A Year of Learning

2015 was a crazy year. I experienced new highs and lows that I would never have guessed I would be concerned with. It’s always a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts when I reflect on a year, and each year is more vivid and fresh in my mind than the last one.

I learned what areas of my life and lifestyle that I need to work on. There are definitely habits of mine and actions/quirks that I am not the most proud of, and I know that I need to make a few changes. Nagging, doubting others, and striving for material perfection are a few of those bad habits that I want to turn around.

In order to address these works in progress, I’d like to try and apply 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 to my daily lifestyle. Am I patient? Am I kind? Do I envy? Do I boast? The goal is to work from the top on down, so that at some point I can say that I was patient and I was kind and I did not envy or boast, and so on.

I also learned that I need to determine and evaluate the true importance of everything I seek and dream of. What should be prioritized? How can I healthily go about doing this? How can I ensure that this is a healthy ambition, or that I pursue my desires in a healthy manner.

I think 2015 also taught me that I should sleep more. Sleep is important and I am always forgetting that.

Another goal of mine is to start eating healthier and putting effort into exercising in the off-season! Trying to eat natural and fresh foods has always been appealing to me, however, working at a grocery store makes that hard!

Additionally, I have so, so much to be grateful for this past year.

I now have my driver’s license! Through various journeys, the miraculous patience of my parents, a few tears, and more life lessons, I acquired that coveted piece of plastic.

I have strengthened existing friendships and invested in genuine new ones. A new school year and more shared adventures are always exciting in that they bring me and other individuals together in various relationships. I am so, so blessed and I celebrate my friendships today! 

And, finally, all of my cousins from Guatemala were able to come and visit us here in the U.S. for a month! We had a such a fantastic time reuniting and investing real-life time and energy into our friendships. It was a magical Christmas in that regard. I am so lucky to have many cousins that come from both of my parent’s families. Cousins make forever friends. It was a great December season to feel loved, be loved, and give love.

In regards to prayer requests for myself and the coming year, what comes to mind is this: church. I currently am not affiliated with any official church or body of people for the purpose of meeting routinely to worship and grow in faith together. Although I do this with my friends, I am not sure if it is in God’s plan for me to find another church or group to further develop my faith with. To be frank, visiting churches scares me. I don’t want to do it. It’s often uncomfortable and I feel like Christians judge more than those who are not, which is the sad truth these days. However, I’m asking you to pray for me and that I would face this fear and that it would dissipate, and also that God would show me another church or group that I can grow to comfortably be a part of if He wills it. Thank you.

I have learned and grown in a multitude of ways this past year, and I am so excited to see what God has in store for me this coming year! Here’s to a year of learning and the coming year of applying the knowledge received. 

It’s time to sleep.

D. Fayth

Time Management: A Skill to Finesse

To all you older and wiser readers, I must confess that I am not particularly skilled at managing my time. Ah, time management..what a tricksy skill to master. If it is a skill at all, because is it really? Does it get any easier to handle with age? Actually, don’t answer that. I think that was a pretty rhetorical question.

Perhaps time management is something that is inherent, but it needs to be awakened. As a young individual, I often (*cough* …almost always…) find myself juggling my time precariously. However, it probably is around the time that I accept the facts; my school load is only going to increase from here, finishing out high school, college, employment, receiving more rigorous workloads, and the list goes on. I have concluded that, probably, something must be done.

Time is precious. Spending your time in a way that is valuable to you, is essential. Meditating and praying in God’s word every day should be, and I’d like to think is near, at the top of my list. It is something that I deem as extremely important, and therefore I must manage my time to fit that in my schedule. With daily emails, I have become increasingly better at this, but then it all comes down to my matter of priorities, which might need a bit of reorganization. It is so crucial to put God first in your life, and I strive to do that, but let’s save that for a different day.

Would you like one example that aroused my realization of this problem? Well, besides the fact that my Dad outright told me I needed to manage my hours better (in a joking matter, but in all seriousness we both knew his words were true), I currently am typing this blog post when my homework is calling my name and two tests are anticipating my completion tomorrow.  Oops. Yeah, again, priorities..

Well, let’s think of it this way. There are only 24 hours in a day. 24 hours that people constantly complain aren’t enough. At the same time, these days are hours spent by people complaining there is too little time, rather than making the most of it.

Why do we even gage time? Is the concept of pursuing goals and aspirations in life, while letting time simply run its course, that far-fetched? Obviously, as Americans, we must have some sort of schedule or master planner to make sure everything is timely. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, we don’t care enough to actually try, and then arrive ‘fashionably’ or ‘not-so-fashionably’ late.

Anyways, moving on from my mini-rant sesh, I suppose I should go about devising a plan to keep myself accountable for managing my time in an orderly fashion. That is, strictly so that my faith and grades and health don’t suffer. Note: Folks, my use of ‘and’ in the previous sentence provides a lovely example of a polysyndeton. My English teacher would be proud! Also, why is such a grammatical term marked with a red dotted line? I did spell it correctly. Ah, the english language for you las damas y los cabelleros (ladies and gentlemen, respectively, in the Spanish language of course.)

Moving on, as ineffectual as improper time management is, I pray that I will begin to hold a constant awareness of how I am spending my time, and if my use is of value to God and myself. Time management is something that I may never achieve in finesse, but I don’t expect to. It’ll take a lot of learning experience and decisive wisdom on my part to not get too carried away. Life has an abundance of ups and downs and ins and outs, and I intend to live my life fully for Jesus.  All the same, this doesn’t necessarily mean that from now in every second of my time will be enjoyable, restful, productive, or ‘useful’ and ‘efficient’. I can assure you that I will still procrastinate, for I am a teenager and sometimes things just don’t feel like they need to be done.

Still, I am all over setting a realistic goal for myself, in order to hone my time management abilities. By the grace, mercy, and undeserved blood of God, I am ever grateful to be equipped with the strength to do all things, including juggling my time.

With a sleepy, thankful heart, and many blessings your way,

–D. Fayth

Believe, Aspire, and Live Inspired

Inspiration and revelation always seem to come to me at the latest hours. Anyways, I do believe this all started because tonight my volleyball practice was far from perfect. I was definitely not performing at my best, and it became very frustrating. I managed to allow the “I can’t” whisper creep into my head, and therefore, I couldn’t.

Volleyball is, like many other sports, a very mental game. You need to maintain a positive mindset so that when the ball comes to you, you will pass it well. It sounds simple, but…it’s not. Easier said than done: the general rule for most situations in life. As I replayed my mistakes in my head, shed silent tears, and blamed blameless people in my mind, I realized I was wrong.

I had approached it the wrong way. My father reminded me: “You’ve done it hundreds of times before correctly, you can do it. If you think you can’t, then you won’t be able to. You will go through so many bigger mistakes and regrets in life than this, and you just have to pick yourself up and brave through.” As the saying goes, believe you can and you’re halfway there.

A verse came to mind as I prayed to put my old mindset to rest. I need to believe in myself and in Jesus, who has blessed me with all my earthly abilities, and who gives me strength.

This verse is widely known for a reason. It is so applicable to each and every aspect of my life, of our lives. Tonight, particularly my volleyball abilities and performance. Yes, I made mistakes. But who cares? So what? Everyone makes mistakes. God knows that and He forgives us. It is not God’s goal for us to strive to be perfect, but rather it is the effort to do good in His name that counts. To live a life for Him, and spread His loves to others. He understands what its like to be a Christian teenager in this day and age.

It’s hard. I am friends with some amazing Christian youth like myself, and we all have wonderful intentions. I like to pray for others, and whenever I ask my friends for their prayers I almost always receive requests for courage to speak out and live their Christianity. Society and pressure in this century is overwhelming, and it’s no easy feat to share your faith just like that. Lots of Christian teens struggle with the fear of judgement, including me. I believe that there isn’t much value in comparing yourself to others, because every individual is unique. God made us all ourselves, and there is always someone out there who is better and worse than you at everything. Since this is the case, why are we even trying to begin to compare ourselves with anyone else? No one is lesser than I, but God still loves me all the same.

It is extremely important to always remember that He loves us unconditionally. That is something that I too often forget. He cares for us, and even if we go out and speak of our faith and get looked at like the weird kid, He is there for us. God is an understanding God, but He is also a God who pushes us to do things we could never imagine doing by ourselves. The good news is that we don’t have to do what He asks of us alone.

It is extremely valuable to believe in yourself, and to believe in Jesus. For through Christ Jesus you can do all things, for He gives you strength.

By the time my next practice rolls around, no I won’t be perfect, and no it won’t go perfectly, but I can approach it with confidence and trust in my abilities, because God will give me strength.

Believe in yourself, live and love for Jesus, and aspire to the best of your ability, because Jesus is with you every step of the way. We have no reason to fear.

We all fall short of the glory of God. Remember that.

Nevertheless, He sent His son to forgive us our sins, and we can thank Him for that by going through life and giving God the glory. Hallelujah, He works wonders through us.

Amen.

Quote of the Week

He says we need not worry, because He has great things in store. His plans for us go above and beyond our imagination.

Blessings to you this week as Christmas approaches–

Give Thanks

“Give thanks to The Lord for He is good, His love endures forever.” Psalm 107:2

Grateful for so much. Without God, I would have nothing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Quote of the Week

I stumbled across this gem the other day.

Take some time to go about your day and live with intent. Show your true gratitude, kindness, and love to others. For God loves us and asks us to love others before ourselves–

I encourage you to live with purpose; consider more then simply existing.

20141119-220716.jpg

Blessings and prayers,

Fayth

The True Source of Satisfaction

Today I bring to you something that is on my heart. This is not a post solely because I’ve been neglecting Scripture Sunday, but lately I’ve been feeling increasingly dissatisfied with, to put it simply, life and all the events that have been occurring.

Yes, there are moments that I am filled with God’s joy, especially when I am in the company of loved ones. However, my devotion tonight brought to light several convictions of mine.

I will say it straightforward and bluntly:

I have been seeking satisfaction in worldly things. A more temporal viewpoint has replaced what should be striving to grow and gain from Jesus.

Material possessions, and more recently, positions, have been clouding my mind and hogging my focus. That new MacBook that I want to buy so badly, and the question of if I have a job or not have plagued me with anxiety and such dissatisfaction these past days.

I’ve been finding myself not spending time doing devotions, but instead wasting my time on things that are meaningless in comparison.

I am 100% guilty of spending more time on mobile devices than in God’s word by far.

The one blessing I’ve especially felt in this past week is Christian music. I am still immersed in Tenth Avenue North’s new album, and listening and worshipping to Christian music has been a positive and uplifting experience.

Still, I find myself painfully regretful of how I’ve lost my focus. In retrospect, this has been a trial and learning experience. This is said completely and honestly from experience: pursuing anything other than Jesus is unsatisfied.

Becoming obsessed with myself and worldy materials and events concerning me for the longest time has resulted in thorough unsatisfaction.

Looking back in particular, this past week, my eyes have been opened to so much I have mistakenly done.

Seeking satisfaction anywhere other than Jesus leads me to unhappiness and a permanent state of misery/dreariness.

Although mistakes have been made, God will work in me to help me to correct them.

Through my weakness, He is strong.

Today in church we broke into small groups and discussed different topics. My group’s topic was living beyond our emotions.

I feel as if this topic was given specifically to me for this current realization:

His grace is sufficient for me, and through my weakness He will help me to do better things.

The verse I just read in my devotions tonight goes like this:

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2 (NIV)

I am blessed to have had this eye-opening reflection of this past week, and helpful realizations and scripture today to realize it.

It is with a cleaner conscience, a sense of peace, and a little more swing on my step that I press forward into the new week with God in me.

The Lord is the true source of satisfaction.

It is in Him that we will find hope, love, grace, mercy, and peace. I am praying that I will go about living and learning with a more heavenly perspective constantly in heart. Confessing my convictions is the first step to correctly prioritizing my life, and I hope to be held accountable to fully rearranging how I live.

I will stumble, and it won’t be easy. However, His grace and strength will give me strength.

Hallelujah, He works wonders.

Quote of the Week

This week the quote of the week is actually a rhetorical sort of question:

Why wish upon a star when you can pray to the one who created it?

I realize that many have not yet had the blessing of hearing the gospel and learning about Jesus, but to my fellow Christians and those who have heard the truth – think on that concept.

Here’s a very inspirational and insightful video journal by Mike Donehey, lead singer of Tenth Avenue North, on their new song Stars in the Night. I wrote a post on my amazing concert experience with them just last week! Click here to read it.

They’re one of my favorite music groups of all time, and Christian too.

It’s an awesome song, and I encourage you to go and listen to it!

Be encouraged, and know that God’s promises are kept and stars are beautiful reminders of His glory and grace.

Quote of the Week

I still have immense trouble with this, especially when I’m facing disappointment. Praying that God will give me wisdom and maturity through these experiences.

20141031-211943.jpg

Perfection and Utilizing God-Given Abilites

To start this off, I honestly do not consider myself a perfectionist. I am not perfect by any means, and I don’t necessarily try to be perfect in everything that I do.

Now, there’s also a question to address. Is it okay to try to be perfect? Is it wrong to try to do your best at everything? The answer to that is: absolutely not! God has given us all unique abilities and talents and He loves to see us use them as best we can.

Nevertheless, I do think the whole concept of perfection can make a person become obsessed with the idea. Too much energy wasted and time spent to attempt to be perfect at everything, or too much stress arisen by failure to meet the standards of perfection is not appealing by any means. God doesn’t want us to strive to be perfect and distress when we’re not, because we are not made to be perfect. I believe that the constant strive for unattainable perfection and mindset that it is unacceptable for anything less just sends Christians, and for that matter, anybody, in a downward spiral. That is why perfection ism is seen in a negative light.

We’re human. God is not. God is perfect, and we are sinners. That’s just how He decided to set up this world.

Back to the beginning, I’d like to think I know myself well enough to truthfully say I’m not classified as a perfectionist. I’ve been called an overachiever, but perfection is not my dire goal.

When it all winds down to it, the whole reason why I was inspired to write this post is the current situation of my grades.

Unsurprisingly to those who know me, the times I have been called an ‘overachiever’ relate to school-situations. I try to give good amount of effort to my academics, and some might classify my ‘good amount’ as ‘above and beyond expectations’.

I’m naturally gifted in the area of academic schoolwork. For some reason, God has blessed me with the ability to learn and understand easily. Getting solid A’s isn’t necessarily a piece of cake for me, but I don’t have to work quire as hard for my grades as others do.

So, the case is, last year I had a bangin’ school year. My grades were exceedingly high, and my classes were reasonably easy. I passed with high scores in a breeze.

Naturally, I expected myself to be able to pass with solid grades this year as well, with perhaps a little more work required. As I entered this school year, I was not surprised to find that classes were slightly more difficult, as they tend to progress from each grade. However, I took a class only to discover that

a) the teacher wasn’t the best

b) there weren’t many grades to make your grade ideal

c) it was different, and it required more work than any of my previous classes on my part.

Currently, my grade for that class isn’t perfect. I scored some low grades during the course of the class and worked to raise them, but I couldn’t raise them as high as I would’ve liked to in the allotted time. I have less than my normal high A, but that’s okay.

The grade I have isn’t bad by any means. Some might consider it excellent.

However, I’m left with the daunting thoughts: God has given me the ability to excel at school, and if I would have studied more and worked harder than my grade could’ve easily been higher.

If I would’ve made the time for extra studying then I could maybe have a high A.

All in all, it doesn’t matter. It’s okay to not be perfect.

It’s all part of the learning experience. Forget about the maybe’s and the what ifs, but remember the lesson you learned from not achieving your expectations, whether that be perfection or higher than what received.

This has been an eye-opening experience for me.

Do I value my grades too much? Also, what can I do to better utilize what God has given me?

Not everything can come without some good effort, including grades, even for those who would be considered academically blessed.

However, it is a hope of mine that I can manage to excel at academics through the rest of my high school career since God has given me the ability, so I should take advantage of it.

Everyone is blessed in different areas. Firstly, realize that it’s okay if you’re not the top of your class, or the fastest runner on your team. Secondly, use your God-given abilities for the best you can to honor God.

He loves us when we succeed, but more importantly, He loves us when we fail and make mistakes.