The Balancing Act

Have you ever had a moment where you’ve just wanted to kiss all of your commitments goodbye and run away to a tropical island, or maybe a secluded cabin in the woods (I’ll take the cabin ASAP, please)? If you’re a responsible adult, I’m pretty sure that you can relate to this. Being an adult (“adulting”) is not easy and it is certainly not always fun.
These past few months have been the busiest of my life. I’m in my final semester of school, and next month I will graduate with my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work! Yay! When I started this semester, I knew it was going to be busy but I also thought it would be relatively painless because it’s the LAST one. I was totally wrong. I spend three days a week internining. I work 12 hour shifts at Publix twice a week, and I usually work Saturdays, too. I still have to go to school once a week and I have another online class.
A lot of people are even busier than this. A lot of people have kids and spouses and full-time jobs to worry about. Maybe you’re one of those people. Maybe you have less on your plate but still feel overwhelmed with your commitments. I don’t think it really matters exactly what you’ve got going on. If you find yourself struggling to juggle everything in your life and need a little help, this post is for you!
I have come up with four key strategies that have helped me through this super busy time in my life.
I consider myself to be relatively good at performing the “balancing act” for one reason: I am extremely organized. I think that’s the key to making sure that you don’t forget anything in the midst of the chaos in life. With that organization comes my first two points:
1. Plan out your entire week on Saturday or Sunday 



A few Christmases ago, my Grandma got me a white board that has been a complete lifesaver ever since I started school. Here it is:

Every Sunday, I actually sit down and fill out this white board for the week! For some people, this might seem a little over-the-top and anal. Please trust me when I say it helps! It takes a little bit of time, but it puts my mind at ease throughout the rest of the week. There is nothing worse than being extremely busy and having to stress about other upcoming events or due dates. When I write everything out and actually schedule myself to work on assignments, I don’t have to worry about them when I’m at work or interning. I know that I won’t miss a due date and that I’ll have enough time to finish the tasks I have in front of me.
On the left side, you can see that I’ve written down all of my assignments for the entire semester. I started doing this last year at the beginning of each semester. I had four classes and I would get so overwhelmed thinking about all of the assignments I had to complete! When I wrote out everything in order by due date, it really put my mind at ease. It helped me to focus only on what was due next so I wouldn’t have to stress about all the assignments that were due further down the road. I like to leave them on my white board and cross them out because it makes me feel accomplished!
I have my Type-A personality to thank for this strategy. I don’t have to worry about if I’m forgetting something and I don’t have to fumble through my school papers to see what’s due. I don’t have to worry that I’ll forget to buy a dress for the wedding I’m going to next week. Some people like using their planners and calendars in their phones and if that works for you, do it! I personally like having everything written out in front of me. I don’t have to go to bed at night and try to make a to-do list in my head because I’ve already made it!
2. Do as much as you can the night before 

 

  
I’m the type of person who likes to wake up with just enough time to get ready. I hate having a million things to do in the morning. Because of this, I’ll try to get myself ready for the next day at night time. I love making my lunch for the next day so I can just grab it and go in the morning. Also, I’ll put all of my books and folders that I need for interning in my car so I don’t have to lug a thousand things out the door. This also guarantees that I won’t forget anything!
There is nothing worse than starting your day with a stressful, scattered morning. My mornings set the tone for my whole day. Because of that, I make the extra effort the night before to ensure that my mornings go smoothly.
3. Know when to say no.  



This is extremely important for everyone. When we get accustomed to being super busy and doing million things, it’s so easy to spread ourselves too thin. I’m so guilty of this.
If I commit to something, I want to commit to it 100%. I want to be able to give it my best. I would rather be committed to three things and do them with excellence than be committed to four or five things and be mediocre.
I’ve had to say no to a lot of things so that I could fully commit to other things. It is not always easy to decide what things are most important and deserve our time.
When I fear that I will be spread too thin, I’ll cut back here and there and see how the week or month goes. If I feel I can take on more, I will. It’s easier to take on less than it is to take on a lot and decide halfway through something that you just don’t have the time.
If possible, keep one day of the week clear! Having no commitments besides church on Sundays is so important for me. That day keeps me sane and gives me a chance to reboot and focus on the people I love and want to spend time with.
4. Accept change



Before I started interning this semester, I would almost always have free time in the morning. I would sit outside with my coffee, put some music on, read my bible, and write. Since January, I honestly have probably been able to do this 2 or 3 times. It really sucks, to be honest. I miss that time a lot.
I’ve tried to recreate that relaxing morning time the best I can. I have a 30 minute drive in the mornings. I’ll bring my coffee in the car and drink it slowly (my favorite way to drink coffee!) and just relax and listen to whatever music I put on. It’s not the same as it used to be, but it’s as close as I can get right now.
I’ve learned to be flexible and just “make it work”. It’s not easy for me, but by accepting that things are different, I’ve found that I’m happier. If I were to focus on the way things used to be and the way I would prefer them to be, I would be resentful of my job and school. That’s not a good way to live! Do what you can with what you have.
Things change a lot when our schedules get busy. By staying organized, being thoughtful with our time, and trying our best to go with the flow with our changing routines, we can make it a lot smoother!
I hope that these tips have helped you!

 

Maybe you’ll be able to take them and make them work for your life and your schedule! Remember that hard work pays off. There is no better feeling than crossing your “finish line”! It totally makes the long hours and nonstop work worth it.

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Trust in The Lord…

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding”-Proverbs‬ ‭3:5

With all your heart…

With all my heart…

With all my heart…?

This is one of those famous “go-to” verses in the Bible about trusting God. It’s one that I happen to love, too. However, I’ve recently been thinking a lot about that word “all.” I’ve dwelled on the concept of wholeheartedly trusting all that God is to be in control and take care of all that I am. Is it something that’s easier said than done? Absolutely.

Trust isn’t something that comes instantly. If someone you just recently met put a blindfold on you, put you in their car, and said, “Just trust me,” you wouldn’t. Right? You’d have a hundred questions. You’d (hopefully) go running in the other direction from that weirdo. You most certainly wouldn’t trust them. Why would you? After all, you just met them and you really have no idea who they are. They never earned your trust.

This might be an extreme analogy, but my point is that we can’t just instantly trust God either. No matter how badly we want to or how often we say we do, I believe that this trust is something that takes time to cultivate. I believe that we have to train our doubtful, limited minds to not only be able to put all of ourselves into God’s hands, but to do that and be at peace no matter how bad our lives may look at the time.

God loves us far too much to ever do anything but take care of us. Even so, this life is far from perfect and sometimes we face some super tough situations. Our lives may seem to fall apart at times, but God stays the same and promises to see us through it all.

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” ‭-Philippians‬ ‭4:19‬

Read that last paragraph and that verse again. I bet you believe it, and I bet it sounds pretty good to you. It sounds pretty good to me. I know it’s the truth. It’s comforting to read that verse and know that God will always meet my needs. But really, how often is our trust in God really put to the test?

It’s easy to say we trust God when things get a little shaky. Maybe we’re stressed out about school or we’re having a really hard time at work because of issues with co-workers. These are difficult situations which we might pray about and tell God that we trust Him to work it out.

I think it’s easy to trust God in those situations and similar ones because we still have partial control over them. If we apply ourselves hard enough in school and make the time to study and do homework like we should, we can earn good grades. If we take the initiative to talk things out with co-workers, it’s very possible that we can work through whatever issues we have.

But what about when something is completely, utterly, 100% out of your control? Think about it: how many times do we really face situations where there is really nothing we can do to fix it? It isn’t every day. What if you lost your job? What if you found out you had cancer? Those are situations, along with plenty of others, where our trust is really tested. We have no choice but to trust that God has complete control over a situation that we have absolutely no control over.

I think that the key is this: we can’t wait for things to go terribly wrong in our lives and then figure out if we really trust God as much as we say we do. We can’t go along happily—day after day—and then try to build trust in God when we hit a wall. We need unshakable faith and trust in God before bad things come our way.

So with all that in mind, I was thinking about ways that we can build up our trust in God before we face a situation that will put us to the test. Here are a few things I came up with:

1. Trust Him with the little things.

Here’s a personal story for ya: Recently, I had a doctor’s appointment. It turned out that my doctor was slightly concerned about something and recommended that I go for further testing just to be safe. Even though she was just taking precautions, it was a scary thing to hear. Immediately I thought to myself, “You are covered by the blood of Jesus. You are going to be fine.”

Even so, my mind was running a million miles per hour. I prayed, asking God to give me peace and calm me down. He said to me, “I’ve come through for you so many times in the past. Even though this seems bigger and scarier to you, it’s all the same to Me. I’m going to take care of you just like I always have.” 

Now THAT was the most comforting thing He could have told me. It’s a lot easier for me to trust God with big things because I have trusted Him with smaller things in the past. I began to think about all of the times He made me promises and followed through with them and made ways for me that I couldn’t have made on my own.

(These test results came back normal, by the way! I am perfectly fine!)

I have reasons to trust God with big things because I’ve given Him opportunities to make ways for me in the past.

Small situations that require trust are like building blocks. They help to build our faith up so when big strorms hit, we have something to hold on to. We have those little things to look back on as assurance that God will take care of us time and time again.

2. Give Him glory when things go right.

This ties in with #1. I believe God has a hand in all of our successes, whether it be a drive to work every day without getting into an accident or finding the person we want to spend the rest of our lives with. I don’t believe we get lucky. God makes small paths for us and he makes huge highways for us. No matter how big or small, He deserves praise for the good that comes our way.

By recognizing God’s sovereignty when things go right, we can become more and more confident that He will still be sovereign when things go wrong. Consciously thanking God for the good things He does for us helps us to remember that He is always doing good for us, even when the future becomes fuzzy.

3. Leave the bigger picture up to Him.

…even when things don’t look the way you had hoped or planned. If I’ve learned anything from following Jesus, it’s that I have absolutely no idea what the bigger picture is supposed to look like. If I had a dollar for every time I wanted things to go one way but they went another way, I would be rich enough to find a way to make it snow in Florida on Christmas (yeah, I’m super bitter about this blistering heat in December).

Looking back on all of those times, I can only say that I’m so grateful that God sees the bigger picture when I don’t! If I had it my way, I would have changed so many situations in my life that I wasn’t happy with. I’m confident that I would have royally screwed my life up and would not be where I am today.

Sometimes we simply just don’t get our way, and that’s okay. God has nothing but our best interest in mind, and sometimes we have to take roads that we never planned on taking in order to reach the places He wants us to be. After all, that’s where we want to be, right? Where God wants us. If that’s our desire in this life, then we can’t stress out when we don’t get what we want or when situations are less than ideal. That means we have to trust that He is leading us somewhere even better than where we are now!

Trust is a weird thing to me. It’s not the same for any two people because our lives are so completely different. There is not an exact science to becoming completely trusting in God and His love for us. However I hope this post at least makes you reflect on your life, no matter what kind of mess you might find yourself in, and that you will find your own ways to completely put your life into the hands on the One who made you.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.”‭‭ -Jeremiah‬ ‭17:7-8

For You on My 22nd Birthday

Before you ask…yes. I am feeling 22. Yes, that song has been stuck in my head all morning. 
I can’t say for sure what being 22 feels like…yet. I’ve only been 22 for about 10 out of 8,760 hours. I have a hunch that it will feel pretty amazing, and that some awesome things are in store for me this year! 
As I sat outside this morning, ready to reflect on the past 8,760 hours of my life, I received a text from one of my very best friends that caused me to switch gears.
After saying happy birthday to me, she said, “Hey Christine I’m so happy that you were born on this day!” 
I’m sure she didn’t intend for me to take a life lesson away from that, but I like to consider myself a “deep” person and sometimes I just can’t help but turn a small sentence into something it was never supposed to be (not that that’s a bad thing!). So there I sat, taking in the significance of those words. 
I was born on THIS day 22 years ago, and I know that was far from an accident. 
I started to think about not just myself and the significance of my birth, but about all of us—about you. I’ve taken some time to gather my thoughts, and I would like to share them! Also I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet because my cousins are currently twiddling their thumbs waiting for me to go join them for a girls day of shopping! 
You—yes, I’m talking to you—were born at a specific time, in a very specific place, for a very specific purpose. No matter what the circumstances surrounding your birth might be, it was timed perfectly by the Creator of the universe. Before your parents even thought about you, and before their parents even thought about them, and before their parents even thought about them, and before the beginning of time, God saw you, loved you, and knew you! 
He purposed to put you on this planet at exactly the second that He did because you have a purpose. Wherever you are, whoever you are, God put you here because you are meant to do something amazing right now. If you were born six months earlier or a day later, you wouldn’t be you. There are hundreds of lives that would be completely different if you weren’t born when you were, or if you weren’t born at all. 
In the grand scheme of things, it seems that our lives are so teeny tiny and perhaps make no difference on this universe. There is nothing further from the truth. Think about how perfectly, ABSOLUTELY perfectly, all the things on this planet…no, in the universe, have to line up in order for an event to take place. God lines all of those things up perfectly and He sees the bigger picture. The “bigger picture” of life wouldn’t be the same without you! It needs you
I was born on November 11th, 1993 at 7:56 AM (I think that’s right) because, well…that was my time. Every moment—every second of my life—stems from that second of that minute of that day of that year. The same goes for your birthday (and birth minute and birth second). Every moment counts because you were born for them! All the lives of the people you know rely on you in one way or another. Their lives—this planet—wouldn’t be the same without YOUR life! Isn’t that insane?
You were born for today, and tomorrow, and every day to come. So I just want to encourage you this morning to embrace the person you are. Don’t be afraid to go after what you were created to be. None of it is an accident! Everything you do had a domino effect on the people around you. 
This is a lot to think about, but I think it should motivate us to take advantage of every day, every minute, and to purpose to use our time exactly for what God created us to use it for. It’s overwhelming but I think it’s also exciting to know that our lives matter and impact this world significantly! 
“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” -Psalms‬ ‭139:16‬ 

All the Single Ladies (and Men)

Now put your hands up! (Come on, like you didn’t see that one coming)

I want to talk about being single today because it’s something that’s been on my heart a little heavier lately.

Almost all of my friends are married. I have five girlfriends who are more like sisters to me, and four of them are married! Most of the time, our conversations concerning relationships have to do with how one friend is frustrated with her husband because he leaves the trash cans at the end of their mile-long driveway, or how another friend is feuding with her husband about how to spend money on a certain item.

Obviously these aren’t serious fights or issues (because my friends have AMAZING husbands and I am so happy for each one of them!), but my point is that in my circle of friends, I have very little relationship advice to offer. I can empathize and I can tell them what I would do if I were in their shoes, but still I can’t truly relate to their frustrations. I can offer advice, and it may be awesome advice, but really…what do I know about being married? What do I know about how to compromise with a spouse? What do I know about dealing with finances with another person? I share in their ups and downs of marriage, but I have no idea how any of it feels. No matter how prepared I am for marriage or how mature I am, I really will never be able to relate to or offer my best advice until I am there myself.

So today I want to talk about the opposite of being married, which is what I am. I want to talk about being single…and oh man, have I got advice for you!

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to pour in to someone who I deeply love and care for who is single. It made me realize that I have a lot to say to women AND men who aren’t in relationships yet, and I rarely get a chance to share any of it.

But thank God for the internet that gives me a chance to share all my wisdom publicly, whether it’s wanted or not (and that’s assuming that there are people who are actually reading this)! Also, a blog can double as an advice column, right?

So like any post that exists these days, I’ve compiled a list of points for you. These are the three most important things (in no particular order, because they are all equally necessary) that I’ve learned while being a single Christian:


1. Be single while you’re single 

Whether you’re a follower of Christ or not, I feel like this is something that every single person should do. It’s something that I’ve only done in the past two years or so. In high school and a little bit after, I was always in a relationship. I had a few relationships that lasted a very long time, two of which were over a year long. Once I met Jesus, I realized that although those relationships taught me many valuable lessons, I was then eighteen years old and I had no idea who I was. I was considered an adult by law, could buy lottery tickets, and order things from TV (you know, the commercials that always say that “you must be 18 years or older to call”), but I didn’t know who Christine Darmanin was.

I was so young when I started dating and spent all of my time getting to know the guy I was with that I never got to know myself. I neglected myself, and that was a scary realization. For so long I rolled my eyes at the concept of “getting to know yourself” because it seemed so dumb! How could a person not know who they were? I mean, they’ve only known themself for their whole life!!

But Jesus revealed to me how much deeper that concept is. With all the distractions that exist in this world (most specifically, members of the opposite sex), it’s so easy to focus on people and things that exist outside of ourselves. Because of that, I think we need to value the concept of being single.

If you have been brave enough to admit the fact that you don’t really know yourself, be brave enough to take as much time as you need to discover who you are without a guy or girl in the picture. This includes all those weird “we’re not dating, we’re just ‘talking’” relationships: the relationships with the fuzzy grey areas that aren’t easily defined by the people involved.

I’ll define it for you: if you’re investing yourself into another person, whether it’s “Facebook official” or not, you’re in a relationship. The unofficial relationships are just as influential as the official ones, and are just as distracting whether you admit it or not. You can say that you’re “just friends” but you’re not fooling anyone. Trust me, I’ve tried it.

What do YOU like to do? What issues are YOU really passionate about? Where do you see YOURSELF in the next ten years? The answers to these questions take time to find and you can’t find them when you throw a guy or girl in the mix, whether you publicly call them your significant other or not. Don’t build yourself around a guy or girl. Find who you are and trust that one day when the time is right, you will find someone who shares your goals, passions, and dreams. I believe that that’s how two people build an honest and solid life together.


2. Don’t pity yourself 

If you’re single or were ever single, I’m sure you went through this phase—the “woe is me” phase (if you want to hear about mine, just read my “The Twenty-Year-Old Who Threw a Temper Tantrum” post from last October. It was bad, people. Very bad.)

I’ve come to realize that this mentality—the “poor me, I’m single and therefore must be undesirable” mentality—doesn’t really come from inside of us. It comes from outside.

I look around at my church and at my circle of friends, and there aren’t very many of us left who aren’t married or at least in a committed relationship. This can cause a sense of panic, but why? Why does it matter if everyone else got married before they were 22 and you didn’t?

I had a really hard time when my cousin/best friend/sister got married a year and a half ago. I was angry that not only was she getting married before me, but I didn’t even have a potential relationship in view at all. I realized soon after how utterly stupid that was. Although it’s normal to want to find that person, that desire should never hinder your joy for others or make you compare yourself to others. Jealousy and anger surrounding your singleness is a sure sign that you’re not ready to be in a relationship. Marriage isn’t the answer to your problems and it won’t cure your unhappiness.

There is such a blessing in young marriage, and I’m so happy for my friends who have it. But there is nothing wrong with not being married yet. You’re not Cinderella. Your carriage is not going to turn into a pumpkin when your 22nd (or 25th, or 30th) birthday comes.

Everyone’s journey is so different. There is not a right or wrong age to get married. The right time for me to get married is whenever God sees fit. Clearly, it’s not when I’m 19 or 20 or 21, and that’s okay. It’s okay that you haven’t met your person yet (does anyone appreciate my Grey’s Anatomy reference?).

I know that when I get married, it will be the perfect time for me. I know that I will understand why I had to wait longer than my friends. I will know that it was worth the wait, and I already know that I’ll say that I would wait ten more years for that man if God wanted me to. Some days, being single is harder than other days. But knowing that I’m holding out for something that is better than I could even dream of makes it hurt a lot less.

Just because it’s common for people to marry young in the church doesn’t mean that you’re cursed if you aren’t part of that group. Don’t let the relationships around you make you think otherwise!


3. Purpose your time when you’re single

If I had to pick the most important point in this blog, I think it would be this one. Like I said, being single is more than not having a Facebook official title. Being single has to be on purpose. If you purpose to be single, then make a commitment to use that time as wisely as possible.

Being single is more than just waiting for a guy or girl. Being single is a time to allow yourself to grow. I have chosen to use my single hood to grow into the person God created me to be, the person that exists outside of any dating relationship.

I don’t really like when people say things like “let Jesus be your boyfriend” or “date Jesus.” I know it comes with good intention, but it doesn’t make much sense to me. It makes it sound like Jesus is filling the empty hole in my heart where a guy should be, when really Jesus is my whole heart. There isn’t a sad, dusty, empty space with a guy’s name on it. I am already complete because the love of Jesus makes me whole. He isn’t just a placeholder for a guy. I do believe He is preparing a special spot in my heart where my husband will one day be, but it is in no way a void or empty spot.

So I’m not going to say that I’m dating Jesus right now, but it is true that I have purposed to make my relationship with Him the most important one in my life. I want Jesus to be the center of my marriage and in order for that to happen, He needs to be the center of my life before a guy even sets foot in it.

Instead of wasting our single years in fleeting relationships or pitying ourselves as we wait for Prince Charming to come rescue us from this high and lonely tower that we put ourselves in, we need to take this time seriously. There is a purpose to your single hood, so commit yourself to finding out what it is.

Maybe there is something that God wants you to do that you can’t do when you’re married. I believe there is a specific calling for all single people, but sometimes we need to dig deep to find it. Don’t let this time be in vain.

After many years of searching, pouting, and being stagnant, I now know why I’ve been single. I wasn’t ready to be a wife a year ago, or six months ago. God is constantly teaching me lessons and helping me work on my character so that I will be ready when that time comes.

Being single is hard work, and it takes commitment just like being in a relationship with someone does. It takes effort and dedication to find out exactly who God has created us to be. It is so much more than just not having a boyfriend or girlfriend.

So make the most of the time that you’re single, because it is so important. I never knew how desperately I needed this time until I allowed the only relationship in focus to be mine with Jesus.

Finally, it’s okay to want to be in a relationship. That means that God has given you the capacity to love a specific man/woman with the same love and sacrifice that Jesus has for us. But you can’t just go into it blindly. Pray every day for your spouse. Take the time to become the person that your spouse deserves to be with. Most importantly, fall in love with Jesus because He will help you to love and discover yourself, and He will bless your future relationship!

There is no race to the altar to get married. God will get you there at the perfect time for you!

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” -Psalms‬ ‭37:4‬

A Letter to the LGBTQ Community 

Dear LGBTQ’s,

I have had the burning desire to write something to you all day. I’ve been trying to ignore it because, honestly, I’m really afraid. I’m afraid because I never argue politics or religion on social media. I’m afraid of what people will think when they read this, but I’m trying desperately not to be because I know that you deserve to hear what I have to say. Although I am terrified as I type this, I’m more terrified at the thought of not typing it…if that makes any sense. For me to not share this letter with you would be selfish because these words might actually mean something to you.

I am a Christian, and I don’t mean that I go to church on Sundays or that I have a super cool bumper sticker on my car with a cross on it. I mean that I am completely, insanely in love with Jesus and He is the one and only reason that I live. Even with that said, you might be rolling your eyes at me. You might be bracing yourself, preparing to endure yet another attack of hellfire and brimstone like I’m sure you’ve been subjected to many times in the past (or maybe not, if you have not “come out” yet).

This is not my intention in any way, shape, or form. My desire is simply to share my heart with you. My desire is to tell you what I believe Jesus wants me to tell you (and it does not include sentencing you to eternity in hell). My desire is to be heard, and my desire is for you to give me a chance.

The most important thing I want to say to you is that I am sorry. Whoever you are—whether I know you or not—I am so, so sorry. I am sorry that there are people in this world who claim to be Christians, but stand on the street corner and throw hate and disgust in your face. They look down at you, they are afraid of you, and they hate you. All those things literally make them the opposite of Jesus. This keeps me awake at night. This bring tears to my eyes. This makes me sick to my stomach. This infuriates me because it makes you believe that God hates you and will never love you. There is nothing more false than that.

I am sorry that Christians have responded to homosexuality by simply saying things like, “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” (wow…really clever) instead of sharing the love of Jesus with you and telling you that He has a beautiful plan for your life.

I am sorry that Christians haven’t treated you with the love, respect, and empathy that you deserve. What you deserve is the kind of love that will change your life forever.

I am sorry that there are people who look at you and see nothing but a homosexual. That isn’t fair because people don’t look at me and see nothing but a heterosexual. There is so much more to us than that. Maybe you’re a teacher. Maybe you’re an artist. Maybe you can bake a really mean cheesecake (can you tell I’m hungry?). Maybe you’re just a twenty-something with a really lame blog like me. Whoever you are and whatever you do: you are unique, complex, and beautiful.

I am sorry that people take a verse out of the bible—out of its context—and highlight “homosexuality” while failing to recognize that their sins are there, too (I’m referring to Galatians 5:19-21 if you are interested. If you’re going to take a look, then I encourage you to read the whole chapter—which is actually directed to the church itself—because it emphasizes the importance of needing the grace of God, the necessity of loving one another, and the fact that trying to “obey the law” can’t get us to heaven).

I am sorry that you are the target of the fiercest hate that this world has to offer. I’m not really sure why that is. I don’t get it because people don’t burst out in hate when they find out that someone is a fornicator, an alcoholic, or whatever kind of sinner you can think of. I suppose the only reason might be that a heterosexual can understand the concept of adultery (or jealousy or anger or whatever sin you want to throw in there), but loving someone of the same sex is not something that we can relate to. Maybe it’s because homosexuality can’t be hidden the same way that other people hide their sins in their hearts and behind closed doors. Whatever the reason is, it isn’t fair because we are equally sinners.

Yes I said it. I am a Christian and I am calling you a sinner, but I’m calling myself a sinner as well. I’m not going to tell you that homosexuality isn’t a sin, but I’m also not going to just throw a pile of bible verses at you (which you’ve probably heard a million times) to prove it either. I don’t think that’s the real issue here. If I call you out, then I’ll have to call myself out on all of my sins and, well, let’s just say that they aren’t pretty.

Finally, I am sorry that there are probably a lot of you who may have gone to a church before and were treated as an outcast who had some sort of disease (which is ironic and inexcusable because although Christians might sin differently than you, we are “diseased” as well).

Forgive us, please forgive us for being hypocritical and un-Christlike. 

Like I stated above, I can’t relate to loving someone who is the same sex as me. I can, however, relate to loving my sin. I can’t relate to being four or five years old and not being able to figure out why I was different from everyone else, but I can relate to being completely lost and searching for my identity. Before I fell in love with Jesus, I was a totally different person. I was bound by sin and took part in many things that Jesus died to save me from. I can relate to not understanding why I wanted what I couldn’t have (or what the Bible was telling me I couldn’t have). I can relate to keeping things hidden, and being afraid to tell the people I love what was going on in my heart. And although I have accepted Jesus into my heart, turned from my patterns of sin, and believe that He has saved my soul by dying on the cross for me, I am still an imperfect sinner (A.K.A. a human) at the end of the day. We are all imperfect sinners whether we know Jesus or not. 

I know you probably don’t want to listen to me babble about sin, and I don’t want to. I hope you will bear with me because I promise I have a point here.

June 26th, 2015 is a day that has changed America. The complete legalization of gay marriage in all 50 states is a huge deal. Some of the country is rejoicing, and some of the country is…mourning, I guess.

To be completely honest, I do not give a rip about gay marriage being legal or not. I don’t give a rip because legal or not, gay people will be together (yes, I know marriage is bigger than just “being together”). Legal or not, people will murder people. Legal or not, people will have sex with whoever, wherever, whenever under any kind of circumstance. Legal or not, people will get so drunk that they get behind the wheel of a car and injur or kill innocent people. People will sin whether the law permits it or not.

I’m not concerned with the legality of it all right now. I’m concerned about one thing: you as a person. I’m concerned about your heart.

I am going to say something that you might not believe: whether you are free to marry someone of the same sex or not, you will never be truly free until you understand how much Jesus loves you. I urge you to challenge me on this. No matter how many times I gave into my sinful pleasures, whatever they were, they never ever satisfied me the way that the love of Jesus Christ does.

Now, I will finally get to my point. God does not want us to try and change our lives around on our own, and He doesn’t expect us to. He understands what it’s like to fight the urge to sin because Jesus walked this earth as a human and faced every temptation that we face (2 Corinthians 5:21) so that He can relate to us.

He doesn’t ask that you “give up” being gay so that you will be good enough for Him. That is not what He wants at all. The simple, honest truth is that God is head-over-heels, fiercely, irrevocably in love with you. That will never change no matter what we do, where we are, or where we’ve been. He takes us in immediately when we ask him to—while we are broken, screwed up hot messes. He sent His Son to die for you so that you have a chance to spend eternity with Him, and He would do it all over again just for you.

Straight or gay, God loves you in a way that no one on this earth can ever love you. His love for you is constant, unconditional, and He wants nothing more than to know you.

I want to end this with some encouragement. What I want to encourage you to do is not to just read the bible, learn right from wrong, and try to follow all the rules. That is SO not what Christianity is about. I don’t even want you to try to stop being gay (although I never struggled with homosexuality, I have tried to “stop” sinning. It isn’t possible to do with our own strength and before we have something real with Jesus, so don’t worry about that right now). God doesn’t ask us to fix ourselves up now and then come to Him, He takes us in with open arms wherever we are. What I want to encourage you to do is to ask God to reveal to you how much He loves you. Unless you see it for yourself, it will never be real to you. God’s love changes us; it definitely changed everything about me! Just ask God to show Himself to you, and He will because He is faithful.

If you have made it to the end of this letter, THANK YOU for giving me a chance! You might not agree with what I’ve got to say, but I’m thankful that you have read this anyway. Thank you for giving me the freedom to speak my mind. Thank you for letting me love you enough to share this with you.

I hope it has made you see God in a different light. I hope you can see Him more clearly for who He is. I hope you have begun to understand how much He loves you, now and always!

I also hope you have seen my heart in this letter. I hope I have encouraged you and have helped you to believe that all Christians aren’t hateful. I can say with all sincerity that I love you, and that you are so much more than just a homosexual. You are so special, so loved, and I truly respect you. If you would like me to pray for you, encourage you, or maybe just talk with you, please contact me at any time (even if you aren’t gay)!

Most importantly, please remember that it is never too late to accept Jesus into your life and receive forgiveness. He loves you too much to ever turn you away!

“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” -Ephesians‬ ‭2‬:‭4-5‬

Sincerely Yours,

A Fellow Sinner

How to Get Where You’re Going

“What is ‘my calling’?” “What does God want me to do with my life?”  

These are questions that I’m sure every Christian has asked themselves, myself included. 

This has always been difficult for me because I am a planner. Whether it’s planning a party, a day at the beach, or my career, I love to have all the pieces in place. I love to plan exactly what’s going to happen, how to make it happen, and when it’s going to happen. I don’t like grey areas and I certainly HATE uncertainty.

Most of the time, this is a good quality to have. It helps me to get stuff done and it causes me to be very straightforward and black-and-white with people.

But when it comes to my trust in God…well…that’s another story.

It’s not that I don’t trust Him, I literally trust Him with my whole life! Although sometimes I wish He would be as straightforward with me as I am with Him. Sometimes I wish He would tell me exactly where I’m going and how to get there.

But really, what good would that do? If it was guaranteed that if I follow Jesus He will tell me exactly every move to make, then what would be the point? It wouldn’t require any faith. It wouldn’t require any trust!

I don’t love God because of what He can do for me, I love Him for who He is. Regardless of what I’m doing or not doing in my life, God is still God and I love Him the same. 

In the past year (more specifically, the past few months or so), God has really helped me to understand what my “calling” is. He did not give me a spreadsheet and a to-do list that told me exactly what to do and how to do it.

He gave me a better understanding of who He is and who I am in His eyes. That’s the best thing I could ask for!

So today I want to share two things that I think can help us all find our calling. Yes, just two things! Although these two things are simple, they aren’t always easy…

1. Love God

That’s right, love God. I believe that this is the first step of being obedient to God. You cannot be a Christian if you have not fallen in love with Jesus.

For me, this actually took a while. As a matter of fact, I spent a few years thinking I was a Christian simply because I was going to church. It wasn’t until I came to a fork in the road with my schooling that I realized that this wasn’t true.

I was in nursing school when I first graduated high school. I knew I loved to help people and that nursing is definitely a stable career to have. If you’re a nurse, I’m sure you are basically guaranteed a job! That sounded good to me, so I went for it.

After a semester I started realizing that I hated nursing school. I could not picture myself doing it for the rest of my life. I realized that I had made the decision to go to nursing school without even asking God if that was what He wanted me to do.

I spent the whole weekend praying about school and asking God to show me what He wanted me to do—if He wanted me to stay in nursing school or do something else. His response came three days later. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but it changed everything:

“Why would I tell you what I want you to do with your life when you haven’t even fallen in love with Me yet?”

That question changed my life. After that night, I really started to get to know Jesus for myself. I didn’t just listen to sermons about Him at church. I pursued Him on my own and we built our own relationship. I read His Word and talked with Him and prayed to Him. He has become my best friend and I want nothing more in this life than Him.

You can’t want the same things for your life that God wants if you don’t love Him. When you really love God and have a personal relationship with Him, you will want nothing more than to do whatever He tells you to do.


2. Follow God

This revelation is newer to me. It’s a concept I’ve known for a while, but I wasn’t looking at it from the right perspective.

God hasn’t given me a book titled “God’s Calling for Christine Darmanin’s Life and How to Get There,” but I was almost expecting Him to give me something like that. How could I follow God if I didn’t know where He was taking me?

Here is what I have realized recently: following God doesn’t always mean “pursuing your calling”…at first. I think that following God means—simply put—following Him. 

I think about the Israelites in the desert after they fled Egypt. In the Old Testament when Moses was leading the Israelites, God’s presence appeared to them as a cloud.

“Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel would set up camp. In this way, they traveled and camped at the LORD’s command wherever he told them to go.”—Numbers‬ ‭9‬:‭17-18

The Israelites followed God even though they didn’t know the route. They didn’t know where they were going next or how long they would be there. All they knew is that they had to follow God and if they didn’t, they would be lost. That is what God wants from us. He just wants us to watch where He is going and to be obedient enough to go with Him.

Sometimes Christians get so wrapped up in figuring out exactly which path they’re supposed to go down that they forget why they’re searching for it (I’m guilty as charged). It’s not for our own comfort or our own security. It’s not so we can rest at night and not have to worry about what career we are or aren’t supposed to have.

It’s so we can do exactly what God made us to do. 

There’s nothing worse than not being who God created you to be. And I would know because I didn’t even know Jesus until I was in high school.

What God made us to do—”our calling”—is really very simple, and it’s the same for us all: love God and love people.

“Jesus replied, ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”—Matthew‬ ‭22‬:‭37-39‬ 

We don’t need to sit around waiting for God to give us a revelation of what we should be doing. He has already told us what to do.

If we’re doing those things where we are with what we have, then we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be. If we’re loving God, loving people, and being obedient, we don’t have to worry about exactly where we’re going.

If we’re constantly trying to see where we’re going, we can’t focus on the way to get there: Jesus.

The future isn’t always spelled out for us. I’m not sure if there is even an end point in this life. I don’t think that even being settled into a career can give us the ability to say, “I have arrived! I’m now where God wants me to be.” God is never done growing us, using us, and leading us. There will always be a new adventure ahead of us!

If we’re simply following Jesus, then we’re where we are supposed to be.

I’ve said all of this to say: don’t worry about the future, as cliche as it sounds. All you have to worry about is being completely sold out to the One who knows your future and has already seen you in it. He will get you where you need to be. After that, He will get you to where you need to be next. He will lead you again and again throughout this life, and if you’re in His will then you won’t have to worry about what to do next.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” -John‬ ‭10‬:‭27‬

Lessons Learned in the Waves

I have to say, I’m so grateful that TODAY is the one day this week where I will sit outside in my backyard.  It’s slightly chilly, the sky is the most breathtaking shade of blue, and every tree in my sight is vibrant green with life. I think this is the day I wait for all year. The day where it really feels like SPRING! 


I’m so strangely excited about this because Spring in Florida is definitely da bomb. We either have extreme, hellish heat all year or completely frozen winters. March is usually the small window where the weather is actually enjoyable, and it’s the time of year that I have a little bit of hope in this state. 


Sorry, this post isn’t supposed to be about Spring or the weather. I promise I’m going somewhere with this, okay? 


So as I was basking in the wonderfulness of this fine spring morning, I realized that it won’t be too long before we’re back to that suffocating heat that Florida summers bring us (sorry if I just bursted your bubble. I definitely just bursted my own). 


But with summer also comes beach time! That is something to get excited about. So as I was thinking about beaches (I hope you’re all following me on my crazy train of thought here. Sometimes it’s too crazy for me to keep up with, too), I began reminiscing about my vacation last year to Cocoa Beach. I remembered this lesson I had written that was inspired by the waves at the beach. 


I’ve wanted to share it, but I guess it sort of fell through the cracks. So with the summer (the season where we sweat just walking to our cars) rapidly approaching, I figured that now is as good a time as any to resurrect this thang. Without further ado and without any more bunny trails, I present to you: 


“Lessons Learned from the Waves at Cocoa Beach”


1. The waves on the east coast of Florida are a lot different from the waves on the west coast of Florida


Living on the west coast of Florida, I feel like we’ve been handed the short end of the stick. When people all around the country think of Florida, I highly doubt they picture the beach that we Spring Hillians have been graced with: Pine Island—most commonly known as…..Pine Puddle. 


Ugh. I shudder at the thought of that God-forsaken place (it does host some lovely sunsets, though). 


It’s no secret that the still waters on the west coast do not compare to the towering waves that live on the east coast. If you want waves, you have got to make a journey to the Atlantic Ocean, FAR away from the stinky Gulf of Mexico. 


So here at Cocoa beach, just the sight of these massive waves paralyzes me. You mean, this water actually goes deeper than my knees? If I lose my balance for a split second, I could be swept right off my feet and swallowed up in that ocean! This is not like the beaches I’m used to.


That’s how it is when we decide to follow Jesus. 


Until I met Jesus, I was so used to living the way I wanted. I was comfortable, and there were certainly no waves. But God calls us deeper, and He’s got a tendency to lead us directly into waves that we never even knew existed. We decide that we will let Him lead us into the waves, but we also have to decide to trust that He will protect us in them.


Following Christ is out of our comfort zone, and can look pretty scary from the shore, but we will never know the reward until we get out there.


2. Once you begin to make your way into the waves, the shore can look like a much better choice.


Let’s face it. The shore is safe, you don’t have to fight against the waves or feel like you might drown any second. Sometimes the waves in this life are so strong and come so quickly that we feel like we aren’t making any progress or we’re back tracking. That is the trick we allow the enemy to play on us. 


God’s will isn’t the safest or easiest choice in the world’s eyes; there will be some pretty harsh waves that make us want to turn and run (well….swim) the other way. But God doesn’t want us to choose a safe path. A safe path requires no sacrifice and absolutely no trust in Jesus. 


3. God doesn’t promise an ocean with no waves.


“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” -John‬ ‭16‬:‭33‬ 


Jesus didn’t hide the fact that we would face tough times in this world, even with Him right beside us.


This is why we have to be rooted in the word of God and His love, so that we can trust Him and believe that being in His will is safe, no matter how it might feel or seem at times. Regardless of the waves that surround me, I can say with 100% certainty that I’d rather be tossed round in waves with Jesus by my side—following Him—than standing on the shore without Him.


4. You have to pass the slappers to get to the toppers.


I know, this makes no sense to you. Let me explain.


A few years ago, I went on vacation with my cousins and my very best friends, Danielle and Jordyn, to Daytona Beach. We spend a good portion of each day playing in the waves. We actually had names for each type of wave we encountered.


Slappers are those waves that hit you with full force and absolutely no mercy. They break right on top of you and take you OUT. There is nothing more terrifying than standing in the path of a slapper, knowing that you have no escape!


Toppers are much nicer. They’re the waves that don’t break on you, but they’re just kind of gently take you up in their current and then set you back down on your feet. They’re peaceful, and absolutely more enjoyable


Like I said, slappers are very powerful. They can knock you down, flip you around, and really hurt you if you aren’t on your guard. At times, I would just stop to rub my eyes or brush the hair out of my face and another slapper would take me down before I even had the chance to recover from the first one. There isn’t time to look away. There isn’t time to get comfortable. The same applies to the circumstances of life. We have to be alert at all times, especially if we’ve just followed God out into these waves.


But….


God is always there in the slappers. All He asks us to do is cling to Him, and He sees us through it every time.


So here at Cocoa beach, I’ve kind of got the waves down to a science (not that it’s really that hard to figure out). The waves are most powerful by the shore. That’s where the slappers live. So, if you want to just float on the toppers and not worry about getting knocked out and swallowing a gallon of salt water every second, you have to trudge past the slappers to get to the toppers. Then, you can finally relax!


God blesses us for allowing Him to lead us into the slappers. He always has our best interest in mind. Being obedient to Him, even when it might seem crazy, always always pays off. 


Today, once I finally reached the toppers I could relax. I was happy. I was at rest. The slappers didn’t seem so scary from out there. I gently undulated with the toppers in peace. I had conquered the slappers and I could finally rest!


5. You can’t get too comfortable in the toppers.


I was so relaxed while I was resting on my float in the toppers that I had almost entered into another state of mind. It wasn’t until I noticed my brother on the shore that I snapped back into it, and realized that I should go get him. I drifted so far out that he couldn’t see me past the waves. 


But I was at a point where my feet couldn’t touch the ground. I had drifted a bit further without noticing. The waves were sucking me back so it was difficult to make my way to a safer point. 


We can’t allow ourselves to ever feel that we have conquered the slappers, because there is even greater danger in the toppers. There is danger in being comfortable. When we aren’t paying attention, we get slowly sucked back, without realizing it. I was no where close to literally drowning that day, but it’s a possibility if we fall asleep or get too comfortable. We need to always be on guard.


Right when we get too comfortable with where we are with Jesus is when the real problem begins. We take God’s presence for granted. We pray and forget how completely awesome and amazing it is that we even have the ability to talk to our creator, our redeemer, the maker of the universe any time we want! We tangibly feel God’s presence on us but forget what it was like when we felt His love and mercy all over us for the first time. So even when we aren’t facing any trials and there are no slappers in our sight, we can’t let ourselves get so comfortable that we drift away from God. 


The most beautiful thing about God is that He is always waiting for us. Whether we are still standing on the shore, drowning in the slappers, or sleeping in the toppers, He is always waiting with His arms stretched out. Wherever we are in life, it is never too late to chose to follow Him as He leads us on a journey that is the most exciting and invigorating one we can ever imagine. 


I love not knowing where my journey with Jesus will take me next. He doesn’t always tell me what waves are coming, but going through them all with Him next to me is better than any other path I could have chosen in this life.


The waves in this life are strong, but God’s love for us is stronger!


“The floods have risen up, O LORD. The floods have roared like thunder; the floods have lifted their pounding waves. But mightier than the violent raging of the seas, mightier than the breakers on the shore— the LORD above is mightier than these!” -‭Psalms‬ ‭93‬:‭3-4‬