love YOUR NEIGHBOR as yourself

Love is in the air, or so they say.  Heart shape balloons line the shop windows, couples are getting ready to celebrate—everyone’s showing love to others. That’s the idea anyways.

One famous thing Jesus said, a phrase that’s been said many times, in many ways, “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:32) While we’re busy showing love to our neighbors, the one person we forget to love is ourself. See, the first thing we hear in that verse is, “love your neighbor,” and that’s what we try to practice. That’s we take away from that verse and that’s what we tell others. But take a look at that last part, “as yourself.”

How many people can look in the mirror and say, “I love who I am?”

Paul says in Ephesians chapter five verse twenty-nine, “no one ever hated his own flesh.” I don’t know what people were like in Paul’s days, but these days, people can hate themselves more than they ever thought possible. Sometimes this comes from something we’ve done, other times it comes from something someone said. But we hate ourselves. We despise ourselves so much that we torture ourselves. Not only do we physically hurt ourselves, but we beat ourselves up with the most hateful words. We repeatedly tell ourselves a lie, until we forget that the truth ever existed and we live the lie. We may treat others in way so they won’t become our enemy, but we treat ourselves so that our own mind becomes our biggest enemy.

In Genesis chapter one verse twenty-seven Moses says, “God created man in His own image.” If we were created in the image of God, who are we despising more, ourselves or the creator who designed us?

 We are not perfect like God, but He thought His creation, our body and personality, was perfect when He created it. The things I just mentioned are fairly deep. They’re real problems, living in real people. But not all self-hatred runs that deep.

Self-hatred can sneak up on a person anytime, anywhere, and it can stay for five minutes, then it disappears. That happens to me a lot. Some self-hatred hovers over your mind, it doesn’t run deep, but it’s there. Every time someone complements you; every time someone speaks kindly of you. It’s not that you don’t appreciate it, it’s that you don’t believe it. If you accepted their complement, if you believed their kind words, then you would be praising yourself. You’d be unhumble. You don’t know if you’re all those great things someone says about you, but one thing you know you’re not, is self-centered. Bratty people are self-centered and you’re not a brat.

That’s the thing, a lot of times people who are confident in themselves are considered bratty. Most of the time, the word “brat” is aimed at a teenage girl, but it can go either way. Both females and males of all ages can be considered self-centered. But there’s a difference between being a brat, and loving the person God created: you. God premiered a marvelous design when you entered the world. He didn’t design a self-centered, careless person, He designed a person with humility, respect, and gratitude. For you are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

If someone’s complementing you, then they’re taking the time to show love to you. If someone noticed your way of life and they’re sharing their admiration, then they’ve taken the time to notice your true personality. They’ve taken time to spend with you and show you love. Others love you, they are showing love to you, like you are showing love to others. You are their “other.” Take the love their giving to you and love yourself. Accept the love that the Lord gives you every single day, and love the person He created you to be. You are loved, and because of that, you have the strength to love yourself.

 In that verse (Ephesians 5:29) Paul also says, “they feed and care for their body.” We should care for a body God created, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

This Valentine’s Day set aside the self-abuse, shove the hateful thoughts away, accept the love from others, and love the person God made you to be: you. He made you to be you. In his eyes you were made perfectly and He wants you to be who He created you to be. If you do nothing this Valentine’s Day, if you do nothing besides remember that God’s love matters above all other love, then you’ve celebrated the best way you ever could. His love glows within your heart, and it’s enabling you to love the person you see in the mirror.

Wherever you are today, I pray you know the feeling of love.

Until next time,

Maria Friesen

Quick, before I leave, I wanted to remind you guys that my second book, The Mission, is out now on Amazon. You can check out my website to learn more about it or go to Amazon to order a copy now. If you do read it, let me know what you think. I always appreciate hearing from you guys. About both my books and my blog posts. 😀

*all Bible verses in this article are from the NIV*


My second book, a short novel, is now available on Amazon everywhere. If you like adventurous Christian fiction, then this book is for you. If you read it, let me know what you think, I’d love to hear from y’all.

Until Next Time,


About the book . . .

When Beatrice’s parent’s file for divorce, Beatrice’s determined those documents will never become finalized. She can’t stop her parents from signing, but maybe she can borrow them enough time to change their mind. In order to do that, she’ll need help. She turns to her three closest friends and her potential boyfriend, Nick.

Beatrice plans their first attempt. Yet when someone spots her car, she scrambles for any idea to save themselves and still save her parent’s marriage. Will she stop her parents from signing their marriage away, or will she only ruin any chance she has with Nick?

A Sunday Morning Post

Your soul: where is it headed?

The whole idea of an afterlife has been questioned for years. For almost the entire time the world’s been turning. Some people believe that once you’re dead, you’re dead: blacked-out, shut down, done for. Other’s believe that the deceased’s spirit watches the earth and protects their loved ones, but that’s it. That’s as far as they get. I think I can safely say, that as Christians, we also believe that our loved ones are still with us after they’ve passed. They’re with Jesus and the angles, so it makes sense. Just as Jesus and the angles watch over us, in the same sort of way, our loved ones watch over us.

Which afterlife are we headed to?

We, Christians, believe in an afterlife. But some of us question where we’re headed after our death. I’ve talked to people who joyfully discuss their death. They talk about it as though they can’t wait to live with Jesus. And then I’ve talked to people who speak of death with fear and sadness. The fear of not knowing where they’ll end up instantly depresses them. It’s hard to convince them that they do not have to fear death. They were raised, believing that salvation is never certain, and that’s the belief they’ve decided to stick with. But why?  

A lot of people believe that if they do enough good in the world, then God will accept them and He’ll let them into heaven. They think that they won’t know where they’re going, Heaven or Hell, until they enter eternal life. Because of this, their own death is their biggest fear. They’re afraid that no matter how many good deeds they do God won’t be satisfied.

Obviously, these people believe that God exist. They believe that judgement day will come. But they haven’t realized the trueness of God’s love.

Are good deeds worthless?

I’m not saying that doing good isn’t needed—James says faith without works is dead (James 2:17). But he also says works without faith is dead.

But what is faith? The people that I just mentioned, do they have faith? Webster’s dictionary explains faith as having complete trust. James says that without [good] works faith is dead. So, if faith is only another word for trust then James’s sentence doesn’t make sense. How can trust be dead? I suppose it could be in a way, but it feels like James is talking about more than trust. Faith is mentioned multiple times in the Bible and in the sum of it, it feels that faith means more than trust. So, what is Biblical faith?

Faith is believing that Jesus Christ died for you and rose from the dead on the third day. Believing everything He’s told us. Believing that he is the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. So, if we are to have faith, then we are to believe what He told us.

And he said that “whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24) The famous verse in John, chapter three verse fifteen, says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

This is what Christ said, so why do people question their salvation? If we believe in who Jesus truly is and continue to do His will and follow Him, then why do people question their salvation?

 Sal-va-tion n 1: the saving of a person from sin or its consequences esp. in the after death
Salvation means saving a person from sin. In Romans 6:23 it says, “for the wages of sin is death.,” meaning sin is death.  Therefore, salvation means saving a person from death.

Death n 1: the end of life
But the death I’m talking about is the death of the soul: eternity in Hell.

The criminal, who hung on the cross beside Jesus, said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43) This criminal did not have time to do any good deeds, yet Jesus said he would be in heaven with Him that day. The only thing that criminal did was believe Jesus was the Son of God. And Jesus said he would be with Him in Heaven. Jesus did not say we’ll see when we get there, he said you will be.  

So why do followers of Jesus fear death? There is no need! Believe what Jesus told us, that He is the Son of God; know that he is your savior (if you’ve asked him to be), know that you are saved. Instead of being filled with fear, we can be filled with joy and peace, knowing that when we die, we can live with Jesus. Jesus clearly says that his followers will be with him in Heaven. So, live thriving to be like Him. Live knowing death is overthrown. We, followers of Jesus, our soul, will not die, instead we will live eternally with Jesus.

Sunday Morning: What are you Working Toward?

It’s easy to get stuck in the future. I do it all the time. I visualize myself in five years and know exactly where I want to be. Then I dream up a master plan. What will it take to get to where I want to be and how will I get there? I take the first step, with high hopes, believing everything’s going to turn out the way I want it.

 But then . . .

it doesn’t. Or at least it’s not as smooth of a ride as I’d like it to be. I stop and stare at the boulder in front of me, thinking of every way I could go around it. But after I’ve made it past the first boulder, comes another one, then another one. Eventually I sit in the middle of the boulders, blaming God for not removing them.

I push my five-year plan up to a seven-year plan. But I keep thinking, “it’s going to happen.” I will get where I’m going. I get up and push another boulder out of the way, finally making progress. I keep thinking of that day, the day when all my hard work will pay off, the day when I get to stare down the road I came on and say, “I did it.” But during the traveling, I forget what it is that I’m traveling to. Where am I traveling to? What am I working toward? I get so caught up in getting there, I forget why I wanted to get there in the first place.

At fifteen, when I began to take writing seriously, I had one goal: to share the gospel with the world. That was my number one goal. But as I set out to achieve that goal, all these requirements popped up. And achieving them became a priority. If I wanted to share Jesus with the world through my writing, I had to get better at it first. No one was going to read my sloppy stories and get anything out of it, other than, “she needs to improve her writing.”

So, improving my writing became a priority. But that was all right, it’s what needed to be done. But then I realized, if people were going to find Jesus in my stories, I had to have an interesting plot. Not only that, but I had to have believable characters, with real personalities. So, I got my creative juices flowing. But what happens when your manuscript is as good as you can get it? You publish it. And once your manuscript is published, you’re supposed to get money off of it. If you don’t get any money, that means it didn’t sell and it wasn’t any good.

At this point . . .

I told myself I needed money to show that my writing was good. Because without good writing, no one would finish the manuscript and feel closer to Jesus. So, I began to view success as making a lot of money. And just like that, my goal at the end of all those boulders changed from sharing Jesus with the world, to making a living. Although everyone needs to make a living and if you can make a living off of doing what you love, go for it. But to often we lose track of what we love and focus on what we want out of it instead. Without noticing we’re no longer working toward our original goal. It got lost somewhere amongst the boulders. My love for Jesus and story-telling got lost amongst the boulders.

We focus so mush on what we want out of the deal or what we want the outcome to be, we forget what we wanted in the first place.

Whatever your goal is, don’t get so focused on reaching it that you become blind to the success you’ve already made. I’ve come to realize that success isn’t accomplishing that one final goal, it’s achieving all the little ones on the way. Every time you push away one boulder and walk on, (every time you don’t give up) you’re successful. If we stop focusing on that “single goal” we’ll notice how many little ones we’ve achieved along the way. In the end it’s not about reaching our “big goal” it’s about achieving a small goal everyday and finding joy in the road trip (the daily life). And if we look around, we’ll notice that God’s been working with us all along. Every boulder in your way wasn’t moved by you alone, God helped you with every one of them. And he will continue to help you.

We need to feel successful in life. Every human mind has the longing to achieve something, even if he doesn’t notice it early on. He wants to look back and think, “I did good. I had a good life.” But if we only focus on achieving the one thing, we think will make our life “successful,” we’ll miss every good thing in between. Live every day, don’t save it for that one day.

Sunday Morning (Finding Encouragement During Hard Times)

There’s a lot going on right now. There’s no sugarcoating it, the world is—well, kind of depressing at the moment. It’s discouraging seeing every thing shut down, seeing people locked up in their homes. Watching the schools being shut down; couples being forced to reschedule their wedding. It really makes you think—makes you feel. Makes you feel sad, angry, confused, scared, maybe you’ve felt everything at once. Especially when the news is everywhere. You go to Instagram you see news; you go to YouTube you see news, go to Facebook and you see people posting anything related to the virus. It’s really easy to get caught up in the sadness of the world.
But don’t. Don’t get caught up in the sadness; I know it’s easier said than done. The truth is, sad stuff happens in the world every day, we just don’t notice it as much, until it hits close to home. The world is hard; life is tough. But if you’re reading this then you woke up in the morning, alive and breathing. You’re living through life, one day at a time.

My husband and I were driving home from my in-law’s house a few weeks ago; it was dark and the fog wouldn’t let us see more than twenty feet in front of us. At times we could see further, at times we couldn’t even see twenty feet ahead. But we kept driving at a regular speed. Fully believing that we would make it home. We couldn’t see ahead, but we knew we would make it through the fog. That’s life. Sometimes it’s foggy, sometimes it’s not. Right now, it’s foggy, but we keep driving, knowing we’ll find our way and make it through.
Because life goes on. Until you die, you live. Live everyday with hope and joy, because we, as followers of Jesus, know that we will make it through and we will reach home. No matter how foggy life gets, but we are strong, because of Jesus. Sad things happen every day. Sometimes it feels like it’s the worst thing yet, but the current problem ends, and then months or years later another problem begins. It might sound harsh or depressing, but it’s true. That’s how life works. So how do we manage to smile and laugh when it feels like life constantly hands us problems and sad times? We remember the good times.
Life might be hard, but it’s also a joy. It’s easy to get caught up in the sadness and stay that way. But find the joy. True happiness never leaves you. It doesn’t matter how hard life gets, but happiness from Jesus never dies. That’s how we can live day to day, smiling. Because we have Jesus. Remember the story about two men: one built his house on a rock, the other built his house on sand. One man built his faith and happiness around Jesus. The other built his happiness around material things and laid his faith on earthly goods. When the storm came, the house on the rock stood and the one on the sand washed away. Happiness and faith built on Jesus (the rock) will withstand any storm, it doesn’t matter how big or how small. Or how often the storms come, it stands strong and never stumbles.
If our house is built on a rock then life’s current events will never break us. We will stand strong, rising through it all. And we will stand when the sun shines again. We will live our lives full of hope and joy, laughing, smiling through it all. Our joy is underneath our skin, it isn’t painted on. It can’t be washed off by the storm, because it is within us. Happiness that comes when everything is right, happiness that comes from getting a new house, happiness that comes from having a perfectly furnished and cozy home will disappear the minute hard times come. But happiness that comes from God will stay through it all.
Go outside and play with your kids, work on your yard, smile to your neighbor, talk to him. Finish your projects, start new ones, eat with your family, play games, read the Bible, pray—live your life. If you can’t do what you usually do because of COVID-19, then try something new. But don’t lounge around all day, reading news articles. Don’t stop living because life got harder than it was a month ago. Work, play, rejoice—live. Everyday, until you die. Because we will stand through the storms and we will stand when the sun shines again.
So, don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Matthew 6:34 NLT