Friday, December 1, 2017

Waiting (Contemplative Piece/Poem)

"Why aren't you on the street corner?" I sigh, as I berate God for not being where I want him to be. "I've been begging for a sign, but I don't hear anything." I say, and my irate ranting covers the sound of his whispers in my ear.

"Why don't you come to me in a pillar of fire?" I say. "You did it for her, so why am I always left out?" I close my eyes in disgust, and miss the small message coming my way in the form of a paper airplane on a gust of wind.

"Where's my miraculous healing?" I scream, as I further twist my own arm behind my back. "You healed him when he asked, so am I just not important to you?" I say, as I turn my back right before you come to me with a band-aid held in your outstretched hand.

"Why wasn't I listening?" I whisper, when I finally have dropped my facades enough to notice your permanent presence in my bedroom, right there in the corner where I'd stuffed you. "It's okay." You respond, as you hand me a handwritten letter with the answers to all of my questions and doubts. "I was just waiting for permission to hold your hand." You say, as you hold me while I cry, and you paste me back together.

Matthew 5:41 (Original Poem)

i have been carrying my master's armor for many a mile,
just as i was instructed to
all my life
"fight the good fight"
"rewards are just around the corner"
"he sees your sacrifice and he will honor it"
they say
but my body grows weary from the exhurtion

of course, my master is not cruel
he rewards me for my service
whether it is a softly whispered "good job"
or a short day of rest
but i am weary all the same

"lord" i ask
"when will i feel restored?
where is the end of the journey
or even a respite for my aching soul?"

i turn to him expecting answers
but he just smiles
the smile that makes everyone follow his every wish
and answers not my current question
but the question i had asked 5 miles ago

as he waxes lyric about things i had previously asked to hear
i re-adjust the armor in my arms
and focus on walking just one more step

if i can make it to the next mile marker
i might get an answer then

Sunday, October 1, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Reflection

30. Now that you are finished with this challenge, what did you learn or discover?

  • Somedays, I just don't want to write, and that's okay
  • I'd rather have quality on my blog than quantity
  • Writing freely and posting without editing is nervewracking, but a great way to decompress how I'm feeling
  • I can easily get tired of writing things about myself

Friday, September 29, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Childhood books

29. What were your favorite books as a child?

1) American Girl Books

My favorites were Samantha and Kirsten's series, but I read almost all of the American Girl books at one time or another. I think these are what first sparked my love for history. 


2) The Ladd Family Series

Don't be fooled by the tacky 80s covers, these books were amazing. They're catered towards boys, but I absolutely loved the thrilling adventures hidden in the pages. I usually read them in one sitting, because I couldn't put them down.

3) The Boxcar Children Series

I loved the independence of the boxcar children, and I loved the fun mysteries they solved together through their sibling bond. It's still one of my favorite book series, and I still pick them up to re-read from time to time.

4) The Nancy Drew Series

I used to be obsessed with the Nancy Drew books. I own every single book in the series, and I've read almost all of them. I liked the idea of an independent woman who could solve mysteries all on her own. As I got older, the repetitiveness of the series became more apparent to me, but I still hold a soft spot for these books.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

September Writing Prompts: My writing process

28. Tell us about your writing process – do you like music or quiet, is there a special place you go to work, do you type from the beginning or write notes with a pen and paper first?

My writing process isn't very special. I can write pretty much anywhere, but I prefer my environment to be quiet. I can write fairly well in a louder setting as well though. I also like soft/relaxing music when I'm writing (one artist I've been listening to a lot lately when I write is Gungor), or no music at all. I don't have a special place to write, and I work on my writing whenever and wherever I want to.

I don't tend to write many things out on paper. Instead, I go straight to the computer to write. Especially with things like blog posts and term papers, which I edit quite a lot. However, I do write poems out on paper first. I always start my writings with a brief outline, such as a few words to describe what each general paragraph will be, then I fill it in with actual writing as I go along. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Assumptions

27. Write about the assumptions people make about you.

  • When I was in high school and middle school, people assumed that since I was homeschooled I was sheltered and didn't know anything about the world. It was frustrating because they would treat me patronizingly and would often exclude me from conversations or events because they felt I would freak out on them or something. Sometimes it was legitimate concerns on their part, and sometimes they were right, but the majority of the time it wouldn't have been a problem and it just left me feeling out of the loop.
  • People assume that I only like girly things, which is completely false. This one is fun though, because then when I say something really snarky, or tell people I listen to heavy metal, or climb a tree in my skirts, or chime in on bro-dude conversations about video games, it's pretty funny to see their shocked reactions.
  • People assume that I'm either an extrovert or a super-quiet, person-who-never-talks, introvert. Neither of which is correct. In some circles I'm more talkative, but I still enjoy alone time. In other circles (like classes at University that are confusing to me), I don't speak very much. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Guilty Pleasures

26. What are some of your guilty pleasures?

I have a few guilty pleasures. It's not like they're really a secret though. Most people know I like this stuff.

1) Junk food music:
This is music that doesn't have much musical quality, but it's happy and fun and I like it anyways. Most of my "junk food" music is Jpop. It has a certain charm to it that I've never been able to find in any other type of music. Here are some of my favorite cutesy artists, and a sample of their songs I like.

Waracchaou yo Boyfriend by Berryz Koubou

Dancin'&Dreamin by Hinoi Team

Rottara Rottara by Bouno!

Sakura Apparation by Denpagumi.inc

2) Cutesy games
I love gaming, and I play all types of games. Rpg, PC adventure games, puzzle games, etc. I like all kinds of games (except first-person shooters...) but I have a soft spot for cutesy games. They're just something I've always enjoyed. My favorites are Ham-Ham Heartbreak, Ham-Ham's Unite, Princess Debut, and Flower Town in Mii Plaza.

Hamtaro Gameboy/GBA games

Princess Debut for the DS

Flower Town in 3DS Mii Plaza

3) Bella Sara cards
Most people probably don't remember these, but they were pretty big in the early 2000s. They were created as trading cards that could cater to a female demographic, but they grew into an online game, a book series, and they even produced a few (really bad) movies based on the stories these cards tell. It was all really cheesy looking back, but I absolutely adored these cards when I was younger and I was an avid collector. I still have every single one of the cards I bought, and they fill up an entire tin. I think I have over 300, but I've never actually taken the time to count them all. Embarrassingly enough, I've actually purchased some of the leftover packs people are getting rid of on Amazon, since they don't produce them anymore. And it was only last year that I bought them. I still pull them out from time to time and access their website (which is surprisingly still running almost perfectly) to play the online game.

4) Translating things into Elvish (Quenya)
I'm a huge Tolkien fan, so much so that I wanted to learn Elvish. So I did. It was surprisingly easy actually. I can't say sentences off of the top of my head, but I know how the sentence structure works and if you give me a sentence to create/translate, and let me get my dictionary, I can do so for you in a pretty short amount of time. I can also read Elvish pretty well.

This is Elfdict.com, which I know how to navigate very well....  
Because I do so often....

5) Old Folk Songs
I adore old folk music, and I listen to it all of the time. If you shoot me a time period in America, I can sing you a handful of different songs that accompany it. And when I walk through museums or go to reenactments, I often find myself singing and humming along to these ancient tunes that no one else knows. It can be a little embarrassing sometimes. Some of my favorite artists who have revived folk music for the modern ages are Diane Taraz, Jean Ritchie, and Pete Seeger.

Doffin Mistress (Live) by Diana Taraz

Johhny Has Gone for a Soldier by Diane Taraz

Hangman by Jean Ritchie

Die Gedanken Sind Frei by Pete Seeger

Monday, September 25, 2017

September Writing Prompts: More and Less

25. What would you like more of in your life? Less?

  • Jesus
  • Prayer
  • Art
  • Laughter
  • Flowers
  • Barefoot worship
  • Reading for fun
  • Fall weather
  • Chances to wear Mori
  • Hiking trips
  • Tea with friends

  • Selfishness
  • Paper writing
  • Stressing about my Biology class
  • Feeling far from God
  • Junk food

Sunday, September 24, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Change

24. Are you the same person you were last year? Five years ago? Ten years ago? Tell us how you have (or haven’t) changed.

(This is a post that I've been working on separate from this challenge for a long time, and I thought it went well with this prompt so I decided to clean it up and post it.)

A while back my Dad was cleaning out our massive amount of copied CD's and DVD's we've acquired over the years. Hidden amongst the large stacks was one unmarked DVD, and when we popped it in we were greeted with a pleasant surprise. The DVD contained a self-edited video I had created about 8 years ago for my Grandparent's 50th Anniversary celebration. It included lots of jokes and badly photoshopped pictures to make them laugh, as well as a rap from my younger brother. It was all good fun, and we were all chuckling. But then the video took a more serious turn. All of us kids had sat down and filmed a personal message for my Grandparent's, congratulating them on their 50 years and apologizing since we couldn't make it to the actual party. I had completely forgotten about that part of the video. My younger brothers gave their messages, with my youngest brother's message consisting of two sentences that I vaguely remember scripting for him. But then the screen changed to middle school me and my message. My mood instantly changed.

Let me just come right out and say it; I was awkward. Unfortunately, I didn't look like the polished selfies you see of the average middle-schooler these days. I had no idea who I was, or who I wanted to be, I never took care of my hair, my teeth were crooked, and I hadn't a clue on how to dress even semi-decently. My favorite activities were obsessing over anime and manga, drawing (very bad) pictures, and I protested wearing bras for at least a full year.

At the time, none of these things bothered me that much. I was fairly happy with my weird tastes (including my weird obsession with long, patterned skirts paired with T-shirts). Or maybe I was just completely oblivious as to what other's thought of me. But now, looking back, I cringe at the pictures taken of me. And believe me when I say that there are a lot of things I wish I could ask my old self.

Basically, I don't like 6th grade (or any younger aged) me. But that's a weird concept, isn't it? I mean, I'm still me now. Right? But if I look at myself then, my interests, passions, knowledge, and so on, I quickly see something important. Most of the things that made up my life then aren't what makes up my life now. I used to watch anime excessively, as previously mentioned, but now that's not even a footnote in my life. I also used to think that I would be a fashion designer, and now I've discovered that's obviously not where my passions lie. But it's not just me from 5 or 10 years ago that's so very different. Look at me 2 years ago. I thought I would be going to a completely different University from where I am now enrolled, and I was planning on studying overseas for an entire year (which was a stupid idea by the way). These people seem completely foreign to me now, especially 6th grade me. But I'm still the same person, right? Well, not entirely. You see, I'm not the same person as I was yesterday, or that I am today, or that I'll be tomorrow. I think this is important because this can really change how you look at life.

If you live your life as if every decision you've made defines you, you are going to have a hard time growing and learning. Because if you can't forget that one time you said something stupid to so-and-so, or you're constantly beating yourself up over a decision you made 4 years back, then you're going to have a lot of trouble. It's almost impossible to be yourself, or be confident, or change character flaws, or even try anything new, if you're always dwelling on the past. So, I'll say it again.

I'm not the person I was yesterday, or that I am today, or that I'll be tomorrow. And neither are you.

You can either let this be a very freeing notion to you, or you can find this to be the most terrifying thing you've ever heard. But I'd suggest letting it be freeing. Because once you decide you're a new person every day, there is so much freedom for change, and joy, and removal of regrets and anxieties.

So how, specifically, have I changed? I've grown more mature in my faith, I've made steps to manage my time more wisely, I've let down my inhibitions and made many new friends, and I've learned many lessons, both good and bad, about what it means to be an adult. Although it's often been terrifying to grow and change, and to know that some things I once thought were of absolute importance are actually minuscule in the grand scheme of things, overall, growth has been a good experience that's nothing to be concerned about.

Let's grow together, my friends, and see where God is leading us. Blessings.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

September Writing Prompts: My Street

23. What is your favorite thing about the street on which you live?

I love the character of my street. A lot of neighborhoods in my town have the cookie cutter feel to them, but my neighborhood is older, and although some of the homes are similar, most of them are unique and have a lot of character. In addition to that, there's also a lot of nature on my street. There's a big open field and a stream behind houses on one side of the street, a patch of wooded area behind the other side, and lots of flower gardens and mature trees all up and down both sides. Basically, it feels like living in the country, even though it's a neighborhood. It's very relaxing! Also, all of our neighbors are very nice, and our next door neighbors have super cute kids that chat with me whenever I'm outside. I love it.

Friday, September 22, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Fall

22. It’s the first day of fall. Do you feel a chill in the air? Tell us what you are most looking forward to about fall.

It's 90 F today. So no. I do NOT feel the chill.... (Can you tell I'm bitter? Because I am...)

I'm so very ready for fall. The colors in the leaves, the crisp smell, pumpkin flavored everything, mugs of steaming hot tea cradled in your hands, and most of all, layers. I always miss wearing Mori in the summer months, but I feel like this year it has been worse than ever. I've fallen in love with Mori all over again this summer, so it's been extra hard not being able to wear it whenever I want. I'm so ready to feel cozy and cute in layers again.

A post shared by Kathryn Elaine (@forestsandtea) on

Thursday, September 21, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Online Persona

21. Do you share your real self online?

Yes and no. I'd like to think that what you see of me online is the same as what I'm like in real life, but I can't guarantee that. What you see of me online is a highlight reel of my life. I occasionally share when really bad things happen to me, but for the most part, you don't see my bad days where my anxiety is running me ragged, or when I literally have nothing but homework going on in my life for days. But for the most part, I'm honest on the internet. Of course, I don't share super personal details for security reasons. But my hobbies that I share are things that I really do love doing, and my personality is the same in real life and online. I would hope that if you met me, you would think of me as if you know me. That's what I aim for. My favorite people online are those who feel like they are sitting down and visiting with you, and I hope that I am achieving that.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

September Writing Challenge: Behind my blog's name

20. What is the story behind your blog's name?

The name of my blog comes from the Millie Keith: Life of Faith Series. The main character, Millie, has a spinster aunt named Wealthy Stanhope. She's not a main character in the series, and only appears in a few books, but she became one of my inspirations for life within the first page.

The first scene she is featured in, she is sitting on the mantle of the fireplace, dusting, and singing hymns at the top of her lungs. It showcases very well the type of character she is: unique, and confident in herself. She's also fearless in her faith, leaves a trail of prayer and the love of God behind her wherever she goes, and trusts God's plan wherever he leads her. She's compassionate as well, not only to her family but to everyone she comes across, and she's an independent woman who is not afraid to do anything. Travelling across the continent, defending herself with her sturdy umbrella, and never letting her nieces settle for any less than they deserve. She's willing to try anything she pleases, whether it's proper or not.

Basically, she's the Proverbs 31 woman, and everything I want to be in life. So it was only fitting to name my blog after her. I'd highly recommend reading the books by the way. They're very inspirational, and one of my favourite series to date.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September Writing Challenge: Lessons

19. What lessons are you currently learning?

I'm not sure if I can put this lesson into words properly, but I'll try. 

Currently, I've been going through a really dry spell in my faith. I feel like, no matter what I do, no matter how much I give things over to God, no matter how long I wait for his timing, nothing ever happens. And I've really been trying to connect with him too. I've been reading my bible (in fact I just read through the whole Bible), I've been memorizing scripture, I've been attending bible study regularly, I've been talking to friends and mentors about my situation, and I've been praying. Basically, everything they tell you to do, I've done it, but still, there's been no answer. Don't get me wrong, I know that there are just periods where God is silent, and I'm not questioning whether or not he's real or if I should be following him; I've seen too much to do that. But it does leave me in a hard spot, where I'm waiting for him to help me with what's going on, but I feel like he's not listening. It's been extra hard because I feel like everyone around me is getting their prayers answered, which is great and I'm really happy for them, but it's still hard to sit on the same problem week after week with no end in sight.

So I suppose the lesson is learning to wait out the dry spells. Or maybe it's just patience in general? Or it could also be a lesson in trusting God. Unfortunately, I just don't know yet. I suppose I'll let you know once I'm out the other side.

Monday, September 18, 2017

September Writing Challenge: Conquered Fear

18. What fear have you conquered?

I used to be deathly afraid of needles. So much so that when I had to get a cavity filled in 6th grade I had an emotional breakdown and had to be pinned down in order for them to insert the shot into my mouth. I honestly thought I would never conquer my fear, and I had resigned myself to a difficult life of trying to avoid needles whenever possible.

In my senior year of high school, I had to get vaccinations before heading to university. I was terrified to say the least. I had my mom come with me, and I was prepared to make a fool of myself, as always. When we got there, I squeezed her hand tightly, and I looked away as the doctor readied the needles. I was so scared, and my heart was beating so hard I thought I might pass out. But I didn't. I managed to not whip around at the first press of the needle, and I didn't scream or even cry. And it was over before I knew it.

I have no idea how I conquered that fear. I think I just grew out of it. There aren't many things that really scare me anymore, the older I get. Maybe it's me being apathetic, but I feel like life is too short to waste time freaking out about things that don't matter. But whatever the reason, I am now no longer as afraid of needles as I once was. Don't get me wrong, I still don't like them. But I've been able to get shots, both vaccinations in my arm and one shot in my mouth at the dentist, and even have blood drawn, with no problems. Hopefully, that will remain the case from now on.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Bucket List

17. Write your bucket list:
  • Visit Japan
  • Visit Ireland
  • Research my ancestry and apply for Cherokee citizenship
  • Meet another Mori person in real life
  • See Ragtime or Into the Woods live
  • Learn to play the Harp
  • Master my favorite Chopin piece
  • Master Claire de Lune
  • Learn how to say sentence in Quenya
  • Speak Japanese fluently
  • Learn archery
  • Hike the Appalachian trail
  • Learn to flatfoot as well as I can clogg
  • Own a horse
  • Live in a tiny house
  • Go completely zero waste (or at least as close as I can)
  • Memorize a good chunk of scripture (~50 verses)
  • Have my own garden
  • Own a snake
  • Finish a NaNoWriMo novel
  • Go on a solo road trip
  • Have a repertoire of vegetarian meals to make that I love
  • Make 1000 paper stars, and decide on a good wish for them
  • Experience hanami
  • See Orla Fallon in concert
  • See the Wailin' Jennys in concert
  • See Popoyans in concert
  • See Ichiko Aoba in concert
  • See Jonathan Coultan in concert
  • See Regina Spektor in concert
  • See Thousand Foot Krutch in concert
  • Visit Disney World again
  • Sell a piece of artwork
  • Pass the teachers licensing test
  • Plant tree
  • Illustrate a book

September Writing Prompts: Humour

16. What is one/a few of the funniest thing(s) you have ever seen or heard?

Anything on my Pinterest board would work to answer this question. But I'll give you a few of my favorites.

George Washington memes:

The Bad Kid Jokes tumblr. Here are some of the gems you'll find there.

Q: What do you get when you cross a t-rex and a chicken?
A: Nothing but death
Q: What’s the difference between a ps4 and a Xbox One.
A: The name. 
 Q: What did the flashlight say to the car?
 A: Stop it I am changing.
 This picture I took of my dog:

And finally, Adam Young's twitter page. It's a gem:

Friday, September 15, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Earliest childhood memory

15. What is your earliest childhood memory?

My earliest childhood memory is honestly kind of embarrassing. I was about 4 or 5 years old, and I was playing with my best friend at the time. Her name was Elizabeth and she was about 8 or so, and I wanted desperately to be as cool as she was. However, I had no idea how to do so, so I did the only thing I could think of. I stole her Barney doll.

Now you're probably thinking, "why the heck would that make you cool?" Short answer: it doesn't. But I thought it was Elizabeth's cool toys that made her cool. Of course, that was a stupid thought. But I didn't know that.

So, anyways, while we were playing one day I took the Barney doll and I ran out of her house and down the street to my own house. I thought I was really cool for doing this, and I hid the doll in my toy room. However, I had grabbed the doll and left the house while Elizabeth was watching, so naturally, she followed me home and told my mom what I'd done. My mom was super mad at me and made me give it back. Elizabeth just thought it was hilarious, and she teased me a little about it. 

At that time, I was super mad at my plans being foiled. Now, I just look back and cringe. But at least it makes for a good story to tell,

Thursday, September 14, 2017

September Writing Prompts: 5 things I love

14. List 5 things you love, and why.

1) Jesus

I know, I know. Cliche. But it's true! I love him because he gave everything for me, because he loves me unconditionally, because he's always chasing after me, and for a hundred other reasons.

2) My Church

I've only really realized recently how wonderful my church is. All those problems about the church that you hear people talking about? Yeah, I've hardly ever seen those at my church. Don't get me wrong, they're not perfect, but they've done an amazing job teaching the word of God, and living out God's command to care for all people. I've just been really blessed by them.

3) Rain

It's relaxing, it smells good, and it makes me happy.

4) Mori Kei

It just always makes me feel cozy, confident, and happy.

5) My Friends and Family

They're always there for me, and they've always been super supportive and loving. I've been blessed here as well.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Old Photo

13. Reflect on an old photo and write about it. How does it make you feel? What thoughts jump to mind?

This is a picture of me and my best friend in middle school. It makes me feel both happy, nostalgic and embarrassed. Happy, because this was a great time in my life, and this day, in particular, was really great because we were together with a lot of friends and we also got to reconnect with our old small group leader. Nostalgic, because I miss the days when we would all hang out together. And embarrassed because it was middle school, and I look horrible. (Like, you can even see my pink streak in this photo. It's that old.)

The thoughts that come to mind are how much I loved my small group and my small group leader. I grew so much, and became so close to Jesus, through this group. It's sad to me that most of these people I never see anymore, but it still holds some really good memories for me.

September Writing Prompts: Morning Routine

12. Do you make your bed when you get up in the morning or leave it since you will just mess it up again that night?

I always make my bed nowadays, although I used to leave it messy most of the time. I decided to start making it because it makes me feel more productive when I do. Even though my bed is a loft bed, which means I can't see it during the day, just knowing that it's clean helps me not to worry about it. It also helps to transition my mindset from that sleepy half awake mindset to a more productive one.

Monday, September 11, 2017

September Writing Prompts: My current music playlist

11. What is on your music playlist right now?

1) Solid State (Album) by Jonathan Coulton

This album is amazing, and so chill. I've been listening to it on repeat. Even if you don't normally like his music, I'd recommend giving this album a listen. It's just so musically solid.

2) The Longest Day (Album) by Barnaby Bright

I've enjoyed Barnaby Bright for quite a while, but I've been on a bit of a kick for their music at the moment. I don't like all of the tracks on the album, but the majority of it is really great. Some of my favorites are Gravity, I Love You Softly, and Remember When.

3) 0 (Album) by Ichiko Aoba

Ichiko Aoba has always been one of my favorites, but during the fall I always seem to want to listen to her music again. Can you tell I've been into relaxing music lately? ;)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Relax

10. At the end of a long day, what do you do to relax?

First, before I do anything, I like to set up my room to feel as relaxing as possible. Things I do for that are:
  • Light my natural, soy, lavender candle (which smells super freakin' delicious)
  • Make sure all of my fairy lights are turned on (including my cloud light)
  • Make a cup of tea (right now I'm really enjoying Irish Cream Tea)
  • Eat a nutritious meal (if it's dinner time)
From there, I have a handful of different activities I like to do, depending on my mood:
  • Draw or paint something (watercolor is super relaxing to me at the moment)
  • Read an uplifting book (right now I'm reading Journal 3 from Gravity Falls, which never fails to make me laugh)
  • Practice a musical instrument (usually my merlin or the piano)
  • Read my bible (and sometimes use my prayer journal as well)
  • Write in my poetry/thoughts book
If that doesn't take the edge of a long day, then I'll occasionally defuse essentials oils used for calm, or meditate if needed.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Family game night

9. Tell us what family game night looks like in your world.

We don't often have family game nights in my family nowadays, as all of my siblings are adults/are almost adults, and our schedules are very different. However, when we do have game nights, we usually play either Settlers of Catan, Apples to Apples, or sometimes we can rope my mom into playing a card game with us. Our game table is in our family room, right next to our game cabinet, so we all squeeze there and try to make enough room for six people, although it's usually a little tight. We always end up laughing hysterically, making stupid jokes the whole time, and just generally having fun. We're not very competitive, so it's always a light hearted time that ends in us feeling refreshed.

Friday, September 8, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Books I love

8. International Literacy Day – celebrate by sharing some of your favorite books, or letting us know what you plan to read this fall.

I have quite a few favorite books because I am quite the avid reader. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible for me to talk about why I love my favorite books without giving spoilers, so you'll just have to take my word for it when I say they are all great reads. (These are in no particular order by the way, nor are they all of my favorites. These are just a few that jumped to mind immediately.)

1) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (Genre: Thriller)
2) The Morning After Relapse by Christina Hopp (Genre: Poetry)
3) The Millie Keith series (the first 3 books are my favorites) by Martha Finley (Genre: Historical Fiction and Faith)
4) A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Genre: Children's fiction)
5) House by Frank Peretti (Genre: Horror)
6) Forgotten God by Francis Chan (Genre: Christian Literature/Bible Study)
7) The Dreamhouse Kings series by Robert Liparulo (Genre: YA/Thriller)
8) The Mysterious Benedict Society (the first book is my favorite) by Trenton Lee Stewert (Genre: Children's Literature)
9) The Chronicles of Narnia (my favorite is The Dawn Treader) by C. S. Lewis (Genre: Children's fantasy)
10) Sherlock Holmes (as in I like all of them) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Genre: Mystery)

I don't plan on reading many new books this fall because I have a lot of reading to do for University this semester. However, I do have a list of books I would like to eventually read on Goodreads, if you're interested in giving it a look.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Open letter to 15 year old me

7. Write an open letter to your 15-year-old self

Dear 15 year old me,

What a great life you will have this year. 15 will be a year that you'll look back on with fondness. Year 16 too. You're still so innocent, but yet smart too. (Let me emphasize that smart thing for a second here, because I know you're stressing about school and you're wondering if you'll ever be able to make it in college. You will. So stop stressing it.)

I hope you're enjoying your carefree life right now. Things won't be so easy when you grow up. Don't get me wrong, growing up is in some ways as great as you imagine it to be right now. But in other ways, it's really hard. You're going to miss all of the free time and no stress that you have right now. So savor it while you have it.

I know right now you feel really close to God, and that's great. I envy the childlike faith you have at this stage. Things get messy as you grow up, and sometimes faith seems complicated for so many different reasons, so just cling to God and the faith you have in him. It will serve you well.

Also, stop spending so much time on the computer. You'll regret that. Focus on art and reading instead. You'll use those way more.

Oh! And stop dissing on public school. You'll eventually want to be a teacher. So there.

Much love,

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Handwritten Letters

6. When was the last time you received a handwritten letter?

I receive a few handwritten letters a month because I have a handful of pen pals across the globe. I gained all of these pen pals through the mori community, although one of my pen pals has since left the fashion (but we still stay in touch).

In letters, we mostly share a bit about our day to day lives, our interests, and other things like that. But we also send little gifts to each other, like tea bags, bookmarks, or stickers. We also always try to decorate our letters for each other, to make them look cute.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

September Writing Prompts: My First Job

5. Tell us the most important thing you learned during your first job.

My first job was teaching piano lessons, which I still do today. The first student I taught was a young boy, around age 8 or so, who had very little previous experience with music or piano. But he was very bright, had a great sense of rhythm, and usually passed a song within one week. We hardly ever had to go back to a piece. However, as always happens when you are learning something new, he eventually reached a roadblock and we needed to repeat a song for another week.

My student was devastated by this. He equated not passing the song to not being good enough. He tried to bargain me into letting him pass the song, told me that he had practiced very hard, and pleaded for the ability to move on. But I knew he wasn't ready, so I told him no, and that's when he started to get a bit teary eyed.

This probably sounds like just a student that was a bit too whiny to you, but for me, I saw a young boy who felt he wasn't good enough. That was hard for me to deal with. The first time this happened, I just awkwardly continued the lesson and tried to not let it bother me. But the second time around, I felt that I had to do something. So then, throughout the rest of the time I taught this student, I had to learn how to properly encourage someone.

Encouragement is something that I had thought, up to that point, I was naturally good at. But I quickly learned that what was encouraging to me might not be encouraging to another. I learned what sorts of things made my student feel he was doing well, I learned when to speak up in encouragement, and when my words weren't necessary. And above all, I learned how wonderful it felt when I was able to help someone else feel good about themselves and what they were doing.

This lesson is one of the things I love about teaching, and why I am now studying to become a teacher. I love being able to encourage someone and to help them master a skill.

Monday, September 4, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Favorite Source of News

4. What is your favorite source of news?

I'm not really a fan of the news. For one, the extreme amounts of negativity that bombard you are a bit too much for me, but on a more important note, I don't really trust news sources. Unfortunately, it seems that in this day and age there are no unbiased sources to be found. Every news outlet has their own biases and is quick to report only the information that is important to their narrative. And I don't just mean those on the opposite side of the political ideology than me. I mean all of them, even the ones with political views I sometimes agree with. They all cherry pick through the truth and present a very selective narrative. If I have to get the news, I try to find both sides of the argument and see what is true of both sides. From the information that I gather, I then draw conclusions from what seems to be the facts, not the reporter's opinions.

So I don't have a favorite source of news. And I only look at news sources if I have to. Otherwise, I'm okay with being somewhat out of the loop on the latest negative thing going on in the world. I know some people think that is a bad thing, that it makes me 'uninformed', but I really don't care. My own mental health and wellbeing are more important to me than being informed on whatever horrible thing the news station thinks I just have to know today. I'd rather be at peace than informed any day.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Family Tree

3. Have you traced your family tree?

Yes. On the Irish side of my family, we had a relative that traced our family tree and then gave the information to us. So I know as far back as my ancestors who emigrated to the United States from Ireland, and I even have images of them.

On the other side of my family, I have a cousin who has traced some of our ancestry. She's explored our German roots, and has placed us in contact with some relatives we didn't know we had. She also discovered some unsavory bits of our history, such as two of our female relatives who were drowned when they were declared witches a few hundred years ago. Afterwards, their husbands took the children, and all of their money, and moved to the United States. It all seems a bit fishy to me, but who knows what really happened.

I also have Native American roots in the form of two great-great-great grandmothers who were Cherokee, and one who was from an unknown tribe (she would never tell us which tribe she was from, and she died with her secrets). I know I have enough Cherokee running through my veins to get Cherokee citizenship, so I hope to do that someday if I can. I also have some Dutch roots, but I don't really know anything about that side of the family other than their nationality.

(My Irish Ancestors who came to America to open a grocery store. The store stayed open until the late 1960s, which is pretty neat.)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Spend 7 minutes free writing

2. Free write for 7 minutes – and publish without editing.

I feel like my head has been in a fog recently. I mean, I know why. It's because my Great Grandpa passed away a few weeks ago. I've had people close to me pass away before, and we all knew he was going downhill fast and probably wouldn't be around much longer, so it wasn't like I was not prepared for this. But even being prepared doesn't truly stop the grieving process from taking its toll. My heart just aches sometimes, and other times it's fine. And I can't really choose when it happens. It just does.

Sometimes, I think about memories of him, and they just spring up unprecedented. It's not overwhelming, it's just melancholy, and it makes me miss him. It's a comfort to know I'll see him again, and that I am sure of, but it still doesn't soothe the ache. I miss his smile already, even though I hadn't really seen it for months before he passed, and I miss his hugs and his grumpy comments and his ridiculous jokes. I just miss him. And it's stupid because I hardly ever got to see him. I only saw him 4 or 5 times a year on average. But I still miss him.

On the bright side, the grieving process has jump-started some positive things in me. It makes me somewhat antsy, so I soothe that by doing either things that relax me or creative things. I've made more art in the past month than I have in quite a long time, and I've finally read books and filmed videos and blogged about things that I've been wanting to do for years. It helps me to process somehow. So there's that.

I don't want anyone to think that this post means I'm having a mental breakdown or that I'm so sad I can't function, because I'm not. I'm okay, really. It's just a new stage of life that I wasn't quite ready to deal with, and it's hard. But it gets better every day. I already feel leaps and bounds better now than I did before, and I know that it only gets better from here. I just have to keep trusting that God's got me in his hands and that one day I'll wake up and feel joyful again. I know I will. I've already achieved happy, so I know that joy is just around the corner for me.

Friday, September 1, 2017

September Writing Prompts: Share one goal you want to achieve this month

Day 1: Share one goal you want to achieve this month.

There are a lot of goals I want to achieve this month. Some are related to my academic career, others are related to my personal life, but the biggest goal for me this month is related to my spiritual life.

My biggest goal is to start praying daily. God has really been placing this on my heart for the past 4 months or so. It all started over the lent season when I vowed to read all of the unread spiritual books on my shelf, and almost all of them were about prayer. Since then, God has been placing conversations and situations in my way to remind me how important prayer is to him. I'm not sure in what capacity I need to place prayer in my life, but I know that God wants it to be big. A while back I created a prayer journal, so I'm going to start with using that. I hope it can keep me focused and motivated on what God is asking of me. I hope that through this I will see some big changes in my life that I have been hoping for for a long time.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

101 Things I'm Truly Thankful For

Completed for the 101 things in 1001 days challenge.
  1.  Close relationships with my immediate and extended family.
  2.  Loving parents.
  3.  My beautiful state.
  4.  The promises of the Lord.
  5.  The ability and financial means to live an eco-friendly lifestyle.
  6.  Having grown up in a godly household.
  7.  A house with A/C.
  8.  Clean, delicious water and ice available anytime.
  9.  Showers.
  10.  The ability to own a physical and digital copy of the bible, legally.
  11.  And the ability to worship freely whenever and wherever I want.
  12.  Free speech.
  13.  My ability to find the positive in everything.
  14.  Siblings who I actually get along with and love to hang out with.
  15.  The fact that I was actually able to afford a good college education without going into ridiculous amounts of debt.
  16.  Being in relatively good health.
  17.  Being able to control my hypoglycemia without medicine.
  18.  My amazing church family.
  19.  My amazing worship team family.
  20.  Access to the internet.
  21.  Two of the best, godliest, friends on planet earth.
  22.  A car that runs and has A/C for the hot summer days.
  23.  Having just enough financial aid money left over to cover my summer class.
  24.  Finding a career path that actually interests and excites me.
  25.  Living near enough to visit so many beautiful state parks.
  26.  My mom's laughter.
  27.  My dad's hugs.
  28.  When strangers smile or compliment me.
  29.  Making new friends.
  30.  The first day of Spring after a long winter.
  31.  When people go out of their way to make vegetarian meals for me.
  32.  People who pay attention to what makes you happy, and listen when you talk about those things.
  33.  A kitty who always knows when I need a snuggle.
  34.  The amazing feeling that hearing "America the Beautiful" gives me.
  35.  Pulling an earbud out while playing on worship team, and hearing all of the individual voices praising the Lord.
  36.  Being able to teach piano to such amazingly sweet students, and calling it my job.
  37.  Sitting in rays of sunshine.
  38.  Yoga. Because it makes exercising tolerable.
  39.  Local festivals in my state.
  40.  People who respect my choice to stay single.
  41.  That I was able to be homeschooled all through high school.
  42.  Small, local restaurants.
  43.  Pen-pals in other countries.
  44.  People who listen to God's movings, and tell you just the right word from him at the right time.
  45.  When lots of little experiences, good and bad, all fall into place and you can see the bigger picture.
  46.  That I live in a time where I can accomplish anything as a women, and that I am respected and have equal rights and opportunities.
  47.  Inserts that help my feet not be so incredibly flat.
  48.  All of the experiences I've had that have helped me learn who I am.
  49.  The fact that the Lord loves joy and laughter as much as I do.
  50.  Silent summer mornings on the lake.
  51.  Clean, country air.
  52. The thick fog I drove through on the way to my old job in the mornings.
  53.  The smoky mountains.
  54.  Essential Oils.
  55.  Zero-waste, and green options for everyday things.
  56.  Looking up at starry skies while camping.
  57.  My amazing clogging group that has become like a second family.
  58.  A beautiful guitar that sounds amazing and fits my awkward torso.
  59.  Our local farmers market.
  60.  My amazing clogging instructors.
  61. The fact that said amazing instructors let me borrow their banjo so I can learn to play.
  62.  Music streaming services (spotify) for allowing me to enjoy all of my favorite music without breaking my bank.
  63.  Low gas and food prices in my area.
  64.  Rainy days.
  65.  Prayer warriors.
  66.  Libraries.
  67.  Health food stores.
  68.  Being able to take a trip to Disney World with my whole family.
  69.  Having resources to learn Japanese readily available.
  70.  The fact that my dad made me take piano lessons since I was young, and wouldn't let me quit, even when I was bored with it.
  71.  Christmas traditions with my family.
  72.  Finding minimalism.
  73.  Finding Mori Kei.
  74.  Having been able to know both my Great Grandmother, and my Great Grandfather.
  75.  Having both sets of Grandparents in my life.
  76.  The fact that horses exist.
  77.  The fact that I don't have allergies.
  78.  Singing in harmony with my brothers.
  79.  Listening to my brothers record music for their youtube channel, Revolution Harmonics, or practicing music in general. They're all very talented.
  80.  Watching my parents make goo-goo eyes at each other. They're precious.
  81.  Getting conformation from God about things I've prayed for.
  82.  The fact that I've almost completely grown out of my asthma.
  83.  For growing up as a child not attached to technology 24/7, but also being allowed to play video games. That balance is important folks.
  84.  Being able to think things through logically, and not just believing what the popular idea of the moment is.
  85.  My adorable little cousins.
  86.  The fact that said cousins live close enough to visit more than once a year.
  87.  My gift of discernment.
  88.  That I was able to overcome my fear of needles.
  89.  Local parks, museums, and old houses full of history.
  90.  Really any bit of old history that has survived to today.
  91.  The fact that my parents taught me the importance of being smart with your money.
  92.  Asian Markets.
  93.  When friends trust me enough to tell me what's really going on in their lives.
  94.  People who respect the fact that I am not tethered to my phone, and don't bug me about answering texts.
  95.  Toddlers, and their precious honesty.
  96.  The sound of a babbling creek.
  97.  Being able to help strangers.
  98.  Having strangers help me in return.
  99.  The fact that my mom taught me how to make a prayer journal.
  100.  Growing up always having enough to live comfortably. No matter how much we had to pinch pennies.
  101.  Being able to come up with this many things to be thankful for. I'm beyond blessed.

Searching for a Ghost Town

Today I have a bit of a different post for you all. I wanted to share about a recent adventure that I had with my mom. As part of a completion of the 101 things in 1001 days challenge, I wanted to try and visit a ghost town. However, the nearest "wild west" type of ghost town is way too far for me to visit in one day, so I had to settle for the ghost town equivalent in my area.

Most ghost towns anywhere near my area are small towns of a few buildings that were abandoned in the early 1900s for various reasons. But, sadly, most of these towns have had all of their buildings leveled. So when I found out that there was supposedly a ghost town in my state that had a few buildings left, as well as being still officially on the map, I decided I had to visit. So, my mom and I took a road trip to see if we could find the town.

We drove around for about 3 hours, got lost a couple times (and had to backtrack to areas where we had any service to get GPS), but eventually we reached an area in the actual middle of nowhere where the town was supposed to be. Unfortunately it had been leveled at some point, which was disappointing, but we decided to get out and look at the sight where it had been. I'm glad we did, because we were actually able to find outlines of where the buildings had previously stood. And although the area was very overgrown with trees, we were also able to find bits of an elaborate 1920s fence, the remnants of the railroad that had once traveled through the town, and piles debris from where they had knocked down the buildings and left the rubble. There were bits of shingles, old pipes, and other things like that. It was a bit eerie, but also very interesting to see where an entire town had once stood.

The concrete in this picture was the outline of where a building once stood. You could even see some bits of sidewalk left in front of it.

These were the piles of rubble left over. In one pile there were even some bits of cloth and an old toy.

Even though there weren't any buildings left, it made for a fun road trip with some lovely scenery along the way, and it was a bit of a scavenger hunt. It was also great to spend some time with my mom. Besides, it's always fun to try new things, even if they don't work out quite how you planned.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Wedding Dress (Original Poem)

(Another poem. Not much to say about this, just thought I'd post it here.)

my wedding dress is beautiful
it was tailor made
to fit my frame
by my bridegroom

my wedding dress is beautiful
even with the few spots
that have stained the hem
my bridegroom says he never notices them anyways

my wedding dress is beautiful
from where it hangs
on my door
because i don't want to wear it

"it's too tight"
"i've already dirtied it"
"it makes me stand out"
i tell my bridegroom
whenever i have spare time
between work
and sitting in my old rags in the mud

my wedding dress is beautiful
but i hardly ever wear it
because i'd rather wear my old rags
even if they're falling off my shoulders
and see-through in places
and too short for me now
because i outgrew them long ago

but at least they're comfortable
and require no change

and if i have to i'll cover my ears
with my hands
to block out my bridegroom
as he shouts my name
and knocks on my door
hoping that one day
i'll get up
open the door
and put on my wedding dress again

until then
the dress of blessings hangs
and i
i deteriorate
in the filth of my own making

Monday, May 22, 2017

50 Things I Like About Myself

For the 101 things in 1001 days challenge. Keep in mind that all of these things came from God, and I am beyond grateful for them. They are gifts I have been given, and I will appreciate them as such.
  1.  My multicolored eyes
  2.  My eyelashes
  3.  My sense of humor
  4.  My lack of overwhelming emotions
  5.  My ability to think clearly in crisis
  6.  My wisdom
  7.  My musical ability
  8.  My knowledge
  9.  My ability to learn
  10.  My discernment in spiritual situations
  11.  My ability to hear god's voice
  12.  My natural hair color
  13.  My ability to pick up new concepts quickly
  14.  My ability to say no if needed
  15.  My willingness to push through in school
  16.  My ability to (finally) conquer my irrational fear of needles
  17.  My smile
  18.  My cheekbones (my best friend says they're good enough to join the BBC cheekbone club, but I'm not so sure about that lol)
  19.  My piano fingers
  20.  My eyebrows (they look good without plucking. Boom.)
  21.  My artistic talent
  22.  My empathy
  23.  My sympathy
  24.  My strong convictions
  25.  The fact that I really care about the environment
  26.  The fact that I truly know myself
  27.  My joy
  28.  My love of learning the truth
  29.  My love of research
  30.  My waist
  31.  My personality type (INFJ)
  32.  The fact that I don't let my flaws get me down
  33.  My love of public speaking
  34.  The fact that I can embrace my uniqueness
  35.  The fact that I am a good listener
  36.  My ability to be quiet with myself
  37.  The fact that I'm content with being single
  38.  My passion for helping other people learn the truth
  39.  The fact that I can be feminine but still do "tomboy" things at the same time (like climbing trees in a skirt)
  40.  My positivity
  41.  My mercy
  42.  My lips
  43.  My peekaboo shaved haircut
  44.  The fact that I'm not afraid to take reasonable risks (but stupid things are out, like taking selfies  while hanging off a bridge, because that's just ridiculous)
  45.  My ability to say no to things I don't want to do
  46.  My ability to tell when something is wrong with someone
  47.  My passion for fostering unity
  48. My ability to find the good in any situation
  49.  The fact that peer pressure doesn't interest or effect me
  50.  My ability to love myself enough to come up with 50 positive things about myself

101 Things That Make Me Happy

For the 101 things in 1001 days challenge. I have a lot more things I can think of, but here is a good chunk of things I enjoy.
  1.  Vintage books
  2.  Rain
  3.  Tea
  4.  Playing the banjo
  5.  Copic Markers
  6.  Sumi-e paintings
  7.  Anything lilac colored
  8.  Playing piano
  9.  Brooks and streams
  10.  Lace
  11.  Head-banging to heavy metal in the car (like Babymetal, Thousand Foot Krutch, and classic Flyleaf)
  12.  Clogging
  13.  Forests
  14.  Embroidery
  15.  Daisies
  16.  Mori fashion
  17.  My best friends
  18.  Learning random and new facts just for fun
  19.  Having a deep knowledge on something
  20.  Worship nights at our church
  21.  Studying God's word
  22.  Watercolors
  23.  Speaking a Japanese sentence fluently on the first try
  24.  Hiking on rough paths
  25.  Harp music (such as Christy-Lyn)
  26.  My merlin
  27.  Baby's breath flowers
  28.  Popoyans!
  29.  Playing on worship team
  30.  Writing just for fun
  31.  Visiting new places
  32.  Plum Blossoms
  33.  Advice from friends
  34.  Sunshine
  35.  Doodle Date
  36.  Cuddles with my kitty
  37.  Receiving letters from penpals
  38.  Being trusted
  39.  Random acts of God
  40.  Sharing smiles with strangers
  41.  Sweaters that I can hide my hands in
  42.  Little gifts from friends
  43.  Fast dance routines
  44.  A clean, minimalist space
  45.  Hard ice cream
  46.  Compliments from strangers
  47.  Days spent all by myself doing nothing
  48.  Feeling Jesus's presence
  49.  Celtic Woman
  50.  Campfires
  51.  Fluffy clouds reflecting the colors of the sunset
  52.  Chill electronic music (like the album "I Am Mountain" by Gungor)
  53.  Checking items off of a list
  54.  Having long hair
  55.  The colors of fall
  56.  Small hole-in-the-wall restaurants
  57.  Fairy gardens
  58.  Mermaids
  59.  Museums of any kind or size
  60.  Going barefoot
  61.  Opening the windows to air out a room
  62.  My little dog buddy, Sammy
  63.  Our natural beehive that's in an old tree near our house
  64.  The Smoky Mountains
  65.  Bad puns
  66.  Camping with the family
  67.  White sundresses
  68.  Classic literature (like Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier)
  69.  Bad Kid Jokes
  70.  When my students get a new concept, and we get to celebrate their success together
  71.  Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies
  72.  Homemade pumpkin bread
  73.  Fields of wild mustard
  74.  Seeing full rainbows stretch across the entire sky
  75.  Good sushi 
  76.  Worn out Classic Toms
  77.  Flea markets and thrift stores
  78.  When a bible is filled with highlights and notes, and is falling apart 
  79.  Listening to the crazy things little kids come up with
  80.  Swingsets
  81.  Baking Christmas cookies with my mom
  82.  Jean Ritchie
  83.  Playing music for, and singing along with, people at the nursing homes
  84.  Aquash brushes
  85.  The fact that my Grandpa who had a stroke struggles with any type of conversation, but can still say a prayer perfectly every time
  86.  Libraries
  87.  Sun tea with lots of ice on a hot summer day
  88.  Finished sketchbooks
  89.  Arglefumph book reviews
  90.  Sunrises over a lake
  91.  Sketching with people I love
  92.  Feedback from my followers on social media (you guys always make my day)
  93.  Cursive writing
  94.  Seasonal fruits, especially strawberries and watermelon
  95.  Candles
  96.  Reading the ridiculous things that certain churches in my area come up with for their billboards 
  97.  Bubbles
  98.  Lemon flavored anything
  99.  Looking up at tall things (skyscrapers, tress, etc.) and feeling really small 
  100.  Curry (both Indian and Japanese)
  101.  When a new friend hugs you for the first time in your friendship

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Untitled Poem

(I don't really ever write anything that resembles poetry, but I'm feeling especially emotional right now, so I thought I'd give it a shot. It's kind of cathartic, in a way. Maybe I'll do it more.)

i'm a carafe pouring into water glasses
of those whom i love and cherish
i give them all of me
in hopes that it will hold together
the bonds that i hold dear
so i pour
until my hand hurts from holding out the jug
and my fingers shake from the effort
but when will they pour back into me?

i'm cracking from the lack of moisture
and i don't think i have
any water left to give
i watch those i've poured into
        pour out
into other people around them
the refreshment of their souls evident
from miles away
but no one pours back into me

people are moving away from me
so i guess it's worth it to them
to schedule others in
to make time
to pour
into other friends
maybe they have more to offer
than i ever will
because no one is pouring back into me

i look towards the people
who i've given the most to
and i cry out
'is there any left for me?'
but they simply smile like all is well
as they empty themselves into others
and no one ever pours back into me

but my skin cracks when i smile
and sometimes i think that maybe
just maybe
every compliment i've heard was forced
in an effort to get me to shut up
and keep pouring
into everyone else who isn't me
and won't ever pour into me
so that they can be full to pour into others

but no one
no matter how i look
no matter what i try
no matter what i say

no one is pouring back into me

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Epiphany: Matthew 18: 15-17

I'm doing one of those "read the bible in a year" plans on youversion (great app by the way), and I'm currently reading the book of Matthew. I came across the verse about sin in the church. You know the one. The verse that churches have used to shun perceived sinners in the church, and to kick them out of their lives, effectively ruining Jesus for them forever?

I'd read this verse before, as I'm sure you probably have as well, and it always struck me as odd. Why would God tell us to shun people who sin? It sounds so unlike him. But this time, as I read, I realized something. Something that had been staring me in the face this whole time.

Here is the whole section of scripture. Take a moment and read it, just to refresh your memory. 

“If your brother sins against you, go to him and show him his fault. But do it privately, just between yourselves. If he listens to you, you have won your brother back. But if he will not listen to you, take one or two other persons with you, so that ‘every accusation may be upheld by the testimony of two or more witnesses,’ as the scripture says. And if he will not listen to them, then tell the whole thing to the church. Finally, if he will not listen to the church, treat him as though he were a pagan or a tax collector." -Matthew 18:15-17

Now, let's take a look at that last verse, the one that causes the most trouble. "Finally, if he will not listen to the church, treat him as though he were a pagan or a tax collector." Notice the specific people there, and think to yourself about them. How were they treated by Jesus?

Well, here is your answer for the tax collectors:

  • He ate with them, which was considered a very intimate thing at this time, and he had conversations with them. ("Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples." - Matthew 9:10)
  • He called them to be his disciples, even while they were still working in a job that was considered to be horrible in that time.  ("As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector's booth; and He said to him, "Follow Me!" And he got up and followed Him." -Matthew 9:9)
  • He also took time out of ministering the masses to love them specifically (see the story of Zacchaeus). 

In short, he loved them, and treated them like people, and with respect. He may not have supported their actions at all times, but he did love them the same as those who were his disciples. 

Well, how about the Pagans?
  • He calls us to go and minister to them (which would include loving them, and talking to them often). ("Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit," -Matthew 28:19)

And all throughout the rest of the New Testament, we see the disciples go on to seek out pagans specifically, and to love them and minister to them.

All of this contradicts the view of shunning a "non-believer" or "sinner" within the church. As you can probably now tell, this verse is actually calling for something completely different. It does call for a somewhat different treatment of the offending person than they had before, you obviously treat, and talk with, a non-believer differently than you do someone who has been a Christian for years, but it does not call for a shunning, or a shaming, or anything else of that sort. It calls instead for you love them, and love them fiercely, with the love of Christ Jesus. Because what better way is there to treat someone, and show them the face of god, than to love them just like Jesus loves them; unconditionally.

So that's the little epiphany I had when reading this passage, and I hope that it encouraged you and made you re-examine this scripture. It certainly impacted me.