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Sunday, December 27, 2015

If I were...

a month, i would be: May
a day of the week, i would be: Friday
a time of day, i would be: morning
a planet, i would be: Venus
a sea animal, i would be: an octopus
a direction, i would be: north
a piece of furniture, i would be: a big plush armchair
a liquid, i would be: hot tea
a stone, i would be: Opal
a tree, i would be: a crabapple
a bird, i would be: a swan
a tool, i would be: a vintage hand clamp
a flower/plant, i would be: baby's breath, or lavender
a kind of weather, i would be: rain that makes everything seem more vibrant
a mythical creature, i would be: a wood nymph
a musical instrument, i would be: a merlin
an animal, i would be: a beaver
a color, i would be: lilac
a vegetable, i would be: green onions
a sound, i would be: wind chimes
an element, i would be: earth
a car, i would be: a Ford model AA with a wooden bed
a song, i would be: Joy is Like the Rain by Medical Mission Sisters
a book, i would be written by: Martha Finley
a food, i would be: homemade vegetable soup
a place, i would be: a hidden creek
a material, i would be: wool
a taste, i would be: matcha
a scent, i would be: lavender
a religion, i would be: christianity
a word, i would be: median
an object, i would be: a quilt
a body part, i would be: eyes
a facial expression, i would be: smiling
a subject in school, i would be: history
a cartoon character, i would be: Arrietty
a shape, i would be: a circle
a number, i would be: six

How about you?

Monday, November 30, 2015

The NaNoWriMo Experience



This year I decided to take a leap of faith and participate in something called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, that consists of writing 50,000 words for a novel from November 1st to the 30th. The only writing I've ever really done is blogging and school papers, but I've had a story playing around in my head for around five or six years, and I figured it was about time to get it out.

The story I wrote is called "The Tapestries that Covered the Stairs" (a working title), and is based on a dream I had a while back. The dream was more of a nightmare to start out with, but was one of those dreams where I told myself I wouldn't be scared anymore, and so I wasn't. But when I woke up in the morning, and recalled this crazy dream, I found that while the circumstances in it hadn't made much sense, the atmosphere had been quite amazing. It was creepy, dark, detailed, and decadent, and I knew that I wanted to do something with it. I played around with drawing it out, or having my mom write a story on it (my mom actually is a very talented writer), or maybe even making a short story about it, but none of that seemed to do it justice. So it sat untouched in the back of my mind for years. Until this month, that is.

The decision to try out NaNoWriMo was completely last minute. I'd watched a fellow blogger, Hedgefairy Tales, participate for a few years, and I'd always thought it was interesting but not something I'd ever participate in. But a few weeks before November began I stumbled across the NaNoWriMo website for the first time, and it awoke an interest in me. I browsed the site for a few minutes, before I decided to take the plunge.

I've been writing much more in these past months than I ever have, what with starting college and all, and I felt a bit more prepared for something like this. But I honestly thought that the story I had in my mind would only be about half of the 50,000 word count, and I prepared myself to not meet the goal, and only get a little bit of writing done. I had very little idea of just what I was getting into though, and I read through all of the emails that the NaNoWriMo people sent me very carefully, as if they were my syllabus for the month.

As I began to write, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the words came to me. They seemed to flow out of me naturally, and in no time at all I had my first chapter written and a storyline established in my head. The word count still seemed like an impossible goal, but I was having fun writing, so who really cared about that?

But as I continued to write, this simple story grew and changed.

I started out with one character who had actually been in my dream, and her father. I named her Emile, gave her a back story for my own reference, and decided that those would be my only characters, just like in the dream. I began writing with that notion in mind.

But then I found John. He wrote himself into my story so smoothly as a plot device, but he decided to stay when I discovered all the possibilities he could bring. So then I had two main characters, and I decided that would be it. I continued writing, and I tweaked my plot slightly to fit him in.

But, surprise surprise, I found another main character on the way. Eileen wrote herself in as well, and just like John, she was supposed to be a plot device. She charmed me enough, though, that I kept her around as a main character as well.

After that I wrote in a few more characters that I hadn't planned, but I managed to stick with my three main characters.

The story took a change in genre as well. The original feel of it, simplistic and psychological horror, began to change into a complex psychological horror story coupled with a mystery. As it stands right now, it reminds me of something one of my favorite authors, Frank Peretti, would write, coupled with one of my favorite books, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I'm quite happy with it so far.

I ended up reaching the 50,000 word count goal in the end, and I've still have quite a lot more story left to write. But I've learned so much this month about writing, and perseverance.

I've taken time out of my busy schedule everyday, and written sometimes a little, and sometimes a lot. But I wrote something every day, and I managed to not get stuck with any serious writers block (miraculously).

I write all of this not only to update you on what I've been up to, but to tell you this: NaNoWriMo is a fantastic experience that you should be a part of. It's a chance to stretch yourself, and to use your imagination in ways you've never used it before. So for everyone who's been teetering on the edge of whether or not to do this, or maybe for those who have never even heard of it, I want to let you know that participating will not be a waste of your time. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!

And who knows, maybe next year I'll be writing alongside some of my followers and friends?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

From

(Based on the poem "Where I'm From" by George Ella Lyon, and inspired by a TEDxSoleburySchool talk from Emily Bailin.)


I am from worn out bibles with marked and dog-eared pages
From lacey, layered clothing and steaming mugs of tea
I am from the two story house that is somehow still too small for all the people living there
With the soft lawn that always stays green, and the large towering trees all around
I am from the winding creek with the tiny "island" in the middle
The crab apple tree with the perfect branches for climbing in

I’m from Christmas tree skirts covered in presents and unconditional love even when I don’t deserve it
From the mother with the brightest smile and the father with the best hugs
I’m from children’s songs sung on the Sunday morning drive to church
From dinnertime discussions filled with laughter
And living out joy even in sorrow

I’m from “you can do anything” and “you’re beautiful”
From “it takes two to make a fight” and "for God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son"
I’m from Thanksgiving Dinners with my Mother’s family at Great Grandma and Grandpa Riordan’s home
I’m from Indiana’s cornfields
From distant Native American roots that still hold firm and Ireland’s distant call
From Aunt Peggy’s pumpkin bread and homemade chocolate chip cookies
From piano lessons with Mrs. Boger who never made me feel inadequate, even when I hadn’t practiced
And from a self love of Japan, a country I've never visited
I’m from china dolls in the cupboard of Mom’s “pretty room” and Dad’s stuffed black cat

I am from memories long past
And things yet to come
And I am still in the making

Saturday, September 12, 2015

101 Things in 1001 Days (New List)

I've just recently finished my first 101 things and 1001 days list. I liked it so much I decided to do a new one! I've added some of the points I didn't finish last time, and created many new ones. Hopefully I can finish this one completely!

Dates: September 12, 2015 to June 9, 2018
64 completed, 26 to go.

Finished
In Process

1. Learn to play the banjo at a fast pace
2. Be a vegan for a week
3. Record some of my original music
4. Go backpacking
5. Read the entire Bible
6. Complete 5 pages in a coloring book
7. Purchase a Instax mini
8. Read a book in another language
9. Knit a scarf
10. Write a poem
11. Donate 50 things I don't use or need to charities
12. Pay for the meal of someone behind me at a drive through
13. Leave ten sticky notes with bible verses in public bathrooms I ended up doing encouraging quotes instead at my school. I still want to do the bible verses later on though.
14. Purchase a good camera Abandoned. I wouldn't really use one, and my family has good cameras I can borrow if need be.
15. Flip through a phonebook, stop on five people and mail them $5 each
16. Go Geochaching
17. Lose my disney weight Done! I've lost over 12 pounds so far, and still counting! I'm finally feeling healthy again :)
18. Take a technology break for one week
19. Try to take a hike/walk once a week for 2 months Abandoned. I've started just working out every day, and doing what I feel like that day.
20. Go horseback riding
21. Play hooky from life and spend a day alone to do some soul-searching
22. Learn to flatfoot
23. Do Yoga for 30 days straight
24. Create a new clogging routine.
25. Complete "50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind"
26. Vote
27. Complete a puzzle
28. Write an "If anything happens to me" letter
29. See Into The Woods, and/or Ragtime live (or any musical really)
30. Write a list of 50 things I like about myself
31. Write my bad memories on paper and burn them
32. Make a daisy chain
33. Sell something handmade
34. Go to a museum 7 times
35. Illustrate the children's book I storyboarded for my last list
36. Go ice skating
37. Learn to crochet Abandoned. Giving this one up, it's just not the craft for me. I'm sticking to knitting.
38. Go on a picnic
39. Send an anonymous letter of encouragement to someone I don't know very well
40. Create my own cookbook Abandoned. I just use pinterest...
41. Write a short story at least 10,000 words Note: Participated in NaNoWriMo 2015, and far surpassed this goal!
42. Fly a kite
43. Visit the old cemetery with the Civil War graves and pay respects
44. Make ink out of walnuts.
45. Take a career assessment test Abandoned. No need. I'm in university and excited about what I'm doing.
46. Identify 10 constellations
47. Finish my Toastmaster's manual
48. Finish my Toastmaster's leadership manual Abandoned. With school and such I don't really have time to work on this.
49. Journal with my bible study every day for a month
50. Start a journal dedicated to prayer
51. Plant a tree
52. Send someone a care package
53. For one month, buy nothing new
54. Take a road trip
55. Visit a B&B by myself
56. Build a fort with fairy lights
57. Visit somewhere scenic and paint what I see
58. Design and sew a plush toy or doll
59. Visit a ghost town
60. Ride my bike on a trip
61. Keep my nails painted for 1 week
62. Visit 5 new states or towns 
63. Buy a laptop sticker
64. Write a list of 101 things I am truly thankful for
65. Write a list of 101 things that make me happy
66. Visit 10 new cities
67. Relearn the Japanese I've forgotten
68. Go on a day trip alone or with only one person
69. Learn some of the traditional advanced clogging fundamentals
70. Finish filling my jar with paper stars
71. Catch up on the books I never finished
72. Read at least 5 more Shakespeare plays Abandoned. I actually thought I'd have time for this during college. How cute.
73. See a Shakespeare play live
74. Learn enough Elvish to make simple sentences off the top of my head
75. Memorize at least 10 scriptures
76. Make a new friend
77. Buy a good jump rope and skip once a week for a month Abandoned. For the same reasons as the walking point.
78. Get a henna tattoo
79. Start volunteering regularly again
80. Wear a full on Mori Girl coord in public for no specific reason
81. Finish the Mori Challenge
82. Celebrate a Japanese holiday with traditional food, and traditional activities
83. Do a split
84. Sell all of my old Mori items on the Mori Flea Market page Abandoned. Donated them instead.
85. Take someone out for lunch or dinner, and pay for their meal
86. Create a fairy garden
87. Find a creative way to display some of my favorite scriptures
88. Finish watching all the episodes of Merlin I skipped
89. Post 5 times a month for two months on my Mori Blog
90. Listen to a podcast a day for a month  Abandoned. I didn't end up liking podcasts as much as I thought I would. They take up too much memory on my iPod...
91. Host a giveaway
92. Go horseback riding again
93. Buy some fandom merch (Gravity Falls, LOTR, K-on, etc)
94. Wear full on Mori coords every day for a week. (No pants, or one layered outfits!)
95. Tie a note to a balloon and let it go
96. Be intentional about taking a sabbath every week for a month
97. Start making my wardrobe into only what I love and need
98. Find my dream rucksack
99. Teach my friends Squirt
100. Play a full game of Catan with my family
101. Finish a Zelda game Counting this as done. I was able to do everything except the final boss, before I had to return the game to my friend.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Christian Challenge (Massive Post)

I recently finished the Christian Challenge from tumblr. It was a lot of commitment, but it definitely helped me keep my focus on God, and I've learned some great things through it. I'd definitely recommend going through it.

The Christian Challenge:
  • Make a goal for this month. Make sure that it is something challenging while achievable! 
My goal for these upcoming days is to study God and his word every morning. -7/20/15

Progress:
July 20: Dannah Gresh's "Get Lost", Love Feast Day 1, complete.
July 21: Dannah Gresh's "Get Lost", Love Feast Day 2, complete.
July 22: Dannah Gresh's "Get Lost", Love Feast Day 3, complete.
July 23: Dannah Gresh's "Get Lost", Love Feast Day 4, complete.
July 24: Dannah Gresh's "Get Lost", Love Feast Day 5, complete.
July 25: Dannah Gresh's "Get Lost", Love Feast Day 6, complete.
July 26: Dannah Gresh's "Get Lost", Love Feast Day 7, complete.
July 27: Dannah Gresh's "Get Lost", Love Feast Day 8, complete.
July 28: Dannah Gresh's "Get Lost", Love Feast Day 9, complete.
July 29: Dannah Gresh's "Get Lost", Love Feast Day 10, complete.
July 30: Loving God with All Your Mind, Elizabeth George, Chapter 1, complete.
July 31: Loving God with All Your Mind, Elizabeth George, Chapter 2, complete.
August 1: Loving God with All Your Mind, Elizabeth George, Chapter 3, complete.
August 2: Loving God with All Your Mind, Elizabeth George, Chapter 4, complete.
August 3: Loving God with All Your Mind, Elizabeth George, Chapter 5, and Psalm 148, complete.
August 4: Loving God with All Your Mind, Elizabeth George, Chapter 6, and Psalm 86, complete.
August 5: Psalm 103, complete.
August 6: Psalm 69, complete.
August 7: Psalm 49, complete.
August 8: Psalm 19, complete.
August 9: Psalm 95, complete.
August 10: Psalm 33, complete.
August 11: Psalms 27, complete.
August 12: Psalm 66, complete.
August 13: Psalm 110, complete.
August 14: Psalm 73, Whispers of Hope, Beth Moore, Day 1, complete.
August 15: Psalm 51, Whispers of Hope, Beth Moore Day 2, complete.
August 16: Psalm 55, Whispers of Hope, Beth Moore Day 3, complete.
August 17: Psalm 111, complete.
August 18: Psalm 13, Whispers of Hope, Beth Moore Day 4, complete.

Completed! I missed the last two days though, and had to catch up.

I struggle with writing a testimony, as I was saved at a young age and grew up in the church. It can be hard for me as I didn't have a moment where I fell to my knees weeping because I was living this awful life and accepted Christ because I couldn't stand it anymore. Rather, I found Christ with my parents help at the age of 5 or 6, and he has quietly worked in me to get me to the point where I am now. But I will attempt to tell you my story anyways. And who knows? Maybe my story will be what you need to hear?

           When you grow up in a Christian home you always are told the basics of a Christian life; Don't sin, Love others and follow the golden rule, Jesus loves you, etc. So from a young age I had the head knowledge of what being a Christian was, but I didn't really know and believe it in my heart. I did a lot of 'Christian' things, but I didn't do them because I loved Jesus and he loved me. Instead, I did them because that was what my parents wanted and what we always did. Although I accepted Jesus into my heart as a young child (and I do believe I really accepted him) I think when I really started to follow after God was in the 7th grade. That year I gained a new small group leader. Her name was Jennifer.
           It's hard to fully explain Jennifer in terms that would do her justice. She was the sweetest woman I had ever met, and she still is! She had so much faith in Jesus, and she firmly believed in the power of prayer. If you've ever read the verses in Proverbs 31 about the 'proverbs 31 woman', those pretty accurately describe her. She came around at a time in my life when I really needed her. I had never had anyone who I felt that I could really talk about my faith with, and she quickly became a mentor and friend to me. She listened to my struggles, and even when I told her the deepest, darkest, dirtiest secrets of my life (and believe me I have some), she was full of nothing but grace and love. She showed me what it's like to be like Jesus.
         After that, I wanted nothing more than to follow after Jesus like her. But I felt that I couldn't. I had a sin problem in my life, and it was a major one. I don't feel like it's something I can share on the internet, but just suffice it to say that it was bad and I sometimes felt very far away from God because of it. But that doesn't mean that God wasn't still working. Rather, he just decided to work on me in different ways. He kind of worked around the sin problem for the moment, if you get me. In the meantime he taught me what it meant to truly worship him, through singing, playing, and leading on my worship team. He taught me what it meant to have discernment (which is kind of like a spiritual 6th sense where you can tell when someone has something going on in their life, or when a situation is a bad one, and other things like that), and put me in situations where I could learn to use it. And he also taught me how to be a leader and pulled me out of my introverted shell while still letting me remain introverted at heart. But the sin problem remained, and I still felt far from God, and at times, hopeless.
         But then, God decided it was time to start picking at the most major problem in my heart. And if I'm to be completely honest with you, I still struggle with this sin problem. Please don't think that God has completely fixed me and I'm perfect. I'm not perfect, and I never will be. However, my heart towards this sin problem has recently changed. Before when it came to this, my heart was hard like a rock. But about a year ago I asked God to 'soften' my heart towards this issue. I'm ashamed to admit it, but it no longer bothered me anymore. I was comfortable with this sin, and I didn't want to change. And I felt like that right up until recently, in early May 2015, when God finally started to work on my heart about this sin problem.
         The most major change happened not that long ago though, in July 2015. Although he had been slowly softening my hard heart I still wasn't completely getting it. It felt kind of like my heart was inside a large block of ice, and God was pouring cups of hot water on it. Sometimes, I thought I could feel him working, but it was only an outer layer of ice being removed, and I still felt far away because the ice still remained. However, he spoke to me clearly during a message at my church camp this year. And that finally cracked the ice.
        The speaker said something that I knew was what God wanted me to hear. He said "When we fail, we often let our failures bury us. We pile the dirt of our failures on top of us, and wonder why we start feeling so far away from God. But what we need to do is not to let our failures bury us, but let them plant us." He went on to say that when you bury something, it's dead and gone. You don't expect that thing you buried to come up out of the ground alive next week. No, you consider it permanently gone. But when you plant something, you are expecting something good to come out of it. It's the same action for both, you cover it with dirt. But the difference is the outcome, and the way you think about it.
       I don't know why I hadn't gotten that before, but I just hadn't. I let my failures cover me up so much that I couldn't see through all the dirt. I felt like I had done so much that I'd never be able to get my self out of the whole I'd dug. But now I know that that's not true. God can work with anyone through anything. I doesn't matter what you've done. All that matters is that you let God work.
       He's still working in me, and there's still a lot more dirt I have to push through. But now I can see where I'm heading, even if I can't see the final outcome. And I feel alright again. In fact, dare I say it, I feel joyful again. And that's enough for me.
  • Pick a favorite scripture and write about it on your blog or in your journal. What it means to you. If you want to take it a step further, write the verse on your hand where it is visible so people can see it. (hopefully someone will ask you about it!:) )
'See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.' -1 John 3:1-3

I love these verses because they reminds me of a few very important things:
            First, that God loves me and calls me his child. He loves me! How amazing is that? That even though I am so much lower than he is, and even though I am unclean and unworthy and so many other things, he still loves me enough to call me his child! And he loves you that much too!
            Second, that although we may not see what is ahead, God already knows the outcome and will bring us through it until we are in heaven with him where we will bask in his love for all eternity.
            And thirdly, that there is hope for us. That someday you and I will both be pure in Christ. If you're anything like me that sometimes feels impossible. But God says that's not so. We will be pure in him, just as he is pure, and in that there is hope.
  • Thankful Thursday! What are three things that you are thankful for today? (continue this for the rest of the days if you remember!)
Day 4: Vegetarian breakfast sausage, hair wraps, and warm summer days.
Day 5: Morning sunshine, kittens, and Josh Lavender's song 'You Fight For Us'.
Day 6: The hummingbird who currently is living in my backyard, God's promises, and cold, clean water.
Day 7: My (now) working car radio, frappes, and God conversations with friends.
Day 8: Iced Lemonade, friendly cashiers, and lilac school supplies.
Day 9: Summer flowers, my Toastmaster's group, and conversations about books with Suzannah (an adorable 8 year old).
Day 10: Traveling watercolor sets, ear buds that have lasted me 5 months (usually I break them in 2 months..), and lemon poppy seed muffins. Bonus: McDonald's people who actually give you light ice when you ask for it. God bless you lady!
Day 11: The Great Banquet community, homemade chocolate chip cookies, and modpodge.
Day 12: Fields of corn swaying in the wind, cool summer breezes, and knowledge.
Day 13: Flowing dresses, bare feet, and the love of the church.
Day 14: That the world is smaller than you think, biblical truths, and purple charging cords.
Day 15: Finding a life factory water bottle at goodwill for $2.99, my Grandpa's jokes, and helpful siblings.
Day 16: Homemade chocolate cookies, the ability to vote, and Mori friends.
Day 17: Visiting with far away relatives, cheddar cheese, and finishing research papers.
Day 18: Soft white pretzels, friendly advice, and being given a meaningful gift.
Day 19: My crazy best friends, galaxy shirts, and driving with the windows down.
Day 20: My family making it through a serious accident safely, God's protection, and Psalms.
Day 21: Psalms, summer sweaters, and the promise of a future with the Lord.
Day 22: The opportunities that being an American citizen provides, unconditional love, and my worship leader.
Day 23: One of my best friends getting baptized, Penpals, and "Color Me Beautiful's Looking Your Best" by Mary Spillane and Christine Sherlock.
Day 24: Thin Mint Crunch bars, God's faithfulness, and Christian mentors.
Day 25: The promise of Jesus' return, prayer, and the soundtrack from "Ragtime".
Day 26: Laughter, Pepperwhistle's delicious sandwiches, and happiness.
Day 27: The promise in a rainbow, ice cream, and letters.
Day 29: Learning the Banjo, knowing people that are going to be at the same college as me, and hourly schedules.
Day 30: Differences, Similarities, and the smell of lavender.
  • Describe the church that you go to. Is it small? Big? Do you attend a small group? What is the music like? Do you volunteer there? 
My church is a larger church, but not a mega-church. We have around 2000 people on a regular weekend. I attend a high school small group currently, but I'll probably be switching to the women's bible study soon since I've graduated.  I'm on worship team, and I serve the main service, and the high school service. I play lead piano and synth for all services, and sing and play acoustic guitar for the high school. We play mostly average worship music, although our worship leaders tend to stay away from the extremely cliche worship songs (thank goodness!). We have three worship pastors (although one is about to move) and they all have amazing hearts for worship. Plus they all can sing amazingly well!
    • What is your favorite book in the bible? Why? Find your favorite chapter and read it again. Reflect. 
    My favorite book of the bible used to be hands down Romans. However, 1 John closely rivals it now after studying it so deeply in "What Love Is" by Kelly Minter. But I suppose my favorite chapter in Romans has always been chapter 8. I haven't read it in a while, so it should be good to go back to it.

    Reflection:
    This passage is so chocked full of hope in Christ. It's all about how much Christ loves us, and the hope we have to live a pure and holy life in him because of his sacrifice. It's still one of my favorite chapters because of this.

    A few verses I like, and reflections on them: 
    v. 15 'the Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”' I love any verses that talk about God calling us his children, and this verse is no exception. It's good to see God as Holy and above us, but it's also good to see him as our Father who loves us. And it always touches my heart to hear it.
    v. 26 'In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.' It's amazing to think that the Holy Spirit is praying for us. I don't know about you, but sometimes I just don't have the words to say and it's comforting to know that the Holy Spirit has it covered.
    v. 35-39 'Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: 
    “For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
    No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.' I struggle with mild anxiety sometimes, and these verses are comforting to me. God calls us to difficult things and persecution as Christians, but nothing can separate us from him. Nothing! How wonderful is that? No matter what the world will throw our way, God has it covered. All we have to do is follow after and imitate him, and he'll do the rest.
    • It took God 6 days to build our world. He took the 7th day to rest. So on this 7th day, take some time to rest. Rest and then reflect, what is your favorite part about creation? Do you have a favorite spot? Is there some place that you want to visit?
    My favorite part about creation is it's complexity. I love to look at what God has made, and see all the immense detail he has put into it. My favorite spot in nature is either by rivers, or on hiking trails when you're all the way into the forest and all you can see around you is miles and miles of trees. I'd like to visit Ireland, because it looks absolutely gorgeous in pictures, and I'd like to go back to Montana someday, because the sky there really is larger than life.



      Here are some pictures from one of my favorite state parks, Spring Mill. I also love Turkey Run, and Shades State Parks, and Yellowstone and Great Smokey Mountains National Parks.

        • What does it mean to be a Christian? What verses support what you think?
        One of my favorite people always defines Christianity with this statement, "Love God, love people." And I tend to agree with him. It's definitely a simplified version of what being a Christian is, but I think it's pretty accurate. As for verses that support it, you could start by looking at the 10 Commandments.
          ...You shall have no other gods before Me.
          You shall not make idols.
          You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
          Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
          Honor your father and your mother.
          You shall not murder.
          You shall not commit adultery.
          You shall not steal.
          You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
          You shall not covet...
          You'll notice that all of them relate to our interactions with two things; God, and people. And all of the commandments, at their root, are meant to help us love God and other people better. Another scripture I think supports it is Matthew 22:36-40.

          “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

          In those verses, Jesus pretty much sums up what I said but in more eloquent terms. Love God, love people. That's really the root of everything.
          • Fast/skip a meal today and pray diligently instead. During your breakfast, your lunch break or even dinner!
          Because I am hypoglycemic I can't do a complete fast, but I am going to avoid eating anything and drink a protein shake instead.

          Reflections:
          I decided to fast my lunch, but I'd never fasted before. Lunch was probably not a good idea for me, because I was a bit too busy to pray as much as I would have liked. But I did try to pray as often as I could. I found that it was quite easy to remember to pray when hungry. Although I'd heard people talk about that, it's a different thing to actually experience it yourself. I also managed to only have about half of a protein shake and a small pepsi to keep my sugars up. So I actually felt like I was fasting, which was nice. I was a bit worried that drinking things to keep my sugar up would take away the hunger, but it only got rid of the shakes I normally get while still keeping the hunger. If you're hypoglycemic and thinking of fasting, I'd definitely recommend it.

          • What comes to mind when you hear the word religion? Are you religious?
          Religion makes me think of people who claim to be something, but don't really act like it. I guess by a dictionary definition's standpoint I am religious, but if we're going by what 'religious' makes me feel, then no.
          • Read Matthew 27:32-56 This passage is also known as The Crucifixion of Jesus. You have probably heard it a million times, but read it with a deeper perspective. Pause after each verse and picture it as vividly as you can. Did you know that “His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness?”
          Reflection:
          If I didn't know the outcome of this, I would feel so hopeless. There's so much dread over this entire passage. Can you imagine what it would have been like. Awful. And did you know, when they say that they offered Jesus 'wine mixed with gull' that gull was a type of poison most likely? They probably gave it to him to quicken the process of crucifixion, but he refused. For us. I'm so grateful for his sacrifice. And I can't truly imagine how awful that must have been.

          Oh How I Need You by All Sons and Daughters


          Glorious Ruins by Hillsong


          O My Soul by Audrey Assad


          Steady Heart by Steffany Gretzinger ft. Amanda Cook


          Relentless (Acoustic Version) by Hillsong


          The Earth Is Yours by Gungor


          Wonder (Spontaneous) by Bethel ft. Amanda Cook


          Future/Past by John Mark McMillian


          We Will Not Be Shaken by Bethel


          Nothing But The Blood by Citizens


          Sinking Deep by Hillsong Young & Free
          • What needs the most work in your relationship with God?
          I struggle with desiring God over my flesh. I'm slowly softening, but it's still a process.
          • Pray for someone you don’t know. It can be scary, but just commit to it! God will give you the right words to say!
          I decided to pray for a man who often serves me at the Post Office. He gets on my nerves for some reason, but I know that I need to pray for him because he has a soul that is just as precious to God as mine.
          • What is the best verse to describe your generation? Is it good? Bad? How do we make our generation better?
          "For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." 2 Timothy 4:3-4

          Obviously, this is bad. But I think that the best thing we can do to improve our generation is to love like Jesus. People don't need you to condemn them of their sins. Most of the time they understand that they have sinned. What people do need is to be loved. We need to do a better job of showing Jesus's love to the world. Because we may be the only bit of Jesus they ever see.
          • Have you been on a mission trip before? If yes, where did you go? If no, would you want to? Where do you want to go?
          I've been on a local missions trip before, called "Summer Serve". We helped out those in need in my community, and it was a good way to see how there is need not only overseas but also right in our own neighborhoods.
          • What translation of the bible do you read? Why do you read that translation?
          My actual physical copy of the bible is NIV, but that's because that was the only Japanese-English translation available. When I use YouVersion, I mostly read GNT (It's basically a more accurate and reliable version of The Message) and ESV (the translation my church uses). GNT is definitely my favorite though, even though it is slightly more of a paraphrase version.
          • Who is your favorite hero in the bible? (extra challenge, can’t be Jesus and find a man and a woman!) 
          My favorite woman in the bible is probably Mary sister of Martha. My favorite man in the bible is Paul.
          It's a tie between 'Same Kind of Different as Me' and any of the Millie Keith Series books.
          • Do you have a Christian mentor? If not, why?
          Currently, my biggest Christian mentors that I don't know personally are Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Audrey Assad, and Kari Jobe. As for people I do know, I'd have to say my old Youth Pastor, Brent Faulkner, my two Worship Pastors, Aaron Cross and Geoffrey Buck, my Toastmaster's instructor, Christie Andreas, and my old small group leaders, Jennifer Lee, Kent Eaton, and Kellie Eaton.
          • Were you raised Christian? Is your family Christian?
          Yes. Both my parents were raised in Christian homes, and in fact one of my grandparents was a Nazarene pastor.
          • How often do you read your bible? I challenge you to open your bible to a random page, and read it. What did you learn?
          I'd like to say often, but until recently I only read it a couple times a month. I'm hoping to change that though.

          Random Page reflections:
          'The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "When Pharaoh says to you, 'Perform a miracle,' then say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,' and it will become a snake." So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same thing by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs. Yet the Pharaoh's heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said." Exodus 7:8-13

          I feel like this verse relates to a lot of people I know. They are shown the truth, and very clearly, yet still their hearts are hardened and they refuse to believe. It's a sad thing really.
          • What is your favorite Christian blog on Tumblr? Give them a shoutout and show them some love!
          Worship Gifs is by far my favorite! That women is truly a soul passionately pursuing after God. And all of her responses to peoples questions and concerns are chocked full of biblical truth and the love of Jesus. I'm always refreshed when I see her posts on my feed. A couple others I like are: cypress-andtealeaves (my mori friend!), everlastingjesus, and gloriouspraises.
          • Does your blog/social media reflect your walk with Christ?
          Most definitely. My Facebook reflects it most, but my tumblr and instagram followers are also aware of my beliefs.
          • Think about this. Do you call on God when you are giving Him praise or asking for help more?
          I used to only call on him when I needed help. But then my mom told me of something that helped me remember to treat him more as a friend and confidant, and less like an insurance plan. She said that in one of the bible studies she participated in the writer said that she started thanking God every time something good happened, or she saw something beautiful. So if she saw a sunset, she'd thank God. If she made it on time to a meeting, she'd thank God. If she had a good cup of coffee, she'd thank God. It helps you to get in the habit of talking to God more, and focusing more on him and less on your own troubles.
          None that I can think of right now.
          • Have you been baptized? Where and when? If not, why haven’t you?
          I was baptized when I was eight, right before my favorite children's pastor moved to Colorado.
          • What sin are you struggling with the most? Be real with yourself. Post about it, or keep it private between you and God.
          I'm going to keep this private between me and God <3
          • What talents can you use to please God and help Heaven come to Earth? 
          Well, I use my musical talents on my worship team so that's one thing. And I'm good at listening and giving advice, and I try to do so in a godly way.
          • What are your future plans with God? Pray about it. What is God telling you?
          I've felt for a while that God is calling me to go to Japan to minister by living out my faith among the people there. I'm still shooting for that, and hoping that if that's not where he wants me than he'll let me know. I still pray about it, but I haven't heard him speak on it in a while. Other than that, it's just to fulfill the great commission the best I can, and grow close to him by studying his word.

          Monday, April 20, 2015

          A Guide to Creating Confidence

          I recently gave a speech for my local Toastmaster's on being confident, and I thought I might share the overview of it with you. These are all things I've done to gain confidence, and I hope you find them helpful!

          So without further ado, here are some challenges you can give yourself to help gain confidence.

          Spend time with yourself.
          When you do this, make sure to remove all distractions. You might be surprised when you do this how little you actually do know about yourself. I've found that knowing exactly who you are is an instant way to gain confidence. A few practical ways to do this are:


          • Write a list of likes and dislikes, and then define why you like/dislike those things.

          Pretty simple, and self explanatory, but very helpful.


          • Spend quiet time listening to God.


          This one helps you learn more about your spiritual personality, which is also (if you are religious) a big part of who you are.

          Step outside of your comfort zone.
          Wear, say, or do something that you like, that you wouldn’t normally share with others. This one helps you to realize that what other people think doesn't matter as much as you think it does. Another instant confidence booster.

          Say no, and don’t regret it.
          Don’t let others pressure you into participating in something you don’t enjoy just because “everyone is doing it”. When you become more comfortable with your decisions, you become more confident. Of course this doesn't mean you can bail on obligations just because you don't like them. Rather what I mean is; don't pile your plate with little stuff you don't enjoy. Learn to say no sometimes. An example for me is that my youth group often plays a lot of games. Sometimes, I don't like those games, and so I don't play. I used to let them guilt trip me into playing, and then I would be miserable. But I learned that when I said "no thanks" every once in a while it was a very freeing thing that brought confidence.

          “Don’t settle. Don’t finish bad books. If you don’t like the menu, leave the restaurant. If you’re not on the right path, get off it.” –Chris Brogan

           Stop over-criticizing yourself.
          Recognize areas for improvement in yourself, but also recognize that those areas do not define your worth. You are more than the mistakes you make, or the flaws you have. You have things you're good at, and it's okay to focus on those things and love those things about yourself. It's always good to have some self love!

          “What you believe about yourself on the inside is what you will manifest on the outside.” -Unknown

          Ask God for confidence
          This one is more pointed at Christians, but pray for the Lord’s assistance. If you pray he will answer. Just be prepared for the situations that will come your way. He will deliver, whether you're ready or not!

          “For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.” Psalms 71:5 (NIV)
          I hope that was a bit of help to you all! Now go out and be confident!

          “Confidence is like a muscle: The more you use it, the stronger it gets.” -Unknown

          Friday, April 17, 2015

          Fragile

          When I was young I never thought of death. Neither did I think of separations, or goodbyes. In fact, such things were completely foreign to me. I'd never known a goodbye to last longer than a week, save a few relatives that I did not know very well, and I'd never tasted death in any close form.

          That all changed about 10 years ago.

          We'd had a family friend who'd passed away before that point, but I'd been very young so I hadn't fully understood. We'd also lost a cat at that point, but again, I was too young to fully comprehend the meaning of it.

          10 years ago my step-great grandmother, Doris, passed away. She had been battling with cancer, lung cancer to be specific, for some time. We all begged her to stop smoking, but she was stubborn. She would scoff at us and say "I'll smoke until the day I die."

          And she did.

          I don't remember much about how I felt when they told me she'd died, but I don't think I cried. I was just confused. I do remember well when we visited the funeral home. It was dark, and everything was colored in gold and dark burgundies. It was stuffy, outdated, and I hated it. I was bored and I just wanted to play with my cousins whom I saw only a few times a year. When they finally let us into the room where her body was kept, I still didn't cry. I was overwhelmed by the massive amounts of flowers, unknown relatives, and the large casket that loomed ominously at the front of the room. They quickly sat us all down and a heavy man with a beard led us in a few hymns, and said a few words about life after death. After that it was a flurry of relatives trying to reach the casket to pay respects, while simultaneously trying to "catch up" with our family. Somehow I reached the casket quicker than most.

          I remember approaching it cautiously, unaware of what I would see. My cousin was openly weeping at this point, along with most of my aunts. However, Doris looked fine. In fact, she looked in death just as she had in life. I was still confused.

          I remember touching her cheek, and listening to people around me crying, and something inside of me snapped. I started to weep as well, although I still didn't fully understand. But I understood enough to realize I wouldn't see her again.

          I quickly recovered from the tears however, and spent the rest of my time meeting my Great Aunt Chris, who sat with me and assured me that I was not the only one with bad ankles, that there was no need to be insecure about them, and told me funny stories from when she was a child. And although I still didn't understand how fragile life was, I had begun to gain the head knowledge.

          I think I fully began to understand over the course of the next few Easter Sundays.

          You see, Grandma Doris was an amazing cook. She made the best food I'd ever had in my life. To this day there is nothing that will ever compare with her Easter and Christmas dinners. And each year on Easter that side of the family would gather together to eat. All of us, blood relatives and step relatives alike, would eat and visit together on that one day of the year at Grandma Doris' insistence. But after her death, those Easter dinners stopped happening. We mostly had Easter at our own houses from then on.

          On one of those Easter Sundays I realized that we would never have a meal like that all together ever again, and I cried.

          I still miss those Easter meals. Despite the issues in my family we would take that one day to set them aside and catch up with each other. I miss sitting at their large dining room table, and listening to the adults talk. (I desperately wanted to sit with the adults from a young age, and they would humor me seeing as I have always been mature, as long as I kept relatively quiet.) I miss seeing my step-aunts, and step-cousins. (I suppose Jolie is probably married by now, as she was significantly older than me.) I miss being given one of those awful tasting "soda pop" candy drinks in the plastic bottles. (Grandma Doris always said it was a special treat. And even though it tasted disgusting all of the kids would happily take one.) I miss those delicious biscuits that Mom would only let me eat a few of. (Sometimes others would sneak me an extra one without telling her. In retrospect, I really didn't need that many.)

          When I thought of all those things, and that they would never happen again, I began to understand the fragile state of life. At that point, it terrified me. I would avoid thinking about death at all costs. I didn't want to know what happened when you died, or after you died. I didn't want to think about the ways people died. I didn't want anything to do with any of it.

          It doesn't frighten me now. (Or at least, it doesn't frighten me as often.) And I don't dwell on the thought much, and if I do it's in a wistful kind of way. More melancholy than sad.

          Today, I took a ride in my Great Aunt's red convertible mustang. It's my dream car, and the weather was beautiful, so she took me for a ride to Starbucks for a Frappe. We drove through her neighborhood with the top down looking at the flowering trees, and enjoying the sunshine.

          I had just visited with my Great Grandpa (we call him Pap) earlier that day. He's getting older, and he often forgets things. He's crotchety, and has that stubborn Irish streak in him, but I still love him dearly. I often think of him in my mind as a grumpy old teddy bear. Despite the fact that he only lives a few hours away, we hardly ever see him. I had sat at his table and listened to him repeat the same stories two times each (at least). I had watched him show us papers telling of how he would win big money in a giveaway and how he would buy a new truck with that money he was so sure would come in this Wednesday. ("You'll see!" He said. "I'll buy that truck with the money and drive down to see you!".) I had fixed his computer for the thousandth time, because he always seems to lose the bookmarks my Grandpa sets up for him. And he had taken us to the mausoleum where my step-aunts had finally decided to place my Grandma Doris' ashes. And as I looked at the picture of her in her kitchen they had placed in the box, I felt the familiar ache of missing her. She wasn't perfect, but I did love her.

          Afterwards, riding in my Aunt's convertible, I realized (not for the first time) that he wouldn't be around much longer. And while my Great Aunts and my Grandma see fit to complain about his forgetfulness, and how he can't manage his money, all I can think about is how few his years left are.

          Life is short.

          If you have a perfect life, and live to 100, that's still such a short amount of time in the grand scheme of things. But not everyone is blessed to live that long.

          A girl in my town died in a car crash a few weeks ago. She was around eighteen.

          My Great Aunt Nancy died when she was in her late twenties, early thirties. She was overseas, had just had a baby, and then died suddenly of an asthma attack. I never got to know her.

          My real great Grandma, ironically also named Doris, died at age 37 of breast cancer. I never knew her either, and my mom knew her only for a short time.

          My friend's mother miscarried a baby boy, even though she was far enough along to have picked a name for him.

          We don't have much time on this earth, so my philosophy is this:

          Make the most of your time.

          Meet as many people as you can, and love as many people as you can. Call that relative you've been meaning to call for ages. Visit that place you've always wanted to go. Learn as much as you can, about life, love, God; anything really. Try that new food. Read that book that's been sitting on your shelf collecting dust. And most importantly, don't waste the opportunities God has given you.

          Live out the words of Erma Bombeck. "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'."

          You only get one chance, so be joyful, soak everything in, forgive and let go, love whomever you can, and don't worry what tomorrow will bring, because tomorrow has enough toubles of it's own. (Mathew 6:34)

          I think tomorrow I'll walk in my neighborhood and smell the flowers. Then maybe I'll write those letters to my pen pals I've been putting off. I need to have a long talk with God too. I haven't any time to waste, and neither do you.

          Wednesday, February 18, 2015

          Embracing My Inner Herbivore

          Today, I want to talk to you about my recent dive into the world of being vegetarian. This will be a bit more of a musing than an actual blog post, but I've been itching to get this out there.

          I've always been interested in vegetarianism, but it wasn't until recently that I actually began to entertain the thought of becoming vegetarian myself. I've had multiple good friends that were vegetarian and/or vegan throughout my life, but recently I found out that a new friend of mine was also a vegetarian, and spent some time talking to her about it. After we talked the idea of changing my eating habits was swimming around in my head, and I decided to do some research on how I could incorporate a few vegetarian meals into my regular week.

          Bad idea. I would recommend never researching where your food comes from if you ever want to eat meat again. It was awful. Suffice it to say, we live in a bubble of ignorance.

          After that, I immediately cut meat out of my diet for an entire week. And I didn't even miss it. I've been eating a primarily vegetarian diet ever since. However since I'm still living at home, I can't eat totally vegetarian like I want to. So my diet is mostly vegetarian, with a bit of fish every once in a while. And a few times, emphasis on the few, I've had to have a bite or two of meat. But that's it. And even then, it's really hard to eat it knowing where it comes from.

          So basically what I'm trying to say is I've made the switch, and I don't think I'll ever be going back. But maybe when I'm out on my own I'll purchase meat every once in a blue moon from a local farmer. But I suppose we shall see.

          101 Things In 1001 Days



          (This post was originally posted on I don't know much but I'm learning, but I'm posting it here as well.)

          I have recently decided to create a list of things I need to do, kind of like a bucket list. But I couldn't think of a good way to start one. But I've finally discovered one; 101 things in 1001 days! I doubt that every single one of these will get done, but I am going to try my hardest! よし!がんばります!


          Start Date: December 31st, 2012
          End Date:  August 26th, 2015

          9 left to go.
          1.Get an Ipod touch.
          2.Don't leave the house without a hat or headpiece for two weeks.
          3.Get a firm Tummy (aka Get rid of my flab).
          4.Draw 10 portraits of real persons. 10/10
          5.Make a daisy chain.
          6.Manage at least one pull-up.
          7.Buy 10 nice teas for tea parties. 
          8.Host a Tea Party.
          9.Go outside for one hour a day for at least a month.
          10. Gift something handmade.
          11.Go to a museum at least 12 times. 5/12
          12.Create a herbarium. Abandoned. Created a fairy garden instead
          13.Learn a new instrument.
          14.Grow a little herb garden on the window sill or a decent one in the garden.
          15.Get a job.
          16.Write a children’s storybook and illustrate it. Write/Draw
          17.Wear a planned outfit at least once a week for a month and draw it.  Abandoned. Not Practical.
          18.Buy three pairs of nice tights.
          19.Take a sketchbook to a public place and draw.
          20.Cook or bake something unknown once a month for 3 months.
          21.Visit an antiques & oddities market. 
          22.Make candles.
          23.Get the tips of my hair cut.
          24.Make a to-read classics list and read at least half of it. 15/29
          25.Make soapAbandoned. Buying natural soup
          26.Learn 15 cool quotes by heart.
          27.Buy a hat.
          28.Learn to swing dance.
          29.Buy a Lolita dress or skirt.
          30.Get a proper robe. Abandoned. 
          31.Go ice skating.
          32.Go to the theatre.
          33.Learn to paint with watercolor.
          34.Find a pen pal (snail-mail). I have seven Mori Girl pen-pals now!
          35.Find 10 nice everyday hair-dos.
          36.Go to a festival.
          37.Organize my clothes.
          38.Search though all my clothing and just keep what I truly love.
          39.Have a princess day once a month
          40.Eat only self-made sweets for a month. I stretched this out, and ate mostly homemade sweets over a few months instead.
          41.Use my typewriter at all possible times for a month. Abandoned. My typewriter is vintage, and the ink replacement would be rather expensive.
          42.Learn to flatfoot.
          42.Learn to knit.
          43.Sew at least two small projects.
          44.Climb a tree and take a picture of the view.
          45.Watch the sunrise and sunset in the same day.
          46.Don’t complain about anything for a week.
          47.Buy something from a Mori brand (Preferably Wonder Rocket). (Reviewed it here.)
          48.Buy something from Etsy/Store envy.
          49.Learn to decorate a cake.
          50.Go on a picnic.
          51.Send anonymous flowers to someone I don't know very well.
          52.Write a letter to myself to be opened when the 1001 days are over.
          53.Inspire someone else to write a 101 in 1001 list of their own.
          54.Go to a drive-in movie theater. Abandoned. I've been to a regular movie theater several times instead, which I don't normally do.
          55.Wear Lolita (or something equally as out there) in a busy public place.
          56. Lean some kind of calligraphy.
          57.Make my own bento.
          58.Send 10 handwritten letters to friends and family.
          59.Drink eight glasses of water every day for at least one week.
          60.Make an address book with contact information for family and friends.
          61.Spend a day with each of siblings doing what they want, paid for by me. Abandoned. Took my brother out to an expensive lunch instead. Also, I have no money... So that's a thing...
          62.Perfect my Japanese enough to listen to a song/show and sort of understand what they're saying.
          63.Throw a surprise party for a friend.
          64.Perfect and memorize at least one hard piano piece.
          65.Watch all of the New Doctor Who episodes.
          66.Succeed in giving up something for lent.
          67.Bike or walk somewhere in town.
          68.Learn the names of every country, and identify them on a map. Abandoned.
          69.Learn how to take decent pictures with my camera.
          70.Start using Instagram.
          71.Make a list of the 50 songs I could listen to forever.
          72.Take a photo of the same place every month for year and then turn it into a calendar for the next year. Abandoned
          73.Try Yoga.
          74.Attend and/or throw a costume party.
          75.Ask friends to name one favourite music album they think I should listen to, and then listen to all the recommendations I get.
          76.Ask friends to name one movie they think I need to watch, and then watch all the recommendations I get. Abandoned. I really don't like movies...
          77.Eat some real Sushi with crab in it, or just try crab in general. 
          78.Try 5 new foods in a month.
          79.Say ‘no’ to 5 things I don’t want to do, but would normally agree to in order to keep the peace.
          80.Create my own comic (either a few pages, or a series).
          81.Read a biography all the way through.
          82.Write a short story at least 10,000 words.
          83.See Celtic Woman in concert. 
          84.Fly a kite.
          85.Listen to all country for one day.
          86.Attend a church service of a different denomination.
          87.Celebrate a foreign holiday of some sort.
          88.Leave a note inside of a library book for someone to find.
          89.Get a Polaroid camera.
          90.Have a list of all of my friends birthdays, and send them happy birthday letters. Abandoned. Instead I write them letters at birthday parties.
          91.Take pictures with friends in a photo booth. Abandoned. There are no photo booths in my area.
          92.Set my answering machine to something in Japanese. Abandoned. I'm not sure what I was thinking, because no-one would be able to understand it.
          93.Sleep out under the stars. (My parents are super against this, but I did go tent camping recently and spent a lot of time out doors in the night so I'm counting that.)
          94.Finish my collection of Trixie Belden Books. (I have as many as I have been able to find, excluding a few rare ones that are almost non-existent)
          95.Learn, and use, a new word a month for 3 months.
          96.Sit and watch 10 movies without doing anything else. 10/10
          97.Watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy all the way through.
          98.Re-read the Chronicles of Narnia.
          99.Go berry picking Abandoned. My grandparents berry bushes had to be removed.
          100.Consciously Stop saying ‘yeah’ and ‘like’ for 1 week
          101.Write a new list!

          I will update every time I finish one. Here's hoping for the best in the coming year and beyond!

          Saturday, February 14, 2015

          A Practical Step: Desiring God

          Recently, I've been struggling with a lack of something in myself. To be more specific, a lack of desire for God. Now, I can't exactly pinpoint the exact moment when this lack of desire first became apparent to me, but I do know that it's been a major stumbling block in my life for a while now.

          You may or may not know, depending on how well you know me, that I often play on my church's worship team. Last week I was on rotation, and we played a song called "Come to the Water" by Kristian Stanfill. The lyrics are pretty standard as far as a praise and worship songs go. But this particular week one line stood out to me from the chorus.

          "We believe in the kingdom come
          We believe in the risen Son
          You bring our hearts to life
          Lord we come with our hands up high
          We believe You will satisfy
          You bring our hearts to life
          You bring our hearts to life
          We are alive"

          "We believe you will satisfy". That's a pretty big statement to make, isn't it? I know in my own life I've often looked at things that I enjoy that I know weren't the best for me, or things that were taking his place in my heart, and I've wondered how God could ever satisfy as much as the things I was holding onto. We hear all the time that God is greater than all of our selfish desires, but I think deep down inside all of us we doubt that it could ever be true. And sometimes, maybe we don't want it to be true.

          For me, when this happens, I tend to shy away from God. When I notice that I've not given him the 100% he asks for, or that I don't feel fully satisfied in him, I feel guilty. And I often feel in those times that I shouldn't be praying to him, or learning about him, or really having anything to do with him. Because if I was a "real" Christian I would be totally satisfied in him, right? And because of this tendency, in the times when I need to be drawing closer to God I pull farther away.

          Now if you look at this line of the song, "We believe you'll satisfy", you should notice a very specific word. That word is believe. Note that they didn't say "We know he will satisfy" or "He does satisfy" or "He has already satisfied". No they say "We believe he will satisfy". Why, you might ask, is this significant? Because with this one word we create a very deep and meaningful truth that I think many of us don't realize. That truth is this; Just because you don't see the results you're looking for now, doesn't mean that God isn't working in you.

          Let me repeat that; Just because you don't see the results you're looking for now, doesn't mean that God isn't working in you.

          When I realized this, it was huge for me. You see, I was shying away from interaction with God because I didn't see him working right away. I would say my quick prayer for him to satisfy me in him, and then I wouldn't give him the time to work in my life and make it so. What I needed to be doing was asking him to satisfy, and then drawing close to him believing it would be so.

          God may not immediately satisfy you in him, he hasn't yet for me, but he's always working on your heart as I know he is working on mine. It may take years of softening before you begin to feel satisfied in him. And there will always be times when you struggle and feel like God will never be enough. But you should never pull away from God, even when you feel inadequate. God always wants to have a relationship with you, and although he wants your all, that doesn't mean he stops listening when you don't give it. And the moment you pull away, you give footholds to negative things in your life. Because as soon as you stop feeding yourself with God's truth, you create gaps that can be filled by anyone who comes along with a bit of something to fill them with.

          So maybe this week, when you feel discouraged and unsatisfied in God, you can take a step out in faith with me and draw nearer to God believing he will satisfy. And maybe together, we can find out what it's like to be truly satisfied in him.

          Blessings,
          Kathryn