What time is it? It’s time for the same-old New Year’s resolutions. We always want to start the year off being “better”, whatever that means. Stronger. Prettier. Nicer. Cleaner. Cooler. Fashionable…er. Closer to God. Here were some of mine from last year:
▪ Paint nails different color every week (I failed within the first week)
▪ Drink more water (my body is lucky if it gets a single sip)
▪ Eat healthier (hehe, yeah…)
▪ Get One Voice off the ground (hmm…)
▪ Read my bible cover to cover (sorry, Lord)
▪ Start a cosmetics company (kinda forgot that one)
▪ Get in a horse show (forgot that one too)
The list goes on. The terribly cliché American resolutions may consist of the following:
▪ Lose weight
▪ Exercise more
▪ Stop smoking
I’m sure you’ve noticed how resolutions always die – within a month, usually. You get so revved up and excited to do this – it’s natural. But then you decide to skip just one day, just one time. And then BANG. Resolution is dead. And next year you may try to revive it, but….
Hey, remember when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead? Only Jesus can raise things from the dead, whether they be people, animals, or…or resolutions.
Do you see where I’m going with this? Make this year’s resolutions count. Don’t let them die. But how are you going to do this?
Trust in God. Pray. Read your bible. These are resolutions in themselves, but they are definitely worth keeping up. With God, you can conquer anything. With God, last year’s resolutions CAN be accomplished! God wants you to be happy, and he wants you to be a “better” person, so of course he’ll help you, if your heart is in the right place.
Please help me to start the New Year off with a new me. Help me to desire to be with you. Help me to grow stronger in you. God, help me to reach my resolutions this year. I know I can only do them with you. Thanks for loving me and for giving me this New Year. 2009 is gonna be great!
Tonight, with me and millions of others, make a list of resolutions and promise you – and God – that you’re going to keep them. Then pray the prayer above.
This is a poem Rachel and I found in her room when we were going through her old notebooks. It's really sweet and about her grandma dying which made me nearly cry so yeah.
All I Need is You
by Rachel V.
I see the rain falling outside my window.
I hear the hail hitting my window.
These dark black clouds keep me away from you.
It's like a shield parting me from you.
And this is the time that I must stand strong.
The time I must hold the tears back.
And I'll do it all for you because
I miss you, I love you, I'm trying to live my life without you.
So now take my hand and pull me along all I need is you.
During the day a tear will run down my face,
that's a sign that I'm thinking of you.
I know you are thinking of me, too.
I was wondering...what if we had this relationship with Jesus? He died...for you. And it was sad -- the worst death anyone could die...yet it was the one who would set the world free of sin, if they just believe. Think how Mary Magdalene and Mary and Joseph and Martha and the Twelve and all those people who loved Jesus so much...how did they feel?
And yet, Jesus didn't stay dead. Just like Rachel's grandma is not dead -- she's in heaven, with Jesus.
If we had that kind of sweet, loving, hold me relationship with Jesus, we'd be stronger, happier people. We'd be loved.
Anyway, I wanted to know what you guys thought about Twilight...the movie, the books, Edward's hair....everything.
Are you allowed to see the movie/read the books? Why or why not? Do you think it is um...anti-Christian or whatever to read them?
Is it a tree? Ornaments? Tinsel? Peppermint bark? Mistletoe? Holly? Hot chocolate? A fireplace? Santa? Stockings? Snowflakes? Snow? (Shoveling your neighbor’s driveway?) There’s a good chance you immediately think of the presents you’ll get.
I know, the presents are really cool, right? I mean gift cards are awesome, presents are a surprise, and I even know a girl from play practice who would be thrilled to get socks for Christmas. Presents are awesome, there’s no doubt about it. And when people give you presents, it’s one way of saying they care about you.
But, I have to break it to you. Stuff doesn’t last forever. Those cool jeans that Nana gave you will eventually become too tight. The CD your best friend got you won’t be so hot twenty years from now. Those cute notebooks that your great Aunt May gave you will soon be filled with scribbles, doodles, and ideas. The gift cards will be spent before you can say, “Merry Christmas”, and the candy may last ON you, but if you’re anything like me, it won’t live to see the morning.
In today’s secular culture, Christmas (or, as a group of scrooges call it, “the Holidays”), is about getting together with family, about giving, and about some dude named Santa. So, let’s look into that. Yeah, presents are fun, but what about family?
God loves it when you get together with your family and have a good time simply being together. God loves it when you love others. Sadly, family won’t last forever, either – your big sis gets married, you go to college, your great grandma passes away. So what really lasts?
I know! Giving! God absolutely LOVES it when you give to others. It’s not your money, it’s not your stuff – it’s God’s money and God’s stuff that he’s letting you use. He loves you so much that he’d give you all that – why not show other people (and animals!) his love? God has given you money so you may use it wisely. Often, it’s more fun to give than to get. Unfortunately, the stuff you give (like presents, money, or candy) will go away. Is there nothing in this world that lasts?
Ooh, what about mistletoe? Did you know mistletoe is made by a bird called the Mistletoe Bird? It eats the mistletoe seeds, swallowing them whole, then flies to another tree and – um, excretes the seed. The seed it still whole and as if it had never been eaten. The bird then rubs its bottom on the branch, making the plant stick. It will grow to be mistletoe. But, mistletoe is a living thing. It will die. And, though it makes me uber sad, the mistletoe bird will die, too, and fly away into that big birdbath in the sky.
Ho, ho, ho! I’ve got it! SANTA lasts forever! The big guy is a LEGEND, I tell you! Everyone knows who he is! Even Martha Stewart believes in Santa! So old Claus here MUST last forever. Or does he…? Warning: this is not for the young at heart. We know that Santa, well, is just…. Aw, I hate to break it to you, but, he’s not real! There, I said it. It’s a great story, really. And maybe there was some fat guy in a tacky red suit who gave presents to kids. And maybe their was a Rudolph, and his nose just got scraped so it turned bright red and thus he became a legend as well. But all living bodies must come to an end.
This is really discouraging, isn’t it? Well, I guess I’m done writing now; my search for the meaning of Christmas has ended. Nothing lasts in this world. Gotta go muck the barn.
Whoa, hold on. Barn. Stable. Angel. Virgin. Carpenter. Manger. Baby. Savior.
Do these words mean anything to you? Well, barns certainly don’t last forever. Angels – hmm. Probably. Virgins? No. Carpenters? No. Mangers? No. Babies? (Those things turn into adults, who don’t live forever, btw.) But a Savior? Maybe…just maybe….
Jesus came to earth to save you and me and everyone who has ever lived and anyone who ever will be. He had a body, just like me (well, I’m guessing he didn’t look quite like me…). He was human.
So, bodies don’t last forever – we’ve figured that out by now. But Jesus wasn’t just human. Jesus is also God’s son – yes, an eternal, forever, everlasting being. Eternal. Savior. Cool, huh? Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas, because Christmastime is a symbol of his birthday. And nobody’s birthday has ever been more celebrated than his.
This year, though, I’m celebrating something else, too. Can you guess what it is? I’m celebrating ME. I’m celebrating YOU. Not because we’re destined to save the world. I’m celebrating US because WE are also God’s children! Jesus is God’s son, I’m God’s daughter, and you may be a son or daughter of God, too. WE are AWESOME! WE are created in God’s image. WE have a reason to celebrate because WE are special. Why are we so special? If you’re a Christian, you are my family. You are either my brother or sister in Christ. (I always thought I had an evil twin – JK!) And we are Christ’s family – HIS family! Nothing could be cooler!
At Christmas, though you may have never thought of it before, we are celebrating Jesus and each other. Because Christmas is a symbol not only of Jesus’ birth but of our own birth – our second birth, our real birth, when we entered God’s family. We’re celebrating the gift that God gave us – a SAVIOR!
So, there you have it. A gift. The gift of life. Of salvation. Of eternal, forever, everlasting, never-fading, new, wonderful life. A gift that won’t ever go away. Perfectly wrapped. It’s in your hands right now, because God has given it to you.
Well, what are you going to do with it? What do you do with a gift?
I mean, can you imagine? You’re on a internet chat room, surrounded by Christian teens that are – gulp – homeschooled! YIKES!
I described the Trinity something like this (except for the fact that my interests have changed, so I have replaced them with the following). I am Melissa. I’m a fashion guru, but I’m also a writer, tree-hugger, animal-rights activist, Narnia geek. I’m a semi-vegetarian but I can’t resist BBQ ribs. Am I no longer Melissa? No. I’m Melissa, with different personalities. They liked that example.
But the other day, when I was supposed to be absorbed in algebra, my mind started wandering from fractions and x’s and o’s to one of those several hundred rabbit trails I tour every once in a while. Couldn’t I come up with a better example? IS there a better example? Or, if not better, at least another, to make it really clear? And why does Maddy refuse to accept that I hate hot dogs? All these things I smelled along the trail, and then I finally found the bunny.
I’m Melissa. Like you (hopefully!), I have eyes, a right arm, and a nose (a very talented one at that – but that’s another story). I use my eyes for seeing. That is their purpose. I use my right arm for drawing and lifting things and for pressing the semi-colon on the keyboard. That is my right arm’s purpose. I use my nose for smelling – the roses, burnt toast, the barn, my brother’s bathroom, my dog who will get a desperately needed bath for Christmas. My eyes, right arm, and nose – these are all parts of me. They are not separate – there is only one me. These are just different parts of me used for different purposes.
God has 3 different parts. God the Father, used for creating and commanding and sorting things out. The Holy Spirit, giving people peace and such. Jesus the Son, the earthly part of God – how he appears on earth, with a human body that went through real exhaustion, starvation, dehydration, and immense pain. Each part is part of God, but each part has a different purpose.
I hope that made it a little easier for you to understand. Remember that God does not require you to understand him completely, but to simply believe.
I wonder, what would happen to a gingerbread house if no one ate it? Now, let's say this gingerbread house was a perfectly good house, all sweet and sugary and good. No one was unhappy when sheltered by it.
But Mr. and Mrs. Gingerbread left their house to explore new things, dangerous things and dangerous places. Within time, their perfectly good house fell into disrepair. The gum-drops grew hard, the walls crumbled, the icing melted and the lemon-drops dissolved into a puddle of yellow coconut snow. (Sometimes it's ok to eat yellow snow.)
What had happened to the house? It was perfectly good, and then, when no one tended it, the house became useless and unwanted.
Isn't that gingerbread house kind of like our hearts? When we abondon our hearts and don't use them and continue to make repairs to improve them, they become useless. Purposeless. Nothing. Like the Grinch's heart. 3 sizes too small.
So what are we to do?
Use your heart! Show love to people! Continue to make yourself stronger in Christ. Those two things are your purposes. Living out God's plan for you. What could be better?
Anyway, in the book, John Piper (a preacher and Christian writer), says in the Preface, "You wouldn’t have picked up this book if God had not been at work in your life."
It was a pretty simple sentence where you would usually nod and say "OK", but it was more than that for me.
I was in a thrift store on Saturday, having only purchased a big pink ring, and then there was this book that had caught my eye. It was sitting in a sort of slumped position as all the books were – piled atop each other, on the ground, scattered across the top shelf. This book’s binder read, "don’t waste your life" in black letters. I picked it up. John Piper…John Piper…that name sounded familiar. I flipped through the pages, eyeing the chapters, catching glimpses of text here and there, then flipped to the back cover and began reading.
Why had that book caught my eye? I’m not exactly sure, but I know it wasn’t just out of boredom. God has a plan for me, and apparently that plan involves that book. Maybe that book is going to open up my mind about a whole world of things and change my life course forever. Or, maybe, that book’s purpose in my life was simply for that little sentence. I wouldn’t have picked that book up if God was not at work in my life, if this was not part of his great plan for me.
Ya know what? The same goes for you. God is your tour guide in life. He’s given you a manual to answer questions you might have. But he also talks to you and leads you. God will use anything to talk to you – billboards, commercials, web sites, prayer, dreams, books – anything that will get your attention. We just have to look around.
And who knows? Maybe God uses blogs like mine and The Next Generation is Us, Romans 12:2, The Christian’s Journey and the King we Follow, and ChildsPlay to get his message to you.
Just think about it. It’s pretty cool.
This – right here, right now – is one little bit of God’s plan for you.
You wouldn’t be reading this if God wasn’t at work in your life. There is something here that he wants you to read, something you can learn, whether it be huge or little. Are you willing to receive God’s message to you?
That’s my goal for One Voice: to give you God’s message, whatever it may be. Sure, I’m the one typing, but it’s God who’s filling me head with thoughts, dreams, and ideas for me and for YOU.
At AWANA, I’m a Cubbie Leader, and today we took the Cubbies on a trip to "Jerusalem", which was actually the room in our church where we stash the donuts. We pretended like we were very tired from our long journey and sat down at the table to eat a snack of Twinkies and Capri Sun Wild Cherry Juice Pouches.
Well, (here it comes), my Capri Sun tasted a little funny, and I didn’t know why. I checked the expiration date, but it wouldn’t go bad till April 2009. It wasn’t sweet, didn’t taste like typical cherry Capri Sun, and it had a sticky, goopy, sickly flavor and texture.
So, being the great friend that I am, I offered a drink to Hannah and asked her if she thought it was a little odd. She took a sip and said that it just wasn’t as sweet as hers.
Well, ok, it wasn’t sweet. But it was more than that, I knew it. This thing was – well, downright gross! And that was the first time I had ever thought that towards a sugary drink!
I looked at the pouch again and, to my horror, saw green crust around the place where you stick the straw! Yeah, like boogers, or intestinal fluid of some poor creature or something. Guts, maybe. Then, my stomach knotting, I looked into the straw and – EW!! There was gray goop with blackish specks all down through the straw, like silly putty or worm guts or something. I gagged and had visions of me waking up in the middle of the night, all alone in my bed, stomach heaving, gagging, puking, and from me pouring various body parts of rats, crickets, snakes, and whatever THAT was that was in that drink. Well, I’m happy to say I’m still alive here today to tell you my story of woe.
So, what does this have to do with God? I thought about this while awake at night, telling myself I was soon to be dead. And it came to me.
Maybe, just maybe, inside that disgusting pouch was somebody’s rotting heart! Yeah, like a toad’s or something. But I tried to think of it like your heart (well, not yours, everybody’s).
That pouch (in this case, your heart) started out as a sweet, wonderful, perfectly good thing. Then some bacteria (sin) got into there, only God knows how or what it was exactly. It was just a little bit of sin, a teensy, weensy bit. No harm there, right? Nobody’s perfect. But then that sin grew (yuck) and grew, becoming bigger and bigger. And bigger, nastier sins came in until there were millions and millions of little and big sins floating around in your heart. Gross, huh? It probably got pretty bad in there. If only you knew what was in your heart (or, in my case, in that pouch)! But you don’t know. So, then, God opened up your eyes, and you decided to take another look at yourself. Yeah, just look at you! But God (in this case, my mom) offered to give you a brand new, perfectly good heart (pouch) if you just threw yours away. That’s all you had to do. And, when you took that heart from God, you opened it up and used it. And it was sweet!
Since I plan to redo this blog, we might as well make it even better by improving it. What kind of things would you NOT like to see here anymore, and what would you love to see that we haven't done yet? What would you love to see more of? Every single comment you make, every thing you do here helps this blog grow bigger and better, all for you and for Jesus. I REALLY want to know your opinion -- on everything!
And please don't forget to read whenever you can (I update almost every day), tell your friends, comment, rate, and follow.
"Dear God, thank you for Mother and Father and Levi and Grandmother and…and…and I suppose I should be thankful for my uncles, too." I paused, glancing at the large shape gently rising and falling on the bed. "Please help Grandmother not to wake when I go outside."
I swallowed. I had just asked God to help me do something against my elder’s wishes. Was that against the Law? I would never forgive myself for deliberately going against the Law of Moses.
Still, I was sure God wouldn’t be angry with me, so I tiptoed into the parlor behind the silk screen. I peeked into the room where my father and uncles were talking. My brother, Levi, looked disinterested in the conversation. He was clearly tired of politics, and I, his beautiful sister, would save him.
Levi noticed me at once and turned to Father. "Father," he said, hesitating. "I need to go relieve myself." He paused. "It might take a while. A long while. Maybe all night."
I slapped my forehead.
All eyes turned to Levi, but he was dismissed with a shrug. My Father didn’t notice that he ran to the parlor instead of the lavatory.
"Thanks, Leah," Levi whispered to me, fastening his cloak about his neck. "I was about to die in there." He looked at me. "Couldn’t you have at least gotten dressed?"
I looked down at my night shift and shrugged. "Levi, something is going to happen tonight, I just know it—"
Levi nodded. "Yeah, when that traveler stood at the door, I got chills up my spine. I thought it was the draft, but if you felt it, too…. Hey, what kind of thing do you have in mind?"
"I don’t know," I admitted. "But I thought we could go outside to the stable and—"
"Spy on them?" Levi grinned. "Be careful, Leah. This is a man’s mission. Very dangerous. You might not survive."
I gave him a little punch – to my dismay, he didn’t even flinch – and we sneaked outside into the cold, dark town.
Levi and I made our way to the stable. I prayed that the dumb donkeys wouldn’t bray, alerting the town of our presence.
The warm glow of the oil lamps in the stable drew us nearer. The man was rubbing down his donkey, for the beast was tired from his long journey. I saw the lady’s hand reach up for the velvety muzzle of a calf. It kissed her hand, rubbing its cold nose on her arm.
Suddenly, the hand dropped. The woman moaned. "Joseph—"
The man, Joseph, made a bed for her of hay. "There, Mary." He got a thin blanket from the donkey’s pack and laid it over the lady.
I could not see Mary, she was so covered in hay and blankets and chickens. Yes, it seemed every animal in the place was trying to help the couple. Chickens laid by Mary’s feet (no matter how many times Joseph shooed them away), the calf lay down beside her, licking her arm affectionately while its mother watched with approval, the sheep lay near Joseph, rubbing their warm wool on him, and the donkey supervised them all.
My brother took something from his cloak. "Drums," he said.
"Drums?" I looked at him with all the scolding Mother-like appearance I could muster. "You fool—"
Levi ignored me and began slowly playing his drums.
Pum, pum, pum…par rum pum pum pum….
The gentle beat filled the air.
"Joseph, what could that be?" Mary asked.
Joseph stood up, pausing. "Music," he said slowly, "music for the Child of God." He smiled.
Levi looked proud. "For this child of God."
I was proud of my brother as well, but then I stopped. My whole body seemed paralyzed. I grabbed my brother’s hand. The music stopped.
"Levi!" I whispered. "He said THE Child of God!"
He looked at me, confused.
"THE Child!" I repeated.
He stopped. The animals seemed to hold their breath. Suddenly, he turned on me. "No, Leah!" Levi scolded. "Do not speak of such things! Besides, you are wrong. I think the One will come as a great warrior, not a helpless babe."
He began drumming again.
Levi and I stayed in our little spot for quite some time when suddenly we heard a baby’s gurgle.
Levi and I glanced at each other with excitement. For a moment, the cold air was warm.
Why did the baby not cry? This puzzled me. Every baby cried when it was born, especially when born into the cold.
Joseph cleaned the baby and lifted it into the air. I could see the pride in his eyes. He held his son as if the boy was an angel, and in his brown eyes I saw something more than pride, but I could not place it. It was as if Joseph knew this baby was going to be great – greater than himself.
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgement and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The smell of fresh-baked bread tickled my nose. I could hear the men of the family – my brother, my father, and two of my uncles – laughing and drinking. Mother, Grandmother, and I were all sitting in the same room as the men, but behind a silken screen. My stomach twisted in hunger, but we would all have to wait until the men were done.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door.
Mother and Grandmother retreated farther into the room so as not to be seen. I stayed where I was.
One of my uncles opened the door for the visitor. "What do you want?" he asked gruffly. Wine made him rude and harsh.
"Are you the innkeeper?" a tired voice asked.
"Why, yes, I am. What is it to you? I have no more room left. Everyone is staying here for the census."
The traveler motioned to a girl behind him who looked no older than I, sitting astride a swaybacked donkey. "Please, kind sir, I am looking for a place for my wife to rest, for she is with child."
It was then that I noticed the lady’s rounded belly, quite large for someone so small and pretty. Only thirteen, she was!
To my horror, my uncle shut the door on the man.
Yes, every room in my uncle’s inn was occupied, for Caesar Augustus had ordered that everyone under Roman rule must list their names in a register. Weary travelers from all over were coming to our little town of Bethlehem, dirty as it was.
I heard my uncle open the door once more.
The tired traveler was still there. His eyes brightened.
"I do have the stable in the back, if you’re interested," my uncle admitted. He pointed to the stable and told the man it was unlocked. The traveler handed him a few coins, thanked him, and gently tugged on the tired donkey’s bridle.
I took a step closer.
Just as the donkey was turning, the lady who sat atop it looked up and caught my eye. She flashed a quick smile in my direction.
I smiled back and turned back to the fire. Something welled up from deep within me, an unexplained happiness.
"Leah, why are you smiling so?" Mother asked.
"No reason," I replied. As I would later find out, there was a reason, I just didn’t know it yet.
Countless travelers, including women heavy with child, had come to the inn that night, but none of them had seemed so…so knowing, as if she knew something wonderful was about to happen. Though she was tired, she was joyful, and I now had that joy bubbling inside me.
Something wonderful was going to happen that night, I was sure of it.