As I am thinking about what this word means to me I think back to when I was in middle school, high school and college. I think back to what different ways it affected my life…
Middle school consisted of the awkward years where your body parts out grow each other and your clothing tastes include trying to match stripes and polka dots together. In middle school I was the girl with big glasses who played violin and clarinet. I was becoming one of the shorter students and I was unsure of my identity at school and even in my faith. I had close friends, but I was not considered popular. In middle school cliques formed that would define high school social placement.
High school I was a band nerd, I LOVED marching band. I was in the music wing every moment I could. Again I wasn’t popular and I had my group of friends around me. In high school my insecurity was tied around faith. You see when I decided to open up about my faith and really act out on it; I was made fun of greatly. At first it affected me negatively and I was hesitant about my faith, but after a missions trip I realized that I needed to be bold about my faith. So I started bible club at school. I took a risk …
In college I dealt with trying to figure out my major and where I need to turn career wise. I started as a music major and switched to religion. It was not any easy switch because it upset my family. (They feel different, now that I am in ministry) I had to deal with understand the call of God being above my own selfish desires. I learned that insecurity always brought me to a place of knowing that I needed Christ even more. It taught me that I needed to humble myself and allow Christ to work.
All this to say I always though insecurity was an inward emotion/ feeling that was around because I wasn’t good enough when I compared myself to others. I knew it was something that separated me from God because it put my attention on myself instead of God. I always thought it was this negative feeling or emotion. I want to let you know that there is insecurity that until college I never understood to be insecurity. Most insecurity drives us to feel bad about our self and makes us wish we were better. This insecurity that I am referring to is of pride.
Pride drove the sin between Adam and Eve. Pride in ourselves, pride in our country. Pride in anything but the Lord drives us away from Him. When we turn our attention the Lord goes in the backseat. Pride will always be something we fight against because our human nature seeks to have pride in ourselves. Note: this doesn’t mean we can be proud of different things, but we must remember that Christ should remain the center of our focus.
Here is the test: Is what I love glorifying the Lord? Or is it pulling my attention away from the Lord? I believe if we keep this filter in mind we can understand whom we are. This can adjust our insecurity through pride, as well as when we are feeling low we can remember that we are designed to glorify God. Galatians 1:10 is a great verse to memorize!
I want to end with this: We are all created in the image of God. We are designed with beauty and purpose! Psalm 139, David goes into detail about how intimately God knows and understands us. You are designed with purpose; God does not create accidents! You are LOVED!
Written by: Kami
The crisp air brushes against my face and I see the house glowing. Glowing with lights, but also glowing with love. Conversation all around from loving hellos, to big giant bear hugs. The Michael Buble music feels the air and the smell of cinnamon and pine as well. The tables are set with beautiful dishes and children are talking about their Christmas wishes. It's the special day where family comes together to reflect on the blessings and the greatest one ever which is Jesus. Moments like this can never be forgotten because God made these moments timeless.
It's Christmas, and I can not get over the fact that another year has past. As I have gotten olden I think back to the moments like the one described above and I am so thankful. Being a teenager Christmas was a fun time of fun holiday party, a long vacation from school, cool gifts and shopping trips. This might not be your case, but for me I don't know if I truly soaked in the moments. What I mean by this is to not take for granted the people or the present time. In high school and my early college years I was in a rush and a lot of the time focused on me. Now being older I wish I would have paused for a moment and listen to the sounds around me, take mental pictures of the scenes that lay before me, treasure the conversations with my familial, especially my grandparents. But most of all remember that life is truly a blessing and that the relationships in my life are what make life, truly LIFE. God gave us relationships and I pray that this Christmas and this New Year that you value each person in you life.
So girl I challenge you to soak in the moments! Treasure the gifts that God has given you. Show God's love to them. Also have fun, make memories and enjoy the life and the time God has blessed you with!
Also pray for your family that you are rooted in love for Christ. I challenge you to girls to go out of your way to have conversations with your grandparents and seek their advice. They have lived through some crazy times and have a lot of knowledge. I challenge you to forgive the family member that hurt your feelings years ago and forgive them like Christ forgave you. I challenge you to witness to your family that is not saved. But more importantly, show them that you find your hope and trust in God. The verses below encourage you to pray that you have strength and that faith in Christ. I pray that you will find these things this Christmas. I pray you are encouraged to make the most of what God has given you!
Ephesians 3: 14- 19
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every familya]">[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas and soak in the moments that Christ has given us.
In the midst of the Christmas season I love shopping to give people gifts. I love going and thinking about the excitement that will be on their face when they open it up. I always want them to think it was the best gift ever! Have you ever gotten the best gift ever? Well last year trumped it all.for me. On Christmas Eve my mom pulled me and my brother in the living room and said "Hey, we have something for you." I never would have guessed what it could be. I unwrapped the gifts and it was the book " The Night Before Christmas. She said look inside.. Here is what I saw:
I freaked! It was the book The Night Before Christmas with a recording of my Grandaddy reading the book to me. Growing up every Christmas Eve my Grandaddy would read "The Night Before Christmas" it was a tradition and no one in my opinion reads it like him. He passed away in 2011, from Pancreatic Cancer which is why this gift meant so much to me. This is one of my most prized possessions now. My grandparents all mean so much to me growing up and this gift trumped them all. It was so special to me that my parents would create this for me. I felt so loved and cherished by my parents when they gave me this gift. But as I thought about the best gift I had ever been given I realized the best gift I was ever given had already been given to me and that was CHRIST! God gave the world the best gift ever and that is our SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. He sent his son Jesus to earth as baby with the fate of paying for our sins. He bore our sins on the cross, therefore making a way for us to be forgiven and have eternal life. No earthly gift, no matter how sentimental, how expensive or how big it is will ever compare to Christ and what he did for us. So this Christmas in the midst of giving gift and receiving gifts remember you have already been given the Best Gift Ever and that is Jesus. And if you do not know Jesus and who he is we challenge you to read the story below. Jesus will change your life. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and enjoy the celebrating that we have received the BEST GIFT EVER!!!!!!!!!
The best gift and story that could ever be read to us.
The Birth of Jesus- In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place whilea]">[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
by Anna Wright
YOU are NOT your GPA.
If you asked me in my college years if I believed this statement, I would have said, "yes." But when I think about my values at that age, I realize I would have been lying.
Yeah, I was one of those girls. Straight A's throughout high school and college, full ride scholarship winner, get married, hold a job, and graduate with honors all in 3 years. I didn't just care about my performance, I depended on it to feel a sense of self-worth in my own eyes and the eyes of others. So much so that when my one A- kept me from a perfect 4.0, I was crushed. Literally, pick-up-the-piano-and-peel-me-off-the-floor-CRUSHED. I hadn't given anything less to the course I got my A- in. In fact, it was a one week intensive class outside my field of study, a class I'd taken over spring break to speed up my journey toward getting handed my diploma. I thought I did fairly well in the class and the out-of-state teacher who'd flown in special for the class did too, but our definitions of a good grade were different. I fought it. I fought it all. The A-. The havoc it wreaked on my GPA. The disappointment. The anger. And ultimately the need to forgive my teacher for doing nothing wrong (except scoffing at my horror at receiving an A-). I was furious and I wanted to be furious with him, but in the end, I knew I was just furious with myself for failing.
But I hadn't failed. I may have not met my own standards. But the only failure rested in the fact that I had demanded perfection from myself. I had cared too much about something that mattered so little. And I had defined my own value by something that ultimately was worth far less than all I am.
I don't know what made me put so much stock in my academic performance. I guess I'd always been that way since I can still remember my mom sending me to my room for calling myself "stupid" when I got a 76% on my 5th grade math drill. In fact, pretty much the only time I got punished was for punishing myself. And years later, on the brink of adulthood, I sat crying through the honors ceremony at graduation - punishing myself all over again.
I didn't enjoy my graduation. At least, not the way I should have. I felt embarrassed. Ashamed even. I felt like I couldn't look my parents in the eyes. I felt ridiculous. And frankly, I was. I was silly to think that the people who loved me loved me only for my performance. I was silly in loving myself only for my performance. I felt like a child who needed to grow up all over again and find out why I was really worth loving.
Thinking my family would love me or be proud of me only because I could get a 4.0 was not only dumb, it was insulting. I know my family better than that. I know they love me no matter what. And you may not value your grades like I did or think you have to earn your family's love through performance, but if you've ever felt like God loved you any less because of something you've done - you're as guilty as I am.
At some point in life, I think we all face a performance complex. We think we have to earn love and forget that this nullifies the very definition of the word. Earning love is essentially an oxymoron because real love cannot be earned or bought. It's a gift. That's a lesson we all learned back in Sunday School, but too often we suppress that knowledge and trade it for the lie that we have to be "good enough" for God. Like any good parent, God wants us to do our best and to trust Him to help us in achieving it. One of my favorite worship leaders once said, "it doesn't matter what you draw Him, He's gonna put it on the fridge." Does this mean we shouldn't care? No. But we also shouldn't care too much.
When I think about my graduation day, I remember my bitterness and I wish I had allowed myself sweeter memories. Because the reality is, I barely remember today the grades I got then. In fact, I only remember what my GPA wasn't - I have no idea what it was.
What I do remember clearly are the experiences I had in college. The moment I first saw my husband in the communications building. The late walks and stargazing. My roommate's wedding. 4am call times with our film school friends. Overnight worship sessions and movie marathons. Study dates and frozen yogurt with my life group girls. I couldn't tell you the details of one A+ paper or the comments of my proudest teacher, but I can talk for hours about the moments that really mattered. And I may never frame my diploma or flaunt my honors status at a job interview (I don't advise that, by the way), but I'll carry these pieces of my life forever.
So as you enter exams season...
Aim for good grades... But don't obsess over them. Get that diploma... But don't rest your worth on it. Do your best... But don't let it get the best of you.
And remember that when it's all over, YOU are better than your best work.
School.... the place you when you are five years old and never get to leave! Hahah well for some of us that is how school feels. School is where we go to learn about growing up and the skills we will need to be successful such as math, reading, spelling and the list goes on. School is an amazing place where we use our brains that God has given us and challenge our minds to think. Growing up my relationship with school was a rollercoaster ride. One minute I hated it the next minute I LOVED it! I always wanted to do my best and please my parents with the grades I made, and even now I still do.
Growing up I remember having this skewed thinking that my grades were all that mattered and if I didn't make good one's then that made me a lesser person. I remember in 9th grade when I made the A/B honor roll you would have thought I had one a million dollars. In 10th grade my perspective of school changed, all of sudden all the kids I was around thought it was uncool if you made good grades so the first semester I made my D in Geometry and a C in English. Now Geometry I had an issue with my teacher, but English I was just lazy.... After a quick turn around school became more important to me I reverted back to I WANT TO MAKE GOOD GRADES mentality. The pressures of school are intense, especially now. Our generation is expected to push ourselves to the max in school! Now I am not saying that we should not do our very best and make good grades. We most definitely should! However, the struggle happens when school is turned into a measurement tool of who a person is. Society may measure as by our academics. But we as students should try our very best and at the end of the day be satisfied in knowing that we tried our hardest.
Struggling with test anxiety myself and auditory processing issues I know the struggle of school and it is real. I challenge all of the high school and college students as the end of the semester is winding down to BREATHE! The end is almost done. Also, if you are struggling with test anxiety, stress or any other academic stressors talk to your parents, guidance counselor or mentor about it. Also, rest in know that God does not want you to be anxious or stress.
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I challenge you to medidate on this verse this week. Do not be anxious! Study, Study, Study, Do your BEST on the Exams and at the end of the day its in God's hands. HAPPY END OF THE SEMESTER EVERYONE!!!!!
CHRISTMAS IS ALMOST HERE!! :)