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Unanswered Prayers?

People often ask God for a sign (as if this enormous, beautiful world is not enough); A gust of wind, a fish jumping out of the water. Some of you want him to answer your questions in an instant or essentially whisper into your ears. I mean, if you can’t really hear or see him, he can’t be real, right? People can claim that none of their prayers have been answered, but in reality, this isn’t really the case.

“my life is nothing like it was a year ago”

This is a common phrase that gets thrown around. I recently used this phrase when I had the optimistic realization that my life is finally getting on track. What I tend to notice is that the things that are different from a year ago, are all the things that I had prayed about. All the things I had questioned God about, even the places in life I had gave up on have all sorted themselves out. I cannot take the full credit for coming to where and who I am today.

The Lord works in many ways. Do not doubt his abilities or his presence in your life because he is listening. God wants what is best for us even when we want something else. Do not turn your back from him because you do not see instant results from your prayers, instead take that time to pray more, ask more, try to understand more.

Personally, I struggle with this a great deal, I often look around at other people’s lives who appear to have everything in order causing me to question where I stand. Why is God not helping me? but I have found that in time, my problems did not just disappear because I pushed them aside, and my desires did not fade because I gave up on them. Whether the outcome was what I wanted initially or not, I recognize that everything happens for a reason. There is a plan for everyone, and a reason as to why we do what we do and why the things that happen to us, happen.

” and this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”

1 John 5:14 ESV

 

INSPO for mind and soul

Just a little daily Inspiration for your day because I’m feeling excited… and Old.

It’s crazy how, one moment you’re a little kid dressed up in costumes and having a widest imagination possible, and in just a blink of an eye, life just flashes by. Now we sit at desks, listening to lectures and work our asses off just so we can have a successful future. I am currently sitting at in my photography classroom, realizing that we have ONE WEEK LEFT of this school year, and it is unbelievable that the peers that I have had since a little girl are almost to the end of this whole high school thing. The worst part of this fast pace thing we call “life”, is the constant question we students receive “what are you going to do next?” honestly… I DON’T HAVE ANY IDEA. I change my mind about the type of cereal I want to eat every morning and you know what, that is okay. We are in no rush. I don’t need to decide the rest of my future in just a few months. Take time. Chew on the ideas you have and be open-minded to new ones entering your life. Never drop a passion or hobby because you believe it won’t get you anywhere. Take it, work with it, and be what you want to be because the next time you open your eyes, you’ll be 20 years in the future wondering why you never took advantage of the opportunities you had before.

Become the person you want to become, and do not let society change you on the way. Life is a blessing and it should be fun. That cute boy/girl you always pass in the hall but have never had the guts to say anything to, give them a smile or how about this crazy idea, ASK THEM TO LUNCH. It amazes me how many “rules” there are to be a teenager, you must watch the things that you say and do to not “embarrass” yourself and there is a wide range of  things that qualify as embarrassing these days. What happened to just having fun and being your own person? My final thought, find the people who make you happy. Don’t surround yourself with people who will just drain the life out of you and shut down your ideas. If you feel like you need to act a certain way to please someone, you are in the wrong place buddy. Eventually, those people will take out of the special qualities about you that make you unique and the world would have missed out on something great. And if you feel like there is no one who can relate to you, there are. It is ridiculous how similar us people are, and if we open our minds to it and be accepting of new ideas, our lives would be much more adventurous and lived to the fullest potential of happiness.

To summarize my ideas that are scattered all over the place (probably due to my excessive caffeine intake and the excitement of turning 16) live life and enjoy every moment of it with the people you love, because we only get one life.

  

ONE MORE SIDE NOTE: listen to this song because it will change your life. https://soundcloud.com/officialkaleo/kaleo-i-cant-go-on-without-you

Pick a Side

Everyone knows that when you’re at a lake, you either stay out completely or go for a swim.  It is practically torturous easing the bottom half of your body in, while keeping the rest out. So my question to you is, when we know that being half in is not as good as being completely in, why are there so many lukewarm people? When it comes to religion, people often assume that when we enter God’s presence, we need to be at our strongest. As if God didn’t know who we were at the coming to His cross, as well as who we were/are going to be. But take a moment and ask yourself how your life would be if you went all in for Jesus.  ( And I’m not talking about making yourself a ‘perfect’ person from the outside. The beauty of Jesus is that we don’t cover up. We admit our mistakes and flaws and allow God to mold us and shape us into His image.) Scary, am I right? I mean no more parties, drinking, lying. Wrong. It’s not about the things you do, instead it’s how those things are affecting your relationship with God. Because Christianity is not about anything else but your intimacy with Christ. When giving your life to God, change is not immediate, your desires will gradually change, therefore bringing a change to your own self. (and so will yourself.) Imagine your life going two directions, a true north or a gravitational north, where your true north is a beautiful paradise and your gravitational north is bland and boring. The only way to find the destination of your true north is with God. Your gravitational North is the destination where forces are pulling you away from your true north and God. It is very easy to be lukewarm because when things get tough there are easy escape routes, no specific morals guiding you down the right path. You cannot be living a part of your life for the devil and other parts for God when you feel like it. Thinking realistically, there really is no point to the world, we are born, we live, and then we die. Coming from dust and returning back to it. But there must be a purpose for us here, a cause. Don’t you ever wonder why you are here. YOU. Out of all other people that could have been here, for some intention you were born. You could have not been here, but you are still here. For what?  If you don’t have a cause, something to live for and fight for, how do you think you will get anywhere great? Or anywhere at all, as a matter of fact. When you are all in for Jesus, you are setting the foundation of your cause, and you have already beat the battle ahead of you, the (battle) opposing force simply isn’t aware of its failure. Lukewarm is weakness, without anyone to fight for you, stand up for you, and help you. Being lukewarm means a weak foundation. If a home is built from the ground using mud paste to keep the bricks together, a storm that comes by will knock the home over, destroying it completely. But a home built with sturdy cement blocks will survive the storm. It is the foundation that holds the home together, and your foundation holds you together. If you don’t have any foundation, you have nothing to lose, nothing to treasure. Your weak foundation will destroy all the good things in your life. However a strong foundation will be the cause of your built preciousness, lasting for all eternity. Treasures that will never lose its value. (Keep all your treasures.) If the foundation is wrong, if it’s not Jesus, the rest is all off. That is why being lukewarm is worse than not believing in God at all.

The dictionary defines ‘lukewarm’, when speaking of people, as unenthusiastic. How boring. The 21st century is all about adventure, thrill, and risk; enthusiasm. So why suffer being seemingly enthusiastic about something or someone, while secretly having no passion in your heart.

Ephesians 2:20

“anxiety” the asshole

 

“How cliché, a blog post on anxiety.” Yes this may be pretty typical now a days but this is because anxiety and depression have been showing up more in the world today than ever before. The National Alliance on Mental Illnesses found that in just 2015, “Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.” For many people who experience anxiety or depression, they tend to hide their anxieties in hopes that they will go away on their own, if that was the case, anxiety would not have such a strong effect on people.  I am here to tell you that there is nothing wrong with speaking up and getting help.

For me, 2015 was a year full of fun, excitement, happiness, stress, anxiety, sadness, and fear. This may sound a bit dramatic but fear was the biggest issue I faced, this included fear of being left alone, fear of the future and just fear of disappointing people. In attempt to hide all of what I was feeling in my head, I turned to the easiest possible way to get over my anxiety, that was shoving myself into social events, partying, and pushing the fear deep down inside of me. For a while, this really worked, until one morning all the anxiety sprung back up and it felt as if I was being suffocated by every wrong deed I had ever committed including events such as stealing a piece of candy in the 3rd grade. For months, it was as if I was not participating in the world, but simply watching from the outside. My fears grew and I was afraid that I would be stuck with that mindset for the rest of my life. Flashback to around 6 months before this all occurred when I was a strong believer of “medicine does not solve problems”. I in no way had anything against people who used medicine for help, but I saw it as a shortcut and somewhat of a placebo. Looking by to that time, I must have been very arrogant to believe I could solve my own problems and I could do it without the help of anyone or anything. Eventually, I made the step and spoke to my doctor about all possible options to fix what was going on. Just going to this appointment made me feel so weak, as if I had lost to something that “was all in my head”. I was wrong. I am proud to say that I did a courageous and brave thing, I did what I had to do to keep myself happy, and asking for help did not change the person I was, it made me stronger. To those of you who are afraid to talk to people about any mental illnesses, anxieties and stressors, just know you are definitely not alone. I urge you to take a step and help yourself by asking for help.

Disclaimer: medication is not for everyone, there are many methods to finding the peace of mind you need, i.e. Therapy, running, painting, etc.

Some tricks I use when I am anxious or stressed out include: (may or may not work for you)

  1. Breathe and Smile 🙂

Silly right? But it helps. Often times when I am feeling anxious, I take a moment to catch my breath. Often with anxiety we tend to rush our breathing which puts our bodies into fight or flight mode and we have unnecessary adrenalin going through us. It is nice to take a breather and just smile. There is a difference between acting happy to please others and putting a smile on your face to boost your own happiness. A request from me to you, smile as you read the rest of this post. In Myer’s Psychology textbook, it explains that when “manipulated into a smiling expression, people feel better; when they scowl, the whole world seems to scowl back, so put a happy face on… going through the motions often times trigger the emotions.”

  1. Find hobbies that put you “in your zone”

When a person is absorbed in enjoyable tasks, they are in a “flow”. Taking time to savor activities that interest you go beyond the normal forms of leisure such as watching TV. When you fill your time with these activities, your brain has no time to stress. For me, this includes helping out at my church, painting, and exercising.

  1. Scream in your head

This sounds crazy but it is something new I am trying and so far it has worked. Since having anxiety and for those who also have anxiety, I think we can all conclude that anxiety is just an asshole. An asshole who just gets into your head with unimportant information. And what do us humans do with assholes? We yell. Block off everything going on around you, close your eyes and scream at this asshole to go away and tell him he is not welcome here. (I feel that when speaking about anxiety it is easier to refer to it as “he” I am in no way trying to offend anyone). Try it sometime, it is truly helpful

  1. Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it necessary?

Like I said, anxiety will bring thoughts into our head that have no meaning to our current lives, yet cause us so much stress. Every time I am stressed, I look to these three questions and if I answer “no” for one of the questions, I refer to method 3 of coping with anxiety. For example, did I steal a piece of candy from the grocery store as a child? Yes. Is it helpful? I mean maybe, I learned to not steal again. Is this thought necessary or does it affect anything going on in your life right now? Not at all.

If I haven’t already said this, I’d like to say that these methods will not work for everyone. Everybody’s minds work differently and respond to anxiety in different ways. These are just some helpful things that worked for me. If you ever feel like you need to ask more questions and want to know me, please feel free to ask me, I am an open book and would love to help. Also, this topic means a lot to me so I would ask that if you are not serious about it, please keep your opinions to yourself because I am just putting my knowledge and experiences out there for people who may need some guidance. And lastly, I’d like to say thank you and I appreciate those people who take time to read my blog posts, I do not write to please others, but when I hear that someone truly liked my writing, it makes my day. Thank you!

the importance of fellowship

Please excuse my very long absence from this blog, it has been about 8 weeks to be exact. During these many weeks, my life has just about taken a complete 180 degree turn which 1) caused the most irritating writer’s block and 2) brought me to realize some very important things in my life. One of which being the importance of fellowship. Fellowship is not just a group of people coming together, it is creating a family and learning through each other. Not only is fellowship important in church, it is also so important everywhere else in a person’s life; school, friends, sports.

 I had this strong interest to understand what others thought of fellowship so I asked a couple friends of mine to describe how fellowship plays a role in the lives of people. Fellowship is “the coming together of people who are passionate about the same thing. People who seek advice, knowledge, and other people’s perspective on life and all that comes with it. Fellowship comes with different emotions, but no matter whether it be tears or laughter, an individual always leaves feeling encouraged. Fellowship is not a group of people who just sit in a circle and talk about their feelings, fellowship can be cooking together, reading the bible, and many other things. There has so be a form of communication and interaction going on” (Tanya Nikitova). Another described fellowship as “something that helps grow your confidence but not in a negative way. Not meaning it will make you too prideful, but it will give a person the confidence to communicate and relate to people in the future. Fellowship does not define you because your identity is in Christ, but it reveals the kind of person you are. The fellowship and friends you surround yourself with describes who you are. Fellowship allows you to grow as a person and learn through friends and the memories you share. Fellowship usually comes from common interests and goals” (Lauren Pilat).

Throughout the week, a thought took over my mind, “how and why is everything in my life changing so fast?” This thought ate away at my head for days till I broke out in tears, unsure whether I liked the changes or not, I began to think of reasons my life was changing. And I realized that most of the changes in my life came from fellowship and my fear came from the thoughts at my head telling me I didn’t deserve to have such an amazing partnership with a group of amazing people. Looking back to the summer, if anyone asked if I thought I would attend youth at a Russian church or involve myself in the Slavic community, in all honesty I would have laughed in their face. I admit, I judged before putting myself out there because I was scared. I was scared of being judged, afraid of missing out on big social events, and now, church and these amazing people I met are my favorite things. The fellowship and connection between each person creates a safe and loving environment allowing everyone to feel accepted, welcomed, and let them grow in common beliefs. And I will say this again because it is so true, fellowship is important everywhere, not just church. Imagine living in a world where no one believed in the same things you did and people were against all your interests and hobbies, the response to drop your beliefs will be much stronger then fighting for them because we as humans need connections with people.

I encourage everyone, whether you have strong beliefs and love to share them or even if you are confused and alone, to reach out, find companionship and wonderful fellowship and don’t be afraid to communicate with others about your interests. Please feel free to message me on any social media if you have any further questions about fellowship, because fellowship goes much deeper than just on the surface of a person.

IMG_0120– a strong fellowship led me to many amazing opportunities I never could have imagined before such as assisting the kids classes at church.

Fighting off Temptation

Each person on this world has certain morals and values that they may follow and unfortunately there are things that often challenge one’s beliefs. Especially during adolescence, we are often faced with temptations and situations causing us to rethink our values. You can call these temptations “the Devil’s way of getting to you.” Usually, our reevaluation and separation from values come from sins that may be very pleasing to us. Sins call out to us, and the devil wants to excite us to pull us away from what we truly believe and from what God has in store for us, so for this post I will talk about, Alcohol, just one example of a temptation that could alter our values and morals.

Alcohol itself is not a sin and you will not be damned to hell by God for drinking, it is was comes from drinking that causes Sin. Just to clarify, at camp this year, Sin vs. sins was more thoroughly described to me, sins are the actions we commit to create “Sin”, and Sin is the overall separation from Jesus. Back to the example of alcohol, alcohol is not an awful thing but it becomes a Sin when a person seeks comfort from alcohol in situations where they need to rely on someone. Instead of looking to the father God for comfort and advice, someone may be tempted by alcohol to try to convey a solution to all of someone’s problems and this is the Devil’s temptations.

In most situations, the Devil tempts us with things that we believe will be good for us in the long run that will provide us things such as popularity, “good memories”, and an easy way out of a situation. The Bible says “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” 2 Corinthians 11:14. But once we cave in to Devil’s doing, we begin to lose sight of God’s plan for us and we take the crown off of his head and we place it on our own. My experience with temptations also comes down to parties and this need to fit in, and impress others in hopes that maybe just maybe if I  can advertise myself as wild and fun and toss away my values, that I will have a great high school experience in the future, which is completely wrong. Eventually the excitement and adrenalin you may have from all the fun will die and you will feel as if you have no guidance for you because you turned your head away from God’s initial plan for you. And at the end of the day, no one will care if you didn’t go to the party, or if you didn’t drink. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” 1 Peter 5:8.

And I’m not saying that drinking or parties is going to ruin your relationship with God, but I am saying that like any other temptation, the more you use it to hide from problems and solve issues, the more distant you will become from God. Having a drink will not make you a bad person, it is controlling how much you drink and what the drinking will lead to that is important. Very recently I had a conversation about this topic with my cousin and she told me a very interesting story that her dad told her:

As Christians we may feel left out and even jealous of those who party, get drunk, look as if they are having the time of our lives. We want so badly to forget about our issues and resort to drugs and parties for a thrill, and when we do, the devil is so happy and he smiles knowing that we are distancing ourselves from our relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not as if you will come home at night blacked out drunk, get on your knees and pray to have a good sleep. And my uncle told my cousin, do you not think that God feels jealous when he sees you doing what everyone is doing, he sees his children distancing themselves from him and he is sad. He, just like ourselves, feels jealousy. It is crazy to know that there is a God who is constantly watching you, loving you and wanting the best for you. I will not lie, I often question God and think “but why is my life not going well if God wants the best for me?” and this is because we must be as open to a relationship with God and Jesus, and want to feel his presence with us just like he wants us. As we open our eyes, and take the crowns off our heads, we are opening our lives up to an endless amount of opportunity that God has planned for us.