Christmas Reflection 1 – Strength in Joy

IMG_8487

Christmas is my favorite season of the year. The spirit of rejoicing and giving that comes with it is contagious. Although it has been commercialized in many ways, the true essence of Christmas is still very real in my life. There are three more days until Christmas so it has been impressed on my heart to write a personal reflection each day on Christmas.

I was inspired to share my own Christmas reflections after reading my Christmas devotional on the Bible app. Initially, I was going to journal this then I remembered stumbling over my blog and how encouraging it was reading my previous posts so here I am blogging again. Below is an excerpt from the Chris Tomlin devotion that inspired me:

“When God sent His son as a baby, no one knew the birth of this child set into motion God’s epic plan to redeem mankind. Today, this is not only where His story begins, it’s where our story begins, too. While we were yet sinners, God decided to send a Savior for us. And while He did it in the smallest of forms and the unlikeliest of ways, His perfect plan was unfolding all along. Two thousand years later, it’s easy to see the bigger picture. Looking back, it’s easy to trace the fingerprints of God’s larger purpose at work.

When we reflect on the past, we can see God’s faithfulness more clearly. We can remember how He’s come through for us and how He’s uniquely woven His plan into our lives.” -Chris Tomlin

SO here I am remembering the past in order to see God’s faithfulness and renew my trust in Him.

I read through Luke 1: 26-56, which is when Jesus’ birth was foretold to Mary then she visits Elizabeth to share the news with her. It is such a beautiful story of strength and joy.

Why strength? In the age we live in today, many are very concerned with people and their opinions on their lives. During my time as Miss American Samoa, it was ALL that I was concerned about. I wanted to portray the title the way everyone else saw fit. Going back to Mary, she displayed strength that I truly believe was not her own but from the Lord. She was basically a teenage girl who wasn’t married, but about to be pregnant. If it’s somewhat shameful in our society today, just imagine how much more in the Bible times. YIKES!  Yet, she didn’t complain. She was scared I’m sure, but her response is one that has been used in sermons all over the world…

“Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.’ And then the angel left her.”  – Luke 1:38 (NLT)

I have read this story many times, but this statement hit me hard for the first time. I was sitting here thinking, “WHAAAAAA!?!?!” She was about to be pregnant without a husband yet HER FAITH! Her faith in the Lord and His plans blows me away. The story continues after this with Mary going to visit her cousin Elizabeth who the Lord had also blessed with a child to pave the way for Jesus. When Mary gets to Elizabeth, the Bible says Elizabeth’s baby leaped within her and the Holy Spirit filled her.

42. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43. WHy am I so honored, the the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44. When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said.”
-Luke 1:42-45 (NLT)

This is when the joy factor comes into this story. They rejoiced in the Lord’s plans. Although I’m sure they knew it would not be an easy road, they rejoiced none the less. Mary even has a song of praise she says after Elizabeth said what she said.

I thought to myself. Do I have that kind of strength to trust the Lord? How many times have I rejoiced in the Lord knowing the journey is about to get “interesting”? How many times have I relied on the Lord’s strength and submitted to Him when He asks me to do something unheard of?

To be honest, I don’t have that kind of strength. That kind of strength comes from spending time with the Lord and cultivating a relationship with Him that I’ve lacked. The relationship that I relied on for the past year is now wavering and because of that I’m falling a part. It’s interesting how the Lord always brings us back to Him when we start to stray. He allows the consequences of choices hurt so He can heal. Like Mary, we need Elizabeths in our lives to remind us that we are highly favored by God and that we should remember we are blessed because we believe in what God is going to do. I’m reminded I can find strength when I rejoice in what the Lord has planned. I’m reminded I  can find strength by believing His Word. I’m reminded I can find strength in His joy. If there is anything I love about Christmas, it’s the JOY that surrounds the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Thank You Jesus for allowing Your joy that brings strength to fill the world especially during the Christmas season. I pray that everyone especially those who are hurting during this time can experience the same gladness Mary and Elizabeth had by remembering Your perfect plan and that Jesus is the reason we rejoice every Christmas season.

Joy to the world/ the Lord has come/ let earth receive her King/ let every heart prepare Him room/ Let heaven and nature sing/ Let heaven and nature sing/ Let heaven/ Let heaven and nature sing.
Advertisements

Life Investments – Thank You Moms

Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful women in the world, specifically to the ladies that have invested in my life since the day I came out of my mom’s womb. Sorry I can’t name everyone because I’m a Samoan, which means I’m blessed with a huge family.

I have been blessed by God to have Proverbs 31 women in my family and close circle. As I reflected on Mother’s Day and how grateful I am for all the wonderful women in my life, I thought of the sermon preached in church this morning. “How do you measure a life?” is the question that was asked. The title of the sermon was a quote “The measure of a life is not in its duration, but in its donation.” by Corrie Ten Boom. The donation these ladies have made into my life have been tremendous and I thank the Lord for His never failing love that is constantly shown through these women especially my grandmas and my mom. These are my testimonies of these ladies and the investments they have donated to my life.

Nana – The woman I am truly honored to be named after, Anneliese “Annie” T. Haleck Sword. She is beautiful and the definition of classy. She always made sure our family was bound in love and unity. She could bring any party to life the moment she walks into the room. She’s the reason I had a strong bond with my Sword cousins and considered them as my second set of siblings. She invested beauty, grace, a love for living life, a love for dance (specifically Samoan & Polynesian dancing), forgiveness, culture and the value of family in my life.” by Corrie Ten Boom

Grandma Vai, Grandma Eseta, Grandma Lafo & Grandma Fou – my Aua grandmas who have loved, nurtured and spoiled me since I was a day old. My parents could tell so many stories of my infant & toddler years and how they “fa’apele” me to the point I couldn’t go to sleep until we go to Aua to see my grandmas. Although one is my biological grandma, they have all taken care of me as if I was their own. In my life, they have invested love, peace, strong relationships with my brothers, a love for my church and a love and reverence for God and His will for me.

All my Aunties – From my Sword side to my Fale/Ponausuia side to my “aunties” from Cornerstone AOG, these lovely ladies have all played a part in giving me love and affection. They all make me feel beautiful and never cease to tell me straight when I’m doing wrong especially when I’m getting fat. They have invested confidence, affection and a love for all things beautiful in my life.

My Cousins, Sister in laws & My Bestest – The beautiful ladies who made me “Aunty Lisi” are definitely in need of mention. They are the reasons I have so many beautiful nieces and handsome nephews and no need for my own kids. They have invested joy and fun into my life.

Spiritual Mom – The one woman (besides my mom) who isn’t afraid to fuki my hair & tell me straight when it comes to my spiritual walk with God. Aunty Hope is definitely a one of a kind woman who constantly checks up on me to make sure I’m walking strong. She has invested in my love for God, spirit and creativity.

Last but not least, My Mom – Lori Fale. She is the reason I chose to move back home and I have not regretted it. Just being me and my mom at home has been a challenge and a definite growing process. I miss my brothers, but I have seen my love and relationship with my mom grow. She is the strongest woman I know. I have seen her at her worst and at her best. Through it all, she remains steadfast in her faith in God. The Lord has definitely blessed her with grace, strength, dignity and many of what Proverbs 31 entails. She raised my handsome brothers Gary, Curtis & Emmanuel to be wonderful husbands/boyfriends to their wives/girlfriends, which I absolutely love to brag about and gives me a picture of what my future husband better be like (L0L). She taught me so much about loving God and building a strong relationship with Him. She has a BIG heart for ministry and continues to pursue God’s calling on her life with the radio ministry He entrusted to my family. She has invested in my love for God & His ministry and my relationship with God. She invested into my life strength, faith, love, patience, honor, fear of the Lord and strong Godly values.

With My Mama && My Nephew

With My Mama && My Nephew

So Happy Mother’s Day to all the heroes out there we call “Mom”.

Believing Truth

What exactly does it mean to “believe”? Who determines what is and isn’t right? Why is it not up to a person to come up with their own set of rights and wrongs? How do we confirm what is believed to be truth?

These are questions that have pestered me over the years in my fight to determine truth. Determining truth is not easy. Truth to one person is a lie to another. There are rules and regulations set forth by the government to ensure order. As time changes, ideas change along with culture which causes a shift in the minds of many on what truth is. These laws are constantly changing, which is why there are amendments. With the power to change the law, it brings the ability to change humanity’s version of “truth”.

“We have a right to believe whatever we want,
but not everything we believe is right.” 
― Ravi Zacharias

How I’ve come to determine truth

I grew up believing in God and raised in a sheltered church environment. Occasionally, I would let the rebel out and do things I knew a “church girl” shouldn’t do thanks to curiosity. The Samoan culture I grew up around always acknowledged God in every event and occasion so I was use to being surrounded by the belief in God. Once I moved to Utah for school, it was a completely different environment from the one I was use to. I was use to a place where God came first in everything and going to a secular-ish school completely changed my entire mindset.

I realized there were other “truths” out there that influenced what I believed was right. For example, I started believing drunkenness was OK as long as I wasn’t hurting anyone. I accepted the idea of “do what makes you happy” as my ultimate truth. Eventually it wasn’t working out and I revamped my definition of “truth” to “a relationship with God (the Christian one) makes you happy”.

Instead of binding myself to religious laws I saw as truth, I learned to live in the freedom of love which comes from Jesus. So far, it hasn’t proved me wrong. I believe in the message of the grace of God shown through Jesus’ death on the cross. Although this may be right to me, it may be a completely different story for you. What do you believe is right? How does your version of truth influence what you believe to be right?

Identity

When you hear “I.D.” you automatically think of a government issued form of identification that says your name, date of birth, country you’re from and etcetera. IDs are used to validate who you are as a person. No ID. No identification. Simple as that.

Identity goes beyond just a government issued ID. It’s who you are as an individual. It’s who you were created to be. If you believe something, you identify yourself with that label and validate it with whatever everyone else says. I believe I can’t drive because I identify myself as a bad driver & had it validated by other people in my life.

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
(Genesis 1:27 NLT)

For a long time I had trouble figuring out who I was and how I fit in this life. I was searching for an identity. I identified myself as so many things and never found the answer in any of those labels. Until I lost my grandma two years ago and I realized the only constant in life is God. Family titles, surnames, villages, school, work even church all disappears or leaves eventually and all I’ll have left is God.

I found my identity in God that day. I now believe I am a daughter of the King because I identify myself as one through Jesus and it has been clearly validated in God’s Word. “…it is Christ who lives in me…I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself to save me.” (Galatians 2:20 NCV) What’s your identity?

Thirsty ?

Imagine yourself running a race. You had water in the beginning but that’s it. You’ve gone for at least half an hour and you can feel yourself longing for water to rehydrate your body. An hour passes and you still haven’t had any water. Your pace slows maybe even to a brisk walk. You’re still going hoping to finish the race. Finally you can’t take it anymore. You need water, but you won’t settle for the disgusting public water fountain that everyone puts their mouths on. No. You won’t get off track for that. You know there’s a water station up ahead so you push until you reach that place where there’s water specifically for those running the race.

For the past couple of weeks I found myself at a place where my spirit was dry & thirsty in this spiritual race I’m in. I longed for more than just a touch from God. I longed to know God personally, but I was too busy running I didn’t want to stop at a water station to rehydrate myself in His presence. I forgot the importance of really getting in my word and spending time with Him.

O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.

(Psalm 63:1 NLT)

This was my cry. This is exactly how I was feeling. I’m sure we have all come to a point where we thirst for something. We want it. We need it. We cry out for it. Our body can’t function properly without it. This is how much we should want God. God wants us to thirst for Him. You think you’re the only one who loves to feel wanted? How much more does God want you to want Him? I’ve learned He desperately does because He wants to be intimate with us. He wants His Spirit to be the water that rehydrates and strengthens on this race we’re running. My question for you reading this is just how thirsty are you for God?

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Empty My Soul

I have two God-fearing ladies that I turn to because they really help me do life God’s way. My Ikki-Ikki and my Chen Chen (kind of just clicked that my nicknames for them both consist of a repetitive weirdness. Haha) have been my spiritual sisters for a while. We all have shared sins and scriptures throughout the course of our relationship with each other. We’re all very different in many ways, but we have a common denominator. We are all daughters of the King living life on earth learning to bring Him glory and honor. One confession session with these ladies and I feel refreshed and ready to allow God to help me take on any situation.

God desires us to have fellowship with people who will uplift us and uplift Him at the same time for our benefit. When we confess to God and others, we are literally emptying out our soul. People go on breaks and vacations to clear their mind. Your soul needs the same type of “clearing” from the guilt that sin binds us in.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. (James 5:16 NLT)

In confession and prayer, we find a feeling of renewal. I’m not saying go and sin some more then confess and get cleansed again. Like the woman Jesus forgave after she was forced to confess her sin of adultery; Jesus tells us the same message after we confess, “Go and sin no more.”

Emptying your soul is simple, but you need to be in fellowship with God and the right people. Find your Ikki-Ikki and Chen Chen in your life and let the healing begin. Trust me when I say you haven’t experienced the power of freedom until you’ve experienced the power of prayer.


– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

These Are My Confessions

Boy did I love Usher while growing up. I remember when he released his album Confessions I memorized every word for every song (yes I was that obsessed with him.) I would even use his lyrics when I had no words to confess whatever it was I was feeling.
David used music to confess too except, unlike me, he confessed how he felt towards God. Because he confessed daily his love for God while alone, he was able to confront Goliath and confess before him and all of Israel the awesomeness of God and what He was going to do.
God wants to help us with the Goliaths in our lives, but if we don’t memorize His Word like we memorize songs how do you expect to know what to confess? When a person comes to the realization that they need God it is because they heard His Word somehow, somewhere. Once we become saved we need to continue to seek God by discovering the truths of His Word. The Bible is like His lyrics except its the soundtrack of our lives that we need to confess daily.

“God’s Word goes on and on forever. This is the Word that conceived the new life in you.” (1 Peter 1:25 MSG)

Best part of confessing God’s Word in your life is it remains the one constant when everything else seems to be very fluid. 1 John says when you confess that Jesus is the Son of God you will find yourself becoming more intimate with God because He resides in you. This is where we draw strength from. There is great power in the tongue, but even greater power in confessing the Word of God in your life. “These are my confessions.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone