Thursday, January 18, 2018

INTENTIONAL LIVING - It's a Choice.



Would you rather float down a lazy river or swim across the ocean? That's an easy question for me; I'd pick lazy river nearly every time. I love the relaxation and ease. You don't have to really worry about where you're floating; the jet streams do that for you. You get to kick back and relax. Swimming the ocean, however, is vastly different and way more difficult. You actually have to make decisions. You are the one that has to take control, or else the ocean will control you. At the beginning of this year, I was thinking about what I wanted to focus on this year. A few years ago, I'd done the one word challenge, and I knew I wanted to do it again this year.

I chose Intentional as my word of 2018. Intentional means "done with intention or on purpose; intended," according to dictionary.com. I want to choose God first in every circumstance. I want to choose to be joyful despite my emotions. I want to choose to love even when that other person isn't loving me back. I want to choose to be like Jesus. I want to choose life, not death. I want to choose to speak life to everyone. I want to choose to be FEARLESS and FREE and STRONG.

I've finally chosen a tagline for The SoCal Gal: "Intentionally living with purpose." As Christians, in our walk with God, we must choose our daily decisions. Everything we do affects something. Did you thank the last person who gave something to you? That could leave her grateful and happy for your courtesy and thankfulness. Did you yell at your little brother when he was annoying you? That could leave bitterness and make your relationship drift.

Being intentional means making choices with a specific reason in mind. One thing I would like to work on doing more intentionally is praying and reading my Bible more. I would like to exercise more self-control and gratefulness as well. It's so easy to slack off and forget to pray because "I'm so tired" or not have my devotion in the morning because "I don't have time" or give in and say yes to a bad choice because "What's one more time?"

Being intentional means saying no to ungodliness and conforming to the world. This is one problem in life that's really hit me this past year: how many Christians conform to the world. It might not always seem obvious, but doing anything that tolerates sin even a little is wrong. This could be spending time with the wrong crowd, lying, believing anything against the Bible, making social media your number one or making fun of the president.

Being intentional means knowing your purpose. What is your purpose on earth? Are you living that out, or is that "purpose" just a cover-up for what you really stand for?

In the next few posts, we'll be covering these three topics. I'm so excited for this new series! This week, I challenge you to:

  • Examine your heart and ask yourself what purpose you are living for
    • Is that the purpose you want it to have?
    • What's something you can change to make your purpose + actions coherent?
  • Pray for intentional living
    • In your life
    • In your family
    • In your friends
  • Choose to do, say and think things with purpose
    • Know the impact these actions have and use them for His glory!
  • Ask yourself if the current is guiding you, or are you guiding the current
    • Current = the world's ways
    • You can either go with the flow or go against the flow

Monday, December 25, 2017

Music Monday - "Real Love" by Hillsong Young & Free

Merry Christmas, friends! Today I want to share a song with you. It's not a Christmas song, however, it does describe what Christmas is centered around - Jesus' real, perfect love for us. Hope you enjoy this song, and savor it's meaning. 


REAL LOVE IS WORTH DYING FOR.
REAL LOVE LASTS FOREVER.
REAL LOVE IS JESUS.

In our day and age, love is being sold for getting whatever you want, fulfilling your happiness and everything. This is true, but it's unattainable by anyone other than Jesus. Why? Because people are sinful. They can still love, but they don't have perfect love. Their emotions often sway their so-called love, and dash it to pieces. Real love does not forsake. Real love does not die. Real love does not hide. 1 John 3:16 (NLT) says,
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.
Jesus is the perfect example of real love because He really was perfect. Experiencing this radical love can happen and has happened with millions of people. It's supernatural.

Are you experiencing real love?

Sunday, December 24, 2017

12 Days of Christmas 2017 - Day 12: Christ at the Center

Merry Christmas, lovelies!

I'm sure you've heard it many times, but in "Christmas" is the word "Christ." Christmas. Christ is at the center of this holiday, and no matter how much this culture tries to deny that, whether by saying some other greeting without His name in it, or insisting this holiday is just about giving or love, it all comes back to Christ.

No matter how much the world tries, it can't get rid of Christ. Especially not at Christmas.

Some people say Christmas is all about love. Well, it is! It's about God showing us His perfect love though Jesus, and then Jesus showing us His perfect love to God and also to us by obeying His Father.

Others saying Christmas is about giving. God gave Jesus to us and we celebrate His earthly birth. That is why we give gifts at Christmas - to remember the ultimate gift God gave to us.

See, even though people try to take away Christ from Christmas, they still grab parts of the truth and part of His actions. Just as Christ is at the center of "Merry Christmas," so should Christ be in the center of your heart - this year and always.

Quick shoutout to my amazing guest writers, Drew, Emma, Gabriel Brown, Gloria Kluth and Leanne Zuiderveen. Couldn't have done this series without you guys, so thank you for all the time and effort you threw into your beautiful posts. You. Are. Awesome!

Lastly, thank YOU, my readers, for sticking around and reading my blog. Hope you have a fabulous holiday celebrating the birth of our amazing Savior. May God bless you with the incredible joy that comes with knowing the truth about Christ - His perfect love, example and sacrifice given to us so we could become sons of God. Merry Christmas.

~ Kaitlyn

Saturday, December 23, 2017

12 Days of Christmas 2017 - Day 11: The Christmas Lights

Last night my family visited a neighborhood that decks out their houses with Christmas lights, inflatables and painted wooden decor. From afar, the house just look luminous and pretty, the bulbs  or signs just floating here and there. But when you look closer up, you start to notice all the wires and poles that hold them up. It got me thinking, People are just like Christmas lights. From afar, they can look all put together and perfect, but when you take a look closer, you can see how much they rely on other people to help hold them up. This Christmas, even though everyone looks happy with their smiles at each register, we should see if they're really okay or if they need a comforting shoulder. I literally thought that, and I was, like, "Ooh, that'll be my next post." But seriously, this is so true. Employees are saying, "Merry Christmas!" and people smile back and echo the greeting, but deep down, their facial expressions are plastered on rather than natural reactions. Maybe it's because they lost a loved one and it's just another reminder that they're spending it without him or her. Maybe it's because they're depressed. Maybe they're worried about money. Whatever it is, I want to give you a challenge. When you're extra cheerful this season, remember why, and be sincere about it! Don't just think, "Oh, it's Christmas; I'll pretend I'm joyful." Think to yourself, "Jesus came to earth to renew brokenness, so we should follow His example and show love to the broken around us!" Yes, it's usually easy during this time of the year to be happy, but I want you to be intentional about it. No matter whether or not you feel like it, try really hard to remember why you're doing this. Is it to impress others or to give glory to God? 
 
Unlike these Christmas lights, which are seasonal, I want you to be unconditional about this attitude. No matter what day it is, or how you're feeling, try to remember that you don't always know someone's story. Be kind and flexible. Remember that some people are really good at hiding their feelings and that some people aren't as perfect as they might seem. Let's choose joy over judgment this season and ultimately, every season. Remember the Christmas lights!

Can you believe tomorrow brings Christmas Eve? I hope you've enjoyed the 12 Days of Christmas 2017 series so far and our five guest writers! There's one last post tomorrow...be sure to read it. :) God bless you, and may the Holy Spirit's wisdom and discernment guide you on how to best care for others around you and spread infectious joy to all. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

12 Days of Christmas 2017 - Day 10: [Guest Post] Give or Receive?

Let me ask you a question. In this world, do you think Christmas is about giving or receiving? It’s totally about receiving, of course. But what about you? When it’s Christmas time, do you look forward to giving or receiving presents more? I’ve always loved giving, but who doesn’t like receiving?

I mean, we’re humans. We were born selfish. And we’re okay this way. It’s a natural part of our lifestyle, and we don’t need to change, right?

This is what Satan whispers to us, but that’s NOT how Christians should be. We are to take up our cross and deny ourselves. We are to put others’ needs above ourselves. We are to love our neighbors as we would love ourselves. We are to let go of our own wants. The Bible tells us, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

I know that I’ve been incredibly blessed by my own blog. While that may sound really strange, whenever I’m tempted to do something, I am reminded not only by Scripture but also by my own words, my own posts. It gives me the determination to live out those words and to not just be a sayer but a doer. I have been blessed by giving all of you my blog!

And this year...well, I don’t feel the need for presents anymore. Every since truly understanding the truth that there are less than well-off kids out there who maybe haven’t even received a single present in their lives, well, I can’t bring myself to buy things for my own want as easily as before. It touches my heart when I hear about people who don’t even have food for tomorrow! How can I buy unnecessary things when I know there are people who could use it more than me? So now, every time I go shopping and see something I “need,” the Holy Spirit reminds me about the needier people out there. The twenty dollars I could spend on a cute sweater could instead be used to get food for someone who desperately needs it. Even the ten dollars I want to use to buy some random cool thingamabobby could give a needy child a toy or a new shirt! The Holy Spirit has really been driving me to look for the needs of others. And I don’t want this all to become talk- I want to find a ministry I can donate to and get plugged in.

This Christmas season, I challenge you to reach out. There’s always someone who’s going to be lost. There’s always someone who you can help. Jesus came down - as a baby into a manger surrounded by stinky shepherds and animals - to save me, to save you. He was humbled and He also died on a cross so that we could come into a relationship with God. Jesus was the Son of God, but nothing stopped Him from coming down to die for us. God loved us sooooo much that He would send His own Son to die on a cross for us! He is God and we are sinners! How significant is that! And because He did all that for you, you can surely spare a couple of minutes to reach out to someone! Jesus died for you...He gave you everything you own. God has given us so much and we should follow His example and be generous with what we have been blessed with.

And there are people who need to hear this story. Don’t you want them to know about Jesus? Don’t you want them to hear the beautiful gospel story- the real Christmas story? It is never too late to become a Christian! Forget the past - God still loves you! Start fresh! And the Christmas season is a perfect time to give the gift of Jesus...to share the gospel story with a lost soul. You can do this. God will always be with you. It will be nerve-wracking at first, but once you do it once, the next time will be easier, the next time even easier, and so on until it comes naturally. I hear you, I, too, have fears and am trying to tackle this faith-sharing obstacle, just like you (or most of you). God will give you strength and courage. This is important, and I want you all to know that I will be praying for you, I love you all, and with all of my heart, I hope you will take this bit of advice and reach out.

Because giving is much better than receiving.


Emma is a teen Christian blogger who strives to encourage and strengthen others. She’s been blogging for less than a year, but God has shown her many things through this blogging process. Some of her hobbies including volleyball, reading, blogging (of course), but hanging out with family and friends definitely beats all of the above.
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