(Photo Credit: Amber Nicole Ginter, 2016: The Sun is setting)

I have learned to accept who I am and who I am not and it may have taken all nineteen years leading up to my Birthday to figure that out, but you know what; that is okay! Okay? Yes, okay because I am still learning to love who I am amidst the things that life throws at me.

Today for instance, I turn 20. It isn’t so much the number that freaks me out or the notion that I’m no longer a teenager but, the associations and standards that come with the prime of the age. The responsibilities, the expected relationships, the jobs, the stress, the “I’m getting old trend” facade; they all petrify me.  Why? Because I know that regardless of what I do I’m going to have to blow another candle off the cake as the years go by and before I know it, this short life of mine will be over before I took the time to truly enjoy it.

So how exactly, can such a small double digit number instill so much fear and pain into one tremulous soul? Because we as humans have a problem of trying to compare our milestones and destinations in life to that of our friends, families and movie stars. Have you ever heard the quote “Don’t compare you page one to their page fifty”? Sadly, it is easy to say but much harder to do.

We get into the rut of believing that because so and so has had three boyfriends and we’re still single that something scares us about increasing in age.  The rut of believing that because our parents had jobs by the age of twenty or were married and had kids by twenty-five that something is wrong with us if we don’t follow that trend. And you know what, it is absolutely, one hundred percent terrifying to live with. To live with the fear that we won’t be loved by some superficial person, or will be passed by by every good looking and Godly Christian man that we meet. To live with that fear that we won’t meet the crazed up standards that society throws at us portrayed by movie stars when our hair isn’t perfect, our makeup isn’t “on fleek”, and our bodies don’t have six pack. But newsflash, reality of society, my hair definitely isn’t perfect and I don’t wear makeup. In fact, I’m sure the fashion police would give me ticket and fine me for not being able to get my four pack to six pack and in all honestly, that’s seriously messed up.

Messed up in the fact that we as human beings let these drones of a so called perfect society tell us how to live our lives. To warp our minds into believing that if we aren’t 5’9″ and 100 lbs. we aren’t worthy of a good rating on the scales. To deceive our hearts and minds into feeling that we are invaluable for never dating anyone by the age of twenty or never wanting to give our purity away because it means more than a one night stand to us. Encompassing our souls into a sultry of self-hatred and pity by trying to live up to the worlds standards of Victoria’s Secret models, and partied up friends instead of that of God’s and His set apart standard for you. And that is the last and final straw pulled for me; I am done.

I am done comparing my page one love story (that hasn’t even began yet) to that of the sex-filled and obsessed society of Lifetime movie scenes (no offense Lifetime, I love your movies, just minus the society you try to portray through romance and one night stand sex scenes of temporary pleasure).

I am done comparing my body, mind and soul to that of this sickening mainstream of secular ways, trends and vibes. Of seeing people starve themselves to become “beautiful” in the eyes of who? The lying mirror or stick thin models who whisper through their hunger ridden clenched teeth. Of crying at the mirror when I get a zit because I believe that is the only thing people will see through the airbrushed filter of faces and scenes. Of seeing people crying themselves to sleep at night because they can’t love themselves and the way they have been made just because society doesn’t approve of their bodies. Of seeing people infect their minds with porn and late night superficial television shows that etch away at their brain cells every time they change the channel. Or their eyes as they bleed tears of shame that their Instagram photo didn’t get enough likes by the fake friends that can’t even talk to them in person. Of the soul that people have gained by trying to gain the world in the process and forfeiting their souls.

I am done seeing other people become judgmental and letting them make me become judgmental of myself in comparison to others. Of allowing Christian’s to think that it is okay to slack off once and awhile and judge that person that they didn’t like because “oh I was just kidding” gets real old real fast after a while. And believing that they are superior to the rest of humanity instead of coming to the lowest pits that they can in an attempt to save those “judgmental people” that they shouldn’t have been judging in the first place.

Above all, I am done listening to a world that lies so much in telling me who I should and shouldn’t be. Because in all honesty, I’ve listened to the lies but never believed them; for I know the value that I am in Christ. I’m done seeing other people fall captive to these fallacies and allowing them to rule their lives of who Christ created them to be.

So today, I am making the choice to help myself and others accept who they are by reflecting on a few things about myself that society does not approve of.  To accept the quips and quirks that God blessed me with and rest in His assurance that He has great plans for me; because he does. Standing firm in the design that He has made me with and learning to trust His process throughout the journey.

1) I am a Christian in an ungodly world

(Photo Credit: Amber Nicole Ginter, 2016: Biblical Truths)

Getting saved at the prime age of eight years old at 2:00a.m in the morning has caused me to avoid quite a bit of heartache in my life.  I’ve never had the desire to smoke, do drugs, party, or get in with the wrong crowd.
But I have suffered from a broken heart.  And I have grown up with a Dad that is addicted to cigarettes and family members addicted to drugs and parities of the wrong crowds. But still, I am a Christian in an ungodly world.  I believe in Christ and the life he shed for me on the cross.  I believe in living my life for Him and only Him because that is the least of things I can do in reprimand of all He gave to me. Yes, I am surrounded every day by this ungodly world, but I choose to stand firm on the solid rock of Christ and His ways.

2) I am different

(Photo Credit: Amber Nicole Ginter, 2016: Yes, that is underwear on my head;))

Christ tells us in Romans 12:2 “Do not change yourselves to be like the people of this world, but let God change you inside with a new way of thinking.  Then you will be able to understand and accept what God wants for you.  You will be able to know what is good and pleasing to Him and what is perfect” (Romans 12:2, ERV).
I know that I was created for God, by God to live as a unique individual in the world that surrounds me.  After all, in point one, you can see that I am a Christian in an ungodly world.  However, by appreciating and accepting that God has made me different, I can embody the Spirit of Christ that fills me with joy and happiness in all that I am called to do.
So yes, I know that I am different, but as a Christian, that is who God has created and asked me to be.  To stand apart from this troubled world that surrounds me, and let the light of Christ shine through me means that I am brave enough to recognize that I am different, and encourage others to do the same.
3) I am OCD
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Although I personally know that I don’t really have OCD, everyone in my life loves to give me a hard time about it and tell me that I am.  I honestly, don’t have a medical disorder that classifies me as this, but I do like to be a tad bit organized, and this drives my parents insane.
At first when they would say things to me about it they would really hurt my feelings.  “Amber, you’re too organized”, “Amber, you’re too OCD”, “Amber, you’re anal” (yeah that one hurt).  But you know what? I forgive them and it is okay that I like to be organized.  After all, that is just a part of who I am.  I know that it may drive them a little bit crazy, but deep down I think they know what would be even more crazy is if I randomly one day didn’t care if my bed was made or my clothes weren’t folded nice and neat.  Hmmm, maybe I should try and freak them out one day with stir-crazy tendencies; that could be quite interesting 😉
For I am and always will be organized because it is something that I love and enjoy to do.  And regardless of what other people think, it will always be a part of me.

4) I am imperfect/ flaws

(Photo Credit: Amber Nicole Ginter, 2016: Our hands show Creation)
Yes, you read that one hundred percent correctly.  I am imperfect.  I am flawed.  But aren’t we all? Romans 3:23 tells us this in which “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” because the only perfect being in this world is God.
I am not perfect, your best friend isn’t perfect, your loving parents aren’t perfect, and even the movie stars and models on TV that look like they have the best lives are not perfect.  Society likes to deceive our minds into thinking that they have it all together, but in reality they really don’t.
We are all sinful, prideful and imperfect flawed human beings but we are loved by a sinless, pride less, and perfect Almighty God.  Coming to the realization that we are these things is important to our success because it is only when we learn that we can’t do things on our own (because we are imperfect) that we learn to depend fully on Jesus Christ who is.
 5) I am a writer
(Photo Credit: Rachel Barnitz, 2016: I write you with memories of the past)

Obviously by reading this post you can tell that I love to write.  I always have and I always will, but I haven’t always enjoyed or been thankful for the gift.  Throughout High School I was made fun of a lot for being the kid that wrote way more than necessary.  And in all honesty, it started to eat me alive.
I would try to write less on assignments, but when I did, I felt as if I were losing a part of myself, because I was.  Quickly that trying to write less phase only lasted a few hours; call me a wimp if you want, but that day, I learned a lot about myself.
God gave me this gift of writing and overwriting to express who I am through words when I don’t have the voice to speak.  To proclaim His word to all the nations and not be afraid of someone telling me that “I wrote too much about Jesus” because wouldn’t that be a great crime to be convicted of? I am a writer, and it is something that etches me into who I am meant to be.
6) I am a singer/ musician
(Photo Credit: Amber Nicole Ginter, 2016: It’s all in perspective)
Pretty self-explanatory, but I really enjoy singing.  Rather it be helping lead the Praise Team every Sunday or singing “And IIIIIIIIIIIIIIII WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOUUUUUUUU” at the top of my lungs on Saturday night’s with my mom (#thisiswhyI’msingle), singing is something that I really enjoy to do.
Thus, I believe that God has blessed me with the gift of singing and playing music to go along with my writing, because it is another way I can reach people through Him.  I often tell others that anything they see in me isn’t me, but Christ through me, because I rely on Him and His power alone.  I always sing for Christ and not the approval of man, in which I hope others can see this strikingly. Never a performance, but an act of worship brought in humbleness to Him.
7) I am a runner
(Photo Credit: Amber Nicole Ginter, 2016: Me and my brother showing off our muscles)
When I first tried to run as a sophomore in High School, I was treacherous.  My ankles turned purple and I couldn’t run, but I still consider myself a runner.  After a few years of great help from best friends, I now really enjoy running about as much as I enjoy writing, singing, playing piano, and dancing because it helps me to take time and thank God for all that He has given me.
As I run, I like to take the time to reflect on all that has happened that day and pray to God because what else are you honestly going to do for an hour but pray, and look at the sky or face of your watch up from the treadmill. For Hebrew 12:2 tells us, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrew 12:2).
We are all runners in the race of life, but it is up to you to run towards the prize of Christ. I know which direction I’m headed, but do you?
8) I am a fitness and health nut fanatic
(Photo Credit: Amber Nicole Ginter, 2016: Pretty sure me and my Best Friend are crazy)
Going hand and hand with the topic of running, I probably enjoy fitness and health facts a lot more than I should.  Who else do you honestly know that enjoys working out and staying fit as the best part of their day? Yeah, I didn’t think you would really think of anyone, but that’s just another part of who I am.
I enjoy staying fit and being a health nut fanatic even if I do drive my mom a little bit crazy sometimes.  And don’t worry, I do like some things that aren’t too health like Nutella, and cereal, and granola, and oh don’t get me started. FOOD!!!!

9) I am sensitive

(Photo Credit: Rachel Barnitz, 2016: A Rose By Any Other Name)
I probably cry or overreact on average more than you have in your lifetime.  Okay, well maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, I am not that big of a bowl of fruit loops (did you see what I did their 😉 ) but I do tend to be a bit sensitive. I am a girl that loves God and sometimes I tend to get a bit emotional about the silliest things like romance movies, or Austin and Ally episodes that make me tear up, but I am learning to slowly accept this trait. Just be prepared for lots of hugs and condolences in the meantime.
10) I am colorful
(Photo Credit and Painting Credit: Rachel Barnitz, 2016: With and Without Christ)
In a dark and gloomy world, I try to embody a colorful spirit that shines through in all that I say and do.  For it can be depressing to look out and see a world of gray and black as a person of coral, and turquoise but standing confident in Christ I am colorful in a colorless world. In Christ the world is vivid, colorful, bright and stunning, but without Him it is empty and damp. Why would you choose a box of all gray, black and white crayons when you could have a multipack for the same price?

11) I am pure

(Photo Credit: Amber Nicole Ginter, 2016: A Pure Heart)
Living I a world that believes highly in sex before marriage, sex at a one night stand, and who knows, probably sex on a first date is utterly disheartening.  In the sexually immoral and obsessed society we live in, it seems that everything in this world is either about sex, love or money.  We either want to make more money, have someone to love us, or have sex every minute of the day.  The billboards scream it, the TV commercial’s show it, the radio sings it, and sadly we portray it.  Through our actions, our words, our clothes and our deeds, but we want to be socially acceptable don’t we?  Yet Christ wants so much more for us in this scheme. He wants us to see that staying pure is more than just waiting to have sex until we are married, because once we are married and have lost that virginity, it doesn’t make us any less pure.
Sex is not to be something that we as Christian’s or people in general, should place on this large pedestal.  It is not this thing that should control and demand gratification in our lives, obsessing our thoughts, actions and being every single second.  No, sex is something that is given to us by God as a gift between a married couple, and by goodness gracious, it doesn’t make you “any less pure of a person”.
You see, the emphasis of purity should not be confused with that of virginity in our minds.  And as Christian’s, we need to realize that purity is less about sex, and more about saving ourselves (our entireties; not just our sex life status) for Christ.  Because when I get married someday, I still want to be known as the best Christian person that I can become; not the person that lost their pureness of virginity on their wedding night.  We as the Church and body of Christ should be more about saving souls and less about condemning them.  More about the wholeness found in Christ and less about why having sex is so frowned upon.
For purity isn’t all about the purity ring we as Christian’s wear and proudly profess on our hands and remove after we are married. The pursuit of purity is a lifelong pursuit that has a whole lot more to do with Christ and a whole lot less about your sex life. No, I am not saying to not save sex until marriage, because I do believe in that value, but I am saying to reevaluate this pedestal of placement we have placed on purity and the reflection it has on your life. Because purity in the end of it all isn’t just all about sex.
I am pure, and I will not submit to the values that this society deems as found through sex.  I will not give myself away like that because I value my purity more than the temporary pleasure of the movie star sex plastered on the billboards.

12) I am modest
(Photo Credit: Amber Nicole Ginter, 2016: Modesty is Honesty)

Because I am a Christian, I value my modesty just as much as I value my purity for one reflects the other.  I will not conform to the social standard and norm of inappropriate dressing, in which girls dress immodestly just be noticed by the wrong guys. But I have news for you girls, you shouldn’t dress to gain those guys attention.

13) I am crazy
(Photo Credit: Amber Nicole Ginter: Okay, so I might be a little crazy)
Well, maybe not too crazy, but I can be a bit strange here and there, and like to spice up life once in a great while. I am my own soundtrack in life, and don’t listen to the sounds that society shouts loudly in our stereos.  I am my own person, and if that entails singing silly songs with my mom and not liking chocolate chip cookies then so be it. Embrace the craziness.

14) I am a daisy in a field of roses
(Photo Credit: Amber Nicole Ginter, 2016: I know this isn’t a daisy, but just deal with it!)
I once read this quote that said “And if you don’t like me, as I do; I understand because who would really choose a daisy, in a field of roses?” and I used to agree with it however, it recently hit.  What is wrong with being a daisy in a field of roses? Nothing, nothing at all. Because amidst all the other copycat roses in this life, I would rather stand out as a beautiful daisy than blend in with the rest of the crowd.

15) I am an antisocialmedia median
(Photo Credit and Drawing Credit: Kasandra Dalton, 2016: That’s me, away from all the Media!!!)
In other words, I don’t really like Social Media but I do exist upon its networking sites.  I like to imagine that I too can make this disappearing decade come back to life.  To make you realize that this disguise of social media can cause us to lose a sense of community, a sense of who others really are, and most importantly who we are in Christ.
No, I am not asking you to give up social media at all, or never use; in fact that would be quite preposterous to ask.  However, I am asking you to realize that if we don’t start a change of revolution now, our world will become nothing but a self-gratifying, self-centered life.
Because sometimes some things are just too beautiful to capture in life.  Some things are just too beautiful to capture in a photo.  And some things just deserve our eyes, and nothing else.
          Not a picture
          Not a “like”
          Not a flash on the screen
But a breath of fresh air with just you and that thing.

16) I am a dancer
(Photo Credit: Amber Nicole Ginter, 2016: Yes, those are my large and skinny dancing feet!)
Up until I broke my foot about a month ago, I have danced every day since the age of 3 years old.  It is something that I love doing and using my body to give thanks to God while praising Him. Whenever I move through the air I just imagine dancing for Jesus with all that I have because all to Him I truly owe.

17) I am a servant with a heart for volunteering
(Photo Credit: Amber Nicole Ginter, 2016: Give others your helping hand and heart)
Ever since I was a very little girl, I have had a passion for helping others to not only grow within their own capacities but also in their capabilities through and in Christ.  From volunteering at the Humane Society for over six year, to hosting weekly Bible Studies, going to the nursing home, hosting FCA meetings, creating a girl’s singing group, and more, the desire I have had for improving other’s lives is often at the detriment of my own success, but that is okay; for it is what Christ calls each of us to do.

18) I am me
(Photo Credit: Amber Nicole Ginter, 2016: Ironic, this is the 18th fact, I was 18 here and at 20 I still look like this!)
Amber is the name, tree sap is the definition, and I am slowly learning to love myself the way that I should. I am the old fashioned soul that wakes you up at night.  The photographs you take in the summer of the sunrises and sunsets.  The words that you whisper when you talk to yourself.  I am Amber, and I am no one else but me.

19) I am becoming who God has called me to be
(Photo Credit: Amber Nicole Ginter, 2016: Favorite Bible verse inspired by Rachel Barnitz)
Throughout the twenty years that I’ve been living, I have learned that I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about life.  In fact, I’ve listed them here in these top twenty things that I’ve been able to inquire about myself.  But no matter what I’ve grown to understand as the passing years go by, I know that I am following the right path and becoming who God has called me to be.

20) For I am (trying to be) fearless of turning 20 today and I am free.
(Photo Credit: Amber Nicole Ginter, 2016: I am FREE indeed)