Monday, 31 January 2011

Life Questions

I have lots of questions. And I want your help answering them. I've been pondering many things about life and I want to know what other people have to say about them. Most of these are in regards to my life at present. When it comes to making decisions, it's nice to know what other people have to say. I can't say I'll do what you think is best. I can't say I'll answer these questions myself, but I may attack some of them in a different article.

  1. Have you ever wanted to do something to serve the Lord, only to realize you can't devote the necessary time because of your current responsibilities? How did you deal with this? (Update: A fellow blogger was so kind as to answer this question on his blog here.)
  2. Do you ever have to say No to people when they ask you to do things? How do you do this kindly? How do you know what new activities/commitments to take up and what to leave? In other words, how do you know when to say No?
  3. I think I have a few readers who are single young women desiring to be wives and mothers one day. Once you're finished school, what is the best way to spend your in-between years?
  4. If you have a desire to upgrade your education, but don't have a lot of time or money to devote to it, what is the best way to do it? Are there any schools or programs that you recommend? Is there any merit in just researching and learning about anything that interests you on your own without a program?
  5. If you want to be able to generate an income from home while being a mom, what are some good things to look into? What are some good skills or credentials to acquire?
  6. Do you think reading is a productive way to spend your time, whether it be classics, literature, history, modern novels, spiritual growth books, etc.? Do you think you can grow as an individual and improve your character in this way? Is this a good way to learn? What are some kinds of books/titles you recommend?
Like I said, I have some ideas about these questions. These are a lot of the things I have been thinking about. Maybe as I draw some conclusions, I'll write about them more in depth. For now, I'd love your input, and that means ALL my readers. I know that it's harder when you don't know the details of specific situations, but I think there's still things to be said. I like advise from my peers, but I also really appreciate words from those who are older and have had more life experience. Thanks.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Stirring Up Inspiration

I'm feeling inspired. No, I'm not on the brink of doing some sort of huge crazy thing. It's not like that. I don't know how to describe it or if "inspired" is even the word for it.

What I do know is that I'm being awakened to the idea of how much I'm actually capable of. I've found myself coming up with great ideas (in my opinion) in the oddest of times and places. Okay, so it really hasn't happened that often but I still think it's great. Normally I stress over not having anything to write about, but lately I've gotten frustrated over not having time to write stuff down. Actually, truth be told, after I'm done this, my ideas are gone.

Back to my point. I think we often underestimate ourselves. I don't think we realize our full potential. Thomas Edison once said, "If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves." I find that I often fail to use my God-given imagination and creativity. Sometimes I think I don't have any. Is it possible though that we all have something great within us that just needs to be discovered and cultivated? Is it possible that we could do so much more with our lives if we started to believe we could?

I was recently reminded of a quote I heard in a movie a few years ago that inspired me and I wrote down. It wasn't until now that I actually discovered who it was by and that there was actually more to it and I'd like to share it here. It comes from Marianne Williamson's book A Return to Love. Please note, I have not read the book, so I'm not endorsing it or anything. To be honest, I can't say I entirely agree with the quote. I did find it inspiring though and thought there was a good deal of truth in it. So there's my disclaimer.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were made to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people the permission to do the same. And as we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." --Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

I think all of us deal with feelings of inadequacy at some point in our lives. We wonder if we're good enough. We're convinced somebody else could do it better. We hold back and never put as much as we could into things for fear of failure. Is it possible though, that we fear excellence because we don't think we're worthy of it?

Even as I'm writing this, I'm cringing. Maybe some of my readers didn't even make it this far. I'm sorting out my thoughts as I go, and to be honest, I don't know if anything I'm writing is even right. Sometimes things just spill out of nowhere and I have no idea where those thoughts and ideas come from. Maybe some Christians are reading this and praying I'll one day see the light and come to the knowledge of the truth. I'm taking that risk. I think people would really grow as individuals if they learned to do this. Sometimes you have to ask questions, you have to wonder about the possibilities, you have to speculate.

You're not going to impact the world by thinking about it. Your ideas, as great as they may be do no good inside your head. It's all useless there. It's once you get it out, speak it, write it, sing it, whatever, that it takes on power. But that's exactly the part that so many people are afraid of. They're afraid to be wrong. They wouldn't be the first one. They're afraid that others may not agree or appreciate what they have to say. Guess what? They don't have to! They're afraid nobody will listen, it won't do anything, it won't make a difference. But what if it does? And so we sit around with endless power locked up inside of us and never do anything.

It seems to me that it comes back to influence. We are all in possession of a circle of influence. We can't avoid that. What we do with it is up to us. We can use it for good or bad, to build up the people around us or tear them down. We can use it to lead others to the Lord or drive them away.

People are watching you. You're always communicating something, even if you never say a word. But you do have power over what you communicate. You can decide whether you will share your thoughts and ideas with other people or keep them to yourself. Just remember, people rarely make a positive difference by remaining silent.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Tough Reads

In the last couple weeks, I've read some tough fiction. You know, the kind of books that are just plain, hard reality, exposing the terrible injustice in the world we live in.

I first read Scared by Tom Davis close to two years ago. I don't think I realized what I was getting myself into. Scared deals with the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. The book starts off with a massacre in the Congo, leaving you a little nauseated. Main character Stuart Daniels captures the horrific scenes on camera, making him an award-winner photojournalist. The problem is, he is haunted by what he saw that. Now, in an effort to save his career, he accepts an assignment that takes him to Swaziland to cover the AIDS issue.

Swaziland is all about survival. People live in extreme poverty. Children are forced to care for themselves and younger orphaned siblings. They often don't have a meal to eat for many days. But in the midst of this, there's a ray of light. Her name is Adanna, a 12-year old orphan girl forced to care for two younger siblings as she personally suffers from hunger and abuse. She has been told by an illuminated man that her gift will save many of her people. That gift is an incredible talent for writing and her poetry is shared throughout the novel. Of course, Stuart and Adanna meet and Stuart's life is changed by the suffering he encounters and the life of this young girl.

Scared was Tom Davis' first novel and it does show. It's written in the first person, present-tense from two perspectives, which kind of threw me off, but it was downright real. You can't read it without being torn emotionally. The series continues with Priceless, and there was a definitive improvement in the writing.

Scared was a heart-wrenching read and Priceless certainly wasn't any easier. It deals with an equally difficult issue: the child sex-slave trade in Russia. The main character again is Stuart Daniels on another journalism trip to Russia. The second perspective is from Marina, a young woman who Stuart met as a little girl in a Russian orphanage on a previous trip who shares her story. In this novel, Stuart gets talked into helping an old friend by going undercover to rescue girls out of their misery.

This book, like the first one, leaves you nauseated at times. It displays the horror girls go through in forced prostitution. I'll spare you the details here. The practice isn't hidden in this area of Russia. Who is the leader of a large chain of places men go to? Sickeningly, it's none other than an Orthodox priest, who has an obsession with George and the Dragonslayer and believes he's actually doing these girls a favour. Priceless, is filled with evil. There's no room for light in this dark, disgusting practice. But it's nothing short of real.

Having given you a summary of these two books, I must say that if you're looking for a light, entertaining read that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside, these aren't for you. But if you want to be enraged at the social injustice of our world and ask "What can I do to stop this?", you don't have to look any further. The sad thing is, the author held a lot back in writing both of these books. They could have been a lot more gruesome and realistic than they are, but Tom wouldn't have been able to do so in writing these Christian books, as he mentions in an interview at the end of Priceless.

You may wonder what compelled the author to write books like these? It's simple. This is Tom's work. Tom is the president of Children's Hope Chest, an organization active in helping orphans in Africa and Russia, among other countries. Tom is no stranger to what life is like in these countries. He's been there and seen it. These books and their character are based on his own experiences and people he has met. He has also authored Fields of the Fatherless, Confessions of a Good Christian Guy, and Red Letters: Living a Faith That Bleeds, all of which I plan on reading. He's also writing a new book in this fiction series, where Stuart is in Haiti at the time of last year's earthquake. I'm looking forward to it.

Another thing I loved about these books is that they give you information on other organizations and sites on these issues. The publisher, David C. Cook, also created video trailers for these books, so if you want to see a preview, check them out. (Scared, Priceless) There are also sites for the book you can check out at and On the last site there, you can also see videos that Tom Davis made in Russia, showing you some of the actual places where scenes in the book are from. There's a great number of resources you can browse on those sites. I also listened to a great message by the author, which you can find on the Hope Chest site I mentioned earlier.

It's one thing when you hear about poverty, AIDS and slavery, but most people, hearing numbers and statistics won't affect them much. but when you are given characters and can see life through their eyes for awhile, it changes everything. Like I said, these aren't easy books to read, but I assure you they are well worth your time.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Lighted Lamp Magazine

So, I have something to tell that I'm excited about. There's a new teen e-magazine out, to encourage young people in their walk with the Lord called Lighted Lamp Magazine. I think things like this are great. They give us an opportunity to share and learn from each other and spur each other on for the kingdom. It allows teens to use their God-given gifts to express themselves and bring glory to Him.

This is also the first time I have gotten an article published in a magazine. It's a nice step up from this blog, although the thought of a lot of people reading what I have to say is almost frightening. But I thank God for this new opportunity and look forward to writing more articles for Lighted Lamp.

The magazine will be published on a monthly basis and you can find the very first issue here! I hope you will all be blessed as I was. And for those of you who have moved past the teen years, I trust that you will also greatly benefit from it.