Have you ever seen a picture that looks like one thing when you are far away then like something different when you are looking at it up close? My Dad has a friend that painted this beautiful piece of a blue bird with a nest in a mailbox, but wait if you look at it another way it appears to be a manger scene-with baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, so which is it?
Lately I have been faced with a lot of transition in my life both personally and professionally. As I continue on this journey of self discovery I always want to know RIGHT NOW what I should do! Unfortunately right "now" I do not know the "big picture" to make those decisions. There have been plenty of times in life where things seemed to be one way and then as I approached what I was heading towards-things looked totally different. On some occasions "the excursion" could have been quite simple, but with my need for instant gratification I made it even more complicated. Moments like that remind me how important my faith is. I have to be completely dependent on the Lord as I continue to journey with Him. If not, I may begin to make decisions based on what I am hoping the picture is going to look like instead of what it really is. There could be a chance that I will only see a little blue bird in a mailbox instead of Jesus with the many blessings that he has for me.
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
Saturday, June 12, 2010
They are all the rage, all different sizes, colors, shapes, characters-the list goes on, you know what I am talking about-Silly Bandz! I am amazed at how many children, teens and adults have Silly Bandz on as part of their daily attire. They even sell necklaces, so that you can wear all of your silly bandz at once. (These must be for the people that have already covered their arms and ankles?)
Some of you may know that I go into schools throughout Hillsborough County to teach students about "love and relationships." Being that I get to spend a whole week with the students, I end up developing friendships with them and then furthermore make it an “official friendship” by accepting them on Facebook-HAHA! So I guess this is where my intro to the “silly band” occurred–in “sex-ed class,” as they call it. I started noticing that everyone had similar bracelets. So ironically, in exchange for me teaching them about STD’s, they gave me “silly bandz.”
Before I knew it, I was “legit.” All I have to do now is walk into a class with my "silly bandz,” and I will hear a student say: “look she has silly bandz!” AND I'M IN, just like that! If I would have known that that was all it took for me to be cool in school I would have invented them years ago-for my high school experience-LOL!
Each band reminds me of a different student and the many ways that they contributed to that particular class. As time goes on I have realized that I am kind of sentimental with the little plastic animals! I even wear the things to bed from time to time.
On one of these occasions, I happened to place my hand near my pillow to fall asleep. At the time I was unaware that they glow in the dark-I freaked out! I turned on a light as fast as I could to try and figure out why there was light coming from my arm. I quickly discovered that it was coming from my “canoe” bracelet.
It was not the first time in my life that I had had something glow in the dark, but for some reason this time, I wanted to know how it was able to glow…so I looked it up and this is what I found:
“The most common way of making an object glow in the dark is to use chemicals called phosphors to produce light. These kind of glow-in-the-dark objects need to be exposed to light, or charged, in order to glow. The light energizes the phosphors and excites their electrons. As the electrons lose this extra energy, they release it as a light of their own” –www.ASK.com
Isn’t funny how God used this explanation to reveal a parable to me?
I too am like a silly band covered in a “phosphor” called “grace” and when I am exposed to the “light” (Jesus) I am charged. “The light” (Jesus) energizes me, and even though there will be dark moments in my life filled with opposition, I am not afraid. I know that the electrons (enemy/a negative electric charge), will eventually loose their extra energy-and I will be able to release “The light” that I have been given.
Have you ever heard the saying “ Don’t forget in the dark what you have learned in the light?” It means that just because life gets dark and you may feel disoriented, don’t forget to take a second to remember what you have been taught. The Lord tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:6: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Life can be hard and very grim at times, so it important for us to be prepared for these moments by exposing ourselves to “the Light” (His word/presence) as much as possible. So that out of our hearts we can shine in the darkness!
14Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you SHINE LIKE STARS IN THE UNIVERSE 16as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
So if a "glow in the dark silly band" remembers what it has learned in THE LIGHT while in the dark, will you?
at 10:48 PM
Thursday, April 8, 2010
We have a zoo in Tampa, called Lowery Park Zoo. Because we also have Busch Gardens in Tampa, we rarely went . You see-Busch Gardens is the zoo plus cool rides and good food. But I can remember one of these few occasions at Lowery Park Zoo, being absolutely mesmerized by one of their souvenir machines. After I was done pestering Mom and Dad for a dollar, I feed the machine and it allowed me to witness grey wax-like material being poured into extremely hot metal molds-and after, I got to take with me a cheap sacrament of my day. Normally something like this would make it home and shortly after the "new smell" wore off, it would be thrown into the toy bin.
I heard a great quote once by Les and Leslie Parrott:
"If you try to find intimacy with another person before achieving a sense of identity on your own, all of your relationships become an attempt to complete yourself."
In other words, you have to become a whole person, before you become half of a relationship. I can tell you with all of the years that I have been in "youth ministry," and teaching "Wait Training" in Hillsborough County Schools, I have seen some pretty empty faces. Sad to say, but there are equally as many girls my age dealing with the same types of issues-And in the end they become more shattered than when they started the relationship.
So how do we fix it? How do we not become "that guy" or "that girl?" WE SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES! If you are close to me, you are probably thinking, "Oh there goes Christina with her psych talk!" But hear me out, Aren't boundaries attractive? Think about when you were a kid and you would push and push until-a boundary was established. Because believe it or not, God designed us to desire limits. I always tell people that "When someone tells me their expectations, they are setting me up for success!"
Individuals whether it be relationally or romantically are attracted to people that know what they want out of life, that know that their life stands for more than just "taking up space." These people are known for having a "sense of direction" and self control...I say all this to say, it may not seem like a conscious decision to "mold" to what someone else wants...but remember it is our choices and lack of boundaries that get us there...
How many times have you witnessed someone being poured into a cheap mold called "loneliness," to feel complete? They are so badly craving to be something/someone of purpose, but they end up in the bottom of someone's "toy bin." So keep your dollar and let the world buy their cheap toy elsewhere!
16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
at 9:35 AM
Sunday, March 28, 2010
After my "failed marriage," I wondered "how in the world is God going to use me?" I took my vows seriously and for the longest time I felt like someone had literally ripped me a part, without my permission I might add. But over time and by making a conscious choice to allow Him to heal me-God has mended the pieces of my heart. He continues to reveal to me that His love has never changed and never will. He is the same today, tomorrow and forever.
I dedicate this poem to anyone that has had someone taken from them, whether it be through death or divorce. Or to those of you that have struggled in your marriage relationship and long to see God restore it...Allow Him to be "the tie that binds," even if it means-only binding what is left of you.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Have you ever seen a string all by itself?
On the floor, on your clothes, or anywhere else?
It looks so alone lying there
Like dust or a shadow or a piece of hair
And when you go pick up this string
Do you think of it’s purpose in all kinds of things?
Did it hold a button on a cashmere sweater?
Or hold one, two, maybe several seams together
Did it break or was it cut?
Was it too long or not enough?
Why is this string on the floor?
Did someone put it there, or was it just ignored?
Did you ever picture me as that string?
The one that held you with my knots and seams?
And oh how the needle passed as I held you together
A bond so thick that no man should sever
And even in times when each of you frayed
I held your hearts close with the vows that you made
So to you, why am I only a string?
Do you see me in the fabric of all things?
Why do you cling to the things that will break?
Instead of holding on to me and your faith?
You have ripped me out and thrown me on the ground
Instead of cherishing me like a treasure you found
And even now as you are left all alone
I want to bind the pieces that were tossed and thrown
So pick me up where you left me
And change the direction that you are heading
Whether it is two of you or one all alone
You are worth more to me than precious stones
In your mother’s womb I knit you together
And in my heart your name is stitched forever
See My plan is still unraveling you know
It’s never too late to surrender and let the Master sew
at 8:53 PM
Friday, February 19, 2010
(Article for Attitude Digest Magazine)
If you had told me at 16 that my fantasy of being married and having a family in my twenties would be plagued by divorce and abandonment, I probably would have laughed at you. Then I would have proceeded to tell you that I do “abstinence education,” as if that would put some sort of guarantee on my future relationships. Isn’t it funny how even when we make “all the right decisions” in life, it still gives us lemons at times? I know plenty of people that recount different seasons in life and go “but wait, I thought that if I did this, I would get that?” Well at 24, nearing 25, I can tell you that life is not fair…Whoops, I feel like I just told someone there is no Santa Claus, but it’s true!
When I turned 20, I met “Mr. Wonderful!” He knew all the right things to say and before I knew it we were engaged and planning a wedding. Everything seemed right, I was a singer, he was a guitar player and producer-We would make “perfect harmony” together, right? WRONG! Six months after we married in July of 2006, we moved from Franklin, TN to Tampa, FL-where my family lived. At the time, it was difficult for my husband to get a good job and he was enthusiastic about the idea of being closer to family. Little did I know that this move would be the launch of his “alternative lifestyle.”
Shortly after moving to Tampa, I noticed that our relationship had shifted, but assumed that it was the result of a new environment and I was probably just being an “overanalyzing female.” I would later find out on July 8, 2008, 3 days after he left with no good reason, that he was pursuing a “homosexual lifestyle” behind my back. This had been going on since we moved to Tampa.
I seem to always get the question or assumption- Do you hate “gay people?” NO, not at all, I love people! Does a woman ignore all women if her husband has an affair one? NO! Or second question is-“You must be so mad, are you?” I normally respond: “Did it make me mad, of course, but am I living in a state anger and sadness-NO!” See “things” are going to happen to us whether we like it or not-for you it may not be divorce it may be the loss of a child, the loss of a job, or the loss of your identity for that matter! At the end of the day, it is up to you and I whether or not we allow these situations to “define” us. As much as I would love to erase the ever-present “D card” that I get to carry for life-it isn’t going anywhere! However, divorce is something that has happened to me, shaped me-But it does not make me, and it surely will not break me!
So take a second, make yourself some LEMONADE and ponder, “is there anything in my life that I am allowing to define me?” “Did I allow an incident or season to have power over me?” Everything that happens in life has an opportunity to affect our perspective or to diminish our attitude. It is up to us, to find the positive components and use them to not only better ourselves, but to help others as well.
OK so me first- LEMON: My ex husband is a “gay porn star,” (I’m serious) what now? SUGAR: Well after seeking out support groups and a great therapist, I realize that I get a second chance. WATER: I was freed of “dead weight,” that would have only held me back. Now I appreciate the little things in life more than ever. STIRRING MIX: I am reminded that there are no guarantees in life, so I try to live everyday to the fullest! Ok, your turn now, go long, I am tossing you your lemon that I found in your desk!
at 9:27 AM
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
From the "To Write Love on Her Arms" Website: (www.twloha.com)
-121 million people worldwide suffer from depression. (The World Health Organization)
While not always the case, often untreated depression and other struggles lead to unhealthy ways in which we try and deal with the hurt and pain we are feeling. We try and find anything that we can do to take away the hurt, painful feelings, or negative thoughts we are experiencing. Often the things that we turn to seem to help at first, appearing to provide some of the relief that we need so badly. But, even though they may seem like they help, often they are unhealthy themselves, eventually becoming even greater struggles like addictions such as drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, or self-injury.
Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers. (NIMH)
I had the opportunity to parter in events with "TWLOHA," and I did not realize how serious the issue of depression and "self injury" really was/is, until they told me! Please take a moment to go to their website and get more facts and discussions on this topic...Because according to the stats it is pretty likely that you or someone you know faces this!
I was on my way home from GA a few months ago when I wrote the poem below-I feel like it is something that Jesus would say to someone who is hurting, furthermore hurting themselves.....
With each cut pain released
Each drop of blood gave anger peace
Without the world peering in
Life gave way to sorrow's end
As I approached her, I caught her tears
I put them in a jar alongside her fears
I took my blood and covered her wounds
And sealed her scars throughout the room
I took the razor and showed her my hands
And promised "healing" was in my plans
Always sure this day would come
So thankful now it was the one
To show her "life" without harm
And to WRITE MY LOVE ON HER ARMS
If you or someone you know is hurting themselves or dealing with depression, please get help! You life is too precious to risk!
Embraced by Grace,
at 7:30 PM
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
On my trip to Korea, I had the opportunity to meet a 7th grader named “Hollie.” I try really hard not to give more attention to one child over another, but she made it pretty hard for me not to. Hollie introduced herself to me the first day with a big grin and a contagious glow. I knew immediately that she would be unforgettable. She made a point to talk to me almost every day, sometimes we exchanged a few lines after session and other times we had long discussions over lunch.
Each day the students were allowed to sign up for a time called “round table,” which meant that 8 of them (per day) could eat lunch with one of the speakers/singers at least one time throughout the week. At one point I overheard the Middle School principal say that it was important to give everyone an opprotunirty, so each student should only sign up once. Somehow Hollie managed to make herself a place at my table almost everyday, she was a sneaky little thang. I learned that she loved to run and was quite good at it. I also discovered that she was part Korean and part American but spoke “Thai!” I teased her that she needed a tee shirt that said that on it!
One day when I was leaving lunch, Hollie came up to me and said “Christina, I really like your song “Closer to Home.” I said “thanks Hollie,” she proceeded to tell me that the reason the song was so special to her was because she had never really had a place to call home and she was thankful to know that every day she was one step closer to the home that God had prepared for her. I never knew a child could have such wisdom and insight to the lyrics of a song. Most students her age like my music because they can clap their hands to it or jump around.
I think that Hollie has a special message for all of us, even those of us who have stayed in a place for an extended length of time and consider that place “home.” Her words may resonate with you differently, but for me I felt like she was saying that she was never able to get “too comfortable” anywhere. Kind of a blessing if you think about it.
The school that I spoke at was an International School and it was stacked with students from many different places. Most of them had lived in at least three or more places and they were only in Middle School. Many of the people that I know have maybe lived one other place for college and then they moved back “home” after. A lot of times we move home because it is familiar, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with that-I did it. However there is a problem when you or I get too comfortable. It is so easy to get into a rhythm and forget who is conducting the music. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that the Lord has plans and a future for us- I think that it would be pretty difficult to see that plan unravel if I just stay in my “comfort zone” all the time, where I am comfortable, don’t you?
I am thankful that Hollie reminds you and I that this is not our final resting place, and every day we are one step CLOSER TO HOME, so we better start livin like it!
What are some ways that you are reminded that this is not your final home?
at 9:04 PM