Undefeated

From the time I was a little girl, I’ve always loved stories. I love the feeling of getting inside a character’s head. I love watching them overcome battles and struggles. I love seeing their hopes and dreams unfold at the end—as they get the happy ending we were rooting for all along.

We all have our favorite stories. Some of us enjoy romance movies/novels, where we wait for the guy to get the girl. Others enjoy action, like the Marvel series, where we watch the good guy defeat the bad guy. We each have unique tastes when it comes to stories, but regardless of the various differences between them they all have one very important thing in common.

The protagonist always has an obstacle standing in their way. 

Like these stories, we each have our own obstacles that we face on a daily basis, and as Christians, we have a common villain set on our destruction. A common enemy who wants to see us fail. Most often, the battle is within.

As an OCD struggler, I am no stranger to the reality and difficulty of internal battle. Most people tend to associate OCD with being a neat-freak, but that’s only part of it. The thing that drives people to struggle with this condition is unwanted thoughts that cause nothing but harm. It’s an internal battle, which manifests into controlling the things we can—like obsessive cleaning or tidiness. Nonetheless, slowly but surely I’m learning to gain better control over my OCD and better fight this battle.

Even if we don’t all struggle with OCD, many of us deal with intrusive thoughts on a regular basis—thoughts of insecurity, fear, and worry. All which are lies of the enemy. However, as we have the ultimate weapons to fight against these plaguing thoughts—through God and the Bible. We can’t always control the thoughts that go through our head, but we can control how we react to them.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Meanwhile Romans 8:37 tells us that we are “more than conquerors through him who loved us.

We might not be strong enough to face these battles and internal struggles on our own, but through the blood of Christ we are warriors destined for victory. Those anxious thoughts that come through our heads and our hearts are nothing but lies of the enemy, and through God’s strength we can resist those lies and stay strong and courageous. We can take those unwelcome thoughts captive and rebuke them with the truth of God’s Word—God loves us, God is leading us, God has a plan for us, and we are characters destined for a life brimming with purpose. 

We each face trials as we travel through this world—but through Jesus, who has already won the battle, we can live victoriously. 

Defeating any arrow that might be shot our way. 

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

How To Disagree Well

A little while back, I did the exact thing that everyone tells you not to do.

It’s the very thing that everyone warns you about, and thing that could potentially get you banned from any dinner party.

I discussed politics with friends.

The good news? We’re all still friends.

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Joking aside, the discussion actually went quite well—despite the fact that one friend was a Republican, one was a Democrat, and I’m sort of right-in-the-middle. We had differences, no doubt about it. Nonetheless, despite those differences, we each listened to each other. We heard what each person had to say and stated our own thoughts in a kind, respectful manner. At one point, one of my friends even noted that this was how politics in America should be—everyone listening to each other without getting into a shouting match.

Truthfully, the more I think about it, the more I believe that’s how discussions about any important topic should go. Regardless of the issue, people are always more likely to learn when discussing things in a calm, and intelligent manner.

Over the course of my high school career, I learned how to do this. My classmates and I were always encouraged to discuss hot button issues in my classes, but somehow, those discussions never led to a major fight or a fallout. In fact, I believe that we actually grew stronger through those differences—something rare in a world that continues to polarized politically, racially, religiously, and in every other way imaginable. And, thinking about it, I believe there are a couple of key factors that we’ve always utilized, making for meaningful discussion in the midst of differences. 

Factors that I believe, if utilized, might help us become a little better at disagreeing well.

Don’t make snap judgements – One of my biggest pet peeves has always been stereotypes and labels. From the time I was young—they have always bugged me to the core. Mainly, because one—they can be offensive, and two—they can keep us from listening. When we begin to see people as caricatures, we cease to see them as humans, and we stop really listening to them. We assume we already know what they have to say and thus, make an idiot out of ourselves. In order to listen well, we must fully understand what they’re trying to say—without stereotypes or generalizations.

Hear them – Maybe, you don’t agree with what your friend is saying. Maybe you don’t even agree with the majority of what they’re saying. Nonetheless, give their opinion respect and value. Do you agree with the broader point behind what they’re saying? Could parts of what they’re saying make sense in a different context? Never shut someone down simply because they’re coming at something from a different perspective. You could miss out on a really valuable conversation, as well as a really valuable friendship.

Try to understand their point-of-view – As an author, this is something that I do on a regular basis. When I create characters, they aren’t always exactly like me, nor do they always think the way I think. In life, like in a story, it is important to understand the people you’re surrounded by. We didn’t all grow up the same way, and we haven’t all had the same experiences. Take this in consideration as you consider the “why” behind the opinions the other person has.

Treat people as Jesus would – As Christians, we’re given the ultimate role model for interacting with the world at large, as well as those closest to us. In Scripture, Jesus was always respectful to people who came from different contexts than He may have been used to. If we follow His example, treating people with the upmost respect, we can never go wrong.

How about you? Have you ever gotten into a discussion with people who have different viewpoints? How did it go – and how do you believe we can better learn to disagree well? Feel free to share in the comments!

One Of The Guys

Ever since high school, I’ve always been one of the guys.

It was never a conscious decision, or something that I “planned” in any way, it just sort of happened, and to be honest, it’s not something I’ve thought too much about. It’s just sort of a fact, similar to the fact that I love hot tea and binge watching sessions of Friends.

Something commonplace and totally normal in my life.

Nonetheless, one day, not too long ago, I actually did happen to think about it—due to the fact that I was going to a graduation with a group of friends to watch three bros graduate. I was naturally nostalgic, as these were people I grew up with, so I decided to google one of those articles on Buzzfeed like “What it’s like when you have a lot of guy friends” or “Humorous things that happen when a lot of your friends are guys“. And, while doing this, I ended up stumbling across an advice column on this very topic.

Long story short, this person was borderline negative at the prospect of having a friend of the opposite gender – accusing it of simply being a way to “get attention from guys”. After, researching further commentary on this topic, I found other articles from similar viewpoints, one calling it an avenue for “confusion and frustration” – even going so far as to call opposite gender friendship a sin!

Sadly, as much as I’d like to believe otherwise, I don’t believe these viewpoints are all too uncommon in some circles. Oftentimes, both the church and society can become so obsessed with sex and marriage that any kind of platonic interaction between guys and girls is viewed with suspicion.

Even movies, such as When Harry Met Sally, that address the age old “can guys and girls be friends” question typically end up with the two friends becoming a couple. And while I don’t disagree that this can sometimes happen, I personally find it rather ludicrous to say that every guy-girl friendship has some kind of Fruedian undertone just waiting to emerge at the worst time.

Thus, to contrast with an article in support of guy-girl friendships, I’ve decided to list a few reasons why having friends of the opposite gender can be a good and godly thing for us as Christian teens and young adults.

  1. Jesus did – As Christians, Jesus is our ultimate role model. In the 80s, the old slogan WWJD was popularized, and ever since, faithful Christians have asked the famous question, “What would Jesus do”? If we’re going to look closely to His example, we’ll be quick to find that Jesus spent time with both men and women.

In Luke 10, it is clear that Jesus was close friends with two sisters named Mary and Martha, even going over to their house for dinner. Furthermore, in Luke 8, Jesus travels with friends of both gender, and the women traveling with him helped support Him in His ministry. According to www.gci.org, this was simply unheard of during this time era. Nonetheless, it is evidenced that Paul follows a similar pattern later on in the New Testament, and even calls Persis a “dear friend” in Romans 16:12.

2. We learn from each other – I have always believed we grow through having friends who are different than us. Whether it be culturally, racially, gender-wise, or anything else, we understand those who are different than us through relationships. We learn to appreciate each others’ differences while learning that we’re not as far apart as we usually think.

While guys and girls have their differences, we are ultimately all human beings, with individual stories, testimonies, and personalities. Having friends of the opposite gender can help us realize that maybe guys aren’t so much from Mars and girls aren’t so much from Venus—maybe we’re all actually from the same planet earth.

3. It reduces stereotypes – When I was in middle school, I used to have a legit fear of the opposite gender. It sounds crazy in retrospect, but because of some of the stereotypes I was hearing about guys at the time (They’re all crude, they’re only interested in one thing, they have no manners etc.) I used to feel borderline panicky around anyone of the opposite sex.

Nonetheless, once I started making friends with actual guys, the stereotypes began to fall away one by one. No longer did I characterize the whole male species as being somehow dangerous. I began to realize they’re just people, like myself. And, I soon found that a lot of them can actually be pretty cool.

4. It lets you feel comfortable having a feminine/masculine side – According to psychology, no one is all “masculine” or all “feminine“. This doesn’t mean anything strange or that gender differences aren’t important. It simply means that we each have different sides of our personality—and not all of them fit neatly into boxes.

Around my guy friends, I often feel a freedom to let out my sarcasm and joke around in a way that might come across odd with a close girl friend. Meanwhile, I was once talking with a guy friend who confided that most boys don’t like to sit around and have discussions, so it would be difficult trying to sit around and just talk with another guy. With our opposite gender friends, we can feel free to let sides of ourselves show that might not come out otherwise.

How about you? Do you have any close opposite-gender friends? How do you believe they’ve helped you grow? Feel free to share in the comments!

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Mystery Blogger Award

Hey everyone, I have some big news to share! I was just nominated by Dainty M. for the mystery blogger award! Thank you so much for the award Mfon, if you’re reading this!

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The rules to this award are…

  • Display the award logo on your blog.
  • List the Rules.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  • Tell your readers three things about yourself.
  • Answer five questions from the nominee.
  • Nominate anywhere from ten to twenty bloggers.
  • Notify the bloggers by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice, including one weird or funny question.
  • Share the link to your best post.

This award was first initiated by the wonderful Okoto Enigma and I think it’s a great way to meet other like-minded bloggers and make new friends.

Three Things About Me 

  1. I’ve been out of high school for about a year now.
  2. My best friend also has a blog, which currently has a grand total of one post.
  3. My dream is to become a successful author someday.

Mfon’s Questions 

What’s your favourite season of the year?

Probably winter. It’s very hot in the state I live in, so cold weather always feels like somewhat of a relief. Plus, it’s the season that holds Christmas and Thanksgiving, which makes it twice as awesome.
What’s the one thing you’d do if there was no stopping you?

Hmmm, that’s a toughie. Probably right now, visit New York City and the Christian Passion Conference with a group of friends. I’ve always wanted to take a trip with friends.

Soda or juice?

Juice. I honestly don’t really like the taste of soda.

What’s your idea of fun?

This is probably going to sound sort of geeky, but I love reading and writing. There’s always something magical about escaping into the depths of story.
One piece of advice you would tell your younger self

Trust God. I know this sounds like you’re typical Sunday school answer, but it’s oftentimes easier said than done. Nonetheless, I’ve found with age that God always works things out perfectly in His timing.

New Nominees 

 

Julian

Angela 

Juni Desiree 

Alex

 

Papberry 

Questions 

What is your favorite movie and why?

Tell about an embarrassing childhood moment.

What would you tell your teenage self (if you’re still a teenager, what would you tell your twelve year old self)? 

If you could have any dream come true, what would it be?

Which would you rather be, a penguin or a flamingo? 

 

 

The Lie Of The Sacred And Secular

As a Christian teen deep within evangelical subculture, I grew up very aware of the “sacred/secular” dichotomy. All through middle school, I watched mostly Christian movies, listened to all Christian movies, and read every book at the local Christian bookstore I could get my hands on.

Once I got to high school my taste began to expand.

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As I became exposed to new shows, movies, books, and music, I soon realized that I was consuming a lot of media that people might label “secular”. Far more of an odd realization, I really liked some of it—and some of said movies, books, and songs resonated with me more than some “Christian” movies, books, and songs.

How was I supposed to make sense of this—I often wondered. As a Christian, how ought I view these “secular” forms of media? And how was I supposed to make sense of the fact that they weren’t all dirty and depraved the way Christians often portray “secular” media?

Now, at eighteen (almost nineteen), I’ve finally made sense of my teenage confusion. And, I came to one very big realization—there is no such thing as sacred and secular. 

This was a lie that I bought into for a long time, and at times, still catch myself in, but over time, I’ve come to realize that this view is far from Biblical, and more of a modern construct than anything. We are to evaluate media based on whether there’s something of value to be found in it, not based on whether or not it’s creator identifies as a Christian or sets out to make a specifically “Christian” movie.

Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

By this definition, there are some things that we should not allow ourselves to be exposed to. Movies with extreme gratuitous violence or near pornographic scenes should be steered clear of, and music that degrades people and disrespects basic values should not be found on our playlists.

Nonetheless, this is clearly not a warning against anything “secular“.

One of my favorite songs is a song that’s technically classified as secular, called Hanging By A Moment—a song seems to allude to God in a very real, honest, and vivid way—as the artist sings lyrics like this.

Desperate for changing, starving for truth, I’m closer to where I started, when chasing after you…I’m falling even more in love with you…forgetting all I’m lacking, completely incomplete, I’ll take your invitation, you take all of me…

Many singers—including Hunter Hayes, Owl City, and Carrie Underwood, do the same thing. Others, sing about things like love and life, in a clean, thoughtful, and beautiful way.

Whatever is true, noble, right, and pure. 

Many movies like The Blindside or Raise Your Voice have positive encouraging messages about family or being the best version of yourself.

Whatever is true, noble, right, and pure. 

Many books like To Kill A Mockingbird and The Outsiders tell stories about how under the surface, no matter who we are or where we come from, we all have the same basic needs and wants.

Whatever is true, noble, right, and pure. 

Perhaps it’s not so much about whether a form of media is “Christian” or “secular”—perhaps it’s whether we’d be comfortable consuming it if Jesus was in the room with us. Jesus wasn’t only found in church, but He was always spending his time in God honoring pursuits. The same should be able to be said of us. Biblically, there’s no such thing as sacred and secular.

In the end it all comes down to the heart of the matter.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31 

Thirty Day Blogging Challenge Day #2: Thirty-Nine

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Day Twenty-Nine: Bullet Your Whole Day

  • I woke up (Although, considering you’re reading this, I guess that’s pretty obvious!).
  • I wrote a couple of blog posts (Which you can find in previous entries)
  • I ate lunch (Vegetarian chicken nuggets)
  • I brushed my teeth and washed my face (Yeah, the boring morning routine)
  • I drove to the grocery store (Three cheers for Wal-Mart!)
  • I began my application for Liberty Online (I’m going to start soon!)
  • I studied for the CLEP test (Yay?)
  • I emptied the dishwasher (My day just keeps getting more exciting…)
  • I talked with my mom (My day is finally looking up!)
  • I worked more on blogging (Hey, it’s my responsibility to keep this site going!)
  • I ate dinner (Spaghetti!)
  • I finished a book by Karen Kingsbury called Return (It was really good!)
  • I’m about to wants TV with my mom (The Middle, and than Black-ish)

That’s all for today! I’ll be back tomorrow with the last day of the challenge. Until then, I hope y’all have an awesome night!

Thirty Day Blogging Challenge #2: Day Ten

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Day Ten: How important you think education is

As a lifelong bookworm and aspiring writer, I believe education is a very important part of life. I believe that both formal education and informal education can enrich our minds to help us become more intelligent, well rounded human beings. God gave us a brain for a reason, and I believe it’s our job to be good stewards of it, making the most of each opportunity to learn and become better equipped to serve our Lord and Savior. 

Many Christians have become critical of education (particularly colleges) in recent years, due to increasing secularism in school curriculums, but I do not believe that education itself is to blame for this. True knowledge will always lead us back to knowledge and as Christians, it’s our job to answer through a Biblical lens the age-old-question—what is truth? 

Some of us have had the opportunity to go to Christian schools and colleges and I think it’s awesome that option exists. Due to the great minds of many believers collaborating for the purpose of creating a Christ-centered Christian learning environment, there are many fine and prestigious Christian schools available to us. Others of us, have landed in secular schools. While this is definitely the much more difficult option (I was at a secular school last semester for the first time in my life), God can use us even in those situations. Wherever we are, it’s important that we always work hard and glorify God as we strive to make the most of the brain that God has given us. 

We also need to, in the midst of pursuing an education, make sure we’re well rounded. It can be all too easy to center your life completely around schoolwork, which I believe is unhealthy and unbalanced approach. School is important, but so are family, friends, and faith. Those things should always come first for us, no matter how demanding the school we attend is. We need to be sure to set aside time in our day for other things besides just school in order to live healthy and balanced lives.

How about you? What are your thoughts about education? I’d love to hear them in the comments section below!