Christian Living, Holiday Specials

New Year—New Expectations, Part 1: Fulfilling Resolutions

It’s upon us yet again: a new year. 2022 is just around the corner. Let me rephrase that.

2022 is in just several hours.

2021 is finally over, and 2020 is far behind us! I’m going to be honest, my post for the conclusion of 2020 was maybe a bit unfair to the poor year. It was a year full of immense discouragement, but God also blessed me in several ways. As we begin to look beyond 2021, I’m going to say it: 2021 was a tense, not-so-amazing year, but it definitely had it’s pros, and lots of it.

Now enough of that, hehe. Look, even as you read this 2022 nears us! We all know what a new year comes with. New resolutions, hopes, and expectations. The idea of expecting is the theme in this two-part series. Last year I came into 2021 with thoughts more, say, realistic than others. I believed that it was likely ‘21 would be no better than ‘20. And that worked out well for my brain. Now I’m coming into ‘22 with a similar mindset: Things could be worse than this year, things could be better, or things could stay the same; I will try to trust God fully either way. But I still have my plans for this year—which I will talk about tomorrow in part 2—and I’m sure you do too.

We all know how it is with new year resolutions, that they just never turn out. In a Phineas and Ferb episode, Dr. Doofensmirtch fired a machine that made everyone’s new year resolution the same: to obey his every command. After the clock struck 12, he shouted out an order for all of them to follow him as he walked out the door. When he noticed no one was obeying he asked why. One of them said, “well everyone knows no one ever fulfills their resolutions!” XD Funny show, that Phineas and Ferb. Anyway, it’s true that many, if not most, resolutions do not turn out. But some do. Today I want to explain to you several practices that could save your resolutions from flying off with the wind.

Meditate on Each Resolution.

Before you jump into anything, you need to remember to meditate and pray. Sometimes your emotions get stirred up and you forget to consult with your Heavenly Father. He knows best. Ask Him before you make an important decision.

Start Slowly.

If you get the ‘okay’ from God, then when you start with whatever you’re doing, start slowly. If your resolution is to spend time at the gym and you were planning to go four days a week, start with one day a week. Then once you’ve got that ‘in the bag,’ go two times a week. Then three. Finally, when you know you’re serious about this and you’re confident and strong, go four days a week. Same concept with running goals; writing goals; food goals; etc. Ease into it.

Find Accountability.

We all need accountability in some areas of our lives. For everyone who has a resolution, you need accountability. If you’re goal is to talk to an unbeliever at school about Christ once a week, no one is going to automatically notice whether you are or aren’t doing it—only Jesus, you, and the person you did, or didn’t, talk to. None of your friends or family are going to automatically know if you did it or not, So you need to personally request that someone make sure you did it. Say it’s your best friend. Tell them your goal, and to make sure you aren’t lying about doing it, make sure they are present when you are witnessing.

If it’s about things more personal, sometimes it’s weird to request a person, even a family member, to keep you accountable. But it is vital. You need an accountability partner or mentor especially if it’s something personal.

If you’re plan is to pray at least ten times a day, do you know how easy it is to lie about that? “Hey, did you remember to pray?” “Yeah.” “Nice!” Easy as that. So you need to be honest about it. And remember, God sees you. He knows if you’re praying or not. You can fool any human, but not God.

Even if God is always watching you, you still do need a physical, visible person to help you. Make sure they’re someone either ahead of the game or struggling with you. Not some passive person who hardly understands your situation at all.

You’re human, therefore imperfect.

As you jump into this new year, remember this: you are human, and therefore you. Are. Not. Perfect. You are not superhuman. You’re just not, and you never will be till you reach Heaven. You may not fully accomplish your resolution, and that’s not good, but it’s okay. Feel me? Just repent to your partner or mentor and to God, and try again.

If you keep failing. . . 1. Maybe you’re going to hard. 2. Maybe you need to be kept more accountable. 3. Maybe you shouldn’t even be doing it. If #1 & 2 have been fixed, maybe it’s #3. If so, pray about it more. Talk to a spiritual mentor about it.


Either way, throughout the highs and lows of this new year, trust in Jesus. He loves you, and not only knows what’s best for you, but wants what’s best for you. May you thrive this year, brother, sister, friend!

Talk to you next year! 😉

With God’s help,

Daniel L. Amador

Christian Living, Guest Posts & Blog Collabs, Holiday Specials

Thankful for the Little Things: a Blog Collab

Good morning, fellow humans! So, today’s Thanksgiving, eh? Doesn’t that mean that Christmas season is almost here?? Doesn’t that mean that 2022 is nearly here??? Hold up, what?!

*pauses* Oh, well, back to the topic, Thanksgiving! Politics, history, food, football; what really is it for our culture? *shakes head* Let’s just go to the basics: giving thanks.

Last year, if you remember, I attempted to think of ten things I was grateful for in the shortest time I could. It took me 32 seconds. Now, to express gratitude to the One who gave us everything we have this year, I’m doing a blog collab! I’ve never done one before, and don’t even know how to do it, but I tried. I’m collaborating with blogger Moriah Armstrong, from The Quill!

Wanna say hi, Moriah?

Hey there! I’m so excited to be able to do this collab with Daniel! It’s a first for me, and something I hope to be able to do again in the future. Happy Thanksgiving, by the way! 🙂

We are collectively sharing 50 things we are grateful for, of which we don’t often express our gratitude. She’ll share first, then me.

Alright, Moriah, go ahead!

Okay! Here are 25 things I am very, very grateful to have in my life:

  1. My home.
  2. Air conditioning.
  3. Food
  4. Alllll my little fur babies
  5. My friends
  6. My family
  7. Being homeschooled
  8. Clean Water
  9. Being quick to learn
  10. Writing
  11. The internet
  12. Books
  13. God
  14. Good health
  15. Access to medical care
  16. Nature
  17. My height (I can reach EVERYTHING!!!)
  18. Life
  19. Apple pie (it’s really, really good)
  20. Candles (especially the ones that smell nice…XD)
  21. Love ❤
  22. Sweaters
  23. My bicycle
  24. Chocolateeee. Yum.
  25. Clouds

*nods* Good things to be grateful for!

Now, my turn. Thank you, thanks, thanks so much, God, for. . .

  1. Pencils
  2. My beanie
  3. Comfortable weather (we don’t have any currently, but just the idea is comfortable)
  4. The livelihood of Chicago during the Christmas season (it’s coming, people! 0-o)
  5. The beauty of a candle flame, then of the smoke as it dances away until it fades.
  6. Those people that genuinely respect everyone else as equals (I know a few people like that but I’ll keep them anonymous)
  7. The times when it’s all crashing down around me and You, Jesus, are like “just hold on and I won’t let you fall away with it all”
  8. That this is my 50th post ever
  9. Sounds and smells that remind you of the happy parts of your childhood, and even make you shed a tear
  10. The fact that I have never broken a bone, gotten sicker than a mildly severe cold (surprisingly COVID had almost no effect on me), or had to visit the hospital for any other reason than check ups and visiting others—i.e., that You’ve kept me safe
  11. That You, God, have given me the strength to not. Give. Up. On writing, school, and life in general
  12. The movies classic to our family: Cheaper by the Dozen, tLotR, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, etc
  13. The many hours of hard work artists put into their music to make it amazing.
  14. Peanut butter (it’s legitimately really good)
  15. My planner
  16. Strong winds in autumn days
  17. Cool, delicious water after a long, hot run
  18. Book shelves
  19. Nylon stickers (they’re so much better than regular stickers)
  20. Always green evergreens
  21. Google Earth
  22. My shoes
  23. My grass (I have a little pot of grass in my room)
  24. Cheesecake
  25. Happy family times

And those are our collective fifty. I know we could do so much more, but that would make this post incredibly long.

As a final note, every time you do something, just think, “what can I be grateful for here?” Always remember to be thankful for even the little things. 🙂

Thank you, Moriah, for doing this with me! Be sure to check out her blog, and her version of our collab! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

With God’s help,

Daniel L. Amador

Christian Living

To the Discouraged Writer

I’m sure you’ve heard it a bunch of times; that being an author is unrealistic. You said you didn’t want to go to college, and they chided you, saying that college was the key to success. Maybe they called your ambitious goals ‘farfetched’.

Maybe at first you were determined and unyielding. “It’s been done, and if God wants me to, I can do it,” you might have said. But as you continued, you saw little improvement in your writing. As the years went by, you had little success. You’ve maybe never finished even a first draft of a single project, or come across an original story in your mind that didn’t have numerous, large plot holes that you couldn’t cover up.

There have possibly been times when you’ve fallen in love with some of your stories or characters, but then a critiquer told you that they aren’t good, or you’ve been humiliated because you showed them to others, and they were displeased and laughed at them. Don’t stop loving those stories and characters, even if they’re flawed and hardly anyone else does. Jesus still loves us despite our flaws and unpopularity. He does this because He created us and we’re all special in our own ways. Two great reasons to not stop loving your broken characters, stories, plots, settings, themes. God’s still working on His creations, so you should still work on yours.You’re not the only one with supposedly ‘bad’ quality writing, the only one who has never finished a full draft, the only one with many abandoned stories crowding your storage, the only one who’s been hurt by honest criticism, and you’re not the only one who has felt like giving up. I relate, and I know many others do relate. Keep on, my fellow writer; dreamer. Because maybe someday your dreams could become reality, and because myself and many others aren’t either. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4).

With God’s help,

Daniel L. Amador

Christian Living, Guest Posts & Blog Collabs

Tears, Testimonies, and Trust: a Guest Post

Hey, it’s me, Danny! Don’t worry I’m still totally alive! Hehe. I’ve just been very. . . busy. And that’s to anyone who was wondering why I’m posting so late and why it’s not even my post that I’m publishing. 

ANYWAY, I found someone on Ydubs (you’ve heard me talk about it before) who has a message I think some people may need to hear, especially during this pandemic, so I’m sharing it with you guys. I pray that this short but meaningful note will give you hope and peace. Alright, take it away, Eleyna Bennett!

***

It’s impossible to describe what it feels like for someone you love to die. Imagine your entire future, your plans for marriage, college, jobs, everything, just gone. Without that person in your life, nothing will ever be the same.

During those days my brother was in hospice, time slowed down. With family members and friends all around me, all here for him in his final moments. Nothing beyond the next minute, the next hour, the next day mattered.

I read a chapter of one of my favorite books to him. I had a mini sleepover with him one night. We watched a movie marathon together as a family. Every second was about him and his precious moments.

I walked into his bedroom, and saw my dad handing my brother to my grandpa. Grandpa was crying. For just a moment, I felt hope. “Is he going to be okay?” I asked. My aunt put her hand on my shoulder and said he was gone.

For weeks after that, and until the burial, I couldn’t find any peace. I fell asleep at night to his face, dreamt of it, and thought about it every waking moment. He had Leukemia, a brain issue. He never spoke or communicated, never ate or moved or did anything without help. So I had known somewhere in the back of my mind that he was living on borrowed time.

Up until that moment, I had relied on my parents’ testimonies to guide me spiritually. But with my brother gone, I now had a lot of personal searching to do. I was worried that I would never see my brother again.

I read my scriptures and said my prayers every day for a week. I didn’t find much relief or comfort. Eventually I had to search my own life for Him.

I learned that my parents were told that my brother would only live to be 2 years old. When he passed his second birthday, they said 4 at the most. When he died, he was 13, 2 years older than me. I was grateful for the time I had with him, and could thank Christ.

I knew that I couldn’t be happy for his death. Even though I knew I would see him again, I knew I would have to live without him. I could however celebrate his life, and long for when I could see him running and playing again.

I still do. I know that my brother is now with my Father, and he is happier than he was trapped in his broken body here on earth.

-Eleyna Bennett

***

To those who are or were struggling with something like Eleyna was, I hope that this message touched you, one way or another. I know many of you out there are dealing with similar things. Well, that’s all I have today. Thank you, Eleyna, for this touching message! Goodnight (or morning or whenever you’re reading this). *waves as large red curtain closes*

With God’s help,

Daniel L. Amador

Christian Living, Guest Posts & Blog Collabs

When Pursuing God is Hard

Hello readers. Today I have the pleasure of announcing RKW (the Right Kind of Writer)’s very first guest post! Our guest today is CoCo Ashley. This post is longer than the usual, but reading it is so worth it! Now, take it away CoCo.

What do you do when life is hard? When God feels silent? When you’re discouraged in your faith?

For me, I used to look back on my “mountaintop” experiences–back to when life was good or when I experienced God in a fresh way–and wish I could go back. I would get frustrated because I knew God was fully capable of doing it again, and yet for some reason, He wasn’t. For some reason, He seemingly decided it was time to halt the forward momentum and growth.

It would lead me to think that God was withholding something from me, or that I was doing something wrong because it seemed I wasn’t growing anymore. 

For example, I would go to church camp and be surrounded by all the hype, and all the leaders would tell me that I could take the truths they had preached during the week home with me. But then I’d get home and stare at the ceiling, wondering where all the joy and excitement had gone. 

However, what I’ve come to learn is that, sometimes, God doesn’t want to do it again. He doesn’t want to give us the same experiences or feelings because He wants to give us something new. Something better. Something we never would have thought possible. And we’ll never discover something new if we are constantly holding on to the old. We shouldn’t place our security on the familiar.

In seasons when God feels distant, we must remember that He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, and He will always keep His promises. Difficulties and discouragement test us to see where our true loyalties lie. Because for the one who is fully committed to Jesus, there simply is nowhere else to go. We must pursue Him with all that we are even if it feels like we’re shooting in the dark.

The Bible offers us many verses to combat the discouragement and I would highly suggest that you make Scripture your number one resource, but today I would like to share three truths that have helped me personally.

1. We Will Find What We Seek 

When I find myself growing discouraged in my pursuit of God, I love to return to Jeremiah 29:12-13.

“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 29:12-13

It’s always a great reminder that my searching is not in vain. Despite my doubts, my prayers are being heard. Despite seemingly fruitless attempts to find Him in difficult situations, God does see my efforts.  

But we have to be committed to seeking Him with all of our heart. 

God will do His part regardless of our faithfulness (thank God for His grace!) but in my experience, life is so much better when we do our part as well.

There was one particular morning last summer I had planned to get up early to pray, but my alarm never went off and I woke up much later than I had anticipated. I was discouraged, but rather than calling it quits completely, I still decided to give God whatever time I had. And the devotional I read ended up being exactly what I needed… a reminder that God is worthy of my whole-hearted pursuit. 

Here’s what it said: “Do you find it hard to connect with God? Hard to hear his voice? Don’t worry, this is to be expected. God wants to see how much energy you’re gonna put into finding Him and getting to know Him. He’s interested in the chase.” ~Devotions for the God Girl by Hayley DiMarco

His “silence” toward us, or perhaps our own shortcomings, may make it hard to pray, but those are the very moments we ought to pray the hardest.

2. We Will Reap What We Sow

The Bible teaches the concept of reaping what we sow–whatever we plant is the kind of fruit we’ll grow. If we sow half-heartedly, we probably won’t have much fruit to enjoy.

If we spend our time appealing to our senses, feelings, and emotions, we are sowing to the flesh and will reap destruction. We can’t only be Christians when the hype is high. But if we spend our time reading our Bible, praying, and filling our minds with truth–even when it’s hard–we are sowing to the Spirit and will reap eternal blessings. 

We must keep in mind that what is done in secret now will one day be brought to the light. The things we do in private when people aren’t watching (or so we think) are a reflection of who we really are. 

Every year at awards ceremonies, I always wish I had done more. Worked harder. Really given my time and devotion throughout the year so I could feel as though I had made a difference, rather than barely doing the requirements just to earn my empty prizes. It may be easy to appeal to our flesh and skimp in the moment, but when judgment comes we won’t be able to go back and say, “Well, God, I was just waiting for life to get easier.”

I don’t want to find myself in front of God wishing I had done more or started sooner. I don’t want to find myself wishing I had spent more time chasing the things of God rather than the things of earth. I want to hear “well done, good and faithful servant,” so I will press on and keep sowing to the Spirit, even when it is hard.

“Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.”

Galatians 6:7-9

3. We Will Be Rewarded for Pressing On

If God has promised us something, we can be 100% sure it will come to pass. We just haven’t seen it yet, because God’s timing is different than ours. 

Perhaps God hasn’t opened a door for us because He knows we aren’t ready.

Perhaps He hasn’t come through like we had hoped because He is preparing something better.

Perhaps we haven’t received our answer to prayer because God knows something we don’t.

Whatever the case, we are instructed to live up to whatever truth we have attained (Philippians 3:16), pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and trust that God will work out all things for good, for those who love God (Romans 8:28). 

I am always reminded of the story of Daniel, when the angel finally shows up and tells him he came because of his prayers. Let that be an encouragement to us to not give up hope, because help is on the way.

“‘Don’t be afraid, Daniel,’ he said to me, ‘for from the first day that you purposed to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers.”

Daniel 10:12

God doesn’t call us to be Christians only when it’s easy, nor does He want us to seek Him only when we feel like it. He definitely doesn’t promise we will escape hardship; in fact, He guarantees we will have trouble in this world. 

That’s why the path is called narrow, and why few find it. Unfortunately, it’s also a big reason why people walk away.

But I don’t want to be the Christian who hangs around just long enough for the blessings and feel-good experiences. Instead, I want to be the Christian who will return time and again, even when life doesn’t feel good. Especially when life doesn’t feel good. 

I want to follow Jesus rain or shine.

If God seems far away, or if you’re questioning why He has allowed something to happen, take it to Him. All too often we retreat and try to figure out God on our own, but apart from Him we will never find true understanding. God can handle our questions, and He can handle our doubts.

Even when life is hard, we can press into God and press on to victory, keeping our eyes on Jesus.

We are promised it will be worth it. 

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:13-14

CoCo Ashley is a young writer devoted to using her words for the glory of God. She has been writing for as long as she can remember and dreams of one day publishing both fiction and nonfiction. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her talking with her friends, reading a book, or simply being an introvert with music in her headphones. Connect with her on her blog at cocoschitchat.com.

With God’s help,

Daniel L. Amador

Christian Living

Christians vs. Society; About Discouragement and Encouragement

Grab your atlas, running shoes, (Spanish to English translator,) and a good book! You ready? Let’s go, fam!

Let us face it, friends: We live in a fallen world. Our everyday lives can reflect that. From a little fib, to maybe even physical abuse.

And society hasn’t helped much. We, as Christians, are in a continual battle against society.

What exactly is society? Here is one of the Google definitions: “The community of people living in a particular country or region having shared customs, laws, and organizations.”

Here is my mother’s exact definition of society: “A group of people living together. Establishing culture and customs.”

Now, bear with me because this will get a bit confusing (for both me and you).

Society isn’t really a bad thing, when looked at one way. It’s a group of people who live together, to establish customs, laws, and organizations. But try looking a little closer at its center.

The Google definition doesn’t say “The community of people living in a particular country or region having shared customs, laws, and organizations under God.” It just means the group of people, just themselves. But don’t start thinking “Oh, he’s looking at it too deep, from a different angle without common sense” or anything of the like! Just hear me out!

The society we live in right now is a group of people establishing laws, customs, and organizations, but, not gathering under God, it is chaos. There is so much hatred, discouragement, and just plain wrongdoing, to both others and one’s self.

I suppose what I have been trying to say in 199 words, is that, in this case and sense, society is people not under nor following God. People have been trying to rule themselves since the beginning without God’s guidance.

Alright, we’ve covered that part. Took me long enough.

Now to the point of this post! I would first like to share a story with you all.

I came into the building where my running team would meet. Our coach called us all together, and directed our attention to a piece of cardboard. On it was written ten math problems. We looked at them, and before my coach could explain, one of us pointed to a problem that was wrong, and we backed him up. Our coach then began to explain. He said that we noticed the one wrong one, and completely overlooked the nine right ones.

.

.

.

O-O

Talk about the perfect chance to drop the mic.

He then pointed out that when one of the guys there planned to run five miles, but ended up running four, our coach fist-bumped and congratulated him for the four miles he did run.

He said that so many people focus more on the wrong things people do, and less at the accomplishments that are beside the wrongs.

Then he wrote two things on the cardboard beside the math problems. The first thing he wrote was “yourself”, then, below, “society”. Our coach said that those are the two things that can (and often do) bring us down.

He further explained that we can’t control what society thinks of us, and what it tells us, but we can control what we ourselves think! So many of us -including myself- are guilty of thinking lowly of ourselves. We make one mistake and beat ourselves up for it. In those moments we ignore the accomplishments we have done. We see what other people have done and how they are ahead of us, and we overlook what we ourselves have done, and that we are not in a race. We should try to be like God, not humans.

I have to confess, it’s hard not to feel jealous or unsuccessful when I see other bloggers “getting ahead” or publishing posts on certain topics I wanted to post on but couldn’t get to it first (even if they have been going a lot longer than me!).

I forget sometimes that I’m in this for Christ. I’m living for Him. Not for my own human want. I’m also going at my own pace. We all have our own paces. LIFE IS NOT A RACE!

Let me hand the mic over to God’s word for a second.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” -1 John 2:15. “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” -John 15:19. “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”-1 John 5:19. I think God says it very nicely. Don’t you?

To continue with what I was saying, we must learn to not hate or beat ourselves up. Friends, we live in a broken world. We are broken humans. And we break ourselves even more when we say: “I’m not good enough.” “I’m too weak.” “I’m not handsome or pretty enough.” “I’m not strong enough.” “I’m not smart enough.”

What are those called?

.

.

.

LIES!!! THOSE ARE ALL LIES! DON’T BELIEVE THE LIES! SATAN LOVES TO SEE GOD’S CHILDREN HATE THEMSELVES! HE RELISHES AND DELIGHTS IN OUR SELF DOUBT AND LOW SELF ESTEEM! DON’T BELIEVE WHAT THE DEVIL SAYS OR WHISPERS! THE DEVIL IS A LIAR!

My coach said something similar to, “‘Oh, that girl’s too pretty for me to take out’, or ‘oh that class is too smart for me’. Those are lies! That’s deception!”

He’s right. We are strong, wise, and beautiful in Christ. Don’t let society tear you down and tell you you’re not good enough.

I’m not a pastor. I’ve never been to a Bible college. But I know enough to say that life in God is better than anything society can give you. So don’t believe the lies Satan tries to feed you. Stay true to God, and His beautiful Word.

With God’s Help, 

Daniel L. Amador

CREDIT TO CANVA.COM FOR PHOTO.