The Forbidden Fruit

(My writing assignment for school today was about symbolism. I was to write 11 sentences on a symbol and to explain it. I chose to center my writing assignment on something that "keeps the doctor away".)

In the Bible, the writer of Genesis tells us about the beginning of the world and the beginning of time, the beginning of all things beautiful and the beginning of man. Genesis also tells us about the beginning of something that is slowly destroying all of those wonderful things: sin.
Sin entered the world when Satan, in the form of a serpent, lured Eve, the first woman, into thinking that if she ate the fruit of a particular tree, she would gain knowledge and understanding beyond belief and that she would be like God. Eve ignored the fact that God had specifically told her not to eat the fruit from that one tree, because the red fruit shone in front of her and her hunger for knowledge outweighed her love for God. Eve bit into the fruit and then offered a bite to her husband, Adam, the first man, and since that time, our hearts have been plagued with sin.
The fruit, thought to be an apple, is now a widely-recognized symbol for sin. In the hit TV show Desperate Housewives, the beginning of each episode features the drawing of a nude woman holding an apple. In the popular young adult series about love and vampires, the first book, Twilight, features a cover with a woman’s pale hands holding a bright red apple. A Veggie Tales episode about sin, greed, and materialism, stars an apple as the villain, who temps her victims into falling into her trap.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with an apple itself, but the story behind the antioxidants still lingers in today’s culture. Perhaps the apple will never lose its unfortunate fame.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Commandment #8:
Thou shalt not steal.
Please do not steal, copy, or use my work. I’m trusting you with it. Thank you!


Control Freak

Why is it so hard to admit we’re not in control?

My friends may call me a control freak. Maybe I am, it really depends on my mood. Sometimes, instead of bothering to explain everything to someone and waiting for them to do it, I just take over and do it myself, that way I know that it’s gonna work out.
But sometimes I just need to stop, take a breath, and let someone else get involved. I need to admit that I’m not in control. I need to accept that I’m not in control.
So, I wondered why I simply couldn’t just let someone help me. So I decided to turn to the one who actually was in control. That person was God.
I opened my bible to the very beginning, in Genesis, and God shared with me why he created the earth. He didn’t have help, but he didn’t need it. I wondered, Why haven’t I done something big? Why haven’t I created a world of my own? Then I realized: because I can’t. I can’t do everything. I’m not in control.
Yet I was in control of so many things already, right? I was in control over which hand I used to hold my toothbrush. I was in control of what gel pen I used to fill in an answer for my Trek bible study book. I was in control of what I ate for breakfast, I was in control of what piece of candy I wanted for desert (Tootsie Rolls or Dum-Dums?)
Or was I in control of that stuff? Who gave me the hand that I used to hold my toothbrush? Who gave people the ability to think up such things as gel pens? Who told the writers of my Trek book what to write? Who gave me food to eat? Who gave me the ability to reach for the particular piece of candy I wanted? I didn’t do all this, and it definitely didn’t happen just by chance. God has made everything that I do possible.
So I thought for a moment. If I was doing a science project on robotics with someone who was actually good at robotic science, and then took over the whole project, what would I come up with? A big mess. While this mess is small, a bigger mess would be made if I tried to take over my life, when it wasn’t just mine to live.
God made me, he gave me my life and shaped my life just right according to what he knew I could handle. My life isn’t just about me. I need to use it to serve others. But sometimes I forget that. And sometimes I just think, "It’s my life, I can do what I want with it!" Then again, is it my life? Does my life have a purpose other than to serve yours truly? Of course it does!
God is in control of every little detail of my life, from which hand I brush my teeth with to which hand will be the first to have a diamond ring on one of its fingers, which hand will hold a child, and back again to the Snickers bar.
That’s what God was trying to tell me! While I may think my plan may be best for the moment, God knows what’s best for my future. Maybe I should sit back and watch him do his amazing work without taking over.
Oh my blog, look what I found! So, I stopped writing this, thinking I was finished, and I went to make so pictures on the computer. Then, out of the blue, I decided to open my bible at random, just to see what would come up, and it opened to Proverbs 16:3. Look what God just told me!
"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." – Proverbs
The story of David in 1 Samuel 29 shows us God’s control and how his plans work out for the best. Despite the fact that bad things were bound to happen, God was at work and made sure that David became king.
Throughout history, God has guided people and has defied all odds. God has saved those who were in desperate need of saving. God has made the earth. God has helped countless nations win battles (open your bible to almost any book of the Old Testament and you’ll see what I mean). God has even raised people from the dead!
God has done so many miraculous things, it’s hard for our downright puny brains to understand. We simply can’t understand, until we get to heaven and God gives us perfect bodies capable of holding vast amounts of information of his glory.
Until then, take the One Voice challenge. Surrender your body, your soul, your life to God – right now – and promise to let him be in control. C’mon, I’ll do it with you.

Journal Jots:
Before you read this, what things did you think you had control of?
After you’ve read this, what things do you have control of?
Would it be better to just let God rule your life?
Are you letting God control your life right now?
What would happen if you took control of your life?
What things have happened to you that have proved to you that God is in control?
In what ways have God’s plans worked out for the best, when you thought that your way would be better?


Pray for Jennifer Hudson!

Hey, everyone.
I have some

Ya know Jennifer Hudson, the actress/singer? Her mother and brother have been killed in one of their houses in a bad part of town. Yes, killed. As in, someone did it to them. To make matters worse, her nephew is missing.

Jennifer asks you to pray for her. "Thank you all for your prayers and your calls. Please keep praying for our family and that we get Julian King back home safely. If anyone has any information about his whereabouts please contact the authorities immediately. Here is a picture of Julian and what he was last seen wearing. Once again thank you all for being there for us through this tough time."

For more information, please read http://news.yahoo.com/s/eonline/20081026/en_top_eo/65668

For information on the $100,000 reward for her nephew, please read http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081027/ap_en_ce/chicago_bodies_hudson

The Life of a Cubbies Leader [part2]

Hannah, one of my bffs (and accomplice), came to my house after church to hang out.
Well, when I was in New Mexico (or was it Arizona?) there was a store off Route 66 called Thunderbird. It had a ton of beads and other jewelry-making devices. My Nana bought me quite a few things, and so I have been making earrings a lot lately, I have a whole row on my rack filled. I gave one pair to Hannah, and we came up with a plan.

It’s simple, really.

We’re going to start a business.
(Yes, Maddy, laugh all you want, tell me it’s just another of my get-rich-quick schemes that have all failed, but I tell you it is not.)
Of course, we haven’t even worked out a name. All we know is that we’ll pitch in to buy more beads, then we split the profits.

So, after our big decision, we went to Awanas in our terrible uniforms, (wait, what is that on the label? Does it say "huge whale design"?), and again, Abigail was the only Cubby. For her to be good, we bribed her with red star stamps, but she had a bit of trouble, so she only got one.
Anyway, end of story. Yes, I know, it’s anti-climactic, but Cubby the Bear says if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t comment on anyone’s blog at all. :] Jk!


Nothin' Much

There really isn't much to say right now, except for the fact it's Saturday. Gotta love Saturdays.

Just wanted you guys to know that God loves you (and I didn't want anyone to think I would stop posting).

God bless!

- Melissa


The Devil Made Me Do It

My little brother, Dalton, has been known to occasionally sneak handfuls of Tootsie Rolls and Milky Ways from our candy drawer, with the help of his partner-in-crime, my little sister Abigail. And Dalton, like all other kids, has resorted to biting or hitting a few times out of frustration or anger.In the past, when Dalton did something wrong, he would go to "time-out" and sit on his bed. Now, "time-outs" are supposed to make kids think of what they did wrong, however, this is not the case. Timeouts are for sitting on your bed and scratching the itch you were too lazy to scratch a second ago. Timeouts give you plenty of extra and useful time to make up a song – and sing it at the top of your lungs, in the pillow, of course – or count to 300,002, your new record. Timeouts are just wonderful moments that you can do things you never thought you could do! In fact, when a kid is in time out, the only thing he DOESN’T think about is why he’s there in the first place! When you send a kid into timeout, you’re only giving them a chance to scheme up a new plan!Anyway, back to my brother. When the timeout was over, my dad would go into his room and ask him why he was in time out in the first place. (Now, when I was little, and Dad asked me this, I just stared at him and blurted out whatever came to mind first, whether it was, "I squashed a beetle with my toe" or "I like cheese".)Dalton would always explain to my dad that he was so very sorry, but that, "the devil made me do it".

Wait a second. Satan MADE Dalton disobey my parents? Really?

No, not really. Yes, Satan wants us to disobey. Satan wants us to steal, to lie, to cheat, to be rude, to hurt others physically, to hurt others emotionally, to tie a string of tin cans to a stray dog, to tease a kid with braces. Satan wants us to do all these things, but did he make us do them, no?Now, don’t think I’m saying Satan can’t do anything. Satan has power, but only a little bit, and his power could be zapped at any moment. Satan’s power comes from God, because God wanted to give people a choice – would they follow the One who loves them, or would they follow the one who hates them?Satan has the power to manipulate our minds. Satan can put ideas into our heads, but he does it so cleverly that we think that the ideas came from us, not from Satan (because he knows that if we knew it was Satan who put those ideas in our head, we would spit them back out pronto). Some of the ideas Satan gives us are ones of revenge, to hold a grudge, or to steal that DVD that you’ve been wanting so badly, and nobody would see you, right? And that music download – no one would a buck, right? So they wouldn’t mind if I just took some of their songs, right? It’s not really stealing, they have plenty of money, right? Satan makes us think that we are right. He makes us think that the ideas – his ideas – are ok, because so-and-so had it coming, or because Jimmy hit you, and this temptation would be a good, just way of getting back at him. Or would it?Now, Satan doesn’t shove his ideas down our throats. Satan simply can’t. Satan offers these ideas to us, but, the more we accept his ideas, the harder it is to say no. You have a choice. God gave you a choice. You can choose to give in to Satan’s plan, or you can stand up for what’s right. What’ll it be?


An Easy Life?

Big Myth: God did NOT promise Christians an easily life.

Real Dish: God promised us that we would be well rewarded for living the life he wants us to live.


Purple Hands

So, our church attendance.

There was absolutely no one from the festival at the AWANAS program or our morning church service. No one. Just our regular "gang". We think it was because we parked toward the back of the building in the grass instead of the parking lot, so it looked like no one was there.

We're hoping for more people next week. God will provide.

My little sister, Abigail, was the only Cubby there, so in the Cubbies class, we had 4 helpers -- me, Hannah, my mom, and a lady from church -- and one cranky 4-year-old. Oh...my...blog. That girl...well, it's a good thing she's cute, with her big 'fro and tiny nose. She flat-out refused to be a good little girl. Oh well. (Better luck next time, RIGHT, ABIGAIL?)

I'm typing right now with purple hands -- I just finished the batter for blueberry pancakes -- and I even have purple nail polish to go with it. Yes, I said purple nail polish; no, I'm not crazy. (Well, maybe I am.)


The Life of a Cubbies Leader

Sounds like a great title for a new blog of mine, don't you think so?

Tonight is my first night of being an AWANA Cubbies leader. I will be juggling 3-4 year olds, including my sister, Abigail. Yesterday, at a fall festival, we set up 2 booths and advertised the start of our 2nd year in the AWANA program, and so we are hoping that our very small church will have a boosted attendance, at least more children.

So, I have an ENORMOUS uniform (whoever printed "MEDIUM" on the tag was blind, that thing is an xxxxxxxxxxxxxl) and it is blue, with a Cubbies Bear on it *shudders*. It's a good thing little kids are cute. So, when I press "publish post" at the bottom of this page, I need to grab a bite to eat and see what I can do to save my uniform and make it look halfway decent (right now, it makes me look like a whale. And don't crack some joke about me already being one, lol.).

Tonight may be hectic, cause I do not have the slightest idea what these kids are capable of. If I don't post in a week you can assume the worst.

Duty calls, my friends, duty calls.


Fall Festival Festive-ness

Today I went to a fall festival. Our church set up 2 tents, one with free cookies, cold water, and various objects displaying our church logo and information -- magnets, pens, papers.
The other tent, next to the refreshment tent, was the one I worked in. My mom and I set up a fish game. We bought a blow-up swimming pool at Wal-Mart and we put laminated toy fish in it. Each fish had a magnet on it. Children were given a fishing rod with a piece of metal at the end so the children could pick it up with the magnet (after a few swings of the rod). Then they would get a prize.
In this time, my mom would tell the parents about our church and AWANAS program, which we were entering our second year in and were hoping for more kids.
I carried around a little bucket filled with candy, papers, magnets, pens, and stickers that said, "GOD LOVES YOU" and "JESUS LOVES YOU". I passed them out among the crowd for free, giving stickers & candy to little children and talking to the parents about our new website and AWANAS program and church while handing them the various church items.
It was really fun, though tiring, and my friend Hannah who was working inside the tent met a news reporter and will get her picture in a magazine. I was really bummed at first that I wouldn't get my picture in, because that is SO my thing, but I guess I've had my share of newspaper and TV appearances, so I quickly got over it.
So, tomorrow is Sunday and I cannot wait to see how many people show up for our morning service and how many more kids will show up for Awanas!

Just a little look into my daily life.
- Melissa


Reporting from Arizona!

Hey, everyone! Sorry I haven't posted lately, I've been in New Mexico, and now I'm in Arizona.

I am so happy, yes, I am a computer geek, it doesn't show on the outside, but on the inside, I am just another amazing Windows Vista. Yes, I absolutely love it! I'm typing on my dream computer that, unfortunetly, doesn't belong to me, while my Nana, my traveling buddy, is in a meeting in the other room.

There are so many political ads here, even more than in Texas. Besides Heinrich (sp?) and people who are running for the Senate in New Mexico, Obama has taken New Mexico and Arizona by storm. He has bashed McCain repeatedly, never ceasing.

So, now, you know where I stand, probably, on the Presidential issue. But I'm not going to turn this into a political debate, instead, with the elections 3 weeks away, I'm going to ask you once again to PRAY.

Yes, prayer is our most powerful tool. But what are we praying for?

How NOT to pray:

"Dear God, please let McCain win, because he's got the experience we need, even if he does have a few smile lines, I'm not picky."
"Dear God, make Obama win! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! Because he's young and McCain's old and Obama is nice, I think, really nice."

No, that's not the way to do it. Ya know why? You are not God. You do not know who is going to serve our country best. God knows. So, instead, pray that God's hand will be upon Obama and McCain, that is the best thing we can do, since most of you reading this blog cannot vote.


My World or God's World?

"Oh my gosh! Melissa, your sheer awesomeness has blinded me!" Jane would gush. "You are just so amazing – only the greatest! If only I looked like you! If only I had your lips, and your hair, anything but your teeth, but they are so white that your glory has made my face shine!"

Next would be some guy with great hair. "Melissa, can I buy you a soda? A pizza? A Coach purse? A Corvette? You are just drop-dead gorgeous! Tell me what to do and I’ll do it!"

Yeah, right.
If only, if only.
In a world I would create, everyone would gush over me. I’d be the center of attention. The whole world would revolve around me (because it really is all about me). Or is it?

What would be in the world you would create? Who would you be?

I was thinking about this, and, seriously ask yourselves, Is it really all about me? And do I want it to be? No, actually, it would be freaky if it was all about me. I mean, all we could eat would be Cheez-Its and Cherry Coke. You’d be sentenced to life in jail if you teased a kid with glasses, and let’s just say you would NOT be happy if you mistreated an animal, to the extent of setting a mouse trap in your barn or garage.

It would be a perfect world for me, it would seem, but what about others? I’m sure the health nuts out there would shrivel up and die in my world. And those mice can be annoying. In my world, we’d have fashion police, but what if you just don’t look good in Prada? Even the most self-centered person would feel empty if he or she didn’t have people around that enjoyed being around him. And what about God?

Our world is about God. Because it REALLY is all about him. And he would not restrict the health nuts from broccoli, or arrest you for wearing last season’s Burberry coat that just screams "I’M SO OUT". God has made this world with us in mind. He planned it, designed it, created it just for us, so that we could be happy with him. That’s my idea of a leader.


There is a God

I was reading my bible earlier, just flipping through, and I came upon Psalm 14. The first verse said, "A fool is the man who says, 'There is no God.'" Funny thing about it, I read some book on evolution, and it mentioned a guy who said that the BIBLE said there was no God (crazy, right?). Then someone pointed out that Psalm 14 verse, and you can bet he was embarrassed.

Just a little thought.


The Scoop on Speed Dating

I was checking my email a few days ago and at the top of the page, an ad showed a picture of a man and a woman smiling together. The ad read, "SPEED DATING: 12 DATES IN AN HOUR".
My eyes widened. 12 dates in just one hour? It was meant to be a shocker, and it did shock me, but not in the way the ad’s creator’s intended. Would someone really want 12 dates in an hour? You would only be able to see the outside of your date. There would be no time to talk much about serious subjects.

So, you sign up for the speed dating, give the manager some cash, and drive to Le Buttered Snail, an overpriced French restaurant.

You: sitting at table in fancy restaurant.
Date: walks in, smiling.
You: "Hey! I’m Greg."
Date: shakes your hand. "Hi, I’m Ka—"

Then she is whisked away. Another girl appears in the doorway.

Date: comes to you, but trips over chair and falls. "Ouch!"
You: stand up quickly and rush to her aid. You help her stand up.
Date: smiles. "Why, thank you." checks watch. "Oh, look at the time! Gotta run!"

Oh, yes, very romantic. *rolls eyes*


Lessons from a Cow

Lessons from a Cow
how to read your bible
&& how to give the phrase "chew on it" a whole new meaning

Ok, I must take a step down from my pride and admit that I can be taught something by, yes, a cow. Beloved bovines can show us how to apply God's word to our lives. No, this is not a zoology lesson.

Reading your bible is something you should do every day. But sometimes it's hard to grasp the true meaning of what God's trying to tell you.

My friend Maddy emailed me this idea.

Now, this is very unlike Maddy, because when you meet her you do not think of a country bumpkin or a cowgirl. No, Maddy is fashionable and fun, but this was very out of character.

Basically, she told me that a cow eats the grass, chews it slowly, swallows, and then, a moment later, chews the same piece again -- it is chewing its cud. Now, looking out the window, I can guarantee this is true, there's a fat white cow in our neighbor's pasture with legs as wide around as my waist, and he is chewing his cud.

So, where am I going with this? A cow chews its cud and so this is how we must read our bible. "Skimming" the page is not the way. Reading the page in a rush is not the way. Reading while bored or distracted is not the way. If you really want to soak up God's Word, we should read a verse or passage once, slowly, then think about it, then read it again. That was it really sinks into us.

Everyone please wish Maddy a happy 13th!

So, thanks again, Maddy!
.... Oh, alright, fine. Thanks, cows.


Crazy Christians?

Crazy Christians?
Ok, let's say you're walking down the street, and then some guy runs up to you and yells, "IF YOU DON'T REPENT, YOU'RE GOIN' TO HELL!!"

Yeah, I'd be a little annoyed. Ok, maybe more than a little. A lot. And you'd be thinking, "Get away, freak!" And I'd probably be stupid and say, "Looks like somebody needs a hug." (And then I'd look even more stupid with a black eye.)

Now, this may seem crazy, but people actually do that. Who are these people? Christians. Christians that are so fired up that they can't contain themselves and they FORCE people to believe instead of offering them the chance. Well, you can't force someone to believe. Even if you threatened to set them on fire, forcing won't work. They could say, "Ok, I believe? Jeez!" But you can't force someone to truly believe the Word of God.

Preaching in Waikiki
In his book How to Share Your Faith, Greg Laurie tells us what happened when he was walking down main street in Hawaii. "I saw a man standing on one of the corners with a rather large sign. Emblazoned on the sign were the words 'The Wages of Sin is Death!' It also had some flames painted on it, no doubt for effect." The man was yelling at the top of his lungs to everyone passing by with shouts of, "You're gonna burn!", "God will judge you, sinner!" and "Repent or perish!" There was no compassion or love in his voice.
So, Laurie walked up and said, "Excuse me--"
And the man continued, "Repent, ye sinners!" Finally, the man barked, "What do you want?"
"I'm a Christian, too, but I was thinking that you are really only giving half of the gospel message out here tonight. It is true that the wages of sin is death, but I'm sure you're aware of the fact that the rest of that very verse says, 'But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.' Why don't you put that message on the other side of your sign and turn it around every now and then so people get the whole picture?" Laurie suggested.
The man screamed at Laurie and told him that he was going to hell, too.

Church is not a Haunted House
You're not trying to scare non-Christians. Do you really want them to think Christians are a bunch of weirdos?
Someone you'll meet one day is going to look at you as the only Christian they know much about, and so you should set an example. How do you want them to see you? How do you want them to see us? How do you want them to see God? You may be their only chance. So let's not creep them out with big flaming signs or harsh words.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." - The Holy Bible