Tuesday, December 17, 2013

10 Things [I Don't Hate About You]

10 Music Artists/Bands I Like:
-Avril Lavigne
-Brand New
-The Doobie Brothers
-Gavin DeGraw
-Kid Cudi
-Miranda Lambert
-The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
-Sammy Adams
-Taylor Swift

10 Songs I Like
-Belief (Gavin DeGraw)
-Both of Us (Taylor Swift ft. B.o.B)
-Change the World (Eric Clapton)
-Glitter in the Air (Pink)
-Imagine (John Lennon)
-Jesus Is Just Alright (The Doobie Brothers)
-Lose Yourself (Eminem)
-Mixtape (Brand New)
-Not Afraid (Eminem)
-Where Is the Love? (The Black Eyed Peas and Justin Timberlake)
-Your Song (Elton John) [Yes, that's 11...]

10 People I Admire (Who You've Likely Heard Of)
-Andy Warhol
-Greg Gutfeld
-Jedediah Bila
-John Maxwell
-Megyn Kelly
-Miranda Lambert
-Sheryl Sandberg
-Steve Jobs
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
-Taylor Swift
-Tim Tebow (Oops, that's eleven people...)

10 People I've Met (Who You've Likely Heard Of)
-Brantley Gilbert
-Britney Spears
-Brooke Hogan
-Chris Johnson
-Golden Tate
-Jaime Lynne Spears
-Keith Urban
-Michael Phelps
-Taylor Swift
-Terry Bradshaw

10 Relationships I Cherish [NOTE: All Lists Are Alphabetical :)]
-Alex Isaacson
-Amy Brooks
-Chris Isaacson
-Colin Frisbie
-Kristie Isaacson
-Marlee Mitchell
-Mike Isaacson
-Nicolette Tavares
-Rachael Isaacson
-Rick Isaacson
-Wesley Tate (Oops, that makes 11)

10 Things I Like:
-Sweating during a workout
-Vanderbilt University

10 Things I Dislike:
-Being cold
-Bigotry (especially racism)
-Black licorice
-Conversing via telephone
-Faux friends
-Whiskey (exception: cinnamon "whiskey")

10 Things I've Accomplished:
-1 of 12 honors graduates in Pope John Paul II High School class of 2009
-8-time southeastern United States swimming champion
-B.A. from Vanderbilt University
-Direct positive community impact (YMCA)
-Direct positive global impact (Compassion International)
-Home ownership
-To Be Continued
-To Be Continued
-To Be Continued
-[I was voted "most likely to succeed" in high school, so I obviously have some work to do.]

10 Things I Want To Will Accomplish:
-Business fluency in the native language of each country SERVPRO enters
-Completion of a marathon
-Donation of $1,000,000 to each nonprofit I support
-Dying content with the life I've lived
-Earn graduate degree(s)
-Fulfill God's work on earth
-Make my family proud
-Publish a book
-Record an original song
-Visit every continent (I heard Antarctica is poppin' this time of year)

10 Random Facts:
-Bill Haslam is the first person I voted for
-I hope to be half the woman my mom is someday
-I look up to my little brother (both literally and figuratively)
-I'm not scared to die (but I'm scared of being injured)
-I've had [past tense] 11 piercings
-I've never met half of my biological family
-I wish Christianity didn't have denominations
-My grandpa founded SERVPRO (Way to go, gramps!)
-Pink is my favorite color ("She get it from her mama...")
-Water is my favorite beverage (Aquafina specifically)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Do you want a fruitless life or a fruitful life?

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."
John 15:1-8

This metaphor in John 15 perfectly articulates how The Lord wants us to live our lives--fully dedicated to living in Christ, to living by His word. The Lord sent His Son to earth. He planted Him here as a vine for all of The Lord's people to grow from. We are the branches.

Evil people and those who reject Christ are cut off from The Lord's love and from His blessings; those branches--those people--are cut off of the vine of Jesus and essentially destroyed by their own doing. As a result, these people won't be fruitful. In fact, they'll wither as their lives develop apart from Jesus. Frankly, they'll be thrown into a fire both figuratively and literally. When they die, they're not going to Heaven but to hell instead to burn and to suffer for eternity. I see no reason to sugarcoat that...

The people who live by The Lord's word and follow Christ remain branches on the vine of life. These branches bear fruit. As the gardener, our Father will not just let us be. He will prune us. He will essentially perfect us as long as we remain in Christ and live according to His will. He will rid our lives of indiscretions and evils so that we can bear more good fruit, so that we can become an extension of the vine--Jesus Christ. The more our lives glorify God, the more our lives will flourish. If we do good by God, He will do good by us.

Which life will you choose?

The Lord is just. He will punish our wrongdoings. If we truly reject God, if we don't accept Christ as our Savior, we will be cut off from Their blessings. We'll have fruitless lives. If we remain in Christ, we'll live blessed lives. The Lord will reward our works of mercy. Our efforts will be fruitful.

Just try. Try to live according to God's Word. Try to live as a disciple, as an extension of Jesus Christ on earth. You will receive blessings you've yearned for in addition to blessings beyond your wildest dreams. You actually can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. The more you thrive off of the vine, the more good fruit you will bear. The more Christ-like you lead you life, the more you will be blessed in return.

Again, please allow me to ask: which life will you choose?

Yours truly,
Allison Isaacson

Photo credit: http://www.thewordheardroundtheworld.com/2012/01/he-is-vine-we-are-branch.html

Thursday, November 28, 2013

If you don’t express your love and appreciation for others on a daily basis as a loving puppy does, you’re doing it wrong…

To be thankful is to be appreciative or aware of a benefit, grateful. To be grateful is to be deeply appreciative of the kindness or benefits bestowed upon you. Are you grateful everyday? Do you express how much you appreciate your blessings everyday? More importantly, do you express how grateful you are for the people who impact your life?

To only express thanks on Thanksgiving is to disrespect the life you’ve been blessed with. Your acknowledgment (or lack thereof) of your blessings in your regular daily life speaks to who you are at your core. If you live in America, you’re blessed… period. If you’ve never experienced true poverty or another form of disadvantage firsthand, you need to do that in order to gain perspective, if nothing else. Fred Bailey, the founder of Children Are People in Gallatin, spoke at a YMCA Prayer Luncheon recently, and he hit the nail on the head in that regard. He said, “I was born poor, black, and blind, but I’m still the advantaged, because I was born in America.” If those words aren’t powerful enough to make you evaluate how you view your life, I pray you will be enlightened one day soon.

Sure you can be thankful for your million-dollar home or your fast car, but are you thankful for the cheerful, welcoming wagging of tails that greet you when you get home? For the unconditional love expressed for you in the simplest way? If you don’t express your love and appreciation for others on a daily basis as a loving puppy does, you’re doing it wrong…

You feed your puppies. You care for your puppies. At times, you scold your puppies, but you would never intentionally hurt them. In our lives, we tend to hurt those closest to us. Whether we do it by prioritizing other things or people above our loved ones or by blatantly disrespecting them, none of us perfectly express our gratitude for the people in our lives. We hurt others by not acknowledging they are a meaningful part of our lives, a part of who we are. Everyone we interact with shapes and reshapes our worldview, our perspective. That unappreciative coworker you bend over backwards for might cause you to have a more cynical view of humanity. Your encouraging, positive mother might give you hope for a better tomorrow, the energy to face your daily challenges. The stranger you passed on the sidewalk who flashed a big smile your direction might have kept you going for just one more day.

Are you grateful for everyday you wake up? For everyday you have an opportunity to create a better world? I challenge you (and myself!) to express thanks, gratitude, or appreciation for someone (or at least something) in your life every single day for the next year. If you grasp how truly lucky you are to have been born in America, it’s not hard to do that for 365 days. You have clean, running water for God’s sake! Not everyone can claim the same! I’d be willing to bet next Thanksgiving would have an entirely different meaning to you, if you consciously chose to express thanks every single day. You’d remember why you’re so blessed to be in this one nation under God. You’d realize how blessed you are and how unappreciative you’ve been in the past.

May the sun always shine upon your face. May the wind always be at your back.

Happy Thanksgiving from yours truly,
Allison Isaacson

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Post-Conception Contraceptives Kill

The moment of conception--when a sperm fertilizes an egg--is not to be taken lightly. The society we live in today sees no miracle in the life created at this point, and that is a big problem. Far too often, post-conception birth control is taken as a female's "Plan A" for birth control.

Do you know what this type of emergency contraceptive can do? It can prevent implantation. In layman's terms, implantation occurs when the fertilized egg anchors itself to the uterine wall. Conception has already taken place; life has already been formed. If conception did indeed occur and you take a post-conception contraceptive, the fertilized egg along with the lining in your uterus is discarded. You have now terminated your pregnancy by preventing implantation.

Many pro-choice people assert that the earliest stages of pregnancy do not include a living being but include only a group of cells... TIME OUT.

A single egg and a single sperm join together to begin the development of an independently viable human. As soon as the sperm fertilizes the egg, this process--this miracle!--begins. To reiterate, conception occurs at this very moment. The majority of people believe humans have a soul--the immaterial or spiritual part of our being.

At conception, the cells are adorned with a soul. This is critical to understanding why forms of post-conception birth control are a means to murder (or at the very least to commit manslaughter). People who do not believe life begins at conception, let me ask you these questions:

When do these living cells take on a life of their own then? When is that human finally living? When is that baby given a soul? Do you believe an arbitrary point exists during pregnancy at which the baby is finally given a soul? If so, when? Pinpoint that for me...

Two living cells come together to form one living entity when the sperm fertilizes the egg. Two flesh become one. The life within each of those cells does not disappear and become a lifeless formation. Do you think God monitors each pregnant woman's stomach? ...waiting for the first fingernail to form, the first heartbeat to occur, or the first voluntary movement of the baby to happen, then donning the being with a soul? Yea, right... God gives each human a soul at the point of conception. Period.

So what are some implications of this?

Post-conception birth control methods terminate life. Stop using these means. Take responsibility for your actions. Stop throwing life away simply because you don't recognize the soulful being within you! Every single form of post-conception "birth control" terminates life. It is abortion.

If a woman is impregnated, another soul--another living being--resides within her. If a woman is impregnated via rape, this is still the case. If a woman is impregnated via incest, this is still the case. If a woman is impregnated in a state of inebriation, this is still the case. Maybe you didn't ask to become pregnant, but the fact of the matter is that you are pregnant as soon as conception occurs--regardless of circumstances.

Life happens. Put your big girl panties on, and deal with it. Stop playing God. Be pro-life.

Many people are ignorant of the difference between conception and implantation. Many people can't conceptualize the true meaning of fertilization, of conception, of living cells acquiring a soul. I believe a large portion of people at the greatest risk of unwanted pregnancy is ignorant of the gravity of the aforementioned--of destroying a soul via post-conception contraceptives. Ignorance doesn't necessarily suggest innocence. Let's educate, and let's start making better decisions!

-Allison Isaacson

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Don't try. Train.

Everyone messes up. Everyone gets off track. Everyone falls off the turnip truck... and that's okay. It means we're human.

Life is entirely cyclical. How do we make this cycle of getting off track after doing well for so long less frequent? Simply trying to do the things we have already been doing won't help. We need to train ourselves to make progressive improvement. You can do it! At this point, you may be thinking, "Okay, Allison. How much more cliché can you be?" Just hear me out...

A critical difference exists between trying and training. Here's a simple metaphor to illustrate what I'm getting at: consider someone who wants to run an entire marathon nonstop. In this case, trying would entail going on some runs, then just going for it! Do you think you'd achieve your goal of running 26.2 miles (without stopping) this way? Slim chance. Do you think someone who gradually increases the amount he/she runs will succeed? Now we're talking...

In order to condition yourself physically and mentally for this harrowing task, you can't keep putting along as you are now. What got you to where you are now won't get you to where you need to be, so you must begin training. But get this... a lifestyle change is necessary. You will have to manage your time, kick some bad habits (e.g. smoking, eating junk food, etc.), and plan a course of action. You will need to gradually increase the number of miles you conquer at one time. You shouldn't expect yourself to simply go run 26.2 miles nonstop. That's insanity. It's time to make changes to achieve your goal. It's time to stop trying and start training.

In life, we're all in training. We're all striving to be the best people we can be, but guess what? We will still have our moments. We'll still get off track every once in a while. Maybe you kicked smoking for a couple years, then partook in the activity in a social setting and BAM! Your addiction crept back up on you.

Maybe you've maintained a positive outlook for the majority of your life. Maybe you've been known for a sunny attitude that people gravitate towards. Recently your best friend passed away and you didn't get the promotion you've worked so hard for. Maybe you put yourself into a depressive funk. You have to pull yourself out of it! Don't just try to make it through your days with a fake smile. Keep smiling until it's genuine! Train your mind--even your subconscious--to look forward to the bright future you are creating with every single decision you make. Good decision making leads to positive outcomes. Don't pigeonhole yourself into being a victim of circumstance.

If you've read my previous blogposts, then you'll recall Am I a hypocrite or am I human? Frivolity got the best of me... again. You know what's so bad about this? I knew I was backsliding when I walked into the mall. Tonight I was sitting in my cousin's condo when I noticed my shopping bags and thought to myself, "Seriously, Allison?" It gets worse. I justified every purchase I made. For example, I wore the same pair of black patent pumps for so long that I wore holes into the soles. My insoles were the only thing separating the balls of my feet and the ground, so I told myself I deserved an upgrade... Louboutins. Oh, whatever... who says I deserve anything more than life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? But you know what? At least I was conscious of the mistakes I was making this time. Last time I didn't even realize what I was doing. I just swiped my debit card. So you know what I call this "fail"? I call it a win! I'm training myself to make the smartest financial choice every time a decision needs to be made, but it won't just happen overnight. I'm a 22 year old female. I'm willing to bet I'll mess up again. I'll get off track again. I'll make some more frivolous decisions, but I'll improve! Hopefully I'll backslide less and less frequently.

For the rest of our lives, we will "fail" again and again. It's time to eliminate the words "fail" and "failure" from our vocabularies. You are never a failure as long as you don't give up on improving your life (and the lives of others as a result!). If you want to change your life or achieve a goal, stop half-@$$ trying and start training.

-Allison Isaacson

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Can I be a little controversial? Here's my take on gay marriage...

As a Christian and as a Republican, I've always struggled with the concept of gay marriage. My struggle in my young adulthood began by not knowing whether or not I supported it. I've developed a belief since then.

In my younger years I was openly against the concept, because of Biblical teachings. One example is Leviticus 18:22. Along with several other directives related to sexuality, God told Moses to tell His people, "Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable." God clearly says participating in homosexual acts is sinful.

Though the Bible never explicitly talks about marriage between two women or marriage between two men, it does define marriage as being between one man and one woman in numerous instances. In Matthew 19:4-6 Jesus says "Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female? For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh."

God defines marriage as being between one woman and one man, so this would rule out gay marriage as a possibility in the traditional Christian Church. Biologically only a man and a woman are created to participate in sexual activities. What evidence do I have to support this? Take a look at male and female sexual organs. You cannot dispute they were made for procreation, which requires one male and one female.

Now I have a question to pose: Why should my religion dictate the lives of others?

Most of the original settlers in the colonies (that would eventually become the United States of America) came to this new land to escape religious persecution. Let me reiterate... the original European settlers came to 'American' soil to avoid religious discrimination. This is largely why different settlements existed. People of the same faith or ethnicity would live near each other and practice their religion freely. Quakers, Calvinists, Methodists, and several other Protestant Christians came here to escape horrific movements such as the Spanish Inquisition.

The aforementioned (religious freedom) along with the separation of Church and state prompt me to ask one question: Why should Christianity prevent two homosexual people from having a secular marriage? I do not think homosexuals can "force" a Christian minister, preacher, priest, et al. to perform their marriage ceremonies, but I do think homosexuals should have the right to be recognized by the government as legally married.

For all I care, you can throw your reasoning in the garbage if you assert gay marriage opens the door to outrageous possibilities like marriage between humans and animals. Shut up. Animals cannot consent to marriage. How do you expect them to say their vows and/or sign their names? Besides, homosexual people are not animals.

If Christians don't want to be hypocrites, they will stop damning homosexuality. God says homosexual acts are sinful, but let the one who is sinless cast the first stone...

Yesterday I met a homosexual, Christian, young woman, who serves in the military. She is a Republican despite her sexuality. She openly acknowledges herself as the exception to "the rule." If the Grand Ole Party doesn't want to cease to be a political force in the United States of America, it may have to reevaluate its platform.

I hope my fellow Christians and my fellow Republicans don't despise me for my support of legalizing gay marriage. If you do despise me for my stance, then so be it... but this is a human rights issue. You'll probably think "oh, shut up," when I make my next statement, but here goes nothing. I've been legitimately scared to voice my opinion on gay marriage. I actually had to chalk up courage to articulate my view. I hope I can serve as inspiration for my fellow Christians and Republicans who find themselves "in the closet" in regards to publicly voicing their support for gay marriage.

-Allison Isaacson