On Lent

Lent is nearly upon us! I know what you’re thinking because I used to think the same way.  “Ugh, Lent is so dreary and now I have to give something up that I like.  Boo.”

Maybe we forget that Lent is not about moping around.  Lent is not just about making sure that we make our obligatory thanks and sacrifice to Jesus for what He did for us.  Lent is our reminder of how truly, deeply, passionately, and eternally we are loved.  Let’s take a look.

Do you remember a time when someone did something really nice for you? It could have been your mom, sibling, friend, anyone.  Maybe you appreciated it even more because you felt as if you didn’t deserve what they did for you.  Made you feel really good, didn’t it? And now when you think about what the person did for you it makes you smile.  It inspires you to be a little kinder to someone in turn.  You are grateful to have that person in your life! So what does this have to do with Lent? Well, it’s the same with Jesus.  No one will ever make the most perfect sacrifice for you in your entire life.  And guess what? He would do it all over again even if you were the only person on the planet.  Now we come to my second point.  I said that when you think of that nice thing someone did for you, it lights you up.  Receiving that unconditional love made you feel really, really good.  So I wonder why some people, including myself, seem to neglect that joy that we should feel when we think of Jesus’ sacrifice.  Of course, we need to be respectfully solemn about something so serious as our Lord’s passion and death.  Ignoring that aspect, ignoring the Cross, is a terribly wrong thing to do.  However, we need to join the sad part of Lent to our joyful gratefulness for what Jesus did for us.  To say “us” though, isn’t really proper.  As the ultimate Common Good of the Universe, Jesus made his sacrifice for everyone and each one.  In other words, for you.  Looking at the Cross shouldn’t fill us with sadness.  It should be a reminder of Jesus’ unfathomable love! And yes, even though you may be thinking “I barely talk with Jesus,” or “I haven’t been to Church in forever.  I don’t count,” I’m going to politely ask you to shut up.  Because you count more than you could ever know and Jesus is insanely, insanely in love with you.  Lent is the perfect opportunity to rekindle or even begin your relationship with God.  And if you’re feeling unworthy or wondering if you’re doing the right thing, look at the Cross.  Our Lord’s burden is the ultimate reminder of His love.  So take up your personal cross and follow Jesus on his road to Calvary.  As you follow him through him the darkness, He will lead you to the light of Easter.  And be joyful! Lent is for us.  Lent if for you.

God bless and have a wonderful Lent,

– Julia

While I Was Away…

Holy cow it’s been nine whole days since I’ve made a post! To all of my amazing readers, I apologize! I haven’t been just sitting around twiddling my thumbs and watching Say Yes To The Dress though.  Here are all of the things I’ve been up to that have prevented me from blogging.

1. Playing gigs with my band

2. Practicing with my band and learning Christmas songs

3. Writing a paper

4. Writing a paper about how I wrote the previous paper

5. Writing the midterm assignment paper

6. Studying for the midterm

7. Taking the midterm

8. Modeling in a local fashion show

9. Ugly crying with joy over my new PS4

10. Hitting that busy point where essentials such as eating and sleeping are something you need to “make time for”.

So yeah, that’s what I’ve been up to lately! I’m grateful that God has put these things in my life to keep me busy, but at the same time, finding a balance between OH MY GOSH SO STRESSFUL SO MUCH ANXIETY GET AWAY FROM ME EVERY SECOND OF MY TIME IS PRECIOUS AND IF I FAIL THIS MIDTERM I WILL END UP AS A HOBO and “Oh no, I don’t need to get that done right now.  I can definitely watch 10 more episodes of Parks and Recreation in the mean time.  Wait, midterm, what midterm?” is tricky.  Hearing God’s voice in the din of our hectic lives can be even harder.  But I don’t think God is limited to speaking to us in absolute silence, although that is one of the best ways for us to listen to Him.  He’s everywhere.  He places events, opportunities, and people in our lives and speaks through them.  And maybe being silent doesn’t mean retreating to a cabin in the middle of nowhere (although that certainly sounds appealing sometimes).  Can we be silent anywhere? I don’t mean not saying a word at all, to anyone.  I mean can our hearts be silent? Can our minds? I know my mind is like the Energizer Bunny with ADD.  The average person thinks 50,000 thoughts per day, but mine certainly feels like millions and millions are going crazy in my head.  Oh, and that doesn’t mean that they’re intelligent thoughts or anything.  Most of them are crazy stories or characters I make up or hypothetical situations with a .1% chance of happening where I have to make a huge decision that will decide the fate of the universe.  A lot of it is just junk stuff though, i.e. worry.  And that’s a bigger waste of brain cells than reality TV.  One of the keys that I’ve learned to being interiorly silent is getting rid of worry.  Think of stressful thoughts and anxiety as some doofus with a megaphone that won’t shut up.  He insults you, doubts you, makes you feel bad about yourself, and just annoys you until you can’t take it anymore.  And every time you listen to him, the megaphone gets bigger and bigger.

He’s like this @$&^!*$* from Duck Hunt.  Grr.

So how do we shut this guy up? It’s simple: we have to shut up.  Because guess what? PLOT TWIST.  That laughing dog is your own subconscious! *gasp* And every time the dog – you – tells you something negative and you buy it, you’re cutting yourself off from hearing what God has to say to you.  Why? Because God only wants to tell us positive things.  Not like, “Hey, Julia, I’m letting you off the hook with that paper! Go do whatever you want to!” but “Hey, Julia, I know what you’re dealing with now and it’s all going to be ok because I love you and I will never leave you to handle it alone.”

That sounds like a pretty awesome message to me, but unfortunately, we let our crazy lives and all the worries that go with them get in the way of hearing it.  So, what I’ve learned and what I’m telling you here is to think happy! And trust me, I’m not this type of person at all, although I’d like to be:

It’s more like having a realistic yet positive outlook on life.  And yes, despite the awful, horrible crap that we all go through, despite the atrocious things humanity does to one another, despite that weight on your shoulders right now, and despite the fact that Degrassi is *still* on, we all have a reason to be positive.  A guy that maybe you’ve never even met or talked to died for you, specifically.  He didn’t die for the human race.  He died for you.  And He died for your mom, specifically.  For your brother, specifically.  For your friend.  Because He loves each of us personally and intimately.  And here’s more good news: you can trust Him with everything.  You can trust that when He says that He’s there for you, He will be there.  Basically, you are never, ever, ever alone.  So finally, being truly silent isn’t equivalent to becoming a mime.  Being truly silent is having a heart that blocks out the noise of negativity we try to tell ourselves and is constantly in union with God.  It’s almost like an unending phone conversation with God without the awkward silence on either end when you run out of things to talk about.  Sometimes it’s just knowing that He’s on the other line.  In our crazy, busy, noisy world, the silence of God is what gets us through with joy and peace.

– Julia

100 Things That I’ve Learned

One of my grandfather’s favorite things to tell me was that you learn something new every day.  I believe in that, but have found that life only teaches us when we pay attention.  I’m only seventeen years old, but lately I’ve been trying to listen to life’s lessons.   Here are 100 things that I’ve learned so far.

1. Let yourself learn something new every day

2. God isn’t in the thunder and the lightning, but in the whispers of our hearts

3. Push yourself to do better

4. Don’t be too hard on yourself 

5. God, family, food 

6. Nobody likes to listen to the dream you had last night.  Nobody.  

7. Popcorn tastes incredible on hot dogs

8. Don’t let your mind wander if you can’t bring it back 

9. Your mom can be your best friend

10. So can your dad

11. Everything in moderation

12. Listen to new music

13. Make sure that who you are is who you want to be

14. Nobody else can do what you were meant to do

15. You are never, ever alone

16. Appreciate nature

17. Think 

18. Write it out

19. Read the classics.  

20. Read the new stuff. 

21. Just read a lot, in general 

22. The Rain Song by Led Zeppelin is the best song to cry to

23. Take a risk.  Take a chance.  Make a change.  

24. Give social media a break

25. Call your grandma

26. Learn the family stories 

27. Popularity is ridiculously overrated 

28. You don’t need a million “best” friends

29. Money isn’t everything, but it’s important

30. You can’t make big decisions by yourself.  Pray a lot 

31. Be well-rounded

32. Be generous

33. Be grateful always

34. But don’t be a jerk

35. Always check to see if you have something between your teeth after meals

36. Be kind to your waiter

37. Do NOT order Italian food at a non-Italian restaurant

38. Don’t do things halfway

39. Let your walls down

40. Being vulnerable is not the worst thing in the world

41. Apologize, even if the other person doesn’t

42. Don’t freak out if you feel like your teen years aren’t the “best of your life.”  The best is yet to come

43. It’s never as good as it seems, it’s never as bad as it seems 

44. Please, cut down on the selfies 

45. Be respectful and polite to everyone

46. But don’t be a doormat.  That’s bad 

47. There is only one you.  Therefore, you are unique.  Let it show

48. Keep your promises

49. It’s okay to be sad

50. “Lighten up, Francis” 

51. Laugh at yourself

52. Don’t laugh at other people.  Laugh near other people. (Just kidding)  

53. Get out of your comfort zone

54. Just breathe

55. Don’t set your expectations way up in space.  That’s a good way to get disappointed 

56. Keep your standards high, though

57. Don’t forget your sense of humor

58. Put an end to procrastination (insert obligatory procrastination joke here) 

59. Develop your personal style

60. THIS DOES NOT MEAN ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING GOES 

61. It’s OK to be a nerd

62. It’s OK to be a jock

63. It’s OK to be a prep 

64. It’s great to be yourself

65. You have a talent.  Find it

66. Introverts are not better than extroverts.  Extroverts are not better than introverts

67. If you love something, show it

68. Don’t base your life expectations on TV 

69. Be eclectic.  You can like The Civil Wars and Avenged Sevenfold at the same time

70. Don’t live in the past

71. Don’t live in the future

72. You don’t have to agree with everything

73. Avoid cliches.  (anyone else tired of the bacon thing?) 

74. Don’t be ignorant, but please, if you like a celebrity DON’T READ THEIR WIKIPEDIA BIO 

75. Be a good listener

76. RELAX

77. Believe in Santa Claus

78. Give your mom a hug when you wake up

79. Let suffering make you a better person

80. Little kids can teach you important lessons

81. BUTTERFLIES ARE TERRIFYING CLOSE UP – http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20121119015627/spongebob/images/thumb/7/79/Wormy_Butterfly_Close.jpg/640px-Wormy_Butterfly_Close.jpg

82. Write down your inside jokes so you don’t forget them

83. Give things and people a chance, for crying out loud

84. Don’t live just to be “in a relationship”

85. Video games are art (try The Last of Us, Journey, or Kingdom Hearts if you don’t believe me) 

86. Be humble

87. You are loved

88. Ask questions and find answers 

89. Just care

90. Be proud of yourself

91. Get excited

92. Face your fears

93. Silence is golden.  Unnecessary chattering is that old penny you saw in the gutter with gum stuck to it 

94. Separate opinion from fact 

95. Let yourself laugh

96. Let yourself cry

97. Punch apathy right in the kisser

98. Just say no to uggs

99. Your life is meaningful

100. Make it worth remembering 

– Julia

Keeping Your Head When You’re In Love With Love

The Daily Suck

Even though I suck at being a teenage girl, there is one thing that I share with my peers and that thing is being in love with love.  Yes, I’ll admit it.  The girl who loves video games and tries her best to be an individual is still a seventeen-year-old teenager who’s a huge sucker for romance.  Although I don’t enjoy the Nicholas Sparks or Twilight-esque kinds of stuff, I will go nuts for a really well-done love story.  I kind of get really super annoyed when that part of me flares up, as I know it will only lead to sad songs on repeat and dramatically staring off into the distance while hoping that my one true love will just fall from the sky.

The logical side of my brain tells me to stop being such a girl, but my emotions just keep dreaming of my happily ever after and it really gets on my nerves.  Why? Because I know better than that.

All of us women know how this goes.  See an attractive male or a romance that’s just so perfectly romantic on TV or in a movie? That’s it.  Nobody could ever possibly be as incredible, as handsome, as witty, as irresistible as said character or as perfect as said romance and you will never EVER find happiness again.

There’s bad news and good news to this problem.

The bad news is that you’ll have your sad period where all of your emotions wage bitter war against your peace of mind.  The good news is that they’re only emotions, and by nature they will go away.  That’s not to say that your longing for love and acceptance will never go away; only that the feeling itself does not have to dictate your entire existence.

Let me lay down some groundwork for this post.  Firstly, every human being at some point or other has felt that ache for a meaningful relationship, myself included.  It’s like, when we see a love story that we really like, a light flashes in our hearts saying “That’s it! That’s what will make me happy!”.  This is partly true.  God has created us to be loved and to love in return and if you’re being called to marriage, than the fulfillment of that vocation will give you more earthly joy than you imagine.  Ready to get your mind blown? Listen up.  Love itself is not the feeling that you get when you look at someone.  When you say “I love you”, you are not telling that person “You make me feel good”.  Love is a choice.  In a world that has absolutely no understanding of that previous sentence, I’ll say it again.  Love is a choice.  Love means the total-giving of the self to another, so when you say “I love you” to somebody, you’re really saying “I would sacrifice myself for your sake”.  Pretty heavy, right? Unfortunately in our day, love is either said too carelessly or not even part of the equation at all.

Now just because we know the true meaning of love doesn’t mean that going about it is any easier.  If anything, learning the true, self-sacrificial meaning of love makes us want it even more because it’s so beautiful and romantic.  And it totally is.  Loving God and loving another person — whether as a boyfriend or girlfriend, parent, sibling, friend, whatever — is the single greatest thing that we as people can do.  It’s what we’re meant for.  And sometimes, it really sucks being in singlesville.  This next thing is one of the hardest lessons to learn for me personally, but it’s absolutely essential if you ever want to find happiness with your true love.  You cannot love another person utterly and completely until you love yourself.  This is extremely hard to do, especially on bad days, but I promise that it’s for the best. You absolutely cannot stake your happiness on finding that “special someone” because some days those happy feelings won’t be there or your boyfriend/girlfriend will make you mad and then you’re stuck because you never had that internal happiness of loving yourself in the first place.  I’m not saying it’s easy.  I struggle to be content with just myself, and it’s easy to fall in that trap of despairing of the existence of your future beloved, especially in our teen years.  Add the pressure of the media that says you just HAVE to be “in a relationship” and it makes for a pretty daunting task.  But you will thank yourself for deciding to truly love yourself in the long run.  Not to be melodramatic, but your entire future could literally count on this choice.  If you do not respect yourself as a person, you can never give that same respect to another.  In turn, they cannot give it to you.

So believe it or not, God puts these longings in our hearts for a reason.  We’re being called to love another person in marriage, which is an absolutely beautiful thing.  The tricky thing is keeping those horrendous things called emotions in check.  Not to say that you shouldn’t let yourself feel them, (which I’ve talked about: http://isuckatbeingateenagegirl.com/2013/08/26/i-hate-feelings-but-its-ok-to-feel/) but you can’t let them rule your head.  I get it.  I love love, romance, all that cheesy stuff, and that’s fine.  I want it so much, and I bet you have too at some point in your life.  And if you remember to be patient and love yourself, that person will come into your life one day.  But don’t let that dream ruin the life you have now.  Enjoy being single! Enjoy all the other people in your life that love you and, please, just love being yourself.  Get rid of all those expectations (and I don’t mean standards) and just take it day-by-day.  This is so hard to do as a teenager, and a lot of the time, I think we don’t have this romance that we desire because we’re just not ready.  So get ready! Work on becoming the person that makes you happy, and will eventually make someone else happy too.  Believe me, if it’s meant to happen, it will happen, as long as you listen to what God wants for you.  If your life is an amazing story, then you don’t want to rush into the next chapters.  Be in love with Chapter 1.  And once that person enters your life, you’ll be ready to be loved and love them in return.  Love is awesome.  And it’s worth waiting for.

– Julia