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Image Credits: Ali Express

Hey guys! For those of you who don’t already know I am currently enrolled in a Writing Genre Fiction course at Rowan University as I work towards completing my MA in Writing. I took this class because I had to take something. I’ve never really been into genre fiction (although I do like horror) and I am actually more of a non-fiction writer which is completely different from genre fiction. This class has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone as a writer on more than one occasion.

I actually really enjoyed writing my horror story though. Initially I had planned to write about something related to trypophobia, the fear of holes, because I think the whole concept is so strange but fascinating. However, I quickly changed my idea once I read about one of my Facebook friend’s nightmares. Here’s how they described it in their Facebook post:

FB Friend Horror Nightmare

 

And with that, the beginning of my story was born. I was going to write a story about a creepy doll that wanted to suck the breath out of people. But first I had to answer, why would she do that?

I pulled a lot from my Christian beliefs about life and death and good and evil and somehow came up with a story in which everything starts off dark, gloomy, and depressing. The horror is portrayed as being normal or even good, whereas normalcy and goodness is portrayed as being evil. I will allow you as a reader to draw your own conclusions about why I took this path.

The story is below. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  🙂

A Breath Of Life

When Lillian was born, her parents had every intention to call her Lily.

“She’s beautiful, just like a field of fresh lilies,” her father said.

However, Lillian wanted no parts in lilies, or any flowers for that matter. From the time Lillian was three, she demanded to be called “Lilith”.

Lillian, or shall we say “Lilith’s stubborn, eccentric side showed in ways far beyond her name. When her mother, Rose, wanted to dress her up in frilly dresses with bows in her hair, Lilith refused.

“But you’ll look so pretty!” Rose said.

“I don’t want to look pretty!” Lilith said. “Black. I want to wear black,” she said as she pointed to her beloved black sweater with her black pants and black shoes. Rose never knew of another five year with half as many black clothes as Lilith had, but she also knew it wasn’t worth arguing with Lilith; Lilith never lost an argument.

Lilith’s dark side took some getting used to. Sure, adults expected some edginess and darkness from a moody teenager, but no one ever expected it from a “sweet” seven-year-old girl. Still, as everyone got to know Lilith, they became more and more familiar with her unusual sense of style and life perspective.

When Lilith requested to have her eighth birthday part on Friday, October 13th, no one was surprised, even if it was three weeks before her actual birthday.

Lilith’s birthday party was different from those of most eight year olds (or seven year olds, if you want to be technical). All of the balloons were black. There were no pony rides or petting zoos or even a walk around character. Instead, Lilith surrounded herself with her beloved black cat, Bones. She replaced the cliched piñata with a series of sugar skulls and for entertainment she played the saddest songs she could find while guests had the opportunity to build their own personal graveyards.

Lilith didn’t have any friends. Her parents enrolled her in a local public school, but all of the other kids thought she was weird. The parents didn’t help; they couldn’t understand why a child of Lilith’s age would choose to be so dark.  They most certainly didn’t want their normal children hanging around someone of Lilith’s kind.

Still, Lilith’s party wasn’t a total bust. She had her parents, her brother, Ryan, and several aunts, uncles, and cousins in attendance, mainly because they all either felt obligated to come or they were sorry for her. Her parents guessed it was a combination of the two emotions.

Other than her parents, Lilith’s family never quite got her. Her parents tried endlessly to tell her other relatives that Lilith liked dark things. Still, year after year after year Lilith would end up with frilly pink and purple dresses, my little pony figures, and cute “girly” things that she’d promptly throw in the trash immediately after all of her guests have left. When Lilith’s Aunt Violet gifted her with a new, custom-made American Girl doll, she realized that this year was no different. However, her mother was determined to put a stop to it.

“Look Lilith! She looks just like you!” Rose exclaimed.

“I DO NOT LOOK LIKE THIS!” Lilith corrected her mother.

“Sure you do. See, she had beautiful black hair just like you. And isn’t her dress gorgeous?”

“My hair covers my face and I don’t wear dresses,” Lilith corrected.

“I tried to get one that looked like you…this is the closest they could do…I even brought your picture in with me to the American Girl store…” Aunt Violet said, apologetically.

“It’s fine. Lilith loves it. It will do her good to have a new friend.” Rose said, you can even give her a nice new name. How about Eve? She suggested.

“Sure, whatever,” Lilith said.

The guests were invited to stay until dinner to enjoy Lilith’s favorite meal, spaghetti tacos. Many of the guests asked why they couldn’t have tacos OR spaghetti. Apparently, Lilith’s family didn’t understand the art of combining the two favorites into one, but Lilith didn’t mind.

When the last guest left shortly after 8, Lilith’s mother had a firm discussion with her daughter.

“I don’t understand why you found it necessary to be so rude to your guests today,” she said.

“I wasn’t rude!” Lilith said.

“Yes you were! You didn’t thank anyone for coming or for bringing your gifts. Your dear Aunt Violet went out of her way to visit NYC to get a custom American Girl doll made to look like you and your way of thanking her is by complaining!” Rose said.

“IT. DOES. NOT. LOOK. LIKE. ME,” Lilith argued.

“Whatever. Here’s what you’re going to do. You are going to learn to appreciate when people give you a gift. Remember, there are plenty of people on this planet that don’t even know what it is to be given a gift. Now I want you to take your doll up to bed with you to sleep with tonight. When you wake up in the morning I’ll help you to write a thank you letter to Aunt Violet explaining how much you love your new doll.”

“Yes, mama,” Lilith said. She knew it was no use arguing anymore, she had been clearly defeated this time around.

Lilith had no trouble falling asleep that night. A terrible thunderstorm has come in off the coast and threatened the area. Lilith was able to fall asleep to the sounds of heavy rain, and thunder with what she thought sounded like the occasional pang of hail. The surges of lightening gave way to just the right amount of light in her otherwise pitch-dark room to allow her to sleep comfortably and dream of all of her favorite monsters.

Shortly after Lilith entered a deep stage of REM sleep, the dreaming began. She saw the image of her favorite monster and only friend, Mr. Olga. Mr. Olga was tall, fat, and full of hair. He had a snaggle tooth, big mean claws, horns, and often wore a spike collar. In her art class at school, Lilith often drew pictures of Mr. Olga. Her classmates and her teacher, Miss Lana often said that Mr. Olga looked like a darker version of Sully from the Monsters, Inc. films, but Lilith knew he was far more unique than that.

Lilith’s dreams were always the same. She’d enter in to Mr. Olga’s home in the world of Sorrowville, a town of only two: her and Mr. Olga. This was the only place where they could truly be themselves and live freely among each other. They would plant cemeteries together (even though they never had any people to bury) and play with Mr. Olga’s black cats, Mischief and Despair. When they grew tired of that they’d put the radio on and play all of their favorite songs from My Chemical Romance, Black Veil Brides, and the occasional piece from Sleeping With Sirens. Then they would depart and count down the hours until the next day when they could do it all over again.

But tonight was different. Lilith knew that from the minute she stepped foot in Mr. Olga’s small cave in Sorrowville. The temperature wasn’t its breezy temperature of 66.6 degrees Fahrenheit the way her and Mr. Olga always set it. It was 34.14 degrees and set on Celsius. She felt warm and clammy and was even beginning to sweat a little, something she never thought was even possible in Sorrowville. What’s more, the town wasn’t its usual shades of black and grey with clouds and thunderstorms. The sky was bright blue without a single cloud in the atmosphere. The sun was bright and blazing hot, which explained why she was so warm. Her family would say it looked nice and she worried that if they ever seen this version of Sorrowville, they’d even want to join her and Mr. Olga. The very idea of that happening horrified Lilith.

Lilith and Mr. Olga weren’t the only ones in Sorrowville tonight. Instead, they were surrounded by the presence of a doll who looked like a prettier version of Lilith; it was her brand new custom-made American Girl doll from her Aunt Violet, Eve.

“What on earth do you think you’re doing?!?” Lilith said.

“I came here to play, Lillian. Don’t you want to be friends?” Eve said.

“My name is LILITH, NOT LILLIAN. AND NO! NO ONE IS ALLOWED HERE BUT ME AND MR. OLGA!” she screamed.

“Silly Lillian. Don’t you know that I am you?” she said.

Mr. Olga glanced at Lilith. “She does have your hair,” he admitted.

“YOU ARE NOTHING LIKE ME!” Lilith screamed, “I NEVER WEAR MY HAIR LIKE THAT AND I HATE DRESSES!”

“We can fix that, Lillian,” she said.

“I am perfectly fine the way I am. I don’t need to be fixed.”

“That’s too bad. You see, your Aunt Violet sent me here to fix you. She said it’s not normal for a girl your age to be so… dark. And depressing.

            “Psh. What does she know. She can’t change me,” Lilith said.

“No she can’t. That’s what I’m here for,” Eve said. I came to suck the breath right from you.”

Mr. Olga started to laugh.

“Stop it!” Lilith said. “Why would you laugh at that?”

“Because she thinks she can suck the breath out of you. Did she forget that I’m a monster?” he said.

“Good point,” Lilith said.

Mr. Olga inched closer to the Eve’s face and placed his hands up high above his head to show off his freshly sharpened claws. He then let out a huge growl. “RAWRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!” he said.

Eve flew over top of Mr. Olga and made her way through to Lilith.

“Just one little bite. A little something soft, trying to be polite. Nothing too hard, it wouldn’t be nice,” the doll chanted as it took a bite out of Lilith’s neck.

“WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU? ARE YOU A FRIGGEN VAMPIRE?!? Lilith screamed as Mr. Olga rushed over to her pry the doll off of her neck.

Mr. Olga clenched the doll tightly in his claws. He walked outside of his cave, towards the lake of misery and cast the doll threw the doll deep into the lake.

“Well done!” Lilith exclaimed, “Thank you for always taking such good care of me.” She gave Mr. Olga a big hug.

“You’re welcome,” he grunted.

Mr. Olga and Lilith began their walk back to Mr. Olga’s cave to resume their daily adventures. When Mr. Olga went to turn the knob on the cave door, the entire door knob fell off and the door flung open on its own.

Eve was standing there, glaring at both Lilith and Mr. Olga.

“You can’t get rid of me that easily, but it was cute for you to try,” she said.

“Not again! What do you want?” Lilith said.

“I already told you, Lillian. I want to suck the breath right out of you.”

“Okay, but why?”

“You need to change Lillian. It is not good to be so dark. Dark is a form of evil, and there is no place for evil in our world.

“Which is why Lilith comes with me to Sorrowville,” Mr. Olga explained.

“Yeah…about that. Sorrowville’s got to go, too.” Eve said.

“Go? Where?” Lilith asked.

“Bye bye. Sorrowville go bye bye,” the doll said as she struck a match and tossed it towards Mr. Olga. “Lilith, run! REMEMBER: 1 Peter 3:11!”

Lilith woke up covered in sweat and out of breath. Nightmares usually excited Lilith. She found them to be fascinating and entertaining, never scary the way her family and classmates described them. But even Lilith had to admit that the nightmare she just had was absolutely horrifying.

Lilith climbed out of bed and walked towards her window, hoping to find solace. She didn’t think it was still raining, but she always felt at peace with the passing of a storm. She pushed back her black curtains and opened the window by an inch and looked outside.

The sun was beginning to rise. The sky was bright and by society’s definition (though never Lilith’s), it was a beautiful shade of pinks, purples, and a hint of blue. There was no sign of the storm.

Lilith looked down towards the ground and then she saw it. Eve. Her custom-made American Girl Doll. It was holding a sign that read:

“Hi Lillian. I didn’t forget last night. Don’t forget 1 Peter 3:11. Also, remember Proverbs 16:17. Allow me to suck the breath right out of you. Or else. Love, your favorite doll.”

Lilith shut the window and pulled the curtains tight again. She ran into her bed and pulled the covers overhead, hoping to fall back asleep again. Her dreams were bad but reality was somehow even worse. She needed to get back to Sorrowville, back to Mr. Olga. She hoped he had survived the fire, that this dream would bring forth a new adventure, one without that stupid evil doll.

  1. 2. 1. And she was back into her deep REM Sleep, back in the darkness of Sorrowville.

Only there was no Mr. Olga this time. There was no darkness. The cave was even gone. She was greeted by the doll and a beautiful mansion on a bright and sunny day.

“Are you ready to follow Proverbs 16:17 yet?” she asked. “Will you allow me to suck the breath right out of you? Do you want to live?” she asked.

Lilith could not speak, she had no answers.

 

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Image Credits: Melissa Smith on Pinterest

Today my bible plan told me to read Chapters 11 and 12 of 1 Corinthians. I was definitely excited to see this on my bible plan for today because 1 Corinthians is my favorite book of the bible. This book has taught me so much about what it means to be a Christian woman and the roles of a man and a woman and the relationship they should have with one another and with God.

When I read these chapters today, verses 4-15 of 1 Corinthians surprised and confused me at first. These verses say that women must keep their heads covered at all times, whereas men are to keep their heads uncovered. The first thing that came to mind was honestly Muslim women. They must always keep their heads covered – is this the same thing? Have I been dishonoring God my whole life? Are the Muslim women onto something?

I breathed a sigh of relief when I read verse 15 which states, “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” This verse seems to confirm that by a “covering” all that is really meant is hair. But what about women with short hair? Are they dishonoring God? How short is too short?

I decided to Google this issue for more information. Here are 3 sources I looked at:

What is the Head Covering in 1 Cor 11:2-16 and Does it Apply to Us Today?

Uncovering the Head Covering Debate

Are Gender Roles a Social Construct?

I feel like most of these sources say “we don’t really know” combined with “it was a cultural thing”. I am leaning towards it being a cultural tradition or custom. If we look back to scripture in verse 2 Paul states, “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.”

Here, the word “ordinances” stands out the most. I assume an ordinance is a tradition, but what does Google say?

define ordinance

Okay, so not quite tradition but rather law – something much more serious. But whose law is it? Is it God’s law or is it the church’s? Context is everything here. I believe it was church law at the time since Paul is talking to the church of Corinth and helping them to remember their first love – the church. He is helping them to restructure since their church was filled with so much sin and unworthy of honor. In this verse then, Paul is praising them for holding the ordinances – or laws – of the church…the laws that Paul has put into place for them.

Verse 16 also stands out to me where it says, “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the church of God.” Two words stand out to me here: church and custom. I think of the word “custom” the same way that I think of the word “ordinance” – as meaning “tradition”. However, I was wrong about the definition of ordinance, so I could just as well be wrong about the definition of the word “custom”, so let’s look at Google.

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Oh look at that – I was right on this one! Paul’s use of the word “custom” here shows he was talking about a tradition. Furthermore, he was talking about a tradition that is very specific for that time period. I believe this means that it’s not a defined, universal law for all of mankind meant to survive the test of time, but rather it was a church law for this specific church or this specific region (the people of Corinth) during that specific time. We can’t know exactly how specific this law was for the people or exactly how Paul intended us to interpret it, but I think it’s safe to assume that this law was for a specific time period. The word “church” used in this verse further confirms that it was a church tradition, not a law ordered by God.

So, where does that leave us and women in the church today? Well, I don’t think it’s “wrong” for women to adhere to this old custom and to choose to wear a head covering, but they also aren’t required to. I think it’s their choice. However, I think that the head covering was a symbol during that time that pledges a woman’s loyalty to her husband. Verses 13-15 states, “Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair; it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” The covering was something specific for women that men were not meant to wear. I think our society/culture has created its own version of that today. Some of the above sources I looked at say that it’s wedding rings, but I don’t think that is quite right because men wear wedding rings, too. However, I think they are on the right tract. This is what I think it is:
Engagement rings.
Yes, I know sometimes men will wear an engagement ring these days, but it is still far less common and by some even considered “taboo”. Male engagement rings are also usually much more masculine than female engagement rings (the traditional diamond ring). In the past when Paul was talking to the church of Corinth the head coverings were meant for married women to wear as a symbol of their loyalty to their husbands. I think the engagement ring has the same purpose in our culture today. A woman who is about to be married wears it to show her loyalty to her husband. Once the woman is married she adds a wedding ring but the woman usually wears the engagement ring with the wedding ring. Either way, it is still a symbol of her loyalty to her husband.
Another verse from chapter 11 that stood out to me was verse 17 that states, “Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worst.” Here Paul is condemning the church of Corinth for saying that the church is not uniting in a way that lifts up the congregation, but rather, it tears them down. When I read this I thought of the people of Corinth staring at women and whispering things like “Look at her hair, it’s not nearly long enough!” (assuming that the head covering was a woman’s hair and not an actual head piece). What good would that do? Paul is saying we shouldn’t be quick to judge and gossip and bring down people in the church, but instead we should unite and help each other out, for we are the body of Christ and when one member stumbles it is our job to help them back up.
1 Corinthians Chapter 12 further discusses the body of Christ and the role of the church and its members. In verse 26 Paul says, “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it, or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” This reminds me of what Pastor Lex DeLong has preached – we are all united in Christ. We are one body of Christ and when one of our brothers and sisters of Christ falls, we all fall. When one of us rejoices, we all rejoices. We are all made up of one.
I don’t think this is the case in a lot of churches today and that makes me really sad. There are too many churches that are quick to judge, scorn, and gossip when one of the members sins or goes through a rough patch in life. Not only is that unbiblical, but I think that is sin in itself. God doesn’t want us to scorn other church members. I think he would want us to confront the individual and to help them to correct their behavior, but that’s it. The key word here: help. He would want us to help our brother or sister in Christ back up and if we’re gossiping and judging, that is not helping.

When I read these verses I also felt extremely thankful and blessed to belong to such a wonderful church now – Washington Baptist Church in Turnersville, NJ. We are not perfect, as nobody is except God, but I do believe that we are doing an incredible job with striving to become the kind of church Paul talks about in the bible in chapters like Corinth. I know that from my experience being a member of this church we are a group of people that make up the body of Christ that really does care for and love one another. Some churches I’ve been to and you’re just another nameless face. Yes, our church is small, but I truly believe that even if we grew exponentially, this would still be the kind of church where everyone takes the time to get to know everyone and to pray for each other. When someone is hurting in the church, we all feel it and when someone is succeeding, we feel their joy. We’ve cried together as a church, but we’ve also laughed, smiled, rejoiced, and ate way more than we probably should (we’re a church that really loves food :)).

Are you looking for a new church to attend? Washington Baptist Church would love to have you! Come join us for Sunday School on Sundays at 9:30 followed by our sermon at 10:30. For more information:

Visit Washington Baptist Church’s Website

OR

Download Our FREE Church App.


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Image Credits: Happy Thanksgiving Day Images

Hey guys, Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m not really feeling the holiday spirit this year – at all. My family and I considered scaling back or even postponing Thanksgiving this year and I am already sick to death of Christmas.

I’ve had a rough week. I went on a trip to Kentucky to see the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. It was a fantastic trip and I learned so much about the book of Genesis, God’s creation, and Noah’s Ark. You wouldn’t believe how big the ark really is – you need to see it for yourself. Kenn Hamm should be very proud of his creation on the Ark Encounter because it was extremely accurate and stunning!

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However, I went on the trip a little bit sick and came back extremely sick. My mom was also sick and diagnosed with bronchitis and sinusitis or something. Dad got the flu. Our poor cat, Gizmo also got very sick and sadly could not fight off the infection. He died on Sunday morning.

Losing Giz has been extremely hard on everyone. He was so much more than just a cat to us – he was family. He was more loyal, loving, kind, and compassionate than most people we know including our blood family. He would always greet you at the door, eat dinner with you, and comfort you when you were upset. He was my dad’s best friend and my dad would talk to Giz and spend all of his time caring for Giz when Mom and I were at work or school. My dad has been completely heartbroken and devastated by the lost of his best friend.

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I know that it was Gizmo’s time to go. He was 21 years old and we could tell he wasn’t feeling well and on Saturday night, was really suffering. We chose to have him buried in a pet cemetery where he will get his own headstone and everything. I know it sounds crazy, but he deserves it. His burial will take place on Saturday. I don’t think my family and I will ever be ready to let go of him though.

So, with all of this we’re not exactly in the mood for Thanksgiving or any of the holidays this year. It’s sad and not the same. It’s hard because we think of the times we’ve spent with my grandparents. How my grandfather would accidentally insult my mom’s cooking and it was so funny you couldn’t be mad at it. We remember the crazy Thanksgiving song my Mom’s mom invented and how mad it made her husband, my mom’s dad. We remember making special dinners for Giz and how we’d torment him with the turkey before we cooked it. We remember years ago when my sister was a part of the family and the holiday. We remember how these people are no longer a part of our lives, and we miss them and the way things used to be. This makes the holidays hard. Plus, while we’re feeling better than we have, none of us are 100% yet, which just makes it harder.

I know a lot of people would criticize me and say that this isn’t very “Christian” of me. I’m a Christian, but I’m not perfect. I need God in my life to give me a source of hope when I feel hopeless. When I’m too far invested in the world (like I have been lately) and not invested enough in God, I have trouble feeling hope. That’s why I want to spend a large portion of my time today invested in reading scripture, so I can feel that sense of hope again.

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Image Credits: Bible Verse Images 

There is always something in life to be thankful for, even if you don’t always feel or see it though. Here is what I’m thankful for this year.

1. My Amazing Family.

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My family is small – just my parents and I – but it’s been amazing. My parents are my biggest fans and supporters. They want nothing more than to see me succeed and reach for the moon. They yell at me when they think I’m not reaching high enough or when I’m “settling” for something less than the best. They always drive me everywhere I need to go since I don’t have a driver’s license and they do it without complaint. My dad has over the years even driven me all the way through State College for a job interview that went horrifically bad and my mom has taken me to NYC on the subway she knew nothing about for another job interview gone bad. My parents are the best and I couldn’t imagine my life without them.

2. My Job at Penn Medicine.

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This was an incredibly hard job to get. My interview process started in January and I didn’t actually get hired until June. I am thankful that Penn has worked with me and did everything they could to offer me a job, even when I took a different job instead initially. I know I have a strange schedule due to school, so I am incredibly thankful for Penn for working around my schedule by offering me reduced hours and the ability to work from home. I am thankful for my amazing co-workers who teach me everything and exert extreme patience, kindness, and understanding towards me. Penn has been such a great company to work for and I am so blessed to have the opportunity to work for them.

3. Rowan University.

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Image Credits: AliveCampus.com 

As a student, I don’t always agree with some of the changes or decisions the school makes, but I still really love this school and am so thankful for all of the doors it has opened to me. I am thankful to have the opportunity to earn my MA in Writing and to hopefully become one step closer to finishing and publishing my book, God Granted Me Hearing. I am thankful to have the opportunity to teach freshman college students through the Teaching Experience (TEP) program, something I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to do. I am incredibly thankful for Dr. Courtney and the current and former TEP instructors for all of the help, assistance, lesson-plan sharing, ideas, and advice they have given me. I’d be lost without all of you guys – you’re the best. I’m thankful for my students who while they drive me crazy at times, also know how to make me smile and show me why teaching is so awesome.

4. My Amazing Church Family. 

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Image Credits: Washington Baptist Church

I saw a picture posted on Facebook the other day that said “Church isn’t just a place, it’s a family”. As someone who’s been church-hopping for many years, I can truly say it’s hard to find a church that feels like a family. I found that with Washington Baptist Church. Pastor Lex and all of the members of the congregation are absolutely amazing people. They really take the time to get to know one another, to lift them up, and to pray for each other. You’re never just a nameless face at WBC.

Even when I left WBC for a few months to try out another church, as soon as I came back I was welcomed with open arms. Even when I went each week to another church I couldn’t forget about WBC – I missed them because they were my family. I never felt that kind of connection at any other church before. This church has taught me SO much and helped to bring me closer in my walk with God.

5. My Cochlear Implants.

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This is the first time in 2 years that I’m not recovering from surgery around the holidays. I just celebrated 2 years with my first cochlear implant on my left ear and on Wednesday I will be at 1 year on my right ear. It still never ceases to amaze me how well I can hear. Even though my right one hasn’t been working right the last few days (I’m probably going to have to send it out to AB for repairs), I can still hear so well, better than most people I know now. I’m always in awe when I can watch YouTube videos (or my latest obsession – TED talks) without caption. Certain sounds are still new to me – hearing trains go by still scare me because I forget what it is that I’m hearing. Every time I’m feeling down and depressed and having an “I hate my life, why me?” kind of moment I remember how much God has blessed me with this incredible gift. I’m so thankful for Dr. Willcox and the amazing team at Jefferson for helping to make this miracle happen for me.

 

What are you guys thankful for this year?


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Image Credits: House to House 

For those of you who don’t already know, I am currently enrolled in my first semester of graduate school in the MA in Writing program at Rowan University. One of the classes I am enrolled in this semester is Core I: Theories and Techniques of Writing. This is a required class for my program where we study many other writers and how they write. We have just been assigned to write a paper that is either an imitation or parody of another writer. For this assignment I have chosen to write a parody of Henry David Thoreau’s “Why I Went to the Woods”. My parody is listed below. As you read it I ask that you keep in mind that part of the assignment requires me to adopt Thoreau’s writing style. This is why the sentences are so long and detailed with many commas and semi colons and very long paragraphs. It is also why some parts of it may feel very repetitive and the language is kind of old-fashioned and not the way people talk today. I am attempting to write in Thoreau’s voice here, not my own. Also, please keep in mind that this is a first draft. While I am very proud of this draft (hence why I am choosing to publish it to my blog), it is just that, a first draft. This is far from perfect and will be undergoing significant revision as my semester goes on. I do however welcome any comments or feedback. 

Why I Went to Church

I went to church because I wished to live for Christ, and to live my life in a way that is only pleasing to him, and to see if I could lead a life free of sin, so as to go on to heaven at the time of my death. I wished to follow the commandment of my Lord in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1728). I wanted to surrender myself and my life to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, to live so spiritually and free of materialism as to have no one question my faith, but for others to come to know Christ through me and my faith, and to show the world what it means to be a Christian. We do not live our lives for us, we live for Christ.

Did you ever consider how we might live for Christ? Living for Christ is a conscientious choice that we must make every day; a decision to live free of our material possessions and the worldly sinful life. Some choose the pleasure of a life of Christ, others choose the ways of the world run by Satan. It is my hope that one day those who choose the world will wake up and break free of Satan’s hold on them, that they will suddenly choose the life of Christ and follow him and his ways, so that they too, may be saved. Why should we exercise the right of free will? We are determined to choose our own paths in life. Men constantly choose their own paths, thinking they know what’s best for their lives. But we constantly fall short of the glory of God. It all started with Adam and Eve, who chose their own free will, they took pleasure in their own hearts’ desires, so that now we must all suffer the misfortunes of their sin. And now when comes forth acts of temptation, we must all struggle with decision to sin or turn way and follow God, for this is a constant battle in an unbelievers heart, until the day comes that they may be saved.

There is but few men residing alongside Washington Township who considers himself not a sinner, but a saved man, yet has an excuse every which way for why he cannot attend church. The man claims to not have the time of day for such matters as church, yet the same man and his wife would ask the fine couple next door, “What’s the plans for the day?”, fearing that they may miss out on the town’s latest social event. Yet they fail to realize the day’s occurrences are but temporary, for they cannot match the days of heaven that would lie ahead of them, if they were to only get saved.

Still, we live for the world and not for Christ; though the Bible tells us in Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mam’-mon” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1462). Our lives are stained in sin. A saved man knows not to count on the things in the world for happiness, for as Psalm 23 states, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 915). Pray, pray, pray! I command, pray 10 or 20 times a day, and not once or twice; instead of television read your bible, and listen to 2 Corinthians 6:14 which demands, “Be yet not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1764). Pray, pray. Instead of arguing with your wife, pray for peace; instead of drinking at the bar, invite your friends over for a time of prayer; and pray for each other as often as you can. Our lives are each ridden with sin as the result of the fall of Adam and Eve, and we constantly fall short of the glory of God, with the only option to escape salvation through the grace Christ alone. Look at our nation, an icon of sin, which obviously hasn’t been doing so well in recent years, thrives on the motto, “Do what makes you happy, regardless of the consequences”, which explains why we have become obsessed with the sexualization of our culture and the constant need for self-gratification, and the only way to escape the ruins that we have fallen into as a nation is to turn away from ourselves and our own free will and instead surrender our lives to Christ and his will and his ways for ourselves as individuals and our nation as a whole. Repent, repent, repent! We must admit our shortcomings to the Lord and ask for his forgiveness as we accept the life he has laid out for us, and not merely the paths we think we know best for ourselves, for in all honesty, we know nothing. Men believe that they must engage in pre-marital sex, to put money before prayer, and to break each and every commandment in the bible for the stake of liberty and equality in our nation; whether they actually engage in these acts or support them as bystanders remains to be uncertain, but whether we shall live as moral Christians or sinful heathens these days is questionable.

As for me, I could easily do without the television. I believe there are very few Christ-pleasing shows on air these days. To be honest, I haven’t seen a television program but twice a year during the span of my lifetime that I believed worthwhile of my time. And I am confident that I’m not missing out much on this week’s latest tabloid stories. It’s just one Kardashian sex tape, Taylor Swift’s breakup, WikiLeaks breakthrough, celebrity drug overdose, Jennifer Aniston pregnancy, Kanye West feud, Kate Middelton hat, Oprah Winfrey failed diet, Jennifer Lopez wedding, and Angelina Jolie divorce after the other. Reading one tabloid story is more than enough to last me to my final days. Why do we care to read so much gossip about the misfortunes of the rich and famous? Does Ephesians 4:29 not state, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers”? (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1785). Rather than judging these celebrities and talking about the times when they fall short of the glory of God, shall we not pray for them instead? I hear women in the grocery store pick up these tabloids and chat about the celebrities all the time. “That Taylor Swift sure gets around these days,” they say, “What a whore!”. Some of these expressions come from women who wear a cross around their necks and claim to be a Christian, yet they can’t remember the last time they stepped foot in a church or made time for prayer. They may be better off if they threw the tabloids in the trash where they belong and open up their bible and fold their hands to pray instead. Gossiping about Taylor Swift and talking bad about the other celebrities in the tabloids will only fuel the success of the tabloids and bring about no change or betterment of the lives of those who these women mock; for the only real change can come within these celebrities due to an intervention from the holy one above. We as citizens and brothers and sisters in Christ can only do our part to pray for those in need, and not to gossip about the misfortunes and shortcomings of others, for we know ourselves to be stained with the same blood of sinners.

Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll seems like a life of luxury. Sure, these things will bring us gratification, but men must realize it is only temporary. For as John 14:6 tells us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father; but by me” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1638). We can never be satisfied in the things of the world or our own personal gratification alone; we must depend on Christ for hope, salvation, and happiness to last all eternity.

Prayer is but the essence of my life. I come to the Lord as a sinner ready to repent, yet through his grace he redeems me. I struggle in the world ridden with sin as my eternity in paradise awaits. I would live more humbly, pray more often, and attend church to hear the word of my Lord and savior amongst a community of imperfect believers. I am perfectly flawed. I cannot count but one day of life without sin. I always regret the ways in which I let my savior down. I strive to live a life for Christ; but the devil often crosses my path and leads me down the road to sin. I do not wish to follow his ways, but rather to cleanse myself with the holy water to follow in the path of Christ. My heart is pure and for my Lord. I feel an overflowing love and adoration for my savior Christ. I hear the promises my Lord makes in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1212). I hear his calling and I follow him, to live a life of purity and the need for nothing more than my faith in my Lord and savior Jesus Christ; for I understand that this life in the present moment is but temporary, the starting point for a life of eternity in Christ that is yet to come.


Morning-Routine

Image Credits: Tony Hendley

Well, I’m so awful at completing May’s 30-Day Writing Challenge that I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever manage to complete it by the end of June lol. I just get so busy especially this past week with starting my new job at Penn Medicine and learning how to navigate the city and take public transportation.

But anyway, I left off on day 22 which tells me to describe my morning routine. This is a pretty easy challenge. I’ll start off with the weekdays and then move onto the weekends.

On the weekends my goal is to wake up and start getting ready at 4, but that rarely ever happens. I like to get up super early so that I have plenty of time to read my bible and say my morning prayers. I can get by with getting up at 5 though. In a perfect world though, my day starts at 4.

I’ll look at my phone to check the time and see if I received any messages overnight. If I did, I’ll respond to them if I can be quick. If it’s something that requires more thought, time, and energy, I may save it for later.

Next I use the bathroom, wash my hands, and plug in my straightening iron to give it some time to heat up. I’ll take my hair out of the hair ties and shake it around a bit. I always get a shower the night before and sometimes let my hair air dry overnight. If it’s still damp, I’ll go over to my parent’s bathroom and blow dry it for a few minutes.

Once I ensure that my hair is dry enough for straightening, I continue to give my straightening iron a bit more time to heat up and I head on over to the kitchen. I turn on the Keurig and brew myself a cup of coffee. I don’t drink it right away though as I need it to cool. I pour myself a big glass of water and then take my morning medicine: 2 tabs of aleve to help relieve the pain in my hands that comes from being a writer and working on a computer all day, 4 airborne tabs to keep me from getting sick, and 1 allergy tab. Then I head to my room and prepare my breakfast (I have my own fridge in my room) which is almost always some kind of fruit mixed with chia seeds and either goat or feta cheese.

I take my breakfast with me into the bathroom and eat it as I straighten my hair. I straighten about half of it which takes about 15-20 minutes and then I take a break to rescue my coffee from the keurig and to throw out my trash from breakfast. Then I resume my hair straightening while sipping away at my coffee. It usually only takes me about 10-15 minutes to complete.

When I finish straightening my hair I go back in my room and get dressed while finishing my coffee. Sometimes this takes just a few minutes and sometimes it takes forever because I can’t decide what to wear. After I finish getting dressed I move back to my bathroom and put my contacts in. Then I do my makeup.

Once I’m dressed with my contacts in and makeup on I head back to the kitchen and brew myself another cup of coffee and grab out my bible and read the passages listed on my daily bible reading plan. When I finish with those I read my daily passage from my Guide Posts daily devotional book. Then I say my daily prayers.

When I notice that the clock says 6, I go back in my bathroom and brush my teeth and swish around some mouthwash. I start waking my dad up by 6:20. He usually doesn’t actually get up until 6:30 though.

After my dad is up I start gathering my things for work. I carry a backpack now because it makes it easier for traveling to and from the speedline, subway, and walking to and from work. I make sure I bring a hoodie in my backpack, a bottle of water, pack my lunch, a pair of sneakers, and a book. I also get my purse ready by making sure to pack extra cochlear batteries, my glasses in case I lose a contact,gum, my cellphone and charger, and plenty of money to pay for my patco and subway tickets/tokens. Once I have everything gathered and packed, I grab my sunglasses, ID badge, and dad’s car keys and head out to warm up the car.

I load all of my belongings into the car and start the car and put the defrosters on. Dad usually comes out about 10 minutes later and then we head out to the PATCO station in Woodcrest.When we get to Woodcrest dad drops me off by the doors and I head over to the machine to buy a roundtrip ticket. Then I wait for the train to come.

When the train arrives I get on as soon as I can and find a railing to hold on to (usually right by the doors) and stand up for the ride. Some gentlemen usually offer their seats to me, but I politely decline. I’m far too anxious of a person to actually sit down on PATCO. I like to stand by the doors so that it’s easy for me to get in and out and I won’t have to worry about getting trapped and missing my stop. Also, this way I can look out the window and see where I am. It can be hard to hear them announce the stops and they don’t always show it on the screens.

I get off of the PATCO at 8th and market — the first stop over the bridge. Then I proceed to take the Frankfurt L subway train. I have to find the sales office to buy 2 roundtrip tokens. It usually takes me awhile to find the stupid office, but I’m getting better. I’m never in too much of a hurry, because I pretty much always have plenty of time. I’m always early for work — I never really have to fear being late. When I buy the tokens the old man at the sales office laughs at me because I stumble on my words. I guess most people just ask for “round trip tokens”, but then there’s me…I utter “Can I please have roundtrip tokens for the Frankfurt L Subway Westbound to Philadelphia”? I probably don’t have to use so many words, but I’m always paranoid of getting on the wrong train and going to the wrong place. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

I get my tokens and send them through to the guard and go through the security gate and wait for the subway train to arrive. Once it arrives I ride it to 34th and market. Then I get up and walk about a quarter of a mile to the Science building where I work. As I walk in I pull out my ID badge to show it to the guard so she knows I belong there. Once she nods her approval I continue onto the elevators where I take the elevator to the 2nd floor and walk into suite 230 where my office is located, ready to take on a full day of work.

My schedule is vastly different on the weekend. On the weekends I don’t have work which means no PATCO or Subway. I usually don’t wake up until around 8:30-9. Then I use the bathroom, wash up, grab some water, take my medicine, and then finish getting ready by putting my contacts in and getting dressed.

Once I’m dressed and ready to go, I grab out my aquacase and hook them up. I’m about to walk outside for a few hours where I might get pretty sweaty, so it’s good to have them on to keep out the sweat and moisture. Then I log onto my computer and search through garagesalefinder.com to see who’s having a yard sale and where. I write down a few addresses on a post it with notes on how far they are from my home and then I type in the closest one to my home in google maps. I grab my bag with my wallet and some water and swing it onto my back, grab my keys and sunglasses and phone, and head out the door.

I never know where I’m going, but that’s half the fun. I follow the GPS on my phone to the nearest yard sale. I usually don’t see anything good, but I appreciate the long walks and being surrounded by nature, it’s refreshing. I try to go to 3 of them, but it depends on the time — most are over by 1 or 2.

Every other weekend I have an appointment with my hairdresser scheduled at 2:30, so on those weekends I try to be home by 11 to give me time to get a shower and to get ready. If I don’t have an appointment with her that week, I may stay out longer.

If it rains or is too hot (or in the case of winter/fall, too cold) then I opt out of my walk and just stay in and work on cleaning the house, my room, and my bathroom in the morning instead.

This pretty much sums up what my mornings are like. How about you guys? Do you have any specific morning routines?


51

Image Credits: The Pursuit of God

So…I ruined my good streak yesterday by not posting. I just got too busy with yard sailing, my hair appointment, spending some time at the pool, making dinner, etc. that by the time I had time to blog, I didn’t have the energy for it. I wanted to make this good rather than just throwing any ol’ thing together.

Anyway, I left off on Day 21 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge. Today I am instructed to look up my horoscope and reflect on it and whether or not it fits me. Except I’m not going to do that.

You see, there used to be a time when I was obsessed with Astrology. I still have a couple of books on it. It fascinated me, but it was beyond a fascination: it became my obsession. I am a Taurus and I always thought the characteristics of a Taurus was spot-on for me: stubborn, passionate lovers, foodies, ambitious, reliable, and at times possessive. But my obsession with astrology went beyond just looking up my horoscope and focusing on Taurus characteristics. I’d look up others horoscopes and judge them based on what their horoscopes said and I’d judge their personality and our compatibility based on the traits of their signs.

Horoscopes sound innocent enough, but when you truly base your life around them, that’s when they can become dangerous. I remember a time about 6 years ago when I befriended a older man who was a mutual friend of some of my friends and who I went to high school and later college with. We were talking and we both liked each other. We’d make plans to see each other, but they never ever ended up working out for us (we actually had a huge blow out fight over this, but that’s another story). I was a Taurus and he was Cancer. The sign for Cancer is a Crab because sometimes they can be kind of well, “crabby”. They also have a tendency to hide in their shell at times. Taurus and Cancer are supposed to be the ideal match in the world of astrology. If my memory is correct, there is no other sign that is supposed to be better for a Taurus than a crab. We both knew this and this became our hope that things would work out great for us.

We never had one single date. We never saw each other beyond school. There was never any hanging out or anything. He’s currently engaged to someone else. Perfect match? Obviously, the world of astrology got that one wrong when it comes to us.

I’d also use astrology to judge his mood all the time. We’d talk every night over AIM (that was the big thing those days). I didn’t have a cell phone with unlimited texting at the time — just a tracfone so texting was too expensive and I couldn’t call because this was before I had my cochlear implants and therefore I couldn’t hear on the phone. Before we talked I’d look up his horoscope. It would often tell me if he was going to be in a good or bad mood and what I could expect. It wasn’t always right, but I put all of my hope and faith in that and trusted in that instead.

Where was God in all of this?

Absent. He was completely absent. I was 20 years old. I was a Christian, but I didn’t really “know” God. If you asked me what my religion was I’d tell you Christianity in a heartbeat, but astrology would have been a more honest answer, since that is where I put my hope, faith, and trust and what I based most of my life on. It was dangerous, stupid, and wrong.

Now that I am deeper in my faith and my understanding of Christ I have since given up on astrology. It’s not real and I have no business basing my life around it — Christ is the center of my life. The bible warns time and time again on the dangers of astrology and mysticism. We see in  Leviticus 19:26 that the bible says,  “Do not practice divination or sorcery”. Astrology is a form of divination or sorcery. Deuteronomy 18:9-12 & 14 also says, “Do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there… The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so… Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.” The practice of astrology is a major sin in the Christian religion. The reason is because we are to put all of our faith and trust in God, not sorcery. God already knows every day of our lives — he is the author of our lives. And he will reveal his plan to us at the appropriate time and not a day sooner. Learning our fate through astrology can only bring us great harm as we do not understand what is promised to us in the future yet (and often times it will not be accurate anyway).

Astrology may seem fun and innocent at first, but underneath it all lays the potential for great danger, and it is sinful at best. I’m more than happy to put my astrological days behind me and embrace Christianity and God’s given plan for me and to wait for his perfect timing instead.


 

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Image Credits: Pinterest

Hey guys! So first things first – I hope at least one of you noticed I’ve been doing some work on this blog! My goal is to make it look slightly less like a blog and more like a website. I think it’s (sort of) getting there? It should at least make it easier to find things on here and maybe over time help with my SEO, or so I’m hoping. Eventually I’ll work on purchasing a domain name and hosting, but in the past I’ve spent a fortune on web hosting for a website I didn’t do much with, so I want to make sure I know what I’m doing and have the time to invest in this blog to make the investment worthwhile first.

Today I’m on Day 17 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge. Today’s challenge is to write about a quote that I try to live by. Easy: none.

This probably surprises some of you. I used to be obsessed with quotes. I used to keep a “Quote Book” filled with my favorite quotes (all written in a variety of colored ink to make them stand out). It had hundreds and hundreds of quotes and at one point, I got pretty fanatical with updating that book. I even saw it as my prized possession that I wanted to give to my future husband or kids one day.

I have a little bit of a digital version of the “Quote Book” on my Facebook page right now, but I’m planning to take most of it down since it looks a bit obnoxious, but anyway, here’s a screen shot so you can get a glimpse of how it looks now:

fav quotes 01fav quotes 02fav quotes 03

 

That’s not even half of what is currently on my Facebook page. Most of them are quotes I cam across in my reading as an English major. Only one is a verse of scripture.

I still really like and enjoy all of these quotes. They inspire me, motivate me, encourage me, and do all of the things a good quote should do. But I stopped living my life based on them or based around them. Instead, I choose to live my life based around scripture, the real truth and way of life. The bible is the book of life. Emerson, Thoreau, Good Charlotte, Stephen Kings, and my friends have some great words of wisdom, but I shouldn’t base my life around anything in the world except scripture.

Here are some of the bible verses/passages that have had the most profound impact on my life. I am purposefully not going to include what the actual verse is because my hope is that I can encourage one or more of my readers to open the bible (in this case, Google also works) and find out for themselves.

  1. Proverbs 3:5 – I can be an anxious person. Sometimes life becomes really overwhelming and I don’t understand what God is doing in my life. This verse is a great reminder for me to not overanalyze situations, but instead, to trust in God.

2. Matthew 6:25-34. This goes along with some of the same principals with why I love Proverbs 3:5 so much. Not only am I am very anxious person, I’m also a worrier. This verse is like God’s way of saying “Knock it off!” This is probably one of my most shared bible verses. Whenever a friend tells me they are overly worried or anxious about an issue, I often tell them to read these verses.

3. Ecclesiastes 4:9: This is a really special verse to me. It is supposed to be talking about the value of friendship and companionship. However, I came across it for the first time at the end of last summer. During this time I was trying to decide whether or not I should go bilateral. My parents told me “Don’t decide, pray to God and he’ll give you the answer”. When I read this bible verse I knew God was telling me to go for it.

4.Proverbs 31: I won’t go into detail, but I made some really, really, really bad mistakes in some of my past relationships. I had major regrets and for several years thought I was unworthy of God’s love and forgiveness. I knew that he loved and forgave me for what I’ve done, but I was so ashamed by actions that I couldn’t love or forgive myself. When it first happened and I first opened up to a friend about it, they referred me to this verse. They told me that I’m a sinner just like every other woman on earth. I’m not perfect, but I don’t have to be. The best I can do is strive to be like a Proverbs 31 woman.

5. Psalm 91: This is a really important bible verse in my family. Back in 1992 or 1993 my dad was about to die from kidney disease.  At this time we attended the Pitman Church of the Nazarene. At the time it was such a powerful, amazing church filled with the holiest people you could imagine and one incredible pastor. One woman we went to church with, Mrs. Helene Vail, would visit my dad in the hospital (she’d visit the family too, and sometimes would watch my sister and I as we were only 3 and  6 at the time) and she told him to read this verse. It always had a profound impact on his life and I think made a huge difference in the fact that he survived. God took care of him, just as this bible verse said he would.

6. Romans 12:2 This verse reminds me not to care so much about stupid, superficial, materialistic things. It doesn’t matter. Not one bit. I can enjoy those things, but God should be my priority. Always.

7. Matthew 12:28: I get stressed, overwhelmed, burnt out, and exhausted at times. Sometimes, I feel like I’m going to have a complete melt down. This verse is my reminder to let go and give it God.

8. Psalm 24:4: This goes along with Psalm 91, and may have also been a verse recommended by Mrs. Helene Vail. Even when death is at your doorstep, you can still find hope in the Lord.

9. Psalm 23:1: This goes along with Romans 12:2. Anything I don’t already have, I really don’t need in life. The Lord always provides.

10. Romans 14:13: I, like every other person in the world, can be pretty judgemental at times. (If you say you’re not at all judgemental, you may have a bigger problems on your hands…because you’re a liar). This verse reminds me not to cast judgement on others, but rather, try to help them out and not further derail them from the path of righteousness.

 

These are just a few of my favorite bible verses that have impacted me greatly. The entire book of the bible is what I strive to live my life based around though. Every single verse is important and impactful. Scripture is far more powerful and valuable than any ol’ “quote” and much more worthy of basing your life around.

 

 



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