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My Inner Peace: Kung Fu Panda Style

   I’m not a big t.v. watcher. I can name my faithful favorites on one hand: Scandal, Mary Mary, Chopped and Wheel of Fortune!  Occasionally I’ll feast on HGTV  or Cooking Channel. Other than that, if the t.v. is on in my house, it’s showing cartoons. And I must admit, I’ve learned more life lessons from watching cartoons that anything else I watch.

       Po from Kung Fu Panda continues to be one of my favorites. The most unlikely (and un-liked) person–panda rather–in the entire village is chosen to be The Master Warrior. Reminds me of Bible stories like David being chosen as King of Israel, Gideon being chosen to defeat a massive army with only 300 men, Rahab the prostitute being spared from death in the victory over Jericho, little insignificant and unknown Mary to birth the Savior into the world. Talk about turning the world on its head! Just when we think we are so unfit to achieve something great, life has a way of showing us that we are the perfect person for the job!

      After Po completes a grueling training to prove he can become The Master Warrior, a sequel is released in which Po is confronted by his unknown past. (If you haven’t seen the movie, sorry that I’m giving away all the details.) So Master Shifu (pronounced She-fu) wants to teach Po how to have inner peace. The meditative chant: Inner Peace, Inner Peace…Inner Inner Peace is repeated throughout the movie, with no luck in helping Po achieve any real peace within himself. It wasn’t until the climax and height of tension that Po realizes the secret to achieving real peace, and this is where I’m hit hard every time:

The Peacock, Po’s enemy says: “How did you do it? I scarred you for life. How did you achieve inner peace?”
Po responds: “Scars heal….what matters is what you choose to be.”

        Peace, happiness, contentment, any of the things we desire in life, come only through our choosing–not by our circumstances. On most days, I think I have many reasons to be bitter: I lost my husband at the age of 24, I live 3 1/2 hours away from all my family, my most frequent places to visit are work, church and the grocery store. Unless I just specifically plan for something else, my “free time” is spent cleaning my house. So many scars…but like The Master Warrior points out to his perpetrator, I am not a victim unless I choose to be.

      Please don’t think I am minimizing hardship. Despite how tragic my story may seem, there are many who face challenges even greater and much more present: rape, homelessness, sickness, joblessness and more plague the lives of too many around us. Too many that are closer than we realize. I know from experience that when you are in the middle of a hard time, you can’t always see that even in these circumstances, you  still have a choice. Life will always be ready to inflict scars. Just don’t forget that scars really do heal: so what do you choose to be?

     Let’s learn from that adorable cartoon panda, whose parents were killed and he ended up being raised by a duck in a noodle shop, that we can truly have Inner, Inner Peace. Challenge yourself to choose magnificence in the midst of your beautiful struggles. 🙂

 

God’s Word Made Visual

             Here at Making Life Magnificent, I strive to motivate and inspire you in every area of your life. The spiritual side of you is no exception. A life without Jesus Christ, in my opinion, is no life at all.  How can we live closer to Jesus without His word? The answer is that we can’t.  So today, I want to feature some of my favorite visual scriptures and quotes that really inspire me and help build up my faith. Enjoy and share some of your own below! prayProverbs 3no eyemy peacelife guardHis planisaiahguard your heartgood couragefear notbeautifulall you have

accomplish

Should Christians Listen to Non-Christian Music?

listening to music      Although I am deeply interested in this topic, I am actually nervous to feature it on Making Life Magnificent. Yet, I am choosing to engage in this conversation because it’s one that MANY people are interested in: Should someone who claims to be a Christian consistently listen to music that is not Christian based? Basically, people want to know is it a sin to listen to secular music if you are a Christian?

This question reminds me of the question that was brought up to the apostle Paul by the church of Corinth when they asked, “Is it wrong to eat meat that has been offered to idols?” Paul responds by saying, “Food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.” (read the entire discussion in 1 Corinthians 8: 4-13). Paul’s answer was YES-it can be wrong and NO-it’s not wrong. What does eating food have to do with listening to music Tanya? Basically Paul wanted them to see that the entire debate was centered around heart issues. Is it wrong for Christians to listen to secular music: the answer is YES and NO.
sacred vs. secular

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Does the music you listen to on a regular basis make you want to know God better?
  • What are you most motivated to do after listening to your music?
  • Is your favorite choice of music offensive to others around you?
  • Are you listening to secular music to fit in with others?

Bogdan Kipko, author, blogger, and pastor asked this exact same question and after careful consideration stated that

Ultimately, it is not the music that saves a person but Jesus.

It is not what comes in through a persons ears that defiles a person, but rather what comes out of the mouth. But very often, what comes in through the ears, exits out of the mouth in daily conversation and decisions.

Can a person remain distinctly Christ-like while feeding on a steady diet of Kanye and Rihanna? Maybe. But I doubt it. The steady current of themes which stand in stark contrast to the gospel from these artists will inevitably make their mark upon the individual.

       I want my life to be magnificent in every area and that includes my spirit. Saying I am a Christian and Living like I am a Christian are very different and it’s the everyday things that can seem really vague.  It takes honesty, prayer and personal reflection for you to determine the right answer to this topic question. Be real with yourself! For some the answer to the question is a resounding YES…it is wrong for a Christian to listen to other music because it influences you too much for wrong. And for others, your answer is NO…as long as it’s all kept in balance, you can listen to secular music and still grow in the Lord. I think the most important piece to remember is that we want to find our answer to this question from HIM and HIS WORD only! Well meaning family and friends will be eager to tell you what they think, but your walk with God is an individual one…they can’t walk it for you.

    So as you wonder more about this in your own life, meditate on these scriptures as a guide to finding the answer that’s right for you:

You may have more scriptures or insights to share and I would love to hear it! We are all striving to Make Life Magnificent, so don’t be shy in responding. 🙂

 

   

 

How Can Struggling Be Beautiful?

    “For we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose for them.” ~Romans 8:28 (NLT)

 

       This blog is about my attempt to Make Life Magnificent in every area despite the hardships life inevitably presents. That’s why my subtitle begins with The Beautiful Struggles of… Yet, when you think of the word “struggle,” the last thing that may come to mind is “beautiful,” or even magnificent! This leads to why I posted the Bible verse above: Romans 8:28.

        Throughout my life, I’ve heard this verse so many times in so many contexts. Whenever I’ve faced tough times, I actually felt resentful of this Bible verse. How can losing my job or my home be for my good? How can going through a divorce be for my good? Or how can the death of someone I love be for my good? I especially asked these questions when I became a young widow. The problem in my understanding was the definition I used for the word “good.”

We use good to describe all sorts of things:

  • Wow this food smells GOOD!
  • Your perfume smells really good.
  • Campbell’s Soup tastes Mmm! Mmm! Good!
  • That was a good movie
  • I’m doing good today. (When I hear this one I cringe because you should say I’m doing well…but that’s the English teacher in me! Sorry)

I could go on and on. We use good to describe all sorts of things and it almost always means something pleasant, pleasing, and satisfying. Perhaps when GOD talks about working everything (even the bad things) out for our good, He may have a different idea in mind. Not that His definition of good is synonymous with bad, but maybe He chooses to look at what’s good for us beyond physical, tangible things.

I can speak of my struggles with being single, raising a son, or working as a teacher in an urban school as being beautiful because I choose to believe that even in my hardships, GOD sees the bigger picture and is working on my behalf. I’m not implying that God is like a Santa Claus waiting to just give me whatever I want; however, he is like a Father that definitely wants the best for His children.

So I struggle with some things. In my struggles, I press forward. I’ll now be sharing those beautiful struggles with you. Please feel free to share yours as well.

You never know how your test can used as a testimony to bless someone else’s life.

Below I’ve included some quotes about struggling that are really uplifting to me. negatives

oprah quote

don't!life is a beautiful struggle

The Greatest Gift for Christmas

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Christmas 2013 is here!! Can you hear those sleigh bells ringing?! Well, it’s almost here. Today I am spending Christmas Eve with my in-laws and already it’s going crazy! A water pipe burst in the middle of the night knocking out water supply for every house on the street. A house full of people for Christmas Eve and we have no running water! (which is going to make using the bathroom very interesting)

So we’ve been spending the morning buying gallons of water… and baking cookies. Yes, you heard me right. No hair pulling or yelling or going bananas. Just watching old Christmas movies and making desserts. You’d think the water news would put a damper in the Christmas festivities, but the Spirit of Christmas is still going strong. My mother-in-law just said to me, “Today is going to be a great day.” “Yes it is,” I said back to her. And it’s true. The water may not come back on until tomorrow or the next day. Who knows, the sky may even fall before the day ends! But Christmas is still here and so are we.

Although all the presents are still neatly wrapped under the tree, I realized something that I’ve heard time and time again: the best part of Christmas doesn’t come in wrapping paper with pretty bows on it, the best part of Christmas isn’t even a physical gift at all. We already know this truth, but it’s so easy to get swept up in all the activities, advertisements and hoopla of the holidays that we forget the most important thing: PEOPLE. The greatest gift for Christmas is being able to spend it with people that love you and care for you. Even beyond that, the greatest gift of Christmas is spending it celebrating the birth of Jesus who loves you and cares for you even more than the people he’s blessed you with.

Let’s remember today that someone out there may not have this realization. Reach out and make life magnificent for someone else today and tomorrow. Don’t just send a crummy text message either! (Although I guess a text is better than nothing at all.) Call someone, visit them, send some love towards family and friends today.

Great Christmas Eve indeed. Comment below on what your family is doing for Christmas Eve and Christmas today. I would love to hear your stories 🙂

What Are You Seeking?

searching

Seek in Webster’s Dictionary is defined as: to try to find, to search for; to aim for; to look around; to hunt or go in pursuit of; go running for

In Matthew 7:7a (KJV) it says “Ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find…”This word SEEK is mentioned in Matthew again earlier in Chapter 6, verse 33 when he says, “Seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness…”In Isaiah 55:6 the prophet tells the people to “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”

Seek in Biblical terms isn’t implying to just look around casually, it implies a deep desire for the object of your pursuit. Is God lost? Why does the Bible tell us to look for Him as if He is indeed missing???

Life can be so busy and these days we have a lot of background noise pulling our attention away from God. These things are not necessarily bad things, they are parts of our everyday life: work, family, and school. But remember God wants to be #1 in your life! So He reminds us throughout scripture to push all those “life distractions” aside and focus only on Him. Remember seeking isn’t just looking, it’s also desiring. Do you desire God enough “to hunt for or go in pursuit” of Him?

To help you remember the importance of seeking Him first, think of a B.A.G. These three letters will offer some practical things you can do to begin seeking God more intentionally:

1. Become Isolated
If there are lots of other people around you, they will distract you from focusing on connecting with God. So find a quiet or secluded place where you can pray and read your Bible alone. If this is too difficult, choose a time of the day or night when everyone around you is asleep or busy, so that you can seek God in silence.

praying alone

2. Abandon Electronics
Just like physical people in your presence can be distracting, people in the cyber world can be even more distracting. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social networking sites are awesome at staying connected, but when you are dedicated to seeking God consistently, these sites can suck your focus away from that. Try to use a physical Bible for your quiet time instead of the Bible apps available on your phone or IPad, which also have apps for social sites that pull you away from seeking God.

bible

3. Get Accountability
Just like I mentioned earlier, life can just become busy! We may have the best intentions of having quiet time in the Word with the Lord, but everyday life will get in the way. So get help…choose an accountability partner. Someone you trust that will serve as a check-in to help you remember to find consistent times to grow your spiritual walk.
This person needs to be someone who:

  1. …is understanding & nonjudgmental
  2. …is also seeking God
  3. …is able to be honest and offer firm encouragement when you need it

Two female college students studying together

So what are you seeking?

Just Look At You!

Psalm 100:3 offers a beautiful reminder that “God made us…” Although this statement seems quite simple, when you think about it, it is so liberating. The Almighty, All Knowing, Alpha & Omega, Creator of the entire universe took time out of His busy schedule to create you! Every feature and flaw was all apart of His glorious design for you. Just look at what else scripture says concerning this:

Psalm 139:14 I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…
Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship [masterpiece] created in Christ Jesus…
Jeremiah 1:5 (Amplified) Before I formed you in the womb, I knew and approved of
you…

What should WE say concerning this? Back in Psalm 100, immediately after verse three talks about how he made us, it tells us in verse four to enter into his gates with thanksgiving. Is this an arrogant boasting and ostentatious display of ourselves? No. It is a great reminder that in Christ, we can have an humble confidence that everything about us was carefully planned for HIS glory. If we don’t have it, we probably don’t need it!

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Let’s rejoice that God made us. 🙂