My Vow as a God Parent

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In a little less than two months I will have been a God mother for four whole years to the funniest and smartest little boy I know. I can hardly believe this much time has passed. It has been such a joy to watch him learn and grow so rapidly these past four years. He is truly unique. I don’t think I know one single person whose face he can’t put a smile on. He even made my grandfather, Ron, crack a little smile (see picture on right) and those who know Ron are aware of how rare that is. Ha. Just recently my perspective on the title of “God mommy” has changed up
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When I was asked to be the God parent of little Dillyn I started to imagine what it would be like. I envisioned myself buying him lots of toys and clothes, reading him books and taking him to the park a lot. While all of those things soon became reality, I am now starting to realize that there is a much bigger purpose of being a God mother.

In present times the role of a God parent is seen as a friend of the parent who is chosen to help raise and support the child financially, mentally, and emotionally. Originally, though, the role of a God parent had religious overtones to it. They were responsible for the child’s religious growth and faith. In the past I always wondered why people were called God parents but didn’t have any kind of Godly relationship with the child. It was confusing (and still is).

When I first accepted the role and responsibility, I definitely was not at a point in my life where I could effectively do my job. Recently I have reached a place in my faith where I feel equipped enough to fulfill the real role of a God parent. I recognize that there is more to it than simply being present in the child’s life, watching them every now and then or even buying them things. Those are the fun, additional parts. The main part is the education and accountability of religion and faith.

From this day forward, I vow to be more intentional in what I do with my little one. This means continuing to take him to church with me when I have him, teaching him how to pray before bed and say grace before every meal, and reminding him of things he’s learned in Children’s church. It means praying for him regularly and setting a good example of Christian living.

Now that I’m putting this vow out in the open, for any and everyone to see, my hope is that you will keep me accountable for being the best God parent I can be.

The Uniqueness of Your Own Pathway

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These days it is really easy for us to see what appears to be going on in the lives of others. While it can be nice to get updated on their lives, it can sometimes cause us to compare our own to what we see happening in theirs. Comparisons aren’t limited to the internet, though. There are plenty of times I personally have compared myself to family members/friends, whether at a family gathering or a regular day at school. I would always wonder how I could be more happy like one person or do better in school like another person. When those times come up I have to remind myself that God purposely makes each and every believer of Christ unique. We are each made with a variety of talents, personalities and spiritual gifts that are all very different from one another. In this way, we are able to work together as the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12, 14-17 paints a pretty good picture of this:

1 Corinthians 12:12, 14-17 (NLT)

12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body, so it is with the body of Christ.
14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less part of the body. 16 And if the ear says “I am not a part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

These verses are comparing the human body to the body of Christ. They are explaining the idea that a human body is only considered to be whole and complete because all of the parts work together perfectly. There is not one part of the body that can be considered unnecessary because each and every area has a specific function that contributes to it. In the same way, each member of the body of Christ is considered a very valuable part of the body. If we understand the truth in this, we won’t see any value of comparing ourselves to one another!

Even our life experiences are unique. God uses the joys and the adversities in our lives to create a journey of glorifying Him. Everyone has a different journey, or pathway in life. Each experience we have forms an opportunity to grow and learn lessons. Our experiences create testimonies, which are vital to share with others in the body of Christ. In everything we go through, we learn lessons that will help someone else. We really have to stop comparing our pathway to the ones we constantly see, and instead, start embracing our uniqueness. The path God created for one person would not be one suitable for another.

God already planned and perfected a very unique pathway for us. So why would we want our lives to look like anything other than that?

Combating Anxiety

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Racing thoughts, feelings of overwhelming fear, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, heart racing. Sound familiar? If you’ve ever had anxiety before you have experienced at least one of these things. A good friend of mine describes it as feeling like something is sitting on her heart.

Anxiety is the total opposite of serenity. It can be caused by a wide variety of things like excessive stress, depression and going through (or watching a friend go through) something traumatic. Personally, my anxiety comes from trauma and excessive stress. Sometimes I describe it as feeling like a bunch of waves that knock me down when I least expect it. Over the years I’ve learned a few important things about anxiety and panic attacks:

1) It is extremely helpful to identify what exactly is causing/triggering it
2) Its important to plan coping methods in advance for when it happens. Things that have helped me include listening to music, drawing, journaling about how I feel, praying and talking with friends about it.
3) God does not want us to experience fear and anxiety. He wants us to be at peace.

Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT) gives some helpful instruction on how to best handle anxiety.

Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT)

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

These verses are explaining that in times of anxiety and uneasiness we shouldn’t spend time worrying. Instead we should replace worry with prayer. All you have to do is start an open and honest conversation with Him about what you’re experiencing. Tell him how you feel and why you think those feelings are occurring. Thank Him for the things He has done for you. We are called to focus on God no matter what our circumstances are because He is in control. If you practice what is said in these verses you will be sure to find peace in any worrisome situation.

Helpful tip: Try writing these verses on an index card and carrying it with you so that it is easily accessible when anxiety creeps up.

So.. Nicaragua, huh?

YES Nicaragua, and I cannot wait!FullSizeRender (1)Mission work has sparked an interest in me since I was little. I’ve always loved the idea of going somewhere brand new to meet and share the love of Christ with people. I let the logistics of mission work discourage me from joining a team. I would think to myself, “I DO NOT have money to go on anyone’s mission trip.” and “I probably wont have the time. Maybe after college.” It is so easy to let the “what-if’s” drown out your passions and deepest desires. For some reason, we have a hard time running towards our dreams. God is still working on that aspect of me, but clearly I’m making progress because I’ve finally created a blog and in a little more than a month I will be on my way to Nicaragua! Okay, so now let me share the crazy story of how I got connected with the trip.

In early June I started to notice the Nicaragua mission trip advertisements. The team was looking for people that wanted to go, and had just started to raise money for the trip. I thought it would be worth looking in to but after hearing that it would be held in January, I automatically decided it was a no-go. I didn’t want to miss school. I didn’t think about the trip much more until a few months passed by (early October). As those months passed, school started to get very shaky for me. Everything I had been working towards for a few years was coming to an end (I will talk more about this in another post soon). I was completely devastated, but I knew it just meant God had a better plan for me. Anyway, everything that was going on with school forced me to see things from a completely different perspective than I had in the past. I started to think about what I highly valued in my life in comparison to what my life actually consisted of. I realized everything that was happening in my school situation had brought me to a place where I was forced to solely focus and rely on God.

While all of this was going on, the topic of mission trips started to randomly come up in conversations I had with people. My friend Monica shared with me her experiences as a long-term missionary in Bosnia. Another friend Carissa, who had no idea of my situation, shared with me her experience with a not-so-good school situation that pushed her to go on a short-term mission trip in Morocco. So, needless to say, the Nicaragua trip was back on my mind. After hearing their stories I went and researched a lot about mission trips, the country of Nicaragua and what to expect during a mission trip. I went to find out the details of the trip and was told that it would cost $1,000 total, it was going to be in mid-January and I needed to get a passport like yesterday! All I could think about was how IMPOSSIBLE it would be to raise enough money for the trip AND get my first passport in time. The group had been raising money since June and I was just starting in October. Not to mention, I had to apply for my passport in Pennsylvania and all of the documents I needed were in my home state of New York. I really doubted I would be able to go because of the serious time crunch I was on. The team leader needed everything in very early to get things situated.

After explaining the whole situation to my mom, she assured me that she would send the necessary documents ASAP. She also told me to make a GoFundMe account to raise the money. I laughed at the idea, not having a clue how quickly it would help me raise the money. This was the beginning of my revelation that God absolutely wanted me on that trip and would not have things go any other way! Two days in a row after I made the GoFundMe Account (October 25th), I woke up to these articles about mission trips (look at the dates on the articles if you don’t believe me!) It was UNREAL! Even more surreal, with 8 donations, I made $1,050 in TWO days. By God’s grace I reached my goal of $1,500 just a week later!! The money was raised with 14 different donations, each with a heartfelt piece of encouragement. I received my documents, applied and received my passport about 2 1/2 weeks after I raised the money. I was at a complete loss for words. I just kept thinking, “is this reeeaally happening?!.” At that point it seemed like God was PUSHING me in the direction of the trip. It was no longer a choice of mine, but more of a purpose to fulfill. I think its safe to say that God wants me there for a very specific reason.

I can’t wait to serve in Nicaragua along with my fellow team members and church family. I have already learned so much through this experience. I’ve learned to trust in God’s plan for me, and to take each disappointment lightly because each one has an opportunity to turn into something great and way beyond my understanding. I’ve learned some of the ways God sends His confirmation. I’ve learned that nothing can stop His plans for us, and that worrying is pretty pointless because He ALWAYS provides.


 

Proverbs 19:21 ESV

21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

Affliction: Are You Being Buried or Planted?

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As a detail-oriented person, I tend to notice a lot of little things that others normally don’t. I believe that when we allow ourselves to take a moment and embrace the details of something, we can almost always find some beauty within it. Every once in a while I see a plant growing from a crack in concrete, just like the picture above, and instantly become fascinated. Have you ever seen something similar and wondered how the heck it got there? Well after doing some research, I learned that a seed somehow falls into the crack and with the perfect circumstances, it begins to grow and work its way out.

In a few ways, the seed of a plant can be very symbolic of ourselves during the suffering life tends to bring. Whether we’ve grown up in tough times or painful circumstances have caught up to us later on in life, I think most of us can say life has left us feeling buried deep in pain at some point. The question we should ask ourselves is: Are we being buried or are we being planted? What’s the difference, you ask..?

The difference is our perspective

I’ve learned that it is really important to have the right view of what is going on in life. Believing that we are being buried during times of affliction reflects a sense of hopelessness. It feeds off of negative thoughts, which tell us the situation we are going through has no meaning other than to cause us pain. It makes us think we will never get beyond the hardships we face. A simple change of perspective can make all of the difference. To believe that we are being planted, rather than buried during suffering, causes us to recognize that our distress will soon turn into something positive and worthwhile. With this perspective, there is hope in the future and we are better able to see the glimpse of light coming from the concrete’s crack.

Romans 8:18 (NLT)
18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.

In moments of suffering, we are to focus on God and cling to our faith in His amazing work. In the planted perspective, we recognize that there is purpose in what we are going through. It reminds us that God uses all experiences, good and bad, for the perfect plan He has for us. In the same way that every concrete-born plant needs the perfect temperature, water and light to grow, we need faith in God and His plan for us. Just as those plants miraculously grow through that concrete, we will break through our sufferings with more growth than we could ever imagine.

As crazy (and weird) as it sounds, beautiful things come from affliction. It is within these times that we are able to learn some of the deepest lessons about ourselves and others. It is within these times we learn who truly cares for and loves us. We find out just how strong we are and our ability to endure. The interesting thing about being planted during calamity is that while you’re persevering and focusing on staying positive, you don’t realize how much you’re growing at the very same time. Have you ever looked back on some point of your life and realized how wise and mature you grew to be without realizing at the time? It’s amazing.

It was at my lowest point that I was able to very clearly see God working in my life. Having the planted perspective saved me in so many ways.

Journeying to Peace

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On May 23, 2015 My Life Changed for the Better

It was on this particular day that I found myself on the floor of my grandmother’s basement, crying out and begging for God to take all of the burdens I had been carrying for multiple years. It was on this particular day that I began to let out all that I had been holding in. With each deep soul wrenching cry I let portions of pain escape my internal being. My soul had been scorching in agony and for a while I walked around like everything was fine. It wasn’t until I unexpectedly ran into the guy that sexually assaulted me a few years ago, that I finally broke down. In that moment I was finally accepting the fact that there was absolutely nothing I could do on my own to rid those burdens and fill the voids that grew within me from each loss I experienced. It was then that I understood what I needed to do: Completely surrender my life to God.
From that day forward I began a brand new chapter of my life. I was ready to be forgiven. I was ready to let go of all of my past hurts and put them into the hands of my Father. I was ready to be completely emptied of the heartaches, feelings of unworthiness and low self-esteem, and filled with things of Him. I was ready to live in the purpose I knew God had for me. I was ready to claim the new identity God gives to all of His children. I am not who I used to be. I am no longer controlled by my past. I am no longer the head of my life. I am on a journey to peace and there is nothing and no one that can get in my way.


Galatians 2:20

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.