Tag Archives: God

Thankfulness: A Lesson From Samwise Gamgee

Thankfulness title
Sam
was a Wise Man

Once, there was a ring. A ring which caused pain and hurt and death. A ring which led a few scruffy hobbits to a long path of orcs, elves, fire, darkness, death and a whole lot of other things which I’m sure nobody wishes for me to recount. Then after all that, these hobbits won out. After all the pain, they reached the end. As Sam put it,”It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it’s only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do underst
and, I know now folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something.” Sam was a wise man. He knew more then anybody that you can’t have light unless the darkness comes first. Without Frodo’s journey, the ring never would have been destroyed. Without the danger, victory was impossible. We can be thankful for the good because we understand how much it cost. That is what we hold on to.

thankfulness turkey
“Be Thankful.”

That’s one of the most over-asked and least understood subjects in the English language. Sam would know. Every little kid has their own go-to answer. What are you thankful for?…my family…church…Jesus dying on the cross. Always the same answer. Largely the same indifference. We know the right answer like the back of our hand. It’s only the ones who’ve gotten pushed around by life and perhaps glimpsed the dusky cloak of death around the next corner that understand its meaning. Thankfulness, that attribute advertised on every street window around this time of year, is far bigger then much of the world can ever know. To most, thankfulness is just a form of gratitude for the stuff that is wrapped in pretty bows and some nice gestures. We live by a mantra which calls us to ‘be thankful at all times…or at least when things go right.’ When asked the question, we answer things like raspberries, Christmas, snow, and falling leaves. I would instead call you to answer with paper cuts, crying children, a rusty nail, or even maybe the dried tears on your pillow. I Thessalonians 5:18 calls us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” We have been put in a world which is certainly full of snowflakes, cocoa, and books, but we also live in a world of bruised knees, flat tires, and death. When we thank Christ for our redemption, we cannot simply be thankful for the resurrection and Easter for before that joy came his necessary death. I would say God demands us to be thankful not only for the stone rolled away from the grave but also that spear in Christ’s side, the tears on his face, the sour wine dripping from his lips, and the cold nails biting into his raw skin. Without that suffering, no salvation could have ever happened. Only the people who understand that can truly be thankful for sunrise the next morning.

So the next time the question is popped or perhaps when the scent of turkey passes by, remember all the good things in your life, all the blessings in your life, but also look back to your trials, your tears, and your pain. For they are the things which make beauty and joy even more beautiful. They are the things that cause hope. Without sin, we would never have known God’s grace. Without the cross, there could never have been an empty grave.

-Kiale P.

What are you thankful for? Let us know down in the comments or tweet us @shineforhimsite

 

10 Ways to Stay Sane During the School Year

School has begun for most of us, and with school comes the stress of homework, assignments, and tests. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with all we have to do, so here are ten ways you can stay sane during the school year.

girl-865304_12801. Take a deep breath
While school can be stressful, it’s so important to have fun and get away from the deadlines. I don’t know about you, but if I’m consumed with schoolwork all the time, I lose my productivity and focus. Chill out, have some coffee or tea, hang out with your friends, and get away from the stress for a while.

 

 

knit-869221_12802. Explore an interest
As I mentioned, taking a break and getting away from the stress is important. Instead of stressing over algebra, learn to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Explore some of your hobbies. Do something you normally wouldn’t, and enjoy the break!

 

 

 

popcorn-166831_19203. Watch a movie or TV show
This is a great way to relax and wind down, and you don’t need to think too hard to do it! Again, enjoy the break!

 

 

 

 

crossfit-534615_19204. Exercise
Ugh, does anyone actually LIKE to exercise?? I’m only kidding, but seriously please tell me how to make exercising more fun. I’m usually too lazy to bother getting out and going for a run or a swim, and I probably make too many excuses about the weather not being quite right, but when I actually do it, I feel so much more focused later. I feel better about myself, and feel healthier, too!

 

watermelon-869207_19205. Eat Healthier
This goes right along with the previous point, and it’s so hard to control my unhealthy habits (chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate!) when I’m studying. Despite that, I feel so much better when I eat more veggies and fruits, and avoid unhealthier meals.

 

 

art-820276_19206. Buy new school supplies
Buying new school supplies such as pencils, notebooks, or planners can be another way to motivate you to work more diligently. If my school supplies are organized and put together, it makes me work better!

 

 

desk-605497_19207. Organize
I have a love-hate relationship with organization. When I’m in the mood, I could reorganize my room all day. Anytime else, though, I’m a horrible, disorganized mess. Having that said, I am so much more productive when things are organized and orderly. It puts me into the right mood to get things done, and my work is so much more efficient.

 

 

female-865110_19208. Motivate yourself
If I’m not motivated to do something or get something done, it can be hard for me to work efficiently. You could reward yourself for doing a certain amount of work, getting a certain grade on a test, or finishing a project.

 

 

woman-872122_19209. Spend time with God
I suppose this may be the obvious one, but it’s the most important one, in my opinion. It’s so important to spend time in the Word, and to talk to God. When I’m not connected to God, it’s so much easier to get stressed out, and lose focus on what I need to be doing. I suggest taking at least five minutes either in the morning or the night to read a passage of the Bible, pray, and to focus on Him and what He wants you to do.

 

holding-hands-752878_192010. Small group/bible study
Another thing that helps me so much when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed is to be a part of a small group or a bible study. This can be through your church, your school, or just with some friends. It helps to be able to share what you’re going through, to read the bible together, and to have people pray for you and what you’re going through. They can also make sure you’re doing alright and that you’re sticking to reading your bible each day.

 

That concludes my list, but please let me know what your tips are for surviving the school year!

-Anika H.

Loving Yourself

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image16390712What do you see when you look in the mirror? What are the thoughts that spring to your mind when you catch a glimpse of yourself in a window? I would hope that you smile to yourself, think “I look good today!” and go on with your day, but the sad truth is that most likely you spend hours in front of the mirror picking out every single zit, scar or rash, then attempting to cover them with makeup.

I used to be really into “beauty gurus,” as they’re called, on YouTube. These girls, most likely between fifteen and twenty-five, shared their favorite makeup products each month, did hauls where they showed off their recent purchases, made tutorials on hairstyles and makeup looks, and filmed look books showing off the latest styles. I don’t know why I got so into them, I mean, I live in Japan where we have hardly any of the stores mentioned in their videos, my hair is really thick and never stays curled or straightened (I’m serious, it’s the worst. Help me out??), the most “makeup” I’ll wear is maybe some lip balm, and I’m a self-proclaimed “Not a girly-girl” who wears jeans every day and wouldn’t be caught dead in a skirt. Not your typical demographic.

Anyways, one of the things I noticed while watching these videos was that these girls would talk about “covering up your imperfections” while covering their faces with the latest concealer or blemish-eliminating cream. Hearing this always made me wonder. I mean, I get it, you want your face to look perfect, but you have an unwanted mark appear, therefore making it an “imperfection.” I always hated when they would say that, as it made me wonder if my blemishes or freckles or spots defined whether I was perfect or not. And maybe I’m reading too much into it, I know they don’t literally mean that you’re not perfect, but it always bothered me.

You may already know this, but I want to remind you that God doesn’t look at your outer appearance and your so-called “imperfections” that apparently need to be concealed by eight layers of makeup. He looks at your heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) Those who follow, obey, and love God with all their hearts are already extremely beautiful to Him without mascara, blush, and lipstick.

God made you in HIS image, and you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Each person is unique in the best way possible, and everyone’s a little bit different from each other. Isn’t that amazing? I’m sure you’ve heard this analogy before, but each person is like a snowflake-there’s none that are exactly the same. Your exceptional features are what make you yourself, so why do we try so hard to conform to one specific standard of beauty that society has constructed? Be yourself, because everybody else is already taken.

I read this a few years ago in a book that I cannot for the life of me remember, but one piece of advice that stuck to me was to stamp your thumbprint to a mirror you’ll look into daily, and remind yourself each time you see it that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that God thinks you’re beautiful. It’ll give you a more positive outlook on the day, I promise. Another piece of advice that I would give you is to smile at yourself each time you look into the mirror. Often when we see ourselves in the reflection we take it as an opportunity to pick out all of our “imperfections.” Instead, pick out a couple of things you like about yourself that day, and give a big smile. It’s amazing how much more happy and positive this makes you. Shine in the outside, and it will reflect on the outside and in how people see you.  And who cares about these “imperfections” anyway? I rather like freckles.

Anika H.

Shoot Me, Please.

booksA guide on surviving school by Kiale P.

 

Anxiety. Stress. Tests. Shoot me now. Ah, the joys of that wonderful establishment called school. Yes, I am one of that overwhelming crowd of students. School. Stress. School again. There. My life in a nutshell. But what on earth are we supposed to do with it? Freak out? Ask our classmate to shoot us? Ignore it and procrastinate?

Let us start with step one. Identify your stress and the reason for it.
You shouldn’t be stressed, especially when it’s for a bad reason. If it’s a test, you’ve got to realize why school is important. As a student, I know how hard that is. I’ll be blunt. Often, school is a pain. But you’ve got to realize why school is so burdensome. For some, it’s laziness, for some it’s an interest in other things. But in every case, the problem originates with you and your approach.
We can be troubled about a ton of things, but Christ Himself has said that all our needs are nothing compared to the greatest need of all. As Luke writes in Luke 10:41-42, “And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” ”

Step 2: Consider the author of your play: God.
How can we think he would ever stop caring for our every need?
Matthew 6: 25-34 tells us,

“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? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

A good dad will never let his child go uncared for, so how could the greatest Father in history ignore his? Even the smallest things like tests are under His control. Your Dad up in heaven wants you to talk to Him because he will always answer. Philippians 4:6-7 exhorts us,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The only way to get peace is to trust your Dad and rely on His help.

Step 3: Read.
Yes, read. Read Scripture. You just groaned. Admit it. I should know how hard those two words are, me being one of a couple million teens in the world and all. The Bible is hard. It can be boring and hard to understand. But again, this is all because of how you approach it. Try your best to read it anyway. It helps. I don’t know how, but God’s word is just as comforting as some tea and a book if you really try to understand it.

Psalm 94:19 says, “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comfort delights my soul.”
Oftentimes, we have a billion different thoughts running around in our heads, but the Psalms tell us to turn to our Dad’s words for comfort. Let them comfort you and stop being a stubborn teenager who refuses to listen to her father.
Next time you feel the need to shoot yourself, try trusting Dad.

We’d love to talk to you! Leave a comment down below telling us your favorite and least favorite part of school!

Kiale P.