GOD'S BEEN GOOD

Thursday, December 17, 2015

I made it to 2016!

... Well, almost. 
Unfortunately, it isn't 2016 YET, but that doesn't mean I can't be super pumped for it! The new year is bringing along a lot of change, and, if you know me, you know that I love change. 

This year is the year I finally, FINALLY graduate from high school! Now, I know people are always telling you, High School is the best four years of your life, but that wasn't quite the case for me. I guess I've never been a fan of high school because of all the drama, and all the peer pressure and the bullying, and just that life of the typical teenager. 

I have been waiting for 2016 since I began grade nine and it's finally here!

So, for this Blog Post, I thought I'd outline some of the amazing things God blessed me with, and I thought I'd write down my 2016 Bucket List! I have a friend who has her own bucket list, and she actually managed to check everything off of it in 2015, so i was inspired to create my own bucket list, and you guys can join me on my attempt to get through it! So, here we go!

God's Blessings This Year Included;
  • Friends. Okay, this may be the most cliched thing ever, but how can I deny that God blessed me with so many friendships this year! I got to meet a lot of new people from different parts of the world, while also re-building old friendships. God really worked in my life this year, because as someone who finds it very difficult to make friends, made many!
  • My Sister! Last year my sister made the ambitious decision to move out and live with some of her friends, and, while I supported her and all, I honestly did not want her to leave. I didn't think I'd miss her so much, and geez louise I'm happy she's back home. I just wasn't ready for that yet.
  • Alaska. Aha, I've probably talked about this enough, but this was a huge blessing and I will always be so grateful for getting the amazing opportunity to serve my Lord in the Last Frontier!
  • New Phone. Okay, this is probably not that important, but if you've ever seen my last phone, you will understand why getting my new Samsung S4 was such a blessing.
  • The West Region. The big decision of moving from the Toronto Church to the Mississauga one was, yes, a little difficult at first, but now I'm super grateful to be there. I've been building amazing friendships, and I've been constantly challenging myself to be out of myself and giving.
  • The Band. This year consisted of many performances, and although we may have gone through some rough patches together, we've always managed to keep our heads and perform the best we can for God.
  • My closest friend got baptized! Yes, after centuries and millenniums, she finally got dunked!
  • Many more blessings that I'm probably missing, but let's be honest, God is constantly blessing me when I don't even deserve it. At. All. Thanks God :D
So, bucket list time. I thought I'd include some unrealistic ones in there, which I have italicized, but it's always good to dream! Here goes my 2016 bucket list, and I can't wait to get started on it!!



Get A Job
Go to Anime North for the first time
Sing a solo on stage
Sing with someone on stage
Go to a different country (besides USA)
Live on campus
Take a beauty/fashion risk
Face your fears this year
Skip school once to hang with friends
Go to Nunavut or Vancouver
Volunteer somewhere
Have a long conversation ... with a stranger
Pick up a sport this summer
Try a complicated drink from Starbucks
Attempt starting a YouTube channel
Go to Montreal and have first drink (Their age restriction is 18!!)
Walk around Toronto with friends
Camp outside of a store to buy something being released
Go on a boat this summer
Finish editing novel!
Become fluent in Spanish
Share for a devo/church service
Host a party for no reason
Get 100% on a test/assignment
Learn the entire Beat It by Michael Jackson dance
Learn how to skate board
Meet a celebrity
Go to a spa
Go scuba diving
Audition for a Musical/Play/TV Show/Movie


That's basically it. 30 things to do in 12 months! I'll be updating this post every time I complete something on my bucket list. You'll see on of the things crossed out! I'm actually too excited for this year, and I just know God will be constantly blessing me. I'll keep you guys updated, don't worry! 

I hope you guys start thinking about your bucket list too. While New Year's Resolutions are good ... do we ever really follow them? Bucket lists are great ways for you to actually get up and do something you've never done!

Stay posted for more posts that are super duper festive in the next week! Thanks for reading, and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Years dudes and dudettes :D

band life

THE EVERYTHING SKIT

Thursday, December 10, 2015


About half a year ago, the band and I had been asked to prepare a set for the upcoming Worship Concert being held in New England that summer. Having preformed at the camp there a year earlier, we knew what to expect. The first thing we discussed was which songs? The previous year, as less experienced, we had chosen songs that were generic and well known by everyone. Basically sing-a-long songs. This year, however, we decided to add three new songs that weren't so much sing-a-longs and instead were powerful and impacting.

The one song that was the talk of the camp was when we had performed 'Everything' by Lifehouse, accompanied by an old yet amazing skit.

I stumbled upon this skit many years ago during my search for God, and the skit had affected me in ways that I couldn't quite understand. I was mesmerized and in awe of my Lord as I watched the portrayal of him going through the pain and agony, to just keep us - represented by the girl - safe. We could see the girl going through the trials of life only to find how deeply she needed God in her life, and does all she can to get back to him.

The goal of the band was to get to everyone's heart. We wanted everyone to see themselves as the girl and watch as they go through the pain that life - Satan - throws at everyone, and to get them to see how God is always watching over us, waiting for us, and when we can't do it, he's there to fight our struggles, fight our enemies, fight Satan for us.

We had been asked to perform this skit twice after our performance in Boston, and in both our performances, there was never a dry eye afterwards. People were so affected by the skit and we were reminded of how important it was to everyone that we performed it.

Obviously, it's one thing to be sitting in the seats, looking up at the stage to see Jesus' love being portrayed, but what did the skit and the overall experience mean for the band? We didn't get the chance to sit down and watch the skit as everyone did, we stood behind the skit, playing the music. So how were we affected?

To me, as I stood behind the group, I found myself feeling sorry for the girl who was standing alone on the stage, as she was being introduced to all this new sin, and as I would watch her accept the sin and continue to build that wall between her and God, I would shake my head. The poor girl who was so tricked by sin that she had to go through all of that.



Pretty ironic, huh? There I stood thinking all that, only to realize that it was actually me who the girl was representing. Me. You. All of us.

To me, this skit is a perfect reminder of Jesus' love for us, and how rewarding it is to knock down those walls and get to him. While I didn't quite get to watch the skit from the front, I think it was better to have watched it from behind. It felt as though I was standing in the back watching me go through the pain, watching me go through the suffering, and watching Jesus calling for me, and yet I don't listen.I wasn't watching it as a skit, I was watching it as a ... a flashback. It always reminds me of when I made the decision to follow Jesus, but even now as a disciple, it's a great reminder for me when I sin everyday (I am human after all).

Plus, playing music always finds a way to connect me to God in the best ways. How can I ignore the very words that they sing in the song: And how can I stand here with you, and not be moved by you? Seriously, there I stood watching God's work, how could I not be moved by that? Anyway, God is just amazing, so yeah.



I asked a few of my band mates, and even the leads in the skit about how it felt for them as they performed.

It was interesting to hear what some of them had to say. The common theme between all of us was how great of a reminder the skit was for us, and how amazing of a feeling it is to be reminded of how much God loves us, despite being on stage and not a part of the audience.

But for some, it was really the words that got to everyone, the words You're all that I want, you're all that I need were, for some, were all they needed to really get into the mood of the song and really feel it in their hearts. And how true it is, because the words of the song are so wonderful, and so true.

And others were simply reminded of themselves, and could easily place themselves in the spot of the girl, only to be broken when the girl was running back to God, and how He put himself in between her and the sin, to keep her safe.

And how amazing it was to hear from the two leads, and how playing Jesus and playing the girl was a very important part for them. The lead recalled the first performance we had back in Boston, and how everything she did, and every expression she made was because of the Holy Spirit. It was as if the Holy Ghost was making all of her movements, and she only needed to trust and follow as it lead her through the skit. This only gave her the chance to fully put herself into the character and really connect to the role. And when she drops the pills and runs to Jesus, the hunger and thirst she felt just to be in Jesus' arms was what led her. Being in the role made her to go down deep into the challenges that she as a disciple faced everyday.

"I am constantly fighting against my temptations and desires to get to Jesus. But the best part and most hopeful, amazing part is the fact that I don't do all nor any of the work.. But Christ himself holds my burdens and helps me to deny my desires and temptations that are harmful to me."

Amazing. And what about our Jesus? What did he have to say? Well for him, it seemed easy enough to get into the role, when the girl was played by his - basically - little sister, of whom he loves. He was actually put into the role of Jesus, where he learnt to understood how God feels when we go through the temptations and sin, only to want to be reunited with us by fighting for us, and basically doing anything to keep us safe.

I guess not much would've have been different if we were in the audience. We got to perform on stage to help people worship God, to send a message of His love, and, to use our talents for Him. God really blessed this skit,even with the minimal practice we had, God really helped us get through it effectively.

Thanks for enduring this really long post guys. If you wish to watch what we did, the video is down below :)    

Peace guys!

Back from my hiatus

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Four months later, and I finally find the time and the motivation to start up my blog again.

As my summer was coming to close, I began writing, yet never finished a bunch of posts that I had planned to put onto my blog, but school picked up, and things were already getting stressful, that nothing seemed to be working out for me and my blog.

Funny how excited I was to begin my senior year, but now, almost three months in, the need to leave high school and finally enter adulthood is unfathomable. While my year had started off well, with high grades and a happy face, things had soon taken a turn down the Valley of Destroyed Dreams, and my grades were violently pulled down the steep hill with it. Not to say it's impossible to reach the grades I need, but for now, looking at my mid-term report card has caused me stress and discouragement.

Along with the "excitement" of senior year, I began this school year in a different region of my church, which meant, I was no longer going to be seeing my close friends from Toronto as often anymore. I had expected leaving that church I had been in for six years to go to the church I grew up in to be a big and drastic change that would take a lot of getting used to, but it was an easy transition, and the Mississauga church welcomed me with open arms. The only difficult part of the transition seemed to be the absence of my close friends, but the ability to see them time to time made it not so difficult. And now, in this new church, I've been able to create new friendships of which I'm so grateful for.

The last few weeks I had been coming back onto my blog, only to find how I didn't like how it looked so much, so, I worked diligently for two weeks, cleaning up my blog, creating a new logo, and basically, just making it look nice to help motivate me to write more. And so, here it goes, once more, to keep this blog going.

Now, seeing as it's November, it's only appropriate to be excited about Christmas. My mother has begun decorating, which has only been acting as fuel for my excitement! What is there not to love about Christmas? Snow, wool hats and gloves, hot chocolate, family time, presents, Panettone, Christmas songs, Christmas movies, Christmas specials!! Guys, this season gets me the most excited, and there's nothing that can bring me down from my joyous aura!!

And, since I'm talking about Christmas, you already know that right after Christmas is New Years, which means Helloooooo 2016! I'm already planning stuff to do for 2016, and oh boy it's going to be an epic year! Here goes my list:

1. Trip to Ottawa
2. Boston for Prom!
3. Anime North
4. Tales Con
5. TWENTY ONE PILOTS CONCERT
6. St. Louise for a Conference
7. Graduation
8. I'll finally be 18!!

Guys, 2016 is going to be so awesome, and I'm so excited for it. But first, I'm going to focus on Christmas and enjoying the cold weather.

Thanks for reading guys, and I shall see you all soon!

New Brunswick & Prince Edward Island

Friday, August 07, 2015




I'm not quite fond of being in cars anymore...

While I've never been bothered much by being in cars for many lengths of time before, lately, my stomach has not been agreeing with it. Since we've only been able to eat at diners and fast food restaurants, my stomach has grown to hate me, and has made sure I understood by constantly hurting. Although I haven't thrown-up - and thank God I haven't - it's definitely put a small shadow over the overall trip.

Not to say the trip hasn't been fun. Surely there were star moments in the trip that I enjoyed very much, but sometimes, I've felt a bit lonely tagging along behind four adults and constantly found myself texting my friends back at home.

Another negative about this trip would have to be that: I can't find a single notebook.

If anyone knows me, they know that I LOVE notebooks- pretty notebooks. The hope for this trip was to get a very nice notebook from at least one of the provinces, but as of yet - my sixth day on this trip - I've been quite unsuccessful. However, these things haven't completely made the trip horrible.

Some upsides of the trip thus far is all the nature I get to surround myself with. Being in Toronto, the most nature I get is from the small forest just near my house, and even that was planted by humans. Being in these new provinces, I get to surround myself by rock walls, trees, lakes and oceans, and best of all, horsies and cows.

While we didn't spend much time in New Brunswick, we spent a good four days in Prince Edward Island, just by Green Gables. Now, if you've ever read Anne of Green Gables as I have, being around the area where her whole story was inspired was quite exciting. I got to discover how the author became to inspired by her small little island, and how real Anne Shirley was to her.

It made me think a lot about my book, and I was able to relate a lot to the author, because just like Anne was so real to her, so is my character real to me. At the same time, it inspired me to write my story even more, and to really get into it!

The rest of the time in Prince Edward Island consisted of beaches, lobster, beaches, card games and beaches. Not going to lie, the amount of water I saw was crazy. Everywhere I turned was some sort of lake, river or part of the ocean. Though, I can't argue, because the sight was STUNNING each time.

When we decided to go downtown for my mom's birthday, we spoke with the owner of the lovely breakfast store (Casa Mia Cafe, I highly recommend it if you ever go to Charlottetown) who told us that after one visit to PEI, her and her husband packed up their things from Toronto, and moved there right away. She gave us a pamphlet that told us about the prices of some of the houses, and no wonder she moved she quickly! With the price of houses in PEI, you could buy two houses and a cottage and still have money left over!

Thinking about moving to PEI? Maybe.

The final day in PEI was bitter sweet, because I didn't want to leave the beautiful province and enter the city again in Halifax, but I knew it was time to go, and a new adventure awaited us.

Halifax was exciting for me, because I got to be surrounded by others who were near my age, and enjoy devotional and church with them. It let me be me for a bit, and really enjoy Halifax with some good friends beside you.

First things first, the ferry over to Halifax. Quite terrifying to be so high up above the water, but after a few panic attacks or so, we had finally made it, and off to Halifax we went!

Thanks for reading dudes and dudettes!

Fam Road Trip - Montreal

Wednesday, August 05, 2015



I might as well start this post off telling it all in full honesty.

My hear wasn't in the right place when my parents had told me about this trip last year. It was going to be twenty-four non-consecutive hours on the road with my parents and their friends. While the idea of seeing the country seemed to catch my attention, the only flaw was that I had no friends to go with. And so, I began asking around, seeing if any of my good friends would be willing to join me on the Cruz Family adventure. Unfortunately, while many were willing and hoping, it didn’t seem like it was going to happen. And so, August 1st had rolled around and I was packing up the car for the endeavor.

And now, here I am, typing away on my slowly dying laptop as I write about the journey.
We stopped first in Montreal. I was pretty excited about stopping here, since I would be surrounded by the French language. I, regrettably, had stopped my schooling in the French language when I was in grade nine, and the days leading up to the trip, I was quickly trying to jam all the French I could into my brain. While I enjoyed listening to the language being spoken around me, I can't say I understood it ... at all.

The kind lady who housed my parents, their friends and I made the visit very wonderful. (Not to mention, her house was bootyful).

We arrived at her house around the afternoon, and we took time to settle in before we hopped into her pool. While it was only a quick rinse, it was relaxing and a great way to shake off the six hours of driving we had to endure. The lady who housed us kindly became our tour-guide, since we all hoped to see the wonderful city before we were off oh too soon.

We drove off to downtown Montreal, where we visited some bagel store - I obviously was not paying much attention - and purchased very warm and wonderfully delicious bagels. We then headed off to try some Smoked Meat sandwiches, that were known to be all the rave, and all the rave they were, because just as we pulled up to the store, there was already a line forming outside. While situating ourselves at the end of the line, we checked to see exactly how long those at the front waited in order to get in.

Half an hour.

We didn’t have a lot of time. By that time, it was almost six and we had a lot of other stuff we wanted to see, but we wanted to stay considerate and not stay out too late, for the sake of our guides daughter, and the fact that there was church the next day.

But there we stood, waiting in the line up to try the so-called amazing sandwiches, and, half an hour later, we finally entered.

There was no wonder that there was a large line-up outside. The store was teeny and it was a mission to make it to our seats without bumping into someone.

I ordered the Smoked Meat Sandwich with a side of Poutine. It was wonderful. The whole meal together was spectacular, and in ways, worth the wait. However, it seemed – at least to me – that the sandwich was a bit hyped up, but no matter, I enjoyed it and my parents had to roll me out of the restaurant.

We next headed to Mont Royal. This mountain basically overlooks the city, and what a sight it was to see it as it became dark. I attempted to snap a shot, but the whole area was crowded, traffic-jammed, and there were raccoons everywhere. My parents wanted to get out of there quickly. So, I attempted a “drive-by-picture” with great failure. The image below was my least blurry one.

Our final stop was in Old Montreal. I hoped I would see it when it was still daylight, but even at night it was still a sight to see. To our dismay, there was a soccer game going on, and Old Montreal was flooded with fans. There was no way to stop and take pictures in the heavy traffic, and my parent’s friends got lost many times as we made our way down the street. Pictures? Non-existent. They are way too blurry, and too dark, that there just in't any point to post it up.

By the time that we were exiting Old Montreal, I was tired. We all were.

I don’t remember much of the ride back, since I was sleeping for most of the time, but I can tell you that the time I arrived back at our guide’s house, I was a happy camper. Quickly, we put on our jammies, brushed our teeth and we were asleep.

The next morning consisted of showers, – in a lovely bathroom – eggs & bacon, Polly Pockets, and some morning guitar playing by yours truly, and soon, we were off to church.

I’ll admit, I was a little sad that it was house church and that I couldn’t meet the whole Montreal fam, but the small group of people we got to worship with were wonderful nonetheless. I even met a new friend. I can tell you one thing, the conversation was a struggle. She was speaking French, I was speaking English, but we managed to laugh together and learn about each other eventually.

And now, here I am, on the road again with my parents as we head to our second stop in New Brunswick. Too bad we won’t stay there long though, because we’re off to P.E.I right after a good nap. I’m excited for P.E.I though, and I guarantee much less blurry pictures for that post.

I think some things that both my parents and I learnt on this road trip was patience. Being on the road with a friend can be difficult at times, there can be disagreements which could lead to bitterness and so on. However, the longer we've spent with our friends, the more we've depended on God to really keep our hearts in the right place and completely focus on him.

Whatever else this trip will consist of, we plan to look to God first.

Now, it’s all about eating some din din and catching some Zzzz’s.

Thanks for joining me on my journey reader, I really appreciate it!

Until next time dudes and dudettes!

Travels

Anchorage Hope Youth Corps

Monday, July 13, 2015

23 hours of sunlight. 20 other teenagers (plus a 20 year old), 10 interns and leaders, 5 full days of 8 hour heavy-lifting, and four days of counselling young kids and teaching them about God. All of which came down to today (yesterday in Toronto), when I had to say goodbye to it all and head back home.
I believe it's 11pm or 12am in this picture

Hope Youth Corps Alaska was possibly the most interesting thing I'd ever done. With a four hour plan ride, a three hour layover and another three hour plane ride, I finally reached the beautiful, mountainous city of Anchorage, Alaska.

With a fear of heights, you could only imagine how great the plane rides went. I had to take a medicine that would knock me out in order to avoid having a panic-attack. The second flight did not go well. It began with a simple thought: "The last plane ride went very well, I won't need the medicine for this one". Oh how incorrect I was, because the second I had entered the plane, I began to breathe heavily, I was shaking, my hand was spasming, I was crying, and I really forced myself to not freak out and sit on the plane quietly. The second flight did not go well.

However, I made it to Alaska, and off I was in an old red Subaru to go and serve.

Upon arriving to the actual camp I was going to be living in, I had already met two of the other HYC volunteers on my way, which, made integrating with the rest of the group much easier.

The cool thing about being a disciple is meeting new ones from around the world. The second I jumped off the truck into the camp, I was bombarded by hugs and names from every side. I already felt at home, and I spent my first day playing volleyball and sleeping.

After waking up at 4 am the next morning (which is 8 am in Toronto), I was off to start my first day as a volunteer.

It was nothing like I expected. The first day, right after breakfast, I was assigned to take a mountain of rocks and dirt and move it to the forest. That meant shovels, buckets, wheelbarrows and huge rocks (that I could barely carry). Me, and the rest of the volunteers worked for three hours until it was lunch, and worked for five more hours until it was dinner. That's basically what we did for the first week, and boy can I tell you, my back and arms were so sore by the second day, I couldn't even lift up my water to drink.

That week was hard, because not only did I have to constantly work my best, but I was trying my best to get to know the 21 other HYC volunteers who were there as well.

It was funny because, while majority of us barely knew each other, there seemed to already be really close relationships with each other. I'm not good at making friends, in fact, meeting new people terrifies me, so building those close relationships did not come so easily for me, I had to work super hard for it.

It was difficult at first, since everyone was so close with each other, and I had to find my way in.
But there were a few people in the group who welcomed me in, made me feel comfortable and helped me to really get out of my shell.

While the trip wasn't "perfect", I think God planned every small bit out which essentially made the trip perfect in its own way. Every little thing I did, whether it choosing to do more or less work, to ask the deeper questions or to even make some wrong decision, all of it helped me to learn new things about myself, learn knew skills, and grow wiser and deeper in my love for God.
We're all just kangaroos without pouches.
These last few weeks, I learnt that while studying the bible with others and evangelising are things God calls us to do, we tend to rarely look at servitude. All of Jesus' life, he constantly served those around him. Even when he was so tired and just needed a break, he continued. I learnt that serving is a big part in our walk with God, because it brings us closer to being just as Jesus was, it shows us the need around the world, giving us compassion for others, and it let's people see Jesus through our actions.

I made so many amazing friends in Alaska, and the friendships I had had earlier, grew deeper. God blessed me so much with every single person who was at HYC. Seeing everyone's walk with God, and everyone's eagerness to serve inspired me everyday. Each person was so wonderfully unique, and even just thinking of them brings tears of such joy to my eyes.

As I write this post on the plane back from Toronto, I plan to get home and apply everything I learnt. To serve as often as possible in anyway I can, to really ask the deeper questions and not be afraid to, in order to have a stronger friendship, and, to look to God in all situations.

Throughout the HYC, I hadn't always seen eye-to-eye with everyone, and everyone wasn't on the same page all time either, and even when things got hard, and there was discouragement and anger, the only person who calmed us and listened to us, and even taught us was God. I don't know about you, but I plan to go to HYC next year.

The only thing now is to sleep in my comfy bed at home and use an actual bathroom (outhouses are not my friends) and to wake up tomorrow ready to change the world, with my amazing new friends by my side, and God, leading the way.



Thanks for reading dudes and dudettes

Update!

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Wow dudes and dudettes, apologies that it has been quite some time since my last post. The reason was not because I was busy - though I was, it wasn't enough - but because I had lost motivation. I stopped writing in my blog and began writing my book, and that is literally all I've been doing lately.

Since it's been a good 27 days - basically a month, oops - I thought I'd update you guys on some exciting stuff that's been happening ... at least exciting to me.

For starters: I've officially paid for all of my expenses for Hope Youth Corps Alaska, - in other words, my bank account has run dry - and there are 22 more days until I hop onto the plane to Alaska and start my new adventure! My parents also finalized the route we are going to take when we head off to Eastern Canada and go on a roadtrip, woo! AND, my father - cutting it close - finally signed me up for Teen Camp! (For those who don't know what teen camp is, it is basically a full week at a camp for teenagers who are taught the word of God, get to worship together with like minded people, and to grow in their spirituality with each other and with God).

So, basically, my summer time is fully packed with events!

A few exciting things include a new room decoration - removing and adding posters, and the new addition of a Memory Wall (I posted it on my insta).
However, the biggest thing that I'm the most excited for is that I finished writing my book! No, not the book about my parents, that one is going to take quite sometime to finish. This one is a book that I've spent a good three to four years writing, with maybe three different versions of the book, until finally, not too long ago, I finished writing the book from beginning to end. Unfortunately, I'm not 100% done writing it, because there is still a lot of editing, revising and deleting to do before I can fully say my story is done. It just feels good that I wrote the last chapter!

School is another update. Finally, I've reached the last week of grade eleven and am excited for the first day of grade twelve! Already, I'm searching around for potential schools to go to, potential courses to take and whether or not I'll be living on campus or at home. School is not a fun thing to think of, because I only feel stress when I do, but the idea of graduating, and going to prom and travelling even more is such an exciting thought!

Many people have asked me why I've chosen schools far away from home. The answer is simple. I want a challenge. I want a chance to lean on God when times get tough. Here at home, I'm very comfortable, but when you're this comfortable, there's little room to grow. Moving away will put my faith to the test, will help me learn more, and to meet my other brothers and sisters.

One final update before I wrap up this post. This summer is a summer of transition. I'm not going to get too into this, because there are still a few things to finalize and pray about, but my heart has been pretty set on this decision, and I really feel it'll be a big step in the right direction. :)

That's it for today! :)

Peace!

Devotionals

Monday Devo: Strongholds

Monday, May 11, 2015

 (Forgot to post this last week, so here it is!)

Once again, I chose to read into the book Facing Your Giants for one of my quiet times. That day, the chapter was called Strongholds. Originally, I hadn't really known what "stronghold" meant, and had considered it something good. That's not the case. While strongholds can be good, they can also be VERY dangerous.

STRONGHOLD: A fortified place of fortress.

Right away, the chapter talks about strongholds being dangerous and how it's something that Satan uses against us. Satan uses a stronghold on our sin. You know what I'm talking about. That sin that just WON'T go away. The one that you constantly struggle with and are so tired of! It's as if Satan built a fifty foot wall around our sin, claiming it as his own and telling Heaven that it can't be touched.

What we see with David is that he has just been crowned king of Israel, and he looks onward to Jerusalem. When we think of Jerusalem, we think of a church growing, Jesus preaching and healing , basically a capital that is thriving! However, during this time in the Old Testaments, Jerusalem is an old rugged city, of which David wants to change.

However, Jebusites dwelled within the Jerusalem walls, and when they saw that David wanted Jerusalem, the continually discouraged him, telling him:
"You''ll never get in here ... even the blind and lame could keep you out!" 2 Samuel 5:6-9

Sounds familiar doesn't it? You'll never overcome your bad habit. Think you can overcome your addiction ... think again. 

The amazing thing about David's story is that although the Jebusites are mocking the new king, this 12 letter word is the plot twister: Nevertheless
"Nevertheless, David took the stronghold"

"Wouldn't you love God to write a nevertheless in your biography? Born to alcoholics, nevertheless she lived a sober life. Never went to college, nevertheless mastered a trade.."

"We use God's mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the Devil's strongholds" 2 Cor 10:4

Can you think of anyone else in the bible who had to endure mocking? If you guessed Jesus, then your right. This guy was mocked and discouraged left and right, but Jesus practiced "selective-hearing". Not a bad idea when Satan is rushing at us with doubt and regret. 

If you have that annoying sin that you're trying to get through, listen to the encouragement from God, shut out Satan's discouragement at all costs!

If the walls are too tall, try a tunnel.

Cool & Modest

Sunday, May 10, 2015

"And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes." - 1 Timothy 2:9

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." 
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Yay! The winter is gone, the snow has melted, and we're finally out of the negative degree weather! (Just kidding, I love the winter and I miss it already).

But seriously, spring and summer are on their way, and we're putting away our jackets, our thick sweaters, and sweatpants and replacing them with jeans, t-shirts, skirts and dresses! Although the heat may force us to wear just a little less in order to stay cool, I can help you to still stay cool, while keeping everything modest!

I find it difficult to buy shorts nowadays, since majority of stores are selling shorts that are basically underwear, and t-shirts that are basically bras. I can go into a whole sermon about why girls should dress modestly, but I thought I'd cover it all with my favourite quote:

"Dressing immodestly is like covering yourself in mud, sure you'll get a lot of attention, but only from pigs"

I'm going to start off with 5 tips to get yourself to dress modestly, and constantly living your life for God:

1. Handmade & thrift shopping. It's difficult to search for shorts that aren't exposing your derriere or are just too tight you can barely move. A good way to avoid "underwear" shorts are to make your own, this way, you can make them as long as you want from any fabric you wish. The easiest way to make shorts is getting an old pair of jeans and some scissors and cutting away! A good idea is go thrift shopping as well, you're bound to find shorts that are at a nice and appropaite length, or just really nice ripped or stained jeans that you can cut up (you don't want to be cutting up 20$ pants!!).

2. Don't give up searching. If you're not that well acquainted with sewing and cutting and such, then my tip to you is to never give up! There are definitely some good stores that will not fail you on proper shorts. To name a few: Bluenotes, Old Navy, and Joe Fresh. I also was able to find some nice sweatpants shorts (the ones you see in the images below) from H & M, only 14$ each!

3. Always be kept accountable! There will always be those days where you pick up a skirt and think, "This is cute" and sort of turning a blind-eye on the shortness of it. Or even, you don't think it's any harm to wear that shirt that is cut just a little bit too low. It's always good to have a gal-pal to keep you accountable on your clothes. Snapchat is a lifesaver. If you're a little unsure about an outfit, just take a picture of your #ootd and send it to a girl you trust and ask them for their opinion on it. This way, you can constantly be dressing the way God wants us too.

4. 4 B's checklist! I feel so cool because I came up with this myself (or at least I think I did). To ensure yourself that you're dressing like a godly women, take the time to get the 4 B's list out. Breast, Butt, Belly, and Back. If ANY of these B's are peeking out or being displayed way too much, it's always a good idea to change into something else. Why? Firstly, because that's the way God wants us to dress, modestly. But also, to protect our guy friends. While most guys try their hardest to keep their hearts and minds pure, we aren't really being good friends by laying it all out in front of them for them to stumble. Help a brotha' out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Okay, now the fun part! A few of my friends and I spent the day together having a little photo shoot, to show you guys some cute styles that you can wear during the summer time (or even spring time) while staying modest! Hope you guys enjoy :) 


Photo credits to: Mac Jessen 
Thanks to Lauryn K for modelling :)

"The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

Devotionals

Monday Devo - Slump Guns

Monday, April 27, 2015

Finally getting these things going. I thought I'd have a series going, having a little bible talk per say on a quiet time that really spoke to me throughout the week. For those who don't know what a Quiet Time is, it's basically time I spend with God alone, reading his word and praying to him, building a relationship with him and growing in my spirituality.

Last week, I spent a lot of time reading this Quiet Time book called "Facing your Giants" - thanks madre for lending it to me - and to give a brief overview, the book is based on David and his life before and after he defeated Goliath with his trusty slingshot. The book relates the Goliath that David faced as one of his many "giants". Giants, meaning: that sin that keeps reoccurring, that person who just won't give up bullying you, or hurting you, or even a difficult time in your life, in your faith, in your friendships. All are considered the "giants" in our lives, and this book uses David as an example of how we can overcome our "giants" by using examples of his life.

The title of the little devotion I wish to share with you was called "Slump Guns".

It starts off with a scripture in Proverbs 14:12-13
"12 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death. 13 Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief."
Basically, we are in the part of the story of David where he has his group soldiers, all of whom are defending themselves from the King, Saul, who wants David dead. Not only does David have to avoid his own death, he also has over a thousand mouths to feed, while dealing with his two wives (lol).There were points in David's life where he had to live in caves, and hide behind trees, just to get away from Saul. Basically, David's life isn't going the way he had hoped, "the slump guns find their mark" (lucado 64). We can even see in 1 Samuel 27:1 where David accepts the fact that Saul will indeed kill him, and plans to run away.

Throughout David's story we see him consult men like Samuel and Jonathan who bring him back on the right path towards God, but here, when David is really in a rut, we see David consult himself.

The book talks about how we should constantly consult in wise men and women. David was not doing well, and while consulting in himself, he simply brought himself down. It's normal though, we usually turn to people with no answers when we're going through something in order to avoid correction (*cough* pride *cough*) and will hang with other people who are hurting.

Because David consulted in himself, it only lead him even further from God (basically, he kills a bunch of people). The book talked about the swimming athlete Florence Chadwick who attempted to swim a 22 mile canal. While all was going well, her muscles began to cramp and she asked to give up, but her mother (who was in the boat next to her) urged her to continue. And so she did, but it was foggy and she couldn't see how far the island was, and stopped.

Soon after, she discovered that the island was less than a mile away. She even admitted that she could have finished, but it was too foggy that she couldn't see her end goal.

While it's okay to have our "bad days" spiritually, we can't give up the swim. Even if our muscles are too tired to carry on, even when it may seem like our end result is way too far, we need to keep swimming. JUST IMAGINE: "God may be, at this moment, lifting his hand to signal Gabriel to grab the trumpet. Angels may be assembling, saints gathering, demons trembling". Just keep on going, you're almost there!

All in all, I learnt do NOT lean on myself, or even people who aren't doing well spiritually just to avoid correction, but to turn to God in prayer, turn to a sister or brother for guidance, or even to a leader! We want to move forward, not bring ourselves backwards. God is right next to us, saying "Come on (your name), you can do it. Just a bit more. Don't give up. I'm here waiting to hug you, to congratulate you! Keep it up!"

Anywho, thanks for reading guys. I hope you got something out of this. Maybe the guns are aimed at you, and now you know where to go when you think you've hit rock bottom.

Have a great week dudes and dudettes! :)

Right Now & Soon

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Lately, I've been making some ambitious decisions. At least, ambitious in my case. 

It all started with January 1st 2015.

Now, I don't usually make new years resolutions, but this year, I sort of made a personal resolution.It was a resolution that would force me to be out of myself. This is very difficult for me, because I'm the type of person who, if someone is walking towards me, I will hide behind a garbage can and wait for them to walk away. Talking to new people gets me way too nervous, and I never liked that, so I vowed to change it.

There were a few things this year that I made myself do, stuff I would never have done as the shy Lorena. One of the big things I decided was Hope Youth Corps. HYC is basically a chance for teenagers to volunteer at places that are in need of help, and pretty much helping with whatever is needed. The idea is quite huge for me, because it means I actually have to talk to people (ugh!). However, this is a big step. I thought it was time to completely get out of my comfort zone and do just what Jesus did, serve.

Along with HYC, I chose to cut my hair. I always worried about cutting my hair, afraid I would either look like Dora the Explorer, or the spitting image of my mom. Nonetheless, I did it, and although I looked like my mother - she is my mom - I like the look. I thought it worked perfectly for me! And, to add to my new cut, I chose to colour it green. Talk about random. But, green is my favourite colour, so I thought, what the hay! 

This blog was also a chance that I could get out of that insecurity of talking to people. I usually NEVER let people see what I write, and although this isn't one of my fantasy novels, it's still quite the step for me. Baby steps, baby steps, until I'm confident to let ya'll read a little snippet of my writing. 

The final "new" thing I ended up doing was playing guitar. Now, I have 5 years of guitar history, so it's not quite that new. However, since I became the bassist of UFO, I've since neglected my guitar. Thankfully, I was given the chance to hop back onto my guitar and play. The moment my fingers strummed the strings, I realized what I had been missing. And now, all I do is play it, learning new songs, and just having fun with it. Why did I abandon it?

NOW ON TO THE THINGS TO COME!
Holy moly am I excited for the things that are to come for me! Not only will I be going to Alaska for HYC, I will also have the chance to visit Montreal, Halifax, New England, JAPAN!! (The reason for my blog title). Man oh man, this year will be epic! 

And, to add on to the already awesomeness, HOPEFULLY the band is given a sick performance in New England this year. We're planning some crazy songs! These songs are so beautiful, and I'm just way too excited for them.

I'm going hiking for the first time. I've NEVER hiked before, and, if the weather is willing, I'll be given the chance to this month (super cool post to come!). 

FINALLY. God has given me many amazing opportunities to increase my faith, and my knowledge of him. Unfortunately, I can't say much as of yet, but the excitement is real (sorry for teasing you).

Do you guys have some awesome new stuff happening to you soon? I'd love to know!

Thanks for reading :)

band life

The Benefit Concert

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Here are a few videos of United For One's recent performances. It was at a benefit concert to help support two little kids in need of help for their medical expenses. Feel free to donate here:


Although our performances weren't perfect, I'm still really proud of the band and our performance that night. With only two short practices, we were able to pull through, with very small mistakes on stage. Nonetheless, the night was great, and I can't wait to perform with these dudes and dudettes again!

I'M YOURS by JASON MRAZ covered by UNITED FOR ONE

FREE FALLING by JOHN MAYER covered by UNITED FOR ONE

RADIOACTIVE by IMAGINE DRAGONS covered by UNITED FOR ONE

all video credits to: Aperture Lane
Banner credits to: Me!

Getting to know my parents

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

You know those two people who live in your house, the ones who feed you, and hug you, and pay for everything you want, and the ones who keep asking "Did you do your homework?" and "How was school today?". Those two much older people who drive you everywhere, who clean up after you and complain that you never help out around the house - because you don't. Yeah, I'm talking about your parents.

You pretty much live with these people for a good 18 years of your life, sometimes more if they don't want to let you go, or you're just not ready to leave. I've gone through 17 years with these two, and it was only last year that I actually asked them about their childhoods. It's kind of sad, because the stories that both my parents have are both amazing and inspiring, stories I wish I had known about sooner.

I've recently started writing story about my mama and papa, a story that is going to be about their lives growing up in a poor country like El Salvador, the hardships they endured, and their journey to Canada, to find each other, and ultimately, to find God. And so, I sat the two down and began interviewing them.

Here's the thing. I hadn't expected such a great deal of hardships and disappointments, loss and abandonment, abuse and threat. Hearing about what my parents went through, made my struggles and problems seem like a joke, and yet, there they sat in front of me, successful, happy and now, burden free. But at the same time, I learnt about how they were as teenagers, kids, young adults, the fun they had, their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. There was so much more to my parents then just my "mom" and "dad".

It was a fun experience, talking to them about their pasts. They had a lot of fun, talking about their childhoods and all the games that they used to play. The good times, the fun times, and the times where they just couldn't believe they had gotten away with. I even showed them a few old pictures of themselves, as kids that my grandma had given us awhile ago. They laughed at the way they used to look, they told me stories about very bad haircuts that they will never forget, and it just made them smile to see themselves, many years younger, back at home with their family.

















a few of the pictures of my parents
However, as much fun as it was to talk about all the fun that both my parents were privileged with back in El Salvador, there was so much more to their story, so much heartache, and sadness. It hurt even me to hear about the deaths, fights, and abuse they had to endure. It's hard, to see tears welling up in your parents eyes, as they would recall a very difficult time during their childhood, or even their teenage years. But, I found it brave of my parents, to share such stories, even when some of the stories became a little too much to talk about.

My favourite part of their story was their love story. I'm a sucker for a cute love story, and the one my parents had to share was all God. Their love story showed chances, true friendship, and in my dads case, never giving up.

I think this story is going to be amazing, and boy oh boy am I glad I took the time to hear about my parents. It really helped me get to know them, to understand why they do what they do now. It put them in this brand new light, where I understood now, that everything they do for me was because they love me, it's because they dealt with the worse and they don't want me to, it's because they're able to give me what they couldn't have.

I think, another really cool thing about writing this story, is that I get to interview my other relatives as well. I think getting to know your family is HUGE. I don't know, I guess I'm also a sucker for a really good story, and my family just happen to have wonderful ones.

I think this calls for a little series. Now and then, I'm going to update you on how my book is going. The more I interview my parents, the more I add snippets of what I've already written on this blog.

ANYWAY. I 100% suggest that you all take the time to get to know who your parents are, or aunt, uncle, grandma, or cousin. I GUARANTEE, you'll find an amazing story somewhere ;)

Thanks for reading :)

The Winter Retreat!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray." Proverbs 12:26

Wii Are Family was the theme of the whole weekend. Every year, 60 of my friends and I get the chance to take a 2 hour road trip (which is really soft compared to our 16 hour one to Boston) to a cute little camp during a cold winter. Of course, spirits aren't high, what with a negative degree weather and snow filling our shoes and freezing our toes, things weren't starting off as had hoped. 

But then suddenly, we are all together in a nice warm cafeteria, singing songs, getting hyped about the plans for the next two days and already getting in that fellowship with friends we hadn't seen in quite some time. Who cared if their socks were wet anymore? The retreat had begun.

Going into the retreat, I knew that it was gonna be awesome, as it always is. However, I was going into it without any high expectations, but the retreat exceeded my low expectations, blowing me out of the water!

It was my first year going as a disciple (follower of my man Jesus), and the other disciples were granted a special lesson just for us bright and early the next morning.

photo creds to @natetendods

The lesson focused on a few things, but I think of all of them, I was impacted by one point that the preacher had made. He referenced Mark 1:17.

'"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people." At once they left their nets and followed him.'

To paraphrase, Jesus is calling his first disciple to follow him, and the disciples he called were fishermen. Fishing was their life, it's what put food on the table, gave them money, a house, etc, but when Jesus had told them to follow him, they dropped their nets, literally dropping their lives at once and followed him.

The preacher spoke about how yeah, we may have dropped our nets just before we had entered the water (baptism) but without sugar coding, he stated that a lot of us were picking those nets back up. 

In short, it really hit me hard, and I pulled a good friend aside, and I just confessed a bunch of stuff to her, crying my eyes out. I hadn't expected to do so upon arrival, thinking it would be just another fun retreat to be with friends. Oh was I wrong. because I think God sent me to the retreat to get me back in my place, literally telling me in the face, hun, you're doing it again, you need to stop.

Not to say that the retreat wasn't fun, because it was! I was so grateful to be a part of an AWESOME cabin of girls that, yeah I knew, but didn't really know. It was awesome actually getting to know them a bit more. Sometimes, being all spiritual with people isn't always the best way to start a good friendship, and that's definitely something I lacked in. It was great just staying up late (when we should have been sleeping) and talking about everything! I thought it was amazing how, when the conversations did move to God, they all had strong convictions about what they believed in, which was inspiring and super encouraging to hear.

The rest of the retreat involved very fun activities like, lip-syncing competitions, mini games, jeopardy, snow games, dairy-free food (lactose intolerant problems), tears, music, and just plain weirdness with a bunch of my friends. 

photo credits to @macjessen

My favourite part of every Winterblast is the time where a few teens are able to share about how their feeling, the goals they wish to take back home, and their future plans with God. It's a little hit of reality, because for just two days it felt like we had been at the camp for a week, but everyone knew that the time to share, was marking the end of the retreat. Of all the years that I've gone to this retreat, I feel like this year was where all the teens who shared were so real with everyone. Really confessing how they were feeling, asking that we pray for them in a certain area, and just being honest about their spiritual walk with God.

They all inspired me.

"Do you know your friends well enough that you can pray about that exact thing that they're struggling with?"

That was another point the preacher had made, and my answer to his question was simple. No. After hearing all those teens share, it made me want to really know about my friends and how they're doing, because some of them were just so broken and hurt by whatever had happened to them, and it was only at that moment that I had found out. Asking how my friends are really doing proves that a friendship is really strong.

I'm grateful to God for blessing me with this years Winterblast. I think the one thing I was really proud of about myself was how outgoing I was. Naturally, I'm a shy person who will try to avoid any contact with someone I didn't know, but lucky for me, I got the chance to meet some people who, I quickly became friends with. I'm proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone, and I plan to carry that on in my life, because it felt good meeting new people, and talking with people as though I had already known them for so long.

As for the band, we rocked the house! Oh, how amazing it was to be playing and singing to God, and we all felt soooo amazing afterwards. 

Can't wait for another year in the snow with my friends!
#wiiarefamily