How Quiet Times have Changed my Life

I am writing about meditating on the word on a daily basis. Meeting with God regularly has altered my life in several ways.

 My Faith has Grown

What does that mean when one says their faith has grown? To me, it means I have gleaned more wisdom about God. God has granted me this wisdom.

With more wisdom, I feel comfortable in my faith. I do not feel as elementary as I used to be. Reading about His work, annotating about it, and thinking how Scripture connects with me personally has provided more personal linkage to my faith. It has deepened my purpose for visiting the Bible. It is not just about understanding what occurred in the Bible, it is about taking messages from it to apply to my life.

With a grown faith comes increased confidence. Though I must check myself to make sure that I remain humble, reading the Word daily has helped me feel much more confident discussing God with my worldly friends.

God Repeatedly Hits me With the Same Signs

I cannot speak for Him, but I think God knows and yearns for His people to live up to the principles in the Bible. Otherwise, why would he send His son to earth to model Godly behavior?

By reading the Word, God repeatedly sends messages to me about what I should do next. I do not always hear what He is saying. The more I read, the more I realize that He is speaking to me repeatedly.

When I am reading the Word, I try to reread scripture over and over again until something comes to fruition in my brain. Then, I focus on that idea and how it links to the Scripture in front of me.

To me, these messages that I decode from the Bible are nuggets of wisdom, and signage that God yearns for me to understand. After many of my quiet times, I have loaded a handful of these messages onto my to do list to remind me.

I Learned that I was Meditating Incorrectly

During my readings with God, there were several instances where I rushed to read through the Word. On these occasions, I did not take as much from Scripture as I could; my entire focus was not devoted to God during those moments, it was instead distracted by worldly things.

This idea did not come to fruition until I read Love Like That, a book that talks about how to give people Jesus like love.

Today, I still struggle to fully concentrate and devote time to God without distraction.

I have Learned my Distractions

Devoting my entire focus to God requires me to also isolate what exactly causes me to be distracted. Not only am I concerned about worldly things (finishing chores before I go to sleep, updating my budget sheet, reading my book to reach my reading goal, or even writing a blog post for the day), but also I find sounds in general distract me a lot.

My girlfriend loves to watch Korean dramas on a daily basis when I am QTing. Sounds from her cell phone will cause my focus to falter. As a result, I have found it necessary to invest in a good pair of ear plugs.

Although I try to prioritize God’s Word ahead of everything I have to do in a day, I find that I am more focused if I have cleaned my apartment before QTing.

My Reading Comprehension has Increased

Reading the Bible is not easy. I teach English at an international school, and there were moments where I had to reference a dictionary, or reread passages again to fully comprehend for meaning. Now that I am more versed in the verses, my comprehension has exponentially increased.

More pointedly, I discovered that my reading stamina has also increased. Usually I get tired or bored of reading in about half n hour, but now, I can focus for extended periods of time without distraction, fully gulping in what I am reading.

Final Thoughts…

I am not perfect. I intend to read the Word daily, but sometimes I miss a day here or there. What I have noticed is missing a day surfaces this heavy weight in my chest. It irks me, in a positive way (I think).

Although my girlfriend has been Christian for several years, much longer than I, she knows that she struggles to peel open the Word and give it a read. Encouraging her to read, and modeling my reading for her has made me have a taste of what being a spiritual leader is like.

Perhaps reading the Word regularly has also increased my husband skills? I won’t know until I marry her 😉

 

 

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Quitting Masturbation

I am on a journey to quit masturbating. The end goal? Stop masturbating for the rest of my life. Why am I doing this? I am addicted to striking my wank, and love looking at porn. Both are a dishonor to God, committing sexual immorality with my eyes and against my body.

I am getting married to my fiance in about 8 months. I have to quite masturbating until then.

If you want to stay more abreast on my day to day reflections on the process of masturbation, I encourage you to visit my journal on the No Fap website here.

Expect to see updates on this topic on a weekly basis. I am going to call this masturbation Mondays; I will write about my M wins, losses, and successes I have had with this addiction.

How I am Forcing Myself to Read More

Reading is the input to this crazy output of writing. Some professional writers will argue that a writer should not read. Take, for instance, Dorethea Brande (read my book review of her work here).

Others, like the millionaire Stephen King (Pause. Hold on. Here’s where I admit I have never read any of King’s books, except On Writing) who argues that reading vicariously is crucial to the development of a writer’s craft.

Well, I have tried both. And I find that I have only had time for one– and that was writing.

Now, as I sit here to type these words, I realize that I have put myself into situations where I am being forced to read on a regular basis. Truly, I do enjoy reading, but finding time in this world of too much to do is difficult.

5 strategies have blessed me and helped me become a more frequent reader.

Enter: www.Trello.com

This website needs more attention on the internet! It is a free, visual based way to organize tasks. I won’t get too technical with why I love Trello so much, but I will say the repeat card function is amazingly helpful for me.

Basically, it automatically reminds me on a daily basis to send a news article to my friend. Once I complete this task, I can move the card to the completed section of my board–a satisfying, slightly quirky feeling arises as a result.

Reading the Bible on Regular Basis

I don’t use a traditional Bible to read the Word. I use Living Life’s monthly devotional. Living life provides a nicely packed verse for every day of the week for me to consume, all the way until the end of November. Once I finish with this devotional, I periodically purchase next month’s.

Missing a devotional day is unacceptable. Something about me feels incomplete if I miss a day. Having nuggets of Bible verses structured daily for me to annotate about is an awesome discovery I made about my reading habits, thanks to my girlfriend’s mom!

Borrowing Books from Friends

Having a friend lend me a book to read sparks some sort of invisible accountability. I better get on that book my friend gave me a few days ago! I haven’t even read a page of it yet, I am 74% through First They Killed My Father.

Setting a Yearly Goal and Tracking it

Another huge motivator for me to read is that I have a number of books I want to read in a year. I track this number in Trello. Once I finish a book, I add it to the list of completed books. I then can see how many books I have read this year.

Grade Students’ Work

I teach English and literature at an international school. I won’t be the first to admit it, but not all English teachers read every letter a student writes. For me, I think I owe it to the student, and to myself to read a students’ work all the way until the end, letter for letter. Not only am I becoming a better editor as I mark student essays for mistakes, but I also am exposed to a different style of writing. Albeit the level of writing might be a low, part of me finds joy in giving students feedback on their writing.

In conclusion, I read vicariously and I know it is helping me become a better writer. Speaking of which, I better get reading.

Toodles!

 

Upon Returning…

After sitting down to write this post, a tickle of an impulse shocked my cogs: I have not written a blog post in 6 months, nor did I even apply for the creative writing program at UBC. Does this situation make me a reneger? Well, yes . I suppose it does.

But does reneging really matter? I am starting to learn that no matter how much I have planned, no matter where I think the trajectory of my life is going, I am usually wrong most of the time.

Making time for the unexpected, in order to enjoy the moment, becomes essential. It is not easy to make this adjustment, being flexible is a skill.

Mostly, I am pleased that I am not spiraling downwards for not posting nor applying to the program. I have achieved a lot of unexpected things these last couples months.

  • I have been committed to reading the Word everyday for the past 2 months on regular basis. I am working my way through Living Life’s daily devotional in an attempt to get closer to God.
  • My relationship with my girlfriend is closer than ever.
  • One of my cats died, but now I have another who is named Oreo
  • My Trello board is helping me more than ever
  • In terms of writing, I have 25000 words of my novel finished
  • I am happily worshipping in a church that is English service
  • My teaching skills have improved threefold, I feel more confident than ever in my practise, and I am certain students are learning
  • I am reading on a regular basis (did I mention that I read the Word everyday?)
  • My record is 20 days for non masturbation, right now, I am on day 5 of my reset, and feeling great
  • My girlfriend and I have successfully abstained from sex for over one year!
  • On a daily basis, I am cooking and eating pretty healthy.

A productive 6 months has come to fruition! Do I feel like my writing level has decreased? Not really, I actually feel like I have become a better story teller. During NanoWrimo, I found myself expounding rather than writing creatively.

In all truth, it is difficult to quantify whether or not my written word has improved. In my head, as my fingers graze over the keyboard, I feel like my writing has shown growth. I would have to go through this blog again and revisit the first entry to see improvement.

In the end, what have I learned? Life gives unexpected turns, and sometimes,we have to go with the flow in order to not really know where we are going, but instead, let God direct us where we need to go.

Forthcoming are some reviews of novels I have read while I have been away. Also, I am going to update weekly on my progress with masturbation.

Until next time,my fellow readers,

Leave of Absence from Blogging

Dear readers,

Thank you for reading the words written on this blog; it has been an honor to write for a small audience! Writing daily has become a habit for me, which was the ultimate intention of this blog.

Now, I am preparing to apply for a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. As such, I will not be able to dedicate as much time to this blog. My writing time will be dedicated to creating a writing portfolio for the UBC.

Knowing fully well that this blog’s overarching goal was to write daily for 365 days is still in my mind. I do intend to still follow through with this goal, only I will not be writing on the internet for others to see, as to secure the privacy of my application to the universities I am planning to attend. Yes, I do have a back up plan if I do not make it into the UBC.

You will hear from me once my application has been submitted to the university. I will also let readers know whether or not I was accepted into UBC’s creative writing program.

Thank you to those who read my words! It has been a great experience thus far blogging for such a wide audience. It truly pains me to push pause on this blog for now.

Until we meet again, readers,

勇气

 

 

University of British Columbia MFA Creative Writing Portfolio Preparation

Today, I typed near 300 words towards my fiction novel. It was an irky feeling, wordsmithing today. I felt more pressure preparing to meet with our writers group. Preparing to apply for one of Canada’s top programs and no pressure? What the heck?

That was until my girlfriend wrote this card on my Trello board (healthy pressure? Pressure from love? I am not sure…)

CW Motivation

So… I need to stop beating around the bush, and get writing! Though I did write today, I noticed a huge stall in my processesing today. I am not sure if I have the entire novel planned out in my head, perhaps mapping the story in a pointed form would be beneficial to bring my thoughts to paper.

Maybe I am crafting a short story instead of a novel? I guess I won’t know until it has been written. Is it common to continue writing a story not entirely sure where it is going, with a just a glimmer of hope that an ending will surface? I am in that position right now with this story.

Characterization is it’s strongest suit, and some interesting conflicts have arisen from the text. Knowing that I have attracted some readers to the story is also another plus for it in general. I have the overarching theme, where a soldier comes to realize God through the story, but I am not sure how to fill the space in between. Writing a story really is a mindful, and it really is overwhelming.

Again, I seem to know what I need to do, but my avoidance is killing me; maybe I am feeling more pressure than I have ever felt before. Maybe, just maybe, I am frozen and inept due to pressure.

Never have I applied to a writing program in my life. Never have I ever had a huge audience read my words before. I have only taught writing to students. But now, it’s time to show, not tell, engage the senses, get down, dirty, and pen a story!

“Living the Christian Life” Changing from Atheist to Christian–Part 5

Amen

This is the last post to a 5 part series of how I changed from an atheist to a Christian. See the first post here if you are interested in my story.

Having God in my life has been transformational. Now that I am here, living the Christian life to the best of my human ability, I feel it is time to share how I feel connected with God and His will.

My mind has been renewed, I view this life (on earth) through a different lens. It is not just about doing tasks for myself anymore, but instead, seeking to align myself with God as much as I can.

There is also a sense of safety twirling around me on a daily basis. When a being greater than any human mind could ever imagine is watching over me, I feel blessed and empowered.

Recently, my biggest struggle has been trying to align my decision making with God. I have struggled with this ever since my faith has been rekindled. Last night, John Piper’s YouTube sermon seemed to answer this question for me. Please click here to watch the sermon, he does a great job grounding his sermon in scripture and describing how humanity can find the will of God.

John Piper’s sermon resonates heavily with me. More importantly, I find myself constantly trying to press closure into God. As a Christian, I am spending more time than ever trying to understand God. I have more highlights in my Bible than any other text on my bookshelf (and I am an literature educator)! To me, all of these steps I have taken are remarkable and life altering.

Attempting to live a Christian life has been extremely difficult. Trying to tell the truth all the time is hard; not being able to masturbate is difficult, not being able to have sex with my girlfriend is hard, but is all worth it to please Him. During these last 8 months, I have been earnest in trying to meet the commands and expectations that God puts in front of me. Struggling to meet His expectations is part of the adversity that I must suffer, and my suffering pales in comparison to Jesus’ death on the cross.

Living the Christian life has been liberating. Safety dances around me; I feel more confident than ever in my everyday endeavors. Having God on my side, even just to have a conversation with through prayer is legendary.

God has changed my life; thank you God! I am blessed to have another opportunity to be alongside you. And I will not let myself drift from you ever again. Amen!