all the more

Jesus has been showing up for me lately. He's showing me a lot of cool things and I'm pretty pumped about it. I started rambling to myself yesterday about how cool he is, and I honestly felt like I was preaching, but there was no one to hear it. It made me realize that I can't wait to tell people about Jesus for the rest of my life. 

I put a poll on Twitter, asking if I should just make a really long thread of tweets, or if I should make a blog post about it, and well, here we are. This is easier to read than the tweets. I was gonna share either way, but I think this is a more organized way to share honestly. 

Now that I've told you why I'm writing, I guess I should get started. 

Let's talk about Romans for a second. Romans 5:20 says, "Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more." So basically, this is saying that before there was the law, people lived sinful lives. They just lived in lawlessness. God specifically commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree. Before the law, people knew they were sinning in their conscious, but when the law was introduced it became a more willful trespass. The same way that Adam and Eve were specifically commanded, the law gives specific commands to all people. 

This is where it gets good though. Because of the law, the sins were more willful, which means that when Jesus died for us, it makes his grace that much greater. Before the law, we could maybe think that Jesus is dying to save us from ourselves, and our nature that was inherited to us by Adam. But, after the law, it made sin even worse among people because they knew the law and still chose to ignore it. The grace that He gives us is even more excellence. 

Chapter 6 starts with explaining the significance of baptism. It's an outward symbol of what it means to become a Christian. We go under the water to represent dying with Christ, but coming out of the water is symbolic of being raised to life in Him. We are being united with Christ in our faith and our relationship with him. In the same way that he defeated sin, we will one day be united in a resurrection that will be so sweet. The end of verse 6 and verse 7 says, "so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For the one who has died has been set free from sin." Jesus sets us free when we die daily to the sins that hold us. Verse 9 says, "death no longer has dominion over him." And then, we move to verse 14 that says, "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law, but under grace." Because Jesus died to sin, despite being literally perfect, when we die to our own sins, we get to experience the grace that he beautifully and freely offers us. God gives us a promise of a sweet reunion with him when it all comes to an end. 

When I read this, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of peace because of the grace that we have been given. It's hard to wrap my mind around the beauty of the grace that he offers to us. We are so flawed, yet he loves us, and that in and of itself is enough to make me want to praise his name to everyone. 

LOVE YOURSELF.

“I love myself.” These words come out of my mouth at least once a day, I’m not going to lie to you. Honestly, that might make me seem a little conceited, but let me tell you, my friends, that could not be further from the truth. 

It’s taken me years to learn to love myself. I know my value, and I know my worth here. I know that people love me and I can feel that love because of the way that they show me. Because I love myself, I have a lot of love to give to others, and that helps me to feel the love from other people.

“Nobody loves me,” “I’m worthless.” Even though I love myself, there are plenty of people who don’t love themselves. It hurts my heart that people can’t love themselves.  Can you believe some people feel worthless? They don’t think they have any purpose, that no one would miss them if they were gone, or that they don’t need to get out of the bed in the morning. 

Some people I love can’t see how much they are loved. It’s so hard to watch someone you love not know how much they are worth. I want nothing more than for people to know how much they are loved. They are loved so much that Jesus literally gave up his life for them. They don't see their worth, when they are priceless. Insecurities get the best of some people. Someone I love once said "I don't want to wake up in the morning, because I am never going to be happy." In that moment, my heart broke for him. 

I don't think some people see their worth, because they measure their worth in their relationships, or the things they have or how well they do at their job. When they don't have a relationship that they want, they feel worthless. When the one person they want to love them, doesn't love them the way they want them to, they feel worthless. When they don't have a job, they feel worthless. When they have depression, or anxiety, they feel worthless. When they don't have all the "things" they want or think they need in order to be "someone," they feel worthless. 

I have placed my own value in the wrong things too many times. Every time, it turns me down the road to feeling like I'm nothing, when actually I know a lot of people see me as someone they love. But, those who don't love themselves, have trouble feeling loved my anyone else. They question why people love them, or often doubt their love. 

"Can you just tell me you love me? Sometimes, I just need to hear it." Even though some people don't feel loved, its so important to tell them you love them. How often do you tell people you love them? Never let someone you love have to question your love for them. (side note: I'm sorry for how many times I've used the word "love.") YOU JUST GOTTA TELL THEM SOMETIMES THEY MIGHT NOT KNOW, OR MAYBE THEY NEED TO BE REMINDED. 

It's just so important to tell people you love them as much as you can. 

blessings.

Blessings are overflowing.

My mom has a really good friend who is a single mom. She doesn't make much money and struggles to buy anything for her kids for Christmas, much less anything extravagant. Her kids don't even think to ask for much because they know she can't buy it for them. 

There were some people at a church who were going to sponsor a family for Christmas. It didn't work out, and my mom was disappointed, so she decided to do something about it. She put a status on facebook asking people to donate money, or clothes, or anything they could to give this family a good Christmas. 

Well, let me tell you, these people delivered. People gave money for her to go shopping, they gave clothes, shoes, anything they could think of. The kids are even able to get the one thing they asked for. There was a huge pile of gifts for this family. People even bought gifts for the mom. They also brought gift cards, and after shopping for everyone, there was still money left over. 

This family has no idea who provided any of the stuff. My mom didn't buy anything for them, she only gathered everything, went shopping with the donated money, and helped the mom shop. 

My mom and I sat and wrapped the gifts people brought and felt so blessed. It was such an experience to be able to see this mom pick up the gifts and know that everything was taken care of for Christmas. When she came to pick up the gifts, she cried. She saw how much people cared about her and her family because she deserved it more than anyone. 

If you ever get the chance to help someone that needs, please do it, because it will bless you more than anything.

valued

Guys, this semester has been hard. It has been hard on me in every aspect. Academically, physically, and emotionally. I am exhausted beyond belief. College is catching up to me and it's hard to keep up.

I came to school in August with a great mind set. I can honestly say I was genuinely happy. I felt real peace and joy in heart over all aspects of my life. I don't know why I didn't expect it to all come crashing down. I mean, the anxiety would have to kick in at some point right? "Everything is going right for now, so it must mean something bad is coming soon." The thing is, it never kicked in. I should've known that God had begun a work in me from the moment I got back here. 

I remember telling my mom right before mid-terms that I felt like God was really working on some awesome things in my life. I have a job this year and I have come in from work after a really long day just thinking about how much I love my job. I can honestly say I had never felt that way before. 

Then something happened. I let myself slip into the pit of darkness in which my anxiety would have trouble escaping. I am a pretty confident person on the outside. I feel as if I embody the "fake it till you make it" concept pretty well. Then, I lay in bed and shake for hours because the anxiety cannot escape my body. This time of year is especially hard because the weather gets colder, and the time changes to be darker earlier. I know that's hard on a lot of people. For me, I have always had a hard time adjusting to the changing seasons. 

The Bible talks about how God uses those that are broken, weak, seemingly unqualified, ugly and rejected people. In Genesis 29, we read about Leah. She is the ugly sister and has lived a life full of rejection. I feel confident in the fact that I am well experienced in rejection. Leah married Jacob and she wanted to be accepted and loved by him so much. She thought giving him a baby would make him love her. In reality, she didn't like herself very much. She wanted to be accepted by the worldly standards of beauty, and of what it meant to be valued. 

But, then God shows her her value. Can we talk about that? The God of the UNIVERSE gives us value. She tried so hard after being rejected time and time again but what she really needed was to experience the generosity of a God that loves the unlovable. He saw her pain. Jacob was greedy and wanted a beautiful woman to be his wife, but he got Leah. She felt like she could never be loved, when she was in fact, loved by the very definition of love itself. 

As I listened to this sermon, I literally started crying. I felt like I could hear God speaking to me clearly. He was telling me to let go of the things that are weighing me down and making it hard. He was telling me to rest in him, to come to him in my moments of weakness, because God uses that, so that we cannot boast in anything but him. I have been looking for validation in all the wrong places. I'm not going to lie to you, I see couples on campus or in public all the time and I long for someone to care about me like that. They all look so happy. It kills me inside a little bit each time and that's my mind in search of the worldly things. It makes me feel so rejected because I want that so much. 

1 Corinthians 1:26 starts out by saying to "consider your calling.." I have been chosen by the God that breathed life into this earth, who gives me the very air I breathe. Before the foundation of the world I have been chosen by him and because of the cross, I am loved and I have worth. I have value. I have value. I have value. I am no longer rejected and broken and weak. I am valued. 

 

broken.

My heart has been heavy recently. Life is catching up to me and its been hurting me in ways I wish I could stop. 

That's where lessons come in. Don't you know there is always a lesson? It's not life if there isn't. 

I go through some great moments, when I am happier than I have ever been. In the midst of those moments I can't help but think that something bad is going to happen soon because it usually does. That isn't me being negative about a situation, that's just the way that life has always worked out. I know why it happens and sometimes I don't trust that theres a reason behind it (I'm so cliche right now that i am actually cringing). 

I have been breaking, slowly as my anxiety and depression creep back up, until I reach the point where I am broken. God has broken me down so that I can turn back to him. 

At the beginning of the school year, I felt closer to God than I had in a long time. I was ready. I didn't feel like my relationship was straying like I normally feel it to, but recently, my mind has been longing for more and more of this world which in turn, makes my heart turn from the one that gives me my very life. He breaks us until our only option is to turn back to him. 

I am searching for validation, for value, for everything in the wrong place and I forget that He is the one who gives me value, who is love, who gives me identity, who gives me the very breath of life. 

least of these

I was on Instagram last week and I saw a post about a passage in Matthew. I decided to give it a read and it’s actually amazing. Who knew Instagram could lead me to reading such a great passage?

Matthew 25:31-46 is beautiful. It talks about the Final Judgement where Jesus sits on the throne and separates a group of people between the righteous and the unrighteous. He tells the righteous that they helped him when he was poor, and hungry, and thirsty. They helped him when he was in prison, when he was naked. They don’t understand because they didn’t help him, but he tells them that because they helped “the least of these,” they have also helped him. 

And the King will answer them, Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.
— Matthew 25:40

Jesus literally tells them that because they had compassion on those in need, it was the same as having compassion on Him. Guys, Jesus literally compared himself to “the least of these,” when actually, He is the greatest of these. He’s sitting on his throne as a judge and a KING. He has humbled himself to be a mere human, when he is actually the very Son of God. 

We live in a world where if we are slightly inconvenienced by anything, then we don’t want to do it. There are people all over the world who are living in severe poverty. Millions of people don’t have access to clean drinking water. People are willing to illegally uproot their lives in another country to face an unknown future, just because thats a safer option than their home country. Women are being sold into sex slavery every single day without any say in the matter. The lives of countless babies are taken before they ever get a chance to experience life outside the womb. People in so many places have never even heard the name of Jesus, let alone the gospel that comes with him. My heart hurts for these people. 

It’s inconvenient for us to have compassion for people. We are money hungry, power hungry, and selfish people. Jesus walked among the poor, the needy, the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the prisoners and yet, we can’t be bothered to love the people who live and walk among us in our own neighborhoods. We can’t love the people who are just like us. We condemn people who are different than us, just because they’re different. When in reality, we have all fallen short. Judging someone because of their race, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic status is a prime example of our means of sin. Americans choose to take the easy way out most of the time. 

I was challenged in reading this passage because there are rewards for the compassionate. Not because of what they did, but because of the relationship they have with the actual SAVIOR OF HUMANITY. They are compassionate because of that relationship. So many people call themselves Christians, but fail to show compassion to anyone who could possibly need help. Compassion is evidence of true heart change in response to the gospel.

We are so undeserving of the privilege of GRACE and the ability to have relationship with the creator of the universe. We don’t deserve any of it, yet here we are living in his grace and mercy for us day by day. 

I am a selfish human being, but aren’t we all? I want to live a life that reflects the gospel.

unedited beauty

My roommate and I went and watched the sunset and sunrise this past weekend. It was beautiful, and I made sure to take my camera. One thing is for sure, I have never regretted taking my camera anywhere. So, here we are. Have a look. 

 

LOOK AT THE MOON THOUGH

LOOK AT THE MOON THOUGH

seriously, this is so beautiful

seriously, this is so beautiful

The sunrise in these mountains are my favorite. 

The sunrise in these mountains are my favorite. 

also, the ride back down the mountain was flawless.

also, the ride back down the mountain was flawless.

calling all the single ladies.

"you may not get married." a friend said this to a group of girls when we were discussing boys in the context of God sending us a man. i had never thought about that before and hearing it come from someone who's opinion i trust was very refreshing. 

i think marraige sounds great and i would love to be married one day. however, knowing that it may not be in God's plan for me to is one of the best things I've ever heard. (sure takes the pressure off, am i right ladies?) girls my age are planning their weddings and I've never even had a boyfriend. i find myself jealous of girls in happy relationships or showing off their brand new diamonds on social media, but i have to remind myself that singleness is ok too. 

girls my age are constantly feeling like they need to define themselves by their relationship with a boy. that isn't important. the world puts so much emphasis on having a significant other and while God created marraige for us to become one with someone else through Him, he also never promised us that. he made us for relationship with him and if having a husband will help us to glorify him better, then he will fulfill that. so many girls think that if they focus on God and stop thinking about boys, then He will send a Godly man to them. that happens for plenty of girls, but that's not going to happen for everyone. it might be hard to grasp that concept when everyone around you is paired off, but we were not created for us to worship the Lord just to get something out of it. it's true that God blesses people but  just because you haven't found someone yet doesn't mean God doesn't want what's best for you. sometimes being single is what he has planned for you. it means that he wants you to worship him for all you are and not worry about anyone else. God said in Genesis that it is not good for man to be alone, but we are surrounded by people that we can be in community with and because of that we are not alone. he surrounds us with a community of believers that can help us grow in him. sometimes being single is more effective for the growth of ministry. Jesus himself, the ultimate example of how we should be living our lives, was never married. we may have the desire and the best intentions to be married but God won't let you "suffer" the single life just for no reason if that's what he wants for you. i have read article after article of single girls writing about how they're waiting "on God to write their happily ever after," but they never explore the concept of singleness as an option. 

God has called some people to be single and that is a reality that many should accept and embrace for that is a gift that God has given us. i have to trust that if God wants me to be married, then all the right circumstances will fall into place for me to meet that person. until then, i, like many others, need to stay content with being single. you can't wait "until I'm married to be happy" because it may never happen and we have to be ok with Gods choice to keep us that way. 

beaches.

I'm in Jamaica right now. which means I'm literally in paradise. we stayed in a hotel last night and were staying here again tonight. it's been a long week (which i will write about later), but today we had a really cool day and i couldn't wait to talk about it.  

after breakfast we went right out to the beach. I'm just gonna stop right here and tell you that clear water is perfect and beautiful and everything good and right in this world. i was sitting on the beach with my feet in the water looking at the clear water and looking at the mountains. i still can't believe this is my actual life. i just wanted to take it all in. 

I'm getting to the good part, promise. I'm not just bragging about my mission trip turned vacation. today while we were on the beach, we were sitting on a water trampoline. a couple of guys crawled on after us. one white guy introduced himself as Taylor from Tennessee. he told us his friend was OJ from Jamaica and he is deaf. they were on mission at the deaf school. 

now, i took ASL 1 at school last semester, so i was completely fascinated by the idea of this. i was a little afraid to talk to him at first because I'm not confident with my ability to sign. im not that great, but i was still able to communicate with him and i asked him a bunch of questions. he told me he has 4 brothers, and 1 sister. they are all hearing but instead of signing with him, they write things to him. that made me sad for him. 

when i took ASL i loved it. i loved learning about deaf culture so to faced with a deaf person in another country was one of the coolest experiences. i wasn't sure what God wanted for me when i started to really love sign language. BUT i wouldn't be in Jamaica if i wasn't here to share the love of Jesus. i think OJ appreciated our efforts in communicating with him and the fact that we were trying. it was so exciting to see him want to talk to us because we wanted to talk to him. 

today has been the coolest day ever and I'm honestly so glad that God has given me a love of sign language and heart for serving others in His name. without both, i would not have had such a great day. 

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