Britt Nicole performs for Children’s Medical Center

Christian pop singer Britt Nicole performs at Seacrest Studios for the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas Texas. She sings her song Gold and a cover of Home by Philip Philips and talks with the children. Awesome singer and an awesome person.

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Pray For Charleston

By now, you’ve likely heard about the tragedy of the Charleston Church massacre. I found out about it yesterday, from a news article online as well as a post from a fellow blogger. Since then, I took the time to read an article detailing the events of the massacre. Speculations say that the shooter, Dylann Roof, has been planning this shooting for a long time, and that the shooting was race-related.

It’s a very frightening event for America. In the past, we have heard about school shootings, but now the violence is entering our churches as well. I urge churches across America to have security, to prevent something like this from happening again. I also find it sad to hear about another race related hate crime. It seems that a sharp division is developing between races in America, which is something that should have ended with Martin Luther King Jr. Thus, I ask you to pray for reconciliation in America, the people who attend the Charleston church, and for God’s hand of protection over churches throughout America.

A Better Way (Part Two)

Jesus payed much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come-Casting Crowns

Good morning fellow bloggers and readers. Sorry I did not get a chance to blog yesterday. I had insomnia the night before, and thus, was pretty exhausted yesterday, with little energy to think in-depth about my current blog two-parter. 

Nonetheless, I’m feeling good today and I’m going to pick up where I left off. In my last blog post, I talked about a way for Christians to have a more compassionate response to the LGBT Community, and information and conclusions that I’ve personally come to find. Thus, today I’m going to be talking about what we, as the church, can do.

1. Accept singleness as a viable option. I think that is one that can apply to both gay and straight people. There have been times when the response to being single in the church seemed to be “What’s wrong with you?” In not so many words. If churches solely focus on marriage and the nuclear family, it can leave a gay celibate person in a very awkward position. If you look through the Bible, singleness is actually commended, not discouraged. The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:8. “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.” Nevertheless, the single person in the congregation should be looked at in the same way that the married couple with kids is looked at. Valued members of church and society.

2. Be a family.The last thing that I’d ever want to tell a gay person is to be lonely. This was a big reason why I struggled with my response to this topic for a while. Because whether you’re an introvert or an extravert, we all need people. We all need love, acceptance, and community. Someone to vent to after a long day and someone who we can share a pizza with. In the words of Bill Withers (I’m actually listening to a cover of this song right now!) “We all need somebody to lean on.” Nonetheless, I believe that if we, as Christians begin outreaching to this community and acknowledging these genuine needs, gay oriented people can find this love they need in friendships. Wesley Hill even has a book on this concept, called Spiritual Friendship. I believe that there are a lot of steps that we can take to show Jesus’ command to love your neighbor to the LGBT Community. Julie Rodgers recalls an experience once had in the video that I posted to my last blog entry. She said that her friend once told her that if she ever gets to a place in her life where she feels she’s not known, she’s welcome to live at her house and be Aunt Julie to her kids. Now, I recognize that we can’t all have someone live in our house, but I really love the aunt and uncle concept. What if nuclear families in the church did have an honorary aunt or uncle? I feel that this could be a blessing to both single people and nuclear families. The single people would have a place to go for Easter and Christmas, and a family to call their own. Meanwhile, the nuclear family would have someone to help watch the kids when they go out, or when they simply need an extra hand.

3. Don’t be afraid. I’ve noticed that a lot of people seem to have at least some fear of gay people. However, I believe that once we become more informed, the topic no longer becomes one to be afraid of, but rather a people group that aren’t that different from you and me. I believe that pastors need to be especially careful about what they say from the pulpit. It would do immense good to create an atmosphere where gay people feel welcomed and loved, not outcasted and hated. I’ve read that gay people aren’t just out there somewhere in the world, they can be in your church, silent about their struggle.

4. Never Stand For Gay Bullying. http://www.bullyingstatistics.org says, “According to recent gay bullying statistics, gay and lesbian teens are two to three times as more likely to commit teen suicide than other youths. About 30 percent of all completed suicides have been related to sexual identity crisis. Students who also fall into the gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgendered identity groups report being five times as more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe after being bullied due to their sexual orientation. About 28 percent out of those groups feel forced to drop out of school altogether.” This is devastating. Gay people deserve to be treated like people. They do not deserve hate crimes or hate speech. No one does. If you see a gay person being bullied, stand up for them. Though this one ought to be somewhat obvious, we should never condone people being bullied. For orientation or for other reasons.

5. Don’t push for a universal mold-Though there are likely many gay guys who are athletes or soldiers, and many lesbian girls who are supermodels or fashion designers, some may not fit the stereotypical mold of what a guy is “supposed” to be or what a girl is “supposed” to be. Julie Rodgers wrote in one of her blog posts about being paranoid that someone would find out that she was gay, and how she’d even question if she was sitting gay. Granted, I’m sure there are many straight guys and girls who deviate from gender stereotypes as well. Basically, what I’m getting at, is to not freak out or turn your nose in disgust to someone who isn’t your typical model of “guy” or “girl”. If you look through the Bible, there is not one place that says that a guy can’t take ballet or that a girl can’t play sports. In fact, if you look at 2 Samuel 6:16, you see King David leaping and dancing before God. Furthermore, 1 Samuel 16:7 says “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”” (NIV) Furthermore, according to http://www.theguardian.com, in 1890, the Ladies’ Home Journal advised blue for girls, and pink for boys. “In the UK the Women’s Institute was still recommending pink for boys up until 1921.” Thus, I urge you to not make jokes about a guy acting “girly” or a girl acting too guy-ish. It would seem to me, that God looks more at the heart than what a person takes up as a hobby or their mannerisms. If we take the focus off stereotypes, and embrace people’s wonderful and unique personalities, I believe it will take a lot of pressure off of a lot of people and allow us to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation.

This is the final post for my A Better Way two-parter, nonetheless, I hope that the information that I have posted within the last two blogs has been interesting and beneficial to you. I believe that we all have the opportunity to create a better way for gay oriented people. Change starts right where you are, as you interact with people everyday. I urge you to show kindness and God’s love to LGBT oriented people and people in general. Who knows, you could make a new friend, and you could impact a life.

I have no idea what the band Tenth Avenue North had in mind when they wrote their recent hit, No Man Is An Island, but this song has always seemed to fit very well with what I just blogged about. Thus, I feel it is fitting to post this song as a final conclusion to my two part series.

A Better Way (Part One)

Nobody knows what we’re for only what we’re against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did-Casting Crowns

Today I’m going to be addressing a topic that’s difficult, yet one of the most pressing issues in Christian circles right now. It’s a sensitive topic, so admittedly, I’ve been a little apprehensive about blogging on this subject. Thus, I’m going to ask you to put biases and preconceived notions aside and listen objectively to what I’m going to say.

We live in a generation with a lot of big topics and news articles popping up. Nonetheless, one that seems to be especially reoccurring is the topic of homosexuality. According to williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu, there are approximately nine million adult Americans who identify as LGBT, not including teenagers. While the LGBT crowd is still technically a minority, nine million is a pretty huge amount of people.

Homosexuality is still a fairly new topic in American culture. Though it’s been around since the Biblical days, and though there were likely “closeted” gay oriented people throughout American history, it’s only been openly discussed since roughly the 1980s. Nonetheless, the newness of it in American culture hasn’t stopped people from speaking out very loudly on the topic. The best analogy that I can think of to describe the conversation surrounding this issue would have to be a game of ping pong. Both stances, hurling insults back and forth. Often, the shouting match is so loud that neither side can really hear what the other is saying.

I remember I was about fourteen when I first really started having serious questions about the topic. As many young teenage girls do, I read articles by my favorite singers and actors. By doing so, I was exposed to a pretty good deal of information on homosexuality, as many of them spoke out in support of the LGBT Community. I heard statistics of gay suicide rates and some of the legitimate struggles of gay oriented people. Hearing about how often gay oriented people struggle with depression stirred up a lot of compassion in me. I than thought back to things that I heard on the topic from Christian circles, and felt seriously conflicted. What was my view on the topic?

For a long time, my view simply bounced back and forth, whichever seemed right at the time. To some degree, I tried to avoid the topic as hearing about it only seemed to cause more confusion. One problem with that method. I couldn’t escape hearing about it. The harder I tried to avoid the topic, the more it popped up. I remember hanging out with some of my friends one day, and one friend telling us how her friend recently came out of the closet to her. None of us had any real advice. One friend simply said she disagreed with it and my other friend and I merely sat back and said nothing. Another thing that triggered questions was a character on a long running TV show. Throughout the show, it is speculated that one of the characters is gay. Interesting thing is, it’s never even hinted that the character is with someone of the same gender. So it made me wonder, what about people who are just attracted to people of the same gender? What are the rules when it comes to mere orientation?

Finally, I confessed my questions to my Mom, who told me to go research it. I had thought about that before, but was always a little hesitant, worried that I wouldn’t like the answer that I would find. Reluctantly, I googled Christian view on homosexuality, expecting to see somewhat homophobic answers. To my surprise, I found a very lengthy article on the subject. It said something that really struck a chord with me. It said that just as an alcoholic can stand up in an AA meeting and say that they’re an alcoholic, but through God’s grace, not drinking, so can a gay person stand up in a prayer meeting and say that they have a gay orientation (Same sex attraction), but through God’s grace, they’re living chastely. That one sentence, though relatively simplistic, was packed with a lot of information to me.

One, that having a gay orientation is not a sin, two that churches should allow gay oriented people to be open and honest about that part of themselves. I really liked that stance there. It allowed me to hold to both my understanding of scripture and my compassion for the LGBT Community.

I didn’t have to compromise anything.

That article prompted me to research the topic even further, spending hours reading books and articles on having a compassionate, understanding, Christian approach to homosexuality. I found some articles and videos by awesome, wise, Christian gay and lesbian people such as Julie Rodgers and Wesley Hill who helped me better understand this issue.

I’ve been asked why this is such an important topic to me, being that I’m not gay myself. I suppose that a big reason that this topic is so important to me, is because gay people have often been outcasted for being different. While I can’t relate to being attracted to other girls, there have been times in the past that I’ve felt like an outcast. I’ve been in classes where I didn’t have any friends, forcing me to sit awkwardly by myself. There have been other times that I’ve been the “odd one out” because my taste in movies or television has been different than what’s popular, because I don’t share in the same hobbies as the people that I’m hanging out with, etc. I’m not saying this to have a pity party but rather to explain why this is an important topic to me and how many of us, in that way, can find common ground with gay oriented people.

To sum up this blog post, what if there’s a better way to handle this topic than merely saying “I don’t support gay marriage”. What if, we loved this group of people unconditionally, the way that Jesus loves all of us? What if we took the time to try to understand their struggles and listen to their stories? What if we befriended them, looking deeper than gay and seeing them as one of God’s beautiful creations? I understand that this is a topic that isn’t often addressed and that it can be somewhat complex, so if you have any questions about what I said in this article, I urge you you to post them in the comments section. I’ll do the best that I can to answer them.

This is a very thought insightful and thought provoking video by a woman who is both gay and Christian, Julie Rodgers. Julie has a blog on WordPress as well if you would like to know more about this topic from someone who has lived it first hand.

A Fuller House

If you’re a fan of the 80s-90s television show Full House, then I have big news…there’s going to be a sequel! If you’ve never heard of Full House before, than I’ll give you the basic premise of the show.

In the TV show Full House, Danny Tanner is a widower, raising three daughters. Thus, he asks his lifelong best friend Joey and his brother in law Jessie to move in with him and help him raise his kids. The title Full House is not an exaggeration, as you have Danny (Dad and talk show host), Joey (Stand up comedian), Jessie (Rebellious young rocker), DJ (Oldest child), Stephanie (Middle child), and Michelle (Youngest child) all living under one roof as they learn how to become one big family (Not to mention the later added Rebecca, Nicky, Alex, Comet.)

This show contains many of the themes and tropes in 80s and 90s television such as the best friend/neighbor (The crazy and unforgettable Kimmy Gibbler), the boyfriend (Steve who always seems to be eating something), a dog (Comet), an iconic couple (Jessie and Becky), and a lesson within nearly every episode.

Full House is the first sit-com that I ever watched. I started watching it at age nine and I still sometimes watch it to this day. It’s one of those shows that (In my humble opinion) people of any age demographic can enjoy. I think I appreciate this show even more in retrospect, being that I can’t usually find too many modern shows that I enjoy.

One thing that I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older is that Full House had some tremendous character growth. The most extreme example of character growth would have to be Jessie Katsopolis. He starts off as a wild, rebellious rocker. Nonetheless, when Stephanie cuts off his long hair, he realizes that it might be time for him to grow up. The growth process is really shown after he meets Rebecca Donaldson, a career-driven woman from Nebraska. As the show goes on, you see him become a family man with two children of his own, Nicky and Alex. You also see DJ grow quite a bit, as you see her go from young preteen girl trying to figure life out, to an older teenager, with a lot of maturity and wisdom for her age. She than goes on to give advice to her younger siblings as they face the challenges of growing up. Plus, you literally see Michelle go from practically a baby to a girl about eight years old.

A Fuller House is going to follow a similar plot to it’s parent series. DJ becomes a widow, raising two kids with a third on the way, and asks her sister Stephanie and her best friend Kimmy to move in with her and help her raise her kids.

To celebrate the arrival of A Fuller House, I decided to post the Full House theme song

Get ready for some nostalgia

Random fun fact: Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains), Doris Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond), Jaleel White (Family Matters), Daniel Fishel (Boy Meets World), and the Beach Boys all guest starred on Full House.

I Want to Leave a Legacy, How Will They Remember Me?

Warning, this post became somewhat long, so grab a cup of hot tea and expect to spend some quality blog-reading time. 

Martin Luther King Jr. A simple Baptist Preacher with a dream. A dream that “one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” and that “[His] four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Today he’s remembered as one of the greatest heros of the civil rights movement.

C.S. Lewis. An academic from England who became a renowned, deep thinking apologist and writer. And I mean really deep (If you’ve read any of his books, you know what I mean). He was raised in a Christian home, turned to atheism after the death of his mother, and than after years of academic searching and reasoning, turned back to God, realizing the evidence for God’s existence.

He went on to become one of the most influential and well read Christian apologists to this day.

Among these more historical examples, there are also modern examples.

Bethany Hamilton, a young surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack, yet, didn’t let that stop her from pursuing her dream of becoming a professional surfer.

Early Contemporary Christian bands and singers such as Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, the Newsboys, and DC Talk, who were on the front lines of creating Christian themed rock, pop, rap, hip hop, etc.

Alex and Brett Harris, two teenage boys who wrote the bestselling books Do Hard Things and it’s follow up, Start Here: Doing Hard Things Right Where You Are. Through their blog and books, they started the Rebelution, challenging the social norm of low expectations towards teenagers.

Looking at people’s lives such as the aforementioned is inspiring for me. Ordinary people with fairly ordinary lives, accomplishing not so ordinary things. Each small piece, contributing to a larger puzzle of life. Each chapter, adding more depth and beauty to the story of humanity. I may not know all of the details, but I know that someday, I want to be someone like these great, admirable people. I want to leave a legacy. I believe that’s something that a lot of people want. To be voice among the crowd, a change of tempo in a song, and a spark that starts a fire.

To quote the 2011 movie, Lemonade Mouth “I don’t want to be remembered as just another face in a yearbook.”

If you’re anything like me, you might be wondering exactly how you can leave your mark on the world. One thing that I’ve found, is that if you have a dream, you can start working towards it right now. Even if the end goal seems out of sight. I want to be an author and songwriter someday, so I’ve already begun writing books and songs. I’ve published two books, Teen Impact: Look No Further, the Bible Has Your Answers and Know Jesus, Know Peace. Furthermore, I’ve been working on writing fiction novels for a couple of years now, though none are published to this date. I also have a plethora of songs that I’ve written.

Whatever you want to do, you can start now. Either through physically doing something such as writing or training towards a particular goal, such as reading science books in order to someday become a great scientist.

Next, stay faithful in small things “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 16:10 (NIV). As we make goals and dream dreams, it’s important not to neglect the opportunities that God has given you right here, right now. Sometimes the small things, like reaching out to a new student at school, or helping an elderly lady cross the street can seem small to us, but can be huge to someone else. If you’re faithful with what God has given you, I believe that he’ll give you opportunities to make a difference on an even grander scale.

Furthermore, pray about God’s will for your life. If your dreams are in accordance with God’s will, He’ll open the right doors when the time is right. If it’s God’s will for your life, He put that dream inside of you. He created you in such a way that you’re capable of fulfilling that dream. Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (NKJV). Don’t doubt yourself, but instead believe that God has equipped you to be all that you’re meant to be. 

Lastly, never feel that God can’t use you. God has a history of using ordinary people for extraordinary things. He chose a young peasant girl to be the mother of Jesus. He chose Moses, an inelegant speaker, to lead a nation out of slavery.

You can be the change that you want to see, if you just keep trusting God, staying within His will, and starting right where you are.

Legacy by Nicole Nordeman

This is an incredible Christian song about leaving a legacy. I owe credit to the writers of this song for the title of this blog post.

What we can learn from Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven

A couple of months back, I read the the book by New York Times Bestselling Author Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I heard about this book and the idea behind it intrigued me, so I decided to try it. Little did I know, is that once I started it, I wouldn’t be able to put it down. I liked this book so much that I wrote an essay on it for an english class assignment and I wouldn’t stop talking about it. I’m pretty sure I was starting to drive my friends and family crazy. If you are unaware of the plot-line of this book, it’s about a man named Eddie, a veteran in World War 2 and current employee at a local amusement park, who dies trying to save a young girl’s life. Once he’s dead, he meets five different people who helped him better understand his life on earth. I’m not going to tell any more than that, as I don’t want to spoiler alert this book, but I would like to talk about what we can glean from this novel. In this book, the author writes

“There are no random acts…We are all connected…You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind…”

I find this quote fascinating, and when you think about it, it’s really true. What would your life be like if you never encountered the people who have come into your life? What new experiences, ways of thinking, and wisdom would you have missed out on? I do not believe that people are a blank slate, as John Locke taught, but I do believe that people impact one and other. I know that I have friends who have affected my life, and I’m sure that you do too. I’m going to end this blog post with two questions to get you thinking.

1. Who are some people who have impacted your life?

2. What can you do to have a positive impact on the lives of others?