Salt & Light

I often wonder what being a Christian looks like to outsiders, and I guess that opinion can vary depending on who the person has been exposed to.

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So many variables play into the way a person sees anything really. If you’ve had daddy issues or been in an abusive relationship, you’re more likely to not trust men in general. But then again, you may have a strong desire for male approval. Depending on how you were raised, you may prefer to be in control or be led. No matter the case, each person responds in their own way, with their own expectations, triggered by past experiences. Your personality type, gender and priorities factor greatly into how you react or respond to life’s journey.

I became a Christian when I was 9 years old. When I say I became a Christian, I mean that I “asked God into my heart”. To me, this means that I suddenly realized that I was a sinner (as much of a sinner as a 9 year old can be), and I accepted the gift of Christ dying on the cross in my place because I was a sinner. Did I understand what that meant? Sure. I understood salvation. I understood that the only way to get to heaven was through Jesus, and that without Him, I was lost. I got saved one night after a “Heaven’s gates, Hell’s Flame’s” play. If you don’t know what that is, don’t YouTube it because it will scare the Hell out of you- literally. I was afraid of going to Hell. In fact, I prayed many times that God “save” me when I was young because I was afraid that maybe I didn’t do it the right way. I mean God forbid that I die suddenly by falling off the jungle gym and go straight to hell because I didn’t pray the right way!

I became a Christ follower much later in life. What’s the difference, you ask? Allow me to explain this first hand. You become a Christ follower when you SEE God. No, I’m not explaining a supernatural experience, nor have I drunk any Kool-Aid lately. Perhaps a better way of putting it would be that your eyes are OPENED to God, and what He’s about. When you feel His grace and you “Let go and let God”, you free yourself of YOU, and there’s more room for Him. See, when your life is committed to God, you are aligned with His plan, and His plan is perfect. Always. As Christians, we seem to make it more about what we’re supposed to do, when He has already done what needed to be done. By doing this, we are limiting Christianity and God’s vision.

We also limit ourselves. I had a moment with God the other day. One of those “eye-opening” moments. I was praying to God about a person whom my heart was hurting for- An atheist, who had openly shared with me their views on their existence. Someone who politely listened to my viewpoints, and even politely responded that it was ok that I believed the way I did. I was particularly praying because I KNEW God had put this person in my life for a reason, but I was scared. Scared of saying the wrong thing and jeopardizing the slightest chance of them considering kicking the tires of Christianity. I was scared of the consequences I would face for confronting this person about their beliefs. Now a days, you never know what will happen when standing up for Christianity. But God calmed my fears and helped me understand (through prayer) that the consequences of this world are not His consequences.

Even going to Hell is not His consequence- it’s your choice. Consequences existed the moment a choice was made. When Adam and Eve deliberately sinned in the garden, they created consequences for actions. From that point on, we had a choice.

The point of this post, and what God has laid on my heart, is that we can’t just become a Christian for a “Get out of Hell free” pass. We also cannot become a Christian because we seek comfort- that’s essentially worshipping an idol. Being a Christian isn’t rainbows and roses. You will go through hardship, and you will be burned. The difference is- you can count on being a part of God’s plan and know that He will not harm you (Jeremiah 29:11).

I heard the most remarkable statement from my Pastor Sunday, and I will never let myself forget it. It fits perfectly into this story:

“If the only purpose to being a Christian was to go to heaven, then God would take our lives the moment we became one”.

I’m challenging myself this year to actively minister to at least my little world. I can’t be a perfect example of a Christian, but I can point you to a God who is perfect and wants you to be a part of His story. If you want to join me in this “Salt and Light” challenge, please let me know and I will personally pray for you.
Please, please, PLEASE pray for my friend, the atheist. Pray that God tugs at their heart. I don’t feel led to pursue them, but I truly believe God will open another window for me to share with them. I’m thankful to have planted the seed that I did, but it’s going to take more. It’s going to take God.

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Christ-like Love

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I’m pretty stubborn headed, from what I’ve been told by many. I don’t sway my opinion often, and when I do it’s usually for a pretty good reason. It’s hard for me to make an initial decision, but once my mind is made up- it is. Like deciding where to eat: At first, I have to imagine the restaurant strip…“Ok there’s Applebees, O’Charley’s, Longhorn.. Oh Longhorn sounds good! No wait, I haven’t had Red Lobster in a while!” By the time I’ve settled for Chili’s, I’ve already made up my mind that I want the Monterey Chicken, and I can taste the delicious cheesy bacon that tops the tender chicken breast layered with avocado. Mouth watering yet? Now, imagine my frustration when that decision is turned over and vetoed. We’re eating at Los Reyes now. Suddenly, my taste buds go numb, and I can’t possibly think about what Los Reyes would have that could possibly live up to the Monterey Chicken! Yes, they have cheese, and chicken, and avocados…. But the Bacon! Oh sweet bacon!

Let’s face it being overruled SUCKS. It would be nice if everyone had the same desires you have, and made the same decisions you did, but as you’ve probably learned –life doesn’t work that way. In fact, one of the most beautiful things about God’s love and sovereignty is that He leaves our choices to us. He lets us decide to love Him or leave Him. Have you ever stopped to think that He is big and powerful enough to make us do what He wants, yet He doesn’t? I am thankful that our God is merciful enough to allow me to fall at His feet after I’ve made a stupid decision that He probably told me not to!

By the time you’ve entered your twenty-somethings, you have a pretty good idea about how you feel about the world around you. You’ve learned some trivial lessons in life and probably got bitten a time or two.

One lesson I learned in my early college days is that I am NOT a debator. I may be stubborn, but I can’t handle direct confrontation. It’s not that I conform, I just don’t want to damage a relationship over a difference of opinions. I think that is why I get along so well with my friends Tara and Rebecca (Love you guys!) because while we may not agree 100% on everything, we know when to back off and move on. That’s the reason our friendship has sustained through as much as it has. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have found amazing girls like them!

The experiences I share with these two is unexplainable, but I will try… I feel loved. I feel laid back. I feel I like I can do anything! I know I can trust them, and they can trust me. I DON’T feel pressured, judged, or left out. And as I reflect on our relationship, I realize it’s a lot like how I feel with my heavenly Father. I know He loves me. I can rest in the peace He provides. I can trust that His will in my life is what’s best for me.

Something that has been heavy on my heart lately, and what has inspired this blog post, is that it seems like Christians are so caught up into preaching at people than they are living out the love of Christ. And if you don’t know the difference between the two, then you’re probably guilty.

Here’s the perfect example. I am TOTALLY 100% in agreement that we as Christians should read the Bible outside of church. But I didn’t come to this conclusion because I was raised in church, and was told to read my Bible every day. Though growing up in a Christian environment is important, it is only a vital factor. When I am feeling down, or depressed, or I am struggling with a situation, I read my Bible. Why? Because it’s about more than just reading a book. I have had so many God experiences reading my Bible. Unexplainable, amazing experiences where God has spoken and encouraged me through His word. It’s during those times I learned that the Bible is more than just a rule book, it’s a GUIDE to life! I could have never felt this way if I was forced to read it, but instead I was encouraged and I reaped the benefits, which sold me for life!

The fact is that most of us have set opinions about different subjects, from gay marriage (or even just BEING gay) to drinking a beer, to playing the lottery or smoking pot. VERY rarely does someone sway their views on a topic from a debate or conversation. The reason for this is because of approach. As humans, our primary focus tends to be on one thing- ourselves. When someone threatens our expertise, we shut them out. Just like when I decide I want Monterey Chicken in my belly and someone chooses Los Reyes.

Unfortunately, our biggest challenge in life isn’t simply where to eat. It’s much bigger things. But instead of trying to change the person or convict them, why don’t we try to LOVE them as Christ does? It’s not really our place to judge anyway! God works in our hearts and will convict us when something is coming in between us and Him.

So instead of spewing bitter, judgemental beliefs, I choose to show love. Instead of fighting evil with evil, I choose to love. I choose to love because I was loved FIRST, by Him… When I was the most unlovable. It’s called grace and it covers all wrong and all sin….

I love you all! Thank you for reading!

God bless,

Kaila

December Five Favorites

It’s that time again! More like it’s about time I post something because it’s been almost 2 weeks… My bad!

So this month I had to put a lot of thought into what my five favorite items were. Mainly because it was Christmas time and I really didn’t buy anything new for myself. Since I’ve only had a week to play with my Christmas “toys”, I’ll have to wait until February to feature some of them in my “Favorite Five”.

Before I get started, I want to talk about a few blog topics coming up soon that I am SUPER DUPER (I need to start reminding myself that I’m in my 20’s before using terms like that) excited about!

  1. January Clothes Challenge!- I am attempting to go on a clothing purchase hiatus for all of January… Not only that, but I have planned out several outfits without repeating a single item, and I’m going to show YOU how to do it!
  2. One of my bestest friends recently got a curling wand with 5 interchangeable rods from Bombay Hair, and has agreed to write a review for me! I’m so tickled and can’t wait to see what all she does with this fabulous tool!

Ok, so the first item I am currently obsessed with is the new Chapstick Hydration Lock. My lips would be suffering tremendously, as cold and windy as it has been lately, without this wonderful goodness. Most chapsticks I’ve used leave a wax layer on my lips. And even if my lips miraculously absorb it, it’s gone within 30 minutes. Hear me when I say this stuff LASTS. You can dab, lick, or purse your lips, and it’s still there. Here’s a short description of how it works from the Chapstick site:

  • Clinically proven to moisturize lips, with a lightweight feel
  • 8 hours of advanced moisturization revitalizes and visibly improves the appearance of lips
  • Enriched with antioxidant CoQ10 and hyaluronic filling spheres

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The next item that I think you’ll love is by….wait for it… SUAVE. It’s their dry shampoo spray, and it’s only $2.50 at Walmart! I don’t really use it as a dry shampoo, but more as a texturizer for my roots. It’s great  to use if you back tease your hair!

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Number 3 is not so much a brand as it is an item. Fleece lined leggings are a trend this winter- and for a good reason! Not only are they cute, but they are WARM! I’m talking warmer than my jeans warm!(Guilty confession- I’ve been wearing them under my jeans sometimes…Don’t judge!) I say grab these in every possible color you can find!

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Alrighty, number 4…. Oh dear #4, what would I do without you? I have VERY sensitive skin (particularly on my face) and it seems to only be getting worse with age. But I wear makeup. And water just doesn’t do the trick. I came across these little babies one day and decided to try them, and was very impressed! They have some sort of oil balancing effect which is good for my combo skin, but they also take of water proof mascara (which the package doesn’t say, but I’ve tried it). The brand is called simple and I found them at Walmart. (duh…)

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And for the final “fav”. It’s the beginning of a new year, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon and commit to a daily devotional. This is one I’ve actually had for awhile (Mom gave it to me for my birthday a couple of years back),  so I’ve read some of it. But, I want to let my OCD take control and start with Jan 1. This one is by Max Lucado, who I really enjoy reading. It’s called “Grace for the Moment”. It has a morning devotional and a night devotional!

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Hope you enjoyed reading this week! And don’t forget to check back for the upcoming posts I was talking about earlier!

God Bless,

Kaila

 

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

A phrase that has become sort of a cliche for fellow Christians has become infatuation of mine recently. Growing up, I can remember spending birthday money on Christmas presents for my parents and sister, and when I didn’t have money, I made things like pictures or those teeny potholders made with tiny looms. Christmas has never been about what I wanted, in fact I don’t remember many years that I wrote a list (though I’m sure I did sometimes). To me it has always meant an opportunity to give to others. At the age of 16 when I got my first job, I remember getting my first angel off of the Christmas tree in the mall, starting a tradition that would evolve over time but maintain the same concept of giving throughout the years for me.

While giving is such a blessing, I’ve come to realize this year that there is SO (so, so, so, SO) much more to Christmas than giving/receiving. I think the closer I get to having children, the more I think about the world THEY will grow up in and what kind of values I want to instill in them. My parents never “did” Santa (I’ll give you a second to recover from the shock…..). My mom believed that if she taught us Santa was real and then we later found out otherwise, yet we had SEEN him and sat in his lap, how could she convince us to believe in God, when we HAVEN’T seen Him. I never felt like I missed out, in fact on the contrary I felt that I could appreciate the gifts I received at Christmas a little better knowing that Dad worked hard to provide them for my sisters and I.

Great idea, but not enough to convince me that my children must be sheltered from the “pagan” symbol of Christmas. I mean, it’s a tradition so why would they doubt their salvation if they understand the concept of Saint Nick, right? Fast forward to a time where I’m more exposed to kids that are infatuated with a fictitional character that can give them everything they want, if they’re only good enough.. Whoa, whoa, WHAT?! You’re saying SANTA gets to decide whether I’m worthy enough for something I want? Santa kinda seems like a jerk… But I guess that’s how it goes in America now a days. You have to fix your problems to be accepted. Insecure about your body? Have plastic surgery! Don’t tell anyone about that addiction you’re battling with, or you won’t be “accepted”! If you’re a Christian, you better not be too open about your “religion” or you will offend someone!

How about we’re ALL imperfect, and we ALL make mistakes??? I’m not a Ga Ga fanatic, but there is SOME truth to her song “Born this Way”. Yes, God made us (Adam and Eve WERE made perfect, however after the Fall of Man, we became imperfect due to a human mistake) and we were born this way. And despite what some Christians think, Jesus died for us like we ARE. There is nothing you can do to earn or deserve what Christ did for you and I. Just let that sink in for a second…. You are imperfect. You fail. You think really horrible things about people you really can’t stand. You do things that would make your Mama faint. You fall. You give yourself too much credit sometimes. You try to make yourself look like someone you’re not. Gosh, when you think about it, if Santa WAS real, we’d all be in really big trouble! So, why do we make our kids believe that being a certain way that they are not, is the only way they’ll get toys? How many times have we given our kids toys for Christmas even though they were bad half the year? Maybe this is why our young people are so good at acting a certain way and fooling everyone when they’re falling apart internally….

I don’t want my kids to believe that being good is going to earn them material things, as much as I don’t want them to think that being good is what’s going to get them into heaven. Now that doesn’t mean that I won’t get them things for Christmas, I just want them to understand the TRUE meaning of Christmas. That Christ came down, and lived like you and I to save this world. God gave a gift to us- His Son, so that you and I could have the gift of heaven. And to celebrate this miracle, we give gifts to one another in love. Love that was shown through our wonderful Maker. In a sense, we try to be obedient (by good actions) as a reaction to His love, instead of reacting out of greed.

James 1:16-17 says “ 16 Don’t be deceived, my dearly loved brothers. 17 Every generous act and every perfect gift is from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.”

So when the time comes and I have little ones to share Christmas with, not only will we read about the birth of Christ and thank God for giving the ultimate gift, but we will also thank Him for the jobs that He blessed Mommy and Daddy with, so that we can provide gifts to our loved ones and those in need. I’m certainly not pushing an agenda to rid the world of Santa, I just ask that you take a step back as a parent and think about how you present Christmas. What are your children learning from it? How can you make it less about us and more about Him?