Temples or Billboards?

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

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.

Let it be Jesus

Every morning I stumble out of bed and blindly wander to the bathroom without my glasses. Which is always a mistake. Somehow, I manage to make my way down to the kitchen and pour myself a cup of coffee.

A few days ago though, I slept through three of my alarms. Yes, I set three alarms. I knew I was running behind and threw my clothes on, grabbed breakfast, and still managed to fill the car up with gas and make it to work on time.

Something was off though.

The reason I set so many alarms is to make sure I make time for devotionals and my prayer time. I missed that and I could feel it. Besides skipping the coffee, I knew my tiredness was caused by something else too. Something way stronger than coffee. I try to get up early in order to fill up on Jesus for the day. I have been able to share my faith recently and I know in order to share it, it needs to be instilled in my heart.

After work, I had to run some errands and it seems like every time I need to be somewhere on time, the slow drivers come out of their houses and drive their cars right in front of me. Now, I know that’s not really the case because it’s a test of my patience and most of the times I fail.

But on Tuesday, I stopped at the grocery store got what I needed and proceeded to drive away. A lady blew through the stop sign causing me to check my brakes in a rather harsh way and the first instinct was to get angry. Then in midst of opening my mouth, a thought came over me. Let it be Jesus that they see in you.

Jesus was definitely not a road-raged driver. I can’t see Him in downtown Jerusalem shouting at the camel driver in front of Him that He needs to get home in time to work on His carpentry skills or to raise someone from the dead. Jesus had an immense measure of patience something that I need. I mean how am I supposed to win people to Him, if I shout at them to move faster down the road or that they’re an idiot that needs to get their license checked.

Let it be Jesus simply means whenever I have a chance, Jesus needs to shine through my words, actions, thoughts, and deeds. It’s not easy to refrain from calling someone out who doesn’t know how to drive but it’s infinitely better to let Jesus shine through.

 

A Pillow and a Mattress

Right now, I’m blogging from the comforts of my air-conditioned living room with a bowl of popcorn within arms reach and the news on. That’s makes me feel incredibly selfish and lucky. As an American, I’m safer and more blessed than more than half the world. I can fall asleep at night to only the dog next door barking not bombs exploding. I can drive anywhere as long as there’s gas in the tank, and there usually is plenty.

I take a lot for granted but many people in the world aren’t so fortunate. My cousin recently traveled to India and when we caught up this past weekend we shared plenty of stories from our trips. Despite being in two completely different places in the world the problem was the same. Extreme poverty and the need for Jesus. While we were sharing stories, he said something to me and it struck a chord. If we have a pillow and a mattress, we are luckier than 75% of the world.

Seventy-five percent!

For me that’s unimaginable but I know it’s true. We have shelter, clothing, and food. That’s life’s basic necessities. We don’t need a car, a flat-screen TV, or air conditioning. Those are just perks of being born and raised in a first world country.

I’m reading a book one of my other cousins recommended to me probably three or fours years ago. And it’s sat on my bookshelf for three or four years. It’s not that I didn’t want to read it but I think God was just saving it for a time where He knew I would appreciate it a little more. The book is called Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. Let me just say, everyone needs to read this. Seriously, go to your bookstore or iTunes account and buy the book.

It’s eye-opening on so many levels. I work a minimum wage job but I make a decent amount for having a minimum wage job. I’ll admit that I like to spend money, I mean who doesn’t? What the book pointed out though is how much of your purchases are actually necessities. Not that many. At least of my purchases.

I love coffee just as much as the next person. But I can’t justify buying a $4.00 small cup of coffee. That’s pretty much a gallon of gas! For me that’s a luxury not a necessity. The book has set a goal in my heart and mind now. Stop buying luxuries thinking they’re necessities. It’s not easy and it won’t be easy, but I believe if we start eliminating the luxuries we’ll be able to give more freely.

Directing My Steps

There’s a point in everyone’s lives where our faith is tested and we see what we’re really made of. For me, that time is now. I’m transferring to a new college, attempting to figure out what classes I’m taking, and trying to finish my undergrad within two and a half years. Add to that working four to five days a week and taking an overloaded course load. My physical man is stressed, anxious, and unnerved. I’ve been digging deeper into the Word knowing that while my physical being is falling apart my spiritual being needs to be at peace and found in Him.

It’s almost as if God is yelling at me, “Trust me, Hannah. I know you’re stressed but everything is for my glory. Wait until you see the end product. It’s amazing.” In all honesty, it’s not that I’m stressed but it’d be much easier to just have two options and either option in the end would work out to my advantage. That’s where I’m wrong though. Nothing in life should work out my way. It needs to be in line with God’s Word and in line with His priority. Faith is in a massive partnership with Works and together they make up a huge part of Christianity.

I can’t expect to sit back and expect God to just orchestrate my life without me doing anything. Math is my worst subject but I think of it like an equation, or multiple equations.

Faith= 50%

Works=50%

F+W= 100% trust in God and the best outcome in life.

F-W= Half-hearted Christianity and a lackluster life.

W-F= Stress and over-thinking that leads to many sleepless nights.

I don’t know about you but the best equation for me seems to be the F+W one where God has our complete trust. It’s not easy and sometimes I see the F+W people and I think to myself, “Wow, I wish I could have a life like theirs.”

My Aunt Sandy was one of those F+W people. No matter what life threw at her she always was found standing solidly on God’s Word and her faith. When she passed away, I looked to my mom and said, “If I could have half the faith that Aunt Sandy had, I’d be one of the luckiest people on Earth.” That’s how much her faith wowed me. But it wasn’t just her faith, it was her works too. She was so active not only in her community but with every single person she crossed paths with. She literally leaked Jesus.

And that’s my goal. To put 100% of myself into God’s calling for my life. I want to leak Jesus so much that when people see me they ask me how it happens. I need an extra dose of faith in God knowing His dream for me is so much better than I could ever create for myself.

“A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

 

The Small Things

I’m the type of person that dreams big. Why dream small? Granted, my dreams have just gotten bigger over the years but that hasn’t stopped me from dreaming. I don’t stop at the dreaming though. I’m also an avid believer in making your dreams come true. Lately, however, God’s been showing me something that I’ve known of years but never really applied the principle to my personal life.

“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” Luke 16:10 (NASB)

That was the scripture that my heart has been repeating the last couple of days and I haven’t been able to shake it. You see, God starts us out with small dreams and tasks to see how faithful we are in trusting Him and getting the job done. When He’s sees us not complaining about washing the dishes, He puts a little more responsibility on our plates. Slowly, we work ourselves up to His big plans for us.

I’ve always had big dreams for this blog. It’s something near and dear to my heart but I was expecting big results without putting the time, effort, and hard work into it. It’s like knowing there will be a final at the end of the term and you decide not to study but still expect the A grade. While finals are a little more important than running a blog the concept is still the same. If you want good results, you have to put in the time.

That’s what I lacked. I didn’t cut out time to write my blog. I was more concerned about my novels and making sure everything was in line in that area. Inspiration for my blog wasn’t coming so I decided not to write. Then it hit me. I wasn’t looking for inspiration. If I had kept up with my devotions and Bible readings, God would’ve inspired me. But I let it fall to the wayside.

How can I expect God to bless my blog or my work in Guatemala when I don’t give Him the time of day He deserves? I need to be faithful in the small things because sometimes those turn out to be the most important things.

Trusting God Especially in the Desperate Times

Jochebed Blogging Photo

     Imagine the courage and faith in God it took for Moses’ birth mother to relinquish her newborn son to unknown circumstances in order to hopefully save his life. With Pharaoh’s decree being strictly enforced, Jochebed was desperate to save her son’s life, but she also knew the God who she put her faith in.

     Her two other children, Aaron and Miriam, weren’t going to be affected. Aaron was older and Miriam being a girl wasn’t targeted by Pharaoh. Moses was the one who would be the most affected. Jochebed knew the risks, however, her trust in God and His provision was stronger than any fear.

     We all know the story: She made a waterproof basket setting her child down into and sending him away in the Nile River. Only later to be asked to nurse the child by Pharaoh’s own daughter, who had found the baby while she was in the water with her servants. Jochebed had hoped and maybe even planned for something like this to happen.

    I’m not a mother so I can’t begin to fathom the anguish the Hebrew mothers must have felt and endured when their babies were wrenched from their arms and killed. In the midst of tragedy, God had a plan and its name was Moses. Through Jochebed’s trust in God knowing He would take care of her son, the Israelites were delivered from Egyptian slavery.

     I wasn’t expecting to learn as much as I did through Jochebed’s story. Against everything physically happening around her, she managed to save her child; the one who forty years down the road would deliver them out of slavery. When she gave up her child, she knew something would come out of it but I don’t know if she expected what happened.

     Moses was in the best possible position to deliver the Israelites from captivity. He was born a Hebrew and saw the persecution and horrific situations his people endured. But he was raised an Egyptian so he knew the inter workings of the palace and court. He knew what made Pharaoh tick.

     Jochebed’s unfailing trust and faith completely amazes me. That’s the kind of trust we need to have in God. We should be able to give up the most important thing to us if it means God has a bigger plan for our lives.

Jesus and Guatemalan Coffee

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This past week was filled with an abundance of coffee and the amazing presence of Jesus. Technology was at a minimum and I found myself not craving it as much as I thought I would. God’s beauty has a way of showing you a better way of spending your time. Instead of wasting hours sitting on Facebook or in front of a TV filling my head with mindless junk, I found myself loving on the orphans, caring for the babies in the hospital, and painting the third floor of the hospital.

Jesus made Himself very evident to me this past week. Ever since I knew I wanted to be a writer, I knew I didn’t want to write for a Christian genre. For me, it wasn’t anything against myself but I realized it was so much harder to break into than the secular market, which is still astonishingly competitive. How was I going to make it as a writer, if I wouldn’t be able to break into the writing world?

It was a month or so before I left for Guatemala that I began to ponder what it would be like writing Christian novels. In complete honesty, the idea didn’t seem very promising or even remotely interesting. God was relentless but so was I. He kept laying this blog on my heart and I kept pushing it off. Apparently, in my sinful nature, I had better things to do than listen to God. If you ever decide to do that, let me know how it works out for you because that was a flawed plan from the beginning.

We see in Scripture where Jonah thought he could run from God. What happened? God made His plan extremely clear to Jonah, even though it took him being swallowed by a whale to finally hear His voice. I believe that going to Guatemala was God’s way of softening my heart to hear His plan for my life.

My plan is worthless and boring compared to God’s plan. I can try my hardest to succeed on my own with my own will, but why struggle against God’s blessing? Why would I want to shut a door that He has opened and wants me to walk through?

It was on a mountain in Guatemala as I looked out over the beautiful landscape that was the artwork of God when I realized I was completely walking past the open door He had opened for me.

It’s so much easier being surrounded by peace and a simpler  way of life. Now that I have returned to the States, I have to keep the calm and peaceful spirit that was apparent in Guatemala.

~Hannah

Guatemala Mission Trip

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This place and these people have completely captured my heart. I fell in love with Guatemala a year ago and even though it’d be a year before my next visit, the feeling never left.

The people of Guatemala are unlike any other people I’ve met. They have an aura of happiness and content. Something that we should all yearn for.

We arrived Saturday after two flights and a four hour bus ride. The group was stiff and exhausted from the cramped traveling experience, but we hit the ground running.

Sunday, we had church in the CauseLife village. While it was in Spanish and I couldn’t understand a lot of it the presence of God was there with us.

Today, Monday, we headed out to the village of Cocotas to help build the church and hold VBS for the kids.
I completely fell in love with the children of the village. We painted the girls nails and played soccer with the boys. We also tossed a frisbee with some of the girls who weren’t jumping rope.

The rest of the week I plan to stay at Hope of Life and help with whatever they need. Tomorrow we’ll be painting the hospital.

I was also able to see Keneth, the child I sponsor. I had gone up to the orphanage where he lives to hopefully see him and hang out but he wasn’t there. As we were walking down the mountain I see this group of toddlers walking with a lady.

I thought to myself, “He has to be here.” Then, I see him. He’s walking down the road carrying a stick that three times his size. I called out to him and told him I was his sponsor. He gave walking over to me and I was able to give him massive hug.

I hope to write at least one more blog post while I’m here.

Love from Guatemala,
Hannah

Lead Me and I’ll Follow

 

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You never know the full extent of how much a life can impact you until you see it first hand. If you asked me a year and a half ago that I would embark on a mission trip to Guatemala and that it would impact not only my Christian walk but change my future, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Yet, here I am a year later after returning from a week spent in Guatemala with some of the greatest people I get to call my spiritual family.

A year ago this week, I was standing in Zacapa the sun beating down on me drenching me in sweat just by standing there. The temperature reached into the hundreds and our faces remained reddened from exhaustion. The exhaustion was only physical and even them when you’re in the midst of a village washing feet and giving bags of food out to the families, the last thing that’s on your mind is how blistering hot it is out.

I have never sweated more in my life than I did in Guatemala. I remember the second day we were there and went on a tour of the campus. Every stop wrenched my heart closer to God. Seeing the love on the elderly people broke my heart in the best way possible. The baby rescue made me realize how fortunate we are for all that we have here in the States. The Orphanage is what broke me. I’ve always been a lover of kids and seeing them happy and smiling.

When the bus parked and the doors were opened, I was the first one to step off. I still remember seeing his chunky body running towards me, arms stretched out a toothy smile spread out on his face. I didn’t know the little boy’s name but that didn’t stop me from falling in love with his quiet demeanor as I held him in my arms and squeezed him tightly in a hug. He found my sunglasses fascinating as he removed them from my face and shoved them onto his face upside down squealing with glee. I held the little boy until he squirmed to get down and then scampered off to another person. Still, that simple human interaction between the two of us had captured my heart.

During our stay, that was the only time I saw him, but his elated face never left my mind. I knew I had to do something for him. Through World Help, I am now able to sponsor the little boy, David Kenet. His picture remains on my fridge as a constant reminder of that day and I pray for him every night. Over the past few months after returning from Guatemala and sponsoring Kenet, I knew my career path that I was currently in wasn’t what I wanted to do. After prayer and counsel, I realized my heart was in writing and going to Guatemala.

I didn’t think I would be able to return there this year with college and a job. Still, I prayed “Lord, if there’s a will, I know you’ll make a way. But help me be content in Your answer.” Up until three weeks ago, God’s answer was no and even though I was disappointed, I had a peace about it. Then God sent me a curveball. Fast forward, three weeks and I am returning to Guatemala this May in a matter of a month.

May 17-24, I will be in Zacapa, Guatemala and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m overjoyed  to be returning and seeing what God has in store for me this trip. I know His plan is infinitely greater than mine could ever be.

~Hannah