Monday, November 21, 2016

I Want to Live Like That (11/21/16)

I love reading fiction, particularly stories that can make me feel something. Conviction, compassion, hope - these are just a few that come to mind. 

My favorite author is Charles Dickens; he writes stories with humour and romance and action and satire, all bound up and woven together into a masterpiece. He was a master of his trade, and in every story (at least, all of the ones I've read), there was some lesson, some problem that needing fixing in society. I love how he used his gift to not only entertain people with his imaginative storytelling, but also to help people. His books truly make me feel something, without fail.

Recently, I finished the book David Copperfield and absolutely loved it (which was no surprise, seeing as I haven't disliked any of his works thus far 😉). The character that really stuck out to me the most, besides the namesake and hero, was Agnes Wickfield. Throughout Copperfield's adolescent years, she is a sort of guiding-light for him, a beam of truth and goodness that shines in his life, and he recognizes and treasures it. Their relationship is that of a brother and sister and it is so precious. When he first meets her, she stands at the top of a staircase and a light is shining from a window on her, and in his mind he thinks of her as of a stained-glass window: without fault or blemish, only good and true, someone precious and pure, something rare. And I realised something, early on.

I want to be someones' Agnes Wickfield.

Not in a romantic way at all. I want to be the person that people can turn to in their troubles, like struggling sailboats in a gale turning to the lighthouse on the shore. Someone that people know they can trust to confide in and receive good, godly counsel. I want to be the kind of person that reserves their judgement until they are sure of the truth, and does not hesitate to forgive those who have done them harm. A godly woman who never doubts the goodness of God, who never falters on His path, who abhors evil and chases after the good and pure. Utterly selfless, ever focused on others and what can be done for them. There's a tranquility about her, this Miss Wickfield, and I should like very much to have the same heart as she.

Take that, Mr. Gradgrind of Coketown, you hater of all things "fanciful" and fictional! 😜

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Little Words - Big Impacts (11/17/16)

It was only a week or two after I had turned 16; we were attending a friend's graduation party and I was holding the 3-week-old little girl, the child of acquaintances who were also there. She was so tiny... her little fingers curled up into fists, her little mouth yawning... so precious. As I cradled and murmured soft nothings to her, my dad told me, "You're going to be a good mommy one day."
I ducked my head shyly and thanked him, but inwardly my heart was beaming. Dad thought I would be a good mom someday... that meant a lot to me, even if he didn't realize it. He may not even remember that it happened, but I'll never forget it.

It was my first time presenting a leadership lesson, and as if that was not hard enough, I felt like God had called me to do one on suicidal thoughts. I struggled through it, trying to get a discussion going among the cadets, but it started to fall apart. I was so nervous about the whole thing that I had over-prepared by making 6 pages of different notes, so I was constantly flipping back and forth in my binder trying to find what I needed, which flustered me even more. Whenever I answered a question, I was afraid that I would take my own experience and assume it was fact, so before I answered anything I stuttered, "In my own experience..."
After what felt like an hour (but was closer to 15 minutes), it was over and I packed up my binder and gear to go home. It wasn't the worst it could have been, but it wasn't the best either, so I was a little heavy-hearted. Friends and fellow cadets congratulated me on my lesson (which heartened me a bit) and the father of my friend (who I had never met) came up and shook my hand, saying, "Thank you for putting a piece of yourself in that; it took guts."
Nothing could have meant more to me in that moment than someone I had never met telling me, "That took guts."

They are little words, little nothings... but they mean so much. I can find so many instances in my life when only a few small words were spoken, but they shaped who I am today. Times when I thought no one had seen a small good I had done, and a person would come up and say, "I saw that; you did good."
Honestly, it's very seldom that you find something more treasured than these little validations and appreciations. Be liberal with kindness; toss words of love like confetti into the hearts of those around you. Maybe it makes you feel awkward, but it can mean the world to the recipients.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Semper Vigilans (11/6/16)

We all have an idea of what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil. Stealing is wrong, while giving to others is right. Lying and selfishness are bad, but telling the truth and standing up for what is right despite persecution are good. It's easy with some things... I don't have the urge to steal or murder, and jealousy does not often seep in. 

But what about when judgement and discernment are darkened, and the lines get blurred? What happens when something starts out harmless, seeming neither good nor bad, and slowly turns into something evil? Sometimes it happens so slowly, so gradually, that it can be hard to notice.

Until someone is searching, that is. Searching through different parts of your life, sifting through each and every layer - not necessarily looking for the bad, but looking all the same - and you start to squirm under the scrutiny, trying to subtly push that evil you are associated with away so that they don't happen to see. It didn't seem bad, and maybe it still doesn't... but deep down you know that something has changed. Something has grown darker and darker, and you didn't even realize it was happening.

I've heard it said that committing a certain kind of sin more than once can be more dangerous than we realize. It's like an iron on that part of our conscience - the first time it hurts, and maybe the second or third or even fourth, but after so long, you can't feel it anymore. Your nerves there are dead and although you still know it's wrong, it seems more acceptable the more you do it. Just because it doesn't hurt anymore doesn't mean it's not still doing damage. Your nerves in that area could be dead while they are thriving in another, causing you to be in shock at the discovery of some new evil, but when someone points out your own sin, you brush it off. "It's not like that," you protest, trying to convince yourself and others that your sin isn't as great as others.

Semper Vigilans - Always Vigilant

As Christians, we should be ever-watchful, always vigilant against the onslaughts of evil. Evil would be much easier to battle if it was blunt and outright, but it's usually not. It usually tries to creep in without our notice, and slowly sneak past our defenses. Get us to do the "little" bad things and gradually let them build up until we are scared and confused, even trapped, wondering where in the world all this started and how they ended up there. 

1 Corinthians 10:13 - No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. What a comforting thought, to know that, in Christ, we are stronger than our temptations. In Christ, we are stronger than whatever the devil might try to throw at us. 

2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  

Matthew 10:27 - But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” 

Don't let your guard drop. Don't let your walls down. Don't get cocky and arrogant in your thinking, believing that the way is clear and you won't be tempted. You will - be ready to recognize the evil in this world and deny it. With God, all things are possible. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Wistful Memories (11/3/16)

She ripped the curtains open, staring out into the skies outside. 

"It's POURING!!!" She cried, closing them so that the sunshine left, leaving the room in darkness. A few scattered little flashes across the ceiling indicated lightning nearby, and the children all huddled in clumps across the bedroom floor. 

"Guys, don't be scared. There's nothing to be scared of. The storm won't be over for at least a hundred days." She assured her companions calmly. We could hear the rain pouring and the occasional thunderclap emitted from the sound machine on the floor by the dresser. Isaiah turned his walkie-talkie radio on and the sound of the weatherman's voice, although quiet, filled the room.

"Let me see that." She took it in hand and, despite her hard efforts to listen carefully, only caught about every other word.

"...temperature should stay under the 70's..."

 "OK guys," She announced. "The temperature should be under the 70's, so it'll probably be 80-something."

Lightning flashed again, and we all scurried for the bottom of their bunk-bed, covering out heads with the comforter.

"OK, we're safe here. Nothing can get us under here." 

2-year-old Judah shrieked and crawled over a few people to faceplant into my lap; I stroked his curly hair and laughed with him as he chuckled, although he didn't stay still for long before rolling around across the bed. We were warned about the imminent arrival of "Stormy Spiders", some dark and ominous creature of which a 5-year-old had more knowledge than the lot of us, and also informed that low-fives came before high-fives, to which I nodded and smiled and tried not to laugh at the randomness of it all.

Picture found via Pinterest
And... it was beautiful. The innocence, the candor, the eagerness for life and adventure, the pretending and playacting, however silly. Yes, the more silly it is, the better! I realized, there in that dark bedroom full of shrieking children, that I kind of miss it. Instead of being the one listening to the radio and alerting my friends to the onslaught that awaits us, I was the one on the side, holding my little friend and trying not to laugh and hurt their feelings. I know that, however much I join in on it in the future, I'll never have that back. I'm not grown up all the way, but I have grown up. My heart has changed since I was 5 years old in many ways, most of them for the better. 

But if I could have one thing back from those days, I would keep my innocence. My hopefulness, for although I have hope, it seemed to come easier then. The trust I used to give so freely... maybe it's better to be more careful, more cautious... but I do miss how life used to be when I was little and free.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Thoughts of Leading, Part 2 (10/18/16)

(continued from this post)

There isn't a magical quality that leaders have that separates them from ordinary people. There's not a magical pill you can take that will make you a successful leader. Being a leader simply means stepping up to the plate and doing what you said you would do; taking responsibility for a team of people dedicated to accomplishing a common goal; giving your best shot and putting the needs of the team before your own needs. 

One of the reasons why some people seem like natural leaders is because they know what they want, they know how they want it, and they know what they are going to do to get it. Their confidence, their self-assurance causes people to believe in them. It's hard for people to believe in a person who does not believe in herself. A leader has to truly believe in what they are doing.

There is a wisdom of the head, and a wisdom of the heart. - Charles Dickens, Hard Times

A leader's job is to serve the team, not boss people around.

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. - Dwight. D. Eisenhower

Leadership requires morality; leadership that lacks morality indicates no leadership at all.
My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right. - Abraham Lincoln

I hold the firm belief that anyone can be a leader. I believe that, even if you do not believe you have the capability, there is a God above Who works through the weak and those who believe they are small. 

I can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:13

Friday, October 14, 2016

Thoughts of Leading, Part 1 (10/14/16)

Lately I've been thinking a lot more about leadership; although it technically started running through my mind closer to a year ago, the flood tide has risen with a force and come cascading into my thoughts more within the last few months. 

What is a leader? 

What qualifies someone to be a leader? 

How come some people are "born-leaders" and some aren't?

Leader: the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.
Leadership: the power or ability/the capacity to lead other people

Recently I was told by people I trust that I have the capability to excel in a leadership role. This is something that I am not used to believing; my whole life, I thought that somehow, for a reason unknown to me, that I was not qualified to be a leader. No matter the circumstances, no matter who the other options were, I was always the worst person present to lead. I can't remember people ever actually telling me that, but my insecurities and distorted self-image completely wrecked any hope that I might have held to be a great leader someday. 

Even if I was standing by and watching someone else take charge and I could see a possible problem, I wouldn't say a word. I was sure that they, in their superior frame of mind, had already noticed it and taken it into consideration and that they would only huff at me and say, "Yes, I know, I know, I already saw it!"
Because it had happened before, more than once. So I assumed that people who were in the process of leading had a very distinct and inevitable position above me, both in the chain of command and in the state of their thinking abilities. They had something that I lacked, so I stood aside and let them do everything. They did the work, they got the credit; everything worked out fairly, right?

But it didn't work out. Not in the right way. I realised around a year ago that I still thought of myself like dirt and it was affecting my whole outlook on life. That deprecating self-image and a deep, aching loneliness helped spur on a period of depression I went through as a young teenager. It kills me to think that other kids go through the same kind of pain I did, simply because they don't have friends who take the time to let them know how appreciated and loved they are... how capable they are.

Guys, it's hard to rebuild self-image and genuine self-awareness, it really is. I've struggled with it, and I know I'm not the only one. I have friends who I looked up to and admired for their leadership abilities and for being what I thought was a born leader (something I knew I wasn't), only to realise later on that they were only doing what they had to do. They saw a need and they stepped up to the plate to meet it. That's it.

I'll  finish these thoughts in another blog post later on (don't want to overload you guys). :)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Recent Events (9/18/16)

Since it's been a little while since I've updated you all on any interesting happenings in my life... here's an update. ;)

For one thing, I have been working on a short story that I actually started in mid-August, but I had completely forgotten about it in everything else that was going on in my real life (anything I use the term "real life" for simply indicates that it was probably in my physical world instead of in writing or on the computer). For now, it's titled, "The Mysterious Trial of Ava Goodman", but for some reason I feel like I've read that title somewhere before. If I do find out that it (or something far too similar) has been used before, I'll change it to avoid plagiarism, but for now, it stays. This is one of mine that I hope to get published after it's finished (most of the tidbits I write are too short and/or too commonplace - anyone could write something like that). This one feels different, almost special - so maybe, just maybe, if I finish it and my family and friends that proof-read and review it for me all love it and offer constructive criticism, I will try to get it published. :)

I don't believe I ever posted pictures of different dollies I've made as presents for people, so I'll put them on this post. Most of the ones I've made are characters or based off of characters from movies. For instance, this tiny Frodo I made for my friend Tanner in February. :)

Didn't it turn out AWESOME?!? I love how his little elven-cloak hood pulls up and comes down again. The birthday card I wrote to go with him was one of my finest works. XD
(DISCLAIMER: Does not come with the Ring of Power.)

Didn't my little-girl version of Captain America for my friend Moriah turn out adorable? I decided, instead of shrinking the whole pattern like I did with Frodo (the original pattern made the Mary Margaret doll size), I would shrink the body and keep the same head for a chibi kind of look. I really liked how it worked out. :)

And here's a curly-pated little wanderer I made for my friend McKennaugh, which turned out to be a kind of in-the-middle doll, as far as sizes go (turned out to be right in between the Cap and Mary Margaret). I was super-excited to ship it to her for her birthday (we've never met in person because we live like 11 hours apart, but we hope to meet each other one day very soon). :)

And the Mary Margaret dolly (the doll in purple beside Captain America) was a present for my friend Mercy upon graduating. Yeah, I realize that it's a weird graduation present, but hey, your talents are your talents... ;)

I hope to blog more in the near future; I started blogging in the beginning for fun and to share my thoughts, but the more time that has passed I've felt more and more as if it were an obligation and not a wonderful privilege to put time into writing these mini-memoirs. Maybe I'll try some new things, spark new kinds of creativity, that sort of thing. I'm not sure yet. :)

Signing off,


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

My Trip to Christine (8/10/16)

July 23-27, I visited Christine and met her in person for the first time and it was one of the most wonderful times of my life. I was a little afraid that it would be awkward at first because we've never met in person or done normal best friend things together, but it all felt so natural and normal that we got on right splendidly. 
Our moms took a lot of pictures, which we were extremely pleased about. 

In the car on the way home from the airport;  it was so surreal and strange that I was finally sitting right next to Christine and meeting Natalie! But, as I said, it also felt so natural and so comfortable, as if we've always done things of this sort and carried on conversations like this. On the way back to their house, we passed the Space Needle and I asked how tall it was: Natalie asked Siri and apparently it is 1,320 Milky Way candy bars high. XD

The next day (Sunday morning), we got ready for church and decided to flaunt our matching shawls. Somehow my mum didn't notice the lights behind our heads (or maybe thought it didn't matter), so we have "tongues of fire" over our heads in the church. XD

Moms' photoshoot before church; Levi really wanted to be in pictures, too. :D
(I think it funny that with the two pictures lined up like this, the background appears to be coinciding)

 After church, we picked up some ice cream (Christine, tell me if I mix up events from different days because certain as is sure, I will XD) and went home again, and then went to a playground. There was a cool bridge behind it over a river, and the view was gorgeous! Also a really cool train in the front that was out of use, but you could climb all over it. So obviously, we did. ;)

We all immediately headed for the spinny-circle-thing. I'm not good at spinning them myself, but they are SO much fun to spin on. XD

Here's the bridge!

If you are too old for swings... you are too old. - Lissie2016

And here we are on the train...

 We went to a nice little riverbed and the water was FRIGID! I still got in to my waist, though. ;)

I still love making flower crowns! This one was for Christine. :)

Christine is my best friend in the whole world, and I'm so grateful and blessed to have had the opportunity to meet her in person. She's like a long-lost sister that lives a really long way away that I won't get to see very often, but I'll remember her in my thoughts and prayers always. <3

Hopefully I will do another post soon about our second day and throw more pictures in. It was one of the most wonderful times of my life and I'll never forget it! :)