Anything worth doing will have struggles. But anything worth the struggle is worth doing ~ Megan Finsel

Friday, September 11, 2015

Ten Truths About the Last Year at College

    For those of you, like myself, who are entering their final year of college and preparing to graduate, these are hectic times. Between paperwork for transferring and for graduation, entrance exams for universities, or job hunting for after you receive your diploma, there is so much to think about!

     But even though I've had three previous years at this school, and I have a pretty consistent routine, I've noticed some minor things are starting to change. Here are some of the things I have noticed about this year that has been different so far from past years: 

We Stress (a little) Less About Being on Time:

    Not a whole lot, but now that we've got the school memorized and we know we can get from the Library to the Science building in three minutes, we don't have to stress. Of course this frees our minds up to stress about other things, but hey, at least we don't stress about time anymore!

We Start Putting Our Health before Grades:

    When at first we needed to keep our GPA up and our classes in order, now that we have all our ducks in a row and our graduation is more or less guaranteed, our health can be taken into account. Now we can make up for all those late nights, followed by early morning classes, and we can choose water over Starbucks. We have time to cook our own healthier food, instead of deep-fried fast food between lectures. Unfortunately, in my opinion, this is what we should be doing from the beginning (but I'll explore that in another series). 

We Value Sleep:

    When we were once willing to sacrifice our sleep for a test, now we find we can hit the snooze button once or twice before having to get up. Naps (beautiful naps) come back into the picture. Hallelujah! Even though falling asleep on our textbooks doesn't count as osmosis, we can always keep trying. 

We Drink Less Coffee:

     This may just be me but I've noticed I'm drinking less coffee this semester. Perhaps because I'm valuing my sleep and health more, I'm not certain. But when I used to drink two or three cups of java a day, now I'm getting by on just one. Don't get me wrong, I still love coffee, but my reasons for drinking it seem to have changed this year. 

We Pray More:

    Between meeting transfer requirements, completing all our courses before graduation, and passing entrance exams, we need a little more Divine intervention. Prayer should be integrated into our routine anyways, but I've found that I've been praying even more, as I'm rushing to complete everything on time. Interestingly enough, it works! Just saying ;) 

We Make More Time for Friends:

    Friends on campus, friends outside of school, friends in general; when that final semester comes rolling around we find ourselves climbing out of that hole we'd been studying in and seeking companionship. Now, although our schedule is crazy, we take a minute to take that phone call from our bestie, or meet for coffee, and talk about things other than school. Life no longer revolves around classes and homework; it's a liberating realization!

We Don't Worry about Time Management (We've got that Down Pat Now):

    Homework assignments, classes, work schedules all of it has become second nature, and we don't have to make a note or set a reminder for everything anymore. Whether we stay organized with online tools (thank you Evernote and Google!) or with an old-fashioned, spiral-bound daily planner, what was once a hectic adjustment is now relatively easy. 

We Have More Fun:

    Whether it's video games, sports, or some other extra curricular activity, we tend to have the chance to have more fun (or even make time for it). Fun should be a priority, but in this final year we have the opportunity to have more of it, seeing as, hey, we're almost to the finish line!    

We Start Thinking about Graduation:

    This is probably the biggest one seeing as our final year is geared towards the main goal of walking across the stage and accepting that diploma. But of course it's never that simple, as we have paperwork to fill out, caps and gowns to buy, and classes to complete. All the while keeping that final goal in mind, while we trudge through the required courses.   

We Begin Planning for the Future:

    Although, this has been something we've probably already been thinking about, now it's more of a reality than ever. The future is looming, and graduation draws closer and closer. We start to put that five year plan into motion and we're seeing the fruits of our labors. It's an exciting (albeit nerve wracking) time. It can also lead to stress, anxiety, insomnia or other more serious emotional struggles. This is why our health becomes important and those prayers need to be as frequent as possible.




    Nonetheless, These are just my observations from personal experience, this list may or may not apply to everybody. Are you in your final year and you can relate? Can you think of something to add to the list? If so, feel free to comment below! And as always, good luck with your studies and God bless!

Monday, September 7, 2015

5 Reasons to Stop Stressing

    With everyone going back to school now and classes starting I thought I would dedicate this post to all the students out there. No matter what grade you're in, or how old you are, if you're in school right now, then there is one thing that most likely can connect all of us.

Stress

     I'm not sure why, but for some reason school can be really stressful! Am I right? Between homework, assignment deadlines, tests, and grade point averages, it can be really overwhelming. On top of all that, it seems we constantly have someplace we have to go or something we have to do. Then life quickly becomes hectic, and we can tend to find ourselves burning out, and stress can come into our lives. When we're under pressure or overwhelmed, and it all just seems like too much.



    This is rather sad, because life is so very short. In hindsight, that assignment we're stressing over now might not be a big deal in a week or two, but still we let it steal our joy. It's the trivial things in this world that tend to do that to us. Now, I'm not, in any way, saying that schoolwork is trivial, or that getting a degree isn't important (after all, I'm going to be a teacher myself, so I value schoolwork very highly). But, I'm saying that nothing is going to stick with us, and we cannot learn, if we are too stressed.




     The above verse tells us we need to cast all our anxiety (stress) on him (God). Now, sometimes that is definitely easier said than done. But God never tells us to do anything without fully equipping us to do so in the first place. This has been a personal struggle of mine (I do tend to worry more than I should), so I decided to write up a list of five reasons to stop stressing, and decided to share them with you today! Here we go...



The Top 5 Reasons to Stop Stressing:



God has everything under control!

    This is important to remember that even when we feel like everything in our lives is falling out of place, God still has the power to make everything alright. He is the Alpha and Omega, and He is the One who can change things for the better. So when life seems unbearably chaotic, remember the One who truly is in control!

You are strong and capable!

    It says in Joshua 9:1 that you are strong and 2 Timothy 1:7 that you are capable and of a sound mind. This is scriptural proof that you can handle this! God promises never to give us more than what we can handle, and that we already have the strength to endure. So whatever is coming against you in your day-to-day life, remember these verses and know that you will survive this.

Tomorrow is a new day!

    Even if you got a bad grade on a test or assignment, or you made a mistake in class, or said something to someone you shouldn't have, take heart! Remember that tomorrow is always a new day and that God's unending Grace is renewed each and every morning. That means He will give you new opportunities to learn from mistakes, or improve on your previous actions. Things can always be put right.

If it's meant to be, it will be! 

    If you're waiting on something to happen in your life (a relationship, a test score, an acceptance letter or scholarship, ect.) know that if it's meant to be, it will be. No amount of stressing or worrying can speed up or change anything. So rest in the fact that God already knows the outcome of your situation, and that whatever happens is happening according to His will for you.

You have blessings in store for you! 

    There are blessings, vast amounts of them, just waiting in store for you. God says in 2 Corinthians 8:9 that He wants to bless you and that He plans on blessing you. So when times seem hard (whether financially or with personal or familial issues, ect.) you can go to Him and say: "Lord, I could really use one of those blessings about now!" because He is just waiting for you to do so.

***

     And of course, if all else fails, I invite you to refer back to some important advice from my  favorite Disney animated fish:



     


     So, in the coming weeks, as we settle into the new school year and begin working, as we go to proms and homecoming, extra curricular activities, and standardized tests, think about this list. And when you find those moments of peace, hold onto them and breathe easily. For anyone who may need it, I'll put some resources below for managing stress. Finally, to everyone out there who are studying hard; God bless your efforts!


Resources:



Friday, September 4, 2015

The Truth about Beauty; the Standards are Evolving


    The standard for what is considered "beautiful" have evolved over the years (and by "beautiful", I don't necessarily mean our appearance). But with this gradual evolution of what is accepted and what isn't, there has been an increase in
hypocritical thinking. Like what? The following image really outlines my point:





     See what I mean? The world can be harsh but to put it plainly, this is ridiculous. Even though this problem isn't necessarily gender specific, women in particular seem to struggle the most. I'm trying to make a point that women today (and I'm especially thinking of the young teen girls out there) are still being manipulated by what society deems 'acceptable'. 

    Say I'm in school, and it's hot outside, I'm in a tank top and I'm told to cover up because what I'm wearing is 'distracting' to other (oftentimes male) students [to read an actual story like this, click here]. What am I really being told here? That I should be ashamed because of what I am wearing? Or that my looks and/or body is viewed as a problem to others? If I'm removed from the classroom or the school, does that mean I am less important than everyone else? This type of mentality can be damaging, especially to a young girl or lady already fighting her own self-esteem problems. Because, frankly, we have too much pressure already without having to worry if our shoulders are being a "distraction".


    I find the evolution of these standards really interesting. It amazes me how much things have changed; that we can go out to the beach in bikinis when it was once unacceptable, or walk around with cut-off jean, and crop-tops when it once wasn't right to show our ankles. Yet, even though society's standards have come far, we're still being told what is and isn't acceptable. Why is this? 




    The point is, no one (regardless of gender) should be told what they can and cannot wear. Likewise, these 'standards' should continue to evolve in a way that will better society. First impressions should be based on inward qualities, instead of outward appearance. After all, our looks are not what God is assessing when it comes to our Salvation or our livelihoods. It says so in 1 Samuel:



"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." ~ 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV  


    Over the last month, we've examining these standards and what society deems as 'appropriate'. This is a subject I'll probably return to time and again, because as long as these beauty standards are in place, there will be people who do not fit into the predetermined categories. There will be those who are outcast for their appearance, because they are not cast from the same mold everyone has deemed 'worthy'. This breaks my heart. 

    Never let anyone tell you what you should look like, or who you should be. Never let them make you feel less than your true value. Never let them pigeonhole you into a category or try to confine you in a box of predetermined ideas. We are meant to be unique and different! It's okay to have flaws and imperfections. Remember:


Want to read the previous posts from this series? 

Here is the whole list:

  1. Introducing the Truth about Beauty
  2. The Truth about Beauty; the Media is Damaging Us
  3. The Truth about Beauty; Loving Yourself
  4. The Truth about Beauty; Bullying
  5. The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of “Pretty”
  6. The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of “Handsome”
  7. The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of "Beauty"

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Truth about Beauty; Photo Shopping

    We all do it. We wake a photo for social media, and then pick a filter and edit it before posting. Even though we tend to do this to our own photos, how often do we remember it can be done to the models in ads we see? As technology has advanced, the use of Photoshop on magazine images has increased in popularity among editors. Nowadays, the flawless faces on the covers of Vogue and Vanity Fair are not true representations of the models themselves. 



    Now, it's amazing what makeup and Photoshop can do. But as you can see in the following video, it could possibly be subconsciously hurting our self-esteem... 




    How much is too much? How often do we look at these magazine covers with headlines such as: "how to achieve your dream body", and want to emulate them? When, in reality, those models do not even look like their photographed selves! When we're snapping selfies for our profile pic on Facebook, and we use those $5 apps or free filters, what are we trying to achieve? As you can see in the following video, there is no substitute for being original...




    We are not flawed. The pimples, grey hair, the cellulite, are not things to be hidden or embarrassed about. I purpose that we should use unedited images of women in magazines, and we should showcase our individuality with untouched confidence. After all, we should be proud of the things that make us unique; they should not be edited away. I found the following video by American fashion model, Cameron Russell, very inspirational as she discusses her thoughts on this subject.





    So before I sum up this post I just want to say, for all the young teenage girls out there, you don't have to be afraid to go out in public without makeup, or to hide your real self in photographs. You are beautifully, fearfully, and wonderfully made! It even says in 1 Peter that it's your gentle qualities and that of your inner self which makes you the most beautiful, not your appearance. Don't let anyone make you think otherwise.


Want to read the previous posts from this series? 

Here is the list:

  1. Introducing the Truth about Beauty
  2. The Truth about Beauty; the Media is Damaging Us
  3. The Truth about Beauty; Loving Yourself
  4. The Truth about Beauty; Bullying
  5. The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of “Pretty”
  6. The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of “Handsome”
  7. The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of "Beauty"
  8. The Truth about Beauty; the Standards are Evolving


Friday, August 28, 2015

The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of “Handsome”

    We have looked at what it means to be "pretty" and what it takes to be a "beauty", but what about "handsome"? Because societal standards for our appearance is neither gender specific, nor is it exclusively the struggle of women. So this post is dedicated to all the guys who struggle with their body image, too.




    According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word "handsome" can be defined as being skilled or clever, gracious, generous, and for being pleasing or dignified. Now, when we think of someone being handsome, do we usually envision a dapper young man in a tux? How about someone tall and dark? A distinguished, older gentleman? The term "handsome" is not common in today's compliment vocabulary; hot and sexy are usually used instead. But what does it take to be truly handsome?

Young men, just like young women, can be ridiculed if they are not muscular enough or if they don't look like Calvin Klein models. 

     Boys grow up playing with action figures like G.I. Joe, and they watch movies like Superman and Batman. They are surrounded by all these characters subconsciously telling them they have to be “tall, dark, and muscular” to be considered 'manly'. Similar to women, this can lead to conditions like social anxiety, eating disorders, even muscle dysmorphia or steroid abuse. All because of the preconceived notion that this is how they should look. 

    Earlier this month, the Huffingtonpost published an article on this subject [click here to read it], which highlights the struggles men can have concerning their body type and muscle dysmorphia. Interviewing 19 men with varying differences in body types, they discussed why men can tend to feel uncomfortable discussing their insecurities.


"Spoiler alert: Men have body insecurities, too, and that's nothing to be ashamed of." ~ HuffingtonPost
   
   Likewise, in April last year, Bustle.com published an article which focused on the fact men (just like women) can struggle with their weight and how they perceive themselves [click here to read it]. I found it very interesting to read, as it gave insight to a man's perspective on the struggles of weight gain and having a negative inner monologue.


"I've found myself hesitant even to consider, in my own mind, that disliking my body was worth sharing with anyone." ~ Bustle.com 


    Society tends to put the body image problems of women center stage, while men who struggle can be found standing on the wings. It has become almost shameful for them to talk about or discuss these problems publicly. I think this is sad, considering from a female perspective, I can relate and understand.

    If we demand equality for women, then we should also provide the same for men when it comes to social acceptance and theses preconceived standards. Young men should be accepted, and supported, despite their body type. The old, stereotypical ways of thinking needs to be discarded, and new ones need to be molded. 'Handsome' should become the new go-to look, encompassing each individual body type. So if you are a young man struggling with your own self-esteem or body image issues, please know that you are not alone, and it is not shameful to talk about.   




Want to read the previous posts from this series? 

Here is the list:
  1. Introducing the Truth about Beauty
  2. The Truth about Beauty; the Media is Damaging Us
  3. The Truth about Beauty; Loving Yourself
  4. The Truth about Beauty; Bullying
  5. The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of “Pretty”

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of "Beauty"

    Previously, we've covered the definition of the word "pretty", so today we are going to look at the definition of the word "beauty". According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word "beauty" refers to the quality of a person that is pleasurable, or particularly graceful, or of excellent quality.




    However, this definition for what is considered beautiful has evolved over the years, and women in particular have struggled the most to fit into that definition. Magazines and social media have instilled in us the preconceived idea that our weight has to be under control and our makeup has to be on point to be acceptable; that flawless and perfect are what is considered beautiful. But we need to stop allowing society to set the standard for what "beauty" should be.






     We can tend to hate our bodies, and sometimes punish ourselves, for not looking right. This can lead to disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and self-harm (not to say it is the main cause of these struggles, but it can be one of them). We are hurting ourselves for not being able to fit that preconceived definition. But why, why should we accept these predetermined standards? Why don’t we set our own?

    I wanted to share the video below, because I think this girl, Madeline Stuart, is absolutely amazing! She is making the media reconsider what they originally thought about Downs Syndrome (for more information on Downs, click here). As a trend-setter, she is redefining beauty and the conventional way we think towards our outward appearance; and I think that is wonderful.




     "Beauty" doesn't need to be defined by society; we can stand up and define it ourselves. These preconceived standards are a hindrance; thinking that our looks, our clothes, and our appearance in general determines whether or not we're beautiful. It is up to us as individuals to rewrite the definition! Because our thighs, our hair, our eyes, our personalities, everything that makes us unique, fits together like a puzzle, so we can say: "I'm my own definition of BEAUTY."

So what do you think?
How are you defining the word "beauty",
and do you think you fit your own definition?


Want to read the previous posts from this series? 

Here is the list:
  1. Introducing the Truth about Beauty
  2. The Truth about Beauty; the Media is Damaging Us
  3. The Truth about Beauty; Loving Yourself
  4. The Truth about Beauty; Bullying
  5. The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of “Pretty”
  6. The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of “Handsome”

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Truth about Beauty; Body Image

    Everyone, from adults to teens alike, can struggle with body image. It is not something to be embarrassed about and it is not an isolated thing; if you're struggling with body image problems, you are not alone.

    I've struggled with my own body image problems for many years now. After my accident, I was in a wheelchair for a time, and because of my blood sugar, my weight fluctuated a lot. Shopping for clothes was always frustrating, and I hated seeing myself in full-length mirrors.


    "I am fearfully and wonderfully made..." it took me a really long time to believe that verse! No matter how often I read it, I couldn't believe it applied to me. I had spent all those adolescent years thinking that I wasn't any good, and being down on myself for not looking like the person I thought I was supposed to be. I know that I'm beautiful in God's sight, but I struggled to come to terms with myself and the way my body was.

    It was only a year or so ago when I realized that the person I am now, from head to toe, the way I look and act, everything that makes me ME, God made on purpose. Only then did I start believing I was "fearfully and wonderfully made", and I started accepting myself the way I am. Sometimes, I still have those same negative thoughts, like when I step on the scale, or look in a mirror on a bad day. But God never lets them stick around for long. Learning to love myself has been a hard, but gratifying, lesson.

    The following video by model and motivational speaker, Ashley Graham, is both remarkable and inspiring. I really enjoyed her lecture because she touched on a lot of important points I myself had to come to terms with, and her opening is especially important...




    And this next video I also found to be really inspirational and uplifting as it shines a light on what I've been talking about. It can be surprising to find that some of the most confident, fit, and attractive people could still have their own body image struggles...







    Thankfully, this is something that can be overcome, (maybe not all at once, but little by little). With prayer, the Lord can help you to a place of healing and acceptance. From my personal experience, I can tell you that this is a wonderful place, and I pray this article blessed you in some way. I'm going to post some helpful resources and scriptures below for anyone struggling with their body image and loving themselves.


Resources:


Scriptures:

  • Proverbs 19:8
  • 1 John 3:1
  • Ephesians 5:29
  • John 13:34-35
  • 1 Peter 4:8
  • Song of Solomon 4:7


Want to read the previous posts from this series? 

Here is the list:
  1. Introducing the Truth about Beauty
  2. The Truth about Beauty; the Media is Damaging Us
  3. The Truth about Beauty; Loving Yourself
  4. The Truth about Beauty; Bullying
  5. The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of “Pretty”

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Truth about Beauty; the Definition of "Pretty"


     DISCLAIMER: if you find yourself ever questioning whether you're pretty or not, if you spend time in front of a mirror criticizing yourself, analyzing or wondering what happened. If you're unhappy with how you look then, girls, this post today is for you....

    According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word "pretty" refers to something, or someone, who looks attractive (in a delicate way), who is pleasant to look at or listen to, or is impressive. These are the attributes we sometimes associate with when someone says we are "pretty". Synonyms include: blessed, darling, delightful, dreamy, good, heavenly, and pleasant.




    But why does "pretty" apply only to our looks or our physical aesthetics? Girls, we are pretty for so many more things than just our eyes, hair, and bodies. We can be pretty for our talents (i.e dancers and performers), and for our voices (i.e singers and musicians), and for our minds (i.e students, teachers, philosophers, doctors ect.) The list truly is endless!


    If we let ourselves believe that "pretty" only defines our physical appearance, then we're going to believe that we have to look a certain way in order to be "pretty", when that is not the case at all! A confident, Godly, or talented woman is pretty in her own right.



    Girls, would you say that you're "pretty"? Or do you believe that "pretty" only defines your looks, and that your qualities don't fit into that definition? I'm here today to tell you that is not true, that being "pretty" is more than looks, it's more than makeup and fashion trends, it's more than all the superficial things this world values. Your abilities, your heart, your passion, your drive, your creativity, that is what is truly "pretty".









Want to read the previous posts from this series? 
Here is the list:

  1. Introducing the Truth about Beauty
  2. The Truth about Beauty; the Media is Damaging Us
  3. The Truth about Beauty; Loving Yourself
  4. The Truth about Beauty; Bullying

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Truth about Beauty; Bullying

     One of the many results of societal pressure concerning beauty standards is bullying. Although our acceptance in society shouldn't be based on our looks, our physical appearance still seems to hold a form of value. The first thing we notice about someone oftentimes is how they look, how they're dressed, or unique features that stand out about them. But bullying someone (or being someone who is bullied) because of his or her appearance is unbearable. We can tend to judge a person on how they look or dress, and it can lead to bullying behavior. It says here that children who are seen as different, overweight, underweight, or who wear different clothes, are more likely to be bullied.



    And it's not just people bullying other people, but also people can bully themselves. If we're standing in front of a mirror listing everything we think is wrong with our bodies, that is a form of bullying! Judging someone based on how they look is a narrow mindset, and judging ourselves the same way is damaging. Our looks shouldn't predetermine our acceptance! Furthermore, what others say and think about us does not determine who we are, and certainly not what we are worth.




    Bullying is a problem that effects both genders, all age groups, and every social class there is in this world. It comes in varying degrees, and stems from many different reasons besides beauty standards and body image. It is a world-wide problem that needs to be resolved, but I'll continue that train of thought in another series.

    If you or someone you know and love are being bullied for whatever reason, don't be afraid to reach out for help and speak up about what is going on. It's not wrong, cowardly, or shameful; you do not deserve to be hurt. I'm going to post some helpful links and resources for you below and I pray this helps.

Websites, Helplines, and Articles:

Books:


Want to read the previous posts from this series? 

Here is the list:

  1. Introducing the Truth about Beauty
  2. The Truth about Beauty; the Media is Damaging Us
  3. The Truth about Beauty; Loving Yourself

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Truth about Beauty; Loving Yourself


     In society today, it is typically frowned upon to say: “I love myself” for it can be seen as presumptuous and self-centered. But, we have every reason to love ourselves because we are loved by the One who created everything! What do I mean? Here, let me explain:

You are created in God's image!



     You are created in the image of God, Creator of the Universe, the Alpha and Omega! Can you imagine? You bear His shape and resemblance. So those eyes you think are the wrong color? He gave those to you. Your hair that isn’t long enough? He made that, too. All of what you see in the mirror is a gift from Him. So how do you think it makes Him feel when we think negatively about our bodies? What you believe to be your flaws and mistakes, He actually gave to you on purpose! Everything, from your freckles to your waistline, He gave to you for a reason. God does not make ‘mistakes’, therefore, since He made you, you are not in any way a mistake! Nor are you ‘flawed’. So the next time you catch sight of your reflection, think: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalms 139:14) because you are.


He loves you!



     You are loved by the Creator of the world! What is more, you cannot possibly perceive how wide and deep His love is for you; it is impossible. On top of this, you cannot be separated from the love He has for you! So no matter what you may have done in your life, or how impossible you think it is for someone to love you, the King above all Kings, the Holiest of Hollies, loves YOU. So, with that being said, why not love yourself, too?  

And He loved you before you even existed!




     So not only were you made in His image, and He loves you now, but He loved you even before you were conceived on this Earth! His love transcends time, encompassing before you were born into existence. Not only did He love you then, and now, but He loves you in the future, so much so, that He appointed you: “prophet to the nations”. He has selected your destiny and how your life will go. He knows how it will turn out, from your birth to your death, and everything in between. He planned your blessings, trials, and revelations. He knew before you were born whether you would pass that exam, or marry your significant other, or get that raise at work. He knows it all. So you do not have to worry in the slightest about what will happen to you, because the One who loves you, has it already taken care of. 


There is an amazing plan for your life!



    He pre-planned your life; He designed good things that are meant to prosper you and to give you hope. So when you feel useless, or hopeless, or if you are unsure about your future, remember that the Lord already has it planned out for you. He designated a life for you and you alone, and (even if it doesn't seem to be right now) it is a prosperous and wonderful one. All because He loves you, and He chose you, and He is up there right now waiting for you to love yourself back.

You are blessed!


     He wants to bless you, He wants to give you the desires of your heart and make you successful. Just as He said in Jeremiah 29:11, He has a good plan for your life, and He wants to bless it. But sometimes our actions, our sins, our doubts, fears, and insecurities can stand in His way of blessing us. When this happens, we need to align ourselves with His Word, and get ourselves into agreement with Him. Then and only then can we receive the breakthroughs we so desperately are praying for and believing for, that we may be blessed as He intended us to be.

He is with you, always!



     He says "do not be dismayed" (downcast or upset), because He is with you. So if you feel alone, or forgotten, when it is as if the entire world is against you, you never have to worry because He is with you. When you feel you are not strong enough to go on, He says that He will give you strength (Isaiah 40:31). 




     We tend to put ourselves down rather than build ourselves up. Perhaps, if we began seeing ourselves how God sees us, if we loved and valued ourselves as much as our Heavenly Father does, we would dramatically change our lives. We can do this by studying His Word, and viewing ourselves through the lens of His love. He wants to bless us, He wants us to enjoy our life, and to be happy with ourselves. He will not reject us, so we shouldn't reject ourselves. 




Want to read the previous posts from this series? 




Friday, August 7, 2015

The Truth about Beauty; the Media is Damaging Us

    Sooo earlier this week I shared with you my thoughts on the beauty standards of this generation. This is a subject that I find very interesting, and I thought I would share all my feelings here in the following weeks. But today, I have an important assumption to make:  




      Social media, magazines, the list goes on and all of it is damaging us. By us, I mean the young men and women (sadly, mostly women), teenagers, preteens, even Elementary kids! Because young people of the 21st century are bombarded daily by the message that we need to look a certain way if we want to be accepted. 




     Social media is a large platform for self-criticism. We are a generation who spends a lot of time online, and during that time we may find ourselves looking over other people's photos. Suddenly, we may start comparing ourselves to other body types, and we find ourselves wondering if there is something wrong with us because we may not look the way we think we should. It didn't used to be this way, but with the advances in technology we are able to snap pics, slap on a filter, and make adjustments via apps that will trim inches off our waists and thighs without so much as a second thought. this in itself isn't a bad thing, but when thirteen-year-old girls are editing their Instagram photos, what are they believing about their bodies? That they have flaws to be edited away?



     How damaging is that? To be told that "skinny" and "thigh gaps" are fashionable. Society has perfect what the ideal woman/man should look like. When in reality, there is only a tiny percent of people who actually meet the standards which the media determines as "beautiful". furthermore, most models depicted in images or commercials are approximately 20% below the ideal body weight; this meets the diagnostic criteria for anorexia! [here is the source] Yet this is ultimately applying and undue pressure, and us young people tend to hate our bodies if we don't fit the mold. As a result, we punish ourselves for not looking right. We are hurting for not being everyone else's definition of "beauty".


It so easy to look at a model on the cover of GQ or Vanity and think: "I wish I looked like that" after they have gone through so much photo-shopping the images no longer accurately represent the models themselves. Tweens and teens see these images, and they think this is the standard of beauty, comparing themselves to the men and women in ads and articles. They start to worry they won't make the cut, and they carry this into adulthood. 




        How many times have you gone into a dressing room and tried something on only to look in the mirror and think: "this isn't how it looked on the mannequin"? Or when those perfect jeans don't fit and that little voice inside your head starts saying you need to lose weight so you think: "Maybe I should skip dinner"? We need to stop allowing society to set the standard for what beauty should be. It should not matter how thin you are, how big your thigh gap is, what brand of makeup you use or clothing you wear.  



     Not everyone is built the same, or looks the same; we are not all cut from the same fabric. Wider hips? that is okay. Thicker thighs? That is okay, too. What you consider to be your flaw just might be someone else's envy! Don't let the media pressure you into thinking there is only one ideal body type because everyone is different. If you are experiencing these struggles, if this article has struck a chord with you, then I encourage you to get up, go into the bathroom and look at yourself in the mirror. Say: “I am beautiful the way I am, no matter what anyone else says.” Tell this to yourself 40, 50, 100 times a day; however many times it takes until you begin believing it. Because it is true! 
           





Did you like this post and want to read the previous posts from this series? 

Here is the list:


  1. Introducing; the Truth about Beauty

Monday, August 3, 2015

Introducing; the Truth about Beauty


     What does it mean to be beautiful? Everyone defines "beauty" differently and in their own way. Nevertheless, our society seems to have constructed some basic standards that have become unwritten rules to define being beautifulBut is this mindset about our body image doing us more harm than good? Let me explain:

















    The societal beauty standards have evolved from ten, twenty, even thirty years ago. What I'm referring to are the rapid changes in fashion (skinny jeans anyone?), and what is considered as visually appealing (i.e "thigh gaps" and tiny waistlines) or socially acceptable. Yet, the bar seems to constantly be set higher and higher, thus causing adverse effects and undue pressure upon our youth when it comes to our appearance and (ultimately) our acceptance.
  






    Photo-shopped images, fad diets, fashion trends, and the like all contribute to this societal pressure put upon teens to look or be a certain way. Young people are bombarded daily by social media, advertisements, and magazine articles all depicting how they should look, and what they can do to improve their appearance. However, there are psychological effects (and consequences) that go hand-in-hand with these standards, ranging from social anxiety to anorexia; especially for women. Now, body image and acceptance has always been a struggle of mine, as for many I know, and it got me wondering why we (as young people) struggle so much with how we look.




    So, with that being said, over the next few weeks I'm going to explore the subject of beauty standards, what they are doing to our self-worth, and what the Bible says about how we should be perceiving ourselves. How do they differ? How should we really be thinking? And what can we do to make a difference? Hopefully, this self-exploratory venture will shed some light on the concept of body image and, ultimately, beauty itself. In the meantime:




Friday, July 31, 2015

Top 5 Reasons to Start Loving Ourselves


     There is something important I've been thinking about for quite a few weeks now and that is the subject of love. Not necessarily the love of a husband or wife, or a boyfriend and girlfriend (although I've been thinking about that kind of love, too, but we'll explore that in a different post). Rather, I'm talking about the love of oneself.  




     Everyone in this world has a natural desire to be loved by someone, and to love someone in return. Humanity seems to be programmed with this need to be loved. No matter who we are, how old we may be, or our position in life; deep down we have that God-given need to feel loved. It is simply a part of what makes us human.


     






    However, it is a sad truth that although everyone wants to feel loved, not everyone actually, truly feels it. There are some who may even believe that they are unlovable, and to me that is the most tragic feeling of all. What do you think when you see yourself in the mirror? Do you like what you see? Do you love who you see? Ultimately, that feeling of much-needed love needs to start within us.











     This is important, because when we love ourselves, it opens the doors to many possibilities in our lives. What do I mean? Well, while I've been studying and thinking on this subject, I've put together what I believe to be the top five reasons why we should start loving ourselves. Let me explain:







     Loving ourselves is the first step in loving others. When we have that belief that, yes we are a good person and we deserve to be loved (because we do) that is when we can say: “Alright, I deserve love, and so do you.” We start to cherish ourselves, and in doing so we cherish and value others. But we cannot have strong bonds, relationships, and friendships with other people or loved ones without first having one with ourselves.   






     When we really, truly love ourselves we become our own biggest fan. So even if every other person in our lives is against us, if we believe in ourselves that becomes enough drive to keep us going. Our dreams and aspirations become attainable when we are on our own side, encouraging ourselves in our endeavors. You'd be surprised how empowering that can be!





     When we love ourselves and have a strong understanding of who we are as a person, it sets the stage for us to explore our individuality and to have a firm footing in the world. We no longer feel we have to compare ourselves to someone, or to live up to any certain forms of criticism because when we know who we are, we like ourselves the way we are already, and we don't need to change. 
  




    In loving who we are and being comfortable in our own skin, it can give us a sense of security. If we love ourselves as we already are, we no longer have to work to change ourselves to fit anyone else's standards. We have the security we need to be a strong individual. We can stand out from the crowd without any fear of rejection because, essentially, we have not rejected ourselves.  




     Finally, by loving ourselves we can shed light on the world we live in. Not only are we seeing ourselves from a different point of view, but we also start seeing everyone else through the lens of this new-found love. By loving ourselves we can improve our self-worth, value, and our self-esteem. It is not conceited to love or value ourselves; it is enriching, fulfilling, and can improve our quality of life as a whole.  




    Below I've listed some wonderful articles, books, and scriptures on how to go about loving yourself, receiving emotional healing, and the benefits of living a positive life. They are all really helpful, and I encourage you to check them out:



  • Mark 12:31
  • Deuteronomy 6:5
  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
  • Psalm 139:13-15
  • Ephesians 2:10
  • Deuteronomy 31:6
  • 1 Samuel 16:7


     There are, of course, many other benefits to loving ourselves, and I may explore them more in the future. Nevertheless, I hope this article has been encouraging; if so feel free to comment below. As always, have a great weekend and God bless =)