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]

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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?!