Realizing Your True Identity

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Begin by making a list…

Start this list with “I am a” followed by the nouns you use to describe yourself. For example, my list would be:

I am a…

1) Student

2) Girlfriend

3) Daughter

4) Nanny

5) Runner

Look back at this list as you read this devotion.

You were born with a name. You might have an occupation now or be a student. You might be a Mrs. A mom, a sister, an aunt, or a grandma. You may have a hobby that is important to who you are. Each of these names are what you consider to be your identity. When meeting someone for the first time, you probably describe yourself using these identities. However, you have another identity that is the most important, but it is also often forgotten.

You Are a Child of God!

On Earth, we choose to define ourselves by the things we have accomplished. You take pride in your occupation because it is what you do everyday. You refer to yourself as Mrs or as a Mom because its proof that you have gotten married or had children. However, being a Child of God requires no accomplishment. There is nothing that we can do to earn that title or get it taken away. Many don’t take pride in this title because they didn’t earn it. However, even though it doesn’t represent one of our accomplishments, it represents God’s accomplishment. He created man and woman in his image and sent his Son to take our place. It’s a title that reminds us of His unconditional love for us.

When our earthly identities change…

The problem with using an earthly title to define yourself is that those titles can change. If you have always defined yourself as a nurse, what is your identity if you lose your job? If your main identity is being a mother, what will your life look like when your kids leave home? You will feel as though you have lost your identity. Your identity in Christ will never change over time or completely be lost. As a student, I struggle with making my primary identity be a “student”. Particularly, a “straight A student”. When I receive bad grades, my self-esteem goes down and I feel insufficient because I have failed to uphold my title. These feelings are completely unnecessary! If you just view yourself as first and foremost, a Child of God, you will never feel like a failure!

1 Peter 2:9 says “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

In a world that wants us to constantly prove our worth, it should feel good to be chosen. Next time you look in the mirror, start thinking of yourself as chosen instead of immediately thinking of your flaws or shortcomings.

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Must Follow Bully and Frenchie Instagram Accounts

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As an English Bulldog owner and lover, I know all the must follow Bully and Frenchie Instagram accounts. I love to follow these cute little furry friends to make me smile and brighten up my day. Here are the star Bullies and Frenchies of Instagram:

1. Bluenjy

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Don’t let the picture fool you, this is a Frenchie, not a real baby! However, this cute little guy loves to eat treats with his front paws, lay on his back, and wear clothes. He is a model for @Frenchiestore, so he loves the camera!

2. Pardonthyfrench

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This pup is a true inspiration. She battled cancer and although she lost her leg, she didn’t lose her spirit. As a rescue dog, she is the perfect example of how a dog can respond so well to a loving new family and a second chance. Princess Bethanee Hamilton has many different expressions and a fun personality.  She is often seen on her three feet scampering around in clothes from her high-fashion wardrobe.

3. Belvis.the.talking.bulldog

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This bulky guy has some serious attitude (narrated by his owner). Belvis is rude, both through his flatulence and his demands. He loves cheese, but basically any foods that aren’t healthy as well. Most days he can be found sticking his tongue out or with a scowl on his face.

4. Worldofbanks

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This Frenchie from L.A. has a beautiful coat and loves to be the center of attention. He is not as well known as other Frenchies on Instagram, but he deserves a shout out because he is absolutely adorable. Somehow, he seems to always know how to charm the camera with his big eyes.

5. Little_millicent

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This Frenchie from Austin, Texas is spunky and loves to be pampered. She loves life, but definitely enjoys her naps. Milly has lots of fans, and seems aware that she is as cute as can be. On her Instagram, her entire life is documented from puppyhood.

6. Gerald_bulldog

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Mr. Gerald… This chubby guy has been on a diet for a long time, but he just loves food too much! He has been caught multiple times digging around in the fridge for snacks. Yes he may be lazy, but he has a big heart. His funny videos and wrinkles will brighten up your day!

7. Bulldogholly

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Holly and Harper are two English bulldogs that enjoy a crazy life together. They are best friends that love to dress alike and snuggle up with each other. You can follow their crazy adventures on their Instagram account. Just be ready for the unexpected!

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Are Your Friendships Healthy?

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Friendship can be very complicated. Feelings are involved and emotions run high when issues present themselves. It is important to have healthy relationships with friends that will encourage you to grow as an individual as you support them. Are all of your friendships actually healthy? Take a look at this cute acronym to decide whether your friendships are everlasting or toxic.

Fun

Make sure that your friendships are enjoyable. When you are with someone, you should feel able to be vulnerable and be yourself. If you are using this individual for personal gain or you think your friend is using you, this is a toxic friendship. Friendships should be rooted in love and genuine care for one another. If you have to force yourself to spend time with a friend of yours, you may want to rethink your relationships to find out why you have these feelings. For the sake of you and your friend, be sure that you are friends for the right reasons.

Reliable

It is crucial to know that you can depend on your friends! You should know without a doubt that if you called your friends in a time of uncertainty, that they would be there for you and willing to help. However, reliability needs to flow from both people in a relationship. If you feel as though you are constantly reaching out to aid your friend, but they never reciprocate this type of support, you need to have a serious heart-to-heart conversation. If you consider someone a close friend, ensure that you are asking for help if you need it. It is not shameful to need an extra boost or a little bit of advice.

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Independence

This important relationship quality may seem strange, but if you have ever had a relationship that lacks independence, it is obvious why it is a problem. Friends are amazing to have in your life, but not all the time. It is important that your friends are not overwhelming to the point that they become a burden to your other relationships or to your daily life. Clingy friend can cause marital problems or distract you from personal achievements.

Empathy

When I was younger, I had a friend that wasn’t very empathetic. During the time that I was on crutches or the times that I was sick, she would belittle my feelings and make them seem irrelevant. Friends should always be concerned with the problems you are facing and not try to down play your emotions or perspectives. Your feelings are important, and a true friend will be able to discern when you are feeling upset and be compelled to comfort you.

Natural

It is difficult to spot “fakeness”, especially in your friends. However, if you start to see your friend acting differently in front of others while with you, talk to them about it. There is no need to be fake friendly or snobby to certain people. And chances are, if they change personalities with each person they come across, they aren’t being their true self around you either. Since life isn’t a reality TV show, you need real friends, not fake ones. Don’t just stand by if your friends are icky sweet to someone and then have a different opinion of them behind their backs.

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Devoted

It is important to have a friend that is devoted to you, but it is also important that they are devoted to their morals and obligations. For example, if you are married and have a best friend who is less than faithful to her significant other, this is not a good relationship to invest in. It is important that you surround yourself with a few very close friends that share your same morals so they can hold you accountable. Although everyone has those “crazy friends”, make sure that they aren’t willing to sacrifice your priorities for a fun time.

Selflessness

Me. Me. Me. Some people only have one word in their vocabulary, and it is me. If you have a friend like this, your conversations probably begin with you bringing up a problem you are having, and end with talking about your friend. Again. This is one of my biggest pet peeves! Sometimes, it is important to talk out issues with friends. This task is nearly impossible if your friend doesn’t want to talk about you, but instead wants to talk about when they had a problem similar to yours. If you are in a friendship with a selfish friend, it is a very toxic relationship.

If your friends have all of these qualities, then they passed! They are true friends and you should keep reminding them how special they are to you. If a characteristic stood out on this list because one of your friends doesn’t possess it, talk to them. I can’t stress this enough! People can never improve or change if they don’t know what they are doing wrong.

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Safe Tips to Buying a Dog Online

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My Experience…

For a long time, I wanted an English Bulldog. They are cute, wrinkly, and have such fun personalities! However, they are very expensive and not very easy to find. I checked multiple websites and many classified ads. I finally found an owner selling his bulldog for only $300 (red flag #1). This was an amazing price because most breeders sell their bulldogs for at least $1200. The owner told me that he had to move (red flag #2) so he couldn’t keep the dog. He informed me that there was a flight leaving that night, and that he could get the dog on a plane so I would have him the next morning. All I had left to do was pay him. The owner refused to take any videos of the dog or additional pictures because he was too “busy” with work (red flag #3). He also wouldn’t talk with me over the phone, all our conversations were over text (red flag #4). He asked me to go to the store to purchase a uShip® giftcard. Once I had purchased the giftcard, I got a convincing email that looked to be from uShip®, asking me to verify the information on the giftcard to finalize my purchase of a one way ticket for the dog to my house (red flag #5). It provided all of the accommodations he would receive in fine print. Once I verified the giftcard payment, I received an email that my payment had gone through. I wasn’t aware that the email address didn’t match the authentic uShip® email address. I was overjoyed and went to bed dreaming of my puppy that would arrive at 10 a.m. approximately the next morning. When I woke up, I waited anxiously. I waited, and waited, and waited some more. No dog. The “owner” sent me a cruel message telling me to “send pictures of our happy family together”. He knew that no dog would ever arrive on my doorstep and he knew the disappointment he was bringing me all for a few hundred dollars. I called the police, but there was nothing I could do at that point because the money from the giftcard had already been transferred into the criminal’s account. Through this depressing situation, I learned a few valuable lessons about buying animals online.

1. Avoid buying from a breeder or owner you haven’t met in person

The easiest way to avoid being scammed is to buy from an owner or breeder in your area. It is perfectly understandable to want to browse the computer instead of a newspaper for dog ads, but try, if possible, to arrange a time to meet the owner in person. You can even request to meet them in a public place if you feel uncomfortable going to their home.

2. If it sounds too good to be true…it is

Don’t try to purchase the cheapest pup available. If a breed is generally more expensive, it should be a red flag if you find it online for an extremely low price. If the owner of the puppy is conveniently moving and needs to get rid of the dog quickly (this is a commonly used scam tactic), then make sure you understand the entire situation. Spend as much time communicating with the owners as possible through phone calls, Skype, and text.

3. Don’t allow the owner to rush your purchase

In my situation, the scammer tried to rush the money transaction because he didn’t want me to have any time to think. If I would have thought about his sketchy instructions, I would have realized that there were a lot of steps that didn’t make logical sense. Scammers often will try to rush payment so that you won’t have time to second guess your decisions. Don’t let them pressure you into a large purchase. Make the payment when you feel comfortable!

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4. Ensure the pictures are original

As technology increases, scammers and criminals adapt and grow smarter. When you come across a picture of a really cute puppy, ask for additional pictures. If the owner isn’t able to take pictures that are very clear, or the posted picture seems too “perfect”, search the dog breed on Google images. Sometimes, scammers steal pictures from the Internet and claim it is a picture of the dog they are selling. Always be sure that none of the Google images match the puppy that you are looking to buy. Also, if the owner refuses to take any additional pictures or videos of the puppy, it is a red flag

5. Check the phone number

Although there are individuals who move to a new state and choose not to change their phone number, be cautious if the dog owner has an area code that differs from the state they claim to live in. There may be a completely harmless reason why the area code and residing state don’t match, but keep a look out for other warning signs. You may not have the luxury of communicating with the owner over the phone, but if you do have their phone number, request to talk to them instead of texting them. If they continue to have poor excuses as to why they can’t talk, this may be a red flag.

When a person violates you personally by stealing from you, it effects you greatly. It hurts your confidence in people and your sense of safety. It is easy to believe that you will always be able to recognize scammers or that you are immune to this type of crime. However, scammers are all over the Internet. It is unfortunate that not everyone can earn money through hard work and treat others with respect and kindness, but not every person has those values. I don’t want to discourage you from purchasing a puppy, but these tips are designed to keep you and your money protected. If you find a dog that will work well for you and your family, I promise it will be the biggest blessing!

Happy Ending….

The day after I was scammed, I was honestly a little depressed. I pictured myself holding my own puppy, but instead I was a couple hundred dollars in debt to my parents. Seeing that I was so upset about the situation, my boyfriend wanted to fix it (as usual). He drove to a breeder he found online and spent all of his graduation money on buying me a puppy. I was unaware of his intentions, but when there was a knock at my door, I was shocked. He was swaddling a baby English Bulldog. Words could not describe how special this moment and his gift was to me. Ever since then, Walter is my best little furry friend. I can’t imagine my family without him!

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Need Help? Tips on Moving

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I recently moved from my home city to a neighboring one, so moving is fresh in my mind. I forgot how hard this whole process truly is! It very difficult to pack up your entire life, and I won’t even mention selling your house or trying to thoroughly clean it. Through my experience, what I did and didn’t do, I have plenty of tricks and tips on moving.

7 Tips On Moving…

1. Label boxes very specifically

Most already have the helpful idea of labeling boxes to make them easier to unpack. However, simply slapping a label on a box is not always as beneficial as you may think. I made the mistake of marking boxes with names such as “bedroom misc” or just “master bedroom”. No, No, No!! Designate each box to a specific location in the room, such as “master bedroom nightstand” or “bathroom closet”. The next step is to make sure that only items from that location make it into the box. I know it’s tempting to throw in a few extra things that were unpacked and forgotten in another room, but don’t do it! It will make your life much easier if you create a specific label and stick to it.

2. Play the “Keep or Throw Away” Game

Before packing all of your belongings, play the “Keep or Throw Away” Game. Moving forces you to go through all of your belongings anyways, so take advantage of this time! It may require a little more effort, but throw away or give away the items you won’t be needing anymore. Also, don’t give yourself a long time to ponder over this decision. Quickly decide, do I need this? Is it sentimental? No? Throw it away or give it away. If your kids are teens, it may be time to give away most of their large stuffed animal collection or clothes that are a few sizes too small. If you know that you are tired of certain decorations in your house, don’t bring them! It is already very hectic and messy unpacking boxes, so make your life easier by not bringing junk.

3. Take the time to walk through your house one last time

This tip doesn’t make moving more efficient, but I think it makes it easier emotionally. Some people are more emotional than others, but I really struggle every time I have to move. I think about what it will be like to never come “home” again as I know it. I will never walk through those doors and feel relieved after a long day at work or school. I even fear that I will forget what my house even looks like as time passes. That is why it is so important to have a proper goodbye. Walk through the house and acknowledge all of the memories that reside there. Cherish them one last time while you’re still at home. For someone who has only lived in their house for a few months, it may be a lot easier than someone who has lived in a home their whole life. I lived in my house for about 9 years so this step was very difficult. It is OK and very normal to not be fully prepared for change when it comes. I honestly don’t think I could have prepared myself to leave my home, but I was so glad I spend a few minutes to appreciate it one last time.

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4. Plan in advance to have help

Moving is not a one person job and usually not even a two-person job. If you are moving yourself (without professional movers), it is very important to have both muscle and other people’s vehicles if needed. You will never have enough room to fit everything in your car and you won’t have enough time to move everything out before the deadline. There are always little things that you will forget until the last minute.

It can also be helpful to have someone walk through the house with you to make sure you didn’t forget anything. It can be easy to forget things that you are so accustomed to seeing daily. Have you taken down the shower curtain in the bathroom? Have you left behind the garage door opener for the new owners (definitely didn’t forget this one…)?

5. Take a tour of your new area

This step is possible for some, and not possible for others, but it is very valuable if you are aware of your new surroundings before moving in. Where is the grocery store? The back roads with the least amount of traffic? Knowing all of this before moving in will make the first few weeks after the move a lot easier. Although it will take time before you will be able to easily navigate without Google maps, it is never too early to start exploring. Nothing is more frustrating getting lost on the way to everywhere! Leisurely exploring your new town is both fun and productive.

6. Change your address on everything!

This step in the moving process requires the most thinking! It is hard to remember every magazine subscription, service company, and other businesses that requires your address. Looking back, I wish I would have started a few weeks before the move writing down every business and person I needed to inform of my change in address. A fun way to let your friends know that you have a new home is to have a house warming party. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, but it allows friends and family to be aware of the housing change in a fun way. Plus, you get to show off the new house! (This one is definitely on my calendar, so I will post soon about its successes and failures!)

7. Enjoy the clean slate

Moving is rejuvenating because it is a fresh start. It feels good to start your life in a new town or even a new state. Enjoy it! Pick up a few new hobbies and work to drop the habits that you want to quit. Become the person you want to be because this is the time to do it! Change your perspective and create new memories. On this new journey, have fun experiencing new things and meeting new people. Just get outside of yourself and enjoy life!

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