Post-Graduation Goals: My Top Items

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I know this may sound cheesy, but I have a mental list of things I most look forward to once I graduate next year. This list isn’t anything too extravagant or grand. This is simply a list of things I know full well I have neglected while in pursuit of my bachelor’s degree.

One of the top items includes reading a book for pleasure. The English major in me longs for one of my greatest forms of relaxation and mental growth. In an eight-week period, I typically read a 300 plus page textbook cover to cover. Needless to say,I do not want to read in my free time. I have used all of my mental stamina and energy to read for school. Therefore, I typically opt to watch a YouTube video or Netflix episode or anything that does not require strenuous mental effort.

Another item on my list is to bake more. I kid you not when I say I have tried to make snickerdoodle cookies since Christmas. I have the ingredients. I simply have not had the time. Or, my home is already filled with gobs of sweets, thanks to reduced priced Valentine’s chocolates or people who give sweets in their Christmas gifts. I am a one sweet at a time kind of gal. I do not want an endless supply, especially when it comes to fresh baked goodies.

Beyond baking, I simply want to cook more. There are countless recipes I want to try. I cook quite a bit now, but nothing beats the luxury of having a whole afternoon open to prepare a grand meal. I am all about stocking up one’s fridge for a couple weeks’ worth of recipes. Then, being able to pick and choose, cook, and grab and go.

I also want to see people more often. As I’ve mentioned before, my husband and I greatly believe in the power of hospitality and opening our home to others as a ministry tool. Relationships matter to us. Each month, my husband and I like to get together with someone we haven’t seen lately. But, even then, I simply want to see my friends and family more often, whether they are people I see once every two weeks or people I see once every two months.

When I am in school, Sunday is practically the only day I am consistently free and able to get together. This is intentional on my part. I try my hardest to finish all of my course assignments by Saturdays so I can rest on Sundays just as God intended. Granted, this does not happen every week. It depends on the class, the assignment, and other events that may be out of my control. Nevertheless, it is something I am intentional about to the best of my ability.

I also strive to exercise consistently. Right now, my only form of “exercise” is walking to and from offices at work. I am adamant about not sending an e-mail unless I have to. I need the exercise. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to interact every now and then.

I don’t know what exercising consistently will look like for me. But, I do know it will be different than most others, due to my disability. And I am more than okay with this. Part of the quality of exercise is knowing one’s body–its limitations and its needs.

Lastly, I shall end with an even cheesier goal than the list itself. Be in bed by 10:30 p.m. at the latest each night. I don’t stay up too late during school. I need my sleep. But, my Christmas breaks from school have taught me full well, that I sleep astoundingly better at night when I know I don’t have to work on school, regardless of what time I go to bed.

As I get older, I realize more and more how important it is to care for one’s body. That means eating out less often and cooking more at home; that means exercising consistently; that means getting the proper amount and quality of sleep.

Yes, I am aware some of you may be thinking, “What’s stopping you from accomplishing tasks on this list now?” You are right in asking this. Nothing is stopping me. In fact, I do accomplish most of these tasks on a fairly regular basis, even with my crazy schedule. But, like I said, it’s all about knowing yourself. It’s about knowing what your body can and cannot handle. Some weeks, my body can only handle school and work. Other times, I can fit in extra, fun activities.

I challenge you to set goals for yourself. Set goals for you and your care, but also set goals that allow you to be there for others. Yes, I know everyone says it, but it is so true, especially in a time of life filled with more pressing priorities. Give yourself something to look forward to. Sometimes the beauty of self-care is giving yourself something to care about, even if it is reading that classic novel for the millionth time simply because you can and because it never gets old.

Blessings,

Renata

A Profound Truth: God Grieves Over Sin

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I stumbled upon a profound, life-changing Bible verse this week. It struck me and moved me to my core. It made me appreciate God even more. As I was reading about Noah’s Ark in Genesis 6, I read this verse, “The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart,” Genesis 6:6.

Reading this verse taught me a few lessons about the majesty of God. First of all, no matter how much we want to deny it, God truly does hate sin. It truly does break His heart. In fact, he wiped the whole Earth away in a flood because of how disgusted He was by man’s sinful, wicked behavior.

How sinful and wicked do we have to be to make the God who created us sorry that He made man and grieve? I’d say fairly sinful. Sin is no joke to God. Not only does it offend Him and detest His righteous, it also hurts Him.

Prior to reading the above verse, I often wondered if God had experienced sad emotions towards our sin. I knew He could deeply hurt because He turned His face away when His Son died on the cross. The atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ, hurt Him so much that He could not even watch.

But, I never knew God could be angry, jealous, disgusted and sad about sin. I never knew God could break His heart over His own creation. I don’t view that as a form of superior power. Rather, I view this as a form of empathy and grace.

People tend to view God as this distant, lofty, know-it-all, too good for me being. But, really, God is not distant. Rather, His is ever-present and fervently dedicated to His plans for us. He is better and stronger than we could ever imagine. He is perfect and infallible.

Just as His Son, Jesus, felt every emotion we could ever feel, so has God. So, not only did Jesus weep, but God also grieved.

I challenge you to take a single passage in the Bible and use it as an opportunity to learn about God. He is superior. He is all-knowing. He deserves to be made known among all the nations and realms of the Earth.

Use that passage to discover a nugget of truth about God. You don’t have to read the whole Bible to learn more about Him and His majesty. You simply have to be willing to read with an open heart, mind, and soul, actively seeking to know more about Him and His ways.

Blessings,

Renata

Social Media: Examining My Presence

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About once every two weeks or so, someone recommends a movie or television show to me. My response usually is, “Okay, I’ll let you know what I think of it when I see it in five years.” The comment tends to catch people off guard, but it is an honest representation of my life. I am not a fads or trends person. I often see the biggest blockbusters, wear the trendiest outfits, or read a best-seller long after the initial hype is gone.

I am no different with my social media. In fact, I don’t even make use of most forms of social media. I have a Twitter account, but I maybe look at it once a month. I used to have a Facebook, but I deactivated it a couple months ago. Although, that is not the first time I’ve deactivated it either. I may reactive it someday. For now, I enjoy one less distraction.

My most used social media applications are Instagram and YouTube if you want to call YouTube a social media platform, that is. I know there are countless other social media platforms. I simply don’t see the mass appeal or even need.

Honestly, I would categorize myself as the silent social media user. In other words, I am that person who likes a bunch of photos on Instagram or watches a ton of videos on YouTube without having any presence of my own.

I could go months without updating a Facebook status, liking a YouTube video, or uploading an Instagram photograph. Guess what? I am more than okay with this. I am okay with this because I mainly use social media to gush over dogs, watch my friends’ children grow, glean home décor ideas, and learn recipes. I probably look at more dog photos on my social media than anything else, though.

I like to see what is going on in others’ lives without having to respond. I like seeing others’ lives, who are willing to share, without having to share my own. In a way, this blog is somewhat of my “Here’s what’s going on in my life” without too many specifics. And well, I enjoy this blog. Beyond this, I don’t see the need, nor do I have the desire.

I negate from using social media as a platform to get into fights or share my values or perspective. How I see it, one social media comment thread or post will not ultimately change someone’s opinion. It may get them thinking about other perspectives. But, it won’t change their opinion. It takes an honest, genuine, and open relationship with someone to do that. Without it, you simply have an argument for the sake of an argument.

I may not be like all the other extremely successful bloggers who refer their posts to a myriad of social platforms. But, I am genuine, even if no one reads what I have to say. My blog is here for anyone who is willing to listen.

My challenge to you: Ask yourself what social media platforms you have and why. If you’ve ever felt the nudge to take a cleanse from the nonsense for a bit, do it. You’ll quickly realize the world moves on with or without your social media presence.

If you don’t have a social media presence, good for you! If you’ve gone this long without it, it isn’t bad. Don’t feel like you have to be part of the “in crowd.” Simply, don’t feel pressured to do something you are more than okay without. Just as the movies I watch, clothes I wear, and books I read, the initial hype will fade.

If you need a social media presence for business or whatnot, do not shy away from looking at who or what all you follow. Don’t hesitate to unfriend or unfollow someone. I try my best to follow the rules, “Have I talked to you in the last year?” and simply, “Do I want to know what’s going on in your life, even if we don’t talk much?” I soon realized there were a lot of people whom I did not need to follow but did.

I know not everyone is like me. Nevertheless, I fully believe it is worth examining how and why you use social media. The answer may surprise you.

Blessings,

Renata

 

Sin was Strong: Jesus is Stronger

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This year, I challenged myself to read scripture more. Furthermore, not just read more, but actually meditate on it as well. A friend of mine introduced me to this great Bible reading plan application called A Lamp Unto.

I love it because it is tailor-made and customizable to you. You can decide how often you want to read and how much. You can read chronologically, in a random order (set by the application), in a year, or on your own timeline. Right now, I have it set to read two chapters randomly, three to four days a week.

Over a month into the new year, I haven’t completely kept up with my reading, but I will say I am getting much better at it. I love that you can control the settings for the application. I know myself well enough that I won’t read every day. At least not at this point in my life. That could change. I sure hope it does one day.

At first, it was hard to admit that. But, I had to be realistic. I didn’t want to get myself back into the familiar rut of reading because I have to. Nor did I want to try to start from the beginning of Genesis and continuously stop at the same portion. I asked God to give me the desire in my heart to read. Alas, it is not each day, but it has made all the difference in my walk with the Lord.

When I do read, I like to identify a verse or two that really sticks out me and meditate on it. I also like to listen to a worship song or two after I am done reading. Recently, I read Romans 4. One verse that really stuck out to me was Romans 4:25: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

In the Christian walk, it is easy to forget just exactly what God did when He sent his Son, Jesus, down to earth as a man and predestined Him to die on a cross. When you stop and think about it, it is quite overwhelming and revering. I cannot help but be in awe of God.

It really diminishes all the problems in life when you remind yourself a perfect Savior endured death so that we, who are born in sin, did not have to die in sin and spend eternity apart from God. Rather, we could be raised to life by having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

A song that helps me remember the power of the verse is Raised to Life by Elevation Worship. The song declares:

Great was the debt that we owed

And how high was the price of our healing

Paid in full by the One who is worthy

Come let us worship Him

The bridge is a constant cry of my heart:

Sin was strong

But Jesus is stronger

Our shame was great

But Jesus You’re greater

There is no other way to say this. We deserved death. Each and every single one of us is born in sin. We are born in total depravity or separation from God until He draws us to Himself. It is humbling and truly gracious to have Jesus pay the price that we owe.

If it weren’t for Jesus Christ dying on a cross, none of us would stand righteous in front of God on judgment day. Yet, “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:8.

Jesus Christ is worthy of our praise and adoration.

My call to you is simple: If you are a believer, take any chance you can to share the gospel. It is an amazing truth and it is the call of the Great Commission. If you do not know God personally, I am praying for you. If this is the first time, you have heard of the glorious truth that is found only in Jesus Christ, I pray that God would stir in your heart a desire to know Him personally.

Walking with God is not easy. But, it sure is wonderful and it is everlasting, even into eternity.

Blessings,

Renata