Archive by Author | Being Isaac

First Sermon

By show of hands, and I know we are not afraid to raise our hands, how many remember having to write an essay in elementary school entitled “What Christmas Means to Me?” My best friend, Robert, went on ad nauseum about socks: black socks, athletic socks, argyle socks. Robert has retired from the Marine Corp as a Colonel and lives in Iowa now as an attorney so it is safe to say Christmas means something other than socks for him today.

When Charlie Brown asked for the meaning of Christmas, Linus van Pelt got up on stage, stood in a spotlight, and masterfully delivered an excerpt of Luke 2. In all the history of the Peanuts comic strips, films, and televised specials, the one and only time Linus willingly lets go of his security blanket is when he comes to Luke 2:10 and tells how the angel calms the shepherds with the words, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” but that will be a point for another day.

We must be mindful of the miracles without losing sight of the reason why. We have to remember the socks when we get dressed or the outfit will be incomplete. We have to remember His birth or the meaning of why He was here in the first place is lost.

Skip ahead with me to Luke chapter 20 where we will find the parable of the tenants. The landlord repeatedly sends servants to the tenants who are brutalized and rejected. As a last effort he sends his only son. He hopes the tenants will respect and accept his son but they murder him. Over the course of Old Testament history God has been sending Prophets to bring His people back unto Himself but the people reject these messengers time and again. After a four hundred year hiatus what happened? John 6:38 tells us. Jesus came down from Heaven to do the will of the Father. There is the who, the where, and most importantly the why.

What has God wanted since The Fall in Eden? He has been working tirelessly, because you cannot exhaust the omnipotent God, to bring each of us back to Himself. Adam and Eve knew they sinned so they hid and covered themselves in leaves. God went one further. He made a blood sacrifice and better coverings than they had made for themselves. People were blind over the centuries to the efforts made. By show of hands, and I know we are not afraid to raise our hands, how many remember Michelangelo’s painting on the ceiling at the Vatican? God and man are reaching out to each other. Think more closely. God’s arm and finger are fully extended, forcefully, commandingly, as if to say “you are the one lost soul that matters to Me”. The man’s arm and finger are limp like celery that has been in the fridge past its prime, leftover salad which should have been discarded days ago, as if to say “yeah, I know you’re there but it’s in my nature to take You for granted”.

Jesus came to reconcile all the world to the Father. He spent time with the sinful, the lost, the ones who needed Him most before becoming our blood sacrifice. A person with 20/20 vision does not need an ophthalmologist. It is the guy with the foreign body in his eye or the detached retina who needs the specialist. The church is not a place for the righteous. If it were, I would not be allowed in. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The church is a hospital for the broken.

What is the purpose of the church? We are, through the foolishness of preaching, as Paul puts it, to communicate the Gospel. The Gospel is the message of reconciliation. This is why He came in the first place. This is Christmas.

The Epistles give instruction to churches and individuals on how to live, worship, and conduct our lives. According to II Corinthians 5, the ministry of reconciliation is committed to each of us. The greatest of all the spiritual gifts, according to I Corinthians 13, is love. What greater gift can there be than hugging that person who was lost and is now found, giving them a shoulder to cry on, and being a support for them?

The happiest people are those who have invested time in others. The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. Reach out to someone. According to Matthew 5:22-24, we are to reconcile with a brother before coming to God. The true attitude of the Kingdom, according to Matthew 18:15, is to communicate one on one to gain a brother through reconciliation.

During this process two things will be discovered. The hard part is defeating human nature in that I is the least important word in human relations. The liberating part is finding the joy forgiveness brings in freeing us to interact positively with people.

Do not lose sight of the meaning behind the miracle. The meaning of Christmas does not come once a year. It happens whenever and wherever there is a need to reconcile one to another. We were first called Christians in Antioch because it was there people first acted like Christ. Today the term Christian has become diluted to mean any Gentile. Put the meaning back in Christian. Put the meaning back in Christmas. Live His example. Let your light so shine. Bring someone back to yourself as an example of God bringing people back to Himself. Let the Holy Ghost work through you to bring someone back to Him. If we believe the Gospel, we do must obey it.

Yitzhak (Isaac) N.

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This Is My Rebekah

When I first heard of this blog, “Being Rebekah”, many images and recollections flooded my head. Who was Rebekah? Is this is metaphor for these women who wish to emulate the qualities of my second matriarch? I remembered what the rabbis taught me regarding descriptions and anecdotes from Torah, Talmud, and Midrash.

Torah tells us, in B’resheit 24, Abraham sent one of his servants back to his people to find a wife for his son, Yitzhak. An angel went ahead of the servant. He prayed for an outward sign which was given by Rebekah bat Bethuel, and the rest as they say is history. Midrash tells us Abraham prayed while the servant was traveling that the woman God would provide would have the qualities God directed him by which to live his life. Talmud tells us exactly what these are: “to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to speak kindly to the unfortunate, to act justly towards all mankind, and to be ever grateful to the Eternal”. Separately there are references to modesty but none as clearly described until given by a rabbi generations after Abraham yahrzeit. Luke 14:8-11 tells of one person who honors himself in front of others leading to humiliation and another person who humbles himself in front of everyone leading to being honored publicly.

This is my Rebekah. Everyday she performs her role at work in virtual anonymity with professionalism and to the best of her abilities. Her behind the scenes efforts on behalf of all the other employees, for whom she has genuine concern, can only be described as a ministry.

This is my Rebekah. Everyday she provides strength and encouragement to those who are lacking in one area or the other, or both. She is a living example of God’s love, understanding, and forgiveness. There are Christians, as the world uses it as a label, but she is a Christian, as the honored title given to those in Antioch.

This is my Rebekah. She puts God first, above all things, living as closely to the Gospel of Emanuel bar Yosef in obedience and submission as being human allows. Her focus is on others, in many cases to the point of self sacrifice. She puts herself last so much this effort has become a habit which has become her lifestyle. It is to the point that when anyone does something for her she has a feeling of being unworthy, has a sense of embarrassment, and is disproportionately thankful.

My Rebekah is very much the way I imagine Isaac’s wife to have been: a tremendous blessing and gift of God, a help-mate, a strength, a compliment to my weaknesses and failings, and (most of all) my encouragement to continue building a relationship with the Eternal I Am.

Yitzhak (Isaac) N.

Being Isaac: “Who can you trust?” by StephenWhoElse

Editor’s Note:  Our weekly guest spot is our effort to help our reading community connect with each other.  “Being Isaac” is in response to our growing number of male readers. We think it’s important that there’s a male reply to our female’s call to live in passionate pursuit of Christ. Thanks StephenWhoElse for another great post delving into understanding who can we trust? The answer is in the post 🙂 Enjoy readers! 🙂  

For without consulting me,
    you have gone down to Egypt for help.
You have put your trust in Pharaoh’s protection.
    You have tried to hide in his shade.
But by trusting Pharaoh, you will be humiliated,
    and by depending on him, you will be disgraced – Isaiah 30:2-3

We know all about trust. We teach it to our kids – so we ought to know better don’t we? I wanted to see if this was true – that we are qualified to teach our children who to trust, so I tried to compile the lists below:

List #1 – People we instinctively trust because they are closest to us!

  • grandparents
  • father / mother
  • brothers / sisters
  • cousins
  • aunts and uncles
  • pastors / church elders

List #2 – People we kind of trust, because our normal way of life depends on us trusting them

  • police
  • firemen
  • doctors
  • teachers
  • grocer
  • barber
  • the guy at the checkout
  • waiters
  • and virtually anyone who serves you

List #3 – People who require you to take a gigantic leap of faith and the parting of the Red Sea before you are willing to trust them

  • consultants
  • door-to-door salesmen
  • telesales people
  • politicians
  • The Nigerian who offered to share his US$10 million inheritance with you
  • dentists

Ok maybe not dentists, I’m just biased against them. (“This won’t hurt sir.”  ”Really? Grea…Aaargh!”)

So here’s the point – in every list, I’m 100% sure you can find exceptions to it. There are parents who have abused children. Church leaders who have embezzled money. Policemen who took bribes. Waiters who clone credit cards belonging to customers.  On the other hand, there are trustworthy and honest politicians and sincere sales people. The Nigerian scammer I’m pretty sure cannot be trusted.

So who can we trust?  (I’m sure you saw this coming) God of course!

God didn’t say that we are to trust no one – but we need to trust Him first. The ancient Israelites, fearing an invasion from their enemies, sought protection from Egypt instead of trusting in the Lord. This was wrong on so many accounts

  • God already promised protection: “Like birds hovering overhead, the Lord Almighty will shield Jerusalem;
    he will shield it and deliver it, he will ‘pass over’ it and will rescue it.” (Isaiah 31:5) Going to the Egyptians for help is snubbing God’s offer of protection.
  • The Egyptians have no motivation to help – they are rich and powerful enough without the alliance with Israel.
  • and the worst of all, they seem to have forgotten that God delivered them out of slavery from the Egyptians! Going back to Egypt for help is akin to returning to their old ways. What an insult!

There are a few things we need to do

  • We need the wisdom of God to discern if someone can be trusted. Pray and listen before committing.
  • We ourselves need to be trustworthy, as it is written in Matthew 5:37 “Let your Yes be simply Yes, and your No be simply No; anything more than that comes from the evil one.”
  • Teach our children to trust God – not simply by telling them, but by living a life that testifies to this truth:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Trusting in God is not just for obedience’s sake. We have His guarantee that His love will surround those who trust Him. (Psalm 32:10)

And you can trust me on this! :-)

StephenWhoElse is a Sunday School Teacher and in his spare time he has a secular and less interesting job. He endeavors to write only what He reveals to him and gives all glory to God! See the original post at http://10seventeen.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/who-can-you-trust/

Published with the permission of the author. Submit your own post at beingrebekah@outlook.com.

Being Isaac: Isaac H “I was Blind, but Now I See”

Editor’s Note:  Our weekly guest spot is our effort to help our reading community connect with each other.  “Being Isaac” is in response to our growing number of male readers. We think it’s important that there’s a male reply to our female’s call to live in passionate pursuit of Christ. We want to thank Isaac H. for submitting another post to us. English is not Isaac’s first language and we have decided not to edit out the grammatical errors in order to keep the post authentic. God has called Isaac H. to a very special ministry in Taiwan. God may not call all of us to live in such a radical fashion, but may we all be willing to step out how He wants us to when He wants.

glassesI want to share the testimony of when I put the contact lens on for first time in more than six month! If you want to know why I did not wear any contact lens for six month, read my post: Speaking to the Spiritually Blind.

I could have put on the contact lens on that Friday, but I decide wait until that Sunday when I was in the Lord’s house to worship my King. A few of us we go to help before church to get ready. We all pray together then I put on contact lens in the church before service starting. It was so overwhelm to me. I not even realize how much I was get used to not seeing, I was really adapt to not see so much that I expected put on the contact would be nice, I was look forward to it, but I did not realize how amazing it really would be!! I can see everything!! I got used to not seeing and not can believe how good everything look! I was become overwhelm.

I ran outside. Even the ugly car and the ugly moped is become beautiful! I look down street and I see the signs on the buildings. I see the people’s faces. Even the colors seem brighter. I go inside. The girl who do the praise singing is set up the screen. I can read the lyrics on the screen. I praise my God. I praise and praise and praise. He help me through all this six month! Even my seeing was so terrible, but He kept me safe. I did not realize how bad is my seeing until I put on this contact lens!!

When the worship begin I just feel so thankful to be able read the screen. I just worship my God. The spirit so strong in the church. Everyone worship. Then I go to preach. This time when I preach I was not nervous. God gave me the message so clear I was ready to just go tell the message. Part of my message I give testimony of what does God tell me to do to take out contact lens and how He guide me because most people my church do not know what I have been doing all this six month. My pastor was tell the church I will need some help to see, but he not tell them why. So I was explain this and I look the young woman I meet on street and she start saying thank you Jesus. And when I look her God show me He want to heal her today and she is going to win people to know Jesus. I did not even know she is sick. So I was a little hesitate when I see this, but to be obedient to God I say to her by your faith God going to make you whole. God healing you right now. And this girl shout thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus and she down off her chair face to floor and praising God.

I was want to stop right there and praise with whole congregation and just start praying, but God say no let her praise me, you keep preaching. So I go back to telling what God tell me do and show me and I look this old grandma. I see God working on her. I say is no accident I fall where I do when I do. God arrange that for you. He arrange it all for you because He love you. He see you have a heart to reach out to people and He have a heart to reach out to you. And this old grandma who never seem to respond, I saw her eyes start to get wet. And when this happen God gives me the picture. He show me all her ancestor in a straight line one after another and he show this grandma in the line and all her children and grandchildren and great grand children in this straight line one after another. And he show me if she willing step out the line all the ones after her, her children, grandchildren, they will follow behind her. If she stay in the line, they will stay in the line, but if she step out to follow Jesus, they will step out too. I was not sure I should tell her this because I feel one reason she hesitate to respond to God is because she afraid step out the line of tradition. But I feel I need tell her and say your family will follow you as you follow Christ. If you make commit to follow Jesus, your family going follow you, but if you follow tradition, your family going be stuck in the tradition. And I say softly, you know is no hope in the tradition. The hope is in follow Jesus. And right then my little daughter got up from her seat and she walk over to grandma and take grandma’s hand. I was embarras and thought grandma going scold her for interrupt, but my daughter tug her hand and grandma get up! Grandma walk to the front. Grandma turn her head back and see my little baby following her. Then grandma slowly kneel down and my daughter follow after her and kneel down next to her!

The whole church was praising God. But very quiet way. Very respectful way. They respect grandma do this and they so reverent to God see this. And so I finish my message with being obedient to God even when He ask you do hard things. Be obedient and follow after God. And when I end message everyone run to front to pray. And my pastor pray with grandma and she tell him she want get baptise! And pastor start make the arrange right away. He have the special pass and special arrange with hotel nearby and we go there sometimes to baptise people in the pool.

Then a few of us go with grandma to baptise. Pastor bring grandma to side to explain everything. He talking to her. Then he come over to me and ask do I mind to get wet. I say why. He say so you can baptise grandma. I was shock! What an honor my pastor allow me to baptise grandma. Now I become nervous. And we all go and pastor pray and thank God and we baptise grandma. And when we help grandma out the pool she look around if anyone is there. When she see no stranger watching she sit on side and raise up her hands. She say thank you for accept me Lord. I will try to follow you Lord. Then she quickly look again is anyone watching. Then she close eyes again and pray quietly. Then quietly so peaceful she begin speak in the new dialect! The words coming out is the unknown language. I never see it happen this way so peaceful, just change the quiet words of prayer to unknown words of prayer. It was amazing to see.

We serve a wonderful God. Never hesitate to follow what God tell you to do. Even if it is hard, it is worth it for the Kingdom of God. If He ask you to do it, He will help you to do it!

-Isaac H

Isaac H lives in Taiwan where he regularly preaches for two home churches in the city of Taipei. He is a devoted father who seeks to share the love of Christ with all he meets. Published with the permission of the author. Submit your own post at beingrebekah@outlook.com.

Being Isaac: Bill from Unshakable Hope “More than Just a Dream”

Editor’s Note:  Our weekly guest spot is our effort to help our reading community connect with each other.  “Being Isaac” is in response to our growing number of male readers. We think it’s important that there’s a male reply to our female’s call to live in passionate pursuit of Christ. Thanks Bill from Unshakable Hope for submitting an amazing post that reminds us that heaven is our destination and it will be more than just a dream. 🙂

I had a vivid dream last night –  In this dream I was completely healed and whole.

1418812_walking_away

The dream began with me simply stepping out of bed, which is something I haven’t been able to do in over 15 years. I could walk, talk, eat, dress myself and do everything else that I was once able to do. Mary and I were so excited that we began calling all of our family and friends and then we began visiting people at their homes and offices (Mary drove the car because I don’t have a driver’s license and the only thing I’ve driven in last 15 years is a wheelchair).

The dream was so real-to-life that I was telling Mary all the places I wanted to travel to and all the restaurants I wanted to try. I was even making practical plans like getting a driver’s license and making an appointment with the doctor to have my feeding tube removed etc. As you can probably imagine, this was so exciting; more so than winning a billion dollar lottery! But that incredible excitement soon turned to great disappointment when I awoke from this vivid dream at 4:15 this morning and realized I couldn’t even uncross my feet, let alone get out of bed.

1335964_sunsetThen my great disappointment turned back into incredible excitement when I remembered that, regardless of what happens in this life, one day I KNOW that I WILL be healed and whole! One day “…there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain…” (Revelation 21:4)

There was a time in my life that I feared death and the unknown in general. I later found out that these fears are quite common. But, as strange as it might sound, ever since I committed to following Christ and began believing the promises of God’s word, my fear of death has been replaced with an excitement of what lies in store for me after this brief and fragile life is over. Christ died and rose again to free us from sin AND from the fear of what lies ahead – “…only by dying could He (Jesus) break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.” (Hebrews 2:14-15 NLT)

In 1996, Bill was diagnosed with ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) and the doctors told him he had 3-5 years to live. He is now completely paralyzed and unable to speak, but by God’s grace, he’s still alive and through his Unshakablehope blog he shares a message of hope in Christ.

See the original post at http://unshakablehope.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/more-than-just-a-dream/

Published with the permission of the author. Submit your own post at beingrebekah@outlook.com.

Being Isaac: StephenWhoElse “God is an Open Book”

Editor’s Note:  Our weekly guest spot is our effort to help our reading community connect with each other.  “Being Isaac” is in response to our growing number of male readers. We think it’s important that there’s a male reply to our female’s call to live in passionate pursuit of Christ. Thanks StephenWhoElse for submitting another great post reflecting on how transparent and open to us God really is. 

Open Book

Christian books are a lot more popular today than they were a few years ago. Most major (and smaller) bookstores have a section dedicated to religious books. A couple even made it to the Paperback Nonfiction Best Sellers list. Looking at the selection of Christian books in a typical book store, it struck me how many books attempt to help the reader “figure out” our great and mysterious God. Here are some titles you may see:

  • What Is God?
  • Making Sense of the Old Testament God
  • How to understand God
  • God according to God
  • The God I don’t understand

There were lots more books like these – and it amazes me that there is so much time and effort being devoted to “figuring out” who God is! Surely our God who created us in His image, who loved us enough to sacrifice his only Son so that we can be close with Him again, wants us to know him intimately! If so, how difficult can it be to know God?

While reading Isaiah today, it struck me how transparent God is. He does not hide his feelings from us. He does not leave us wondering about His plans for the world. And how wonderful that He does not hide His love for us! God is completely open to us with His feelings.

God does not hide his anguish when rejected by His people:

The ox knows its master,
    the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
    my people do not understand. (Isaiah 1:3)

God’s feels the pain when he punishes his people – he doesn’t want to punish them! And yet his righteousness demands it.

Why should you be beaten anymore?
    Why do you persist in rebellion? (Isaiah 1:5)

God’s frustration is clear to see, when he cannot get through to his people!

 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
    Your incense is detestable to me. (Isaiah 1:13)

God feels disappointment when we do not live up to what we are capable of

What more could have been done for my vineyard
    than I have done for it?
When I looked for good grapes,
    why did it yield only bad?  (Isaiah 5:4-5)

God’s plan is to reconcile with his people, not punish them.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
    says the Lord. (Isaiah 1:18)

Friends, God is an open book. He hides nothing from us that is for our good. His love for us is plain to see. Continue reading Isaiah and you will see that despite an intense anger that is not satiated even by the most terrible punishments, (chapter 9), God is compassionate enough to help his people go through the suffering! (Isaiah 10:24-25)

Very soon my anger against you will end
    and my wrath will be directed to their destruction. (v 25)

Can you imagine that? Even in the midst of meting out terrible punishments on his people, God is compassionate enough to reach out to his people, to reassure them that it is temporary, to encourage them to bear with it!

Friends, God does not need to be “figured out”. The character of God is plain to see. We don’t need mountains of books to tell us who God is, because He has already revealed Himself to us through his living Word.

Instead, let us devote our time and energy to loving him. And how do we love an invisible God?

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. – John 14:23

Let us spend time with God, listening to Him, abiding in Him and obeying Him.

God bless.

StephenWhoElse is a Sunday School Teacher and in his spare time he has a secular and less interesting job. He endeavors to write only what He reveals to him and gives all glory to God! See the original post at http://10seventeen.wordpress.com/2013/01/07/god-is-an-open-book/ 

Published with the permission of the author. Submit your own post at beingrebekah@outlook.com.

Being Isaac: Joshua T. “Constant Friend”

Editor’s Note:  Our weekly guest spot is our effort to help our reading community connect with each other. “Being Isaac” is in response to our growing number of male readers. We think it’s important that there’s a male reply to our female’s call to live in passionate pursuit of Christ. Thanks Joshua T for a great post on how God is the friend who sticks closer than a brother. 

Today we are going to diverge from the series we have been doing on Moses’ story. We are, instead, going to look at something that has been on my heart to write about this week.

friends

Friends. We all want to have them. In schools, there is always the popular crowd and then there is everyone else. We all seek to be accepted by others no matter who you are.

I believe C S Lewis said it best when he said, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”

We often forget, including myself, that we have a friend that will never forsake us, forget about us, or be mean to us. God has been since the beginning. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ” And since the beginning He has loved us. The Bible clearly explains, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Psalms 86:15)

In the Bible, there is a fantastic example of God’s faithfulness. It begins in Genesis. We begin be meeting Abraham. “And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on— since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” (Genesis 18:1-5)

As we continue reading, We well see why this is a great example of God’s faithfulness.

Genesis 18:9-15 states, “They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, “Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?” Is anything too hard for the Lord ? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

Sarah had little faith. She didn’t believe He could do it. Psalms 147:5 reads, “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.”

We finish off the story in Genesis 21:1-2, “The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him.”

loveWe often forget that God has been with us through everything and no friend can ever come close. So although we seek to be appreciated be others, remember God always loves. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

 

See the original post at: http://flameministries.wordpress.com/tag/constant-friend/

Joshua T is a graphic designer in training who is seeking to glorify God in everything he does. He enjoys listening to music, such as Thousand Foot Krutch, KJ-52, and Relient K. Joshua also appreciates hanging out with his friends, and writing sermons for his bloghttp://flameministries.wordpress.com/.

Published with the permission of the author. Submit your own post at beingrebekah@outlook.com.