The gift of prayer

Balancing everyday life, time with the LORD and a full-time job has proven to be difficult.  Before I had a job, my mornings were slow and relaxing.  I’d make a cup of hot tea and read my devotions while still in my pjs.  Loved it.  But now, my mornings begin at 7:30 when I have to get up, get ready, and be out the door by 8:10.  No time for breakfast usually.  And forget tea or coffee, unless I buy a cup on my way to work.  And most importantly, my devotional time kind of went out the window too.

The first couple of weeks, I am ashamed to say, I barely spent more than five minutes in the Word.  My mornings were rushed, my lunch break is too short, and my evenings were full of a shower and sleep.  It’s taken a few weeks to get the feel of my new schedule, though.  And I have been forcing myself to set aside time in the evening to read my Bible.

But, amidst all this schedule figuring-out, one thing I have been constantly grateful for is the gift of prayer.  The last couple of months have shown me how much I have taken it for granted.  And I have realized what a useful and constant tool it can be when take advantage of.  

We have the ability to talk to God constantly.  24/7.  No matter how busy we are, how focused we are, how little time we have to just stop and breathe.  Even then, through the chaos, we can still emit little prayers to the God who is ever watchful, ever constant, and never sleeps.

So yeah, I just thought I'd share that with you all.  Remember that prayer is powerful.  With it, we can talk to the God who created us, designed the universe, placed the stars in the sky, and ordains every event that happens in our lives.  It's an overwhelming thought, really.  Let's not take this privilege for granted.


My decision regarding sexual purity

Courtesy photo via Pinterest

I could start this post out by talking about how I was raised in a Christian home, have been a Christian since I was 7, how I was taught from a young age that sexual purity is something special, and that God commands us to have sex only within a marriage covenant.

And those are all valid points.

But the reason I have decided to stay sexually pure until my wedding night is because of a choice and decision I made, based on my own opinions, beliefs, and studies.

I am 19 years old.  And a virgin.  I won't say that I'm always completely satisfied with this choice of mine.  Heck, God gave humans a desire for physical, sexual satisfaction and I am definitely a human.  I've never been downright scorned for 'still being a virgin' (at my ripe old age), but I have felt the condescension from a few people when I've admitted that I was waiting to have sex till I had it with my husband - on our wedding night.  

In today's culture, it's expected of kids our age to have already 'earned that right'.  Some even view having sex as 'proof that you're an adult'.  When I heard statements like this, I started becoming genuinely curious about what people gained from having sex before marriage.  I expected to find some sort of answer, such as emotional stability, self-confidence, satisfaction, or a sense of maturity.  Some have agreed to these.  But all of them have also admitted that these feelings only lasted momentarily.  And if it wasn't a girl feeling broken-hearted and used after giving herself completely to a guy she thought she was in love with, it was a guy who felt incomplete and dissatisfied with how giving his virginity away didn't give him that sense of manliness he had expected but instead made him insensitive and unfeeling.  And all of them - regardless of gender - admitted that after having had sex that first time, they craved more.  Some gave in to having multiple sex partners.  While others decided that they wanted to wait till marriage.  But having already tasted the pleasure of sex, their new commitment was hard to keep.  Even harder than it was before having had sex the first time.

Do I want to experience this or feel this way?  Definitely not.

Sex was created to be done in love between a man and a woman.  Why?  For three reasons.  Fulfillment (1 Cor. 7:1-5), to show their love for each other (just read Song of Solomon), and for making babies.  But let's focus on the love aspect of it.  Why do you think another name for sex is 'making love'?  Today, though, this act is performed so loosely by so many and the purpose has been abused.  People have sex for a variety of reasons.  Or so they say.  Loneliness and satisfaction are two of the most commonly stated ones.  The list goes on and can range anywhere from wanting to fix a relationship, security, to prove something, or revenge.  And to be completely honest, none of those are - or have been - good reasons for me to have sex before I get married.  I know that sex will be awesome and fun.  You don't have to try to convince me of that.  But why would I want to experience it with someone other than the man I choose to spend the rest of my life with?  I don't understand why people would want to do something like have sex with a random person and become emotionally connected to them, just to get out of bed the next morning having no commitment with the person they had sex with, and living their day-to-day life with no guarantee that they'd even see that person again.  Thinking back and remembering the people I know who have had sex, they're still out there - single, lonely, and hurting.  

What's the point?

(Also, I want to clarify that not everyone I know who has had sex before marriage, ended up being left on their own by their partner after having had sex.  Some have pursued a serious relationship.  Some have gotten married.  But the majority hasn't.)

I have heard comebacks from people to my view on sex-after-marriage, and some of their arguments have been ones such as, 'Well how do you know that you're sexually compatible?' or 'What if you don't like each other's bodies?'.  The whole 'don't buy a car without driving it first' mentality.  But what's wrong with that picture?  First of all, I'm not marrying a car.  Secondly, these pictures are based on the physical.  If I marry a man, I'm not marrying him for his body.  I'm marrying him for his heart and soul, and because I love him for who he is as a human being.  If he has a nice body, I mean, that's a plus too, but that's not the focus.  I sometimes feel that this world is all about accepting people for who they are INSIDE, but I look around and see people only wanting what they like on the OUTSIDE.

I'm just stating my opinion and view here, okay?  And if you are one of those people who can - or has - had sex before marriage, I'm not trying to stop you or tell you what to do.  I'm just genuinely confused how someone could.  

It's not an entirely religious thing for me, you know?  Typical homeschooled 19 year olds would be like 'Oh I'm saving myself for my future spouse because it's the right thing to do'.  And that's great.  I'm waiting (or at least trying to) because I've seen what it's like for girls to have sex with random guys (sometimes it is one they 'love'...but that's a different post) - and it's satisfying for a while, sure.  But afterwards, they're left feeling used because all the guy wanted was a one night stand. And I don't want that.  I want to protect myself from lifelong heartache.  I want to experience the bliss of marital sex with one man, and one man only.  And I love that man enough already to honor him and keep my body for his eyes and his body alone.  I'm waiting for someone who will commit to loving me - body, soul and spirit - and who won't leave me stranded and heart-broken.  I'm waiting to have sex the way God intended it to be had.

With all this being said, I'd like to point out the title of this post: My decision regarding sexual purity.  I wanted to word it just right so people don't think I'm throwing this in their faces, claiming that this is the only right way.  I'm not saying that because I'm a virgin, I'm better than people who aren't.  I'm not saying that my way is the right way.  I'm not saying that my decision is better than yours.  I just want others to know there's an option.  Rather than giving yourself over to someone for the sake of satsifaction, and to not feel alone, and all the other crap reasons I listed above, imagine how much more fulfilling sex will be when you finally do have it - with someone who you can trust won't leave you.  You can choose to wait.  


Everyday Blessings // 28

>> new blog name and design
>> leaving for Peru in 12 days
>> finally getting dreadlocks (checked that off my bucket list)
>> Christmas shopping
>> my grandfathers celebrating their 93rd and 83rd birthdays
>> being nominated for Best Teen Blog of 2014 (see sidebar)
>> free coffee (specifically peppermint bark white chocolate mocha)
>> Guardians of the Galaxy is now available on DVD
>> new luggage (it's purple)
>> humbleness
>> double rainbows
>> Dutch Bros has new sizes for their iced and blended drinks
>> Mockingjay part 1
>> continued donations from people for my trip
>> new friendships
>> black leather jackets
>> new boots
>> buying someone coffee


How has your December been so far?  What have been some highlights of it?


10 Things I Love About Oregon

1)  Locations and scenery.
From snow-capped mountains, to hot deserts, to lush countryside, to gorgeous forests, to beautiful beaches.  Oregon has them all.

2)  Lewis and Clark.
This beautiful state wouldn’t even be known if it wasn’t for two brave men who set out from St. Louis, Missouri to discover more of America.  And I am privileged to live about an hour away from the beach where Lewis and Clark first saw the Pacific Ocean.  Throughout Oregon, you will find trail signs that point to the original route they took on their way to the ocean.  Some of my relatives actually live on part of this ‘trail’.  Pretty darn cool.

3) Rain.
Yes, many people may complain about this, and make statements such as ‘It rains all year round in Oregon’ or ‘Don’t ever leave the house without an umbrella’.  But those are both stupid and not true..  It does not rain all year round.  And you do not have to take an umbrella with you wherever you go.  And anyway, if you’re a real Oregonian, you better not be in possession of an umbrella (without a super good reason, of course).  It does rain, but not as often as people make it out to seem.  And Oregon isn’t as unpredictable as many people think either (if you want to start pointing fingers at moody-weather states, go visit Oklahoma).  And anyway, Oregon is green, literally, all year-round.  Thanks to what?  Rain.
Also, when you’ve grown up in Oregon and have learned to love the things you cannot change, you learn to love the rain.  The mist, the drizzle, the evening rains, the storms.  They’re all beautiful in their own ways.  The con to rain?  Mud.

4)  No sales tax.
Seriously.  Nobody likes paying taxes.  And Oregon residents aren’t charged sales tax.  So...I'll just leave that right there.

5)  Pumping Gas.
Nope, we don’t pump our own gas.  Some people may call us lazy for this, but I call us efficient.  We are providing more jobs for people by hiring them to pump our gas.  Kind of a win-win situation, if you ask me.

6)  Portland.
Of course I gotta talk about my home city.  From the huge buildings (yes, some of them are considered skyscrapers), to the incredible bookstores, adorable coffee shops (including Stumptown), the amazing Saturday Market, the Portland Spirit cruises along the Columbia River,  Voodoo Donuts, food carts, ice cream shops (including Salt & Straw) - this city has basically everything you could want.  Not the perfect city, but to me, definitely the best.

7) The Vortex.
Discovered in the 1920’s by a Scottish-born man named John Litster, the Vortex is located in Gold Hill, Oregon.  This tourist attraction is an amazing spherical field of force - half above and half below ground.  It’s basically a place where everything factual becomes reversed in a tornado of phenomenon.  (Read more about it at www.oregonvortex.com

8)  Tillamook Cheese Factory.
If any of you love cheese as much as I do, this little fact about Oregon would excite you too.  If you ever get a chance to visit here, you must make it a priority to visit Tillamook.  Not only is it near the ocean, but you get to taste-test freshly made cheeses - oh and don’t forget to get an ice cream cone on your way out!

9) Diversity.
I’ve always been fascinated with different languages and cultures and ethnicities.  And I think Oregon has one of the most diverse populations of all the states I’ve been to. 

10)  Dutch Brothers.
I’m gonna end this post with a point that has to be one of my absolutely favorite things about Oregon.  And if any of you know me or have been reading my blog for a while, you won’t be surprised by it.  Dutch Brothers was founded in 1992 in Grants Pass, Oregon by dairy farmer brothers, Dane and Travis Boersma.  What began as a simple little pushcart espresso stand, this amazing coffee company now has over 200 locations in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, California, Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona.  If you ever stop by one, ask for one of my favorites - either an Italian Soda (ask for all their flavors), or a Kicker (delicious hot or iced)...or a layered caramelized macchiato...or one of their delicious fruit smoothies.


Honesty doesn't seem to be so honest anymore

Honesty has become so rare in today’s society.

It’s so sad to say that, but it’s the truth.

People are all about ‘dropping hints’ and being ‘discreet’.  There are times for that, I guess.  But not about important things, okay?  There’s a difference between dropping hints for someone to guess a surprise, or dropping hints because you’re trying to ‘tell’ someone you’re interested in them.

This week, I’ve seen a few things on Facebook, or heard them in person, where people suggest to ‘drop hints’.  Especially girls.  Many girls I know encourage each other in this.  “If you like a guy, you should drop him a hint.”  Uh, no.  For two reasons.  First of all, if you’re old enough to even understand what it means to be attracted and interested in a guy, then you’re old enough to speak your mind and use your mouth to be honest and say what you want to say. (cue the Sara Bareilles song…)  Secondly, guys don’t always get the hints.  Actually, 99% of the time they don’t.  Why?  Because they are very honest, straight-to-the-point creatures.  (Or at least the real men are.)  They’re honest, they expect others to be honest with them. 

But it shouldn’t just be limited to genders.  We all need to learn to be honest.  Dropping hints isn’t going to help anything.  How is giving a hint any easier than just coming straight out and saying what needs to be said?  What does giving a hint do that face to face honesty can’t or doesn’t?  

If people were honest, life would be simpler.  And I’m not talking about the honest sort that say blunt, sometimes hurtful things.  But just plain honesty in any and every little thing.  Friendships.  Romance.  Work.  Talking about life.  Yourself.

What are your thoughts on this?