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Explain this to me…

This post has been a long time coming.  (And I mean years.)

The last year has been a year of Jesus really working on my heart when it comes to loving people regardless of who they are. First, let me give you some background, though.

After getting engaged last June, I started trying to figure out who would be in my bridal party.  In the process of picking my bridesmaids, I almost didn’t pick one of my best friends and cousin who I run this blog with.  Why?  Because I was worried about what other people would think about Ryan being a “bridesmaid” (a title he’s okay with) and not a “groomsman.”

Can I gently explain something to you?  It doesn’t matter how feel about Ryan being transgender.  It doesn’t matter how you feel about it.

Here’s what matters:

  • We’re not to judge anyone else.

Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3 ESV)

  • That we treat everyone in the LGBTQ community with love and respect.  Because, guess what, church?  They’re not getting it.  I see it all the time.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34 ESV)

  • Realize that although someone may identify as LGBTQ, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily acting on it.  (Do I have to say that?)
  • Stop ostracizing them!
  • If someone tells you they’re LGBTQ, don’t tell them they’re wrong.  (Seriously?) Understand that there’s a difference between an educated, biblical discussion about the matter and a rude, ignorant one that’s going to ruin your relationship with them.

So, if anyone has a problem with one of my bridesmaids wearing pants… that’s your issue, not mine.  Because Ryan will be in my wedding party along with the rest of my bridesmaids.  

Disclaimer  By no means am I supporting or affirming same sex marriage or relationships.  However, I have heard enough stories on my own (and my circle isn’t that big!) of the church flat out rejecting people that have admitted they were LGBTQ. ***

So, why is this post titled, explain this to me?

As someone whose heart breaks for those who many churches leave behind and just tend to forget and overlook (not all churches, please do not think I’m saying all churches here).  The churches that do exceedingly well here, please keep doing what you’re doing!  You’re doing amazing work fulfilling the Great Commission.  While the church as a whole has made strides when it comes to helping others in need and becoming more diversified.  Why can we not allow our brothers and sisters who identify as LGBTQ to serve and be a part of the body of believers? It still amazes me and irritates me.

Check out these previous posts!

Take Me to Church … Literally

Yeah, I Wanna Get Married Young (Original Post)

Dating Someone Who Doesn’t Love Jesus

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Here’s My Thing About the Drug Epidemic.

 

DrugEpidemic

So recently, I shared a post on Facebook that was simply a picture that started quite a discussion about how we view the responsibility of those utilizing drugs.  I wrote this post way back in August and I think it shares, pretty accurately, my heart for what I believe about the drug epidemic.

“I was recently asked to write a post for an English class about what one thing would “Make America Great Again.” And I ended up turning the post in late, because honestly, looking at this country there are just so many things that need to change.  But aside from the obvious (people turning back to Jesus), as this was obviously more of a policy post, what could be done?  So I wanted to share my post with you, because I think what I wrote about is pretty important.  I edited a few little things but for the most part this is exactly what my post looked like.

“There are so many things going on in the United States right now that greatly affect the nation as a whole.   So what one major thing should be changed in the United States to “Make America Great Again?” Health Care and Pharmaceuticals. Heard about the drug epidemic? Know someone personally that’s addicted? These are not “junkies.”  A lot of them are still kids.  And the worst dealers of all are those writing prescriptions for pain medicines.  Most of the time, it starts there.  Heroin addiction starts with prescription medicine more often than it starts with marijuana, as we were told it would when we were in middle school.  ‘Nearly 80 percent of Americans using heroin (including those in treatment) reported misusing prescription opioids first’ (NIDA, 2017).  This epidemic and the attitude towards it need to change.   If those still struggling with addiction do not get help, they could face the same fate as their friends.  

If the pharmaceutical industry were more heavily regulated, I truly do not believe that the heroin epidemic would have ever started.  Doctors need to stop prescribing opioids, benzodiazepines, and amphetamines without keeping careful control of how often and why their patients take them.  If they suspect that their patient has become dependent on one of these medicines, they need to stop prescribing it to them.  We are supposed to be able to trust doctors to provide for our health, not to work against it.”

Works Cited 

NIDA. (2017, July 1). Heroin. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin on 2017, July 28. “

Now, I’m going to add a bit more onto what I originally wrote.  While those kids (aka young adults) are not junkies, they do make choices along the way that lead them to eventually have to face the consequences of their actions.  It falls on both the doctors and those using when it gets to the point of using any kind of drug without a legitimate medical reason to do so.

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Talk About Politics!

TalkaboutpoliticsIn general in the church, politics seems to be a topic that is avoided like the plague.  And, quite honestly, I don’t understand.   Jesus talked openly and honestly about politics.  If you are following Jesus and doing everything to honor and serve Him, it’s okay to have a conversation about how you view politics or what’s going on in the political world.  Actually, when it comes to talking about having these conversations with Christians you’re close with, I think it’s important!

Remember: It’s okay to disagree.  And probably a good idea at the outset to agree to disagree when it comes to politics. 

In general, I try (as much emphasis there as possible) to frame my worldview through the lens of Scripture.  Therefore, when I view a political issue a certain way, it’s because I believe that Scripture addresses the scenario from that viewpoint.

I was trying to figure out what I wanted to write for my “Real World Issues” post for two weeks and I could not decide.  So, being me, I Google searched “today’s top news.”  I want to give you a few of the top stories (not headlines, just things that are going on, in case you forgot).  The trump travel ban is in the Supreme Court ( I wrote this part a week ago).  Today, President Trump is taking time out of his schedule to speak to boy scouts in West Virginia (top headline).  Meanwhile, 10 people were killed in a potential human trafficking situation in which 39 people were being driven (likely from the US/Mexico border).  Yet, people continue to ignore the fact that human trafficking is a serious issue in the US.

Maybe, and I hope, I’m wrong, but maybe, just maybe, the headlines that we click on are an indication of where our hearts are at.  So what headlines are you clicking on?

And are you willing to discuss politics when they come up instead of ducking, covering, and running?  It’s important to know where you stand and to be able to legitimately discuss what you believe.  That doesn’t mean you should be looking for a fight, but some political conversations could open up the doors to discuss what you believe, and more importantly, why.  That’s a ministry opportunity. 

This is just an intro post to many more Real Word Issues post to come, but I knew that I needed to preface those by saying that we should talk about politics through the lens of Scripture.   

Amanda

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13 Reasons 13 Reasons Why is Important (Part 1)



13Reasons13ReasonsWhyisImportantThere’s been so much talk lately about the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why that I am about over hearing about it.  Not because I didn’t watch it — I did, twice. The first time by myself then I convinced my mom that she should watch it so we watched it together.  It’s not that I don’t think we should be talking about 13 Reasons Why, it’s that we all need to realize that we’re not just talking about a Netflix series when we’re talking about it.  We’re talking about people’s lives that hang in the balance of whether or not they decide that will be their last day.

So, as the title suggests, we’re going to talk about 13 reasons I personally think that 13 Reasons Why is important.   But I’m going to break it into a couple posts because this post ended up being pretty long.

#1 It opens up room for discussion. 

Yeah, I just complained about the fact that we’re still talking about 13 Reasons Why, but I don’t think it’s the series itself that was the goal of the series for us to talk about.  It was suicide prevention, awareness, etc.

#2 It’s honest. 

I realize that the scene of Hannah Baker’s suicide is graphic, and I don’t think that younger viewers or those experiencing suicidal thoughts should watch that scene (or possibly the whole series, for that matter).  However, the scene of Hannah’s suicide as well as the rest of the series is raw in exposing the truth behind what led her down that road.  One thing that television is not is honest, so I think we should appreciate the honesty and the rawness of 13 Reasons Why. There were also objections in the way of this series purely being about Hannah’s revenge rather than about her feelings and how she truly internalized everything.  I disagree, I think the show does a good job of showing how Hannah felt as she endured everything she went through.

#3 It’s Real Life. 

Gosh, I wish no one ever had to experience all of the things that Hannah did.  But the truth is, girls do and so do guys, and I think that we need to be more aware of this and be there for others if someone is experiencing things like betrayal, harassment, being stalked, raped, or feeling alone or unloved.  It can only take one of these things or one other completely different thing to cause someone to commit suicide.

#4 It’s Not Funny

If someone’s “joking” about killing themselves, please, please, please address it.  Even if it’s said jokingly, you shouldn’t ever ignore someone saying they’re going to end their life.

On the other hand, if you’re joking about suicide in general or killing yourself and you aren’t having suicidal thoughts, just stop. 

#4 It Encourages Us to Be Aware

Just my opinion, but I think the furthest thing from the goal of 13 Reasons Why was to make people feel that they should feel guilty if they have lost someone in their lives as a result of suicide.  However, we can all do a better job of being there for one another and could possibly prevent someone from deciding to commit suicide with a simple smile or text.  You never know what someone else is going through, reaching out to them is worth it.

#5 Love Before It’s Too Late

If you’ve seen the series, you know that it primarily focuses on Clay Jenson listening to Hannah’s tapes.  Clay loved Hannah, but it was too late to tell her.   Point being, whether you think someone else feels the same way or not, tell them.  You’ll only regret not telling them.

This one goes for every single person in our lives, family, friends, and those you don’t know.  You never know how much time you’ll have with people, and whether you have 5 days, 5 years, or 50 years, better to spend your time together richly than to spend it focused on your phones, television and video games.

Come back for Part 2 next week! Until then, check out some “old” posts:

Christian Relationship Goals (Part 1)

Watch Out for Ticks

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Is it Biblical for Women to Lead?

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One Nation Under God

Salt_And_Light_In_The_Midst_Of_Crazy_Political_Season

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.  

First, let me say that whether or not you believe in God does not affect whether or not you are under His authority.  His existence is not dependent on whether or not you believe in Him.  In the same way, this nation’s being “under God” is not dependent on your beliefs in God, or lack thereof.

That is truly all I want to say about the fact that we are under God and His authority.  What I primarily want to address in this post is the first part of this phrase: “one nation.”  The division among citizens after the announcement that Donald Trump is the President Elect is absolutely ridiculous.  So I have a few words to say to a few different groups.

To Those On the “Winning Side”

I won’t say congratulations, because you didn’t win. Your nominee did.  I want to primarily start by thanking you for going to the polls.  You exercise the right you have as an American citizen and showed that you are grateful for it by using it.  You may not have recognized that you did, but you did.  Next, I want to say stay humble and on your knees in prayer.  Pray for the future. Pray for the policies that our President Elect and the majority Republican Congress choose to pass to be God-honoring. Do not engage in anything but positive discussions on social media and in person.  It’s not worth it.


To Those On the “Losing Side”

In the same way that I didn’t congratulate the “winning side,” I won’t apologize to you because your side lost.  But I do feel for you.  I understand that you are scared.  I don’t believe that anyone took their decision lightly going into the polls.  I know I sure didn’t.  But I want you to realize that the President isn’t the only one who makes decisions.  Yes, the Republicans did gain control of Congress.  However, not all Republicans are like Donald Trump.  I hope you can find some hope in the fact that most Republicans care deeply about your individual rights and will fight to protect them.

To Those Who Didn’t Choose Either Side,

And I don’t mean you chose not to vote.  I’m talking about voting third party. You said a lot this election. Didn’t quite get where you wanted to get.  But made the statement you wanted to.  Evan McMullins managed 21% in Utah! Anywho, Gary Johnson got 3% of the overall and even though it’s not the 5% needed for federal funding, your vote was worth it.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you wasted your vote by voting for a third party.  That’s a total lie.  Kudos to you for standing up for what you believe in.

To Those Who Didn’t Vote,

May I simply start with a question: WHY NOT? Unless you’re under the age of 18 or were for some reason incapable of getting there, I’m not one for excuses about not voting.  Yes there are legitimate ones.  But for the most part, get there or know you’re not going to that day and fill out an absentee.  You may have stayed home because you thought that you just couldn’t vote for either of the two main candidates.  I know the two primary options were not exactly ideal, but let me ask you this, you’re a flawed human being too right?  Couldn’t you decide who most aligned with your ideals, even if it was an independent and get out there and vote?

Also, let me say this.  If you didn’t vote and could have, you have no room to complain about the results of the election.

This is the division we see today, the day after the election, primarily between Republican and Democrat, or those who see themselves as winners and those who see themselves as losers.  It should not be that way.  The President cannot truly “fix” the issues you face on a daily basis long-term.  Why? Another one can come in and get rid of whatever he does.  That’s what we’re likely about to see happen.

So here’s what needs to happen:

  • Rather than complaining and gloating, we need to help one another and be unified in our communities.
  • Our communities are where real change takes place. If we come together rather than focusing on who is about to be in office, a lot of real change can occur. 
  • If we stand together so much more can get done.
  • Christians are to be salt and light so that others may see Christ in us.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16 NASB). 

 

Liked this post? Go check out other “Real World Issues” Posts:

Is it Biblical for Women to Lead?

Number 70

One Nation Under God

 

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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.

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.  

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

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.  

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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Yes, All Lives Matter.

Taken from Flickr by Anthony Easton under a Creative Commons License.
Taken from Flickr by Anthony Easton under a Creative Commons License.

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.    

In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Colossians 3:11 NLT

I don’t have to explain to you what’s going on in the United States right now between people of different races, especially in regards to the police.  Because of this, there are several different movements going around that have caused a lot of controversy: “Black Lives Matter” and, as a result of that, “All Lives Matter.”  (There is also “Blue Lives Matter,” but I won’t really address that.)

On either end, there are valid points.  Why? Because every human life does matter.  So what’s the problem that people have with the “All Lives Matter” movement, then?  The “Black Lives Matter” movement started to make a statement against violence towards African Americans.  The “All Lives Matter” movement seems to almost negate their purpose and say “No, we’re going to make a movement meant to open people’s eyes into something it wasn’t meant to be because we want it to be about us (whites)” if you look at it that way.

But you don’t have to, remember I said every human life does matter. Not because we decide that they do, but because they were created by God, to have a relationship with Him, not to be damaged by another human being but to love God and love others. 

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27 ESV

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13: 8 ESV

The “All Lives Matter” movement, in my opinion, wasn’t meant to make it more about white people.  It was meant to literally say that we shouldn’t be saying “These Lives Matter” because LIFE MATTERS.  We should not even be having this conversation in the first place, but sadly we are, it’s all we hear and see.

We are not meant to live separated by race any longer.  It purely doesn’t matter, because all that matters is Christ.  The color of our skin has nothing to do with who we are on the inside, or our relationship with our Creator, which is truly all that matters in the end.  Christians are united in Christ and should not be concerned at all with the race of another.  Everyone else deserves to hear and experience the gospel.

Going to leave you with this:

Black lives matter.

Blue lives matter.

All lives matter.

Your life matters and so does mine and it has nothing to do with the color of our skin.

Just gonna leave this right here: Honesty Disclaimer.