Feb 23, 2016

How I Write a Blog Post in 5 Steps

     Hello Readers!  I stole borrowed Katie Grace's idea to write a blog post about how to write a blog post!  Feel free to write one yourself, or comment below on how you like to do it on your blog in your own style!  And check out Katie's blog A Writer's Faith!

1. Usually a couple of minutes.     The very first thing I do when writing a blog post is (of course) thinking of a blog post idea.  You probably knew that already.  =)  Usually I get ideas from something that happened in my own life.  For instance, I write a book or movie review after reading/watching one.  Sometimes I see something that makes me think, "That would make a good blog post."   Other times, I get ideas from other blogs, for instance, this blog post from Katie Grace!  If that is the case, I usually mention that in my introduction, so I am not stealing their ideas without giving them credit. =)

2.   Less than 20 minutes.      A lot of bloggers spend massive amounts of time writing an outline for each post.  Well, sorry to disappoint you, but I don't.  After I think of a blog post idea, I simply sit down and write it.  No outlining involved.  I might occasionally use outlining for a post that doesn't feel right after my first draft.  Yet, I think it saves me time to avoid outlines and write my thoughts immediately on paper.  (or in my case, the computer)  =)

3.  10-15 minutes.  After I have a rough draft, I spell-check, grammar check, and overall clear my posts of most all the mistakes.  Sometimes I have my amazing English teacher (who is also my mom) read my posts.  She tells me what I missed and gives me her overall thoughts.  That way, I can make sure that the post makes sense to someone other than myself. =)

4.  Around 5 minutes.   Finally, I can go through and change my font, font color, alignment, etc!  After I think everything is perfect, I click "preview" and make sure it looks good on my blog as well.  Sometimes, there are just things you miss on the Blogger Post Area.  (if that is what it's called)

5.  30 Minutes.   Now my blog post is done!  All I need is at least one photo for the post.  I find my copyright free photos on websites such as Pexels, Unsplash, or All Free Download.   (note: I have had no problems with these websites.  Yet they are open image/media sites.  Some may have offensive images.  Use at your own risk.)    To make a blog photo, I first download the photo to my computer.  I use a scrap-booking program that we bought to crop/edit the photo.  The scrap-booking program includes fun backgrounds, texts, colors, stickers, and anything else that I might need to use.  



    Overall, my time for writing this blog post was a little more than an hour.  Of course, it varies from post to post.  Writing a blog post doesn't have to be a complected ordeal!  For me, a post takes an average of 30 minutes.  (this one was probably my longest yet)  Writing blog posts is something that you need to do in your own way!  Have fun writing!

How do you write posts on your blog?  Do you have other steps that I didn't include?  Comment below!  If you write a post on your own blog, you can post the link below as well!

Feb 16, 2016

"Indescribable" movie review

"Amidst the uncertainties of WWI, Pastor Lehman begins to write a song about the love of God. When he gets stuck on the third verse, Blynn comes to the rescue by laying out a strategy to help Papa write the song."

Negative Elements:

The only thing that I did not like about the movie was the amateur acting. It could have been better. However, the story really made up for the lack of professional acting. 

My Review:

Indescribable is the convicting story about how Fredrick M. Lehman wrote his beautiful, Christian hymn, "The Love of God." (I am not 100% that this is a true story or not however) I loved how the story was portrayed. It was a well done, impacting movie with no negative elements noticed. I liked how it explained the verse "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" in a practical way. Indescribable showed how that is possible to live out in your real life. It answered questions like "How can I love God when I have never seen Him?" It showed that even if we don't know God's plan, His ways are still best. The ending was perfect!

I enjoyed the movie and left feeling like it was not just a "feel good" Christian movie. It was very impacting.

Other Notes:

We watched this movie through Amazon Instant Video for free! If you are a member of Amazon Prime, you may be able to do the same! =)

Lastly, I am going to include the hymn that this story was based off of, because it is so beautiful and honoring to God! (note: Lehmen did not write the last verse. This is explained in the movie.)

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin. 

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song. 

When hoary time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song. 

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Have you seen "Indescribable" or any other movie based upon a hymn? Comment below!

Feb 12, 2016

"Against All Odds" review


"Lord, I've ruined my life.  I'm Yours, if You still want me."
  Deeply wounded in his childhood and struggling to come to terms with failed relationships, Jim Stier wondered if God could ever use a life as fractured as his.  Indeed God would use him--in ways that Jim could never have imagined.  Confronted with the opportunity to deny his Savior, Jim surrendered his life, with all of its pain, to God.  So began an inspiring journey of struggle, faith, and victory that ultimately led to the lost, hurting people of Brazil and beyond.  Against All Odds is a compelling reminder that God restores broken lives and broken dreams.  This story of one man's passion to see a nation transformed is a stunning testimony that Christ's grace and mercy can redeem any life surrendered to Him.

My Review:

      Against All Odds is an incredible story of how a missionary couple to Brazil defied the odds and trusted God to lead their lives.  They were forced to lean on Him through trials, lack of money, and insults.  They didn't listen to the "important" missionaries who claimed that there was no way to led Brazilians in discipleship.  Instead, they lived simply, honoring God by bring the people of Brazil to know Him.  Throughout the story, they trusted in God.  The ending is beautiful, showing how their lives impacted countries around the world.
     I enjoyed this book, though it was not my favorite missionary story ever.  The only reason for that was that sometimes I felt like they promoted YWAM more than they needed.  I thought it would have been better for Jim to focus more on Jesus and less on his YWAM dream.  Overall, however, I enjoyed the book and felt like it showed how life with Jesus is never impossible.  Never.  No matter what happens.

About the Author:

Jim Stier is the chairman of Youth With A Mission. He continues to serve on YWAM's international leadership team while directing the ministry he founded in Brazil.

Have you read Against All Odds or any other book about  South America?  Comment below!

Feb 8, 2016

God is _____? Part 1

   What is God like?  There are tons of answers.  He is perfect.  He is just.  He is righteous.  He is pure.  He is (I could go on and on and on)...the only God!  The Creator of the universe!  The Maker of all that is good! I think that sometimes it is hard for a human to really understand who God is.  After all, we are not anything like Him at all, are we?  As humans, we can never truly be perfect, just, righteous, or pure.  That is, we can't be any of those...unless God is on our side.

     One of the basic principles that students of the Bible learn is this:  God is love.  (1 John 4:8)  One way to study what God is really like is to study love.  The series that I am going to be blogging on (God is ____?) will bring you through parts of 1 Corinthians 13, to explain what Love is.  In the meantime, I think it will show you what God is.  If God is Love, then we have to have more love to have more of God!  Let us look at 1 Corinthians 13, seeing exactly what God--our Creator, our Savior, and our Sustainer--is like, and how we can grow to be more like Him.  Let's dive in!

     Love is patient...(1 Corinthians 13:4)   Wow...already the terms of Love seem to be hopeless to reach!  Patience...it is something almost everyone could use more of.  It can look impossible to be patient at times.  If God is patient, and we are supposed to be in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), then we also should be patient.  All the time.  

    So what exactly is patience, you might ask?  Is patience only being able to stand in a line waiting for your turn without pouting?  Um...no.  According to the dictionary, patience is "the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like."  (Dictionary.com)  It also means to be diligent and even-tempered.  If you look at that list, I am sure you can see something that makes you impatient.  It could be when you meet that person who really makes you annoyed.  It could be when you are forced to wait in a traffic jam.  It could be when your computer shuts off in the middle of an important assignment.  There are thousands of scenarios that could push your patience back and make anger come out instead.  Yet, as Christians, we need to be patient at all times.  The only way to do this is to ask God.  He can give you perfect patience.

     Even though God can give you patience, the times where we ignore His prodding is numerous.  We have to do our part by remembering.  Remembering to be patient.  Remembering to be loving.  Remembering to be like Jesus.  And listen to His voice!

     Maybe writing yourself a note would help.  You could stick it in your pocket and remember it when you are about to get angry.  That is the best way for me to remember, but you may have a better way for your own personality.  Just remember, nothing can push your patience away and replace it with anger unless you let it.  Nothing.  Keep asking Jesus for more of Himself in your life, keep pushing forward towards Him, and He will never let you down.

   How do you remember to have patience?  What has helped you in your Christian walk to live your life more like Jesus?  Comment below!

Feb 2, 2016

Doubt...or Faith?

   Because of sin, bad things happen in life.  Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.”    This earth has sickness, death, pain, sorrow...  Sometimes it seems to come out of nowhere, and people ask, “Why God?  Why me?”  As humans, we only have a limited view of life.  It can be hard to see past the present troubles to what lies beyond...what is coming.  This week, I realized something important.  I already knew it, but I was impressed to share it here.  So here it is.

    I read a book called Dana’s Valley by Janette Oke.  ***spoiler alert***  It might have been the saddest book I have ever read.  In it, the main character’s sister, Dana, gets leukemia.  For three years, she struggles against the cancer that is tearing apart her life, her “normal” years as a teenager, and her family.  Her oldest brother is filled with anger and leaves home, getting into bad company.  Her sister, Erin, becomes bitter against God.  After all, how could a God who loves them be so cruel?  How could He tear their lives apart?  How could He ignore all of their prayers?

    Throughout the book, Erin grows angrier because of the cancer that is destroying her sister, and eventually she gives up on God.   On the other hand, Dana, the one who has cancer, grows stronger and stronger in faith.  While she loses her hair and her childhood because she cannot even get off her bed, she uses all of her energy for His glory.  In the end, Dana dies.  The story is tragic, but beautiful.  While some are angry that God gave her such a short life, having cancer really made Dana reach out to those around her.  The others who had cancer wrote letters after she died, telling how Dana lit up the cancer treatment center.  She shared God’s love with them.  She made others smile.  She never gave up.

     In the end, Erin realized how God really didn’t abandon them.  Even in the midst of the cancer treatments, God was leading their family.  He gave their mom strength to push on.  He gave Dana the courage to reach out to others and leave her life in God’s hands.  He did so much for them, small things that might have gone unnoticed.  Even though the ending was tragic in humanly terms, it was beautiful because of the underlining truth:  God might give us hard times, but He also gives us the courage and the strength to push on.  And there is a reason, though hard to see, under the pain, the tears and the sorrow.  One day, maybe you will be able to see the true reasons behind your trials.

    Another thing that really made me realize this was something that happened just this last week.  Our family was in the middle of a zoo, and right after seeing the kangaroos we got a call that a good friend had cut his face very badly with a chainsaw.  He had to be flown to a large hospital, which just happened to be 3 miles from the zoo.  We almost never visit that city, but on that very day, God arranged for us to be there.  Dad was able to visit him and be with their family.  And, amazingly, even though his face was a mess, his eyes, nose, teeth and other important parts of his face were spared—missed by very little margins.  It amazed the doctors.  Coincidence?  I think not.

   We have a choice.  We can be bitter and blame God when bad things happen. Or...we can see instead what God has done for us and thank Him for it.  We can remember that He has a plan and a purpose for everything.  If you are going through a trial right now, which will you choose?  The choice is yours.