Day 2: The Thankfulness Project

Thank you, God, for my gift of free speech.

Day 2: The Thankfulness Project - JustJaymesBlog

People fought for my right to publish this blog, so I will honor them and my Father with this gift. Courtesy of http://russia-insider.com/en/crosstalk-neo-mccarthyism/ri7572

Last night, I read an article about a decision my university made that I have strong opinions about. Without getting into details, the university made statements about supporting the Christian community on campus despite cutting our resources and showing minimal involvement in on-campus Christian organizations.

I was upset and decided to write a letter to the president and provost expressing my concerns about the university’s decisions. While I was writing some notes about what I wanted to say, it occurred to me how lucky I am to freely express my views.

As Americans, we often forget that people in other countries do not have the same rights we do. Many people in Asian, African, Caribbean, and Eastern European countries face prison, exile, or even death for expressing their views. They cannot speak out in public, post on social media, or publish articles that conflict with the opinion of the government or other ruling body.

The fact that I can even have this blog is a blessing!

I often take for granted the fact that I can say what I want in America. I can post political articles on Facebook, tweet about my faith, and write letters of dissatisfaction to community leaders. Many other people in world, even some of the people reading this blog, do not have that freedom.

So, I will use my gift of free speech to bless others. I will continue to write in this blog and speak out in my community when something needs to be done. I will share my faith with those who will listen. I will use my words to lift others up and advocate for those who are fortunate enough to have a voice.

God blessed me with my privilege, and I will use it to honor him.

Lord,
Thank you for placing me in a country that allows me to speak my mind. I know many people around the world desire and daily fight for the freedom I so often take for granted. Help me to see my privilege and use it to speak for those who cannot. Help me use my words, spoken and written, to honor you and bless others as you have blessed me. Thank you, Lord, today and every day.
Amen.

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Day 1: The Thankfulness Project

Thank you, God, for my gift of sightWP_20151029_004

Like I said in my last post, I love fall. I love colder weather, pumpkin bread, sweaters, scarves, and most of all, the colors of the leaves. Last week, I went on a few walks to appreciate and take pictures of all the amazing leaves around campus. It made me so thankful for the blessing of changing seasons and God’s beautiful creation that I was originally going to write today’s entry about the beauty of nature.

But then I saw a blind student on campus and thought about how he can’t even see this beautiful creation that I get to enjoy every day. This student will never see the leaves on the trees, the smile of a friend, or the colors of a sunset.

Thinking about how my life would be if I lost my sight, I became so incredibly thankful that when I wake up in the morning, I can open my eyes and see light streaming through my window. I can pick up a book and read. I can watch a movie. I can decorate for holidays. I can drive a car. I can go for a walk without assistance. I can do so many things that others can’t, yet I take it for granted.

Well, not today.

Today, I will make the conscious effort to be thankful for sight. I will thank God every time I see something beautiful.

WP_20151029_010And more than just saying thank you for my gift of sight, I will find a way to use it to bless others today.

I like to decorate my dorm for different holidays and seasons to bring joy to myself and those who live on my hall. I recently decorated for Halloween, but today I will start taking down these decorations and putting up new ones for fall. I plan to create a tree on my door with beautiful colored leaves. And every day, I will write what I am thankful for that day.

Maybe my actions will be a blessing to those around me. Maybe it will inspire them to be more thankful, too. But at the very least, I will show God my thanks by honoring the gifts he’s given me.

So, what are you thankful for today?

God,
I just want to thank you for sight. I take it for granted every day that I can see your beautiful creation, but I want today to be different. I want to see how I am blessed and appreciate every gift you’ve given me. And more than just being thankful for your gift, I want to use it to glorify you. So today, please show me how I can use the simple gift of sight to bless someone today. How can I bring you glory with my gift of sight? In your name I pray,
Amen. 

JJB- Day 1 thankful for sight

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The Thankfulness Project

I love Thanksgiving. It’s probably one of the most overlooked holidays being squished between the consumerism of Halloween and Christmas, but I think it’s the most needed holiday in America.

In chapel last night, we talked about how many gifts we’ve been given from God. We can walk. We can see. We can read. We have a college education. We can practice our religion freely. We have fresh water. We have police who protect us. We have supportive friends and family.

Americans are some of the most privileged people on this earth, and yet we probably thank God the least.

I’m going to try to change this. At least for a month.

For the month of November, I am going to count down to Thanksgiving with things I am thankful for. Every day, I will try to post one thing I am thankful for.

I challenge you to join me.

You don’t have to write a blog every day (that’s hard enough even for me!). But write something. Write in a journal, post something on Facebook, or even just say a prayer. But do something every day between now and November 26.

God gives us everything we could ask for and then some.

The least we can do is say thanks.

Lord,
Thank you for all you do for us. We may not see it or appreciate it every day, but we try. This day, and every day after, help us to see your blessings in our lives. Show us your gifts and help us learn to thank you. Give us grateful hearts. In all we do, let us see you and thank you.
Amen.

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Called to a Commission

Last week, I felt a calling.

It wasn’t like what people tell you it’s like. I didn’t hear the voice of God saying, “Well done, my child. You are following my plan for you.” It just wasn’t like that. For me, it was just a feeling like I was going something right. It felt good.

I got an email last week from the woman who coordinates my scholarship from the PC(USA). She told me that a young women’s ministry group is providing 12 scholarships to students to be part of the denomination’s 40-person delegation to the United Nations 60th Commission on Women. And better yet, only three women had applied, so I have a really good chance of being part of the delegation. So exciting!!!

I was kinda intimidated by the whole experience because it would involve me travelling by myself for the first time to a place I’d never been with people I’d never met to help shape the agenda of the world’s most influential organization in international affairs. No pressure.

But I just couldn’t help thinking how amazing this opportunity was. I was honored to even be considered for this trip. And I started to feel like this wasn’t something I just stumbled upon–it was something intentionally placed in my life.

I sort of denied this feeling, but once I started working on the application, I couldn’t believe how giddy and excited I was getting. Now, Im not some crazy feminist chick and I rarely ever pay much attention to *air quotes* women’s issues. (I mean, what even is a “woman’s issue?”).

But suddenly, I was so incredibly passionate about the plight of women around me and how even a privileged American woman like me faces challenges. And then I really hit me: What if this is an opportunity for me to make a difference in the lives of those around me? What if this is my first step in effecting tangible change in the world?

Cue the chills.

Now, I don’t expect to change the world overnight just because I go to a week-long conference in New York. Life doesn’t work like that. But this could be the first step. If nothing else, this could be the first step in igniting within me a passion for service or a confidence to travel or a knowledge for world issues or a heart for advocacy. Who knows where this opportunity may lead me?

One thing is for sure: This is God’s plan, and I’m looking forward to the ride.

JJB - Calling to a Commission

Two hours to save three lives

Sometimes you can save a life by doing the simplest things.

This summer, I decided to follow in my dad’s footsteps and weekly donate platelets. It didn’t really start out as a big deal. I answer a few questions, sit in a chair for about 90 minutes, and watch a movie on my Kindle while hooked up to a machine that pulls blood out of me, separates the platelets, and pumps the remaining blood cells and plasma back into me.

It was just something little I could do.

I didn’t realize that it was an important thing to do until I had lunch with my cousin and she asked me what the mark on my hand was. I told her that it was just a small scar I’d gotten from the needle being inserted in the same spot week after week when I gave platelets. She was so proud and excited that I was doing something every week that saved people’s lives. She said it was so great of me to go out of my way to help people like that.

I hadn’t really thought of my two hours in a chair as a life-saving gesture. It was just one little thing I could do for other people. I wasn’t giving money to the poor, working in a homeless shelter, or volunteering in a children’s hospital. I was just sitting. That’s it. I didn’t feel like I really deserved  admiration for my lazy community service.

Then I started thinking about those emails I’d received from the American Red Cross and Community Blood Center where I donate blood and platelets. The Blood Center had called and told me that I am especially important for giving platelets because I am one of the 2 or 3% of the population that lack a particular antibody. This means that my donations are used for infants and patients with autoimmune disorders like leukemia. They also told me that I have a relatively rare blood type (B positive) which also increases the need for my platelets.

To show me the impact of my donations, the Red Cross sends me emails about where my donations are going. Because my platelets are in such high demand, I give a triple donation every time I visit the Red Cross. This means that with every two hours I sit in that chair each week, I save three lives in South Carolina, North Carolina, or Georgia.

So, this summer, I helped save the lives of at least 20 people.

Two hours to save three lives - JustJaymesBlog

Sometimes the smallest actions mean the most.

Giving platelets has really helped me understand that I am not on this earth to just serve me. I am here to use the gifts I was given to serve God and the people in this beautiful world. The experience reminds me of 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,” and Romans 14:7, “For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone.”

God gives me gifts and resources so that I may give them to others. My body is no exception. I was blessed with a healthy body and time to sit in a chair, so I might have the chance–rather, the responsibility–to use those gifts to serve others.

You are not your own.

I live these verses every day now. I eat better and exercise more because I know that people depend on me to live another day. I know that my body is not my own. It is simply a resource to serve the world, and I have an obligation to care for it.

So, I would ask you to do your part. Check the box on your driver’s license to be an organ donor. Donate platelets. Sign up to be a bone marrow donor. Participate in blood drives. Buy an extra box of cereal to donate to a food bank. Take old clothes to Goodwill instead of throwing them out.

Just do your part.

I found out that two hours of my day can save three lives. What can you do with a few hours?

Two hours to save three lives - JustJaymesBlog

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