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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: 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:

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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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Image Credits: Brave Words

This post may sound shocking to most people. I am a lifelong Christian and over the years my relationship with Christ has strengthened tenfold. I’ve been through tough times in life and in those tough times, that’s when God’s love for me shined the brightest and when I realized I needed him the most. I always encourage other to strengthen their relationships with God and to read their bibles and to pray more. I myself have been on a schedule of waking up by 5am every morning so I’d have enough time to read my daily bible plan (a verse or two from the old testament, a verse of two from the new testament, a psalm, and a proverb) and to pray. I know that by reading my bible and praying first thing in the morning, I’m more likely to have a better day. Spending this time with God helps to set the mood. It makes it so I go into work more relaxed, happier, and humble. So why would I choose to go Godless for 2 weeks straight?

Well, to start, it wasn’t intentional at all. It happened accidentally and then before I knew it God was almost completely out of my life for 2 weeks.

It started the week of January 17th. I was suffering a pinched nerve that made it very difficult to walk, let alone move. I needed to stay in that weekend to recover, so church was out of the question that week. But I still made an attempt to be there even if I couldn’t be there in person. I read my bible. I prayed. I listened to the live streaming of the church sermon from home. I followed it up by listening to John MacArthur’s Charismatic Chaos sermons that I’ve recently come to love after being introduced to them from a fellow member of my church. I figured it was “good enough”.

But it wasn’t.

I’ve had a lot of things going on in my life at the time. I’ve been very busy. You’re never too busy for God, but I thought I was. God was beginning to slip out of my life. He definitely wasn’t a priority like he should’ve been. One day I’d skip reading my bible and praying. “I’ll just read two days worth of plans and pray more tomorrow. I can say silent prayers — God will hear me,” I said. But one day without bible reading and prayers turned into 2 days and 2 days turned into 3 and before I knew it I went more than a full week without cracking my bible open once.

My church attendance didn’t improve, either. We got hit with a blizzard last weekend and my church, like most churches in the area, was forced to close. Not that I would’ve went anyway (I’m not sure if I would have honestly).

Once God started to slip out of my life, I had a harder and harder time bringing him back into my life. I have been going through some challenging times in my life. Whenever I think I have my life all figured out, it doesn’t quite go as planned. I think I know what I want in my life and when I don’t get my way (even though it just means God has something better in store for me), I feel discouraged and defeated.

To be honest — I got angry at the world — everyone and everything in it. Beyond that, I was angry at God. I was angry at God for not answering my prayers and giving me the things I wanted in life. I felt like I had to close my book and end my relationship with him as a form of punishment. But in the end, I’m the one that suffered. Here’s what happened when I went Godless for 2 weeks.

1. I suffered depression. I feel like every day for the past 2 weeks my mom has yelled at me for being depressed. She said she’d kick my butt if I didn’t learn how to smile. My dad has been a bit concerned about me, too. And they are both right: I was depressed. Days felt way too long. I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t want to see people. I didn’t want to really live my life. I wanted to eat, sleep, and lay in bed watching TV until I fell asleep. A night in with beer, Fireball, ice cream, and Netflix sounded great. Except I didn’t just want that on Friday night after a hard day of work. I wanted it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and every moment of every day. Having to do something relevant and meaningful in my life seemed like a bother. I didn’t think I had the ability to do anything meaningful either, because I felt like a completely useless, worthless, waste-of-space human being. Depression will do that to you. Had I have just turned to God and opened my bible then I might have read Psalm 139:14 which would have reminded that “I am fearful and wonderfully made.” This verse alone could have helped me to fight against my crippling depression.

2. I became lazy. This goes hand and hand with the depression. Getting out of bed seemed to take up all of my energy. Putting effort into my appearance was just asking for too much. Ask me when the last time I’ve been to the gym was — can’t remember the answer to that. All I wanted to do was watch Netflix and not much else.

3. I became worldly. Netflix was a really great invention. Arguably, it’s one of the greatest inventions in the world (okay, I may be taking this a little too far here). But it’s still a worldly invention. Romans 12:2 reminds us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Again, have I had taken the time to open my bible during this 2-week period, I may have been reminded of this. Instead I became very much conformed to the world. Netflix became the center of my life. I wanted more and more worldly things (none of which could ever satisfy me or bring me happiness) and I became jealous of everyone who seemed to have more worldly items than I did. I based my happiness off of these worldly things, not my relationship with God. This was a huge mistake. 1 John 2:15-17 states, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Pastor John Piper further elaborates on this in his sermon titled Do Not Love the World.  Simply put, we cannot love both God and the world. When we choose to love the world, which is precisely what I was doing, we can never be completely satisfied. This is because the things of the world are temporary but God’s love will endure forever (See Psalm 136).

4. I became prideful. The bible warns over and over again on the dangers of becoming prideful. I feel like this  is one of the things I struggle with the most as a Christian, and once I remove God from my life my pridefulness becomes out of control. I did just as Deuteronomy 8:14 states, “Your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God.” I became a pretty stuck-up, stubborn, nasty person who felt she had special entitlements and that the world owed her everything. I was far from humble or appreciative of what I had. And then I experienced just what 2 Chronicles 26:16 warns us of, “His pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God.” My unfaithfulness to God lead me to become more prideful, which ultimately led to my downfall.

5. I couldn’t get along with anyone. No one likes a prideful or miserable person, so this shouldn’t be all that surprising. I am normally a pretty easy-going and never have a problem with anyone. But during my 2 Godless weeks I really struggled to get along with people. Everyone got on my nerves and bothered me. Some people were just trying to be nice and help me, but I didn’t want to hear it. My pride often got in the way and I felt I was above them. When someone didn’t feed into my pride, I hated them. I definitely didn’t do a good job of following the second most important commandment, “Love thy neighbor” (see Mark 12:31). I didn’t really love much of anyone.

6. My anxiety and paranoia took a turn for the worst. I became much more paranoid and anxious. I worried constantly. I thought everyone hated me and was out to get me. I always seen the worst in things, not the best, and I’d play false negative scenarios out in my head. Matthew 6:25-27 says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?” When God is a part of our daily lives, we know that he will always take care of us and supply our every need. But when we remove God from our lives, it becomes all too easy to forget that. Instead, we choose to worry even though we have nothing to worry about.

7. I became blind. God never let me down or stopped loving me. He never failed me a day of my life and he never will. Yes, he didn’t give me what I want in my life, but if past experiences have taught me anything it’s that the reason I didn’t get what I asked for or what I think I want is because God has something better in line for me. Without God in my life I became so blind that I couldn’t even see all of the incredible blessings that he have bestowed upon me. Take for instance my hearing appointment on Thursday. It was my first hearing test with my new cochlear implant. Prior to receiving that cochlear implant I had less than 7% of my hearing in that ear. I scored a 34% on my word recognition test. I viewed that as “failing” the test and being a horrible thing. All I focused on that day was how bad 34% sounds on paper and how upset I was to lose that 7% of residual hearing (even though it wasn’t much to be upset about anyway). I was so blinded that I didn’t even see how much of a blessing it was to go from 7% to 34% hearing in just 1 month of being implanted. To quote from John 9:25, “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

I learned a lot from going unintentionally Godless for 2 weeks. The most important thing I learned is that I need God in my life. I need him today, tomorrow, the next day, the day after that, and every day for the rest of my life. Life gets hard and without God, it is unmanageable. I am doomed for failure if I try to get through life without God. But as Matthew 19:26 says, “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

What is it that brought me back to the Lord? The good people of the Lord. People who were open and honest to me. Those who didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear, but what I needed to hear. People who yelled at me for being depressed and not seeing the blessings the Lord have bestowed upon me and people who yelled at me for not seeing the wonderful grace and glory of God. People, my mother especially, who told me that I needed to go back and open my bible. Those who told me things wouldn’t and couldn’t ever get better if I turned my back on God.

I may have turned my back on God for 2 weeks, but he never turned his back on me. He was there for me yesterday. He’s there for me today. And he’ll be there for me tomorrow. The question is, will I be there for him?

I’ve spent a good portion of today reading through my bible and fixing and strengthening and repairing my relationship with the lord. I still have a long way to go — a lifetime. In the couple of hours I spent studying my bible and picking up where I left off 2 weeks ago, I already feel much better. I can’t wait to get to church tomorrow. And I am very sorry for turning my back on God. As much as I want to say it will never happen again, I know that that is probably a lie. As a Christian I will fail God and probably turn my back on him many times over. The only things all Christians do perfectly is sin and constantly fail God. But the good news is this — he loves us anyway. He died to save us from our sins — there is no greater love than that. He wants nothing more to help us and have a relationship with us. We just have to remember that, especially during the tough times in life. God will make all things better even if you don’t understand it at the time, but he can’t make things better if you don’t know him. Sometimes, it’s during the hardest times of our lives that we need God the most. We just have to make sure to keep him in our lives and give him room to work.

 



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