Posted on Leave a comment

Miracles

Baby Gianna being kissed by Pope Francis in Philadelphia. (Courtesy of Kristen Masciantonio)
Baby Gianna being kissed by Pope Francis in Philadelphia. (Courtesy of Kristen Masciantonio)

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.  

I believe in miracles. And I think miracles come from God. Like when we pray for a miracle and God gives us it. Sometimes, it’s small things like, “I’m failing a class, and I need a miracle” and sometimes it’s bigger things like the story of 1-year-old Gianna Grace Masciantonio.

When Gianna was born, she failed her hearing test. At two weeks old, a comprehensive hearing test found her ears worked fine, but something was blocking the waves at the stem of her brain. At one month old, her parents took her for an MRI to find horrifying and traumatizing news: their newborn baby girl had an inoperable brain tumor that took wrapped around her brainstem and filled the entire pons area of her brain. Doctors told her parents she had weeks to months to live and would never live to see her first birthday.

She suffers from a rare disease called histiocytosis. In Gianna’s case, her body attacked her central nervous system. She received many months of chemotherapy, but the tumor wasn’t responding much to the treatments. Gianna was deaf, could not move the left side of her body, only turn her head one way, had sixth and seven nerve palsey (couldn’t move her right eye outward or move her face), and had a paralyzed right vocal chord.

On September 26, 2015, 9 days after Gianna’s first birthday, Pope Francis visited Philadelphia. The Masciantonio’s were in the crowd when he paraded through the city. Gianna somehow managed to get a kiss from the Pope on her head in the spot where her tumor was located. Her story was made known by the news all over the world and there was even more prayer!

Here is where the true miracle happens:

Gianna gets an MRI every two months. The MRI after Pope Francis’ kiss showed that her tumor had shrunk massively and was almost undetected in some of the cuts. Yes, Gianna has had many many many months of chemotherapy. It was not changing with all the treatment, but after Pope Francis’ kiss, her tumor ironically disappeared. Gianna has had 8 months of chemo since the scan when the tumor shrunk, and unfortunately there has been no change in the remaining tumor or cysts.

Gianna’s parents don’t believe the kiss healed their daughter. To them, the kiss itself was a miracle. It gave them faith and strength to keep fighting for their daughter. I believe that prayer is what started her healing process at birth which allowed this precious baby to survive a massive brainstem tumor and that the kiss from Pope Francis was the finishing touch.

Gianna will be starting her 15th month of chemo in two weeks. If her August scan continues to show no change, treatment will stop. She still has tumor and a cyst left in this delicate area of her brain.

So to recap: Gianna was an infant that couldn’t hear, turn her head, or eat. And she has spent half of her life in the hospital. But after a kiss from a Pope on her head directly where her tumor was located, the tumor shrunk massively. She has started to talk and even walk a little bit! She has endured surgeries and chemotherapy her whole life. But more importantly, she is fighter and continues to overcome every day.

Coincidence or miracle?

#TeamMiracle
#PrayforBabyG

Posted on Leave a comment

The Christ-Like Response to the LGBTQ Community

Taken by Peter Baker from https://www.flickr.com/photos/wrathdelivery/4592987200/in/photolist-7ZSg5u-bPN3Tn-bPN9u8-bPMNfc-bASW33-bPMfA8-ykNBZ-ffH4gf-bPN71D-bPN8Bx-bPMSB8-bATgxj-bASRg3-bASqZu-bPN2iH-bASMdy-bATsZ3-bPM53V-bPMhdK-bPMMpx-bATpMS-bPN35B-bAT6Vb-bPNarv-bPMUqM-bPMRLz-bATmKd-bATePq-bASDj5-bPMq9n-bASJUj-bASSfw-bPMJV4-bPMy8M-91gLe7-bPMLyn-bPMu3g-bPMCvi-bASNgo-brfato-91gVRQ-bASPf7-9nVGv-7mBSUW-7r7iCW-ffGQGU-8QMtJy-dVzkEr-6SznFn-aPMjdZ under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ license.
Taken by Peter Baker from Flickr under Creative Commons license.

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.  

Before I say anything other than this short intro, we are going to start just with Bible verses that we will later use for main points:

  • “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Galatians 5:14
  • “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you–who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:12 NIV
  • “When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.'” John 8:7-11 NIV
  • “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

So what should we take from these verses?

  • “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Galatians 5:14

Followers of Christ should be loving.  What does that look like?

  • “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

We are not to only love certain people based upon who they are, whether it be their sexuality, their race, their religion, whatever it may be.  We love across these “borders.” Jesus did.  That’s the only reason that I am able to have a relationship with my creator.  I have sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard and therefore deserve death as a result.  That’s what I deserve..

  • “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you–who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:12 NIV

But Jesus came to earth and died on a cross so that you and I can have a relationship with God.  God is the only One who has a right to judge anyone that is not in Christ.

  • “When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.'” John 8:7-11 NIV

Jesus essentially looks around and says “Last time I checked you’re just as messed up if not more messed up than she is.  What right do you have to have stones in your hands?” How dare we think about telling anyone else how sinful their life is before dealing with the sin in our own lives?

So we can’t judge anyone, does that mean that homosexuality is not a sin?

  • “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

No, that’s not what it means. It means that because we are sinful human beings, we do not have the authority to judge others. It means that Christians shouldn’t ever be “against” another person.  You can be against something that someone did/does without being against them.  Yes, it is completely and totally possible.  The Gospel is for everyone.  

“Brothers and sisters in Christ should hold each other accountable for sin.

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.  But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2

As well as reaching out beyond the church walls, it is important to build each other up within.  Christians must hold each other accountable with every sin, including homosexuality.

Posted on Leave a comment

I Don’t Make Plans

"Road" by Daniele Marcucci taken from https://www.flickr.com/photos/chibuz/2544464654/in/photolist-4SR3Gf-8v88Q5-cdAGUs-8J6Csu-rneWMX-7CDhR4-7g2mpG-6J6kv7-7RbVA8-5qpkUT-8So1SK-cZ9EHf-hbAzGZ-3tSNxQ-6tiZfk-fQ7HN3-EFnhdz-35fmmp-7CDhTg-5aTQPQ-6HJVbT-5EW7JU-JYBj7-fdhfUR-bWenqH-FACZAE-d8Ne1N-7NYdeR-ecJ2ea-dbG7De-6JgtQ8-bjKENV-4Bo5g-5d3Jyp-9saARK-bDqiv1-pMjEe2-4r763U-pmUXEd-frzX4b-5jbTAb-JFbkk-8keTpq-btb3ei-e6EKzr-9y2Soa-pzB6LC-88AcqS-6soVY-6HydVy
“Road” by Daniele Marcucci taken from Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.  

Let me clarify before we start, I’m not saying I don’t make plans for the near future.  Like this week, next week, next month. We’re talking about the more distant future in this post.  But in all reality, God can change any of our plans if He wants to.  I really am a planner when it comes to the near future.  But when it comes to my future plans, I’m not.

Yes, I have goals and dreams that may sound like plans but they’re not.  My only plan is to follow God wherever He leads.  And that may be somewhere completely and totally different than I intended, so why make plans of my own when God knows exactly where I belong?

“‘For I know the plans I have for you, ‘ declares the LORD ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Who was God addressing in this? The nation of Israel when they were exiled in Babylon.  Even though they were in a terrible situation, He still had a plan for them.  So does this verse actually apply to us as individuals as well? Yes of course it does, there is a spiritual principle that is to be passed down here.  But the context of the verse must be understood. God’s plan wasn’t to take them out of exile.  It was to prosper them right where they were.

Our plans and God’s plans may look like exact opposites at times.  I used to hate writing, then God gave me a passion for it.  I don’t know what roads He’ll take me down in my life, so why would I try to plan out every detail of my life?

Posted on Leave a comment

Hunter Hayes Saved My Life

Disclosure: In order to fund this blog, this post contains affiliate links.  That means that if you make a purchase using a link in this post, I may make a portion of the profit from that purchase.    

I wrote this journal entry on my phone around this time last year and I wanted to share how different my life is now.

 

I recently had anxiety and depression. I take pills for it but I missed three days. It caused a change in me, a not so good one. I didn’t value life. I basically would lay on the couch and mope, wondering why I’m even here. I didn’t want to live anymore. So many days I would contemplate suicide. I never thought I’d be okay again. I kept saying to myself day after day, “You won’t be here tomorrow.” I never actually attempted suicide, but it ran through my mind constantly. I always wondered how people could end their life without having something to live for. I always thought there’s no way you can feel that down where you think the only way out is suicide. I now know that feeling. It’s the worst feeling. Eventually, the medicine kicked in again and I started to realize I have things to live for. I didn’t want to do anything for those two weeks. But somehow I managed to fit music into my schedule of moping and not valuing life. I listened to Invisible by Hunter Hayes a lot. It said a lot about me and what I was going through. So Hunter Hayes, from the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you. You may never read this, but I want you to know you saved my life without even knowing it. And I think that is the greatest thing you could ever do for someone. It’s amazing how even a song can change someone’s perspective.

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Stop Asking What I’m Going to Do!

What_Are_You_Going_To_Do?

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.  

Some variation of this question pops up in about, um, every conversation that I have with someone that I don’t see on a frequent basis.  With people that I see more frequently it goes more like, “So how’s that going?” Having just finished my first semester of college, I’m not quite tired of it yet but 4 or 5 years from now when I’m working on my masters I’m sure that question will have worn itself out.  I’m sure it’s the same for everyone.

If you’re in college and you know what profession you would like to be in for the rest of your life, congratulations.  I don’t know the statistics and I want to get to the point here, but I think I can speak for a lot of us in that we don’t really know what we want to do with our lives.  Luckily for me, I’m pretty sure I want to go into some sort of business/leadership, so at least starting off with classes there I can’t go wrong.  Where else from there? I’m all over the place.  I want to do it all.  Because why not?

But when I boil it down to what I want to do, here’s what it comes down to

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 NLT

No matter where I end up, as long as what I’m doing is glorifying to God, does it matter what profession I’m in?

Not really.

Posted on Leave a comment

Living in Our Own Little World

My view from the plane flying into Cancun last week!
My view from the plane flying into Cancun last week!

 

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.  

This was a breathtaking sight after being pretty anxious about my plane ride to Mexico.  Especially knowing that I was about to land and within a few hours my feet would be in the sand (to my disappointment, the beach on my resort wasn’t that nice, but we could walk just up the beach to a gorgeous lagoon.) Anyways, I got a little sidetracked there, sorry.

On our flight, I was thinking about how easy it is to only see life from our own point of view and get caught up in our own “little” lives, if i might call them that, and forget about the world around us.  I was reminded last week that there’s an entire world out there beyond this little world I’m living in.  This doesn’t apply to everyone, but a lot of us –including myself– tend to isolate ourselves from the world around us so that we don’t have to see the pain and suffering of others.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV (Verse of the Week)

Why do we do that?

We don’t know how to approach people we don’t know anymore (especially my generation).  But that’s okay.  Messily approaching someone is better than not approaching them at all.  Just go in with an attitude of compassion and genuine concern for them and we might create real relationships.

We’re scared to get hurt ourselves. We think that if we get too connected and care too much about other people’s feelings we will hurt with them and I think we’re afraid of that.

We can’t be afraid.  We have to remember that there’s so much more than our normal circle, whether large or small We have to be around people that we aren’t always with in order to fulfill the great commission:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NIV

Posted on Leave a comment

Jesus…In Love?

image

Disclosure: In order to fund this blog, this post contains affiliate links.  That means that if you make a purchase using a link in this post, I may make a portion of the profit from that purchase.    

I believe it is so unfortunate how we get attached to other people and we think that we can’t live without them. You know when that person gets in a relationship and we feel betrayed like they were supposed to love us? Or even when you just love someone and they don’t love you back.

What if that is God letting us know that that’s what it feels like when we betray Him? Because aren’t we supposed to love God?

Why do we cling to other people but we have such a hard time clinging to God?

That person doesn’t love you unconditionally.

God does.

That person didn’t die for you and your sin.

Jesus did.

That person won’t forgive you after every mistake you make.

But God will.

So why do we have a hard time clinging to a perfect person, but it’s a piece of cake to cling to someone so imperfect?

Jesus is in love with us. So why is it so hard to fall in love with him?

No one that we are with or will ever be with will ever be able to come close to what God has done for us.