Sunday, April 7, 2013

What are you listening to?

What we listen to and what we surround ourselves with does affect your personality and attitude whether you believe it or not. It is rare to see a soft, calm, peaceful person who listens to rap and hip hop everyday. It also wouldn't make sense for a child who only listens to peppy happy music to be sad and depressed.

I listen to a lot of Japanese music which has just as much variety as American music...without all the swearing. The last few years, I have been listening to the deep music which made me realize how sad and lonely I really was. I could sing it from the bottom of my hear because it represent who I was. But in the end, it did not really make me feel better.

To see if my theory was right, I decided to listen to the happier, peppier side of Jpop. With hyper beats, cute soprano singers, and not really any meaning in the music except fun and cuteness. Even if I was a bit down, when I plug in my headphones, it's hard to feel sad while listening to it. I feel the need to skip down the street and do random spins. Nothing could get me down when I listen to it.

Music has that much power. If you are happy and listen to a sad song, your mood can change just like that. If you just had a break up and then decide to listen to a breakup song, the lyrics may bring you to tears.

Christian music also has different sides. Beware of Christian rock. Even if they lyrics are positive, if it makes you feel more "bad ass" or rough, maybe it isn't the safest music to listen to. Some gospel music can make be deep and make you realize how much God means to you and your need to change. Listen to these for the lyrics. If you just want to feel more happy and positive rather than looking like you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, listen to the one's that will get you clapping and singing no matter where you are.

Random Acts Of Kindness

The more God works in you, the more you'll want to do for others...hopefully. Here are some ideas I thought of on how to make someone's day.

5 Everyday Acts

1. Hold the door/elevator for someone. 
This is something I do maybe 3-8 times everyday. It is simple, it only takes an extra 5 seconds of your time, and it let's someone know they matter. Please be patient with those who have grocery bags or a stroller.
2. Say "Thank You". 
We live in a world where people don't even bother to say thank you anymore. Show your appreciation to someone! Whether you just say it, send a card, or even a gift basket, it can encourage that person to keep doing what they are doing.
3. Listen to your friends/family.
We all have those days when you want someone to just listen to you and your problems. Ask them how was their day and truly listen. If they are sad, just be a shoulder to learn on. Be willing to day by day.

5 "When you get the chance" Acts

1. Pitch in. 
If you are in a line, and see someone struggling to pay, step in! I know how I feel when I really need to buy something, but I am 25 cents short and the cashier has no mercy. Usually they don't need much, (the most they would accept is maybe $2) but they will certainly thank you for caring.

2. Help someone with their grocery bags. 
There may be older people, people with kids, or just a huge family who has tons of bags. If you live in a building like me and see one person with 20 bags, take the time to help them bring it inside and to their elevator. If you have time, help them to their door too.
3. Return a lost item. 
People lose things everyday. If you find something, and it has some kind of ID, name or number in it, take the initiative to return it personally. Don't leave it in someone else's hand.
4. Rack, mow, or shovel someone's yard. 
Whether it's a neighbour, or someone who can't do it themselves, it'll make the neighbourhood look better, and you'll get some exercise doing it too.
5. Do what someone asks you. 
You should feel honored that they picked you to help them out. Don't make up lame excuses because you think it would be boring, or you are just too lazing. Go through with it. If they ask you for help on an English assignment, help them out!

3 Touching Acts

1. Spend the day with the homeless. 
Don't just give them a couple dimes. Instead, ask them out to lunch and make sure they are properly fed. If you have time before this, you could even buy them basic toiletries and leave it with them before you leave. Many homeless people have no one to talk to, so even if you can spend 10 minutes with them, they'll have a much better day.
2. Spend the day with the sick or elderly. 
Just like the homeless, even these people can get lonely or bored. Visit a hospital, and ask who doesn't get many visits. If you end up with someone willing to talk to you, you may learn a lot.
3. Volunteer. 
Of course! There are so many places and people who need volunteers. If you have the weekend off and want to help out, or just want to meet new people, go for it! Invite your friends too!

There are so many opportunities to help people, and sometimes, rather than getting caught up in our thoughts or keeping our headphones on, just keep a look out. You'll feel like an everyday hero while also being a Christian. If you want to be more of a ninja, try doing things secretly. Leave an encouraging note for someone, or a check for a family who is on the edge of getting kicked out. Shovel the parkway early to surprise them, and maybe just drop their wallet in front of their house with a letter. Come up with your own ideas and share below!

Why I Love Japan

You may be wondering how the heck does this relate to Christianity. Well, just learning about Japan has changed me so much. It was a world so different then where I live in,'s better!!

1. They live on innocence and cuteness.
I am so sick and tired of my little sister acting like a sassy teenager, and tired of teenagers being parents. My brother listens to so much dirty rap music and even in movies, there isn't much innocence anymore. It's like the world has grown up. I still hold on to my childhood because it was a time when I was free, when I had hope in the world, when I wasn't afraid to go to the park alone, and I could just have innocence fun...not sexual pleasure and such.
In Japan, it is okay to act like a kid. If you watch any of their dance covers, you would see 15-25 year olds dancing like little kids (of course it is choreographed and together, but it's moves you could see a 5 year old doing). All their signs and toys have a cute aspect. They hold onto that sweetness of childhood and no one would look down on you for being a happy, peppy, bubbly girl. It is also nice to listen to music that talk about reaching your goals, friendship and just fun in general for once.

2. Humbleness and Humility is important!
In Japan, everyone knows their place. They try to blend in more than stand out. They would do what's best for the group. For example, if all your friends wanted Italian food, even though you wanted Chinese, you would agree for Italian and enjoy rather than arguing or walking away because you don't want it.
When people give you a compliment, it is respected to say "no, not really" or "you really think so? I don't think I'm that great yet" as a response rather than being proud or bragging about your accomplishments.
Bowing is their tradition and it is still honored there. You would bow deeper to your superiors and even speak more respectfully to anyone outside of your friends or family.

3. Japan is a very helpful and safe society.
Of course, they still have some crime, and it may seem a bit too general, but listen for a bit. I have heard stories of people losing their items and a stranger going out of their way to bring it back to their home. In Japan, you don't have to lock up your bike and  you can keep your doors open because no one is going to come in and steal. As a foreigner, if you look lost, you can bet someone will come and try to help you even if they aren't very good in English. On public transit, people aren't worried about their personal space, you can be sure every seat will be taken, no one will try to hog extra spaces or put a bag on the seat to make sure no strangers sit beside them. As long as they get to where they are going. In stores, you will be greeted very formally with a smile, and helped until you are satisfied.

4. Happiness.
Japan is the place of freedom! Outside of school, you can dress how you want. You will see so many outrageous  cool and strange fashion styles if you go to certain cities. Some people even dress up as anime characters when they want. They are grateful for the smallest things, and are super grateful if they get anything they were not expecting. Friendships are held very close and honestly, if a stranger returned your lost wallet, why wouldn't you be happy. People are very cautious of their words and are slow to tell someone's their flaws. In the workplace, it is common for co-workers to go drink or go to karaoke, so everyone is close. Also, thanks to their good eating habits, Japan also has one of the longest average life spans.

There is a very small Christian percentage in Japan, but I always thought that God would certainly love to have these people. They have so many Christian-like qualities already. Give Japan a chance, you will learn a lot!.

Choice of Words

There are many bible verses that tell us to how hard it is to control our tongue like James 3:8, and the benefits if we do like Proverbs 21:23.

I have to admit, how you speak depends on who you are with. If your friends are gossiping, chances are, you would gossip to. You may tell the truth to your friend, but when you are up against your parents, the first thing you would want to do is lie. Maybe if you want to fit in, you will try to speak the same way they do.

I feel kind of blessed that I never swore in my life. Even when everyone else swore, I knew it was wrong and never picked it up. I did say the F-word once when I was really angry in middle school. You know those times when you just copy and repeat what the person said to you....I wasn't thinking. But besides that, I have never swore. For those who do swear, just start substituting. Ie, instead of the S-word, just say "Dog poop", or instead of the F-word, say "Fudge" or "Fiddlesticks". Once you master this, it would be easier to stop it all.

But besides swearing, how can we control our speech?

Well, first you must first accept that you are not speaking the way a christian should. Are your words seasoned with grace like Colossians 4:6 says? If not, you need help.

Second, pray about it. Let God know you want to change how you speak and ask for the spirit to guide you.

Third, start now! The best way to control your speech is to think before you speak. This old proverb knew what it was talking about. Even if what you say in your head is wrong, what matters in the end is what comes out of your mouth. Eventually, your mind will adjust and only think of what is appropriate to say. 'Fake it til you make it' as they say.

Lastly, grow a backbone! The hardest thing is to change in front of people who know who you are. Maybe if you always acted like they did, or spoke a certain way, it would be weird from both sides for you to speak nicer, but it is worth it! Start slowly. Back away from the gossip, or if they say something mean, just say "that isn't a nice thing to say". For me, my cousin was always a bit rough around the edges, and I was always the nice kid who just let her get away with everything. Even if she said something rude to or about me, I would let it go. When she was mean to someone or yelled at them, I didn't have the guts to step in. One time she got in a fight with my mom and was also yelling at everyone else to stay out of her business. I had something to say, and I no longer cared about how she thought about me. I told her what everyone else was thinking, of course, as nicely as I could. It was a big step for me. Speaking up is hard, but it is doable, even when up against someone who always stood above you.

Your actions and how you speak are both important in how people view you. Don't speak as the world speaks, speak as a Christian should. With grace, truth and peace.

Helping Other People

Every time I look at the world, although I want to have hope in it, I have to admit, it is getting colder everyday. I try to help at least one person everyday, but when I don't get a simple 'thank you', it can get discouraging. For example, one time when I was heading to my class, I saw a person drop their debit card. I quickly picked it up and handed it to the person...then they went on with their business. I ran to make sure I caught them, and they couldn't even turn back, look me in the face, and say thank you. Why should I try to help a stranger again?

Well, that's what we are called to do. I try my best to be a light (maybe because I was influenced from Kari from Digimon, she was so nice and sweet, always thinking about others...she even got the crest of light!). If you remember Matthew 5:14, it says "we are the light of the world...". Even when we don't think anyone is watching us, we are on display. Once you tell someone you are a christian, they expect you to be different. Unfortunatly, so many 'Christians' act like the rest of the world, so we are often associated as just another religion. This isn't how it's supposed to be!

Look at Jesus. He left us an example of how we are to live. He never turned his back on someone who needed a hand. Anyone who came to him, no matter how sick or dirty or even how much of a sinner they were, if they came to him, he was ready to help. This is why I love Taiki from Digimon Xros Wars too. He would help anyone and he was so compassionate that he couldn't turn his back on anyone, even if they were his enemy. His catch phrase was "Hottokenai", which in Japanese, means "I can't turn my back on him/her". (Sorry for the Digimon quotes, but it's my favorite show.)

This is who we should strive to be. We should always be on a look out for who we can help and hope we touch them in a way that they would look for God. If all Christians were a light, who knows how many more people we could save. Back to Digimon Xros Wars, in the end, every single Digimon joined their army because they were touched by Taiki's kindness and bravery. He was different from the other leaders, and although he was wise in his decisions, he was never rude. He was quick to forgive if he knew he could touch someone. Even when he was treated coldly, or tricked by those he trusted, he would still go back to help them if they needed it.

Like they say, actions speak louder than words. You can say you are a Christian, and you can preach, and teach others about the bible, but until you act the way you should, until you prove that you have been changed and are so loving that others are attracted to you, how can you truly be a "light"?

Being a Christian in University/College

When I browse the internet for articles on this, there are a lot of worried Christians wondering if it is possible to be a Christian in this setting. I totally understand why they are worried. college is known for being the party, drinking and smoking place for young adults.

How would I fit in if I don't drink? What if I don't go to parties...would I still make friends? What if I am pressured to do something I don't want to do?

Don't worry! It is possible to have a great time at university while still being a Christian. I am a living example. I have never been to any of the parties, and my closest friends have not either. But I did hear that if you do go to them, it will be much harder to avoid the pressure. If your closest friends drink or smoke, it will be harder to avoid the temptation. However, if they respect your believes, you would not have to worry about this.

The best place to meet good friends: Your class! Take the time to talk to the strangers beside you, and be more outgoing in your tutorials. Most colleges and university even have Christian clubs! Trust me, there are a lot of good, non-drinking, non-smoking people in college. However...I do wish there was a non-smoking place at university. I would love to just sit on the grass and watch the sky without worrying about second hand smoke.

If you do end up in a conversation about such things, just be honest. People will respect you for it. It is safer to point out you are a christian early too. People know that there is a mix of beliefs in these places, and will still be your friend despite this.

Don't be afraid to stand up for who you are! Even if you do lose a couple friends, it is better than doing something that could ruin or scar your life forever. You are still young, and college is just the beginning of the real world.

How to be a True Friend

Are you having problems with friends?
Does the relationship feel weird, strange, or one-sided to you?
Do you feel like you can truly trust your friends?
Did your friend do something that you don't feel like you can let go?

Friendship is a strange thing. To some, they can make friends in 10 minutes. To others, they don't feel like they are truly friends with someone until they've known them for months. Sometimes, opposites attract, but other times, it is obvious they would be best friends.
Unlike family relationships where you don't have a choice and they have to accept you because your blood, friendship takes a lot more work. So how do you choose the right ones?

For Christians, choosing the right friends can sometimes be very confusing. Jesus tells us to hang out with sinners, yet not to become one. However, in the end, he was always with his 12 disciples  At times, we may even get along better with non-Christians than those who call themselves Christian. Maybe, we are just very independent and don't feel the need for friends.

But before we can make good friends, we first have to ask ourselves if we are good friends.

For me personally, until recently, I was certainly the independent type. I didn't think I could rely on people, and I didn't want all the drama. In past relationships, I was certainly looking out more for myself than what I can put in to the relationship.

I started University this year, and it was certainly a new start. I lived in the same area since childhood and therefore never really knew what it was like to see new people, or be "the new kid". Out of the 3 classes I was taking, I only knew one girl from grade 9. We were...somewhat friends in high school, but because she loved to gossip, so I wasn't sure if I could trust her, but I still held on to was better than being lonely in a boring lecture. We did become better friends though. :)

Luckily, I had the opportunity to make a couple other friends in school. In one of my tutorials, a girl invited me to sit by her since we were the only 2 in class (we were just really early, but talked because we didn't know what was going on). After exchanging numbers and email, we made sure to keep in contact. In lecture, her, my friend above and me sat together every class. Before this, I would always go to the front of the lecture and pick up extra hand outs for my friends since I was usually the first one there. It was a simple act of kindness, because if they were late, they would either have to line up, or endure the awkwardness of going in front of the lecture while the professor was teaching. They picked up on this, and now, if I was ever late, I know they would do the same for me. What else, if I ever go to a restaurant or "Timmies" before meeting up with a friend, I would always ask them if they want anything, and willingly buy it for them. It starts with YOU.  Even if it's just taking the time to teach them anything they don't understand, they will certainly appreciate it.

Besides giving, it's also accepting them for who they are. No one is perfect, nor is anyone going to be just like you. But that's what makes humans so special. In my Japanese class, because we had to make groups and often had to practice speaking to each other, I went out of my way to talk to as many people as I can. Before class started, I would often say a quick "hi, what's up" to the indian-looking girl who often sat at the back of the class. She seemed sweet, and I would of talked to her more, but when you sit in the front, it is hard to find a chance to talk. Right before our 3rd test, I asked her if she would like to be in my next skit group. She said yes with a smile....she later relieved to me that she was always last picked, or ended up being put in a group because no one asked her. I didn't know she was shy because she always talked when I talked. Having a shy friend in high school, I knew how they were. I accepted her, and I took the initiative to talk to her, but once she opened up, it was hard to believe she was shy. Anyways, she was failing Japanese, and I was getting an A, so I even invited her to my house, and thought her a few things just because. There was nothing in it for me, but I was looking out for her. That's what friendship is about.

Once you become a christian, there isn't much to "get" out of relationships because you get all you need from God. All you have is stuff to give. When you make the first step and show what an awesome friend you are, then they will step up to the plate to. Don't have expectations, and don't expect them to change. Be there for them in their good and bad, and have their back. Be sure to keep in contact! And forgive them when they make mistakes. Talk to them if you can't just let it go. And of course, have fun! That's how you can be a true friend.