It’s getting close to Christmas time…

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I know many of you are turned off by me already talking about Christmas. I am one of those freaks who starts watching Christmas movies before Thanksgiving. While I do not just skip over thanksgiving, I just love the Christmas spirit. I spent a lot of time this weekend watching Hallmark Christmas movies. It was just the TV and I. Lovely hours spent soaking up the magical feel of Christmas. Well, most of it was lovely, the other part I was sick. (But I am all better now!(: Just the 24 hour stomach bug)

While layed up watching these movies I really got to thinking about why I love them so much, why I can literally watch them year round, and what makes them so special? As I got to the third one after thinking of these questions I realized that it was because of the pureness of them. They are filled with hope, and joy. They are magical. They are powerful messages. Some of them are based on Christianity and the true meaning of Christmas while others are just portraying the “Giving season”. Either way they are just amazing. 

If you watch any other movies of this time you will see a ton of cussing, drinking, and sex that have turned into an every movie occurrence. Christmas movies are the difference. They are the complete opposite, and that’s what I love so much about them. 

It has become a habit of us Americans to get into the giving spirit right before Christmas then when Christmas is over we go back to our daily lives and forget that giving should be year round. Why do we wait tip Christmas every year to give, and be generous. (This is me as well. I actually ask myself this question every single year.) 

The bible says in 1 John 16-18

 

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

These verses pretty much lays it out there plain as day. Jesus didn’t just die on the cross for a day or two out of every year for us, but for every day of every year for our entire lives, and if we know Him personally then for ETERNITY! Why should we treat our brothers and sisters with respect, and with a giving heart just for a little bit out of each year? 

Let’s give to those that are needy, let’s help those that are hurt, let’s give comfort to those that are grieving. Let’s not do it with our words this Christmas (and for the next years to come) but with our actions. If someone in front of you in line at Wal-mart is a couple dollars short, hand them the extra, pay for someone’s drink at starbucks, give food to a homeless person that you pass everyday, invite a neighbor that doesn’t have any family for the holidays over to spend it with your family. There are a million different acts that we could do to live out this verse. 

Who is going to live out this verse with me through the holidays and even further into 2014? 

Leave a comment (or email me at arielpaige5893@yahooo.com) of ways that you could live out this verse, or that you already have done in the past! I would love to hear your stories!

God Bless(:
-Ariel

Christian Artists.

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ImageWe have all been here. SItting in the crowd anticipating our favorite artist coming out on the stage, and as he/she does we act way younger than our age. Come on, admit it! Well, the other night I was listening to a few songs by a few of my favorite christian artists and got a little curious. Then I started looking up the reason behind the song. Why did they write and sing what they did? Was it just a word from God? Or an experience in their own life? Or maybe someone else’s? I just wanted to know the story behind their beautiful songs.

ImageThe first song I looked up was Plumb on her song “One Drop”. When I looked up her testimony for that song she talked about how her songs are normally on the darker side, and speak more of what most people don’t. She had said something about her song “Need You Now” ,which I absolutely LOVE, so my nosey self wanted to know what that song was about. I then switched over to that testimony of that song. Wow was I surprised, but in such an amazing way. When she first started writing that song it was about her stomach problem she has had. She has dealt with anxiety since she was little and one day at school she was just laying on the bathroom stall telling God that she needed Him now. Then she went through a painful divorce that she never imagined going through. Through this time she found herself calling out to God saying the same thing. God I need you now.

For Plumb to come forward, to say what the song truly means to her is such a blessing. The world view on Christians tends to be that we have to be “perfect”. While that is so not true, we (as christians) tend to live up to that standard so that we don’t let the world down. I can’t imagine being a musician, or artists where the whole world is looking at you and your life. It is hard enough being just an everyday person, I can’t fathom how hard it must be for these artists who we like to put on pedestals. Plumb came forward and shared about her heartache, shared about her divorce and how hard it was for her, and the struggle she went through. She was making herself vulnerable, telling the world that she isn’t perfect. She has some of the same struggles as you and I do. She is human just as you and I are, so why is it that we tend to put them higher than others?

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Another one I looked up was Natalie Grant. She has been one of my all time favorites since I saw her at The Revolve Tour twice when I was in middle school/high school. At the time I was dealing with eating disorders and self-harm and just with life. (It is hard to be a teenage girl now a days.) She shared her story of her song and book “The Real Me”. When she began sharing of her struggle with bulimia I was pretty much shocked. This whole sharing your story as a christian thing was still pretty new to me, so for a famous artist as herself, up there sharing her heart and story took me by surprise. As she went further into her story I found myself relating time and time again. I broke down. I curled up in a ball on the ground and just cried. I started talking to God, but then realized I wasn’t sure what I was suppose to say so I just said His name for a while. She was on that stage being vulnerable, sharing her testimony. I know for me I have struggled with sharing my testimony the last two years thinking “well what if they think bad of me’, or ‘what if they can’t trust me as a christian because of my past’. Let me just tell you, I am SO glad that Natalie Grant did not hold back. She has influenced me the last 6-7 years through my eating disorder, through getting better. I am able to look at her, she was a christian when she started being bulimic, was an artist and singing for the public. To know that she can overcome it, and be herself and still be on that stage, I know I can.

Her newest song ‘Hurricane’ also has a story. I love that song and have since it came out. It has helped me through a log and I know that it will continue to help me. She wrote the song out of her suffering from PPD (postpartum depression). After she had her youngest she struggle with depression, why and how, and what it was exactly. She was so open with her story, hoping that it could help someone else going through it. She explained that she didn’t know anybody with it and that was the hardest part, was that no one understood it. She had said that when she felt at her lowest she knew that God was still there reaching out his hand. She could be in the biggest storm yet God would always be there reaching for you. How beautiful is that? How amazing to know that no matter what we do or what we are going through that God is constantly holding out His hand for us to grab hold and Him pull us out.

I am hoping that one day, we as christians are so scared of what the world thinks. That instead of worrying how others will react, that we tell our story because it COULD help someone. You could be someone else’s blessing. God could be working through you, but if we are all too scared, then that other person won’t get to hear. Even if you help one person out of everyone in the whole world, wouldn’t that be worth it? To me it is, and this is why I am beginning to tell my story. It is still a work in progress, and there are still parts that I am not open to one day, but God is taking it step by step.

Do you feel like you don’t have a story? I promise you you do. Whether you have dealt with suicide, or the fact that you haven’t done anything and how you feel bad for it? You have a story. I promise! Pray about it, ask God what you could be sharing to others. What does He have for others from you? I will be praying for you all. Praying that you get the courage to tell your story, to share what God has done to you, and how you have overcome everything.

If you have any questions or comments, please comment below or email me at arielpaige5893@yahoo.com I am here to listen, or just to talk if you need it!

God Bless,
Ariel(:

Transparency.

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It has been almost 7 years since I first started my first dance steps with the devil on self-image. I had recently gone through a tragedy in my life, losing a friend to a car wreck, and I was broken. My life around me was falling apart. I couldn’t get along with my parents; they didn’t get along with one another. I had recently quit being friends with my best friend and I really had no one. Actually, I thought I had no one. The Lord was with me the whole way through it all. Every single step of the way. 

The last 6-7 years have been hard. There have been a ton of trials and a million and one roller coasters going up and down in my life. When my life seemed to be spinning out of control, no matter what was going on, I turned to my lack of self-image and tried to get approval through losing weight, and also self-harming. It was an extremely dark time of my life. I have hit rock bottom a couple of times. 

2 years ago I went to church camp after hitting rock bottom and trying to work myself back up. It was a huge realization time for myself. The whole week of camp was about how to love yourself. Can you say a huge 2×4 right in the middle of my forehead. It could not have been any clearer. The biggest concept that stood out to me at the time was…

“If you had made a ceramic pot. You worked for weeks and weeks on this pot to make it perfect. When it is all done, you take it to your best friend to see what he/she thinks and she starts nit picking your masterpiece. He/She finds flaw after flaw after flaw with your creation. How do you feel? Obviously, you will be extremely upset and will most likely want to throw the pot in her face. (Just kidding) But honestly, you will not be happy. You were so excited to show her this work of art that you worked so carefully on to make it just perfect, and here he/she is tearing it apart like it’s scrap. God has created you and I. He has worked to make each of us perfect in His eyes. He has made us us for a reason. If you stand there and think/talk about all of the “flaws” you have, how do you think God feels? He has worked hard on this “master piece” and here you are tearing it apart just like your friend tore apart your pot.” 

 

At this point I was just like “I am done. God you have been reading my diary and I don’t appreciate it.” The more I thought about it though the more it made sense. A lot of events had worked it’s way up to me being back in the youth group and having the chance to be at church camp that summer. I was about to go off to college not knowing anyone and if it wasn’t for that church camp and trying to turn my life around I would not have stayed on the right track in college. It’s amazing to know that even though we go through hard times, God is still there, directing our lives trying to better ourselves. He didn’t give up on me. He kept trying to get me to come back to His loving arms. I was a lot of work, let me tell ya!

For those of you out there who have reached the end of your rope. Who have been dealt a tough hand at life, and just want to give up. For those who feel like there isn’t much more you could do, and who really cares anyway. For those of you who have given up hope, and just want to curl up in a ball and stay there… You aren’t hopeless. You have so much going for you. You have a God who loves you and just wants you to run into His arms and say “I Love You”. You are loved. You are cherished, and cared for by a God who has created you as you for a reason. 

Start to think of your darkest day, the hardest trial you have gone through, the steepest mountain. How did you feel? Did you feel alone? Did you realize the Lord was there? Now try to picture Him standing beside you. Now before you brush this off, He isn’t ignoring your hurt. He knows you are hurt, He knows how you feel, but did you reach out to Him. He was standing there the whole time holding out His hand waiting for you to reach for Him. He is waiting for you to take that step of faith towards Him. It is easy, just reach for Him. Whisper His name. He hears you, I promise! 

1 Peter 5:10-12. And it says ‘the God of all grace after you have suffered a while will strengthen, perfect, establish, and settle you.’

The Lord isn’t done with you. He has wonderful plans for you. You might be going through a hard time, but look at the above verse. The dark times are to make you stronger, He is preparing you for battle. Imagine, if I was to never go through what I have gone through, I would not be able to share this testimony with you today. I am now able to use my story to share hope through eating disorders, and self-harm. I am able to share my story to show girls that it isn’t the end of the world and we have a Lord that loves us even through the times where we can’t love ourself. 

Remember, you are loved. Don’t forget that. 

If you have any questions, (I am completely open to anything) please ask. Email me at arielpaige5893@yahoo.com or comment below. I would love to hear your story, whether it is about this topic or not. How is God moving in your life? Have you had some of the same struggles as me? Please share, I would absolutely LOVE to hear from you!

God Bless,
Ariel