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No Answer IS An Answer

“Sometimes looking for answers only leads to more questions. And sometimes you’re betting off not knowing.”-Gossip Girl, “The Fugitives” (5.23)

There are a lot of things in life that happen and we’ll never know why. A family member passes away; someone close to us commits suicide; someone stops being our friend.

But why? Why do we never get these answers? Why do we never receive the closure we’re looking for?

What I’ve come to find is that some questions are better left unanswered. The best thing we can do is move on. Yes, it is easier said than done, but you’ll find that when done, a huge weight will be lifted off of your shoulders. It’s hard to tell yourself that you’ll never know the answer to this question, but the best way to look at it is that God doesn’t want us to know this answer. We’re not meant to know this answer. It’s not that we’re deserving of it. It’s just that God is protecting us. This answer could hurt us if we knew or cause us many sleepless nights or stress that just isn’t worth it.

Not getting a text back from someone who you thought was your friend is your sign that you’re not meant to be friends. You may want to know why, but God doesn’t want you to. You can’t change the situation, so it’s best just to move on.

But if you’re still not convinced, think about this: Is this answer you so desperately want to know one that you’ll be able to handle? Is this something you really want to know? Despite your desperate pleas to know, is answering this question going to stop your sleepless nights and anxiety and questioning, or will it just lead to more questions you’ll never know the answers to?

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When Bad Things Happen to Good People

I’m sure at least once in your life, you’ve heard someone say, “If there is a God, why does He let this really bad things happen?”

Or maybe someone firmly believes in God and still questions these things. Maybe you’re one of those people.

A lot of people questioned their beliefs in God after the terrorist attack on our nation September 11, 2001. A lot of people watched September 11 unravel in horror. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives that day. They may have lost their faith after praying for their loved ones to come home, but never did. A lot of people started questioning how God could let something so horrendous happen.

We ask ourselves, “how could a person take a gun into an elementary school and shoot little kids and teachers?”, or “what kind of person drives a car into a crowd of protesters, killing three people?”

I recently asked myself why bad things happen to good people after the recent loss of one of my school district’s middle school teachers. I was heartbroken. She was an amazing woman with a smile always on her face. Why did this have to happen to her?

There are a few answers that I strongly believe.

  1. It’s not God doing evil. God is not the one who crashed the planes into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville on September 11. God did not shoot up Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. God did not bomb a marathon in Boston, nor did He shoot up a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Imperfect people did. 
  2. Satan. It’s no surprise that Satan strives to turn our hearts away from God. I wholeheartedly believe that when we don’t let God speak to us, we let Satan in. And he isn’t telling us to go to church and read our Bibles. He’s telling us to do evil. All of the events I named above are evil acts. They are not acts of God, but acts of Satan.
  3. Free will. God did not create evil. He created the potential for evil. Because we are imperfect people, we sin — a lot. We do horrible things that God doesn’t approve of. Because of our imperfection, we have free will. We are free to do what we please. Sometimes what we do has great consequence depending on the sin. However, God did not create evil. He created the potential for evil right from the start with Adam and Eve and the poisonous tree. God is always testing us, like He did Adam and Eve. They both were tempted by Satan (SIN) and ate the poisonous fruit, allowing evil to occur. Had they not eaten the poisonous fruit, we would all be perfect people, but God knew that they would sin with the potential for evil.

Are you confused yet?

God is a pretty wise guy. God is wise enough to foresee that we need some pain in our lives for reasons we cannot see; He sees it necessary for eventual good.

Long story short, bad things happen because of choice. God does not sit in the sky with a wand and say, “Hey, I’m going to have this bad thing happen today.” Bad things happen to everyone, good and bad. Bad things happen to good people because all people, good and bad, are imperfect sinners. No matter how nice a person is, they are still a sinner. No matter how much they go to church on Sundays and read their Bible, they are still a sinner. We are all sinners and that is why bad things happen to good people.

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Don’t Let Your Enemies Become Friends

“Satan will do all he possibly can do to remind you of past sin… He will tell you the Lord is disapppointed in you… never believe a word of this” (Stanley, 2008).

 

Let’s get one thing straight: Satan is NOT your friend. He never was, he isn’t now, and he never will be, under any circumstance. Satan is no friend of ours. He’s no man. He’s just a little boy who has nothing better to do with himself than to mess with our lives. He’s not even worth the capitalization of his name.

Satan is, well….Satan. He wants to hurt us in any way possible. His goal is to put us through every battle, every hardship, every tiff, every anxiety filled moment that he can. He wants to tear down every dream, everything we’ve worked for. His mission is to be the jealous ex-girlfriend watching her ex-boyfriend from the sidelines get very close with someone. He just can’t stand it. So what does he do? He intervenes. He’s determined to get in the middle of your relationship with someone special. Not because he wants the other person. But because he wants you.

He wants you.

But there’s someone better with a better life plan for you that you can run to. I hope I don’t have to say who that is.

Satan is like spam mail. You have to keep deleting those useless emails out of all the good emails you have. And once you click on one bad email, your whole computer is infected with this virus and it’s not working the right way, like it should.

Under no circumstance should we ever find ourselves making a bargain with Satan. Even on those lonely nights when you’re emotionally drained and have nowhere to turn and you feel like you can’t hear God talking to you, you should never listen to the devil sitting there on your shoulder, telling you to give up everything and turn against God. Because Satan will sit there and plea with you that he has a better life for you than God ever could. But it just can’t add up.

Satan is like a stranger in a van, offering you candy. Don’t let him tempt you. One piece of temptation is enough to tear down everything.

Because Satan is your enemy. And the enemy is not your friend.

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Take Me to Church…Literally

(Courtesy of Google Images, labeled for reuse with modification).

In my last post, I mentioned that I had left the church I had gone to for almost half of my life and that I had been on the quest to find a new church. I decided that I wanted to do a post about why it’s important to find another church after leaving a previous one.

You might be like me and you miss having the God feeling in your heart and you want that back.

But maybe you were hurt before and you want to give up because you don’t want to get hurt again. Here is why it is important to keep going to church:

  1. You’re seeking God. Whether you’re at the one church you’ve at your whole life or you’ve been at ten different churches, you constantly are seeking God no matter what. It doesn’t matter what church you go to, but it’s through the church that you seek God.
  2. You’re not okay. If you took a look at yourself right now and where you’re at with God, would you say you’re okay? There’s always more to find in the kingdom of God! Seek him!
  3. You won’t lose touch. Without going to church, we say we’re going to do all the things we can do in church outside of church. For example, we say “I’m going to read my Bible at the this time” and “I can listen to this podcast”. Here’s what happens most times: When we don’t go to church, we often start putting those things off. “I’ll listen to that podcast later” or “I’m busy now, so I’ll read my Bible later.” We start putting it off and before we know it, we have put God off and don’t even know who He is anymore.
  4. You learn something new. Nowadays, we hear sermons that are life-changing. Sermons might have crazy titles, but they have powerful messages. There is always something that can be learned in a sermon that goes far beyond what we could ever imagine!
  5. You don’t get the same experiences. If we don’t attend church and listen to podcasts and watch sermons, we are not getting the experiences that church is supposed to provide. Church is about worshipping, seeking, serving, and finding God through prayer, along with a community of people. You are given the opportunity to grow with God with friends and your Christian community and that is a powerful thing. Listening to a podcast at home in our pajamas does not do church justice!

There is no excuse for not going to church that can’t be answered. We’re not perfect, but that’s the beauty of God’s unconditional love. God is constantly coming to us in our lives, in our cities, in our communities, and in our homes. The least we can do is visit Him in His home.

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Sometimes, “Goodbye” is a Second Chance

Courtesy of Google’s “Free to Use, Share or Modify, Even Commercially.”

Over the past few months, my heart hasn’t been feeling very “Jesus-y.” I was having frustrations with my church that were causing my heart to turn away from God when I needed Him the most.

I had previously had problems with my church and was recently starting to see my church for what it really was.

My friend and I actually met up at Denny’s after I got off work one night. I’ll never forget a few of the things she said that really made a lot of sense to me. I remember her saying that my frustrations with the church were going to prevent spiritual growth, which another friend of mine said to me as well.

The one thing I’ll never forget is when she said, “Tell me about your personal walk with God right now” and I replied, “I don’t have one.”

And the truth of it is that I think I was so caught up in giving to others that I forgot about myself. One of the reasons my relationship with God has lost its strength is because I wasn’t attending service, listening to the podcasts, reading my Bible; doing the things I needed to be doing in order to maintain my relationship with God. I was volunteering with kids, so worried about others’ relationship with God, that I wasn’t committed to getting what I needed to stay healthy with God.

Flash forward to now: I have recently left the church I called home for 9 years. There were certain events that took place that led up to this decision, as well as frustrations with certain choices that were made.

 

But that’s not what this post is about…

 

I wake up almost every morning and when I think about my love for Jesus, it’s more or less in the back of my mind. My heart hasn’t been it for a while now. I felt like I was only going to church for the kids I was taking care of down in the nursery, not for Jesus. Writing this right now, I don’t feel in it. Every Sunday, it used to be, “Yes! Church!” But now it’s, “Okay, I guess I’ll go” or “Nah, maybe next week. I’m sleeping in.” I think one of the reasons my heart is not in it  is because I still went to this church. I honestly tried to make it work because I really hoped and had faith that God had a better plan for all of this. But, maybe this is my chance to feel whole again. I do still have a shred of faith and hope left that God can make me whole again, even though my heart is shattered.

I’m trying to remember what it felt like to have a heart on fire for Jesus, but I’ve been so brainwashed and had my heart destroyed continuously that I’m wondering if it can ever be repaired.

But even with a heart that is trying to mend, I will not stop. I will not quit. I know that there is a man who loved me so much that He died for me and everything I do wrong. He took nails through His hands for the person sitting here, writing this, whose heart is not in it. And my heart may not be in it now, but I’m hoping with time, my heart will heal and I will be whole again. Because I will not break. I will not sink. I am not an anchor, but He is an anchor for my soul. And as Shinedown says in one of their songs, “sometimes, ‘goodbye’ is a second chance.”

 

STEPS I’M TAKING TO MAINTAIN MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AGAIN:

  • New church: I’m currently looking for a new church to attend. I’m committed to getting my relationship with God back on track and where it needs to be. The church I went to before was once the place where I was actively getting my fill, but it is not anymore.
  • Bible app: I have been reading a Bible plan on a Bible app called “Bible Study” since Valentines’ Day. It was the first step I took to get my spiritual strength back. The Bible plan is a chronological 365 day plan that gives you a few chapters each day.
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Let Freedom Ring

Photo I took on the 4th of July.
Photo I took on the 4th of July.

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Every year, we celebrate Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and honor Veterans on Veterans Day. We do this to honor those who gave their lives and continue to give their lives to fight for our freedom.

I was lying in bed Friday night thinking about how Jesus paid the ultimate price for our freedom; how He was beaten and mocked, then had nails hammered through his wrists to a cross and then was placed in an empty tomb, but came back three days later. And it got me thinking:

“Why does everyone honor the ones who give their lives but not everyone honors Jesus?”

Is it because we actually know these people or can see these humans right in front of us, fighting for our freedom and can’t see Jesus?

That’s where I’d be wrong.

I can see Jesus.

I can see Him.

I can’t see Him physically, but I can see Him in things that I do, things that other people do. I see Him working in me and other people.

I see Him every single Saturday and Sunday when I look at the kids in my church’s children’s ministry.

Because He is working.

 

May we honor the ones who gave their lives for us and continue to every single day and may God bless them, but let us not forget who first fought for our freedom.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”-John 8:36

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Nittany Lion For Life

Photo I took at a math team competition my senior year of high school.
Photo I took at a math team competition my senior year of high school.

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Tomorrow, I start my Sophomore year at Penn State New Kensington.

First of all, where did the time go? Just yesterday, I attempted to throw my graduation cap up and watched it fly across the room.

Time goes by too fast. I tell the kids at church to never grow up because it’s a trap. And it truly is.

Secondly, most of you know I’m changing my major. My senior year of high school, I was pretty sure I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a police officer, to risk my life for others. I took a class offered by a local police officer at the high school along with other students. I was so sure.

I took criminal justice classes through my Freshman year of college. But I found myself kind of getting anxious thinking about it. I’d like to think I’m the kind of person who could put their life on the line for others, but I am not the type of person whose name I want my family to see on the news because I have been killed due to people rioting police officers, or anything of the like. Apparently killing police officers is sadly the new trend.

Plus, it was the movie Die Hard that made me really anxious. I mean, I know my chances are slim, but I would die in that elevator shaft.

It was really scary being in college, thinking you knew what you wanted to do with your life and you find out that this isn’t what you wanted.

But now, it’s all good now.

I have loved to write my whole life and when I was trying to figure out what I wanted do, something always brought me back to writing. I work in a library for God’s sake. Something has always led me back to a writing and publishing field.

So after giving it a long thought, I have decided to withdraw myself from the AOJ field and jump in to the Communications (Journalism) major, hoping to become a book editor someday. I’ve got my heart set on this and I know God has been with me in making this decision.

I remember back to a few years ago someone said I was going to be a world changer. I do get a little bummed when I think of that, but hey, who’s to say book editors can’t change the world?

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Number 70

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Writing this post was one of the hardest I’ve ever had to do.

Photo Credit: WTAE
Photo Credit: WTAE

Monday, August 4, 2014. I was at work and was happy because it was my friend’s birthday. I didn’t know that that week was going to be a shocking one.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014: two days later. I was packing a bag for a lock in at my church. I didn’t know the next few hours would forever alter my life. I was picked up by a friend and we were on our way to the church. I was so excited for the lock in. What I would find out in a few hours would make me question why bad things happen to good people.

I was at the lock-in in a group meeting when at 9:40 p.m., I got the text above. I felt my phone buzz in my pocket but patiently waited to check because I was in a meeting. When it was over, I checked my phone and saw this text.

 

image

A boy we went to school with, Noah Cornuet, was at football practice and collapsed on the football field. He died from what they later discovered was a right atrial myxoma, a rare heart tumor. He was 16. I was absolutely shocked. I couldn’t comprehend the message I just received. My best friend has just told me that someone we went to school with had died. I thought it was a dream. This had never happened before. It’s not something you think will happen at your school. There I was at a church lock in having the time of my life with a 100+ kids while another I went to school with’s life just ended. The weird thing was that a student had died during my older sister’s time in high school, Noah passed during my time in high school, and three years later, a student would pass during my younger sister’s time in high school.

I couldn’t sleep that night. I was actively up til 3 am playing games with my friends. At 3, I decided to hit the hay. But I couldn’t sleep. Maybe it was because I wasn’t home in my comfy bed and instead I was lying on a barely carpeted floor, or it was because everyone was up making noise. Or maybe it was because I was thinking about Noah.

It has been two years since that day and I think about him a lot; why this happened, what could’ve been done to prevent it, wishing I could go back a few years and warn him. But I know I can’t. The day I was forced to say goodbye was a hard one. I wrote this that day:

“Today is the day that I, along with many others, am forced to say goodbye to a great boy with such a big, caring heart. A boy who put others before himself. A boy who had such a bright future, but was taken from him so quickly. A man who was like a giant teddy bear. A man who had such a strong, Christian heart. I have cried with my peers and seen my teachers cry as we have faced this sudden tragedy. Today we say goodbye to Noah Cornuet. May you rest easy, buddy. I know you’re up there with the big man upstairs looking down on all of us right now. I miss you so much and I hope I get to see you again someday.”

I know I say everything happens for a reason but it’s hard to find one for this.

3/27/98-8/6/14

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You Are Loved

Courtesy of Google's "Labeled For Non-Commercial Reuse."
Courtesy of Google’s “Labeled For Non-Commercial Reuse.”

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.  

I’m writing this for all the people out there who are feeling alone tonight, for everyone who are maybe thinking about ending their life.

Let me first share my experience.

In December 2013, I started to have anxiety and depression about the future, thinking there was nothing for me. I had no trust in God, even though I believed in Him and still do.

I barely ate and when I did, I would throw up from the anxious feeling. Other times, I’d throw up from having medication on an empty stomach.

Eventually, I was prescribed medication and my anxiety and depression went away and I was whole again.

I shared in a similar post about my anxiety that in the Summer of 2014 came around and I accidentally missed my meds for 3 days and my anxiety came back. 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 even went down to Western Psych down in Pittsburgh, however was not admitted.
A few weeks went by and the medicine kicked in again. I was back to my whole self again. 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. I like to think that song saved my life.

You see, the thing about anxiety and depression is that it tells you you’re not good enough when you in fact are. It breaks you and tears you apart and give you impure thoughts about yourself.

It’s Satan. It’s Satan tempting you to be someone else. It’s like this peer pressure to be someone you’re not, only the pressure is to be a sad, broken person, when that’s not what you are.

And it will eat at you if you let it.

Do what you have to.

Take meds.

See a therapist or psychiatrist.
But please, don’t kill yourself or hurt yourself.

I promise you it’s not worth it.

Please. If you’re reading this, please know that you are worth it.
I had a friend recently reach out to me and say she wanted to end her life due to a breakup she was very invested in.

It breaks my heart because I know that is not the true her. The true her is the person I saw on Sunday; the person I was laughing with and goofing around with.

This is not her. This sad person is not her.

When I look back at all the journal posts I wrote down when I had anxiety, I can’t help but think, “This doesn’t sound like me.”

That’s because it wasn’t.

If you find yourself at the breaking point, call somebody. Whoever. Family, friends, the police. ANYONE.

Taking your life isn’t worth it.

There is a reason you’re going through what you’re going through.

This is just a trial in your life that you will get through. You’ll look back someday and say, “Hey I got through that. It wasn’t easy, but I did.”

I can’t thank myself enough for not taking my life. I look at all the things I would’ve missed. 4 of my cousins are getting married in the next two years. A lot of people I know are having children. I’m getting to see my favorite band in concert.

If you want to end it because you think you won’t have a good future, by killing yourself you’re denying yourself a future to begin with. You have a shot.

Someone out there loves you. Your family loves you. Your friends love you.

Don’t do it.

You are worth so much more those demons in your head.

You have a God given right to your own happiness.
Life might be a nightmare now, but one day, you will wake up and it will be a dream.

-National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1 800 273 8255

-SuicidePreventionLifeline.Org

-List of Suicide Crisis Lines: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines

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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)

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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