Life Breaking Through

I haven’t written in a long time (well at least not on WordPress). I have began a few new projects and got sort of wrapped up in how busy life has seemed to be. Well before I dive in to what I came to talk about I will give you a brief update on the mayhem!

 

baptism

I was water baptized for the second time. It was wonderful! I got a second job and have been doing Christmas photo shoots for families and couples I know. It’s been fun and a great learning experience. I’ve of course done plenty of photo shoots with friends and what not, but not in a formal posed setting. I have also been doing plenty of shooting for the church and editing. I believe I’m getting a lot better; I’m even venturing into video editing for our youth group! My family and I are leaving for Disney World on Christmas Day! And yes, there will definitely be a blog post. I have been writing through all the chaos, not blogging, but working on a novel (or novel idea). Other than this I haven’t done much more except I have been spending a lot more time with friends and my family which is absolutely wonderful. Last but not least, our church began a Welcome Team which I was approached to participate in and I am so glad for it. I don’t even complain about waking up thirty minutes early to stand outside and meet new people. It’s one of the most fun ministries I have served in and  it is most certainly one of the best things for our church in  my eyes. I cannot wait to see where we go with it!

In all of my busy schedule in the last 2 months I’ve been forced to remember one very important thing: God makes all things new. He brings everything and everyone to life. We have life through him and that’s the thing to be most thankful for: Our everlasting life with God!

Sometimes I get in such a rush in life that I forget to slow down and enjoy each moment. I get anxious and stressed out when there is such a simple solution, prayer. I am learning to trust Him and let Him guide my decisions instead of trying so hard to figure out the best choice on my own.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

The bible says repeatedly that when we are saved, we are made new in Him. No matter what you have done or where you have been there is one thing that will always be guaranteed, our God is a forgiving, loving, merciful God. He created us and knows the mistakes we make. Yes it’s constantly repeated but it’s because it’s the greatest miracle the world has seen: He sent his one and only son to die for our sins. Jesus wore our cross on his back.

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I wrote back in September, maybe, about Picking up our cross no matter how heavy and pursue Jesus with every might that we have! Matthew 16:24 states, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'” I know as well as anyone that it is not easy to just turn your back on your life, habits, and even friends. Some things aren’t as good for us as we want them to be and that’s a very hard lesson to learn. But with every want you lay down for the God you need there comes a sense of freedom and peace in your heart and life.

Just remember throughout your week that you have a God who doesn’t strike down, but a God who gives life to every person seeking him and brings joy to every moment.

Taking Up Our Cross

I do not remember where I got this book, but I got it four years ago. It is called “A Call to Die” by David Nasser. It is a forty day fast to rid your life of selfish habits and focus on God. I began it when I was fifteen in the tenth grade. Of course since I am the disorganized, lazy, mess I am I never finished it. I do not even believe I got half way through.

Today, I re-dedicated myself to it to see where it could take me and what it could teach me! I will also compare my reflections on each day to my fifteen year old self’s answer. Day one is called “Take Up Your Cross” (hence the title of this post). It was a simple, yet powerful lesson on Jesus truly meant when he asked us to take up our cross and follow him [Matthew 16:24] and all I can say is WOW!

Since the sole purpose of the book is to teach people why it is so important for us to give up our selfish desires and serve, it only seemed like the perfect fit to describe how extremely intense Jesus was. David Nasser explains that a cross is not just a necklace or something hanging on your living room wall. The cross was one of the most excruciating, painful punishments, saved for the lowest of lows during this time. So we can only imagine what Christ’s disciples thought when Jesus said to pick up their crosses. They thought he was nuts!! But Jesus knew that whatever God had called him to do had to be done. He had to give up comfort and acceptance. Something we are faced with every day; we choose whether or not we decide to say yes or no to the selfish desire to be comfortable and accepted in our life.

David lets us in a little secret about our walk with God: Our obedience is worth it.

It was very interesting to see how drastically different my reflections were on just day one. My favorite one was the question asking you to describe the benefits of denying yourself and taking up your cross to follow Jesus! Let me tell you; fifteen year old me was very wise compared to nineteen year old me.

My answer then: “The number one benefit is eternity with our Savior Christ Jesus! By following him, others will follow you, and by following you they will be led to him!” 

My answer now is definitely along the same lines, but not quite as simple I believe. I find that the many benefits of denying yourself and taking up your cross to follow Jesus all boils now to one thing everyone is searching for: happiness.

I’ve struggled for so long wondering why I wasn’t good enough, why I didn’t fit in, or why I was always at home crying, depressed, and all alone every night. With God in my life, mind and heart I feel an all consuming joy washed over me. It doesn’t last twenty minutes and fade away like smoking does. It constantly refreshes itself and I am always reminded of the many reasons I have to be blissful and happy. God brings joy to my life like nothing I’ve ever experienced. He reminds me that living a life for him is the only way to live a life for myself!

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” [Matthew 16:24]

3 Ways My Hobbies Help Me Through The Day

Before I explain why my hobbies continue to encourage me from day-to-day I should explain what they are.

I have been writing since I was in the Fourth Grade when my P.E. teacher encouraged me to join her enrichment club “Basketball Poets.” You had to write a poem to join and then continue to go to meetings and brainstorm/write for 15 minutes, then play basketball for 15 minutes. We would perform poems made famous by various poets and authors at PTA meetings or wherever. It seems so simple but that is the earliest I remember being encouraged to create something and be proud of it. Ever since then I have written poems and short stories, and now I am working on my novel (which is the most exciting thing I’ve ever began).

As well as writing, I paint. Now I have not always painted. This hobby bloomed from my hatred of math in high school. I remember constantly sitting through Ms.Cook’s class and not being able to keep my eyes open through the dragging lessons on point and slope. The only way to stay awake so I didn’t fail was to doodle. It all started with this cartoon character I created that looked a lot like a piece of broccoli skateboarding. Then one day, my senior year my civic teacher looked at my notes that were filled with all different doodles and pointed to a catfish and said “You should paint that.” and so it began…

Now finally my most obvious hobby, photography. I have been so blessed with a mother to teach me how to use film and go on adventures in Florida with to just take pictures and explore. Most recently I have began to get more serious about shooting and I can’t wait to learn all that I can!

Okay so down to the nitty-gritty, the reason you’re reading this.

1. Stress Reliever

I am a very over excited person. Whether something is good or bad, I react almost theatrically. I do get stressed out very easily over money, school, relationships, and basically everything you could think of. I am aware of this and I’m working on it. I have noticed the best way for me to work on this is everyday I take at least an hour to do one activity. I use this time for a sort of therapy, which may make me sound crazy but there is absolutely nothing better for your health (or sanity) than making time for your own self-care.

2. Member of the Community

I have always volunteered for different activities going on in my community but it was always for honor society or my church, but those days are over now and I didn’t think much of it. Then one day I was asked by a local farmers market to paint their sign and work their grand re-opening. That’s when I realized how much I loved working with people though school and church in high school, and now I could do it myself while doing the things I loved. It makes you proud of your work.

3. Creativity Encourages New Ideas

This world is full of people telling you not to major in an art industry because you won’t make any money. Creative minds are stifled by the business world and alternative thinkers lack the skills to work in an actual career. I DISAGREE 100%. In high school I took several different marketing and business classes. You know the number one thing employers in marketing look for? Creativity.

I’ve noticed that just an hour a day gets the “juices” flowing. I am more open-minded and I have more ideas constantly. I notice things around me that I would have never noticed before. I think of story ideas when I’m just going to the bathroom. I can’t leave my house without my camera because I could spot something beautiful I may never see again. New colors pop out to me that I want to come home and create. My hobbies encourage me and make me excited about every aspect of life.

So, Whats Your Hobby?!

Red, white, and grateful.

Its the fourth of july: a holiday full of patriotism, baseball, and hot dogs! I believe that the reason for most holidays is to remind us of the things we are most grateful for. Though America has a long way to go towards being a absolutely free and non-judgemental nation, I am very proud of every thing we have accomplished this year. And I am very excited to remain active in the fight for equal rights and to see what else is to come, but for today I will enjoy time with family and friends. Its a beautiful day and for that I’m grateful.                                                                          Happy Fourth, Beki.