January 28, 2014

Are You Suffering?

Dear Friend,

How are you today? No, really. Is everything okay? Are you going through something hard? Well, times can be rough. I can't quite say that I know what you're going through, but I know just as well as anyone what suffering feels like. 

To me, suffering usually feels a lot like nobody understands, that nothing can make things better. Like there is darkness wrapping itself around me and all I can do is let it stay. 

Saying that it is difficult to deal with death, natural disasters, rape, eating disorders, illness, lies, etc. is a major understatement. How are we supposed to look at suffering? How do we explain it? Can we explain it?
People's reactions to your suffering vary depending on what their core beliefs are. They say, "You're going through this because it'll make you stronger in the end." Or, "Don't worry, it'll work out later." Sometimes an "It's okay" even when things are clearly not okay.
And then there's the Bible. 

Paul says that he rejoices in suffering (Romans 5).

The other night at Bible study, we were taking a look at John 11, which is the account of Lazarus. 

Lazarus had been dead for four days when Jesus came. There was weeping on this day because in Jewish tradition, four days after someone's passing signified that his/her soul had passed to the next life. Can you relate to the grief? Knowing that a loved one is gone forever... I think that this kind of sadness is, in a sense, greater than if I had died in the other person's place.

Why would Jesus allow Lazarus to die? He had loved him--why would he allow the death to occur and allow the suffering to happen?

Could it be that he allowed Lazarus to die so that he could raise him from the dead?

God's Word tells us that his glory is manifested through our weaknesses. The suffering that we go through--his glory can shine brighter and stronger than all of it.

God's love is essential to human life, and that is why our lowest points can sometimes be the most important points of our lives, because those moments are when we experience the greatest potential for letting his love shine through.

Take care,
-Riley XO

Image from Quorri Scharmyn

January 16, 2014

Secrets of Truly Happy People

Hello there, how are you today? To be honest, I was having a really crummy day today, which just reminded me of all the other times that I've had crummy days. (Which of course made my day even worse.) Without even realizing it, I had put myself in a perpetual cycle that was making me sadder and sadder.

I started to think about the last time I had experienced an extended period of grief, which was last spring. I can't say that it was or will be the worst time I've ever gone through, but I do remember what got me through it. As silly as it may seem, it was this video:


I hope you find the words profound and inspiring for you to live your life to the fullest and to find happiness no matter what your situation is. Save this for a rainy day, because guys this is has brightened my day several times already :)

Take care,
-Riley XO

January 14, 2014

Top 5 Tips for Sticking to Those Resolutions

Happy New Year! I know I haven't blogged in a while, but with the holidays and personal things I didn't find as much time this winter break to write. I'm sure you guys understand though! It feels great to be back and I have some new ideas for this blog that came with the new year so I look forward to writing to you guys again.

So, I am one of the people who like making resolutions (whether it is a new year or not) because setting goals for myself and being able to see progress towards them helps give me a sense of fulfillment or accomplishment. When my cousin gave me a weekly planner last year for Christmas, my resolution(s) for 2013 was to use it (and to get to college in one piece). Journaling was something I'd stopped since I started blogging and writing stories, but the planner was a good way for me to reflect on my day. So every night, I'd take 5 minutes out to calm down and jot down little events of what had occurred and give thanks for the blessings I had in my life. It didn't seem like an exciting resolution when I made it, but it turned out to make a big difference in my life.

This year, I have quite a few more resolutions:
  • Make YouTube videos. [I've been wanting to do this one for three months now, and I'd tried to get started by reading The Little Prince last November. Then I realized that I don't like reading out loud and wanted to find something more, well, me. So I'm going to start with simple vlogs about my life and see if I have time to sit down and make fancier videos in the future.]
  • Crochet many hats. 
  • Do more community service.
  • Start the "Dear Friend" posts on this blog.
What are your resolutions for 2014? Tell me about them in the comments below!

If you don't have a resolution, here is a video that might help you find one:

It seems like many people often set great goals but then end up abandoning them before springtime even comes. But this is the year to succeed! Here are some tips to help you keep on track for your goals of the year.
  1. Make it interesting. A common resolution that people set is to go to the gym more. And although this is a really good goal, people still fail to keep going to the gym steadily through the year. So, instead of resolving to just "be more active," try telling yourself instead that you resolve to run a marathon (a little more than 26 miles) by the end of the year or even by the summer of next, or perhaps to learn a new sport. Each of these resolutions involve doing a lot of the same things (eating healthier, cardio and strength training, etc.) but learning how to dance would be a lot easier to do because it's fresh, interesting, and new.
  2. Remind yourself how it benefits you. Think of your resolution as a gift to yourself. Sometimes in the short run, it might be difficult to keep going toward your goal, but the benefits are mostly long-term. So think of those long-term benefits!
  3. Track your progress. Use a calendar to highlight the successes and failures that may come with your resolution. This way, you can be aware of all the progress you've made.
  4. Don't give up when you fail. Remember that there are 365 days in a year--so don't let one day of missing out affect the entire year. If you don't have time today, just remember that tomorrow is a new day.
  5. Get some friends involved. Tell your friends about your resolution and give them updates every now and then of how things are going so that you'll have their support. Things are a lot harder to do when you're on your own, so get others involved and enjoy the process that comes with your resolution.
I hope you enjoyed this overdue post and will see you next week!

Take care,
-Riley XO
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