As I arrived in my dorm room today after class, I fell in to the habitual routine I have acquired here. I sat down at my desk, opened my laptop, and went on Facebook. It seems as though no matter how busy my day is, I never feel at ease until I log onto Facebook and check on my closest friends back home. But today was different, when I first opened Facebook, the inside APU blog popped up on my timeline. Soon enough I found myself scrolling through it. In doing so, I felt this force pushing me to finally log in to my blog, and type some words onto this virtual paper we have here…

In all honesty, from the day I arrived at APU to now, I have logged into my blog countless times. Though every time I did, I seemed to start typing about what had been going on, or the topics God had been placed on my heart, then I would just stop. Thoughts swarmed my mind, chaining themselves on to me, they dragged me to a place that convinced me; my words didn’t matter, or that no one would read it. My thoughts were a main factor in why I never blogged, but they weren’t the only one. Every since I got here at APU it has seemed as if it was a separate life, or a foreign world from the one back home. I was never, and still am not, convinced that this is the life I am living. Being at APU feels like a dream, I have been here for 2 1/2 months and reality still has not hit me. And I am still working out the question in my mind, is this a good or bad thing?

Since I have been at APU I have meet a lot of sincere hearted people and have been introduced to many amazing opportunities. The people on my hall will lift you up when your down, grieve with you in your failures, and celebrate enormously in your accomplishments. Being surrounded by such supportive people has given me the confidence to try new things, adventure, and put my self out there in ways I have never experienced before, because no matter the result I have people right behind me cheering me on, but also prepared to catch me in the chance that I fall. Within the people on my hall I have managed to make friendships that I hope will last a lifetime. (like everyone tells me they will) The girls I have trusted as my true close friends constantly push me to step out of my comfort zone, and challenge me to be a better student as well. I am already dreading being separated from them for an entire month during winter break!

“Let me tell ya. You gotta pay attention to signs. When life reaches out with a moment like this it’s a sin if you don’t reach back… I’m telling you.” // The Silver Linings Playbook

The second week I was here, I spoke with a group of people and somewhere within the conversation the movie The Silver Linings Playbook was mentioned, so I went and watched it! For some reason when I watched it this quotes stood out to me. I mean, this is so relevant to many moments that reveal themselves to us in life. So with this in mind, I have been attempting to take every opportunity that has showed up at my door. Let me just say; Not all of them have been successful, or enjoyable, but all of them have resulted in a new understanding or sense of knowledge making it all rewarding in the end. There have been awkward hours spent in strangers dorm rooms, attempts to make conversations only to be ignored, missed deadlines because of an outing, complete embarrassment, and moments when I was turned down. But within all that there are memories I will hold onto forever, the discovering of people who remind me of home, a new found confidence, and belly aching laughter with friends. And with in the time I have been here I have been to Venice beach, Huntington beach, been in a beach volleyball tournament, hall events, and many more. I am overly blessed for all the opportunities that have come knocking at my door and I am looking forward to the many that are coming soon. Soon I get to go to a 50’s themed birthday party, and go on a GYRAD date with a nice guy who reminds me of my two best guy friends back home.  Continue reading “”

My view on integrity

“Integrity is a word many of us were not taught growing up. Yet it is the core of morality and justice – most of us did not need to define it with a word.” (Albert Einstein). The definition of integrity can easily be found in any dictionary: having a sound moral principle, sincerity, and honesty. However there’s more to integrity than just the definition, it can mainly only be defined by the actions of ones life.

Having a sound moral principle is greatly valued in our society. We search for friends and spouses that have this, we raise our children teaching them to have this characteristic. In our government we elect house of representatives and other officials in belief they have this characteristic of a sound moral principle. But is ones moral principle defined by themselves or others? I find it too often than not that ones moral principles are influenced by others, and fluctuate depending on those surrounding them. Would that be considered as having integrity? I believe “the surest test of an individuals integrity is his refusal to do or say anything that would damage his self-respect” (Thomas Monson). One with integrity does not diminish a belief in resultant of someone else, rather they improve the morals they already have to better their integrity.

In you have integrity, you are a sincere person. Ethnicity, looks, or differences are irrelevant to one who is sincere because judgement is hard to catch coming from ones lips, while acceptance is easily seen in ones actions. Sincerity is valuing others equally, not only when others are around but constantly because “real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not” (Oprah Winfrey). Some may argue the importance of sincerity even when others aren’t around, but their argument is invalid because how can one truly be sincere when others are around if it isn’t a high priority when they are alone. An example of integrity is putting someone in need before yourself without regard to self benefit. Someone with integrity would easily do that without second thought because that is the sincere thing to do. How is sincerity truly measured? In the amount of friends you have? The number of times you have chosen to put others before yourself? The number of times you have been honored for doing something nice? How can one exactly say the way sincerity should be measured, or if it can be measured at all. I believe sincerity isn’t the number of kind things you do, or friends you have. Rather sincerity is a mirror to the soul, and that is reflected in ones integrity.

To have integrity, one must first be a prime believer in honesty. Honesty is defined differently from person to person and though our definitions may vary, we all know the meaning of honesty in our hearts. And thats where honesty roots from, from our heart. Our heart is the only true arbitrator of what is true verses what is false. Integrity and honesty go hand in hand because “integrity is telling [ones self] the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.” (Spencer Johnson). Both are important because they require the zeal of ones heart. To be dedicated to honesty is to have integrity in your life, since one cannot have integrity without the consistency of honesty.

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This was just a piece I wrote about my view on integrity for a scholarship I ended up winning! I hope y’all enjoyed it! 🙂

Romans 12

Romans 12:2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function

Romans 12:6-8 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

In our society it is more common to condemn those unlike the rest rather than to celebrate their astonishing gifts and differences. Why must everyone fit into this cookie-cutter image, acquire a lengthy list of personality traits, and have certain talents to live an “ideal” life and to be accepted by most? The Bible is so clear that not everyone can be alike, and not everyone can fit into a box. Different gifts are a blessing, even when this world treats them as a curse, these gifts are all for a reason. Each person in this chaotic world is unique, their gifts are used to relate to others and help those in need in a variety of ways. Your reasoning behind discrediting the gifts you may have should not be just because society does not mark them as ideal, every gift is important in such ways. Search for those ways. Society has such an ordinary bland look at life and how people should be, break out of that box and be the bizarre person they may see you as, because you will make a difference in someones life regardless if your gift is out of the ordinary or not.

Self-Discover

Im a strong believer in the importance of self-discovery.

Too many people these days have no idea who they are, what they truly are passionate about, or what intrigues them. It flabbergasts me that people are convinced they need to be constantly surrounded by others.

Sometimes the best way to truly discover yourself is to take time to yourself. Get alone. Surround yourself with silence. Where do you thoughts take you?

Thoughts reveal what is in your soul. A clean mind is a kind soul. And a kind soul is a clean mind. But you cannot have one without the other that’s the tricky part. Just knowing where your thoughts take you tells you alot about who you are when no one can alter your thoughts, and where no one can break your train of thought.

No one has the ability to define you. Don’t let their comments or actions fool you. Most people unknowingly attempt to change you and conform you into who they want you to be. Though don’t be fooled, people in your life are not there for that reason. They are there to support you, to inspire you, to guide you. Never ever should they define you, or force you down a path that isn’t “you”.

This is why I encourage everyone to take time alone, maybe go for a walk or sit in a coffee shop. Just focus on yourself and search for your desires and fears. What are your goals? Keep taking time alone until those answers are easy to answer, and live life they way you desire to live it. Be who you long to be. it isn’t as hard as everyone lets on. 🙂

Mexico 2014 – Heartbeat

How could one put into words a trip that impacted one’s life? It is difficult to do so, but I shall try anyways.

This year was my second time going with Bayside Church to Mexico for a mission trip, but this year was FAR different from last. Both happened to be touching and eye-opening on opposite spectrums, and in opposite ways. I can’t lie, last year was irreplaceable. I mean it was the year I rededicated my life to Christ. But with all that said, this year deeply affected my character in a way that last year did not.

Most people will tell you the little niños are what impacted them the most on these sorts of trips, and normally it is true. For me though this year was different, the other high schoolers and adults impacted me more than the niños. This was shocking to me because I did not expect that to happen at all. Approaching departure day I had multiple doubts about whether or not this year would affect me in any way. I was convinced my team was filled with duds (people who had zero fire for Christ and no desire whatsoever to be friends). I drilled into my brain that the only way to not be judged by them was to be sheltered. I was scared, and told myself “everyone on your team hates you, just stay quiet”. Man oh man how reality struck me on that first 8 hour car ride. As everyone among me let their walls crumble down, I saw what truly lied beneath. My eyes saw opened and willing hearts for Christ, they saw vulnerability, but most importantly they saw a longing for love. Almost every one of my team mates was broken in a different way. Brokenness is not something that can be explained by the lips, but only by actions that paint a picture of who they truly are and what their hearts are missing. I encountered various pictures, among which nearly all managed to touch my heart and clear my blurred vision. My Impact team was full of broken people gathering together with a similar purpose, and craving for Christ. We referred to ourselves as The Band of Misfits, yes cliché I know but it fits us perfectly.

This Band of Misfits taught me numerous lessons. This Band of Misfits built me up. This Band of Misfits loved on me. This Band of Misfits changed me. There is no possible way I could thank them for everything they unknowingly did for me.

Jameson revealed to me what confidence looks like; he helped my step out and be myself in confidence.

Gabby is a true model of what it meant to be obedient to Christ in all you do. She put gasoline on the fire I had for Christ.

Alyssa showed me the importance of staying true to who you are. She is my constant reminder to not chip away who I am to mirror society.

Both Ali and Chloe were mirrors of true strength. They are perfect examples of what it means to trust Christ in everything he does and in all his plans for you.

Chris revealed to me the importance of silence. And taught me that silence creates a mood of peace and comfort, which is necessary during certain times.

Cole showed me how necessary it is to be open to new friends. He also opened my eyes to see our world is drowning in judgmental people, thus teaching me the importance of not judging others.

Blake showed me true passion and determination. I have never seen someone with such drive, especially in furthering his knowledge of Christ.

Ellie was the one person who bluntly told me I need to build more strength. Strength: to defend myself, to be able to carry others burden, and strength against the enemy. I cannot describe how overly joyed I am that she did this for me.

Although I did admit that my team impacted me more than the niños did, I never said they  have no effect on me. Two niños in particular touched me in a way they could never understand. Cesia was a 4-year-old young lady who had eyes you could get lost in. Just the sound of her laugh alone could put a smile on anyone’s face. By the third day my Impact team was on site, Cesia knew only my name and was introducing me to her mom. Just the sheer honor of her knowing only my name was touching, but her introducing me to her mom was heartwarming. Then there was Monse. Her simple, silent presence pulled me in. She was a girl of few words, yet I couldn’t find myself ever wanting her to leave my side. Luckily she never wanted to anyways. I will never forget her wrapping her arms around me, looking up with a giant smile, followed by the biggest squeeze she could give me. We broke out into laughter every time. Finally, on the second to last day she opened up to me. Monse held a full conversation with me where she told me all about herself and her family. Within that conversation alone I had watched her eyes brighten far more than they had been on any other day. Little did I know at that time, she had never spoken to anyone else on my team. To be honest I never knew how much I meant to her untill I was saying goodbye to her. While I was hugging her I looked down at the treasure chest craft she had made, surprisingly instead of looking down and seeing the chest filled with the signatures of my entire team… I looked down and saw only one signature, mine.

My favorite moment on the trip:

There were many amazing moments that I could never forget, but to be honest affirmations was by far my favorite. Pathetic, I know. We had two twins on our team, both of which gave me an affirmation. They told me how memorable I made this trip for them. Then continued to compliment my laugh saying how someone could walk into a room where I was laughing and immediately start laughing too because my laugh was so contagious. One of the twins told me that I was an example of someone who stayed positive in every situation and found happiness in the little things. Sweetly, the other told me I was one of the people who made them crave to know more about Christ. Ellie was another person who gave me an affirmation, though hers was definitely out of the ordinary. She explained that she was convinced she could not like any girls whatsoever, but I gave her hope that she can not only like but also be friends with girls again! Though Blake, Cole, and Ellie all gave me very heartfelt affirmations the one that affected me the most was the affirmation I received from our translator, Oscar. Oscar went on telling me I reminded him of his sister, explaining that compliment was the highest compliment he could give anyone. This man who had become my friend complimented me saying I was so full of happiness and life that I create a chain reaction to those around me. But lastly, to top it off he told me I helped him find his fire for Christ again, and straightened his priorities in life.

I never knew just the raw version of myself could make such an impact on those around me, even when I’m not trying to. Hearing those affirmations truly opened up my eyes to see the truth. The truth is: who I am does not matter as long as I am obedient to Christ, and as long as I have a relationship with him. How others define me lacks importance, and how they view me should not be a worry in this mind of mine. This truth has set me free.