Monthly Archives: November 2012

STTA #2

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For today’s STTA, we’re going to go with a classic:

Let’s say you’re stranded on a desert island, and are only allowed to bring 5 things. Assuming all basic needs (food, water, clothing, shelter) are provided, what 5 things did you take with you?

Okay, so maybe the original question said 3 things. But to me that just seems ridiculously cruel, so I changed it to 5 (and probably just saved your sanity). So if I were ever in this situation – doubtful, seeing as I live on the East Coast miles away from any kind of desert, but still – I would bring my family (duh!), my Bible, my guitar, books, and chocolate. Or maybe a laptop – UGH! Now I can’t decide! Maybe I should change it to 6 things… ūüėČ

I challenge you to think about this seriously. The 5 things you choose can reveal a lot about who you are. Feel free, as usual, to comment РI would be especially  interested to see what you all would bring with you.

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Rules – Why Do We Need Them? And Why So Many?

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Hello, everyone. ūüôā

In my last post, I talked to you all about the Bible. While the Bible provides comfort, strength, and inspiration in those times when we need it most, it can also be very difficult to read. Sometimes it is scary, depressing, or just plain horrible. Sometimes it refers to things that make us uncomfortable. And other times, it is just…boring.

Yes, boring. Right now, I have been working on a “Through the Bible in a Year” plan, that breaks down the entire Bible into three hundred sixty-five tiny sections. The idea is that you read one of those sections each day (it takes about fifteen minutes out of my day, and believe it or not, sometimes I’m too busy to manage¬†that.¬†Hmm…that sounds like another good post: to take care of our more earthly matters, like homework and activities, or to always put God first? But that’s a story for another time). I just recently finished the book of Leviticus, which is the third book in the Bible. And, I’m going to be honest – it wasn’t a lot of fun.

The books of Exodus and Leviticus address the years the Israelites spent in the desert, after God freed them from Pharaoh’s harsh rule and led them out of Egypt. But God didn’t free the Israelites to let them go free and do just whatever they wanted. The trade was this: God freed the Israelites from Pharaoh, but that meant that they had to then dedicate their lives to following God and his commands. Which seems pretty reasonable, right? I mean, God was the one who freed them from Egypt, where they slaved under the rule of the cruel and unforgiving Pharaoh. When God led the Israelites safely across the Red Sea and washed away Pharaoh’s army, the Israelites praised the Lord, singing and dancing in His name. There was feasting and celebration for many days afterwards. They were free at last. (Exodus 14-15)

But then the initial excitement wore off, and their humanly instincts started to kick in. The Israelites started to forget that they had ever been slaves in Egypt, and began to do whatever they wanted. Sometimes what they did wasn’t acceptable in God’s sight. But those Israelites weren’t thinking about God. They were thinking, We’re free, right? That means we can do whatever we want.

Uh, not exactly.

God led the Israelites to freedom so they could follow Him as His chosen people, not run amok causing all kinds of trouble as they pleased. God needed to set those Israelites straight. So He gave them rules to follow to make them into the kind of people He wanted them to be.

But not just a few. A lot. Like, a whole lot of rules. In fact, the entire books of Exodus and Leviticus are filled with the rules God gave to the Israelites.

God ordered a tabernacle to be made, with an altar, and a lamp, a basin for washing, a courtyard, and curtains embroidered with a certain type of material and cherubim on them. He gave specific rules for sacrifices – atonement offerings, guilt offerings, memorial offerings, wave offerings, grain offerings, burnt offerings…all kinds of different offerings. (Who knew there was more than one type of offering?) There were many, many rules for how the priests were to carry out these different offerings, and many, many rules and items to be made concerning the priests themselves. There were loads of rules concerning cleanliness, and rules about how the people were supposed to behave to each other, and that’s not even half of them.

Whew! That’s a¬†lot¬†of rules!

To be totally honest with you, it was very hard for me to get through Exodus and Leviticus. It was difficult, sitting there reading page after page after page (after page after page) of rules that God gave to Moses to pass on to the Israelites. It was difficult and tiring to keep my mind from wandering, to stay focused, to not get frustrated with the seemingly thousands of rules that just…kept…coming.

We tend, I think, to feel that way even in today’s world. At school, there are loads of rules, guidelines, deadlines and expectations that we must meet. They’re not always fun. In fact, they’re usually not. I often find myself tired of all these rules¬†and strict expectations that come with being a member of society. Gosh, it would be so much¬†easier,¬†so much more¬†fun,¬†if there were just no rules at all! Just think! We could do¬†whatever¬†we wanted – eat dessert before dinner, skip school whenever we felt like it, sleep in till noon every day…

Wait a second. If we ate our dessert before dinner, we would be too full of sweets to get the nutrition we really need. If we skipped school, we wouldn’t learn the techniques and skills necessary to navigate today’s increasingly demanding business world. If we slept in till noon – well, there would be less time in the day to get things done! The truth is that rules are very important in order to keep our lives from falling into utter chaos and to turn us into the kind of intelligent, disciplined people that we need to be in order to be successful contributors to the modern society. Plus, rules help to shape us into the kind of people with the kind of lives that we want to have.

God knew that all those rules were going to make the Israelites into the people that He wanted them to be. He wanted them to be strong, smart, morally good people who trusted in Him so that they would lead good lives worthy of Him. (After all, they were His chosen people!) Sometimes rules aren’t easy to follow. As humans, the imperfect beings that we are, we are easily swayed by others to go down a different path than the path that God wants for us. I believe that God knows that too – since He created us! He knows all about temptation (just read Luke 4!). And the Israelites were no exception. Plenty of people lost their faith in God and began to do all sorts of things that they shouldn’t have been doing (for example, see Exodus 32, Leviticus 24:10-23).

Sometimes we grow tired of all these rules and responsibilities thrust upon us. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with that. It is simply part of being human, to want to do things for ourselves rather than be told what to do. But when we start to think like this, we need to turn to God and ask forgiveness for choosing our own way over His, and ask for help obeying His commands. It is true that rules are not always fun, and we don’t always want to follow them. But we need to trust that God knows what is best for His children and that His way is¬†always¬†best. I’m not going to pretend that I know everything, because I¬†certainly¬†don’t, but I believe this to be true. Everything that God commands, even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense or isn’t a lot of fun, is for the best – because He and¬†only¬†He knows what is truly best for us. Same out in today’s modern world. For all the rules and guidelines we are given, we must carry them out obediently and with a patient heart.

Your friend, Olivia

Winter is on its Way!

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Hi y’all!

This will be just a quickie post. Today my mom and I bundled up and went for a run (even though it was about 40 degrees outside). Running on a chilly, overcast November day is not much fun, for sure. But when we ran past the Christmas tree stand, with all the trees and wreaths and garlands out on display – well, then I¬† knew winter was coming. And besides that, I could just smell it in the air! That dry coldness that makes your nose tingle… Oh, hooray! Winter is wonderful. It means hot cocoa, sledding, snowmen (sledding snowmen – haha), Christmas, sweets, roaring fires in the fireplace… Boy, am I excited! Do you know what I mean – that day when you can just smell it in the air? When you can just feel it all around you? Well, that day, for me, was today! (: Are you all excited for the holiday season? I know I am! What are your signs that winter is on its way? While you think about this, why don’t you grab a mug of hot cocoa and go sit in front of the fireplace? ūüėČ

Your friend, Olivia

Contemplating the Lessons that Dogs Can Teach Us

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Hi everyone! ūüôā

If there is something you must know about me, it is that I am a complete sucker for anything fuzzy and adorable. Which means that dogs are absolutely irresistible. Yes; I love dogs. And I am lucky enough to have my own – a 4-year-old Chocolate Lab named Sadie.

Let me introduce you to my puppy dog. Sadie is just the most lovable thing ever. Around the house, she’s a slug, sleeping most of the day. Her preferred way to sleep is on her back, her legs completely splayed out, displaying her belly for all to see, half on her bed, half on the floor. How undignified – I know. Her hobbies include terrorizing the poor, dumb rabbits that insist on returning to our yard by chasing them all over the place, acting as a vacuum and doing us the favor of eating anything that falls on the floor – edible or not, it doesn’t seem to matter to her – and stealing socks and underwear from the laundry basket, which she then leaves in little piles all over the house, provided she doesn’t get all tangled up in them first. (And, if you’re wondering –¬†yes,¬†that has happened. The poor girl didn’t understand why we were all laughing at her but seemed to be enjoying the attention!)

The truth is, Sadie is a goofball. She’s a doofus – completely uncoordinated, undignified, and unaware. But we love her for it!

Now, let’s shift the focus. As humans, let’s face it – we are always on our best behavior. We are always worrying about how we are viewed by others. We are always wondering if we meet the cut, if other people will like us or accept us. We spend a lot of time worrying about making ourselves look silly or stupid in front of other people. It seems a lot of stress, doesn’t it – all that people-pleasing? Now, what if (and this is a strange proposal) we were to try and act like our happy-go-stupid canine friends and not give any thought to what other people think? Well, of course, to¬†completely¬†disregard others’ criticisms would impossible – inhuman, even – and might even get us into a little trouble with society. But what if we took Sadie, the 4-year-old clown of a dog, as an example and tried to please ourselves rather than everyone else?

Girls, Sadie doesn’t care what we think of her. She’s a dog. She is clumsy, for sure – she runs into walls and knocks things over. She is not at all shy about exposing her underside while she sleeps in her most undignified doggy way. She eats rabbit poop and dribbles water from her water dish all over the kitchen floor. She throws up in the middle of the hallway, and gets her teeth stuck on her toys. And she doesn’t care one bit.

Sadie is also one of the most optimistic dogs I’ve met, waking up every morning and nosing open the door to my bedroom, coming in and licking my face, as if to say, “Good morning! Good morning!” She is Little Miss Sunshine, utterly cheerful and happy, without a care in the world. This is, in itself, a lesson – to wake up every morning thrilled and optimistic about all life’s adventures that lie ahead. To not let negative emotions get us down. To never hold grudges. To forget yesterday and start over each and every day with a clean slate. That is a lesson that ALL of us humans could surely benefit from.

But where does this incredible optimism come from? Well, it is surely helped by the fact that Sadie has nothing to worry about. There is nothing causing her stress, because there is no one that she is trying to please. Think about that – if we all acted like dogs and never tried to live up to anyone’s standards but our own (to the best of our ability, of course, since in the school world we must live up to certain expectations every day), in a social sense, then we would not be weighed down by the constant stress that comes with wondering,¬†“Am I good enough?” And then, with that lifted off our chest, we would be able to live life to the fullest and truly enjoy ourselves without any fear. Just like a dog. Just like Sadie.

Girls nowadays face all kinds of peer pressure. There is a huge focus in the media about “being pretty.” This causes girls to wonder, “Am I pretty enough? Is my hair long enough? Am I thin enough? Do I wear the right clothes? Do I wear enough makeup?” Hey – how much is¬†enough,¬†anyway? The problem, I think, with this day and age is that¬†enough¬†is measured by other people’s standards, when to be truly content with oneself, it should be measured by one’s own personal standards. When we learn to not worry about how other people are seeing us and instead focus on being the best us we can be, that is when we will be truly happy. Just like a dog – like my dumb, clumsy, cheerful and utterly joyful puppy, Sadie.

It’s not easy; I know it’s not. Especially not in today’s world. But the more you respect yourself, the more others will respect¬†you,¬†I think. So hold your head high and be the best¬†you¬†that you can possibly be! It doesn’t matter one bit whether other people think you are “cool” or not, as long as you are cool with yourself! Remember, girls¬†– think like a dog! ūüôā

Your friend, Olivia

First STTA!

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Hi everyone! I am SO excited about this category, Something to Think About – questions like these are just so much fun! I hope you agree! ūüôā

So, here’s today’s STTA:¬†Which character from a book or movie would you most like to meet, and why?

Okay, so for me, this is, like, really hard. But, as one of my very favorite books is “Peter Pan”¬†by J.M. Barrie, I will have to say Wendy Darling. I would ask her how it feels to fly.

Thoughts on the Bible

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Hey everyone! ūüôā

This is my first post under the “Faith” category. It is my hope that you will find this post inspiring and enlightening! I have been thinking a lot lately about turning to God when the going gets tough, and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts with you. It’s certainly not an easy thing to do, especially in a world that is fixed on the idea that “seeing is believing.”

Now, I’m a girl living in a crazy world, full of uncertainty and questions. I’ve found myself wishing, as I’m sure many of you have as well, that there was a place we could go to get ALL the answers. A book, maybe – a book that told us exactly how we should act, what we should do when treated unjustly, why things happen when they do, how to forgive, to apologize, to love one another. A book that would reassure us in times of trouble and show us where to turn when we simply can’t go on, a book that would lead us down the right path toward a bright future, a book that would show us how to be the best people we can be.

Well, here’s the good news. There¬†is¬†a book that does exactly that, and it’s called the Bible. The Bible is God speaking to us in the form of the Word, and it has¬†all¬†the answers.

The Bible is very powerful, and it has a purpose for each and every one of us. It is what I turn to when I am lost, confused, angry, sad, jealous, hopeless, joyful… I believe that God wants us to read His Word during the bad times as well as the good times. It is important for us to remember that He is always there, even during the worst of times. Psalm 139, which happens to be my favorite Bible passage, assures us of this.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”¬†~Psalm 139:7-12

Don’t you just love that? Doesn’t it just make you feel all warm and fuzzy and protected inside? This is how I know that God will never leave me. I just wanted to share that with you all, because I think, as humans, we tend to believe in only what we can see. Well, the truth is that faith is not something that can be seen.

Then how do we know it’s real?

Well, easy – love! That wonderful feeling that you save just for the special people in your life…we know love exists. Can you see it? No. Is it real? Absolutely! In just the same way, we know that God is very, very real and that we are always surrounded by His love.

Now, as I said before, the Bible has a purpose for all of us and speaks to us in different ways. I’d like to know…what is¬†your¬†favorite Bible verse? What was it about that verse that really spoke to you? Feel free to comment with your thoughts. I hope you liked this first post!

Your friend, Olivia