Radiant Diamonds: A Tribute to My Mom

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There’s a famous saying that says, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” It’s been featured in several jewelry commercials and on multiple Pinterest boards. There’s always the few girls who exclaim that it’s not diamonds but dogs that are a girl’s best friend. That’s where they’re both wrong.

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Tomorrow is my mom’s birthday. I won’t reveal her age but she doesn’t look or act like a day over forty-five. I’m not lying either. That woman has gone through more in her life than I ever hope to go through. However, if I did go through it, I’d want to come out exactly like her. It hasn’t always been easy but my mom has stood by me through countless issues. She’s been the rock that’s kept my family together and she’s done an amazing job at raising three kids on her own.

She’s my best friend. I know I give her a hard time each time I hear her call my name asking for help with the computer. I’m not going to lie and say every time I’ve been eager to help. Because I haven’t. More often than not, I get frustrated. She has done everything for me and the least I could do for her is fix the printer when it’s not printing out her weekly newsletter.

She put herself back through school to renew her teaching license and it might have been because I was still so young, but I can’t remember ever hearing her complain about anything. Now that I’m an adult, I appreciate every little thing she does for me. It  might be something minor like unloading the dishwasher for me simply because I’m swamped with Shakespeare homework.

The majority of the time the things she does for me aren’t just small things. She prays with me over anything and everything. I know I can come to her with anything and she’ll hear me with an open heart. Recently, I got a new job and like any job there’s training involved. I was getting worried about performing my tasks with minimal errors when she reminded me of something.

“Hannah, training is there to make mistakes. That’s why you train in the first place. You will make mistakes and you will learn from them. Nothing worth having comes easy.”

I wish I could give my mom the world because she deserves every last treasure on this Earth. Numerous times she has sacrificed things she’s wanted to get us things we need or want. I hope that as I get older that I’m able to give her all she has given me tenfold. In a way, I can never repay her for everything she’s done but I can spend my life trying. I love you, Mom and I hope one day we’ll do everything we say we will. Happy Birthday!

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Welcome to the Tundra

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It’s only mid-November but winter has come in full throttle. I’ve lived in the same place my whole life but I’m still not used to the harsh winters. Last winter was especially brutal with temperatures reaching into the negatives at some points. When it falls below zero degrees nothing moves. Gas freezes in your tank, buses can’t run which leads to snow days, and if you are outside for an extended amount of time the chances of getting hypothermia are much greater.

Last winter, I was taking online classes so I barely left my house. This winter not only am I commuting, but my classes are all over campus. Two jackets, gloves, a hat, and a scarf later I am ready to face the formidable tundra. However, there are several students who seem to think these aren’t dire conditions.

While waiting for my car to heat up, I saw several guys walking across campus in athletic shorts and hoodies. That’s it. (I swear it’s a guy thing because my brother does the same thing only in jeans.) There are a few select girls who still thinks it’s warm enough to wear light hoodies and moccasins. That’s not an issue for me. If you want to freeze and get sick, then be my guest but please stop complaining about how cold it is outside.

In just a few short weeks, Facebook will be flooded with Do you want to build a snowman? posts and I’m bracing myself. I have to keep in mind that these are minor issues. I have a house with heat and a bed with multiple blankets to keep me nice and toasty. I can drink unhealthy amounts of hot chocolate and tea, if I want. I’m wearing a thermal jacket and have warm sweaters to wear underneath.

I’m lucky.

I wrote a post on this topic earlier but it won’t leave my mind or heart. A girl who I used to go to school with has started a blog and curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to see what hers was like so I checked it out. I came to the conclusion that there are two types of blogs.

1. You either want to raise awareness for a cause or are passionate about something and want to bring awareness.

2. You gripe about minuscule things that don’t matter in the grand scheme of life.

It’s my hope that I fall under the first category. But as I’m typing this I realize that the first half of this post falls under the second category. Who cares what others wear in the dead of winter? It’s their choice and they’ll reap the consequences of it.

I’ve been given one voice and I want to make this voice speak for the right things. I want to be an advocate for those who can’t speak and those who are being served injustice. Those people don’t have a voice but I can use mine to make their pleas known.

Over the weekend, ISIS decapitated another American, one who had been a hostage for over a year. It made the news for a cycle but then we’re back to hearing about the Pipeline XL not being passed in the Senate. ISIS is the greatest terror since Hitler, in my opinion. (Others have agreed.) There are a few however, that hear the Middle Eastern Christians plight.

Winter is coming for the Middle East and unlike most Americans who are guaranteed housing, food, and a warm place to sleep at night, the Christians in Iraq and Syria aren’t guaranteed anything.

World Help is hearing their plights. Visit world help.net and that’s the opening page. They can’t help them if they don’t have the funds.

Everyone can do something. Pray and see what God would have you to do.

Little Arrows: the 2 am effect

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Many of you know the feeling. It normally hits you once you’ve relaxed and are lying in bed after a long day. Maybe it hits you in the quiet hours of your day. I call it the two a.m. effect and when it hits you, it hits you hard. It’s a potent mixture of self-doubt, failure, and every mistake you’ve made in your life, dumped on you all at once. If you’re not careful, one sip of the poisonous concoction and you’re down in the dumps for the remainder of the day. Trying to resist it is hard, but giving in to it can prove an even bigger uphill battle. The arrows have poisonous darts at the end and if you don’t dodge them quick enough, a root takes hold in our mind.

Growing up, my mom called this “the battlefield of our minds.” It’s where we over-analyze our mistakes and where our greatest ideas come from. It’s our hard drive to how we live our lives and what we watch, listen to, and who we let ourselves socialize. She hung a hand-drawn picture on our fridge and I think it’s still there to this day. It’s faded and worn even in its plastic sleeve, but the message still rings true. The devil wants us and he’ll get us any way he is able to.

The picture was of a stick figure’s head. Inside his brain was split into sections and each section had a different inscription written on it. This particular drawing was filled with positive thoughts.

Love with a gentle heart.

You have a purpose.

Trust in God.

Walk the path He shows you.

Those words didn’t mean much to my seven-year-old self, but now a junior in college those words mean more to me than I thought was possible. The devil loves to use doubt as his greatest weapon and I have admittedly fallen prey to his strategy too many times. While I was in Guatemala, my mom did a fantastic job of tidying up my room. (I’m not the most organized person known to mankind.) When I got home, I found a book I had been looking for for several years. Well, my mom found it and put it on my desk.

The book was given to me after my dad passed away when I was six. Pages are missing, the white pages are no longer white, and the cover is torn, but the book has helped me in some of the most difficult times during my childhood. God’s Promises Rock Your World had a ridiculous picture of a dog wearing goggles on the front. The contents inside is what mattered to me. Over ninety different topics of Scripture helped me immensely. I haven’t had the chance to flip through it yet but it’s still sits on my desk waiting for me to peruse its pages again.

Through Scripture and devotionals the devil loses his grip on our lives. The two a.m. effect no longer keeps us up at night when we turn over everything to God.

 

We are N

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I’m a 21-year-old college student. I live at home and work a minimum wage job at a local frozen yogurt shop. I commute to college three times a week where I’m majoring in English with a minor in Spanish. I get up every day without fearing for my life or anyone’s life close to me.  I’m fortunate for the things in my life. I’m safe and that’s more than Christians can say in the Middle East.

As an avid news watcher, I knew what was happening in the Middle East and  it broke my heart. Thousands of Christians have been displaced by ISIS. We’ve all seen the headlines and seen the news coverage of the men beheaded by them. But has it actually sunk in? My pastor is on the board of World Help, a non-profit organization. He recently came back from one of their annual conferences and shared with us what was happening in the Middle East.

Children are systematically being slaughtered and beheaded in front of their parents, if they don’t deny Jesus as their Savior. The world hasn’t seen brutality to this extent since World War II and the rise of Hitler. No one expects this in our day and age. It’s 2014 for crying out loud. By this time, Marty McFly thought we’d have flying cars. This is barbaric and is reminiscent of the Assyrians and Babylonians of ancient times.

I think the saddest part, however, is the fact that news channels aren’t reporting the events anymore. It’s too gruesome for our reality TV trained minds. We need a wake up call. This is bordering on genocide and Western Christianity and civilization, for the most part, is doing nothing to stop it. We’re worried about what our costume for Halloween will be and if we can afford to go to the movies this weekend. Hasn’t it dawned on anyone that hundreds of thousands of people are being displaced and being slaughtered. Winter is fast approaching and for these Christians in Northern Iraq they’re facing impending doom, if we don’t take action.

I don’t have a pool of money to send over but I wish I did. However, you don’t need to have money to be effective. Use whatever voice you have. That could mean sending money but it could also mean spreading awareness or blogging about it. I wish I could do more but the one thing everyone can do is pray.

Pray for the displaced.

Pray for supplies to be safely distributed.

Pray for safety and comfort in the coming months for those in the elements.

Pray for the persecuted church in the Middle East.

This is where Christianity began. The roads ISIS are traveling on were the same that Paul the Apostle walked. This is where Jesus’ greatest ministry was held. If it wasn’t for the Christianity in the Middle East, Christianity would not have reached the western world.

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“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

Mudslides and Bus Rides

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Before I get to the point of this blog post, I need to apologize. Every time I have a blog post idea, I sit at my  laptop and punch out a line or two before becoming disinterested or uninspired. I must have at least five drafts I’ve wanted to post but have either forgotten about them or don’t know how to continue writing them. My sincerest apologies because I haven’t updated since August 15. Two and a half months of blog silence is unacceptable for me. I’m not going to make excuses because none are justifiable.

I wrote my goals for 2015 on a sheet of notebook paper last night and tacked it onto my bulletin board that hangs on the wall beside my bed. There were several items that made the list and one of them was this blog. It’s been a dream of mine for quite a while to get this blog updated on a regular basis. I’m not a planner or organizer in the least. Many of my lists remain unchecked and uncompleted. I’m determined to accomplish the list hopefully over the next year.

The point of this blog post wasn’t to detail my list of New Year goals. In fact, I hadn’t planned on writing about that for quite a while since it’s only the end of October.

This past week I had the opportunity to once again travel back to Rio Hondo, Guatemala. It was my second trip of 2014 and I couldn’t have been happier to return even though it was only for a week.

This trip was similar in ways the previous two had been, but it also held many new things in store for me. It started off on a plane and the first day ended with a five-hour bus ride. Normally, it would only take us about four hours to get to Hope of Life but because of several mudslides, our trek would be delayed a bit.

A family that had been on the trip in May also returned and I couldn’t have been more excited because they were such an amazing family. Throughout the course of the bus ride one of the kids, Austin showed me a game of jelly beans where by chance you would either get a great tasting jelly bean or a horrible flavored one. Some examples were barf or tutti fruity, lime or lawn clippings, and buttered popcorn or moldy cheese. Thinking that it would help pass the time, I challenged him to play. I will never eat another jelly bean in my life.

After consuming many disgusting jelly beans, we pulled into HOL and finally settled in the rancho. The week had only begun. I was able to spend almost every day up at the orphanage with my sponsor child Kenny and had the amazing opportunity to spend Sunday church with him.

 

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He’s growing, he’s happy and he’s still chubby. Even at four years old, I can tell he has a giving heart. He’d share his water or banana with me even though I adamantly said it was his in my broken Spanish. I read him Go Dog Go in Spanish and despite me not being able to roll my r’s he had me read it again. The next day I traveled up there, he came running out with another book this time it was Buenas Noches Gorilla. My heart soared. Even as I stumbled over pronouncing giraffe in Spanish he’d say it several times and wait patiently for me to repeat it.

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The week flew by as we traveled out to Los Jocotes and watched as Cross Creek Church dedicated trees, the church’s bathroom, and gave Pastor Carlos a new motorcycle to make his trek to church quicker. Let me tell you, those people love the Lord and love serving. Serving alongside them for a week only helped my faith grow. I watched as they pushed past the pain, past the sweat, and rejoiced with the people of Los Jocotes.

 

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Temples or Billboards?

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There’s an epidemic that’s taken control of today’s youth. When you’re in the midst of it, it’s hard to ignore. Growing up, I was fortunate to be raised in a family that set a pretty high standard when it came to womanhood. Today, I’m still setting high standards for myself. But they’re aren’t unattainable. To some they may seem unreachable and a waste of time, but to the trained eye and those who want the best, it’s just a few more steps.

It hasn’t been easy. Especially when it comes to clothes and being 5′ 11. It’s been downright frustrating at times. Instead of compromising for a shorter but pretty skirt, I’ve chosen a maxi skirt with an equally fashionable pattern. I’ve come to terms with how my standard represents me and speaks for me. I dress with dignity and class, not necessarily what the runway says girls my age should wear. However, I don’t wear a garbage bag down to my ankles.

I was in the mall today waiting outside the dressing room when I heard something that completely broke my heart. A young girl probably no older than twelve, opened the door to the dressing room and proclaimed that the outfit didn’t make her feel sexy.

What have we done that girls that young have the urge to feel sexy? Where are the Audrey Hepburns who dressed modestly but were style icons? That’s who we should aspire to look like. If just a few women chose the higher standard to challenge themselves, imagine what the world would look like.

I’ve also been fortunate to never really struggle immensely with body image but I know many young girls struggle with it daily. I fully believe it’s because the media, magazines, and reality TV shows, depict such unrealistic portrayals of how women should look, act, and speak.

Women are degraded with every channel I turn. I saw a Hardee’s commercial today and realized that the scantily clad girl on top of the truck was advertising something more than just the burger. It made me sick to my stomach to see that’s how women are viewed. It doesn’t get any better because nothing is changing. Instead of raising the standard, it’s being lowered more and more. Jeans become tighter, shorts become shorter, and tops become lower.

Body image is an issue that many people are speaking out about. Having a positive body image is important and I fully believe everyone should love their body no matter the shape or size. Our bodies are temples though. We need to start treating them as temples instead of billboards. You don’t want everything to be on display. Modesty is so much more than knee-length skirts. It’s a mentality. I do not dress in a way that shows the world everything and you shouldn’t either. We can’t display everything and then be shocked when someone sleazy hits on us.

When I heard the little girl tell her grandma that, it was a wake-up call. We have a generation that’s growing up with a low standard and it’s our job to uphold a higher, biblical standard that strives to prove that girls are more than the clothes on their body.

Revelation | Reason

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Blog post 7:17:14

This past spring, I took several online classes through Liberty University. In my Old Testament Survey class one of the required books was Courageous Faith by Ed Hindson. This book helped me not only in that class but also in strengthening my walk with Christ.

One of the chapters dealt with Abraham and Sarah. I read a phrase, reread it, highlighted it, and starred it. Now five months later, I’m finding out what the phrase truly meant and how Sarah and I both needed to learn the same lesson. You see with Sarah she was learning to take God’s Revelation over Man’s Reason. Reasoning is the default setting when you can’t figure out what path to take. The majority of the time you begin to reason it out and take the most logical path.

Sarah, according to man’s reasoning, would never logically be able to have a child. She was past child-bearing age and everything said no. God said yes. He knew the prayer of her heart and how she struggled to years in wanting a child. When man’s logic fails God’s revelation succeeds.

Today we deal with the same issue as Sarah did. Maybe in a different context but the lesson is the same. I’m at a point in my life right now where I’m beginning another adventure. Whether my heart is in it or not, God knows where my heart truly lies and in His timing His purpose will make itself known.

Man’s reasoning leads to doubt, anxiety, sleepless nights, and a whole lot of worry that leads you nowhere. Give it over to God by praying and He will make known your requests.