Saturday, March 25, 2017

MMC (3/25/17)

I sighed, rising to take another novel from my shelf. Today had been quiet... too quiet. Now my only option was reading; maybe it would take my mind off of the disconcerting near-silence that had been my day.

I got about one paragraph into the chapter when my mind began to wander. It started slowly, like a child who was still undecided whether to stay and listen to the story or run off and play by themselves. Then I blinked and couldn't remember what I'd just read. 

Lone-ly. Lone-ly. Lone-ly.
https://shahnilpa.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/attic.jpg 
My heartbeat rang in my ears, but I shook it off impatiently. Why should I be lonely? I have so many friends that love and care about me, so many acquaintances that seem to want to know me better. What's to be lonely about?

I started the page over again; this time, I only got a sentence or two in before it happened again. My mind started running over the words...

Lone-ly. Lone-ly. Lone-ly.

This time I slammed the book against my knees in frustration and hissed at my brain to shut up. I needed a distraction... I didn't want to think about the only conversation that I'd had...

Lone-ly. Lone-ly.

My eyes couldn't even see the words anymore. With a angry grunt, I threw the book across the room and took up another one. This endeavor was even more futile. With fingers shaking so badly I couldn't even open the book, it ended up on the floor as well. I crumbled to the floor, my hurt turning to poisoning bitterness instead of aching sadness.

I've been a fool. This whole time, I've been a fool...

And my mind taunted me, one last time:

And to think, you thought they cared.

 

Recent Projects (3/24/17)

 I started thinking lately: I haven't embroidered anything in years. That would probably be fun (as long as I don't quit on it and have another unfinished project for my stack). ;)



 So here is the result of that thinking! I started it 4 days ago and I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. I used one of the designs I made a few months ago and found a verse I wanted to go with it. One thing I'll have to remember for next time though, is to only use two strands of embroidery floss instead of three. Three just makes the stitches too thick. It probably would have been easier, too, if I had picked a different font to stitch it in; the one I chose looked alright when printed, but when stitched, it looks a little childish - not that I mind. Just something I'll have to remember for next time. :)
 Instead of hemming it, I'll probably ask my grandma to serge it for me (since she has a serging machine) the next time I see her.

 I've also started up my work again on some yellow squares I started crocheting awhile back. After I make enough, I'll turn them into a sunny, cheerful blanket - what I'll do with the blanket, I'm not sure yet. 

  
And although I've had a metal stamping kit for a long time, I haven't used it much at all, so I went outside to catch some fresh air and I tried it out again. The only thing about making these is I have a hard time getting the stamps not to slide when I hit them with the hammer (which is why the 4 at the end of the "Est." circle is more of a blurry cacophony), but maybe the more I do it, the easier it will become.

 Any suggestions on what sort of projects I should attempt to tackle next are completely welcome. I'm trying to grow more as a person, as I've mentioned before - become more well-rounded in my skills set - and although I love doing crafty things, I'm already half-decent at them and am looking forward to trying other kinds of projects as well. I'd love to know what some of your favourite hobbies are. :)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Butterfly Crosswalk

My little blog has suffered sadly lately, but I've felt like I had nothing to write (or was very reluctant to write about the few subjects I considered) - so today I just opened up a new draft and started something new. When I wrote this tonight, I was unconsciously writing it with the Iron Curtain in mind - of Christians in what was then the country of Czechoslovakia, but is now divided into two countries (Czech Republic and Slovakia). They took hands in a line, in defiance of what could be called socialistic slavery - and suffered for their nonviolent stand for what they believed.
This is kind of a new stage for me in my life, and my future posts might reflect that a bit. I'm thinking more... asking more questions, wondering about more in my life. I'm growing up. And I've finally, truly realized that and am trying to act like it.

The Butterfly Crosswalk
Hands clasped in united purpose,
Heads bent together in prayer,
Many gathered, even more in thoughts
Here stand we at the Butterfly Crosswalk.

Believe ye not that we are an illusion,
In delusion, believing wrongly in confusion:
All we say is true - this Love is our revolution
And we'll speak His name despite your retribution.

Bound together through our faith,
We care not for probable disgrace
Our misplacement in this world is simply fraught
With enemies here at this Butterfly Crosswalk.

Enraged by words, they rush at us
Furious at kindness, they come at us
They are armed - we are innocent -
Hand-in-hand, trusting He who is our defense.

And so we are left here, desolate
And yet not without our Hope, our King
Although they have beaten us into naught
This is only our Butterfly Crosswalk.

Simply a road, not our home -
Only a passing-through, not our stay
We've been called to go on ahead
Death is just the beginning of a glorious end. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Are Mistakes a Good Thing? (2/12/17)

The Academy of Arts seminar is over... I still can't get over what an amazing and blessed week last week was! I already miss all of my good friends so much, and am aching to talk to them all in person again - and I saw them only yesterday! I can barely remember the performance, it all happened so quickly... I can only remember a handful of the scenes I was in, and even fewer of the lines that I only assume I spoke. Friends and friendly acquaintances continue to congratulate me on what they called a fantastic job, when I really don't know whether to believe them or not because my mind has completely blanked out and I have no idea what all happened when I was on stage.

But I do remember the mistakes... good grief, so many mistakes! And yet, no one in the audience really seemed to notice; they didn't know that I was supposed to begin a certain scene on my throne instead of gracefully gliding onto the stage and stepping up to it in the middle. They didn't know I was supposed to be wearing a headdress in a specific scene, which I was unable to put on in time. There were so many itty-bitty things that could have been done better...

...But I don't regret a single moment. Not a single mistake. Not a single thing.

The night before the performance, I prayed as I was crying alone downstairs from both pain and nervousness. As a lot of people know, I slammed into a horizontal pole at a pretty high speed that evening and found it a little difficult to breathe. Every time someone made me laugh, I would start tearing up because my lungs hurt. As I laid there, sobbing on some chairs that were lined up beside a table, I started speaking my heart aloud to God. At first my prayers were the instinctive, "Please take this pain away," and "God, this hurts so much,", but after another moment or two, I started to think a little more about what I was asking. The whole week of Academy, the team had encouraged us to make every part of this performance about glorifying God... so I changed my prayer to something more like this.

"God, if it be Your will, take away this pain so that I might be able to better say my lines tomorrow... but if I can glorify you more when I am hurting - if You will receive more honour and glory and credit if I work through this difficulty - if Your strength will be shown much more in my weakness... give me more pain, God. Make me hurt worse, if that will give you more honour and glory."

And I think part of that sort of mindset is also asking God to somehow use whatever mistakes we might make - even if we can't see how. Thinking, "If making these mistakes will give Him more glory, then I don't want our performance to be perfect." I'm not saying we should try to make mistakes, but if we do have an occasional mess-up, we shouldn't worry about it, but rather leave it in God's hands. The Bible says, "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?" (Luke 12:25)

I'm grateful that I did find it easier to breathe the day of the performance and that I was able to say my lines the way I was supposed to (and if I didn't, it wasn't for pain's sake). I'm not saying all this to boast or brag about anything I might have done right (if any such thing did happen at all), but to state something I learned last week that I never truly thought about before. If I wanted to brag, I wouldn't have been honest about bawling downstairs by myself; I hate it when people see me cry (which really happens more often than I like to admit). I'll confess that I hated walking back upstairs when I knew my eyes were still really red and people would ask questions, but I felt God was calling me to go back and help, despite the pain. He placed something on my heart that day to share with the elementary students, who had their performance that day - so I went back up and shared it. I don't know how many of them were listening or took it to heart, but I did what God called me to do in that moment.

And I'm so glad I did.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Story of... Esther (2/7/17)

The story of the life of Esther is the story of a girl, an ordinary girl who was made extraordinary by what God did through her. Not only did she obey her God, though - she also heeded the word of her cousin Mordecai, who raised her as his own daughter (Esther 2:7) and whose love for her was demonstrated as he paced outside the court of the women's chambers every day for 12 months while she was receiving the beauty treatments allotted to her (Esther 2:8-11). Later on, that role was reversed and he obeyed her in turn, when their people and all their kindred were threatened with the edge of the sword - both man, woman, and child (Esther 4:15-16).

Mordecai. Esther. Haman. Xerxes. Vashti. Zeresh. Abihail. Memucan. Harbonah. These were all real people, with real lives and real stories. Every person on earth has an unfolding drama, with varying emotions and events that happen, plot twists and character introductions. Every person on earth considers themselves as the main character in a story - their story.

These people, these faces, these personalities - they had as just as real a story as you or I do. Their lives were just as complex as ours, their world as real

That's part of why it is such an honour to play a representation of these people this week. Esther was a girl with such faith and trust in God - even in the face of likely death. Vashti had refused to come before the king when called, and she had been exiled - Esther was in the opposite situation: she was coming before the king when he had not sent for her - something punishable by death. The only exception was if the king held out his scepter, that the offender might live. Esther had no way of knowing (unless God revealed it to her) that this would be the case: she might just have easily been put to death, and her people perish
So she went, not knowing if she would ever see Mordecai (he loved her as a daughter, remember? He was the only father she had ever known) or any of the people she loved ever again. Such faith in God is an absolute honour to portray, and there is pressure to get even close to conveying the bravery and fear (the two can be mingled) she must have felt.

Hopefully, I'll be able to write up a post tomorrow about Mordecai, but I may get swept up in all of the Academy drama. To wrap this up, here's a few pictures of us preparing so far! :)
(Disclaimer: these pictures are from yesterday, which was Superhero/Sports day... just thought I'd explain some of the memorabilia) ;)






Friday, February 3, 2017

Born Ready (2/3/17)

Next week (starting Monday), I have the pleasure of being in an incredible production of the Bible story of Esther and of how God rescued his people through her obedience and faith in Him. It's one of my favourite stories, and I'm so excited to be a part of it... the Academy of Arts is giving us such a great opportunity by coming to our hometown and helping us put it on.

But now and then, I wonder: what if I'm not ready? Do I really have my lines down as well as I ought? What if I can't remember the blocking that they're going to teach me? What if I let everyone down? My self-doubt kicks in, and it used to be pretty hard to brush off... but not anymore. I have learned what it is to put one's faith and trust in God, and to leave all worries or anxieties that gnaw at me behind me. They serve no purpose but to unnerve me and keep my mind occupied with thoughts that don't matter instead of on my lines or on the story. 

I wanted this part, but I also knew that if it be God's will that I play a different role, that would be the better option for me; when I prayed, I asked for it - but I also asked that His will be done, before any want or wish that I might have. If He did not want me to have this role, then I did not want it. I resolved that I would be enthusiastic and excited about whatever He wanted me to do this upcoming week, and that I would do my duty cheerfully and with a servant's heart. 

I still intend to comply with that conviction, with my whole heart. I want to work hard and learn everything I should, and help others learn what they can; I want to do what I can to make the Academy staff's jobs easier and help my fellow cast-members to memorize their lines and blocking and cues; I want to be the first to volunteer to help, with any job that needs done or any challenge that may arise.

Everyone in the cast is so supportive, and I couldn't ask for a better group of people to put on this drama. I'm so excited to be working with them. My best friend sent me two surprises in the mail - I'm wearing one of them right now - and they almost made me cry. Everyone is so kind, and I wish I could repay them all.

I can't say how excited I am to be a part of this, or how grateful I am to God for giving me this opportunity.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Uncertainties - In My Life (1/11/17)

In my life, there are so many questions and answers that somehow seem wrong
In my life, there are times when I catch in the silence the sigh of a faraway soul
And it sings of a world that I long to see
Out of reach, just a whisper away waiting for me...

- In My Life, Les Miserables (look up the 10th Anniversary edition, it's the best one) ;)


This portion of the song resonates with me greatly at the present moment... I feel so much uncertainty, so much strangeness, and I wonder so much. I wonder about nearly everything now, and it unnerves me just a little. I think about things and question why such oddities would cross my mind and then wonder why I care. Does it really matter?

I suppose it shouldn't... but, as I said, it unnerves me. 

I've convinced myself it's normal to have images flash in my head of different scenes I've never seen, but have imagined so many times, they feel like memories; stories I have conjured up so vividly, they seem to be relaying before my eyes. 

Is this what it is to be a writer? To always be noticing quirks and flaws in everyone around me and concluding, "That's something that my Lena would do," or, "That guy in the corner makes me think of how I imagined Josiah," or, "I like the way the girl I'm talking to closes her eyes and crinkles her nose when she laughs. Someone (in my story) should do that."

But it doesn't stop there. I feel like I'm having these stories - this one specific story - trapped inside me all of the time. And so far there's only two characters, and both are based partly off of two people from the real world! I would almost venture to say that it is beginning to distort my view of who they really are and I get it muddled with the characters I based off of them. My thoughts can get as strange as, "Is it too unrealistic for her to do such-and-such a thing if she's dying?" or, "Would my esquire really be able to believe that the servant girl is a mute, or would he keep trying to trick her into saying something?" or, "Will people really be able to see what I'm seeing when they read this, or will they picture it in a totally different way (because I think I would hate that)?"

I guess I'm just feeling some uncertainties, some misgivings.

Is this what being an author is really like?

I'm beginning to question my calling. ;)

Friday, December 30, 2016

Sparks of Creativity (12/30/16)

Chase the ideas that challenge your creativity, chase the things and thoughts that tie your mind in strings and knots until you blurt out in frustration, "But that's impossible!!!" 
Any nonsense, any fantasy, any magic - and wonder to yourself aloud, "What if it could be possible?" 
Let your mind expand and explore all the possibilities; let your heart run rampant and fall in love with such paradoxes and parables as it pleases as you create the lives of other people and shape their lives into what you wish yours might have been... shape their actions into what you wish you would have done - or left undone.

And maybe - just maybe - you will discover what it is to have a world that's all your own. 

Write what terrifies you; write the most complicated and terrible of ideas into the simplest of words; paint a picture of the peace and prosperity you cherish and entertain thoughts of in your secret heart; go on adventures and copy every detail down as you go along so that others may enjoy and learn from your tales; write the things you dream of forgetting, but you know you cannot; write the memories that make you blush and laugh to think of, but treasure all the same.

Put the world into your own words.

Chase after growth. Challenge your mind.