school to the last day of senior year, work hard and make wise choices. This is a mistake that many students make and one that I have been blessed enough to learn from the start. Study hard and don't give up. There will be lots of assignments and exams in your future, but high school is about education more than anything else. Do what you have been called to do in high school, and work at it with all of your being. Set your goals high, and I have no doubt that you'll reach the stars. If you wish, do as many college classes as you can while they are free and easily accessible. Dual Enrollment is my top recommendation and it will save you a ton of money and time by doing so. Reach the finish line at the end of senior year, assured that you gave it your all and that you said no to any decision that could ruin your future.
3. Get involved and pursue your passions. Whatever makes your heart skip a beat, give it to God and then chase it. God has placed the passions on your heart and He does not do anything without a purpose. If you like music, join band or chorus. If you love sports, join a sports team. If you aspire to be a future nurse, join HOSA or any of the other various clubs your school has to offer. No matter what you enjoy, pursue your God-given passions and get involved. I began volunteering at the animal shelter my sophomore year and have enjoyed it wholeheartedly since. Do what you love; God will move throughout the years and you'll be able to look back on memories of fun times and amazing opportunities.
4. Be the change. Be the friend to the ones without a friend; be the one who smiles to the ignored or helpless. Your ego, your popularity, and your clothes and fashion will all fade away. But kindness goes a long way. Love others, and that is what will make the biggest difference.
4. Most of all, remember that God is with you in every step you take this year. If you follow Him, and allow Him to take the lead in everything you do, true success will come. Believe me. My faith and trust in Him has grown and I have learned the power of prayer and His faithfulness in every situation. I would never have gotten the grades nor help in the difficult times if it weren't for the Lord's faithfulness in every situation. Just trust Him.
Freshmen, things are about to change. Don't fill yourself with anxious thoughts. Big plans are underway; your high school years are about to be great!
Five and three fourths of a day later, I am back!
After a relaxing but difficult five day social media fast, I grew so much in my relationship with the Lord. He gave me the strength to work on overcoming the social media and technology addictions in my life, reprioritizing and placing my overindulgence of my time on Facebook down the list of my top priorities.
This isn't the first time I've done such a fast, but it's been a while, and oh, how much it was needed! My Quiet Time in God's Word had been getting put off until the last minute, I wasn't getting anything accomplished, and my eyes were constantly glued to the screen of a cell phone and/or laptop when they could be fixed on the people God has placed around me.
I have been reading in "True Woman 201: Interior Design" by Mary A. Kassian and Nancy Leigh Demoss throughout this summer, and after spending a week on the trait of self discipline and how to cultivate this quality in my life, I was convicted. I knew I had been spending an excessive amount of time on social media and that it was time to reprioritize, so I decided to take a fast from it all.
And how glad I am that I followed the Lord's instruction! The fast refreshed my soul and helped me learn how to spend my time wisely. I was able to spend more time in the Word of God, help around the house, clean, and even spend more quality time with the people around me. It was such an amazing experience. In fact, after two days of the fast, I decided to completely get rid of my laptop for the rest of the five days, as well as my cell phone for the last day or two. It was definitely a struggle, but it was such a refreshing and motivating period without the pressure of constantly attending to technology and social media.
Most of all, God spoke to me again and again throughout the fast. In a period of 24 hours, He spoke to me THREE times in three different sources with the same passage of Scripture:
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Throughout the five days, I was able to complete the next 5 day section of True Woman 201 in the full five days, which was a first time experience! This section was on Virtue and Purity. Jesus' words to the teachers of the law and Pharisees spoke to my heart and convicted my soul. It reminded me that, even though I may do things that appear godly, does my heart reflect that I really am? While my Facebook posts or behavior in front of others might point to my faith, is it really starting at the heart? Because once my heart is purified, and is truly fixed on faith in Jesus Christ, outside behavior will follow. How awful it would be to have a heart like a whitewashed tomb!
That night, this concept was engraved into my thoughts. And to my surprise, the following morning, the SAME passage of Scripture was brought up at church! Not only that, I was reading "Jesus > Religion" by Jefferson Bethke that afternoon, and yet again, the same concept was discussed.
By the end of the fast, I decided that I wanted every act, every movement, every word I say, to be a reflection of my heart. If my heart is not in the right place, even if the behavior is essentially "good", then my intentions will be in the wrong. We can live this life for Christ, or we can live this life for ourselves. Is your heart set on the ways of Christ, or is it rooted up in selfish ambition? Even good behavior can be done for the purpose of bringing glory to self.
Lord, purify my heart so that every move I make points to You. Let my heart resemble Yours, not like a whitewashed tomb or a dirty cup. Let my outside behavior result from the inner: a beautiful heart.
I encourage every single person to fast from an addiction or idol in your life. Let God speak with grace and conviction about your weaknesses, and you will grow in love, faith, and inner beauty!
So, I may be more confused than ever, but one thing I still know: God is in control. And when an all-eternal, sea-parting, bush-burning, miracle-forming, ultimate healing, and completely-good God has the wheel of my life, good things are bound to be in my future.
I'm trusting Him with my life. Are you?