Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Promise to Keep: My Favorite Bible Verses That Have Helped Me in My Spiritual Walk, Part I

I made it! Summer is finally here!
I survived exams and I am now on my official second day of summer. Yesterday was an adventure. I got to do some yard work, sleep in, eat gluten-free blueberry pancakes, and on top of that, I performed at a graduation party in my jazz band. It was a great day to start off the summer.

Now, my first order of business here at Victorious Heroine for the summer is to keep a promise that I made a few weeks back. Remember the poll that some of you viewers participated in? Well, there was a tie between two blog titles. The first was "My Favorite Bible Verses That Have Helped Me in My Spiritual Walk." So, I decided to dedicate this post completely to that topic. Since there are so many verses that fall into this category, I'm going to split it up into parts. For now, here is Part 1:

Part I: Verses on Encouragement, Hope, Walking in Faith, Love, and Beauty (7 of the Verses That I Wrote in the Back of My NIV Bible)

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." --3 John 1:4
This is one of my favorite verses because it reminds me that God wants to see me succeed. He's not an evil villain holding the universe together, only to see His Creation constantly fail. He wants to see our faith! This is one of the most beautiful encouragements I ever received.

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." --Philippians 4:13
I also like this verse because of it's encouragement. I've found that one of my primary love languages is "words of affirmation." I really feel like I can conquer the world when someone gives me a compliment or in some way tells me that I can achieve something or that I did something well. God gives me those all the time, as well as constructive criticism. But if God says that I can do anything as long as He's with me, it goes without saying that my day is made.

"But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation--if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, (Paul,) have become a servant." --Colossians 1:22-23
One of my favorite doctrines of my faith is that God is constantly transforming us in our hearts to completion. When I think about where my heart is on several points, and who I am as a person living in a sinful world, I would think that my being is beyond repair and beyond hope. But that's what the gospel is all about! God gives us hope by Jesus's death on the cross, that there may be hope for us and we can have a transformed heart to be completed. What a beautiful privilege that is.

"So, then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." --Colossians 2:6-8
I often take the blessings in my life for granted of being raised in a devoutly Christian family, attending a private, classical, Christian school, and being rooted in a Christian environment my entire life. Some people have given me grief about it: "Don't you want to know what it's like in the 'real world?' Jesus doesn't have to be a part of everything! Isn't experiencing culture important in life?" These comments and questions have led to several of the most awkward conversations I have ever been in, believe me. Yes, I've wanted to experience a more "cultural" environment before. Sometimes I have thought that I've been deprived of the "real world." But I was wrong, because  I didn't realize that if I wanted to see the culture or "real world" around me, all I have to do is walk down Pearl Street in Boulder. Actually, all I have to do is walk outside. I live in the "real world," and there's no way around it. There isn't a Christian environment anywhere that can completely shelter people from the culture and secular environment in this world. Not one. Paul wasn't only talking to those especially "exposed to culture." He was talking to everybody. That includes me, the private Christian school student, my neighbors, my teachers, my parents, my siblings, the people flipping burgers at McDonald's, the rich, the poor, and the actors in Hollywood. Everyone is being spoken to in this verse. The world is surrounded by temptations from the enemy to fall into a false belief that it's okay to be influenced by the "real world." If we fall into that belief, that can lead to being exposed by all kinds of evil and deceptive philosophies which can make us lose our doctrines in the faith at our disposal forever. The point is that while no one can avoid culture, our job is to be confidently firm in the faith, finding our strength in God so that we really can say that nothing can touch us. While evil is everywhere in the world, God's bigger than all of it. We have to invite Him to take His place in our hearts to protect us from evil influence and deceptive philosophies. In my life, I will overflow with thankfulness for all the blessings He has given me, that I have been given the opportunity to be firmly rooted in the faith, as everyone else has been given such a gift.

"...his banner over me is love." --Song of Solomon 2:4b
Have you ever heard that song in Sunday School His Banner Over Me is Love? The first verse goes like this:
"The Lord is mine, and I am His,

His banner over me is love.
The Lord is mine, and I am His,
His banner over me is love.
The Lord is mine, and I am His,
His banner over me is love.
His banner over me is love!"
I always enjoyed that song when I was a little preschooler in Sunday School in the Bible Belt. I remember several hymns and Sunday School songs like that, but for some reason, that particular song has stuck with me especially throughout the years. Perhaps it's because I like to feel safe. When Solomon said that the Lord kept over him a banner of love, I can relate to that. 1 Corinthians 13 says that "Love always protects." Now, love is much more than protection of course, but when I think of a "banner of love," the first thing that comes to mind is protection and rest.

"All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you." --Song of Solomon 4:7
You all probably know what's coming. You all know the stories about girls that believe in the lie  that they have no worth or beauty for a season in their lives. I was one of those girls as well. Many of us get over it though, especially when we realize that God didn't create pieces of junk. He made beautiful masterpieces to bring grace, rest, and life. I love to read that God created me "all beautiful" and flawless, and I think everyone else loves it too.

"Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame." --Song of Solomon 8:6
I wrote this one down in the back of my Bible, knowing that it was important to me and that I would completely feel the fullness of it one day. I haven't gotten to that point yet, but I'm confident I will. I want to realize the ultimate power that love is, and almost feel it burn like a flame. I haven't reached complete understanding of this verse, but I recognize its importance, and I know that God will let it fully speak to me in time.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series! :)

Questions for the Reader: Are there any verses that you know were important to you, but you never fully understood? Are there any verses that have been specifically encouraging to you? In the same way that I think of protection and rest when I read Song of Solomon 2:4b, what characteristic(s) of love do you think of when you read that verse?

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe." --Proverbs 18:10

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ms. ShadowCat

Hi everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to another blog buddy of mine. She's a great writer, an aspiring author, and blog writer. She has written a blog called ShadowCat (which you all may have discovered through my link list on the side of this page) and just yesterday, she started a blog called "Ordinary or Extraordinary." I invited her to come and do a guest post on VH today, and I hope you enjoy it! (P.S. She likes writing in really unique voices, so in case you're wondering, her post is purposefully austere.)
I’m sure that no one who reads this blog has ever heard of me or read anything that I have posted on my blog. (Which is called Ordinary or Extraordinary, by the way) The author of this blog is a friend of mine and she offered to let me guest post on her blog, because she was aware that I don’t get a lot of pageviews on mine. Don’t ask me why, but she obviously thought it was worth it. Anyway, my name is really hard to pronounce, but you can find out what it is if you want to bother going and looking at my blog, which you probably won’t. (Yes, I am blackmailing you to go look at it.) I’m almost fifteen, and I have no idea how to write a decent blog post, and I obviously need another blogger’s help just to get people to look at mine. I also know that this isn’t a long post, but I honestly have nothing to write about and yet I still manage to make a post long-winded and boring. Thanks for reading, I suppose. Go do something worthwhile with your life instead of sitting there reading terrible guest posts from people you’ve never heard of who write insignificant blogs. Enjoy my extremely long-winded and boring post.
Here is the link to her blog if you would like to check it out! She is very talented as a writer. :)
Ordinary or Extraordinary:

Question for the Reader: What kind of style do you like to write in?
"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever." 
--Isaiah 40:8

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mid-May Progress Report: We'll See...

I'm back!

I know it's been a while, but to be fair, life's been insane lately. Even this week is final exam week!

I apologize for not posting as much lately, but to make it up to you, here's a post on my progress for monthly resolutions: May 2013 edition.

Omnibus Reading
This is finished, but the results were not very satisfying. I didn't quite reach an 80 in my primary class, and I definitely did not do very well for secondary reading at all. The good news is that the overall average shouldn't be too bad. It's not something I was aspiring after, but I think God's going to come through in it.

Diary Writing
My goal is to have five entries this month, and so far I have 2... 

Finish the Book of Isaiah
I haven't touched this one. 

Read either Judges or Proverbs
I've read one chapter out of Proverbs. The other 30 need to fall into place quickly!

Music Practice
*Sigh* This hasn't gone too well either. I'll do my best to do some clarinet and alto sax practice this week.

Get through Extracurricular Events
God definitely made this one happen. I'm surprised how well things went in this category, but more on that later.

Give Mom an Awesome Mother's Day
More on that later, but I'd say it was a pretty good day.

Conquer Final Exams
A work in be continued.

Finish Tenth Grade
I'll get there. Few more things to finish up, but I'll get there. Summer awaits!

I don't know about this month, folks. But we'll see. :)

Question for the Reader: Please tell me someone out there is having a rough month too? Any advice on dealing with it?

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." --John 16:33

Monday, May 13, 2013

Exam Survival Awaits!

Hi readers!

For those of you who haven't seen it already, here is the link to my very first guest post on Fresh Ink by my blog buddy, Leighanna Rose:
I hope you enjoy it and keep it as your survival guide to exams.

Good luck in exam weeks everyone! See you on the other side. I hear it's warm, sunny, and peaceful. :)

I pray that you all will joyfully experience the weeks ahead with the rest of knowing that God is active in all situations, even the difficult ones. While exams can be very stressful, don't forget that He calls us to be at rest in Him.

Question for the Reader: Are you ready for summer?

"He says, 'Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." 
-Psalm 46:10-11

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Summer Bucket List 2013 Link-Up

Spring is almost gone. The school year is almost done. But one thing is also beginning: Summer. I'm going to try something new for this summer. My sister and I decided to make a Summer 2013 bucket list. Here are my current 50 bucket list items...

  1. Do a vlog post.
  2. Post frequently on Victorious Heroine
  3. Get an awesome gift for Father's Day
  4. Go to Disney World
  5. Take lots of pictures
  6. Color in a coloring book or on a coloring page
  7. Play in the rain
  8. Pick flowers
  9. Write some poems or stories
  10. Give a person/people a present and/or a care package
  11. Wear a sundress
  12. Fro yo!
  13. Fly a kite
  14. Launch a rocket
  15. Bake cookies
  16. Create a chalk art masterpiece
  17. Sip an Arnold Palmer (sweet tea and lemonade combined!)
  18. Blow bubbles
  19. Go to the library
  20. Play in the park
  21. Play hopscotch
  22. Play foursquare
  23. Game night
  24. Fireworks
  25. Do something out of the ordinary.
  26. Watch movies never seen before and movies that I haven’t seen in awhile
  27. Summer of Blimey Cow
  28. Listen to BCAN
  29. Photo a day challenges
  30. Grill out
  31. Make homemade ice cream or sorbet
  32. Go shopping
  33. Eat a slice of watermelon
  34. Bowling
  35. Get a pineapple dole whip at Disney World
  36. Conquer my fears at Disney's Haunted Mansion and Rockin' Rollercoaster
  37. Go to the Beach!!!
  38. Go to Water World
  39. Go on a hike
  40. Have picnics
  41. Go for neighborhood bike rides
  42. Eat a fruit pop
  43. Buy a mocha coconut frapuccino (for yourself or someone nearby)
  44. Movie marathon
  45. DIY crafts
  46. Stargazing
  47. Water balloons
  48. Youth Group Activities
  49. Make homemade cherry limeade
I might come up with more once my sister and I plan this all out together. But for now, a list of 50 big and small things sounds pretty good. :)

Now it's your turn! I made a link-up again for all you blog writers. Now, I know some of you have a blog that is very topical. That's ok! Let's say for example, you have a blog based on your spiritual walk or your writing career. You can write a small bucket list of things you want to accomplish in those areas. This is very flexible. :)

I hope you enjoy it, and I can't wait to see all the lists!

Question for the Reader: What are your plans for the summer?

"From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!" --Psalm 113:3

Conquering Exams

Hello, readers!

Do you ever wish that you could get through finals week stress free?
Do you ever wonder how you could do better on your finals than how you did on your last midterm?
Do you want to end summer in bliss instead of panic?

Well, I've got a post for you!

My blog buddy, Leighanna Rose, over at Fresh Ink let me do a guest post about conquering the dreaded final exams. Be sure to head on over there and check out her blog! Also, be on the lookout for a guest post with the answers to getting through exam week! :)

Have a blessed day!

Question for the Reader: Is there something that you're having trouble conquering lately?

"But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." --John 4:14

Monday, May 6, 2013

Thou and Thou Only First In My Heart

Today I was reminded of one of my favorite hymns, "Be Thou My Vision." It's a beautiful song about letting God help you see everything in His ways. Here are the lyrics:

Be Thou My Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, my presence my light.

Be Thou My Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, and I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

These words are absolutely beautiful. What hit me hard is when I saw a youtube video of someone singing the hymn, and she sang the words "Thou and Thou only, first in my heart" three times before singing the next line. It really made me reflect on the importance of having God first in our hearts before anything else. Not riches, not popularity, but the Lord Himself. This is a great reminder in the midst of the craziness of the month of May. We are not justified by the praise of the people around us or by money or fame. We have no justification apart from Christ alone, and He helps us see our purpose. We are to seek the Kingdom of Heaven, and find our Treasure in the Lord. 

Question for the Reader: Are there words or lyrics that stand out to you or send a message in certain times?

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." --Matthew 6:33

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Resolutions: Keep Calm

This sign has pretty much been the theme today so far. This morning was absolutely hectic, but I don't mean to complain about that, because it's my responsibility and part of it is my own fault. But my message to you readers out there is this: Remain calm in all situations. And also, a sugar free cinnamon dolce latte can help a lot, especially when it's freezing cold outside and May decides to enter 2013 with a big snow fall...even though April had quite it's share.

The message of "keeping calm" is going to pop up a lot for me this month, because May is always crazy for students, am I right? With summer coming, final exams approaching, keeping up the GPA for final quarter, and just surviving whatever grade you're in? It's insane. But I know God has a plan, and helps me through all situations. Just like flowers will come through the snow, good things will come through the bad.

So, without further ado, here are my May resolutions:

Omnibus Reading
I have to get my Primary class reading done by May 10th! Yikes! I'd like to get an 80 or an 85 on this percentage at the very least. 

Diary Writing

If at all possible, I'd like to do some diary writing at least five times this month.

Finish the Book of Isaiah

A friend and I have been reading the Book of Isaiah together, and I've fallen a bit behind. I'd like to finish it by the end of this month.

Read either Judges or Proverbs

I decided to take smaller steps on this one, since it's been hard to get this done. 

Music Practice

Practice at least half an hour per week.

Get through Extracurricular Events

Drama Club, Symphony Concert, Jazz Band's a big list.

Give Mom an Awesome Mother's Day

I think everyone should take part in this resolution. Moms do a ton for us that we don't always realize sometimes, and they deserve a really awesome day.

Conquer Final Exams

My midterms could have been better, and if I come up with a good game plan, I think I can have a good finals week overall.

Finish Tenth Grade

I can't believe it, but after this month, I'll be halfway through high school! I want to finish this year strong so that I can go into summer knowing that I did my best, looking forward to the second half of high school. 

Whew! That's a bunch. Sure, some of them are recurring goals, but a lot of them are new to the party as well. Here's to a challenging but promising month ahead!

Question for the Reader: What are your goals this month?

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." --Romans 8:28

(Link-up to Kelli Taylor's She Learns As She Goes)