Inspiration From Winnie The Pooh

Inspiration from Winnie the Pooh. I’ve always loved this quote.

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The Meaning Series Part Five: Faith

Good afternoon to all of you reading this blog. Today has been a pretty eventful day. I went to the beach with my family and started on book three of the Bailey Flanigan series, played Uno with my mom, and tossed a football around with my dad. Following the beach, I went out to eat and got some really awesome fries. Nonetheless, the topic of this blog isn’t going to be fries or football, it’s going to be a different topic of the same first letter.

Faith.

I saved the most important topic in The Meaning Series for last; the importance of faith in God in one’s life. I began attending church at age nine and asked Jesus into my heart at age eleven. I remember my first experience at church pretty vividly, partly because it was drastically different than what I had expected. I was expecting a very traditional type atmosphere, with an organ and people in frilly dresses. Needless to say, I was pretty surprised to walk in and find a band with an electric guitar and drums, along with a pastor who cracked jokes during the sermon and people who dressed in casual attire. I suppose that whole story kind of illustrates what my walk with God has looked like over the years; there have been a good amount of surprises and unexpected things along the way. I’ve found that there really is no cookie cutter mold for what each Christian’s life is going to look like; every Christian is going to find themselves in different circumstances with different challenges to work through. However, as Christians we serve a really big God who can help us sort out the details of our lives and situations.

I think that what you believe is going to affect the way that you live; the views that we hold are going to seep out into life, touching the lives of others for good or for bad. Some of you out there may be wondering, “If that’s the case, than why do some Christians treat others so poorly?” The only answer that I can give to that question is that we’re all fallen. We all have the capacity to become prideful or act in a way that’s hurtful to others. Nonetheless, if you’ve had a bad encounter with Christians, I urge you to not hold that against God. If you read through the Gospels, Jesus always showed immense kindness towards others. In fact, the people He usually expressed frustrated towards were the religious leaders who acted as if they were better than everyone else.

As Christians, I believe we’re called to emulate the love and mercy that Jesus demonstrated on earth. He was God in flesh, yet He walked in incredible humility that I believe sets the standard for each of us. As Micah 6:8 says, we’re called to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.” My goal in my blog, 1timothy412girl, is to write in a way that’s compassionate to people of all life situations, creating a safe haven, while staying true to my beliefs and the Bible’s teachings. I suppose that’s my goal in life too. In a very chaotic, broken world, we’re called to be a light; to show people the hope of the Gospel and walk with them through different trials and seasons of life. Though I’m still fairly young, I’ve gone through rough patches in my own life, and it’s the people who have taken time to listen and be there for me who stand out the most. I can still remember instances, no matter how “small”, where someone took the time to listen and walk with me through a trial that I was going through. To this day, I’m grateful for those people whom God has put in my path and I hope to be that person to others.

To me, faith is not just a belief, but a lifestyle. It’s a flashlight that illuminates God’s love, truth, and hope. It’s a gift that we’ve been given, and that we’ve been called to pass along. In the words of Mother Teresa “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

My topics in this series may all be different, but they’re interconnected. God gives each of us dreams; dreams that can become a reality through hard work and perseverance. We are all unique and special individuals, part of a greater picture of humanity and called to become part of the family of God. And, it is God who gives meaning to each of these things. I could go on to talk about various other topics, such as hope or wisdom, but I believe that the things covered are good starting points: loving God, loving people, and striving to make a difference.

The Meaning Series Part Four: Individuality

Individuality is probably one of the most discussed topics in modern day society; you cannot go on a social media website without seeing some sort of quote about being yourself. Be yourself is one of the most widely used themes in many well known movies throughout the decades. Everywhere you turn, you hear messages about embracing your individuality, but what does that mean? The definition will likely vary a little for everyone, but to me it means accepting the person God created you to be. It would make sense that as creations, we ought to look to our Creator to find out who we are and who we’re meant to be.

Psalms 139:13-14 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful I know that full well.” Emily P. Freeman, in her book A Million Little Ways; Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live, says “I can’t imagine anything more dangerous to the enemy of our hearts than people who know who they are.” If we know who we are, we’ll be less apt to fall for Satan’s lies about who he tells us we are. Though the concept has been secularized by some, I believe that it remains a pretty spiritual concept. If we know who we are, we’ll be better able to find God’s purpose for our lives. A big part of this, is being honest with ourselves about our personalities and passions.

Being that I have a couple of teen years in my rearview, I’ve experienced (And am still experiencing) some of this process. I’ve gone through a good deal of different stages, which have resulted in some interesting photographs. In jr. high school, I went through a stage where I looked like Laura Ingalls Wilder with glasses and acne. For a brief period of high school, I went through a phase with small colored hair extensions. Those were fun, but a bit of a pain.

Nonetheless, discovering who you are goes much deeper than hair and clothes phases. It’s something that you often find bits and pieces of when you least expect it. I remember taking a short, unofficial, free version of the Meyers Briggs Personality Test during my freshman year of high school. Prior to that test, I always saw myself as an introvert. I’ve never been someone who feels comfortable in large crowds, and I sometimes feel like hiding behind a very large object in a new environment. Thus, as you can imagine, I was surprised to see my Meyers Briggs results say I’m extraverted. In retrospect, it makes sense, as I tend to gain energy around people, even if I’m somewhat shy and reserved. Another surprise came during that same year, when I discovered my passion for communicating through song. Watching movies about characters who wrote songs made me want to try my hand at it myself. Little by little, I began using songwriting as a medium to express emotions and beliefs, and found that I loved it. I still write songs, and hope to get them published someday. In addition to discovering a love for songwriting, I’ve also discovered that I enjoy singing and I have begun taking voice lessons.

True, these are all relatively small pieces of myself, but each piece brings us a little closer to the person God created us to be. You can’t define yourself by things like extravert or songwriter, but those things bring out deeper parts of your personality. In my songwriting, I’ve found a sense of carefreeness in myself that I might not have discovered otherwise, being that I often tend to be a bit on the uptight side. In my extraverted-ness, I’ve come to see how being around other people makes me feel alive. Each piece of yourself is part of the larger picture of you, and each person is part of the larger picture of God’s creation. If you look at the journey of finding yourself in this light, it becomes something bigger than you: God and living a meaningful life that touches the lives of others. Everyone has a purpose and a voyage in life, and finding out who you are as a person, and who you are in Christ, is one of the first steps to beginning that voyage.

The Meaning Series Part Three: Community

Today’s topic in The Meaning Series is Community (No, not the TV show). I wasn’t quite sure how to address this one, as it’s going to be a bit of a broad topic, but I think the word Community about covers it.

People need other people. It’s been this way since the Garden of Eden, when God decided to create someone for Adam to be with. Humans were not meant to live a life of solitude, we were meant to interact with other humans, forming meaningful relationships. In the modern age of the 21st century, this will likely look a little different for everyone. Studies show that Milennials are marrying much later in life, creating more of a need for creative solutions such as living with a roommate. I think we’re entering an era where the threshold to adulthood will look very different in coming years than it did in past generations; leaving the Church with questions about how to minister to their congregation.

One Bible passage that I have always loved and that I believe applies here is Matthew 12:48-50. “He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”” I believe that this is a particularly powerful and overlooked passage in the Bible. I love the idea that as Christians, we’re one big family; that all of my Christian friends are my brothers and sisters. Could you imagine what it would look like if we, in the Body of Christ, operated like this? One phenomenon that I’ve noticed at different churches throughout the years, is that we often fall into a pattern of looking like small, individual puzzles in the same box rather than one big puzzle. What if we really took the time to invest in each others lives and love each other like a family?

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m a big fan of 80’s TV shows. One thing that I’ve noticed in watching some of those shows, such as Full House, Who’s The Boss, Boy Meets World, etc., is that they really show strong examples of loving those who aren’t biologically related. On Full House, Jessie and Joey really become Uncle/Second father figures to D.J., Stephanie, and Michelle. On Who’s the Boss, Tony and Angela treat other’s kids as if they were their own. On Boy Meets World, Cory and Shawn are close enough to be brothers, with Cory’s parents treating Shawn as their own son. Not to mention that Mr. Feeny is like a grandpa to his students. What would it be like, if we as Christians looked like that? What if we saw each other: our friends, our mentors, and those younger than us, as family? Imagine the witness of Christian love this would be to the world. What if, instead of living disconnected and independent of each other, we lived in such a way that we could count on others to be there for us, and in turn, we were there for them. What if we lived out friendship and community in such a way, that we really became a family? I believe that a vital aspect of life is other people, both our biological families and those who aren’t related to us. As the song, No Man is an Island by Tenth Avenue North says “We’re not meant to live this life alone.” This may look different for you than it does for me, and yet even more different for your neighbor across the street. Nonetheless, we all need others and God calls us all to be one big family; loving each other as He loves each of us.