Why I’m Scared to Share My Religion

Like most of us, I’m scared to be judged.

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When I present my religion to others, I am representing the Seventh Day Adventist people. I don’t want people to look at me and my choices and think that all SDA’s live a life like mine. “If this is the way she’s living, this must be how they all act.” I am, by no means, saying that I am a perfect representation of a SDA. I have come to realize that everyone is walking their own spiritual path. I was raised as an Adventist since birth. My mother was raised as an Adventist and so was my grandpa & grandma (on my mom’s side). I’ve been told that my great grandparents who lived in the Philippines were quite wealthy and owned land. It wasn’t until my great grandfather was converted that he realized his worldly possessions weren’t what gave life meaning. He wanted to leave a lasting legacy to his family; so he gave them faith.

So if you’re wondering how and when my walk with God started, read on. There’s something about getting older and uncovering ugly life realities that makes a person question their personal beliefs.

When I look at my mom, I see a person that has gone through so much and still has unwavering faith in Jesus. Her absolute faith in God made me curious. I wondered, “How is this strong independent woman still praising a God that seems so unfair? What does she know? What is this ‘truth’ that she keeps hanging on to that is so wonderful & powerful?”

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Up until high school, I felt like I didn’t have an authentic relationship with the God I worshiped week in and week out. I never felt a spiritual tug. I heard a lot of people speak about their testimonies and having that first real experience or initial pull towards God or a higher being. In a way, I wanted to experience this on my own but I have grown tired and weary of waiting for my personal experience with God.

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It wasn’t until midway of my sophomore year in high school that my perspective on God changed.

As a freshman in high school, I was convinced I was going to immerse myself in all the fun and festivities high school had to offer. Homecoming at Fall, Prom at Spring, cute boys all year round, cool friends to experience new things with… and sure enough, I experienced all these things. Yet, I still felt empty. I lived for Fridays (and no, not for sundown worship and observing the Sabbath) I was drawn to the “bad crowd” which, at the time, was the most exciting and fun thing I had to look forward to. But once Wednesday came around, I felt a sense of emptiness and needed my fix once again. This went on my entire sophomore year.

It wasn’t until I started to ask myself real questions that I realized I needed a change.

“Why am I going to parties? What exactly are we celebrating every weekend?”

“Can’t we just ‘kick back’ without passing all these substances around?”

“Where will this kind of lifestyle bring me?”

It all starts with our thoughts. Our thoughts become words, words become actions, and our actions eventually shape our character…our destiny. I know social media has a lot to do with shaping our thoughts and ideals so I actually go an Instagram & Snapchat purge every month. (I delete or unfollow accounts that are not in line with the kind of person I want to become) Sorry. I digress…

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The night of February 1, 2013 is a night that I will always remember and treasure. You can even scroll all the way down to my Instagram and see what I posted on this monumental time. At the end of this night, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace.

As we sang praise songs, I sat there just soaking in the loving energy of a worship environment and I felt like crying. Not because I was sad, I felt like crying because I missed this sense of peacefulness. I guess it isn’t until you’ve reached the bottom or grow so far away from your roots that you come to realize what you’ve been missing…what you’ve been needing. We were put into groups and were forced to re-enact a story from the Bible and give it a modern twist without giving the Bible story away. As I worked with my team, I came to realize that these “Adventist kids” were just like me. They weren’t “weird” or “sheltered” like what I had imagined. They were just like me. The smiles and hugs they gave made me feel warm and welcomed. Their loving energy reignited my curiosity in God. Junior year was a year of growth. In English class, our teacher had us write 3 poems about ourselves and recite one of our poems in font of the whole class. At the time, I was still transitioning my ways from ‘party girl’ to a more reserved one. This assignment forced me to confront the uncomfortable questions about my identity that I was struggling with. I will be forever thankful for my English teacher and this assignment for facilitating my spiritual growth and getting me in touch with my own identity. As I recited my poem, I felt uncomfortable and scared thinking of what my classmates will think about me since most of them knew what I’ve been up to all of my sophomore year. I knew I didn’t want to go to a big school for college because it would be far too tempting to go back to partying. I wanted to choose a college where I could see myself thriving and growing spiritually while pursuing my career choice. Senior year was a blur as I was just anxious to get out of high school and begin my college career.

Pastor Todd said something that really resonated with me- “We all observe the Sabbath differently. I believe God created animals and nature to be enjoyed. Saturdays is not a time to sit at home and be angry with Him because we can’t do anything until sunset. We should be in fellowship with each other and enjoy the things He has created.”  I’m paraphrasing, of course. Trust me, there are a lot of times I wish I have recorded him and could get his direct quotes and nuggets of truth.

Pastor Todd had gone through the same things as I did and knowing this made me feel like he could relate to what I was going through. This was what kept me wanting to hear more of God’s word through him. He has a passion to share the Word to others. He is understanding and most importantly he was welcoming to EVERYONE and knew where to draw boundaries in order to help people form a closer relationship with God. Pastor Todd didn’t just teach me about God, or church, or the Sabbath; he taught me how to be patient, understanding, caring, and loving towards everyone I meet. Thank you for leading by example. I salute you, Todd Rosspencer. The impact you made in my life is something I can never repay you but I will try to pay it forward through my services to the Youth Ministry and the church because I’ve experienced firsthand the wonderful impact it made on my life and I know it will be a blessing to many more. Your passion is a beacon to others in the faith and it shows in everything that you do. I can only hope that I could do the same with whatever career I choose. I wish and hope to do it as well as you.

One night, Pastor Todd shared with us his doubts and fears and he told us that one of the things that keeps him going is:

“It’s the look that Sabrina gives me when I’m talking.” (BTW This look was a look of amazement and awe and it probably looks like as if I have gotten hit by a truck full of knowledge or tasted a very delicious treat that I have NEVER had before.) Long story short, the way he presents his stories and little nuggets of knowledge to teens is so understandable and relatable. Redlands Church is blessed to have him as a Youth Pastor.

We all have doubts. We all question God at times. I’ve realized that this is healthy. In the wise words of a Nursing professor at PUC, “Be weary of the ones that think they know everything. They are the most dangerous.” Only God is all knowing. We are treading dangerous paths once we start acting like we know everything. I’m still learning. I’m still growing.

A daily reminder to myself is this:

“People will judge you no matter what. You can’t win them all Sabrina. Glorify your God. Give praise to the One that gave you life. Remember the promise He gave to you. He has not failed you yet & He won’t fail you now.” – Sabrina Villanueva

What I have is spiritual hunger, and it’s something that cannot be satisfied in one day in a week. No, I need to be spiritually fed every. single. day! Why don’t we treat our spiritual food like physical food our body needs? I see and feel a difference when I start my day with devotional and just have a conversation with God. My thoughts are clearer, more positive, and whatever the day throws at me, I can look at it in the eye and say, “Come at at me bruh.”

I’m still walking in my spiritual journey. I still battle with certain issues on a daily basis. I’m here to tell you, you’re not alone. I want to create a community where we can openly share our thoughts and questions about religion. Questions are healthy. Stay curious. I have asked many of my burning questions to my pastor before getting baptized and one thing he told me that I will NEVER forget is this: “You know what Sabrina, I also have the same questions about the Bible and about God, but that is where faith comes into play. The good news is, if we follow God’s teaching and follow his footsteps, when we see Him in heaven, we can ask all of the questions we have for Him. For now, some things may not make a lot of sense, but God is all-knowing. He has a plan for all of us. I’m excited to ask all of my questions and I’m sure you are dying to ask yours.” I am trying to keep my faith alive, and at times, I feel like I lose it. Especially when tragedies happen, when things are unclear, when a person is stripped away from us that we love, when things are not going as planned… I believe these are the times when we have to look to Him for guidance. This is why it’s called FAITH.

Dorm Life. How To Deal.

And… I’m back in the dorm. I am finally all unpacked. My new current color obsession: white & grey. I love the simplistic look of white and grey for clothing & interior design. It’s so chic & classy! I have always been drawn to classic colors; black, white, & grey but this summer I rekindled my love for white and grey.

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Fall is finally here and that means school is starting for a lot of us. This means I probably won’t have as much time doing the things I enjoy doing such as; browsing the internet for constant inspiration via YouTube, tumblr, Pinterest, my favorite blogs (for hours on end). *sigh* You know what? I can do all these things but I just have to find time where I can fit it in my schedule. If you’re wondering what those 2 cylinders are they are my tins filled with loose tea. I am a tea lover! I am planning on making more use of the tea that I’ve bought from Teavana to help me distress instead of grabbing that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream from the caf… Last year I had way too much crap on my desk and I found it difficult to focus while doing my school work on it. This is as minimal it’s gonna get for me.

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Like many girls, I set up tent when I have my makeup, lotions, and other miscellaneous things. This is the space where I will be planning my day/week/month, have my morning devotional, do my school work, & (oh ya know… making those gains) Haha (; so it’s very important for me to keep my desk neat & have easy access to anything that I consistently use.

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OCD got real for me when I was packing and unpacking. In my freshman year, I had no idea what to pack because I was unfamiliar with the weather up here in North California. I am a SoCal girl and this is a lot of outerwear for me. Not used to it, but I am definitely adapting! This time around, I knew exactly what to pack, and what I was actually going to use, so I narrowed it down to this.

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I was very fortunate to have roomed with family last year; my older sister & my cousin. Having said that, I was very comfortable with voicing out what I liked and disliked on how we kept our room. This year, I am rooming with a friend that I met close to the end of my freshman year. I know it’s hard to tell your roommate what your expectations are, because you don’t want to sound demanding or bossy, but I believe we have to have this conversation in the very beginning to avoid unnecessary drama. Some of us girls are experts at being passive aggressive. To save ourselves the awkward tension, we just have to voice out our standards and expectations from each other. Hold your end of the deal and also keep your roommate accountable.

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I also suggest to keep photos of the ones that are near and dear to your heart. Seeing their faces will lift you up whenever you’re feeling down or can be a reminder to check in with them and see how they’re doing. These are the people that mean a lot to me. My 2 older sisters, the sister that I chose (aka my best girlfriend), and my best friend which also happens to be my handsome boyfriend! *insert smirking emoji here*

Freshman Fifteen. How I gained it & How I lost it…

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At the very beginning of my freshman year, I thought there was no way I was going to gain the “freshman fifteen” because I knew the right foods to eat and I lived a fairly healthy lifestyle.

Little did I know, I would gain 21 pounds by the end of it.

 

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So how did I gain all the weight?
I actually gained the majority of it during winter break. I ate whatever I wanted and gobbled every sweet treat that crossed my path. Winter break was only 3 weeks long but I managed to put on 17 pounds! When I went back to school, I was overwhelmed with the feeling of remorse and yucky jiggliness. You guys know what I’m talking about. I didn’t know how I was going to deal with all the weight I put on (not to mention a horrible haircut which accentuated my filled-in face. Eeeek!) Ya’ll can say that I’m vain, but for me, my hair was my security blanket. All I wanted was a new ‘do for the New Year but instead I got a layered mess! My gloriously long hair was chopped off in a matter of minutes. I was mortified to go back to school. During winter quarter I gained another 3 pounds through; stress eating, sleep deprivation, depression, and other life stresses lead me to gain another 3 pounds that I yo-yo’ed for the next few months.

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So how did I lose all the weight?
I started hitting the gym with an actual workout split that works for me and that I actually enjoy. Towards the end of the summer, I started tracking my macros. I tracked my macros for one day and I lost 1 pound so I was sold and loosely tracked my macros ever since then and today, I’m still getting results.

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Now I follow a IIFYM (If It Fits My Macros) diet because it works for me. I’ve tried being vegan a couple years back and never have I felt so lonely because I couldn’t eat outside with family & friends and if I did, I could only eat French fries & salad. Not. Fun. At. All! Now I felt amazing when I was vegan but I couldn’t see myself enjoying company continuing that kind of lifestyle. I appreciate all the benefits and I fully support vegans but IIFYM is what works for me.

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Now I bought these tops not really caring about their quality. I bought these because I wanted to support a company that I felt was in line with my own approach towards health and fitness. I love the diversity of this team. Heidi Somers (bikini competitor/YouTuber), Alicia Coates (IFFB Olympian/Figure Champ), Jeremy Buendia (3x Mr. Olympia), & Randall (CEO of Live Fit). I really appreciate the vision Randall has for his company & the hustler mentality he has. The Live Fit Team members each have their own definition of what it truly means to be Fit. It’s not all about aesthetics, it’s also about your overall mental & emotional wellbeing. I love how each representative holds their own and influences masses. I proudly stand behind this company & what it stands for.

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My leggings are from Lululemon. I used to roll my eyes at Lululemon because they are just so darn expensive! There is one thing that I can NOT deny: they make every girls bum look amazing. I wondered if the quality would be up to par with all the hype it was getting. If you’ve ever tried on their leggings, you’d understand. What I like about Lululemon is that they don’t run their sizes like every other athletic gear with Smalls, Medium, Large, etc. with every style they offer you your actual jean size. I bought these leggings “All the right places” in a size 4. In ‘Wunder Short 2″‘shorts however, I’m a 2 but there is no where in hell that I would fit in a size 2 in their “Race Pace Tight Short” shorts. If you are thinking of buying yourself a pair of shorts or leggings from Lulu, I highly suggest you find a store near you, and try on 2-3 different sizes to see what the most comfortable fit is for you! These leggings are a great investment. As I get older, I am learning the true meaning of good quality.

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Outfit
Top: Live Fit
Bottoms: Lululemon
Shoes: Nike Air Max Thea

 

20 Things I’ve learned in my 20 years of existence

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1 -Family First. Always.

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2 -Consciousness is key to life

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3 – Take time to self reflect

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4 – Be sensitive to your mind, body, & soul.

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5 -If you find beauty in everything, your perspective of this world would be a better place.

6 – Kindness is the most attractive thing

7 – You are only as good as your word.

8 – Having a sense of entitlement will NOT get you anywhere.

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9 – You are not your status, things you own, or what people say about you.*Food for thought* If you were to be stripped away from your social standing & possessions… Who are you?

10 – Procrastination will only bite your own a**. Just do it now.

11 – Respect other people’s point of view. Not everyone is going to agree with what you have to say or believe. Respect that. One of my favorite quotes, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – Voltair

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12 – Mood swings are normal. You are human. You’ll have your mood swings but be conscious of them and ask yourself why you’re feeling that way. Is it the hormones? Or just overthinking? It’s either one of those. TRUST.

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13 – Love yourself. Yea, that’s right! Give yourself a hug ’cause you’re awesome.

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14 – You are what you eat & you are also how you move.

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15 – Be careful with what you feed your eyes/mind on a daily basis. I am careful with who I follow on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, & other social media websites I often visit. I believe in finding inspiration in some athletes, bloggers, models, etc. but I have to be aware that I’m not constantly comparing myself to them whether it be their amazing bodies or lavish lifestyles. It’s good to draw inspiration from them but it starts becoming unhealthy when the comparison game comes into play.

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16 – Knowledge is power. I love what my grandpa always told me, “Learn as much as you can because knowledge is the only thing that people can’t take away from you.”

17 -Limits are what you set for yourself. No one else.

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18 – God loves me. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. It’s hard for me to fully comprehend this type of love but it definitely comforts me.

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19 – Age does not define someone’s maturity. A person that is in their mid 30’s can still be stuck in a teenagers state of mind while an eighty year old woman has a spirit of a happy child. Youth is in your spirit.

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20 – Everybody, everyplace, everything that you encounter is here to teach you something. It’s up to you to be hypersensitive/aware on exactly what they have to offer teach you to help you grow.

Linda Falls

Today was a bright & sunny Spring day, with a slight, cool breeze-the perfect weather for a hike. I’ve been wanting to go to Linda Falls since the beginning of Fall quarter but I just never got around to it. On Saturdays, I like to take a break from schoolwork and just rest. Hiking, being outside, and breathing fresh air sets my mind free. I let my thoughts wonder and just enjoy the sights and sounds of nature around me. Sometimes schoolwork and personal issues get overwhelming and make me feel like there’s never enough time to accomplish everything I need to do. After going on this hike and noticing how much better I felt afterwards, I decided to make an effort to make this a regular thing. If you find yourself stressed or overwhelmed, find the time to go out in nature and I promise you, you will feel so much better afterwards. It was nice to just breathe, refocus, and de-stress. This hike was long overdue!

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Sunday Funday

Today I had lunch at Heritage Eats, where they blend local ingredients with global flavors in an approachable street food style. I tried the Chicken Tikka Masala wrap and tasted some of their Crispy Falafel Pita. I loved the aromatic blend of spices in both dishes. Their homemade Harissa spice really seasoned up the falafel!

There’s a cute dessert bar called Sift, right next door to Heritage Eats where I got a Salted Caramel whoopie cookie.

 

Nékter was also along the same strip, so of course I had to stop by and get an açaí bowl.

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There’s just something about catching up with friends outside school campus & satisfying your taste buds with quality food!

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Pictured: Marie & Joanne

Archetype

A singular idea, a classic example, a model, a standard, an ideal experience; an object whose virtues remain undiminished

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Dinner date with my sister, Aubrey

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What I tried tonight: Liberty Farms Duck Breast served with whipped sweet potato, treviso, cranberries, & burnt orange jus

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I swear I have developed a sweet tooth by hanging out with my sister. Of course we had to end with dessert!

Chocolate Fondant with pistachio ice cream, candied oranges, and pomegranate seeds

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Pinapple Upsidedown Cake with rum ice cream & caramel sauce

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How would I describe my evening? An ideal experience, a standard, a classic example (for a date). (;