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.