Sunday, December 29

Cracking Xmas - In Search of Stars - Stargazers




Ok time for the rest of my readers to have a post addressed to them. I have already done a post for the Christian readers but this one is for those of you who are interested in understanding more about Christianity but you don't want a one sided  approach to the topic.

Firstly to get this started, I am a Christian, but that doesn't mean I have to write a post that is designed to get you to convert so before I even start let me explain why I am doing this. 

I believe that faith is only real when you have found it for yourself. No one can push faith on anyone else, no one can convert anyone no matter what tactics it just doesn't work. If you decide to come to decide Christianity is for you, then I want you to be able to do so knowing that it was your choice no one pushed you into it or scared you into it or the like. I know I have people reading this that have no interest in choosing Christianity as a walk of life but you are interested in knowing more about Christianity in terms of what Christians actually believe and the way in which we think. Some people just genuinely have an interest in understanding other people from all walks of life, some of those people sent me messages asking for this post so here it is. 

Side note, I am very interested in making posts that my readers actually want to read, I will interact with tweets, messages, comments and the questions of my readers to the best of my ability because I want everyone who reads my blog to know they are valued. 

Anyway, getting back on topic






So you want to know about Christianity? 

Well the first thing you need to understand is that you can learn about Christianity regardless of your life choices and views and most of us will actually be more then happy to answer your questions with a fairly open mind and without judging you. It is only the minority of quite frankly religious nuts that let down the rest of us. 

Second thing to know, we are human too. Although are way of doing things may seem strange to you as may are thoughts and convictions, we all have our own minds. Christianity has many different groups within the church structure, all of which have different interpretations and ways of expressing their faith. We all have a very basic foundation in common though which is made up of 3 things.

We all believe in God 
We all have our own way of expressing worship for God and/or serving Him.
We all believe in Jesus as the son of God and that he died on the cross for our sins so we can be reconciled to God. Most of us believe Jesus is now alive, but some groups do not. 

Christianity is like other religions in that all religions have their own practices and ways of living and basic moral framework.

Christianity is not like in other religions in that Christianity is the only religion that believes in only one God and that this God is alive today. The religion of Christianity is dead without the living person of Jesus Christ who we believe we have a relationship with, which sounds strange I know but its about faith. 

Regardless of your faith there is no way of proving faith. You either believe or you don't. Even if there is all the evidence in the world, if someone chooses not to believe in something then they just won't. So faith is a choice and it is the choice to believe in Jesus and the choice to have faith in Christianity aswell as the Christ of the Christianity that is what this life style is about. 

We believe God is a God of love and He loves you. However, if you don't believe in Him that statement will mean nothing to you which is why I am stating it is what we believe not what is the case. 

Many intellectuals were/are also Christian.

Intellect and logic can work with Christianity but it is not something that can be explained only experienced, which is where faith comes in and may seem like the biggest cop out ever, but that really is how it works.

Christianity is about hope, faith love and peace but it is certainly not by any means an easy life choice. 

Throughout history Christians have been persecuted and there is still persecution going on today, although in most cases it is in a far more subtle form. 

The reason that we put up with that though is because we  believe what we experience and have with Jesus in the picture is so amazing that it is worth it no matter what. 

On the flip side of this, we do also believe in the devil, we believe in a spirit world and that there is a war going on.

 I know I am being very brief here but all I aim to do in this post is give you some thoughts to help you get started/continue on your quest to find out more about this religion/faith. If you want to know more about the dark side though, you can find that in my devils tool box series on this blog. 

The bottom line of what we believe is that Jesus is the light that overcomes the darkness of this world, He is the star that leads you home.

At this point I am going to leave it there, although I have only scratched the surface. 

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have,

but until next time.

Take care,

Love Hayley 

xXx 



Cracking Xmas - In Search of Stars - Star Keepers



This post is a real treat for me. I don't think I've ever had a reason to just address my fellow brothers and sister in Christ. If you are reading this and you don't believe in it, then you are very welcome to stick around if you want but for this post I am going to address other believers in Jesus, just like myself. I do call non-believers " the world" in this post, I am sorry if that offends anyone it is not my intention, but I just really want to make this letter that I am about to write be as true to how many believers would speak to each other as possible. 




Dear brothers and sisters,

This is an open letter regarding the issue of relating to what we would call the world when it comes to talking about our faith and/or religion. There are a few things I would really like to bring to your attention, all of which I have learned from experience and are very much my own opinion and observations, but since the bible does say that we as believers are suppose to encourage each other in the faith, I feel justified in sharing my thoughts. 

Firstly, please understand that all of these observations come from a genuine desire to see the kingdom of God grow and a heart of humility and love, but also a genuine concern that so often, we as Christians tend to come across as crazy, heartless or completely miss-guided. As well meaning as we are, many of us fall in to some common traps when attempting to communicate our faith to others. This is very damaging as it usually causes people to write us off and the God we claim to stand for as complete rubbish. Sometimes guys, we just need to get out of the way and let God do the work, He is more then capable of reaching people if He chooses to, and while it is our mission to preach the gospel to all, we must remember that what we carry is very precious and we need to be careful with our conduct for sharing the gospel for it to be effective. 

Here are some common mistakes that we make, I know that I myself have made these mistakes in the past and so again, this comes from a heart that seeks to help further the gospel. I don't claim to know everything but this is what I have learned via life experiences. 

Mistake 1 - Pushing the message
As well meaning as we are, many times because of our frustration that so many of our loved ones, may well be heading to hell, we become self-appointed crusaders and may even make certain people are assignment to get them saved.  This may be done through badgering of  Christian material, questions, insisting the person comes to church with you or by telling the person that what they believe is wrong and treating them like they know nothing. Although it doesn't apply to all of us, the term "bible bashing" had to come from somewhere. 

The truth is, we can not convert anyone, it is only our job to share the gospel, if people wish to explore it, but pushing the message causes people to just put walls up and dismiss what we have to say. In other-words, by doing this, we are helping the devil with his mission and hurting the very God we serve. 

Mistake 2 - Using Christian Jargon. 
The world is not familiar  with allot of the terms we use when we talk to each other. The average non-believer will look at you like you are from another planet if you start to talk about "being saved" asking Jesus in to your heart" or "being born again" just to name a few. We need to try and speak in terms that the person you are speaking to will understand, however if you really must use typical Christian terminology, please explain it first in simple terms. 

Mistake 3 - Insisting Christianity is a relationship NOT a religion
To us, our relationship with Jesus is very precious and something we want to share with anyone who will listen because we know how amazing life with Jesus in the picture really is, so yes to us it is about relationship. However, the world views Christianity as a religion, partly because of history and partly because that is how it is portrayed by main-stream media, especially when you have people saying that they are a Christian and God hates X,Y,Z which always comes across as very law based and condemning. I know many Christians will not like what I am about to say, but guys we are apart of a religion, church is a religious institution especially in the many strains of denominations, tithing, communion, baptism, marriage and even prayer and fasting are all typical religious acts, some of which are practiced by other religions, not just us, to deny that when talking to the world, is only going to result in them thinking we are closed minded, ignorant  and arrogant. When you explain your relationship with Jesus, do it in the manner of explaining how it enhances those seemingly religious practices to be more about relationship and doing it because of love and walking with a living God as appose to trying to state you believe in God but you don't see yourself a religious. Many people do believe in God, even if they are not a Christian, but the real difference is knowing Christ. Please try to keep that your focus when addressing this issue. 

Mistake 4 - Getting into depth with social issues.
Paul warns about the dangers of getting into fruitless debates with the world. Remember they don't see any better because they have yet to have their eyes opened by Jesus. It is not their fault they don't know any better, the god of this world has blinded many. Politely direct the conversation in a different direction if you get these questions. Saying plainly not talking about that because the person won't understand will make that person think your calling them stupid. It would be better to say, that it's an interesting question but in order to answer that you need to explain the basics first, because the philosophy behind what we believe will not make the blind bit of sense to anyone if you don't first lay the foundations. There is a time and place for addressing these issues but if you don't feel confident that you can do it with a focus on grace and love and without coming across as condemning or judgmental then don't feel like you have to answer these questions. Remember you are only one of many sources this person may have found for finding out more about our faith it is often a team effort that gets people to the point where they decide to consider inviting Jesus into their lives for themselves and this team effort can be spread through the persons life. Don't feel like you have to do everything, just do your part. 

Mistake 5 - Being known by what we believe not who we are.
We as believer need to be known more for what we are for then what we are against. No one wants to listen to people that tell them that can't do this, that and the next thing. God is love, we are his Children so spread the love! 

Above all else, remember you  are a beacon and carry the light to the world in darkness, shine bright.

Take care & God bless

Love Hayley 

xXx






Cracking Xmas - Xmas Day Traditions



So yesterday did not go as planned at all. I know I said there would be one post yesterday and 3 today but that didn't quite work out. Basically I ended up spending allot longer doing research then I had originally intended and by the time that was done I was way too tired to actually log on to my laptop and start writing. You guys know I am all about quality over quantity so I wouldn't post so many posts in such a short time unless I truly felt it is worth while for both myself and my readers to do so.  

That said, I do still think the 4 posts plan are all of some value and so I will still be sticking the schedule, but the only change is there will be a slight difference in how I am going to get these posts up. There will be two more posts today but they are split one post is directed at a very specific type of people and the other is directed at the other kind of people as in this topic I will be discussing here, you really do fall in to one category or the other. Of-course you can read both posts if you want to but as I say the next two posts after this one will be a little different to my usual content. 


The Christmas day tradition I want to look at for this post is the tradition of the Nativity. Here in the U.K it's not uncommon for school children to do a nativity play at Xmas time, carol services by candle light are held at church's all around the country and many people remember Xmas time as the birth of Jesus Christ, light in to the darkness, the Saviour of the world. 


Now although I am a Christian, I am not going to stray into religion or faith at this point. If you are interested in knowing more about the Nativity, there are plenty of films, books and articles out there on the topic, not to mention it is in the bible, a quick internet search will bring up thousands of options. 

What I do want to look at for this post is the heart of the Nativity message which is very relateabale to everyone, from all walks of like and regardless of what you believe. 

That message is simply peace on earth, something that most of the world really wants and secondly good will to all. It is very much apart of human nature to want things to better in your own life and even in the world. We are wired to want to be happy, so therefore regardless of your views on faith and the like, this message is a good one for all of us. 

There is an even deeper meaning in all of this that is often missed and that is the idea of light into the darkness. That idea is something I want to explore in the next two posts but I am going to split it. 

The next few posts will be a mini series within this series. So kind of like a present within the present. The two things I aim to represent in life in general are there is always hope and the life of faith through grace instead of being ruled by often well meaning  but cold and empty religion. 

I am going to call this mini series  In search of Stars 

Here is the basic schedule of these 3 posts so you can decide if any which of them you want to come back to this blog for. 

1 In search of Stars - Star Keepers ( For Followers of Christ Jesus) 
2 In search of Stars - Stargazers ( For The readers that are asking questions for an unbies approach to understanding Christianity)  
3 In search of Stars - Star Dust - 10 common misconceptions about Christianity and resources to continue your search or faith walk ( For everyone) 

The idea of this mini series came from the fact I have readers messaging me with questions and I thought rather then just answer individuals, that this mini-series could help allot more people. 

Coming back to this post topic, I want to leave you with one thing,

Next time you see candle, the lights on a Christmas tree or walk through the glittering streets this season, just remember that those lights are but shadows of what this season is all about. 

The fact light always over comes the darkness. 

Love Hayley

xXx 


Saturday, December 28

2013 Updates.



I know the date says I wrote this back in 2013 but actually, its 2018 when I am writing this quick note. 

I did not insert any posts after July in 2013 because I have decided to use those posts for another project.

They don't fit the theme of what I am/was aiming to do here.

If and when those posts are published else where I will put a link here to let you know.

Take care guys!

Love Hayley

xXx

Friday, December 27

Cracking Xmas - Pre-Xmas Traditions



For the traditions part of this series I am going to stick to what I know, I am from the U.K so even if the tradition comes from another part of the world, I will only mention traditions held in my home land. Also I want to make a note of the fact for the readers that asked, all the art in this series and unless otherwise stated on the other posts on this blog, is original art work by Alex Bax. Links to his Deviant Art and YouTube account can be found in the art section of this blog. 

That said, lets have a look at typical western Pre- Xmas Traditions.



I am going to weave varies traditions in and out of this post but mostly I want to look at the one main tradition of Santa and how he relates to stockings.          

I am going to  vaguely highlight the other traditions mentioned and you can see the pictures but as I say, I want to focus on one main pre-Xmas tradition in this post.

There is legend that suggest that origin of the stocking involves St Nicolas himself. The story goes that there was one a poor man who had 3 very
beautiful daughters, he had no money to pay for the weddings of these girls should they ever wish to marry, and so he was worried about what
would happen to them after his death. St Nicolas happened to be passing through, when he heard of the poor mans situation he decided to find a way to help without the poor man and his daughters knowing. When dark of night came St Nicholas threw three bags of gold through an open window. The bags landed in a stocking and when the girls work up the next morning the old man and his daughters were very happy, their fate had been changed in one night.
There are variations of this tale, but this is the basic idea of it. 

When watching Xmas films over the last few days, I had an observation that I want o share with you.

Today the tradition of St Nicholas has developed into the idea that Santa  comes riding on a slay which is pulled by flying reindeer every Xmas Eve to give toys that he and his elves have been working on all year in Santa's workshop in the North Pole to the good little children of the world .
Children traditionally leave cookies and milk as a little thank you on the fire place and sometimes even a carrot for the reindeer. There is something else traditionally hanging on the fire place too though, a Stocking. 

My observation is this, what if that tradition of hanging a stocking at the fire place is a gift to Santa in its self?  What if seeing the stocking hanging there serves as a reminder of why he does what does year in year out?

Think about it, its allot of work and any human would get tired of well-doing after a while, maybe to Santa a Christmas stocking serves as a symbol of hope, the hope that he can make others as happy as he did those three girls and their father when he first got started. 

I know chances are allot of my readers don't believe in Santa anymore, but if you do or you know children that do then it would be a really lovely idea to use a stocking to teach them about hope. 

After all, hope is one of the best gifts anyone can ever give.

I hope you are all enjoying this season if you celebrate it,

Until the next time, take care,

Love Hayley 

xXx 


Cracking Xmas - Update and Thank you!!




I have decided to extend this series for the entire season of Xmas. In the U.K where I am from people don't go back to work properly or school until around the 6th of January so with that in mind, I am going to spread out this series to last that long. Still the same set up, 7 films, 7 traditions and 7 songs but also I want to throw in a few extras. 

I'm going to take a little break from the films and songs and spend a few days looking at traditions of Xmas. To ensure I stick to my schedule, I'm going to share it with my readers because I won't want to let you down and quite honestly, at the moment I am struggling to be consistent with my blog as I have insomnia and it really isn't helping me my creativity at all. Nevertheless, I want to be a woman of my word so this series must go on until it comes to a natural finish. 

Schedule


27th December - Pre-Xmas Traditions. 
28th December - Xmas Day Traditions 
29th December - More In-depth Reading Post 1, 2 & 3 ( Morning, Lunch time, Evening) 
30th December - Back to the Films/songs with Nightmare Before Christmas  V ___________?
 2nd January     - Final Film comparison post ( not sure which two I am going to do yet)
 3rd January     -  Food For Thought Friday - New Year Post Part 1 
 5th January     -   Final Thoughts - New Year Post 2 and Conclusion.

New Series will Start on 10th January 2014. 
I will also be tweaking this blog to make it more reader friendly and hopefully will be launching a Facebook page in the new year to give you another way to follow me should you wish to do so that way. 

So there you go guys, that is what you can expect from this blog for the next few weeks. If you have any questions or feedback feel free to contact me via any of my social network links which you will find on the right hand side of this blog. Also I want to include my readers in the content of next year's post topics and the like so if you have any suggestions, Twitter is the best place to let me know using the hash-tag #pandasandpens 

Before I wrap this post up, I do want to say a big thank you to all of my readers, where-ever you follow me. I am aware of how many of you there are and I am so grateful and feel blessed to have people listening to what I have to say. Numbers don't really matter much to me, but my readers certainly do so again thank you so much and please do feel free to message me or contact me if there is something you want to see on this blog in the future.

Untill next time, 

Take care love Hayley

xXx 




Sunday, December 22

Rise of the Guardians - Cracking Xmas

Rise of The Guardians ( 2012) 


An animation with Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin and Hugh Jackman, Rise of the Guardians follows the story of Jack Frost and the other guardians and how they deal with what is essentially  the boogie man
In this family friendly tale of adventure, we meet many interesting characters and learn a little more of what Christmas is all about.

What Stands out.

North asks Jack Frost as one part of the film what his center is revealing to us that his is wonder.
Since North is St Nick himself, its safe to get from this that what Santa stands for is wonder and joy but where does this wonder and joy come from? Finding that will be the next stage in our quest.

Song of the Post

The Christmas song ( Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, as it is commonly known) written in 1944 by  Mel  Torme' and Bob Wells.


In honer of Jack Frost it just had to be this old classic. It is played every Christmas and my personal favorite version is by Nat King Cole.


What these lyrics mean to me 

The song describes common happenings at Christmas, it shows allot of the wonder of Christmas and is a personal favorite of mine.

Conclusion 

Santa and the Christmas spirit seems to be about wonder, but what is this wonder? For that we will pay a visit to a Christmas favorite of mine by Tim Burton but that is for tomorrows post.

Till then take care,

Love Hayley

xXx

Miracle on 34th Street. V Elf - Cracking Xmas

Miracle on 34th St (1947) V Elf

Miracle on 34th St

Story line


  • Santa is in NYC and ends up being a store Santa for Macy's.
  • He meets Doris,who works in the store and her daughter Susan who doesn't believe in Santa.
  • Santa makes it his mission to help them believe, but like all good films there is a twist in the tale. 


What Stands Out

Santa is portrayed as jolly, helpful,caring and just a little bit odd but this film is clearly about keeping the spirit of Christmas alive.
there is a quot in the film that stands out too

" faith is believing in something even when common sense tells you not to" -

It seams believing in the Christmas spirit, whatever that is takes a little faith and an open mind.

It's worth remembering that as we continue are search for the meaning of Xmas.

Elf 



  • Will Ferrell plays a human adopted by Santa's elf's.
  • As he gets older he starts to realize he is different and eventually learns he is not an elf after all.
  • On learning this news, he also gets told where his living relative is and sets out on a journey to the human world to find this person.
  • The film is full of comedy as this over-grown elf learns to adapt in the human world but again, there are twists that make this film a fantastic choice for the whole family.


What Stands Out

We don't see much of Santa in this one, but again the Christmas spirit is very much tied up in what Santa stands for. The next logical step would be to find out exactly what Santa stands for as both these films only really hint at things and there is a much a more obvious choice to explain what Santa is all about.


Song of the post

It made sense to choose a song that was about Santa since the two films I just compared are in essence about his world.

Santa Clause is coming to town.
Originally written by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie in 1934

What the lyrics mean  to me 

This is a simple little song but its basic meaning is about being well-behaved so that Santa will see fit to give you what you want for Christmas. There is a hidden message in this song though, and to me that is the value of peace and quite and how good things can be when everyone gets along. 

Conclusion

Through both films and the song it seems that Santa is heavily associated with the Christmas Spirit  but what is exactly Santa stands for? If we find out that then we will find out what the Christmas Spirit is all about and be one step closer to finding the meaning of Christmas.

We will continue on our quest tomorrow but till then take care,

Love Hayley

xXx

Thursday, December 19

Why there is no post for the 18th - Cracking Xmas

I decided to kick off this series with a comparison of two films and then add thoughts on the song at the end,so for that reason, I am going to combine 18/19th posts together into one, which will be up on 19th Dec U.K time. Till then take care love hayley xxxx

Tuesday, December 10

Changes.

I really need to make a few changes on here, the Cracking Christmas Series is just not working. It is annoying and slightly embarrassing to admit that but still, I think apart of being an integrate blogger is admitting when you failed.

I have another idea to run with but first I need to do some changes and reconstruction work on my blog layout and the like, will put it back up and update you on the changes as soon as possible but for now take care and thank you so much for following me on here in the past. I hope you find the changes to your liking, if not then feel free to unfollow or whatever.

Take care

love Hayley

xXx

Sunday, December 1

Sheep! The Role of the Shepherd & Conclusion


In last weeks post, I said that the secret of the simple life is to trust the Shepherd, but how exactly can we know the shepherd can be trusted? Who is this Shepherd anyway?

In this post, I am going to answer both those questions and explain a little more of the role of the Shepherd.

Now, I know that some of my readers will think I am about to get all religious on you. While I am going to mention a higher power, I am also very aware that not all my readers even believe in such things and so I will keep it brief when we come to that part.

In order to answer these questions we first need to take a closer look at sheep and why we as humans need a shepherd just as much as they do.

Sheep have a tendency to wonder off. It's no secret they can be really stupid sometimes, but so can humans. We as humans, have a tendency to want to do our own thing, no one likes to be told what to do so the idea of appealing to a higher power, or a shepherd may seem like the most ridicules idea ever because we tend to think we are fine on our own and want to be in control of our own lives.




The truth is though, we were not designed that way. No matter what you believe in, it's not hard to accept we all need people, we all need relationships of different kinds and I would argue that one of those relationships should be with a higher power greater then yourself that has sight of the big picture and your best interest at heart. I believe that we are all designed with a hole in our lives, even if we have all the things that would indicate success if you are missing the most important relationship of all, a relationship with your Shepherd, then it will all feel rather empty. In contrast, if all you have is a relationship with your Savior , the shepherd of which I speak, everything else falls into place.

I can only really speak on my own personal experience. When we try to do things are own way we can end up hurt, broken, lost and confused. It is a completely human and normal thing to feel lonely even in a crowed of people, but when the Shepherd comes and picks you up and carries you to a safe place then that loneliness disappears.


I wanted to have a post on my blog that relates strongly to my faith in Jesus, but if you have followed me for a while you will know that I don't believe in forcing my views and I certainly don't believe in writing posts that are laden with religion! However, I do also have Christian readers and I myself am a Christian and I wanted that to be something I am open about, even if I don't mention it much.

So then going back to those first questions we started with what is the role of the shepherd?

To look after His sheep, meet their needs, not their greed and to guide the sheep in the direction that is best for them away from the wolves and other dangers that are lurk in wait of a silly little sheep that has strayed off and gotten lost. When a sheep does get lost, the shepherd will leave his flock and go in search of that one sheep. This is a biblical principle but Alice Cooper, Sylvester Sloane, Beyonce, Owl City, Skillet and Brian Welch, can all vouch for the truth in it.

Who is the Shepherd? 
I would say that best shepherd you can have is Jesus Christ, however there are lots of different shepherd figures in our lives and we all have them. Personal fitness coach, fashion guru's, medical professionals, Pastors, teachers or even your boss can be a Shepherd in some form .


It is said that whatever masters you is your God. Be it food, people or something else, just be careful who or what you make the Lord of your Life. Your "Shepherd" is leading you somewhere..are you happy with where you are going?

That concludes everything I wanted to say in this series.

Untill next time, take care

Love Hayley

xXx




Social Media 

https://twitter.com/pandasandpens

https://www.bloglovin.com/hayleyesther

Go check out the artist!
http://alexbaxthedarkside.deviantart.com/










Introducing Alterations - The Art Of Change Mangment

Today guy's I'm just going to jump straight into this. It's been a while since I last put a post out and that's purely jus...

Ready For More?