Wisterian Stardust

~Living a life with Christ, Love, Laughter, Beauty, Books, & Sprinkles of Stardust~

Monday, May 30, 2016

Scarborough Faire 2016

I absolutely love going to the Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie, Texas. It's so much fun to get dressed up and spend a whole day outside with your friends, with a whole bunch of people that are just as into it as you are. Here are a few pictures from my trip there:

Tartanic, the musical group.

My husband and I.

My outfit. I was a Celtic Elf. All I need for next year are arrows, a bow, bracers, and maybe a hood, and I'll be a Celtic Elf Huntress.

A close up of my elf ears. Photo courtesy of my friend Mindy.
Just a really pretty dress that I liked.

Belly dancers performing.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

My Thoughts on Children and Transgender Culture... and Other Things.



It is no secret that transgender topics have risen and become a hot button topic of 2016. And it is also no surprise that there are many differing beliefs on these topics as well. I am going to present my opinion on this hot button topic with, of course, a Christian viewpoint to my main target audience as Christians with a liberal viewpoint. If you do not agree with my opinion, that is all well and fine. But please take a moment to consider what I have to say, and respect my opinion and free speech. Thank you in advance.

I am twenty-five years old and I am just in utter shock that our culture encourages self-acceptance and being your true, authentic self, yet refuses to acknowledge that self-acceptance may not include taking on a stereotype or label at all, or may actually include a faith-based view of self-acceptance. I just read a news article about a mom of a transgender son weighing in on the great bathroom debate. What she said in the article about her child was her little girl told her “Mom, I like Spider-Man and I'm a boy” and later, “Mom, I don't want to use the girl's bathroom anymore. I don't feel like a girl. I really feel like I'm a boy, and I've always been a boy.” After this discussion with her seven year old child, they went through the process of shedding her female name and identity and transitioned to a transgender boy. I have a few problems with how that situation was handled, both of which I will now address.

Consider this:

You have a two-year-old son, a sweet, orderly child with a cherubic disposition, comes to you one day and asks to wear a pretty dress like his favorite toddler girl friend wore to church on Sundays. What should you do?

Our culture would say, “Oh! He wants to be a girl.” Our culture would encourage the parent to ask the child if they would rather be a girl.

Children are very impressionable. They will take whatever you say and go with it. If you ask them a leading question, such as “Do you want to be a boy/girl?”, they will more than likely go with it and answer “yes.”

Before you start to assume things, ask a few questions. What is it that they are really wanting? The boy wants to dress up. To wear formal wear. Something snazzy.

This situation is actually a story that I read from a woman on a Christian discussion board. This is how she handled the situation:

[She asks:] “Well, darling, you know they make dress clothes for boys. Would you like that? Would you like to get dressed up for church?” He nodded and gave his charming little toddler “Yes.”

So the mom produced a dapper bow-tie and vest, and they put together a suitably stylish outfit. Everyone was happy.

This was, in fact, exactly what her little boy wanted. I’ve seen this in countless variations: She wants to be a boy scout, not a girl scout — it turns out the boys are going on more interesting trips, and she has a taste for action and adventure. He’s more comfortable with the girls than with the boys — turns out he doesn’t like being shoved around by the brutes in his class. All her best friends are boys — turns out she’s the only girl in her advanced math group, so she sits with boys most of the day. None of these are gender issues, not at all. To treat them as “gender problems” would be to create a new problem without solving the real problem. Address the real problem.
Another idea to consider is, what if the child does not fit the typical gender mold? For all the lip service we give to “being yourself”, our culture can be as dreadful as a straight jacket as any other. If you do not fit the bland sports-n-stuff “boy” mold, people assume you are gay. If you don’t fit the hyper-sexualized “girl” mold, people assume you are a prude. There are a few slots open in acceptable alternative categories, but heaven help you if you are a high school student who does not fit one of the approved cliques. What if you are not a “drama club person” or a “band person” or “goth” or “preppy” or “athletic” but you are just a person? A complex, nuanced, utterly unique person? In the same way, it’s possible for a girl to identify most with her father and brothers, or a boy to identify most with his mother and sisters, for simple lack of a same-gender role model who resonates. And in this day and age, that is not a far-fetching thought with so many children being raised in a single parent household. If you don’t fit in with all the guys or all the girls, and you do seem to fit in well with the “wrong” gender friends and family around you, it’s easy to have a passing thought of, “I should have been born a ________.” The idea is not to panic or to read more into the situation than is warranted. Instead, look for ways to respond to the real need your child has to spend time and build friendships with “people like me”. The cure for a boy who likes too many “girl-hobbies” is not to shame him into forced-football; it is to find a friend who is both comfortable in his masculinity and also takes an interest in the same kinds of endeavors. Many pursuits that we think of as being “girl things” or “boy things” during childhood turn into gender-neutral occupations later in life, even if they are more often pursued by one sex or the other. Likewise, as much as we can delight in, say, the lovely femininity of a young woman who dresses in pretty, stylish clothing, it is important that we do not reduce our understanding of male-female complementarity into some crude stereotypes, as if authentic womanhood all comes down to swishy skirts, lace doilies, lipstick and a good manicure. Ask yourself: What would Laura Ingalls do? Then go climb a tree or shoot a bear or something. That sounds like fun to me!

I am a traditional woman in almost all forms. But I remember a time when I identified mostly with the boys. I wanted to play soccer and do extreme sports (I blame my fascination with the Nickelodeon show, Rocket Power). I had a few friends that were girls, but I really liked hanging out with guys. I never once considered myself a boy. But I did like the company of boys at the time (still do) because guess what, guys are so much easier to get along with than girls. Admit it, you know how harsh girls can be. I endured a little bit of bullying when I was younger. So I stayed away from the drama and hung out with guys. I can imagine the same with boys, especially with today’s bully culture. But I do not think that any of this is sexual. Children at such a young age as seven do not know intrinsic details of sexuality. They should not even know hardly anything about sexuality at that age yet, however, we are living in an age where if the child is not taught by their parents, they are taught by their peers, and the media, both of which are poor educators and do not teach the correct things. But I digress.

Overall, my Christian belief is that it is a mistake to leave children to “discover themselves” under the influence of our culture, in this world. This world is not qualified to help others “discover themselves”. This world is influenced by Satan, demons, and the lost. People trying to discover themselves in a world that is just as lost as they are will not lead to discovery, but rather confusion, and feeling even more lost. They are vulnerable and will be easily influenced by the world around them. This world will not hesitate to identify you by your sins. Even if you reveal something that is innocent, this world will twist and pervert it, making you think that what you’re doing is actually such and such and that’s okay. As I have discussed before in regard to Christian homosexuality, that we as human beings, are NOT identified by our sin. To identify yourself by your sin, your shortcomings, and even your victories is not only wrong, but it is blasphemy, a slap across God’s face. He did not create you for you to be CHAINED down by your flesh. And sins our in fact chains of your fleshly nature. Your identity is not in anything but Christ alone.

If you do not identify as a Christian, and do not believe in God, you will notice that my strong Christian view is not in line with your view. I do sincerely hope that you find Him in your life. Because what you see in the physical is not all there is. There is a spiritual battle being fought right now, and a battle is being fought for your salvation. I would hate to see any of you precious people lose that battle. But I want to affirm that this post was not written to be discussed with non-believers, but rather those of the liberal Christian community.

I am seeing a spiritual battle taking place right now on this earth, and that’s with churches and fellow Believers who have fallen into the ways and beliefs of this world. What is going on in the United Methodist church today is a prime example. I do not intend to sugar-coat things. I call it as I see it. I am by no means a preacher, nor am I perfect. But I do believe in God’s Word and His divine design for male and female. I believe there is a purpose in being a male or female, a reason why we were created as such, and that God makes no mistakes. I also believe that there has been, and continues to be, a spiritual battle on this earth that is fighting against His divine design for male and female, trying to break down God’s ultimate plan for us. Do not get me wrong, there are battles everywhere right now, and over many things, but I feel particularly sensitive to the gender battles, as I have a great desire to fulfill my purpose as God’s divinely designed female. I have personally struggled with my identity and purpose and have heard the world tell me who I should be. But none of what the world has told me about who I should be has fit me. I do not fit the world’s mold. And I am perfectly okay with that. Because that is how the Lord God has created me. He made no mistake, and I have a purpose. My identity is not in my sexual orientation, my marital status, my education, my job, and especially not my sins. My identity is in Christ. And I could not be any happier.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How I Restarted My Quiet Time & Prayer Life

Hello lovelies!

 

Lately I have been trying to get my prayer and study life back in order. In the last so many months, I have gone through an extended seasonal and hormonal depression. It has not only been a personal challenge of mine physically and emotionally, but spiritually as well. During a time that I should be really praying more, I felt too exhausted to do so. I did not even know where to begin. At the beginning of March, I celebrated Saint Brigid’s Day like I was Irish. Saint Brigid’s Day, which is February 1st, marks the start of Celtic spring. Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite time of year is spring. I draw out of my winter sadness and perk up quite a lot. This year, on February 1st, I put up the Christmas tree and all my winter decor, and decorated the apartment with all my spring floral, greenery, and tea pots and cups. I improved my health with natural remedies and a change in birth control. And I also started a new routine of prayer and Bible study.

 

I revisited an old book, Becoming the Woman God Wants Me to Be: A 90-Day Guide to Living the Proverbs 31 Life by Donna Partow, and put together a personal notebook. I read up to week three and week nine through eleven. In my notebook, I included the following tabs:

T.A.G. (Time Alone with God)

Personal

Household

Projects.

 

I felt no need to add a tab for finances considering my husband and I do our finances together and have a method that works for us.

 

Under the tab “T.A.G”, I added a prayer prompt for the morning, Bible Study sheets to help focus my studies, my personal mission statement, a power tools page where I keep a list of Scripture verses, practical tips, and resources to strengthen myself in weak areas, and an affirmation page.

 

Under the tab “Personal” I have daily pages to keep me organized and help me find things that I am grateful for in my every day life, and a list of my morning and evening routines. Under the tab “Household” I included menu planners/grocery lists to keep me focused on meal planning for my home. And finally, under “Projects” I have an ongoing list of Selective books to read and recommended movies, While I maintained this for a couple of weeks, I felt that there was still something missing. I did not know how to get my prayer life back into gear.

 

I searched Pinterest for various ideas, and found a blog that catered to my needs. Leigh Ann is the creator of the blog Intentional By Grace, and I found solace in her post How to Make a Prayer Notebook. There, I added eight new tabs under the tab labeled T.A.G.:

Personal Evaluation

Bible Study

Scripture Study

Word Study

Gratitude

Daily

Weekly

Archives

 

Under the tab “Personal Evaluation”, I have a Weekly Evaluation list that includes four sections that I look over and evaluate myself on. Those four sections are: Strengthen my relationship with the Lord, Bless my husband, Serve others, express thankfullness and/or encouragement to one person this week, and Simplify my life (what is one area that I need to simplify to provide more peace in our home). Those four sections are based on the 5 Practical Steps You Can Take This Week To Make the Best Use of Your Time by Intentional By Grace. I did not include “Love your children” as the missing fifth step because my husband and I do not have children yet. When we do, I will be adding that into my weekly evaluation.

 

The next tab “Bible Study” is where I keep my Bible Coloring Chart, Examples of various Bible Study methods, and my study worksheets.

 

The tab “Scripture Study” keeps all of my scripture memory work, which I have not yet put into practice, but hope to soon.

 

The next tab, “Word Study” is where I keep an example of a Scripture word study and notebook paper. It is where I write out Bible verses on whatever topic that I am currently on and how I can apply that scripture to my life. This is also a section that I have not yet started, but will very soon.

 

The tab “Gratitude” is where I write down what I am thankful for, answered prayer requests, and every day blessings.

 

The next tab “Daily” begins my prayer time. This is where I keep prayer prompts for my marriage (Our Prayer for Marriage courteous of Unveiled Wife) and my husband (31 Days of Praying for Your Husband courteous of Revive Our Hearts), and where I write out my prayers for my husband, our immediate families, and our future children. After I complete my daily prayers, I move onto my weekly prayer list, which is under the next tab.

 

Under the tab “Weekly”, I have a weekly prayer chart that includes who and what I will be praying for on different days. I currently have my weekly prayer chart broken down as followed:

 

Sunday: Church leaders, their families, our church as a whole individual members, missions, and ministries.

“Pray for the church to stay centered on God’s Word. Pray for any important decisions coming up. Pray for the leaders and their families. Pray for individual  members by name and their needs. Pray for any missions and ministries.”

 

Monday: Our jobs, co-workers, and bosses.

“Thank God for the job you have and ask for wisdom. Pray that you would be a light in the midst of your workplace and that He would use you for His glory. Pray for coworkers and bosses by name and be specific about their needs.”

 

Tuesday: Extended family, future family, and long distance and local friends.

“Pray for family members by name. Pray for future family, whether it be children, or family additions such as in-laws. Also pray for local and long distance friends by name and their needs.”

 

Wednesday: Goals, wisdom, and the future.

“Pray that God would guide you to set goals that would glorify Him and give you the strength to achieve them. Pray for wisdom about specific situations. Pray for any future decisions.”

 

Thursday: Unbelieving family and friends, neighbors, and the sick.

“Pray specifics for the sick you know, whether it be physical or emotional sickness. Pray for those family and friends around you who are unsaved. Ask God to use you in their lives.”

 

Friday: Our finances.

“Pray for financial needs and thank God for financial blessings. Pray for guidance on what to do with the money and provisions He has provided.”

 

Saturday: Our government, government leaders, soldiers, social justice issues, and news.

“Pray that God would guide our city, state, and nation, and set leaders in place that will do His will and bring Him glory. Pray for our troops, and soldiers that you know by name. Pray for social justice issues and that God brings peace to those issues and the people involved and for better news.

 

Finally, the “Archives” tab will be keeping whatever tools and old material that I collect all in one place. As I learn the various study methods or complete Bible studies, those papers will be a reference to me and will be moved to this tab.

 

My advanced personal prayer notebook is housed and carried around in a cute book bag that also carries my Bible, notebook paper, my Church Lessons and Study Organizer (I repurposed a Bills and Finances Organizer that I received as a wedding gift from a friend and fit it to my needs, which holds sermon notes and my women’s study notes), various colorful highlighters, pens, and post-it notes.

 

I move my personal prayer notebook everywhere, but I try to keep it in my TAG/Study corner in the apartment. It used to be more of a sitting area, but since my husband and I got a cat, we moved the futon turned love seat up next to the couch, and so it’s just the one chair now with the end table, complete with a pillow and blanket for comfort.

 

I have not gotten into a specific routine as far as time goes. On my days off, I sleep in and have my quiet time with the Lord as soon as I get up. On the days that I work, my quiet time varies and I try to squeeze in that time whenever I possibly can. This organization method and routine has really helped me to pursue prayer and quiet time again.

 

I hope this post has encouraged you to rethink your quiet time with the Lord. I challenge you to ask yourself: What is your prayer life like? Have you not put time in prayer to the things around you, to the things you know God has placed on your heart? Where are your priorities? What are some things that may proceed your prayer time? Has the fire within you ignited to pray? Has the fire of prayer ignited in you?

 

God Bless,

Anya

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

We Have a New Member in Our Family!

Hey everyone! So if you don't already know, Tim and I got a cat!

We've been looking to adopt a cat for a little while, specifically a Ragdoll or Maine Coon breed. We found this place in Ennis, Texas called Merlin's Hope Ragdoll and Maine Coon Rescue, so we kept tabs online until we saw a couple of cats that we liked. When our application was approved, we met with the owners and all of the cats there. Upon arrival, I fell in love with two cream flame point Ragdolls, that were just chilling in their comfy chairs, Lancelot and Gimli. We met a few other gorgeous kitties that I loved (because I am a big cat person), but in the end, it was down between Lancelot and Gimli. Gimli was declawed, Lancelot was not. We tried to pick up Gimli, but he was very nippy, but the moment we picked up Lancelot, Tim and I knew he was the one for us. He didn't mind being picked up or held at all, and he was very easy going. He also was very chill in the backseat on the way home. I sat in the back with him, opened his carrier and let him lay on me. The minute we got home, we finished setting everything up for him and let him roam his new home. He even slept with us that night.

I'll admit, it took us about a week to figure out a new name for him. After going over different names, we settled on Artemis. If you don't know me, you may be wondering, why Artemis? Do you remember an anime show back in the day called Sailor Moon? That was my favorite show when I was a kid. I swore up and down that if I had a black female cat, I would name her Luna, just like the black female cat on the show. Well our kitty was a beautiful cream colored male, and there was a male cat on the show that was white, and his name was Artemis. So there you go, the story behind our cat's name!

Having Artemis around has been a really nice change of pace in our home, adding comfort and companionship. If me or my husband are home alone, we're not really lonely anymore. He's been the perfect companion for us. He follows us around, lays with us, he isn't too vocal. He only really gets vocal in the morning when he's been lonely all night. I got him some really great toys, and he loves playing with them. His favorite is a lazer toy that one of our friends gave us. He also really enjoys playing with his toy ball that makes noise every time it rolls. I have other toys that I got for him, but those are his favorite.

Enjoy some pictures of our precious furbaby, Artemis!

Much Love,
Anya






Saturday, July 11, 2015

Happy Wedding!

Hello lovelies!

After a long hiatus, it is good to be back! I had to take a break from blogging for several reasons. For one, I was finishing up my last semester of college where I was taking 18 hours of coursework. For someone who works 29 hours a week, part-time, that was a major chunk of my time. I wanted that degree! I was hoping though to blog throughout my wedding planning experience, however, there was too much drama and stress that writing about it would have probably given me an anxiety attack. Let me just say, I am so glad that the planning process is over with!

The wedding was absolutely beautiful. We got married exactly two months, Saturday, April 11th at 2 pm. We were married at a beautiful church in our hometown. I chose this particular church because of the gorgeous stainglass windows, the stone walls, and the beautiful landscape. The church was my garden escape. My theme was more like a Victorian Garden Tea Party.

After the wedding, Tim and I retreated to Houston, on a short, First Class plane trip (my first time on a plane btw), and stayed the night at a really nice hotel right downtown. The following morning, my cousin (who lives in Houston) picked us up and took us to our cruise ship in Galveston. We were on a 7 day cruise on Royal Carribean, to Falmouth, Jamaica, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, Mexico. It was so fun, relaxing, and very sophisticated, with amazing food! I highly recommend going on a cruise, especially with Royal Carribean.

Below are some of my favorite photographs from the wedding.
A special thanks to my good friend, Lucero Cervantes, for taking these gorgeous pictures!

Enjoy!


































Sunday, September 28, 2014

When Words Fail

Romans 8:26-27 |New International Version (NIV)

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Beads of perspiration form on your brow, your heart flutters, your mind swims. An endless loop replays in your head: the scathing, screaming argument with your mother; the prognosis from the doctor; a schedule so full you can’t calm your thoughts enough to fall asleep at night.
You’ve probably been there at some point in your life: You rush before God like an eager child bursting into a room full of toys only to find that you have no idea how to begin to pray. You don’t know if you should be asking for guidance, protection or forgiveness—or all of the above. And what about how to order your list? And should you say special words? How does this prayer thing work?
Maybe you’ve finally got a minute to yourself, so you grab your Bible, look up to the ceiling and think, Now what? That list you’ve been building in your mind goes blank. The phone rings. The kids cry. The TV blares from another room. The dog barks. Anything—and everything—interrupts the moment. Help! How do you pray when words fail?
Enter the Holy Spirit. He perceives our heart’s agony and comforts us in our weakness. He knows our spiritual battle often burns hottest when we fight within ourselves. We wrestle with how to prioritize our prayers. We struggle with imposing our human agendas on a holy God. We cross our arms, grit our teeth and mentally stomp our feet when things don’t turn out as we desperately prayed they would. Life’s frustrations can mute us spiritually: “We do not know what we ought to pray for” (verse 26). But God does not stop hearing us when we’re dumbstruck before him. Both in silence and when our words flow in a jumbled torrent, the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf to the Father. He does know what to pray for.
The next time your spirit groans with a weight heavier than you can bear, trust that even when you might not be able to find words to pray, God clearly hears your cries through the intervention of the Holy Spirit. He knows your heart, your thoughts and your greatest needs better than you do yourself. Though your words may fail, your intercessor will never fail you

Reflection

  • Describe your prayer life. Do you struggle with it or does it flow naturally? Is it structured or hit-and-miss?
  • Have you ever been at a loss for words during a time of prayer? How did the Holy Spirit intercede on your behalf? (For example: in song, in tears or in inexpressible ways.)
  • Examine your heart. What things in your life have you been unable to express to God? Now, let the Holy Spirit lift these struggles from you and carry them before the Father.

Source:

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Wedding Guest

John 2:1-11 |New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Changes Water Into Wine
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there,and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Woman,[a] why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing,each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[b]
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
Years ago when Johnny Carson was the host of The Tonight Show, he interviewed an eight-year-old boy. The young man was asked to appear because he had rescued two friends from a coal mine outside his hometown in West Virginia. As Johnny questioned the boy, it became apparent to him and the audience that the young man was a Christian. So Johnny asked him if he attended Sunday school. When the boy said he did, Johnny asked, “What are you learning in Sunday school?” “Last week our lesson was about when Jesus went to a wedding and turned water into wine.” The audience roared, but Johnny tried to keep a straight face. Then he said, “And what did you learn from that story?” The boy squirmed in his chair. It was apparent he hadn’t thought about this. But then he lifted up his face and said, “If you’re going to have a wedding, make sure you invite Jesus!”
Jesus’ first miracle occurred at a wedding he’d been invited to. It clearly announced his nature, showing that he came to bring joy to his people. God delights in his children. Our joy pleases him. When we celebrate, he celebrates with us.
The hosts of the wedding celebration would have been embarrassed if the wine had run dry. Knowing this, Jesus’ mother turned to the One who can turn sorrow into gladness. Jesus quietly worked behind the scenes to turn the water into wine. When the banquet master tasted the wine, he was surprised that it was better than what had been served at first.
When we invite Jesus into every aspect of our lives, he can exchange our past pain for present comfort and turn our deep sorrow into divine delight. He can take old wounds and turn them into fresh wisdom. He can turn stale, old thoughts into new ideas and creative ways to solve our problems. He can take a cold silence and turn it once again into a warm conversation. If we just ask, he can take those things that we are ashamed of and cast them into a sea of forgetfulness, allowing us to experience true and deep joy. He does not save the best for last, he saves the best for now.
Those who drew the water knew the secret: Jesus has the power to change things. Just imagine what he can change if you only issue the invitation. He’s the guest who can never stay too long.

Reflection

  • How has Jesus changed difficult circumstances for you in the past?
  • What would you exchange right now if you could—gladness for mourning, praise for despair, beauty for ashes? Invite Jesus to work a divine exchange for you as only he can.
  • Who will you share the knowledge of the joy of the Lord with today?

Source:

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