Insane Courage: Assertiveness

20-seconds-insane-courage-benjamin-mee-quote

Generally speaking, I come off as intimidating when people first meet me.

Even though this may be the case, I can assure you, my intimidation is an outward representation of an inwardly guarded person. What others see as intimidation, I see as someone hiding behind walls, trying not to get hurt.

Regardless, I think the biggest reason why I can be intimidating for some people is I am a rather blunt person.

I am one of those people who may not always realize what they say before it is too late. As a result, my bluntness can get me into trouble sometimes. And I may not always be aware of it.

Other times, it can eat me up as I worry incessantly about whether I hurt someone’s feelings. But, for the most part, people don’t mind my bluntness because it contributes to my honesty.

Nevertheless, my bluntness only goes so far. In other words, I chicken out.

I may have always been blunt, but I have not always been assertive. In fact, it is only within the last couple of years, that I have truly begun to understand what it means for me to be assertive.

I’ve slowly learned this definition is different for everyone. I think that’s because we all have a different definition of what makes us comfortable.

Let me give you a bit of a backstory, first.

Growing up, I definitely had my moments of rebellion and an attitude problem. However, on a psychological level, I also submitted to others like it was second nature. I often simply did as I was told or tried my best to not be a bother.

This could have partially been because I was the typical middle-child—somewhat aloof, yet quite vocal and present when necessary. Plus, as I’ve touched on a few times before, I had a bad case of people-pleasing.

I used people-pleasing as a coping mechanism from the trauma of being an orphan. Subconsciously, I felt like I owed it those around me because I constantly feared they’d leave me if I didn’t.

Granted, my previously mentioned attitude did, in fact, cause some people to simply give up on me, which hurt tremendously.

To this day, I still find myself wanting to please others. Thankfully, I have grown immensely in that regard.

I think this is partially because I am more assertive. For me, being assertive means not accepting a situation as is and making a case for myself when necessary.

Now, I can fight for myself when necessary. I don’t give in simply because someone of authority said to.

I always try to understand why I must do something before simply doing it. So, if I don’t understand why I am doing something, I ask questions. I send emails. I seek advice from others.

I speak up for myself when something doesn’t feel right or fair. I’ve reached a point in my life where I’d rather say something and find out I really can’t change the situation than discover using my voice could have altered the outcome.

In fact, I did so only mere days ago when trying to complete a homework assignment. Instead of taking a single response as fact and the end-all, be-all, I spoke up.

And for me, speaking up usually just means saying, “I don’t understand why this happened. Do you mind explaining it to me?” Or, “I am rather confused about this problem. Here’s is how I interpret it.”

Most of the time, my efforts work in my favor, whether it be I walk away finally understanding, therefore learning. Or, sometimes, I realize I misspoke and admit my error.

All that being said, I still struggle to be assertive in a one-on-one, face-to-face setting simply because I am not a confrontational person at heart.

Therefore, I still find myself having to muster up the courage to even speak up. I still feel this knot in my gut and my hands get clammy. It’s as if my body is trying to tell me, “Leave it alone.” For, I am worried about what the recipient of my message may say.

And, to be quite honest, some people truly just intimidate me like none other. Even those who are intimidating can be intimidated! Therefore, what little bit of courage I’ve mustered up can be squandered in mere seconds.

Even though I still struggle in this capacity, I think I am more assertive because I am learning to become more confident in myself and my abilities.

I am not my greatest cheerleader, but I am slowly getting there. I am not my greatest encourager, but I am slowly getting there.

But, before I can reach that point, I have to stop being so concerned about how and if I make someone upset because of my actions. Most importantly, I have to stop overanalyzing comments or words.

As you can see, I am still growing in this area. I will not lose sight of how far I’ve come, though!

My call to you is this: May we all embrace moments that require insane courage in our lives. These 20 seconds of insane courage are different for everyone.

For me, it is all about being assertive and speaking up for myself in various settings. For others, it may be simply leaving the house or going on that stage. Or, publishing a vulnerable piece of work.

Whatever it may be for you and no matter the difficulty, may we all be grateful for those 20 second increments. For, they will slowly, but surely, add up and change us for the better if we allow.

Blessings,

Renata

Thank you dearly for taking time out of your lives to read my blog! Your support means the world to me. I praise God you found this blog, whether you stumbled upon it accidentally or sought it out intentionally.

I’d LOVE to hear from you all! Feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at coffee.soothes.the.soul@gmail.com.

I pray God would bless you and be with you always, no matter where you find yourselves in life.

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. – Romans 4:25 (NIV).

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Lessons Learned: Praying for the Lost

Proverbs 15-29

This week, I have slowly begun to embrace something I’ve known to be true but chose not to accept for the longest time. True to my nature, I chose to ignore it and avoid it. I chose to diminish its seriousness and magnitude.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have finally started to accept that God is ultimately in control of how someone lives their life. I have finally started to accept that all I can do is pray for others and be a witness for Christ in a dark, sinful, fallen world.

As much as I desperately want others to know Christ and live a Christian life, it is not up to me. It is up to God. It is up to Him to draw people to Himself and change their hearts—just as He did for me years ago.

I have known people who have spent their lives earnestly praying for their loved ones and friends to know Christ. I have seen their hurts. But, I never once considered that I, too, may experience this one day.

Selfishly, I was convinced the dreams I had for certain relationships would happen exactly as I hope.

Nevertheless, it took one conversation and a few observations for me to realize, that may not be my reality after all. Instead, I may be the one who spends their life earnestly praying for her loved ones and friends to know Christ.

Then, the pile of bricks began to weigh down on me.

Oh no! My plan and desire may not be God’s plan and desire after all! As I said earlier, I knew this to be true. But, I was never so plainly confronted by it.

Yet, since I realized this, my prayer life has changed dramatically. Now, any time I think of these friends and loved ones, my heart cries out. I desperately desire for them to know and love Jesus intimately and personally.

It’s funny, you know? I always knew I should pray for the lost, hurt, and lonely. But, there is a fire inside my heart that wasn’t there a week ago. I pray like I’ve never prayed before. I desperately cling to the Lord’s promises.

Now, I must remind myself that even if God does not answer my prayers, He does hear them. May my love for those who are hurting and my faith in Him motivate me to pray even on the days I am most unsure of His goodness.

Because, believe me, those days will come. My walk with God is probably filled with more doubt than most. But, even then, it has changed in innumerable ways since I first accepted Him into my heart.

So, may I continue to let that fire burn in my heart. May I continue to pray for those around me to not only accept Christ but also live a life that is pleasing to Him.

It has always been a dream of mine to look at someone and say, “I have prayed for you daily since this moment. I have watched God transform your life. I have watched Him answer my prayers in ways I never thought possible. You are so loved.”

And even if He doesn’t answer my prayers, and this is only the beginning of a lifelong prayer journey, may I tell myself and others, He is still good.

My call to you is this: Pray for the lost, hurt, and lonely. Pray any time they cross your mind, whether it is once a day or even multiple times a day. God is listening. He may not answer our prayers the way we’d like Him to. Yet, He is still listening.

Blessings,

Renata

Thank you dearly for taking time out of your lives to read my blog! Your support means the world to me. I praise God you found this blog, whether you stumbled upon it accidentally or sought it out intentionally.

I’d LOVE to hear from you all! Feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at coffee.soothes.the.soul@gmail.com.

I pray God would bless you and be with you always, no matter where you find yourselves in life.

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. – Romans 4:25 (NIV).

Trying New Food: Thai Cuisine

food-happiness-elizabeth-olsen-quote

Well, I did it, guys. I finally had Thai food! If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you know Thai food was on my list of things to try for quite some time.

As I’ve mentioned before, I simply needed to find a place where I knew it would be as authentic as I could get where I live. I did not have to do homework this past Sunday, so I thought I’d treat myself a little bit and try it out.

I went to a new restaurant that recently opened where I live. I knew the food would be good when I saw quite a few oriental people there. It is easy to know if the food is authentic if those who would know it better than anyone else go there.

I was also hopeful for the meal when the appetizers were delectable! Oh, goodness, they were yummy. We had what they called crispy spring rolls, fresh spring rolls, also known as summer rolls, and money bags. Money bags are essentially like crab rangoon’s cousin, but better.

I was completely enamored by the summer rolls. They were wrapped in a rice wrapper that was fascinating to me. It was sticky and somewhat chewy yet paired excellently with the veggies. I called it, “Thai sushi.” I know, I can be silly, but the metaphor truly helped me make sense of what I ate.

I ordered Pad Thai with shrimp in a mild sauce as my entrée. For the longest time, I knew I wanted Pad Thai to be the first item I ordered.

Perhaps, I had this idea that it was the most traditional option. I don’t know. Regardless of how I came to that decision, I followed through with it!

I reached a verdict…I enjoy Thai food and I definitely plan on going back to the restaurant we went to!

Everything I tried was great! I was pleasantly surprised at how filling, yet light the meal was. It was perfect for a fall day.

The mild sauce was much milder than I anticipated, so I ended up having a few bites with an added spice that I can’t recall the name of, unfortunately, which was a nice added kick! If my tummy is up for it, I think I’ll venture to the medium level next time I go.

We went with a friend who has been to Thailand, so we had some tips on how to properly enjoy the food. It’s been so fun discovering all the random places people in our corner of the world have been to. One of those tips included squeezing orange juice on the noodles.

To those who’ve eaten it before, you might think, “Duh! Of course, you do that!” But, I share something as minute as this because others, like myself, may not know.

I am all about having a well-rounded experience whenever possible, down to a necessary orange squeeze.

So, there you have it, I had Thai food.

As always, I am extremely glad I waited to eat it at the proper place. It was well worth the wait and such a wonderful experience. The best part is, I had leftovers to enjoy. Yum!

My call to you is this: Try new foods! I know I’ve said it once before and I will say it again many more times. But, seriously. Try new foods. You might be pleasantly surprised.

My experiences have taught me it is well worth searching for the restaurant that can truly enlighten you and your taste buds.

Search. Ask around. Don’t just pick a place because you think it’ll do. Find the place that you know surely won’t disappoint.

And if it does disappoint, you can know it is simply because you don’t like it, not because the establishment let you down before you even walked in the door.

I eagerly look forward to my next adventure of trying a new food. Until then, I’d love to know if you’ve tried any new foods lately and what you thought of the experience. Who knows? Maybe I’ll add your recommendation to my list!

Blessings,

Renata

Thank you dearly for taking time out of your lives to read my blog! Your support means the world to me. I praise God you found this blog, whether you stumbled upon it accidentally or sought it out intentionally.

I’d LOVE to hear from you all! Feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at coffee.soothes.the.soul@gmail.com.

I pray God would bless you and be with you always, no matter where you find yourselves in life.

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. – Romans 4:25 (NIV).

My Adoption: Feeling Unwanted

abandonment-quote-mario-balotelli

Earlier this week, I watched a YouTube video where people had to try not to cry while watching a handful of videos. One of the videos in the challenge stuck with me tremendously.

One of the videos was a scene from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In this scene, Will’s father leaves. Although I have never seen the show, it is evident that Will’s father left him as a child.

But, in this particular scene that is part of the challenge, Will is in his teens and his father walks out on him again. This time, he is bailing on a trip the two had planned.

When Will discovers this, he ends up going on an angry rant that essentially said if he had made it this far in life without his dad, he could continue to do so for the rest of his life. He could continue to accomplish other great feats without his father.

Poignantly, at the end of his rant, Will asks his uncle, “How come he don’t want me, man?”

For most of the people participating in the challenge, the video itself did not make them too emotional. However, it made me extremely emotional. In fact, I broke down as I watched the scene.

My tears just would not stop flowing.

Because even though I have never had a parent walk out on in me in the way that Will’s character did on the show, I am extremely familiar with the feeling of being unwanted. For, I was adopted at the age of five.

My biological mother gave me up for adoption at my birth.

And to this day, I still ask what Will’s character asked, “How come she didn’t want me?”

That scene and those words specifically were another one of those moments that clearly depicts exactly how it feels to be adopted. And it assured me I am not alone in my thoughts.

I would love to tell you I no longer live in fear of rejection. I would love to tell you I do not heavily struggle with abandonment issues. I would love to tell you that I no longer have the idea in the back of mind that those close to me will give up on me and walk out on me.

I would love to tell you I do not constantly wonder what I did wrong to make my mom not want me.

I would love to tell you I do not constantly wonder what mistake I’ll make that is the last straw for someone. For, I have had a physical therapist tell my mom he simply could not see me anymore, that he could not deal with me, that I was too much for him.

I would love to tell you I have healed.

But, I have not.

Honestly, I don’t know if I will ever fully heal. I think with time and counseling, I can reach a point in my life where I can manage the feelings. But, I don’t know if I will ever fully heal.

For, if my experiences of adoption have taught me anything, it is that once someone is an orphan, a small part of them will always believe they are an orphan—no matter how many people in their lives try to suggest otherwise.

Fears of rejection and abandonment are real and fierce. They can be crippling and debilitating. They are a lifelong battle with adoption.

It is extremely difficult to let go of the fact that someone gave you up.

Truthfully, it is only within the past few months that I have begun to open myself up to the possibility that my biological mother gave me up for good reasons—that she did it out of immense love for me, that she did so because she could not care for me—not because I was unlovable or unwanted.

I am nearly a quarter century old. And I am only just now beginning to invite that possibility.

For, I will probably never really know why she gave me up. And I am going to have to be okay with that one of these days.

But, until then, I tell you once more on this platform, adoption is not easy. It is not easy on those who adopt and especially not on those who are adopted. Take it from someone who knows all too well.

My call to you is this: If you know someone who is adopted, please be mindful of what I have shared today. Please be mindful of their potential thoughts and feelings.

And if you feel led, watch the scene I am referencing here to get a better sense of just how difficult it can be. I will say, there is a curse word in this scene, which I do not personally condone. But, it does poignantly visualize just how difficult it can be on a person.

It describes a far too common experience in today’s society—i.e. parental abandonment of their children.

It is my hope and prayer that this post will give you all even an inkling of just how difficult that can be for a person, regardless of how old he or she was when their parent(s) abandoned him or her.

And if you are someone who has been adopted, please feel free to reach out to me at coffee.soothes.the.soul@gmail.com. I am here if you need someone to listen or simply confide in. You are not alone, dear brothers and sisters.

You are not alone.

Blessings,

Renata

Thank you dearly for taking time out of your lives to read my blog! Your support means the world to me. I praise God you found this blog, whether you stumbled upon it accidentally or sought it out intentionally.

I’d LOVE to hear from you all! Feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at coffee.soothes.the.soul@gmail.com.

I pray God would bless you and be with you always, no matter where you find yourselves in life.

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. – Romans 4:25 (NIV).

A Few Tidbits: Changing as an Adult

growth-change-quote-narayana-murthy

Before I start the bulk of today’s post, I’d like to say, I just finished a course, which means I am only THREE classes away from obtaining my bachelor’s degree! I am extremely excited about that. It will take less than a year.

For the time being, though, I am greatly enjoying my break from classes.

However, today, I plan on discussing something that came to my mind moments ago that I’ve thought about off and on a few times. It is in my personality to be quite introspective. Part of this introspection sometimes involves looking back on how far I’ve come in life.

Mainly, how much I’ve changed.

I’ve been out of high school for a while now. And as I look back at that time in my life, I am amazed at who I was back then. I was a completely different person that was not too kind or gracious. I can see why a lot of people did not like being around me.

Granted, I also know some people who I did not enjoy being around in high school. Perhaps, it is just that season of life.

Nevertheless, it got me to thinking about how much I’ve changed in my tendencies and behaviors.

For example, one of the biggest ways I have changed since high school is I am much more compassionate. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I used to be quite cold-hearted. I didn’t really begin to process the trials I have been through until college.

So, I am convinced that was part of the reason why I wasn’t too kind. I bottled up a lot of undealt with feelings.

At least that’s part of the reason why.

I firmly believe the reason why I am compassionate now is because of Jesus Christ. God has completely transformed my life in a multitude of ways—one of those being my heart. Now, I am very much aware of others’ feelings and emotions. My heart breaks for complete strangers and those I love most.

My husband always tells me I am the most caring person he knows. Some of you might be thinking, “Well, of course, he is going to think that. He is your husband.”

But, I beg to differ. For, my husband saw God working in my heart long before I accepted Him into my life. He’s always believed in me and my potential even when I didn’t. He’s one of the select few people who has seen me transform from the person I was before knowing Jesus Christ to the person I am today.

And then there’s the simple fact he doesn’t tell me something unless he means it. For, he is well aware of the trust issues I continually struggle with. Therefore, to hear that from him of all people means a lot.

Additionally, I have this overwhelming desire to put others’ first—even if it means stepping out of my comfort zone.

In fact, I know God has created a new heart in me when I accepted Him into my life because I have desires I never thought I’d have. For instance, I want to get a master’s degree in counseling. The person I was in high school would have never considered doing that. Perhaps, the master’s degree, but definitely not counseling.

Another way I have changed since high school is I procrastinate. In fact, I literally stopped writing my blog post now to do just that.

I used to do homework or any pressing thing that needed to be completed the day I got it. Now, I am on top of it if I finish my homework before 8:00 p.m. on the nights it is due.

I could have all the motivation in the world to do something, yet I will still push it off. This blog post is the perfect example of that. In fact, that leads to my next similar point.

I used to be able to stick to a schedule well. But, now, I simply take each task one hour at a time. The person I was in high school would’ve had this blog post done when I originally said I would as I planned out my day.

However, now, I am writing it many hours later, instead of relaxing like I desperately want to.

The last thing I have noticed is I am much more indecisive. I will go back and forth on a couple of options for far too long. This exact thing happened today, even. I could not decide what dessert to get between two options. Thankfully, it didn’t take me long to decide.

The worst part is, when I do make the actual decision, there are times I am still not sure of it! It is bad enough that my husband is prepared for me to change my mind when we order food. I can’t tell you how many times he’s asked, “Are you sure that’s what you want?”

It may not seem like a significant change, but I used to be one of those people who had no trouble making decisions. I used to know exactly what I wanted long before I needed to.

Perhaps, that is because I hardly went out of my comfort zone. Instead, I simply chose what I knew would go well, regardless of how much I wanted to try something different.

So, there you have it. Only three ways I have changed since high school. I can assure you there are a plethora of others. But, I won’t bore you with those.

Instead, I will simply say what I always do–my call to you is this:

Look back at who you were last year, five years, or ten years ago. Ask yourself how you’ve changed. Don’t shy away from naming the gut-wrenching ways. For, as much as we hate to tell ourselves, we don’t always change for the better.

But, none of us will ever be able to understand where we need to go or how we need to grow until we take the time to look back. So, don’t be intimidated by that. Embrace the journey of self-reflection. You just might surprise yourself.

Blessings,

Renata

Thank you dearly for taking time out of your lives to read my blog! Your support means the world to me. I praise God you found this blog, whether you stumbled upon it accidentally or sought it out intentionally.

I’d LOVE to hear from you all! Feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at coffee.soothes.the.soul@gmail.com.

I pray God would bless you and be with you always, no matter where you find yourselves in life.

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. – Romans 4:25 (NIV).

My Blog: Longing to Share More

your-story-charles-r-swindoll-quote

About a year ago, I wrote a post explaining why I write the way I do on this platform. I explained why my blog is private, yet open.

I still stand by what I said. But, as I live more life and continue to process what I’ve been through, the ability to be private gets increasingly more difficult.

There are a handful of topics I desperately wish I could write about. But, at this point in my life, I simply can’t. Part of me thinks, maybe I could write about it and not publish it. However, I am not one to typically do that.

For, as my about page states, I firmly believe I have a life story worth sharing. I have experienced a fair share of difficult trials. Each of them greatly impacts who I am as a person and my perspective on life.

Nevertheless, I am constantly reminded that those stories are not mine alone. Others are involved. I’ll be the first to tell you, in this life, I have hurt and been hurt by a lot of people.

Processing said events gets harder when I don’t have an outlet…when I know in my heart of hearts that others have experienced what I’ve been through. I desperately and sincerely want to help others through my writing, but I live in fear.

I live in fear of betraying people. I live in fear of tarnishing others’ images (mine included). I live in fear of backlash, and not the kind you think. I live in fear of hurting others by simply being honest.

I live in fear that someone will tell me I have no right to feel the way I feel, that what I have been through should not affect me, that the past is in the past.

I want to reach a point in my life when I can fully embrace the process of expressing my life experiences in the written word. I want to reach a point in my life when I can detail what I’ve been through, to help others gain the whole story.

I don’t know when that time of life will come for me.

But, when it does, I will be fully prepared for it. If my life experiences have taught me anything is that no one can tell you your life story is wrong—because it is yours. And before one can ever truly help others, he or she must first be able to share their own stories.

Storytelling brings healing. Storytelling brings awareness. Storytelling brings restoration. Storytelling brings peace.

Storytelling unites people and reminds them they are not alone.

So, here’s to hoping one day I can tell you my full story. Here’s to hoping one day you can have a deeper understanding of the person behind this blog.

Here’s to hoping one day I can write the autobiography I know I am meant to publish.

But, until then, I must live in a season of waiting.  Perhaps, posting this will make the wait a little less difficult.

My call to you this: If you feel inclined to share your story, please do. As I said earlier, no one can take that away from you. It is yours to live and constantly edit with each new experience—good and bad.

And for those of you who can’t, you aren’t alone, dear friend.

Please remember, behind every blog is a real person. And no matter how much bloggers choose to share, they are still going through experiences they may never be able to talk about.

I hope and pray that all of us will be able to find peace in this journey of life.

Blessings,

Renata

Thank you dearly for taking time out of your lives to read my blog! Your support means the world to me. I praise God you found this blog, whether you stumbled upon it accidentally or sought it out intentionally.

I’d LOVE to hear from you all! Feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at coffee.soothes.the.soul@gmail.com.

I pray God would bless you and be with you always, no matter where you find yourselves in life.

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. – Romans 4:25 (NIV).

Small Health Update: Still No Answers

roller-coasters-quote-rush-limbaugh

This week’s post is going to be short and to the point. For, this week has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions. It has been fairly hectic, to say the least.

I’ve been elated. I’ve been distraught. I’ve been confused. I’ve been upset. I’ve been exhausted, tired, and worn.

For those of you who don’t know, I have had health issues the last seven months and counting. They all started with abdominal pain and have reached an undiagnosed state. I don’t know what is wrong with me.

However, this whole time, I have been sure something is wrong with me. I don’t know what, but I do know something is wrong. For, I may not know a lot about human anatomy, but I do know when my body is not its normal self.

This journey has been long and tiring. Some days, I don’t think I have any problems. Other days, I feel so terrible, I don’t know how I will make it through the day.

I’ve come so close to possible answers a couple times. But, they fall short just when I hope for them the most. Or, they only explain part of my issues, not all of them. Then, the question becomes, “Is this issue separate from my major one ailing me, or are they connected?”

I know I will find answers in God’s timing. Nevertheless, it doesn’t always make the wait easier. I simply want to let you all know that I am still trying to find answers.

Although, I am fairly certain, the issues are not gallbladder related. In fact, that is about all I know, to be honest.

I am going to spare you all the details of the journey I have had to go through until I get a complete diagnosis and start to feel better. I’ll leave the daily and/or weekly updates for my closest friends and family.

I just don’t think my blog is the kind of place to have slow, progressive updates.  It is for the whole story.

I suppose this post is my way of telling you all, I’ve been a little frazzled lately. I honestly don’t know if I am on the mend or if I am just at the beginning of an even crazier chapter of this journey.

I’ll keep you posted.

So, no, I do not have my health figured out completely. But, slowly but surely, and in God’s perfect timing and plan, I will find answers one day. It may not be in my timing or end result, but it will be in His.

And that is what helps me not feel as discouraged.

Until then, I am on the rollercoaster ride a little bit longer.

Blessings,

Renata

Thank you dearly for taking time out of your lives to read my blog! Your support means the world to me. I praise God you found this blog, whether you stumbled upon it accidentally or sought it out intentionally.

I’d LOVE to hear from you all! Feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at coffee.soothes.the.soul@gmail.com.

I pray God would bless you and be with you always, no matter where you find yourselves in life.

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. – Romans 4:25 (NIV).