Category Archives: Christian Living

My Last Post on This Blog

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This is the last post on this blog. It took a long time to decide to quit writing fiction, to quit this blog, and to withdraw from social media (at least for a time).

I’ve been in love with writing for a long time. I’ve been cleaning out ancient boxes full of old school things and my first notebooks. (It’s so wrong that I can remember things that happened twenty years ago… I feel old.) Anyway, when I was five, I received my first notebook with a kitty on the cover. In all my notebooks and diaries since then, there are beginnings of countless stories and talk of becoming a writer.

I think for most of my life, I have known what I wanted. But also for most of my life, I have wanted the wrong things. In some cases, I have wanted right things but for the wrong reasons or at the wrong time.

This last year has been especially rough. People don’t crumble in a day, so I’ve heard. And I guess I never noticed the bitterness and discontentment creeping into my many empty spaces, making me instable and brittle until I finally broke.

There were some supposed highs and many lows – the highs being me thinking I was getting what I wanted, and the lows being me convinced life was not worth living.

It started with a thinking pattern. My imagination and creativity had let me escape reality since childhood. I remember the first time my reality became subject to my imagination. I shocked myself. And then I made a mistake.

I didn’t stop it.

And so my imagination took over reality, and I lived in a fantasy world. It felt really nice. I was loved just the way I wanted to be. I got what I wanted in whatever way I wanted.

Not many of you know that my father is a pastor and has been in full-time ministry for as long as I can remember. I have never been one to doubt God’s existence or His love and work. I have always known that as a ruthless sinner, I need forgiveness, which is only offered through faith in Jesus Christ. Still, as a child, I tried to please God by attempting (and failing miserably) to be a good girl and repeatedly asking for forgiveness, by memorizing Bible verses, and whatnot. I was twelve when I realized there was nothing I could do to gain God’s favor, but that I needed Jesus’ righteousness to make me right before God. Since then, I have been safe in the hands of the loving Father.

But I had a lot to learn.

I wanted God’s blessing but I knew that if I didn’t live in obedience and trust, I should expect nothing but chastisement. Yes, Jesus took away the punishment of my sin; but as God’s child, He disciplines and corrects me as any faithful father would his child.

I learned that no matter how enticing sin looks, it is a sour fruit in the end and not worth the pain. Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking or if I was thinking at all. I have several childhood friends who turned their backs on God and live their lives independent of Him. I remember watching and incredulously thinking, “Why? How? How can they willingly and knowingly turn their backs on the Truth. They know the consequence. How do they live with it?”

Not long ago, I wanted to turn my back on God. And maybe I tried running away from Him several times. I had asked Him for good things, right things, honorable things; but He wasn’t giving them to me. And then to make matters worse, He seemed to be threatening to take away the person I loved most.

I remember sitting on my bed after several days of holding back tears. I probably have never cried harder and in the background my music was playing Chris Tomlin’s “Jesus Loves Me.”

Jesus – He loves me

He is for me

Jesus – How can it be?

He loves me

He is for me

 My heart was screaming at God that no, He did not love me. He was not for me. How could a gracious God treat me like this? A God, who claims to be good and loving and righteous and merciful.

There were two options – either…

  1. God was a liar or
  2. I didn’t know Him the way I always thought I had.

There is only one reason why I didn’t turn my back forever.

God held onto me. He wouldn’t let me go. He had me in His hands all along.

And it was then I realized that even though I knew everything about Him, I did not know Him.

Yes, I knew that God is a merciful God and quick to forgive; but I hadn’t been able to ask for forgiveness or simply pray for a very long time. There was too much guilt and shame.

I had distorted my view of God. To me, He was small. He was finite, limited, incapable.

Thanks be to God, I picked up one of the 3,000 theology books (no joke) in our home and started reading. Basically, the author slapped me in the face and pointed.

He pointed to an infinite God. A God of infinite mercy and grace and love. A God who never loved me less or more than on this very day. A God that is far, far greater than my ugliest sin. A God who never changes. A God who keeps His promises. A God who died for a vile sinner such as myself. A God whose wisdom is perfect. A God who is perfect. Asking for something other than what God had planned for me was asking for something that was less than perfect. How stupid of me!

You can’t forsake something you love more than God. I clung to many things, but after coming to Jesus and weeping at His feet, He forgave me like He did the sinful woman in Luke 7. He forgave me much, and so I love Him all the more.

Jesus describes discipleship as taking up my cross daily. A cross, a brutal execution instrument. I slay myself daily for Jesus now. Believe me, there is a lot to slay.

Every single day, I fail. I fall. I mess up. But now, I don’t lie sulking on the ground, hopeless and frustrated. In Psalm 37, God promises that I will not fall headlong because He is holding my hand. The righteous ones have never been forsaken and never will be. I take God by His word now. And it gives me freedom. And happiness. The real kind.

Life just got that much richer.

*

As a part of forsaking things I once loved more than my God, I will no longer be posting on this blog. I’ll be dabbling on a new blog (It’s still under construction but HERE is the link), but it will probably have little to do with writing and such, so I understand if our ways part here. Otherwise, I’d be happy for you to drop by.

Oh yeah, and my name is actually Hanna.

Of Patience And Pain

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One Day at A Time

It doesn’t matter who you are, life contains pain. And it’s hard.

Due to chronic illness, physical pain overrode my life yesterday. It had never been that bad. Strangely enough, it left as quickly as it came; but one pain leaves and another one comes. Or one is there all along. It doesn’t have to be physical. It can be deep emotions that simply hurt. It can be feelings that make me want to despair. It can be uncertainty, emptiness, and loneliness. Pain, you know.

A kind friend reminded me to take one day at a time. He said, “You don’t need to know when you’ll feel better. You don’t need to know how much of a fight this will be for the rest of your life. You can take ‘just’ today and use it to honor God.”

Welcome to 2015

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Here’s how this blogpost happened –

  1. Well, I was on Facebook minding my own business – as I always do on Facebook (say no to stalking).
  2. I happened upon a wedding coordinator’s page and looked at probably a gazillion wedding photos.
  3. I decided I should start collecting wedding decoration ideas. Pinterest.
  4. First, I scrolled through my eternal start page before finally deciding remembering I don’t need to start planning a not-even-in-sight wedding.
  5. I searched inspirational quotes. Maybe I could finally publish a welcome-to-2015 post on my blog and make it inspiring.
  6. Scroll, scroll, scroll.
  7. By this time, I felt greatly inspired but wished I was another person.

Instead of sharing an inspirational quote or going on about how I’m going to turn into an amazing person this year, instead of listing all the cool things I will (actually not) do this year, I’d like share five of my favorite Bible verses.

They are printed on now tattered papers and taped to the wall above my desk. I look and have looked at them often – often without thinking about it. I’ve become used to them hanging there.

And so this year, I want to remember these verses again. Because they are beautiful and mean very much to me now as they did almost four years ago when I put them there.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes from faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. (Philippians 3:7-9)

I love it because that’s basically the Gospel summed up right there.

Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You. (Psalm 73:25)

I feel like this was my verse in 2011. I also have the feeling it will be pretty much mine 2015 too.

I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the Gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)

That describes my calling.

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them. (Psalm 24:7)

I grew up reading the Bible daily, so I had obviously read this promise many times; but I remember being pretty blown away when I read it again.

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. (Proverbs 31:26)

I think everyone who thinks the Bible is woman-hating, discriminating book should read about the super woman described in Proverbs 31. She is “far more precious than jewels” (verse 10). Anyway, I’ve always wanted to be the kind of woman who speaks only kindness and wisdom. I really need to practice…

Have a wonderful 2015! I expect to drop by every now and then, but I am very busy and also unsure what will become of this blog and my writing.

How are you all doing?

World Suicide Prevention Day 2014

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I knew World Suicide Prevention Day was coming up soon; so when I googled it today, I was glad I didn’t miss it. I’ve been wanting to touch on this issue for a while now and even filmed a vlog that I didn’t end up uploading.

I have been fortunate enough not to have been closely affected by the tragedy of suicide. No one in my immediate or extended family, my close friends or their families has had to face losing a loved one this way. Still, whenever I hear about it – and it happens a lot – it breaks my heart. What makes it worse is when the people you expect it of the least contemplate taking their own life. It makes me wonder if I know my friends well enough to know that they are not suicidal.

I’m not suicidal – at least, I don’t think I am; but sometimes when I’m feeling especially low and frustrated with myself and my failures, I have to admit my feelings can get very dark.

A lot of you may know I am quite the shy introvert. I like being by myself simply because being around people makes me uncomfortable and I don’t know how to act around them. That doesn’t mean I like the way I am or am even happy when I’m all alone.

It’s not good to be alone. Humans were made to be together, to interact and build each other up, to encourage and challenge one another. I admit some people are difficult to be around. It’s hard to like them, encourage and help them. Sure, I’m one of those people. I’ve been called rude and mean, very disagreeable, selfish, proud and taciturn. It’s hard to be my friend. I can’t explain it. Sometimes I wonder why everyone else can get along but it’s as if I don’t exist. If you’re such a friendly, open and talkative person, what would be so hard about talking to me? I wonder if there’s a sign on my forehead “Not worth it.”

I am glad I am a Christian and that Jesus saved me from myself. He is the only reason I am alive today and the only thing worth living for. Were it not for Him, I’d have killed myself long ago. Because of Him, I know that my failures are forgiven. Past, present, future. That doesn’t make being a failure easier, but it gives me hope. The only path to true happiness is salvation through Jesus Christ. I know I can do the right thing because He gives me strength. I know I can help people and love them because I’ve been given perfect love.

I need a lot of help. There’s no doubt about that. Many things overwhelm me and I can lose sight of truth and despair. This happens to a lot of people. Open your eyes and try to find that one today. People can be difficult beings, but I dare you to do the hard thing and take time for that person – or even the one who seems like the happiest person alive. Maybe he’s a shattered mess inside.

I love people and from the bottom of my heart, I wish we’d get along more easily. Really, really, really.

And if you feel like you haven’t a friend in the world, I love you.

On Turning 25

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Lessons Learned Thus Far

I was planning to write some fancy and wise blogpost, but that put way too much pressure on my frail self. It’s my 25th birthday. That’s not too old. I don’t feel old. I don’t feel mature. I don’t feel like I have any idea what I am doing. I have no clue what I am going to do with my life and what is going to happen.

I have, however, learned many important things in the last quarter of a century. Some very important things.

In the beginning God…

When I was about nine years old, I remember standing in line at the grocery store. I observed a family at a different checkout and felt overwhelmed with gratitude for my family. I love my mom. I love my dad. I love that they taught me about God. I love that God let me be my parents’ child. They were the ones to tell me that God created the heavens and the earth.

God is…

  • all-powerful
  • omnipresent
  • omniscient
  • merciful and gracious
  • holy and just
  • love

I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great Savior.

John Newton, the man who wrote the famous hymn “Amazing Grace”, said this. And I agree with him completely. I have observed that the more I become aware of my own sinful nature and failings, the greater God becomes. The more I understand myself, the more I see of His glory in His loving compassion for me. He has given me so, so many things that I did not deserve one bit. Often I think, “Why me? Why in the world was God merciful to me of all people – why did He choose me?” Because He is gracious and He offers love and forgiveness to all who come to Him. I am so glad He let me come.

Most of all, I am glad that He keeps me. If it were up to me to stick with Him, I’d have failed the moment I believed. I fail each and every day – miserably. Thanks be to my God and Savior for His endless love and compassion for a wretch like me.

Life is fleeting.

Compare life on this earth to eternity. Too often, I waste my time with futile matters while my time and energy should be invested in things of eternal worth. Also, suffering and sorrow hardly counts in view of an endless life in glory. So the few years I live here may suck a bit. I won’t get everything I want. But what is the use in getting worked up about that? I could die tomorrow and where would the use in complaining have been then? I might live another fifty years and then I’m gone. In the light of eternity, that’s nothing. Nothing.

Chocolate is delicious.

I mean seriously.

No One Will Understand

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At least once in their life, everyone has the right to talk of things no one else will understand.

But maybe they do understand. Maybe they know how you’re feeling – not exactly and they can’t read your mind, only the words; but they have a connection with those words because they’ve felt that way. They have felt misunderstood – or not understood at all. Most likely, they don’t even understand their feelings.

I don’t understand the way I feel. I don’t know why.

Feelings – one big heap of mess, piling higher and higher. A mountain of garbled thoughts and emotions. It needs to be sorted out. I need to sort it out, but I don’t know if I want to, afraid of what I might find. Intentions, desires and needs, deep-rooted longing.

What if I hurt people in the process? What if I leave the mountain? Will it erupt and cause more damage than I ever imagined?

Everyone’s got their mountain, and they’ve formed for different reasons. How did this happen? How could I have let it happen?

The mountain. Thoughts. Emotions.

Thoughts are wild.

Emotions, often untamable.

But I have to tame them. It’s not about doing what you feel, how you feel, what you think is best, what you think will make you feel better. It is about doing what is right. Thought processes need to be conform with truth. Stray from that and you are lost. You play with irrationality, stupidity; and kiss common sense goodbye. But it doesn’t even have to be common sense. Common sense does not equal what is right. Common sense shifts with culture and society. Truth is eternal, and that is my anchor.

Don’t be controlled by emotions. Be controlled by truth, and it will set you free. Wrong thinking should be given no room to fester in your mind, poisoning not only yourself but potentially ruining others as well. Don’t be so selfish as to let the way you feel affect others in a negative way. Think of others before self.

Others.

I feel worse when I think about myself and when everything is about me and how I can feel better. Go out, and try to give instead of take.

Yes, that mountain needs to be flattened and destroyed. It should not be ignored, but dealt with. Deal with it.

Change that attitude, and keep your chin up. You can’t see much with your head hanging low.

On Character And What You Deserve

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“You deserve to be happy.”

“Think of yourself first.”

“Do what is best for you.”

I hear words like these all the time. Our society seems obsessed with self-love, with chasing personal dreams – often at the cost of others. People are challenged to do whatever it takes to get whatever they want. We’ve turned into a humanity that focuses more on self than others.

Still, we know what is good. We approve of stories with themes like selflessness, love, and sacrifice. I wonder why we then encourage the promotion of selfishness, which is ultimately hate, in our society and daily lives.

Ask yourself this – would you like to be depicted as the protagonist of a story? How would you be described? As self-centered, egotistic, and uncaring? Would you be doing everything to pursue your own dreams while ignoring the needs of others? Be honest.

I am not a deserving person. I am selfish, lazy, complicated, impatient, and mean. I lie and cheat, have hateful thoughts, and speak unkindly. I think about myself way too much. I do not deserve to be happy. Chasing my dreams means finding contentment in futile things, seeking comfort and recognition, taking the easy road. In short, I am not a lovable person and would not be a likable character in a book.

We’re all human. We’re all a mess. It is our nature to be selfish, but grace is about getting what you do not deserve. My very life is grace. Redemption through God’s love, mercy, and grace allows me to change my life’s basis. The purpose of life turns from living for self to living for Christ and others.

I can’t forget and deny myself without help, without Christ. But through His grace, He draws my attention away from self. And I want to be selfless in order to…

  1. honor and glorify Christ because He saved me from myself
  2. love and care about others like Christ loves me

What are your thoughts? Do you think society is promoting beliefs we actually know are wrong? I’d love to chat with you in the comments. You can also tweet or email me!

 

Under the sun, I found we were left to drown
Evil abounds, weight is pullin’ us down
No sight or sound, impaired to His care
Chasing after the wind, running after the air
Deserving of desertion, servants of destruction
And everyday we taste of a grace that we’re unconcerned with
My sin I should be burned with, I’m guilty, filthy, and stained
But He became a curse, drank my cup and took my pain
And for that He reigns, through faith I’m changed
And I don’t have a reason why He loosened up my chains

I don’t believe in luck; I believe in Grace
But they say we’re lucky cause we seen His face

Lucky Ones (Lecrae ft. Rudy Currence)