Christmas Reflection 1 – Strength in Joy

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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.
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Weekly Writing Challenge: Mystery Ending

So many different topics come to mind. It doesn’t help that life in itself is probably the biggest mystery of all. Currently, the violin instrumentals that are playing are setting up the mood for this week’s post. It should be interesting to say the least.

It’s Two-sday. 😀 Get it? I’m sure you do. Recently, I witnessed the outcome of several bad decisions I made. I did things I did not think would have any repercussions. I was wrong. During a conversation with a friend, I told her

It’s too late. I can’t do anything to change the past. I can only change my choices in the present to make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future.

Ironic enough the blog from Wednesday on the Daily Post had to do with childhood “adult visions”. If you’d really like to know all about what my childhood self wanted, feel free to read my “I’m A Big Kid Now” blog post.  There’s so many possibilities for the future based on all my different childhood imaginations. I’m pretty much working and waiting to see what is to come.

FRUIT CUPS ! More specifically, the delicious coconut jellies in the fruit cups that leave me wanting more. With so many left over fruit cups after school, it would be a shame to see it all go to waste. So where does it end up? In my refrigerator…well the fruit cups do at least. In the words of my mom,

“Waste not. Want not.”

Theme song of the week: Chandelier by Sia. Why? Because…

Party girls don’t get hurt. Can’t feel anything, when will I learn? I push it down, push it down.”

I’ve lived that line for a long time but never realized it until this song. I get hurt and I party it off. It’s like grown people medicine. It’s disgusting, but the effects feel so good.

I’m the one ‘for a good time call.’ Phone’s blowin’ up, ringin’ my doorbell. I feel the love, feel the love”

It’s all fun and games until…actually there’s no until. That’s all it’s really about. Fun & Games. Truth be told, I love it. I love  happy atmospheres and getting everyone on good ones. I love keeping the energy up and dancing until my feet hurt. I’m always the one who gets the calls (no ringing doorbells because those don’t exist on my island) “Lets Go Out!” Don’t get me wrong, I love it but it’s always…

1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink

Throw ’em back ’til I lose count

Every weekend. Never fails. Same process. Why do I do it?

“I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down, won’t open my eyes. Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight.”

Based on how I was raised, I was taught to always look to God for everything. I believe in that, but after all the pressures of the week, it always feels amazing to release and it feels like…

“I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier. I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist.”

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/telephone/

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”.

In Loving Memory of my Grandma Fou

This post is dedicated to someone very dear to me that went to be with Jesus on April 10, 2014. 

My grandma's face in the back though :D

I miss her. This photo was taken on my 25th birthday. She asked me “Aga fea e fai sou toalua? Toeiti alu a’u. Fia vaai a’u lou faaipoipoga.” (translation: When are you getting married? I’m going soon. I want to see you get married). I laughed and replied “Aua e te popole (translation: don’t worry) Grandma, I’ll get married before you go. I promise.” I won’t be able to keep that promise now and it makes me sad to know that I can’t. My grandma’s face in the back though 😀

Some people grow up not knowing their grandparents. On my mom’s side, I was fortunate enough to grow up with four different grandmas that were basically like having one. I was “the pele” (equivalent to princess, still am) and I was treated as such by all my grandma’s sisters living in American Samoa, which I refer to as my Aua grandmas. Grandma Fou was the oldest of all my grandmas. She was loving. She was kind. She was sweet. She was beautiful. She was wise. She was strong.

She was a phenomenal woman. She had such a peaceful presence that would flow from her spirit. My mom said she was the best at putting babies to sleep. No matter how fussy I got, Grandma Fou would put me in her lap, sing to me and po po me until I fell asleep. I spent most of my infant and toddler years in her house. Like my Aunty Julia (Grandma Fou’s baby girl) said, I was the first grand-baby they took care of in their house.

I  remember feeling loved whenever she’d greet me with a “Hi Baby”, smile and kiss me on the lips. I remember feeling safe when in her arms. I remember feeling joy every time I saw her because I knew I was going to get money or candy. I remember looking forward to going to daycare in Aua because I never really stayed in daycare. I spent most of my time with her and Papa Fu’e in their house because they spoiled me and I loved it. I remember our Fale family Christmases at her house. I remember family events and even random visits to Grandma Fou’s place just because. I remember how much I loved the relationship she had with her sisters.

The Fale Sisters - My Aua Grandmas. <3 Grandma Fou, Grandma Eseta, Grandma Lafo and Grandma Vai

The Fale Sisters – My Aua Grandmas.

I have no regrets. I loved her greatly and she knew it very well. I made time to see her and loved on her but not as much as she loved on me. She lived a full, blessed life and was clothed in beauty, humility, wisdom, strength and love. She always took care of her family and loved beyond words.

Life won’t be the same without her earthly presence. She’s rejoicing with Jesus right now and experiencing a blessed reunion with Papa Fu’e, Great-Papa, Pema, Aunty La’i and all her loved ones that have gone before. Heaven gained another beautiful spirit. I love you Grandma.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4 (NLT)

 

I will miss you immensely.

I will miss you immensely.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold

 

The threshold of every Jesus moment is at the cross.

The threshold of every Jesus moment is at the cross.

“At the cross, at the cross
Where I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart
Rolled away.
It was there by faith
I received my sight
And now I’m happy all the day”

This chorus from the hymn At the Cross by Isaac Watts describes perfectly as to why the cross is the most perfect picture of a threshold. Every Christian experiences that moment in their life where they receive salvation and experience that overwhelming feeling of grace and love. It is at the foot of the cross of Jesus where all the past, present and future wrongs are left behind and this new born Christian starts the journey to eternal life. The Christian life is not an answer to an easy life, but it is the answer to a stronger and more complete life. A life that begins at the cross.

Pictured above is a picture of my church members coming to the cross to find healing, restoration, forgiveness and grace. Touching the cross is a symbol of leaving behind all the hurts, pains, sins, wrongs at the cross of Jesus so they can start a new journey in a new season with the Lord as the Guide.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/photo-challenge-threshold/

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is based on writing a love poem to an inanimate object. I figured why not tie it in.

Christ’s Cross: My Threshold

To demonstrate my love,
I can not do enough.
Words are inadequate
Value beyond a diamond in the rough.

Everything wrong I’ve done
I don’t have to carry
I can leave it at the cross
Where all my sins I bury

The threshold of a new journey
A life with Jesus I’ll be beginning
After I nail my sins to the cross
Where Christ died for my new being.

To demonstrate my love,
I can not do enough.
Christ’s cross where He suffered and bled
So I can leave my sinful slough.

Day 7 of NaPoWriMo 30 Day Challenge: http://www.napowrimo.net/2014/04/one-week-in/

Day 2: Standing Strong (Inspired by Fatu ma Futi)

Fatu ma Futi. The legendary inspiration.  (Ignore the blurry coconut trees and moving grass. I was passing by in my car, but this proves how majestic and strong these rocks are.)

Fatu ma Futi. The legendary inspiration.
Fatu is in the back and Futi is closer to shore.(Ignore the blurry coconut trees and moving grass. I was passing by in my car, but this proves how majestic and strong these rocks are.)

 

Driving down Tutuila’s coast
You’ll find two big seastacks
Amongst the coral
Surrounded by the ocean

Standing strong

Unmovable and beautiful
These two lovers
Fatu and Futi
Magnificent in their own way

Standing strong

Some say they were sailing
from Samoa i Sisifo for days
Nearly at the shores of Tutuila
They died and turned to rock

Standing strong

Another legend
Tells of Fatu going fishing
And a shark about to attack
Until Futi came to seek her love

Standing strong

She distracted the shark
To save her lover
In their places
They turned to rock

Standing strong

A legend this might be
But it is a story of love
A story of sacrifice
A story of conquering fear while

Standing strong

On to the Next One

Closing the door on this quarter while opening the door for the next is both exciting and relieving at the same time. Quarter 3 seemed to go on for too long so being able to see this…

Oh the joy of seeing this !

Oh the joy of seeing this !

…is absolutely breathtaking. There are many beautiful things in life, but one thing I find absolutely beautiful is seeing something completed and done and not having any remorse about anything.

Sometimes I wish we had set quarters in life. So in that way I would know when to open what doors and what doors should never be opened at all. Unfortunately life is full of surprises. I guess this is what keeps life interesting. If we always knew what we were getting and when we were getting it, life let alone whatever opportunity or learning experience is behind whatever door we choose to open wouldn’t be as exciting.

Yes it would save a lot and I mean a lot of heartaches and hurts. What is life without the sours? It can’t always be sweet or might get sick.

Anyways, I’m grateful and eager for the 4th quarter to come and go. I’m excited for the lessons I’ll learn and the values I teach. Last stretch, so this should be fun. Here I go on to the next one.