Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New Beginnings

Wow! It's been a long time since my last post!! With a site bug that didn't allow me to post, and a super hectic schedule I've let my blog fall to the wayside. Well with the bug seemingly gone, and my schedule now calmed a bit, I'm ready to blog as long as God sees fit :)

As of Firday October 25, 2013 I am no longer a minor; that's right I'm 18!!!!!! Wow, I truly cannot believe it! Whether I'm applying for a job, or going on a mission trip, the fact that my signature and my signature alone is enough really hasn't sunk in for me yet. I'm still so used to all the years I lived under my parents, with them having the ultimate say so in my life, it's weird to think that I'm an adult and it's time for me to start making my own decisions. Now don't get me wrong, my parents still have a lot of influence and say so in my decisions, (their opinions are very important and near and dear to my heart), but at the same time I am now grown and it's time for me to excercise the things that they've taught me; and I must admit it's a little scary. I'm so used to asking my mom what to do and her telling me what to do, and me doing exactly what she told me to do; but instead of her giving me step by step blueprints, she now tells me to pray and ask God what to do, and I must now make my own decisions with His guidance. It's beginning to sink in that all the years I was a child/minor I leaned heavily on my parents, which is what God wanted me to do, and they taught me the things that God wanted them to teach me; but now it's time for their role to diminish somewhat, and for God to increase. As a child I was still learning thus I was unable to make any kind of decision without my parents, as an adult now I have been given the tools that my parents had to give and now it's time for them to let me go; it's time for me to lean completely om God without them as crutches. Am I still learning from them, of course! I will always be learning from them, it's simply time for the apron strings to be cut, and for me to learn to fly with only God to catch me if I fall. For how else am I to truly know, love, and understand how great and powerful my God truly is if my parents are always blocking the view? So now I realize it's time for my new beginning to start; is it a little scary, of course! The unknown always is! But it's time for me to step out of my comfort zone, and you know what, the fear is melting away; do you know why? Because God is reaching out His hand, and I am finally ready to take it. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5,6 -Alexandra

Monday, June 17, 2013

Remembering God

           I heard a sermon at my church a few weeks ago entitled 'Lest we Forget'. The message about not forgetting God when things appear to be going well really got me to thinking; and I began to wonder if I'd forgotten about God.
           As people it's easy to grow complacent and forget the things God has done for us, and the places He has brought us out of. Many times we inadvertently forget God, and we think that by attending church or Bible study that we are still putting God first and foremost in our lives. While it is a great thing to attend church and Bible study groups, these things often replace our daily relationship with God. God doesn't just want all of our attention, and focus to be on Him on just one or two days a week; He wants us to worship and spend time with Him everday!
            How great is our God, and how much does He loves us that He wants us, us, yes us dirty, low down sinners to spend time with Him in all His righteousness and glory. It is truly amazing when you think about it, yet often times we don't think about it at all. We get too caught up in our busy lives, and after Sunday we don't even think about God until the next Sunday rolls around. Oh sure we may pray to Him during the week, but what do those prayers mostly consist of, probably something along these lines, "Father please help me through this day, its been so stressful and I have a test tomorrow, please help me to pass it. Amen." or "Father give me the strength to get up and go to work/ and or school today. Amen" or even "Father give me the strength to get up and go to church today so that I can praise and worship you. Amen.". Most of our prayers consist of asking God to do something for us, instead of praising Him for what He has already done for us! While asking God to help us is not a bad thing, in fact its a great thing!, our one on one time with Him shouldn't solely consist of us asking Him for something. God doesn't want us to spend time with Him because of what He is capable of doing for us, He wants us to love Him because of who He is and what He has done for us. We have so many reasons to thank and praise God everyday, the very first thing we can thank Him for is for making us!
                 It's so easy to forget about God, thats why in Deuteronomy 6:12 it says "Beware lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.", and in Deut. 8:14,17&18 it says, "Be careful that your heart doesn't become proud and you forget the Lord your God... You may say to yourself "My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me." but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth..." The Israelites needed to constantly be reminded not to forget the Lord, just as we need to be reminded today. Some of us become proud and take the credit of our wealth or any semblance of prosperity like it says in verses 14, 17, and 18; while some of us just forget out of complacency. For example, this computer that I'm typing on right now, and the internet that I am using right now to type this was not in my possession a year ago. Thats right 365 days ago I had no computer and no internet connection! I have had this computer and internet for about 6 or 7 months now, and I remember when I got it I was so thankful and I praised the Lord for them both everyday; now I'm so used to having them that I don't even think to stop and praise God for them. Sad right? These things have become such a common part of my life that it feels like I've always had them, and now I don't stop to just praise God that I don't have to go to the library anymore to use their computer and wifi, now I can do it from the comfort of my own home!; but that's only because of the One that provided it for me. At first you will have to consciously choose to thank and praise God as you begin to reset your mind, then once your mind is reset to just being thankful and grateful to God that you know and have Him in your life it will become second nature and you won't even fret about what God can and will do for you in the future you'll just be glad to have Him in your life!
                    So lets remember our God, the One that sent down His only son to die for us so that through Him we can be spared and saved! Lets not just spend our quality time with Him asking Him to do things for us, instead lets thank Him, love Him, praise Him, and learn more about Him through reading His word.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why I Believe In Courting

          I want to preface this post by saying that this is my opinion and these are my convictions. I do not condemn or judge anyone that feels differently; we all have different convictions and we all have different ways to go about dating/courting,(I am not legalistic about the word so you can call it dating or courting whichever you prefer :)) I just wanted to share my take on courting, so here goes...

         As far as the way relationships are handled I believe more in the concept of courting, than I do dating. I know, I know that word! Many people,(Christians as well as non Christians), are really intimidated and put off by that word. Courting gets a bad rep simply because of misconceptions. Many believe that the practice is too old fashioned and out dated to actually work in our new modern society; while others think that courting is just a nice way of saying you are entering into an arranged marriage. There are many variations of the way courting is practiced, so today I want to share my variation.
          Firstly I believe in keeping myself pure until marriage,(I know that term sounds so stiff and hackneyed but it is true, just bear with me :)), so there is no physical contact between us that I wouldn't have with my brother. Which in simple terms is to say that I would hug him, but not hold his hand or put my arm around him, (now you don't have to necessarily use the example of not holding your brothers hand if you have a much younger brother because you probably do hold his hand, but my oldest brother is 12 years older than me so walking around holding his hand.. well you see what I mean, this exercise works better when you have an older brother lol :)) One thing this does is it helps us both to avoid temptation. "Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." 2 Timothy 2:22 This scripture tells us to run from youthful passions, but instead we should pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with someone(s) that also call on the name of the Lord with a pure heart. Abstaining from physical contact, helps us to flee from youthful passions and instead we can turn to God and see if He is leading us to marriage.
            Having no emphasis on the physical while courting not only helps in keeping us pure, it also helps us to determine whether or not we are compatible without our minds being clouded. Not focusing on how attractive that person is, or how good of a kisser they are, instead we're focusing on whether or not we can glorify God together and whether or not we share the same beliefs (in terms of faith, children etc). The purpose of courting is not to just "have someone", the purpose is to determine if you are the right someone.
           I want everything I do to give glory to my Father in heaven, this includes my relationships. Speaking specifically about relationships with a man, I want every phase of our relationship, (courting, engagement, marriage), to glorify God. All throughout the Bible God tells us to flee and avoid sexual immorality, which includes fornication or intimacy before marriage; what better way to avoid the temptation by not allowing it to come in, in the first place! I say why entertain any physical contact before marriage, theres nothing we can do about it now anyway!
           I am in no way an expert at this,(after all I've never been in a real relationship), but this is my humble opinion and take on this touchy subject. I encourage you to pray and ask God to guide you in all of your relationships, especially ones with the opposite sex.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Where Is Your Focus?

              As Christians we are to shine as lights in the world (Matthew 5:15-16), which means that we are to be visibly different form the world; yet many Christians blend into the world without even realizing it. The Bible warns us about getting wrapped up in the ways of the world and it also gives us gudelines on how to maintain our focus on God.
               One thing the Bible tells us is not to lose our focus by worrying. In Matthew 6:26-34 Jesus says that we can't add a cubit to our height by worrying, thus it's pointless. Also Jesus compares us to the birds saying how our Father in heaven sees that they are feed; He also compared us to the flowers and grass of the field how they grow, and are clothed. He tells us that just as the Father cares for them He will care for us, because are we not worth more than they? Jesus tells us in verse 31-33, " Do not worry saying, 'What will we eat?' or ' What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' For the idolaters eagerly seek these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek fisrt the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you." Jesus instructs us not to worry about what we will eat, drink, or wear, because the Father knows that we need these things; He tells us instead to seek God and put Him first and these things will take care of themselves, (well God will take care of it, but you know what I mean :))
               We are also told not to lose our focus by loving the world. In 1 John 2:15-17 we are told, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world the love of the Father is not in Him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." This passage is warning us not to get lured in by the things of this world because it is passing away. The lust of the flesh and eyes include more than just sensual lust, it also includes the pride of life; which is anything from wanting the biggest house or most expensive car on the block, or taking pride in your paycheck or the degree that you have. Now none of these things in and of themselves are bad, it's just that they have a tendency to take over the number one position in peoples life, dethroning the One that should hold the top spot. (Side note the pride of life is so strong that Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 6:17 "Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy.") Wealth and possessions can easily become an idol in our life, (i.e. notice how a new flatscreen or ipad takes away your quiet time with God), thats why we are told to not love the world, and James even goes further telling us to not even be friends with the world, "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." James 4:4.
                      We are warned not to allow idols in our life, (such as worry, and love of the world and the things therein), so our God won't be unseated from the top spot in our life, which He wants and deserves. We must reevaluate how we feel about all the things in our life, from the biggest to the smallest to make sure that nothing but God has a hold over us. Ask yourself what you feel you can't live without, what takes up all of your time, what you sacrifice time, money, and energy on, what truly comes first before everything; if the answer to these questions is not God then you are out of focus. It's time that we make sure that our entire focus is on God and His ways; so ask yourself today, "where is my focus?"

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Home Is Where God Is Part Three

             In June 2007 my parents and I went to stay in a motel in NC with the intentions on only staying there for a week or so until the income tax check came. That week however quickly turned into a month, and one month quickly turned into two. I was worried that we were going to still be in that motel when school started up again, but my mom reassured me that everything would work out fine and that we just needed to trust in God; He had everything already worked out. That summer in the motel in NC was truly a great one for me and my mom. While my dad went to work everyday, it would just be me and my mom together; we really bonded and grew so close, it just being the two of us together all day.
               The check finally came in August of 2007, and we were then able to, (miraculously), put a deposit on an apartment. We moved in about a week before the start of school, and so I was on my way for my seventh grade year. This apartment is where we would live for the remainder of our stay in NC,(which would be three years).
                  I went to public school my seventh grade year,(it was the same school that I went to my sixth grade year). Though the facilities were nice the teachers and the make up of the school were not good. The teachers were not caring, and gasp, some of the teachers would curse at the students. I even went the first three months of school without a math teacher. The hours were also incredibly long; I would leave my house at 7:30 a.m. to get on the school bus, and not get home until 4:30 or 5:00 p.m.). Taking into account all of these things my mom prayed about what we should do about my school future.
                   The Lord answered her by telling her to remove me from school. (At the time we didn't know that I would be completely removed from school period, we just thought that I was going to leave that school and that the Lord would open up a way for me to go to another, better public school.) I finsihed out my seventh grade year of school and I said goodbye to all of my friends; little did I know that I would never step foot in any school ever again.
                   We prayed and asked the Lord for guidance on what to do about my education; He revealed to my mom to take the route of homesschooling. Now at first I was not pleased with this. Firstly, although I didn't love That school, I really did love school and I loved to learn; I was an honor student always at the top of my grade for goodness sake! :) Secondly, I didn't want to become one of "those" kids; you know those strange, lonely homeschool kids.
                  What I decided to do was convince myself that I would only be homeschooled until the Lord revealed to us a "good" school. So, when the work came in the mail, I was excited to have some new curriculum to do; I love to learn and work so I was so happy to have some work to do. ( My family have lovingly dubbed me our scholar :)) So for the next two and a half years I went through the motions of homeschooling,(I really did like it though, but a small part of me, in the back of my brian held on to the hope that I would someday go back to school). It wasn't until I was 15 that I truly let it go, and I was so glad and thankful that I did.
                    Fifteen is the age that I let go of bitterness, and anger that I didn't even know that I had. Fifteen is the age that I realized that I didn't have my own personal relationship with God, instead I was piggy-backing off of my mother's relationship with Him. Fifteen is the age where I started reading my Bible for myself and developing my own relationship with God because I wanted to, not because my mom or anyone else wanted me to. Fifteen is the age where I really started to change and grow, and really truly love homeschooling; and this is when I realized that I wanted to homeschool my own childen in the future. Fifteen is the age where manifestations of change started happening in my life, but these changes really started when I was tweleve years old, and my mother followed the Lord's instructions to homeschool me. Homeschooling was the catalyst to my growth in God. Without the outside "noise" of the world in school, God was really able to work on my heart, and uproot all the negative things that bad influences in school put there, thus He was able to really begin pouring into me without interference.
                        So after spending five years in NC, the Spirit began leading us away from the state. At first we didn't know where, but later it was revealed to us to go to Texas. We couldn't believe it, none of us had ever been there, and we had no family or friends there. But we went out on faith, and in 2011,(I was 15), my mother, oldest brother, and myself, (sadly my parents didn't stay togehter and my father stayed in NC), came to TX, and we've been here ever since. We have witnessed so many blessings and miracles that the Lord has done for us these two years that we've been in TX, (all He has done for us here in TX needs its own blog post!). It was truly His plan for us to be here.
                          It is now 2013,( I am now 17), and I am so blessed and thankful for everything that God has allowed me to go through! He has kept me and my family safe and healthy, and He has revealed to all of us His grace, mercy, and love. We all know that no matter where we are or what we are going through, we are home if God is there. :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Home Is Where God Is Part Two

            At the end of my fifth grade year in 2006, my father's job transferred him to Charlotte, North Carolina. It was exciting news and scary news at the same time. Exciting because we were finally going to be moving out of the tiny little motel room we had been staying in for the last few years and we were moving to a state where the cost of living was much cheaper. It was still scary simply because it was the unknown. Though I was ready to move on from the motel, the motel was still something I was used to, something familiar. Also I had made friends in school, friends I'd known since I was a very young child; and I had family that lived in NY. Without even realizing it I had fallen into a comfort zone.
           I believe it was in the spring of 2006, before school was out, my parents and I took a trip to NC to begin looking for houses. A house!, a real house! I hadn't lived in one of those since I was four years old, you can probably imagine that my fear of the unknown and leaving NY quickly melted away as I realized that we were going to be able to buy a home! Well buy a home we did, and when summer came and I graduated from the fifth grade, I said my goodbyes to my friends and my see you laters to my brothers. My oldest brother went overseas having finished college, and my other brother was staying behind in NY to go to college. Everything was perfect! I was going to live in a home, (a three bedroom, two bathroom home; I got to have my own bathroom!! :)), and I was going to be a middle schooler, (I felt like a big kid haha).
            We settled into our new home, though we had no furniture I didn't care; I was sleeping on the floor in my own home! I registered for school as a sixth grader, and I signed up to ride the bus. Life was so exciting, I was living in a house, and I was riding the bus,(I had never ridden a school bus before).
           That school year flew by! Though I didn't really like the set up of the school itself and some of the teachers weren't that good, (which I"ll talk more about in part three), I did enjoy the new friends that I had made.
           Well it was the year 2007, and I came home from my last day of school, and I sat down to discuss my day with my mom, (my dad was still at work), she listened to me talk about my last day attentively, but something seemed a little off. She took a deep breath, and she told me that we had lost our house to foreclosure. Initially I was devastated. I couldn't believe what I had just heard; the house we were so excited to be moving into a year earlier, was now the house that we had to now hastily move out of. What made it even more devastating was the look on my mom's face when she told me; she wasn't sad for herself that we lost the house, she was sad for me because she knew how much it meant to me to live in one.
             Amazingly, the initial devastation I felt was gone in a matter of minutes; I didn't know it then but the peace of the Lord is what came upon me. I said to my mom that it was alright that we lost the house, and that instead of trying to get it back or get a new house, we should look into getting an apartment. She was so excited that I, (after a few minues), took the news so well; and she liked the idea about moving into an apartment, my dad liked it too. So, (maybe a week later? I don't exactly remember), we got a moving truck and began loading up our belongings,(which was mainly just clothes because that whole year we never had any furniture), and we put them in storage.
               We didn't have enough money yet for a deposit so we had to wait for the tax income check to come,(which amazingly hadn't come yet even though it was already summertime). So in June of 2007 we went to stay in a motel until the check came, then we could apply for an apartment. We thought that we would only be there for a week or so; we were wrong.
               Come back tomorrow for the final part of Home Is Where God Is to find out how (and when) we left the motel in NC, how I became homeschooled, and when I left NC.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Home Is Where God Is Part One

           I'm excited to say that I'm doing my first series!! It's going to be a three part series entitled: Home Is Where God Is. It's about some of my life experiences that got me to where I am today.
         When I hear other kids talking about the home or homes that they grew up in, I fall still and quiet. At first it was because I was embarrassed and ashamed; but now I realize how blessed my childhood really was.
           I didn't grow up in a nice house, or really a house at all; I spent the majority of my childhood in a motel in Long Island, NY. The home that my family rented was sold when I was 4, so we had to move. We stayed with a family friend for a year, and then we moved out. With no place to go and very little money we were forced to move into a motel.
            My father, mother, older brother, and myself, (my oldest brother was in college at the time), moved into a small one bedroom, one bathroom motel room with two beds. Paying hundreds of dollars a week to stay in the motel, while still buying food, gas, and all other necessities, we were left unable to save up enough money for even a deposit for an apartment; which by the way is Extremely expensive in NY!
           With very little space, and being left house poor, (or really "motel poor" :)), many things were a stuggle for us including keeping our sanity. At the time I was still going to public school as was my brother, (I was in elementary school and he was in high school), so needless to say no one else was in our situation, thus we were embarrassed to talk about our home life.
             You would think that going through something like this we would have hated each other, but we didn't. I can honestly say that the years that we spent in that motel were some of the best years of my life with my family. We bonded so much, by simply having time to play games together like monopoly and uno. We had time to really talk and bond with one another,(living in such cramped quarters what else could we do? haha).
              Looking back at things now form the perspective of a young adult, not as the 5 year old to 10 year  old that I was, I see how crucial that time was for us. At the time though all of us, save for my mom who kept a constant, firm faith in the Lord, got frustrated and even angry with God because we didn't understand why we were going through what we were. Well now I understand, and I am thankful to God that He allowed me to go through it! I don't take anything for granted, especially the bond that living in that motel created with me and my family.
              I lived in that motel from first grade to fifth grade, I'll never forget the name of it; it was called The Rainbow Motel. Now if you go to the place that it was located it is no longer there; I forget what it is now, I"ll have to ask my brother. Now I am not embarrassed about my past, I now embrace it!! God has blessed me with experiences and perspective that not many people,(especially people my age), have. I learned that no matter where I am my home is where God is.
            Come back tomorrow for part two where I'll tell you how we left the motel and NY behind.