4/27/16

Why am I a Christian?

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil- the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God's anger, just like everyone else.
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's grace that you have been raised!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. {Ephesians 2:1-7}

For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us a long time ago. {Ephesians 2:10}

Why am I a Christian?
This is something I hear daily in conversations around me. "Why are you a Christian?" "Why do you believe in God?" "How can you believe in someone you cannot see?".
I used to just  roll my eyes when I hear people ask these thing and say extremely judgmental things. 
But then my mom asked me one day, "why are you a Christian?". I looked at her shocked. Why would she ask me such a thing. She then said, "if I can tell you why I am a Christian and believe, then you should be able to, too."  I then thought, wow. I started actually thinking about my faith and my walk in God. I also started to put myself and judging aside and thought, ''what if the people asking why I believe what I believe, were just trying to get closer to God. Maybe they were lost. Maybe they seen that person allowing God to shine through them and wanted to know more''. 
I was born into Christianity. That's what was taught in my household, that's what I heard. There was only God and Jesus. God was who we worshiped and Jesus was the messiah. There was no worshiping of Mary and Jesus was not just a prophet. That's what I was born into. I never questioned it. I loved going to church and singing. Now my immediate family, my mom, siblings, and I, we were not strictly church all the time and fully dedicated. My mom didn't really take us to church unless my grandmother asked or it was something like Christmas, Easter, or sometimes New Years. We went to church ever now and then unlike my great grandmother who was a strong Christian and any chance she got us in church, she would. 
It wasn't til 5 or 6 years ago, my mom finally decided to be a fully dedicated Christian. I didn't complain. I liked going to church. I liked the church family and the other youth there. I loved the people and all, but I was just there. I was getting things here and there but I wasn't really into the actual church and God thing. I was just there because church was a place I felt comfortable, it was fun, and because I had no other choice. 
Even though I wasn't a strong-willed Christian, in middle school I was known as the church girl. The girl who didn't hang unless it was church, and went to church every Sunday, Wednesday and whenever my church had a program. I also thought I was holier than thou in 6 & 7th grade because I went to church and told I had a calling over my life. But I only prayed when I wanted to, I didn't read the word, I wasn't doing God's will and plans. Just going to church. When I finally turnt 13 in 8th grade, I had come to the conclusion I was know where near holier than thou. I had gave up my stuck up, know-it-all ways. I still stood my ground whenever the word was argued but I had kind of fell back. When I began to complain about church and all, my mom would ask, "why am I a Christian." I blew it off. I was like whatever, why are you dragging me to church.
 At the beginning of freshman year, I started slowly drifting away, I was hearing things others did and hearing just about things in general, I started swaying away from God. I was still a good girl, but I wasn't a godly girl. Big difference. I had allowed myself to get to lost and exposed to things. I started doing dumb things. (Read this article: When Good Girls Do Dumb Things). I was a mess. At church, my pastor and his wife, as well as my mom knew. I was drifting but there was still something in me that knew what was right. I had wanted so badly to experience the world and have a teen experience. I wanted to be rebellious. I told my mom basically I was tired of her trying to shove God down my throat. (Watch Confessions of Prodigal Son). I was a mess, way away from God. I went out and experience a taste of the teen experience, and I got burned. The situation could've been worst, but God has his ways. 
When I got fed up with the mess I was in, I decided I was going to come back to God. Only this time I was actually going to live for him. I was actually going to fulfill his plan for me. But I didn't know where to start. So I joined Young Life. It was amazing. It showed how teens can have fun in Christ and not be of the world while doing it. Then I went to Young Life bible studies. I started actually engaging in teachings at church. I started reading Girl Defined and Project Inspired. I was actually getting closer to God, instead of just going to church. I was actually hearing from God and getting a word. I realized what my purpose was in Christ and I was gaining a relationship. That's when just this Saturday that same question popped back in my head. "Why am I a Christian"?
Now when I am asked, I can have an answer better than because that's what I was taught to believe and because my mom is a Christian. I am a Christian because I have witnessed God's grace, mercy and love. I have seen His works and witnessed spiritual warfare. I am a Christian because God was the one who saved me from that situation that could've been 1000x worst than what it was. He granted me life again and he didn't take his hand off of me.  Like in the scripture in the beginning. I was living for the world and my desires, yet he still loved me and showed me grace & mercy. I've seen him work miracles and he's used people to get to me. I find peace and joy in him, and knowing that I'm granted eternal life is just amazing.  I'm also a Christian because there's no other amazing lifestyle. Young Life, summer camps, youth group, coffee + bible study, Hillsong & Bethel Music, and so much more.
Christianity has allowed me to see the bigger picture to life and give life a more powerful meaning to me. It has also allowed me to connect with people and just relate to each other on SO many different levels and finally be around people who understand me as a person, a Christian. I am a Christian, not because of my mom, sister, brother, or church. I am a Christian because I believe in God and his works and words, because it was shown to me in the hardest times in my life, and that has given me no other choice but to believe.
There you have, so the next time you're wondering why I choose Christ, here's why.  Now why did you choose Christ?
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4/19/16

Sexual Immortality and Impurity


"Speak to the Israelites and say to them: "I am the Lord, your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord, your God. Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys will live by them. I am the Lord." {Leviticus 18: 2-5}.
 
As teens and humans in general, we tend to struggle with sexual purity. With the media and all it's hard not to be curious. If you aren't active but have friends who are, it can be extremely hard. I can speak on this myself. We sometimes have a hard time ignoring the ways of the world, because we are surrounded by it's wicked sins and ways. But the bible states we must not not do as the world. As Christians, we are different from others of the world. We are anointed and designated to be holy. "Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy. {Leviticus 19:2}. Continuing into Leviticus 18, God lists all the unlawful sexual relations and then he lists the punishment for unlawful sexual relations {Leviticus 20:20-21}. Some unlawful relations include:
- incest
- adultery
- fornication

Fornication: //noun// sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other.

This, fornication, is the most common sin among teens. Everyday we are faced with temptation, and if we don't have the word of God in our hearts, it can be hard. Even as a strong Christian temptation is hard to fight and because we are of sinful flesh, we will face temptation until the day we die. Sexual temptation is hard for us teens because of our society. Most of our friends are having sex or experiencing. It's in our books, shows/movies, music, etc. We are simply just surrounded by it. 
Paul the Apostle once said, "Flee from all sexual immortality. All other sins people commit are outside their body, but those who sin sexually, sin against their own bodies. Do you know that your bodies are holy temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." { 1 Corinthians 6:18-20}. 

Once when I was in a sinful mess and problem, and I decided that I wanted to explore and stray a little, I almost lost my virginity, but it never happened. As I look on the situation and realized how close I was to committing a major sin, I realized it wasn't me who stopped me it was God. Then I read that verse and I was like, "wow". Literally the only thing I could say. Our bodies belong to God, Jesus gave his life as a ransom/payment for you and I. For our sins. 

God has done what the law... could not do: sending his own son in likeness of sinful flesh, he condemned  sin in flesh. {Romans 8:3}. 

Back to 1 Corinthians, it said "those who sin sexually, sin against their own bodies." We condemn our bodies with sin when we fornicate. We higher the possibility of STD, pregnancy, and crazy emotional factors. Sex also transfers spirits from one person to another. If you sleep with someone who has slept with 4 or 5 different people, you pick up the spirits & emotions of that person as well as the others. Condemning your body. Sinning against your body.  All these factors above are Sexual Immortality. They also led to sexual impurity. But here's the thing about sexual purity. It's not just about not having sex. It means keeping your mind and body pure and holy. Porn, sexual books, music, and movies are not a way of keeping your mind pure. Participating in sex, oral, foreplay, and/or masturbation is not keeping your body pure. These things all fall into sexual temptation. Immortality and Impurity. But we are taught to focus on self-control instead of self-indulgence. Sexual purity can be hard, but with prayer, scripture, and a focused mind on God you can do it. But you can't do it by yourself, you need God to be able to stand strong and you have to want it for yourself. 

I challenge you today to make an effort to stay as sexually pure as possible and lean on God. I challenge you to take on temptation head first and stand strong. I challenge you to be holy because the Lord, your God, my God, our God is holy and we are his temple and children. We are a representation of him and his great works.

Also:
How do you think society affects sexual purity among teens?  I want to know your thoughts!
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4/13/16

Body Image Issues & How I Tackled It

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"You're skinny-fat, that dress will not work." "Look at your arms, they remind me of my grandma's!" "A bikini is not going to work, look at all that fat." "Aren't you a little to young to be that size?" That's some of the things I've been hearing for the past 5 years. 

Ever since 5th grade I was never really comfortable with my body. I had a lot of issues going on, major issues, and my body only made things worst. I kind of held out in 5th grade, wearing baggier clothes, but when 6th grade came around and I had to wear a uniform, things got tough. 
 
For years and years I have always hated my thighs. They're big and annoying and shorts don't go well with shorts. My stomach was another area, hated them. My arms I was pretty content with and it was easy to brush off the rude comments, but the other two... not so easy. I remember being in fourth grade, and my then best friend, who is still til this day as skinny as a twig, told me she was a triple zero. I on the other hand was an size numero uno, in fourth grade. Now whether or whether not it's good or bad, I'm not quite sure but I knew that in that group of friends I was in, I was the only one above a zero. I ignored it. It bothered me, but it was easy to brush off, same thing in 5th grade. But when sixth grade came around things got ugly. I was slowly starting to not be comfortable anymore, it was like weight mattered even more. The girls I knew were twigs inside and outside of school. I remember trying out for cheerleading and I felt like a whale compared to other girls. I couldn't change in front of others. I remember one time at practice we were picking out flyers and when the girls lifted me, of course they said, "No, she's waayy to heavy," talk about total embarrassment. Around this time as well I had family issues, so I tended to eat  A LOT more, even at school. On girl even called me out on my eating. I felt horrible. I started becoming extremely anti-social. I dropped out of cheer. I didn't hang out. I was quite. I just well ate... A LOT.

 Over the summer before seventh grade I read an article in Girls Life about a girl with bulimia. You know, when you binge (eat a lot of food) and then purge (throw up). I read how she lost a lot of weight but had heart problems. I was still feeling iffy about my weight so I decided to do it. I was scared at first about the low heart rate and teeth decay, but I wanted to lose this weight badly, so I tried it and it didn't work. No matter how hard I tired it didn't work, so I gave up. Then I read something else about anorexia. It was actually a blog encouraging it. I started drinking water only, I became a vegetarian (even though it was for a bad cause, it was totally amazing and I highly recommend it), I started working out a lot. I spent my entire summer literally working out. I didn't hang out, I went to the beach one or twice with family. I stayed extremely lowkey, I just worked out and avoided food. I couldn't not eat around my mom, for she'd get skeptical, so I ate little portions around her. 

By the time school came around I was wearing clothes from Children's Place. I sticked to working out weekly and my veggie diet and semi starving diets ( I would starve myself every two weeks). I was happy and content and was comfortable with my size and showing off my body. I tried out for cheer with confidence and held my head high. I started back hanging out and was more social than ever. The only thing I was worried about still were my thighs. Even though I was happy and comfortable, I was always sick. I was always light headed, nausea, and had brain killing headaches. It. Was. The. Worst. I was super depressed and had extreme mood swings. My mom was starting to take me to doctors and I was scared of what would happen if the doctors and my mom found out. I dropped my veggie diet and introduced meat. I was sick x10, but it was easier on blaming it on diet change than starvation. I semi-continued my extreme working out and I still tried to stick away from fattening foods. I was still over obsessed with my weight.

Eight grade rolled around and I dropped all my extreme working out and dieting. After the sickness and all I was somewhat over it, I promised myself I wouldn't do it anymore, but I still mopped about my weight when I could. I started eating non stop carbs; Hot Cheetos (still somewhat addicted), Bojangles, McDonald's, FRENCH FRIES, the list goes on. I kicked salads to the side and replaced them with loaded potatoes, I replaced water with Diet Coke, Mountain Dew, and Sweet Tea. Yeah my diet had changed wildly. But it was all still tracing back to problems I was dealing with inside, I just ate, I don't know why but I did. One day during lunch I was eating and my friend goes, " You've gained weight, like last year (7th grade) you were so skinny and lean, like you getting a lil chubbier." I know he meant no harm whatsoever. But it hurt and sunk in my seat and fought the urge to tell him to well, back off. I started edging back to not eating and I kicked red meats out of my diet. But I hadn't lost any weight, in fact I had just gained it all back and I was back to were I was in sixth grade. Depressed, moody and sick. I wouldn't wear strappy shirts and refused to take pictures. I was even changing for cheer one day when one girl commented on my stomach fat. After she left I had my meltdown. An extreme sobbing, raging, drama filled meltdown in the bathroom.

It was back to summer. Summer before freshman year and I was determined to lose all the weight I gained in a year like I did a few summers back. It didn't work. I couldn't go to the beach without covering up.  People started noticing "curves" as much as I wanted to refuse the fact that I was a little hippy because I wanted to be a stick figure, I couldn't and it pissed me off. So now I'm dealing with other internal problems, my weight, my thighs, and my shape. But I couldn't bring myself to not eat. So yet again I was binge eating my feelings away. Not good. 

It's now freshman year, I'm from a size zero to a size 2 and I was 134. I was feeling horrible, but I was trying to ignore it. Bad idea. Why, well because here's the thing. I go to an arts school and we have lots of dancers. Dance is something I want to do and when I seen the girls compared to myself I started having self doubt. I was trying to keep it lowkey, holding all my problems in and binge eating on the low. I was trying to hide the problems of my weight and all. But after years of being obsessed and going to the extremes it was so hard. I started going on diet after diet. I hated hearing about eating disorders and got offensive anytime it came up. I only drunk diet coke or peppermint tea. I remember I went to try on a dress a few months ago and the saleswoman told me I was skinny fat and it wouldn't work, especially with my thighs and hips. I felt like crap and worthless. I couldn't help myself. I broke my promise. I relapsed. One night some months ago, I ate 2 plates of food and tried bulimia one more time. Still didn't work and I felt like a whale. So I went back to starving. I ate a peppermint and drunk water only, for weeks straight and I skipped either lunch or dinner, depending on the mood. I never ate breakfast unless it was a weekend. I drunk coffee to fill me up so I wouldn't crave food. I started noticing my irregular eating habits. I started feeling sick again. I was becoming more and more depressed. My anxiety was high. It was bad. I walked around school for weeks, smiling and trying to hide the problems or trying to forget about them. It only made it worst. 

 One day I was fed up and I cried out to two of my closest friends. I shocked my friend I went to middle school with the most. They gave me the most encouraging words ever. In one of my classes called somatics (yoga), one day we were talking and we were having open conversation, about our biggest issue. I didn't share of course, but just sitting in the circle and hearing all the people talk and encourage each other, it was amazing. I then realized that I was in a school full of people who were different and that everyone there was open and accepting. Everyday people would say, "Enfiniti, you have the cutest outfits." or " You are just the so pretty." But I couldn't believe it because I was unhappy with my weight. One of my friends told me one day out of the blue the world's most encouraging words and I literally burst into tears. I started to realize there was nothing wrong with me, I was beautiful in my own way. See my problem was I was looking at cheerleaders, ballerina's, and supermodels as role models and not for what they do but for their weight. So that's what I was trying to be. I was reaching for a ridiculous weight goal (98-101). Also, I'm the type of person when I'm going through issues ans stuff, I try holding it in. I don't like talking to others, so it would get overwhelming and that's where the binge eating kicked in, followed by the extreme dieting.  I was hurting myself more than ever. I was risking my health just for approval of society (and because I didn't know how to handle my problems).

 I then started to look at the good things about myself. I started realizing the good in myself and that everyone is different. I started stressing less about myself and stopped extreme dieting. Because I realized that I was only hurting myself.  This my friend is where my improvement starts. {This was just a month ago}

Everyday I started reading positive quotes and saying something good about my body. I don't look at a celebrity as weight goals anymore. I'm learning slowly to accept my body, day by day.  I've accepted that my thighs are just naturally big and that it runs in the family. So it's nothing I could really do about it. I've learned how to balance my diet, that way I can still enjoy Bojangles and Cookout (praise God). I drink water almost everyday and I hardly drink coffee (this is only because Starbucks doesn't fit my bank account haha). I've changed my lifestyle hugely and not only am I just taking Yoga as a course but I'm incorporating it into my life. I don't binge eat my problems away anymore and I set healthy boundaries. I don't have extreme workout plans anymore and I'm not longer getting crazy sick. Nor am I depressed. I'm a size 2-3, depends on how it's made, and I weigh 126.5 pounds, and I'm fairly happy with it. I won't lie and say that I'm all the way there (example: I'm still having troubles with mood swing) but I'm working on it and I'm proud of my progress.

My advice for those struggling with self image, as crazy and scary as it sounds, talk to someone. We sometimes feel being judged and getting unwanted attention, but when you let it out to someone trustworthy and get it out, you will see how encouraging people can really be. Plus it feels sooooooo good to finally get it off your chest. Also stay off of social media, it's not a great idea, it only makes you feel worst. Take a break, get yourself together and when you are comfortable, get back on. Social media was my biggest issue and I had to take a break for a while and I'm glad I did. Start reading positive things. Notice the good things about your body and surround yourself around people who encourage you. You might relapse and you might not, but if you notice yourself about to, stop think, and talk to someone.

Also if you haven't been to extremes, take my advice and don't go to extreme measures. It's not worth it. The sickness, the health risks, the emotional and mental strain is not worth it. Talk to someone, don't hold it end, because this stuff just builds up and gets worst. Everyone is beautiful and there is no need for extreme risks. They're are healthier ways to go about this. Most of the time we are in denial of our eating habits and all, but listen, it's for your good. 

I hope this helped/inspired y'all. Thanks so much for reading my story. Let me know if you guys would like more inspiring stories or want to talk here.

xx
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4/12/16

Tuesday Talks: Paulina from Navy Striped Peonies



I have always loved Paulina's blog. Ever since I first started blogging her blog was one of my biggest inspirations. So when I got the chance to interview her I was beyond excited and doing this was such a pleasure. If you're looking for a great blog on nice fashion, Navy Striped Peonies is your destination. 
***
How would describe yourself and your personality?
I would definitely describe myself as very outgoing. I love to talk to new people; honestly, public speaking is my guilty pleasure. I would say I am very driven and ambitious. For me, starting a project, running something, organizing something: that to me is fun. I thrive in a packed schedule! Overall I am just a very happy person. Even under pressure, I love to smile and dance in the morning, greet every person I know, and make other people’s day!

When did you start blogging and why?
I started blogging a couple months after I turned 16. I was just starting to develop my “preppy” style, so I was getting lots of inspiration from bloggers. Writing has always been a passion of mine, and I had recently gotten into computer science/coding; it seemed like sense to try my hand at blogging! I had a friend {you can find her here } that had lots of experience blogging already and she was critical in helping me build up my site.

How has blogging impacted you as a person?
 Oh gosh, blogging has become such a huge part of my life. It has given me so amazing skills, from computers to writing to networking to marketing. Blogging was my break into this larger field of business and entrepreneurship; it gave me an interest in advertising! Before blogging, my ultimate goal was to become a doctor. Now I am considering going to school for both my MD and my MBA, eventually working my way up to a CEO of a hospital. Blogging has helped me narrow down my love of creating and organizing and running a substantial thing



How do you maintain a successful blog?
 I am a huge planner {another skill blogging gave me!}. I plan out posts far in advance and am able find time to make those posts, which I know is super important. I think social media has also helped a lot in terms of Navy Striped Peonies’ success. I try my best to regularly use Instagram and Twitter!

What are your go to resources for blogging?
 Blogging networks! The Influence Her Collective has been my ultimate resource from day one. If you are a blogger, I highly recommend applying!

What blog(s) do you highly recommend for others?
 Oh that's a tough one. I have to say, Fran from The Blonde Prep  Caroline from Citrus & Style and the girls over at Preppy by the Sea are my inspirations. If I could meet any Internet people, it would be them!

What is your inspiration in life?
My friends. I have a wonderful set of talented, ambitious friends who are always there to keep me on my A game. For one thing or another, each one of them inspires me to continue to do my best.

What is your aspiration in life?
I sort of already said, but I would love to run a hospital! On top of that I want to be a mom. I love kids and would consider myself pretty family oriented.

What would you consider your style?
My style is ultimately very preppy. I started off solely focused on the “button down and pearls” look, but I’ve slowly come to step out of my comfort zone and would like to focus on things perhaps a little trendier! The older I get, the more I am looking to things with some edge.



What are your top five favorite items in your closet
 My Tory Burch riding boots, Ralph Lauren button downs, Lucky jeans, white peplum top, and any and all summer dresses!

What can you not live without?
 This is probably such a typical answer, but my phone. Where would I be without it?

What's ne thing you want to do before you leave this world and be remembered for?
Talk about a big question! I would love to contribute largely to cancer research and be remembered for my efforts in that field. If nothing else, I hope that I am kept in the memories of my family as a kind, happy person.

Thank you so much for having me!

Talk about an incredible person with an amazing heart right! Thanks so much Paulina for doing this and best of luck with the blog and cancer research girly! Keep up with her on Navy Striped Peonies.

til next time!
xoxo,
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