I was born a blank canvas. An pure, innocent creation that has become, through time, a beautiful mess. A streak of red, a splash of blue, scribbles of frustration, traces of eraser dust, trying to rid myself of past mistakes. Nevertheless, I am God's masterpiece. And I am not meant to be put on display with ropes around me, dust settling on my frame. Life ain't no art gallery, I am alive. Bursting with love and hope and passion. I am meant to perform. I don't mean musical numbers similar to that of Glee. I mean, to go out into the world, let God shine through me, do good and spread His Word. I may never be famous, but I have a place in this world.
For we are God's masterpiece, created in the Messiah Jesus to perform good actions that God prepared long ago to be our way of life. -Ephesians 2:10
This verse is so important to explore because there are so much to be taken from it. Its like an I SPY game where I can find at least 5 things to discuss to understand the verse fully.
#1 For we are God's masterpiece... Picture this: God, at an easel, sketching out your life. It doesn't matter what he adds, intelligence, creativity, compassion, we all have the potential to do great things, as individuals and as humankind. Everyone is valuable. Hold onto the fact that you are no "test drive" . You are the real deal. Your life has infinite value because you are a piece of art created and belonging to God. You are so priceless, He would never let you out of sight.
#2 ...created in the Messiah Jesus... Jesus Christ was sent to save our sins. We are a masterpiece that is tattered and smudged. We have been restored and redeemed by His sacrifice. Our God recognized the need for "motivation" and as Christians, our inspiration comes from the life of Jesus. We follow in his likeness to set the stage for our own life.
#3 ...to perform good actions... We weren't just cast on Earth to do whatever we want. Sure we have free will but shouldn't we strive to leave a positive mark on this Earth through good actions. Its so broad and yet so clear. Our life should be a reflection of God's mercy and Jesus' love, not just in what we say, but how we act.  It could be as large scale as long term mission work or a lifetime of random acts of Kindness, as long as it is done in such a way that glorifies God and spreads the Good News.
#4 ...that God prepared long ago... Even though we make our own choices, God already knows whats best for us and what we are ultimately going to do. He knew all along that we are His masterpiece and that we are equipped with all we need to be our best selves. It's up to us to listen and follow where ever He leads. It's not easy to let go of the steering wheel. But He has had a lot of time to plan, wouldn't you trust his directions over your own?
#5 ...to be our way of life. Our life may feel so small in comparison to the lives of others, that what difference does it make? But in reality every life is important, not just the people whose names are up in lights or have millions of dollars to spend. Your entire existence is not coincidental. You were not created by chance. There is no rehearsal in life. And because of this your whole life is meaningful. Just like you wouldn't want just ACT 1 of a play or the corner of a painting, He doesn't want just a piece of you, He wants all of you. If you spend each moment  as a live performance with pure intentions dedicated to God, your life will be beautiful.

From this evidence, I can conclude that there is meaning in my life. I have purpose. I will not be a pebble caught in life's current. I am a work of art that I need to share with everyone! And when I say "I", I mean each and every one of us. Remember this verse and hold it in your heart.
 
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on Earth you will have many trails and sorrows, But take heart because I have overcome the world. ~John 16:33


I sit here reflecting all that I've been through. June is coming quickly and like most people, I'm definitely ready for summer! But with nothing to do, comes finding a summer job and preparing for the coming year. All while trying to keep up with our friends and create memories that will last a lifetime. Its a lot of pressure. Not to mention what is to come of my future. But i know that in time i will see God's plan for me. Until then, I just have to have faith in the fact that I am exactly where I am meant to be. Whether I'm okay with it or not. And God will take care of the rest. 
 
So anyone who has ever gone through high school knows that things can get a Lil rough... or a Lot rough, depending on your situation. I know it's summer but with September creeping its way closer, I felt the most appropriate topic of discussion was: School. As a gleaming graduate (It's about time!) I have some personalized advice for each year. ONWARD...

Freshmen: 

You are either the top or bottom rung of the ladder, depending on your school district but either way you've still got it made... you know why? 'cause there's really no pressure! Of course that's not to say, you wont be stressed or busy! But take comfort in the fact that no one will be looking at your freshman grades except your parents! (Although that's a whole other kind of pressure!) :) So give it your best to make them happy but also try not to freak out about figuring out your whole life. It's not worth your peace of mind at this point.... have fun, get involved, make lasting friendships, and enjoy your last year before the real "fun" begins!

Sophomores:
This would be a good time to actually start learning how to study... if you haven't already. Trust me, you're gonna need this skill in the long haul. My best advice is to definitely prioritize. 10th grade isn't exactly the hardest year but it does come at you full speed and without warning. if your not focused on school it may sneak up on you. Don't procrastinate, please. You'll feel much better if you aren't stuck writing an eight page literary analysis all night (and yes, chances are, this will occur anyway)

Juniors:
Work hard. This is one of your last years of high school, you are the official middle child of high school, so don't take offense if you are under appreciated (you are not alone). Your time will come! But this is a big year too! Take it seriously. Definitely utilize this time to explore your options like colleges, careers, and next year's classes. :) You don't need to have all the answers but it is exciting to plan your future with your friends. Remember there are necessary steps before you can go all Miss or Mr. independent. PS: SAT's, driving tests, college apps and minimum wage jobs have all been done before by millions of present day adults, so don't be afraid to ask for help and don't give up hope in your journey to adulthood.



Seniors:
I could say corny things like this is your year or hey big shot! but that's not exactly being honest. Everyone knows Senior year can be just as tough and getting through the agonizingly long classes is harder knowing what there is to look forward to. Prom, senior trip , spring break, graduation and college are all exciting perks to being the "big man on campus" but keep it cool and keep your priorities in line to come up on top! Remember colleges may not look at this year's grades for acceptance, but they can drop you if they see your grades drop. Make the most of this year and keep in touch with your friends!


PRE-COLLEGE summer!:
It feels good to finally be done, doesn't it? Bittersweet?  I know, but you have a whole life to look forward to! So don't dwell on the past and focus on this summer. Make a list of everything you need to do before this upcoming school year and get contact info from your friends before they leave. I believe in you and your potential to do amazing things so work hard and have fun!


TO ALL HIGH SCHOOLERS: 
With the drama and the big issues constantly suffocating young adults, there's a lot of pressure in these four years... it can either make you or break you. Don't worry so much and when in doubt, pray, pray, pray. Keep your relationship with God strong and he will guide you through it. Remember: God didn't promise days without rain. But he did make the person who invented umbrellas. And you could be the next game changer. :)
 
It is curious-curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare. -Mark Twain. 

I whole heartily stand by this quote, its just so powerful it makes my tummy flutter with the feeling that you CAN do something. It makes me wonder when I hear the news sometimes, what our world is coming to. Lately, I have noticed some things in our world that make me so upset that I don't want to be just another person passing by. Have you ever felt so passionately about something that you just wanted to scream out to God and say "Why are you allowing this? and "What can I do?". I have so badly that I feel compelled to somehow make a difference someday. Truthfully, I wouldn't even know where to start. But then i thought, plenty of people out there Right Now, can handle the physical movement. What I'm good at, is sharing my opinion. That could be a good thing or a bad thing... but in all seriousness, what this world needs is a voice of reason and a follower of God, stating- This isn't right. God is everywhere, don't take him out of the picture. Of course we cant change it in a day or even a generation, but I have some faith in God, actually a LOT of faith and I know it's the only thing giving me peace of mind during these complicated times. You can't just let people step over you or push you down. And sometimes, as brave as it is, physical courage doesn't resolve anything. But if you make a statement and start a movement, you'll see how many people are willing to get behind you and support you. So many times I feel its easier to be silent and melt into the crowd. Its risk-free, you don't make enemies, but you also don't make anything of yourself. Doing nothing leads to more nothing. Don't be afraid to share if you oppose or support something that you feel strongly about. Its okay if your the only one because it also takes a whole lot of courage to respect others opinions. Just remember, God wants you to live like Jesus. That means loving ALL people but not ALL of their beliefs and opinions. Recall that even Jesus stood for what he felt was wrong in a very loud way. (Luke 19: 45) Don't conform to what is said to be popular. Don't hide and hope it will go away or all work out. If no one raises their voice, how are we to be heard? The devil never takes a break, he always has someone out there trying to bring us down. Satan hasn't a single salaried helper; the Opposition employ a million. ~Mark Twain~ Okay but clearly, if Satan can recruit a few million, why doesn't God?? He already has. It started with Jesus, who has forgiven us and given us new life. Now its up to us to continue the revolution, to live our life for Him.  
 
This is just a quick update! Daylight Savings Time has begun again and I'm back to waking an hour earlier. Truthfully, i don't like to think about it because the particulars of time vs reality are very confusing to me... :D Rather than trying to understand the time change, I think it's more important to accept that time is not as scientific as we perceives it.  
"Life Is Not Measured by the Number of Breaths We Take, but Instead It Is Measured 
by the Moments That Take Our Breath Away."
This quote reminds me that time is a man made system of measurement. It was not meant to be measured by a clock, the minutes and hours ticking away. The first person to track time spent could have decided that the day was to be split into 6 hours. Think about how long one hour of class would feel. In any case, the obvious lesson is to live life by the moment and don't obsess about the next. Each day has enough worries of its own. With that said, this is not an argument to drop everything and move into a cave with a view. You should prioritize and make time for the important things in life, more specifically, your faith. This is Gods time. God has a plan for you. There is a time for everything and it will come when it comes. Accept this and allow God to provide  opportunity for you. Don't turn away in fear when the chance comes. Open your heart to God and let Him work in your life...

 
Things have been really crazy around here lately, and I'm sorry that I haven't updated the blog in awhile. 
It has been a very stressful month and we are only 4 days along! 

I have learned that it is essential to rely on God to get you through it in one piece, especially through the toughest times. So if you're holding on to your burdens, you can never open your heart to Him. Shake off all your problems and live positively. Give God everything and confess to Him your troubles. If you talk to God about what you need or what you are going through, He will provide for you. These bible verses prove it :)


Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.

Psalm 73:24
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.


Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path

Proverbs 1:33
But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.


Remember sometimes His answer will take you by surprise. It can be a yes, a no, or a not yet.  You may not even get the answer you're expecting when you're expecting it. So listen carefully to what He wants for you and let Him work miracles in your life. <3
 
Recently, i was talking to my friend about some of the things she had done that were less than pure. I'm not saying she was a bad person (I would never try to shame someone), she is just the first to admit that she had made some bad choices in a past relationship. Now being her friend and good human being, I remained neutral... on the outside. I couldn't help but wonder what she was thinking when she let her desire win. My heart burned with frustration [and honestly looking back, maybe a bit of jealousy for the fact that she had a boyfriend at the time while I had not] at her and the male counterpart for acting like they were followers of God when they couldn't even follow a basic rule:
Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband.Hebrews 13 

I voiced my concern by asking her if she knew what modesty was (so maybe it was a little sarcastic) and she looked at me questionably and replied, "Is that like the same as honesty?" I scoffed [Also was a bit pretentious in high school :( ] "No!" and rattled off words like purity and humble and guarding herself from the secular and vanity of the world. And that was the end of that discussion. But I spent a lot of that day thinking about how I reacted in that situation and realized how wrong I was.
My first fault was to think of her as a hypocrite. I'm not perfect either and I shouldn't have judged her, because a sin is a sin, no matter the size. She was pretty embarrassed sharing this information and i should have been there to listen, rather than criticize.

And when i think back on that day, I come to the conclusion that she had a pretty accurate definition of what it meant to be modest. Her idea was probably closer to God's definition than mine.
Modesty comes down to being an honest person and living the life that is true to God. 

Honest: honorable in principles, intentions, and actions; upright and fair: an honest person. genuine, respectable; having a good reputation.truthful or creditable

If you live by His Word and follow His commands, you will never need to worry whether you are being modest. Being modest means being pure, decent, moral, chaste, humble, calm, reputable, and honest. These things should be considered when you do whatever you do, but is not limited to just your actions. It is also important to monitor what you wear (and how little you wear), say, listen to, watch, and how you treat yourself and others.
Don't wait any longer to rid yourself of your immorality and become a respectable child of God. 
Of course we all mess up sometimes and have trouble figuring out what is right for us. In this corrupted world, a pure light can be hard to find. Don't allow superficial things or people change or influence your faith. Stand up for what you believe and avoid the temptations and/or wrongs that media, pop culture, fashion or peer pressure ithat entice you everyday.
I know it sounds lame, but truthfully, being modest is cooler than being immodest.
Galatians 5:23 (NIV)gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
 
There is no such thing as evil, just the absence of good.

Chances are, you have or eventually will learn about the basic views of 19th century transcendentalists, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson. If you have, you probably have made quite a few connections to the idea of Good and God. After reading about transcendentalism, I think its safe to say that there are a few comparisons to be made with Christianity. And the quote above proves an interesting point. You could try to disprove this theory (so please comment if you do/don't agree :) but let me share my take on all of this:
As humans, we don't know everything, we don't know what all is really out there and will never even come close to understanding God's master plan. But when it comes to the forces of good and evil, I believe there is some truth in Emerson's idea. I know in the Bible that it mentions Satan and demons and witches and forbidden fruit all working to defy God and conspire against Him to corrupt human values. But I believe that they are not necessarily a force of their own making, just lacking the goodness of God. When God made Adam and Eve, he created them in his own image, so there is your first sign that man can not possibly be inherently evil. The devil did not create you, nor does he own you. He has sway in your life but only as an external force.  Adam and Eve were tempted by the devil but this  just proves that we as humans, are exactly that. Human. We are not perfect, but as individuals that doesn't make us evil.
Lucifer resided in heaven and lived for God until he rebelled, thinking he was better that God. Satan was booted from Heaven for pride, hate and revenge. He lost God's favor which spawned its own force, Evil. The Bible mentions the existence of Evil but if you look closer, Evil  could be defined as not the opposite, but rather the absence of Good, absence of God. It is the acts of the fallen and the mindset of the tempted. But there is no Good versus Evil, because there is no competition! With God on your side, you will always overcome the darkest of days. Because after all, it is scientific fact that dark is just the absence of light. Even the immoral and malicious acknowledge the strong power of Goodness and the almighty God's unwavering righteousness. 
So if you think that there are some dark and degenerate people and things in life, you'd be right. But if they knew the power of God and influence of innocence in their lives, who knows where we'd be today. 
Unfortunately, "Evil" will never be completely destroyed until the coming of our eternal Lord. <3 


And all the powers of darkness
Tremble at what they've just heard
‘Cause all the powers of darkness
Can’t drown out a single word   ~NEWSBOYS: he reigns


James 2:19 says...Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
 
In the beginning, God created... we all know where i'm going with this, right??? I hope! If you don't, go ahead and crack open your Bible to the first page of Genesis. I'll wait......

Okay. Now that you've read all the amazing things that God has done for us, you  understand why I think the coolest thing that ever happened was the creation of Earth by our Heavenly Father (other than every other miracle, like rainbows, the birth of an eternal King, Jesus multiplying bread, Google, shooting stars, and getting an A on a science test). I mean, without the earth, we would just be floating around in darkness. He paid attention to every little detail special and what's not to love about that!?

So, as Christians, our mission is to stand for the coolness of God and be cool in ways that would please him.
It doesn't matter if you're the most good looking or if you've got the latest device. What matters is whether you are living a life that is Godly. And thankfully, we have the benefit of a guidebook on how to be cool. Its called the Bible. Take a look at some of the big do's and don'ts listed below:

The wrong things the sinful self does are clear: being sexually unfaithful, not being pure, taking part in sexual sins, worshiping gods, doing witchcraft, hating, making trouble, being jealous, being angry, being selfish, making people angry with each other, causing divisions among people, feeling envy, being drunk, having wild and wasteful parties, and doing other things like these. I warn you now as I warned you before: Those who do these things will not inherit God's kingdom. But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There is no law that says these things are wrong. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their own sinful selves. They have given up their old selfish feelings and the evil things they wanted to do. We get our new life from the Spirit, so we should follow the Spirit.

~Galatians 5:19-26 

 If we glorify our Father and really try to live by the fruits of the Spirit, we will be blessed, and will be the coolest creation of God <3