Thursday, December 26, 2013

Excellent Over Good

     Have you ever had a moment where you learn something, and you think to yourself, "Ok, this is hard, but I understand it better now." And then after a while, maybe even quite a while, you recall that moment, and then think to yourself, "I'm clueless." Yeah, that's pretty much my life.

SkyTop Orchard - October
     I was looking over old posts today and saw a reoccurring theme, that has yet to go away. I need to learn how to trust Him with my future. I don't like to move on, because I don't see how anything else can be better, or even good, but every time I move on when He leads me too, I am blown away by how the "good" I had wasn't as good as I thought, and how much better His way really is. I have learned this lesson over and over, and it will probably always be something I have to learn because just like Aslan and Lucy, as I grow bigger, so does He.

Sunday Afternoon! 
    I never thought that I would be where I'm now. I don't think anyone else did either. Much to everyone else's chagrin I have never seen a purpose in going to college, because He had never approved it. I didn't know that at the time, I just thought it was my own fear and indecisiveness that kept me from doing something, but now I see that it was all His timing. I first heard about the Academy just a few weeks before I returned to the U.S., when I needed somewhere to go, and for the first time ever, after only a couple of days of thinking about it, I was sold on the idea and ready to be there, even though I knew next to nothing about it. It just didn't feel wrong, like everything else did.

The Logos production of "Hero"
When it came time to actually go to the Academy, I was afraid again because I didn't know anyone there, and I was/am ready to leave home because home isn't really home anymore, but in my mind going back means failing, so if I took the first step, I couldn't go back. But now I don't want to.
     It would take a lifetime to explain the Academy, but it is everything I have ever wanted, but didn't know how to put into words. The ability to use theatre as a one on one ministry with kids, is something that I never knew how to combine before, but it's what I wanted long before I even knew the Academy existed. 

The Logos production of "Sounds of Christmas"
The best part though, is the people. I think I know how to explain them even less. I have never known people who truly live out their walk with God minute by minute, day by day, quite the way these people do. They aren't perfect, but they choose to set aside things that might even be good, for things that are excellent instead, and not just on Sundays. If you don't know what that's like, I don't know how to tell you. It's something you have to see for yourself. It's something that I knew should be real, but hadn't seen up close before.  
     People think that being alone is just based on the number of people who are in a room with you, but its not. Alone is a mental state that goes far beyond that, and it can't be remedied by anything you do, but only by what Christ can do. 

The Academy of Arts staff/intern Christmas party
He can take someone broken. Someone who was born with alone-ness in their head. Someone who's fear is mostly of themselves. Someone who hurts when things are happy because it can't be real. Someone like me. A misfit if ever there was one, but He can even use me. I have always been the crazy one, but I just might have found my crazy clan, and for some reason, they seem to like me too, despite myself.
     The Academy is a family where faith in Christ, and talents are combined. No matter who you are, you can do something, and if you're good at something, it can be used. All to the glory of Him who loved us first.  
It doesn't get any better than that.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hope {A Summer of Not-Really-Alone}

Summertime is always my favorite time of year, because of the warm weather, the free time, and the available-time that my friends have. Who can resist things like ice cream, fireworks, concerts, pool time, ferris wheel lights from across the midway, sweet tea, watermelon, and the promise of adventures.

Me and Melissa, last day in England.
However, this summer of 2013 has definitely been a challenge and an inner growth-spurt. Everybody has struggles and conflict, both with friends and family, and with themselves, but the real trial is when they all happen at once, and it feels like strangulation. While there are some aspects of this summer that have flown by, it also seems like it has dragged on for a year. 

Melissa, Me, Heather, and Rebecca, The Color Run 5k.
Things like re-adjusting to life in the U.S., strained friendships, soon to be divorced parents, the balance between showing respect to my family and showing them that I am a separate person with a separate life, prep for the new school that I leave for on Saturday, letting go of my un-related family yet again as we head in different directions for school and life, and the weight and guilt from my corrupt heart: wanting to fall in love with Jesus but always choosing myself first.       

Me and Stephanie, birthday dinner/movie date,
Growing up to be a crazy, has given me a heart of rubber, it's flexible and can take pressure, but it's really hard to make it permanently change shape. Therefore, I can take these things without breaking, but if you don't break, you don't change. It all boils down to where I stand with Christ.
A lovely fellow blogger Michaela, recently shared a quote that made me think about my perspective on struggles.

"I've learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages."
-Charles Spurgeon

Holly and I, Christian concert day at the State Fair,
The purpose of any struggle is not to make it through, but to make it through, changed.
Trials are meant to lead us to Christ.
As Christian's we should have an infinite hope that cannot be snuffed out. Not a worldly hope that is nothing more than wishful thinking, but true hope that is based on a future we can be certain of.  

Rachel, Jessica, Natalie, and I, birthday lunch for Jessica's 18th,

I want to have that hope fill my life and run over. I know that it is real and powerful, but at the same time I am still a pessimistic, and rather doubtful person, but He's still not done with me.
This summer has been rather dark for me at times, but as you can see from the pictures, it wasn't all bad.  It never is.

Holly, Kendra, Rebecca, Me, and Melissa, friend photo shoot,
I face the lie of "you're alone and you're a burden" all the time, but it is just that. A lie. And no matter what happens in my life I can cling to a hope that is bigger than me. It's there for the taking, which is more easily said than done, but that is what the trials are for. To make me abandon myself.

"Hope is what we crave, and that will never change,
So I stand and wait,
I need a drop of grace to carry me today,
A simple song to say,
Hope is what we crave,
I need a drop of grace,
It's written on my soul:
Hope's what you gave."
-Crave - single version, For King And Country

Sunday, August 25, 2013

To Be A Writer

  1. What was your first-ever piece of writing? My first completed story (which I can't remember the name of, because I unfortunately no longer have it) was a mystery story about a middle school girl and her friend who together solve the crime of who stole Thomas Jefferson's secret treasure. Actually because of the research I did for that story and also a biographical paper I wrote in high school, Thomas Jefferson is still my favorite president.
  2. How old were you when you first began writing? I remember being very little and scribbling down the plot for a story soon after I learned to write, and even before then I would make up stories, but I didn't really start to write until around 4th grade.
  3. Name two writing goals. One short term & one long term. Short term, I have a fiction, short story that I want to finish and have published in a literary magazine. Long term, to write and publish my novel which is now mostly a collection of notes and scene ideas. 
  4. Do you write fiction or non-fiction? Both, but the non-fiction is confined to this blog, and my Facebook updates.  
  5. Bouncing off of question 4, what's your favorite genre to write in? Usually fantasy/action, and historical can also be fun, but it does require more research. 
  6. One writing lesson you've learned since 2013 began. That the hardest aspect of writing is simply making yourself sit down and do it. Even though it is something I enjoy so much, and have some talent at, it is so easy to make excuses and find something much more mindless to do.
  7. Favorite author, off the top of your head! C. S. Lewis.
  8. Three current favorite books. The Divergent series by Veronica Roth, The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, and of course The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.    
  9. Biggest influence on your writing {person}: My friends Rebecca and Amelia both also enjoy writing and are always encouraging. They always believe in me, and seem to enjoy my work, even when I don't. 
  10. What's your go-to writing music? If it is something easy to write, (like this, and most blog posts for example) I usually just put my ipod on shuffle and skip anything that I find distracting, but if I am writing something difficult and need to really concentrate, I have an instrumental playlist that I use for writing and for while I do homework. It's mostly movie/tv soundtracks including Doctor Who, The Young Victoria, Lord Of The Rings, Pride and Prejudice, and The Piano Guys. (I'm listening to Hawk Nelson right now. ;)
  11. List three to five writing quirks of your's! Little habits, must-haves as you write, etc. I can't usually write when there are people around me, even if they are being quite and keeping to themselves, It gives me the same feeling as when someone stands over your shoulder. My computer is a laptop, and I don't like to sit at my desk with it, so I usually end up sitting on my bed with it (at least when I am at home.) I always have my story idea notebook nearby. It's best to have internet access for research, and
  12. What, in three sentences or less, does your writing mean to you? Writing is a way for me to organize my thoughts. The way I think, the things I love and/or fear, the beautiful, the ugly and the thing's I've learned can be explained, both in fiction and non-fiction and might even encourage someone else. It's is also like a puzzle, or a drawing, and I enjoy finding the right words to make the picture. 

If you're a writer or blogger, then head over to Every Good Word and join the link-up! 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Outside The Lines ::19::

     I'm the first to admit that I'm a drama queen, and I blow things way out of proportion. I worry, I stress, I'm easily confused, I'm awful at making decisions, and there is almost nothing I hate more than change. I hate to let go, because in my mind, when I find something good, it is impossible for me to imagine anything better.

     I have struggled for so long with decisions about my future, and I never want to pin it down because I'm afraid that if I make the wrong choice, there won't be a way for me to back out of it, and I will be miserable, or worse, a failure. 

“We can stop pleading with God to show us the future, and start living and obeying like we are confident that He holds the future.”
-Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something

     God is finally causing my dreams to take shape, and plans and actions to come from them, but they are coming from a rather broken place. This might be a cliché and simple thing to say, but I have changed so much in the past year, at least in my own head, that the life I've always had, is no longer good enough. I've outgrown "good enough." And I'm glad.

 “How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend."
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

     With all this in mind, turning 19 today is filled with both joy at the prospect of what could be a purposeful and adventurous future, and fear of myself and breaking everything I touch, like so many before me.

     While I want so badly to move forward, God has given me (for now) a time of waiting, and learning to trust, two things that I am infinitely bad at. These things have plagued me always, and to be honest, because of who I am, they probably always will to some extent, but that doesn't mean I can't learn to put them aside, and follow anyway. He paints a grand picture with our lives, and much to our chagrin, He almost never paints inside the lines, but in the end, it's always so much better than we thought.

18 was fast, furious, beautiful, and broken. 19 will be the same. 
"Hope is the thing with wings..." and it will carry me to all the new places I want to go. 
(P.S. - How cool is it that I share my birthday with the new prince?!)
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