Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. - II Timothy 2:15

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mini Book Review: The Egg and I


The fact that it took me roughly 3-1/2 months to accomplish this has no bearing whatsoever on the content.

4 out of 5
Recommended: with reservations
Categories: memoirs, humor, exceptional word use

Betty MacDonald is a genius with a pen {cil? Typewriter? Not sure what she used to put this on paper...}. Looking after thousands of hens in a remote ranch on the coast of Washington sounds about as much like a picnic as bread and water in a 15th century dungeon. In such situations, one must have a sense of humor or I think one would probably up and die. Betty MacDonald does - and her battles with pressure cookers, certified redneck neighbors, woodstoves, zero modern conveniences and the ranch itself are all cast in a comically cynical, laugh-or-cry style.

The reservations in recommending this book are as follows: there is quite a bit of language in this book and some characters who don't have the most genteel topics when it comes to conversation. Also, Betty doesn't always beat around the bush, so there are some rather blunt observations.

Till next time!

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

While I Was Out...

Taking a break from blogging sure gives one a lot more unanticipated free time and {I'm discovering} fresh energy to get back to it once one's blog has been updated and all the links are working again.

Thanks, Rachel!

As I posted last time, my life underwent some rather substantial changes over the past few months. However, it also underwent some minor and significantly less important changes that were a lot less stressful and infinitely more fun!

I got my hair chopped off


6 inches and a plethora of layers later...

Ponytails required a lot of clips for a while, but otherwise I was incredibly happy with the results :)

I finished a novel

It's in two chunks there, but when I printed it off, double-spaced, it was almost a full ream of paper and that's not actually all of it. After rewriting it 3 times, it's a little surreal to know that this is the last time I'll be going over it before...what? Sending out query letters? Taking the next step to my dream of publication? I confess I'm dragging my feet a bit here because the fact that it's almost done is somehow more daunting than facing the blank pages at the beginning and filling them.

 I turned 21 and was legally allowed to paint my toenails

I chose OPI's Live, Love, Carnaval for this much-anticipated moment

...and got frozen yogurt with plenty of s'mores crunch.

I ditched my eucharisteo box {read about that here} and started a journal

It sits on my desk at work and I use different colored pens each day. The box had its time and when I emptied it it was pretty full, but now that I have a more stationary life the journal is more sensible. I've also ditched the idea that my 'gifts' {read Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts if you have no idea what I'm talking about} have to sound like poetry. If I'm thankful for the way my chair rolls over the plastic sheet on the floor that's as poetic as it's going to be on the page.

I finally made the journal-calendar-box-memory-catcher thingamajig that I found on the internet forever ago and have always intended to construct.

Here is the link that explains what this is and how to make your very own. I will add my personal warning though: you will need more than one package of the index cards because it takes a LOT. I still have to get some more before sometime in the middle of May. I also have to find something I want to use for a month divider and decorate the box. For now, that's still in the decision stage.

Anything else? Probably - but those are all the pictures I have to share.

Till next time!

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Watching the Waves

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
{Matthew 14:29-30}
In the past two months since my last post, I have experienced an allegory of those two verses that has proven once again how great and powerful and good is my Heavenly Father. 
May was a rough month. June was even worse. I was trapped by my fears and often unable to break out of them. I began to have debilitating anxiety attacks at the thought of anything school-related and even the Scriptures I read seemed like empty promises in the face of the fears that were controlling me. I was watching the waves and, like Peter, I was sinking.
I'm a control freak. I wish I wasn't, but I am. When it comes to my life, I like to have everything neatly cut and dried so that I can rest comfortable in the knowledge that I know what's going to happen tomorrow. Thus figuring out how my current life would work in this well-ordered way whilst throwing school into the mix was exhausting and terrifying to me. My worst-case scenarios only added to my fears while my best case scenarios sounded about as cheerful as Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day. I didn't want to live this life that I felt God was calling me to live and I was shaken to think that He was placing me in a situation where I felt absolutely no excitement, passion or joy. 
 Cue the God who cannot stop doing what's best for me even though I become a little ball of fear whenever change blows through. Through this time in the valley, I can echo the psalm now more than ever before: this I know, that God is for me
Because the day my fears came to such a head that I wondered if I would be able to function any longer, God stepped in and turned it all upside down: I was offered a full time job at the office where I had been working part time as the accounts payable administrator to manage both the accounts payable and accounts receivable departments. 
I've been working there for almost a month now and I love it. It's exactly what I've always dreamed of doing and everywhere I turn I see God's hand working in every circumstance. 
I'm still going to school this fall, but since I have been given the job I was going to school in hopes of getting, I've been given the freedom to pick and choose which classes I take and when I take them. I've opted for one this semester and will see what happens from there. I'm trying not to make extensive future plans as I'm beginning to learn that God already has!  
There's just one more thing I would like to say before I end this post: God never, ever, ever gives us stones. He knows how to give good gifts to His children because I can look over these past few months where I thought my situation was going to be unbearable and see, piece by piece, how all of it was only working together for my good.   
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said,“why did you doubt?”
{Matthew 14:31}
 Till next time!
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Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Review: Divergent {Take 2}

1 out of 5
Recommended: No
Categories: Mind-candy, easy reading

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Since I don't consider myself a fan of mainstream YA fiction, whether it be dystopian, fantasy, romance, or just plain teen drama, and I more often than not wind up disappointed when I read it, Divergent was never a book for me. However, I had gotten pulled into the Hunger Games and since Divergent seemed to be traveling a similar path {and I got a copy for free} I didn't see the harm in trying.

My main issues with Divergent are as follows:

1. I felt that, for a plot-driven novel, it didn't have an overabundance of plot.
The main idea of the book was an interesting one and, obviously, forcing multi-faceted human beings into choosing one all-encompassing character trait is going to cause issues somewhere along the line, but it just didn't seem to be fully developed, with important plot points tossed carelessly around and suffering from severe lack of explanation as to how they are accomplished.

The first five chapters {which are pretty short} ran through a lot of important information like character introductions, faction history, world-building, aptitude tests, and the Choosing Ceremony. It seemed a bit rushed - and it was hard to get your bearings and visualize everything - but since the book is thirty-nine chapters long, it seemed like a safe assumption that more information would be distributed later on.
The weird thing is that it wasn't - not really anyway - because in chapter six, Four came on the scene to stay.

2. As the book progressed, I began to feel more and more as if the focus of the story was not that Tris was divergent or that the factions were crumbling or even the growing pressure of competitive training, but that Four was hot. So much of the story seemed constructed around him that I felt it detracted from plot development. Obviously, I haven't read the other two books so I don't know if or how anything that seemed minor in Divergent may affect the plots of the trilogy, but taking Divergent alone I got the impression that more than a few scenes were written without further point than to tell the reader more about Four's complete dominance in the alpha male category. I know this is the trend in modern fiction, but it bothers me that so many books on the top seller lists are there because they have a demi-god hero and a heroine who doesn't mind looking.

3. In my opinion, the violence in Divergent was mostly unnecessary and over-the-top. Dauntless is the faction designed to protect the other factions, yet they neither seem to have much of anything to protect nor the appropriate training techniques to teach their initiates what protection actually is.

For instance, how does forcing sixteen-year-olds to beat each other up until one is unconscious supposed to foster anything but brutality and hatred?
And making them, even in a stimulation, shoot their own families supposed to help them overcome their fears or give them a desire to protect anyone?

The detriment of this reverse-psychology system is clearly seen in Tris as she battles her way through training. As she slowly loses her humanity and becomes more accustomed to devising revenge on the initiates she dislikes, steeling herself to be the last man standing in the fight ring, detaching herself from her softer emotions to coldly treat others with unforgiveness and grudges, giving in recklessly to adrenaline and hormones, she triumphantly calls it leaving Abnegation behind and embracing Dauntless.

  And Dauntless itself is less of a faction bent on doing their job and more of a penthouse of eighteen-year-old trainers and sixteen-year-old initiates where adrenaline is rampant and there seem to be no rules besides living as recklessly as possible to prove how dauntless you are.

1. There is a lot of body-gazing in this book. Tris doesn't let much of Four go unnoticed and I found it a little overbearing. If I'm supposed to like this guy, I'd rather it was because he had some depth to him outside of the fact that he's drop-dead gorgeous. I don't need his body thrown at my head every time he walks in the room. I get the idea and I'd appreciate a side of character to go along with his slightly over-the-top package.

2. There isn't any actual sex in the book, but there's a lot of cuddling, kissing {not just on the lips}, touching, Tris staying in Four's apartment overnight, and a scene of physical assault that doesn't go into detail, but is there nonetheless.

3. There's a smattering of mild swear words. The 'h' word gets tossed around and God's name is taken in vain on several occasions. I don't recall any others specifically, but there may be other instances of  unnecessary language. There is also a lot of juvenile joking and name-calling, which may or may not be offensive or annoying depending upon your personal views.

In Conclusion...
I personally think Divergent is mind candy of the first degree. That's my opinion, I know, and I'm not trying to impose it on anyone. My hope is that what I've said here has only given you an idea of what to expect and make an informed decision on whether Divergent is something you want to get into or not.

Till next time!

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A New Look at Book Reviews

Previous post notwithstanding, I haven't been able to get the review for Divergent off my mind. And, I guess, not for Divergent alone, but book reviews on my blog in general. My last post sort of nipped all future reviews in the bud and I didn't mean to do that. I'm passionate about books and writing and I don't want to give up this aspect of my blog because I feel I can't say anything bad about a book. I've been giving some serious thought to the whole situation and I've decided not to stop writing reviews for fear of giving a negative view, but to modify my reviewing style instead. If nothing else, it will be an excellent exercise in speaking the truth in love.

So here's how it's going to be:

Section one will be the quick stuff. Rating, whether or not I personally recommend it and what sort of categorization it can be slotted into.

Section two will be the book's synopsis so you can get a feel for the story without any effort on your part at all.

Section three will be my honest observations. I've come to realize that a negative book review isn't a scathing of the author and their work, tearing what they've written to bits to relieve my feelings, but personal thoughts defining why I did or did not like it presented in a non-confrontational way and leaving the reader free to decide whether or not what bothers or interests me bothers or interests them.

Section four will be my 411 section. In it I will record {to the best of my recollection} anything I remember that might offend a potential reader: language, age-appropriate material, an overload of body-gazing, ect. I may or may not be specific depending upon the situation or how often it occurs within the book.

Section five will be for whatever else tumbles out on the page.

My goal with book reviews is to supply you with what I always want to be supplied with: an honest review that gives you facts about the book so you can make an informed decision on whether or not it is worth your time. I'm so honored that some of you were willing to take my non-recommendation as grounds enough to avoid Divergent, but I feel as if I should offer some facts - minus the scathing - so your decision is not based on my word alone.

Divergent Take 2 coming up next! 

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Book Review: Divergent

1 out of 5
Recommended: No
Categories: dystopian, easy reading, one-time reads

The title misleads because this is not actually going to be a book review. Ladies, I read that book and let me tell you that I want so badly to write an absolutely scathing review. I want to whale into it and let everyone know just exactly why I dislike it. In fact, I did. I started to write a completely different review than the one I'm writing now.

I think now, though, that those righteous-rage opinions are best left unpublished.

I've written many negative reviews in the past. I've enjoyed writing them. I glory in tearing apart weak plots and cardboard characters and poker-stiff dialogue. As an aspiring writer, I'm quick to judge. I get angry when people like things that I personally consider poorly written and I burn to tell the whole world why they should never have been published.

But in those reviews my words aren't kind and, though my opinions are strong, they are critical and have the capacity to be hurtful. So as I planned my review for Divergent, I began to wonder why I had such a nagging sense that I shouldn't. I wanted to - very badly - but the more I wrote and thought about it, the more I felt that, as a Christian and a writer, I should shut up, live and let live. I took a break and gave it some thought and here's what I ended up with: is it really worth my time to throw my two cents into the pool of fans and haters and start a fire that isn't worth stoking? Will my words really do anything worthwhile?


I can spend an hour or more writing a review that will turn people off or I can spend it more wisely writing something that won't polarize, criticize or draw lines. Those characters belong to someone who feels the way about them that I feel about mine. I may not agree with another author's writing style, I may question their motives and choices, I may be incensed by the fact that people find their work worth reading, but I don't need to give it voice. I'm entitled to my opinions, but unless they bring grace, I'm better off keeping them to myself.

So that's my review for Divergent. No, I wouldn't recommend it, but that's merely an opinion. Take it or leave it and form your own. :)

Till next time!  

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Be A Coal Heaper

I am a terrible arguer. I'm not usually the first to admit it, but I am. I get flustered and emotionally involved and when my temper is really up I make weak accusations that are easily deflected.

On the other hand, my siblings are great arguers. I don't know how they do it, but they tear my points apart like confetti and I always end up trying to figure out the best way to extricate myself from the situation with the least damage to my dignity.

One would think that I would have figured out "oh, just don't argue", but I'm also stubborn and quick-tempered. I don't mean to get into arguments but if pushed just a teensy bit too far I will wade into the fray.

Obviously, this bothers me - A LOT. I can't argue. I can't defend myself. I can't justify my temper because I always end up in the wrong. I'm just not smart that way. I used to wonder how I could become a better arguer {as if that would solve the problem...} but I never came up with a conclusive curriculum to follow.

And then today it occurred to me:

Why would I want to become a better arguer? As a Christian {and not speaking of persuasive or debate-style argumentation} I should have zero use for such a skill! There is absolutely no situation in a Godly life where a bolstered skill in "I'm right, you're wrong" argumentation should come in handy. I shouldn't take pride in destroying my opponent because I shouldn't be arguing at all!

Proverbs 25:21-22 says "if your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you."

I know this is a pretty obscure verse to pick out when discussing arguments {especially with verses like Proverbs 15:1 going around} but I personally think that coal heaping has a lot more context than food and water.

I hate it when I'm spoiling for a fight and my opponent refuses to be engaged. It's humiliating. There I am steaming like a kettle on the boil and they're as cool as a cucumber, taking the wind out of my sails and heaping coals of "this is how you should have responded to the situation" on my head.

The Holy Spirit doesn't miss a beat. If you take the wrong path, you're liable to get heaped with coals. So don't be the receptacle, be the heaper! Not only is it impossible to humiliate yourself by doing what's right, but you'll generally come out on top just by staying calm and also have nothing to regret or explain later on.

 Until next time!
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Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review: The Ever-After Bird

4 out of 5
Recommended for: Y/A Fiction
Categories: historical fiction/easy reads

Now that her father is dead, CeCe McGill is left to wonder why he risked his life for the ragged slaves who came to their door in the dead of night. When her uncle, an ornithologist, insists she accompany him to Georgia on an expedition in search of the rare scarlet ibis, CeCe is surprised to learn there's a second reason for their journey: Along the way, Uncle Alex secretly points slaves north in the direction of the Underground Railroad.
Set against the backdrop of the tumultuous pre-Civil War South, The Ever-After Bird is the story of a young woman's education about the horrors of slavery and the realization about the kind of person she wants to become.

I love Ann Rinaldi. I have ever since I picked up The Staircase at the library when I was a young teen. I've made it a point to own nearly every book she's written. I've recommended her work to nearly all my friends. I've followed her heroines from the Civil War to modern day to the Revolutionary War to Mexico to the Salem Witch Trials to 17th century England and back again and enjoyed nearly every ride. She's that good.

But when I picked up The Ever-After Bird I wasn't so sure I would like it. With the past few books I've read by her, I've been slightly disappointed. I don't know if that's due to the fact that I'm growing up and her writing style {which is still fresh and excellent in the worst of times} hasn't or if she just lost her touch for a few books {understandable; she's written at least thirty} and I happened to read them all in a row. However, my sister mentioned that she had liked it, so I thought I'd give it a try. 

It has become clear that Ann's best relationships are older male mentor to a young {usually early teen} girl - either a sister or a ward. She's a past master at creating literary crushes {I find one in nearly every book} and her writing just can't be matched. She's SO creative with her words, her dialogue is never dull, her plots are solid, her premises intriguing, her research exhaustive. 

Thus she creates CeCe. 

{I'm not going to recreate the synopsis, so you'll just have to go back and read it if you're anything like me and just skimmed or skipped it}

To be honest, I didn't really notice the plot. It escalated gradually and came to a quiet climax. What was important was each little domino that fell in turn. Something like slavery, with all the stories and horrors, is hard to portray. It's really impossible to comprehend cruelty unless you are either present for it or experience it yourself. CeCe portrays this well - the confusion over her feelings about slavery and the slow horror she develops as she witnesses its reality. {In the author's note, Ann Rinaldi discloses that most of the things she has CeCe witness were actual documented happenings and that she even toned some of them down for her narrative}

Really, the plot is an even pattern of traveling, stopping at a plantation, unpleasant experience, more traveling, find something along the road, stop at another plantation, another unpleasant learning experience, Earline causes some sort of trouble, back on the road again, ect. Uncle Alex's ornithology and his warnings of the slaves aren't what's important here. However, it is interesting to see how each plantation operates and how each individual owner's view of their property is reflected in the treatment of their slaves.

There are a few slightly mature moments and conversations since CeCe is a growing girl who can't keep her mouth shut and Uncle Alex is a doctor and somehow it's common for them to discuss things that might make some girls uncomfortable to read. 

Overall, it had a promising start, but unraveled near the end into a rather anticlimactic finish. 

CeCe McGill 
CeCe is a delightfully and also frustratingly obnoxious Rinaldi heroine. She's very typical of the author in being headstrong, plain-spoken, stubborn and tending to idolize the male who has her charge. Not everything she does makes sense {which I think is more a weakness of plot than a weakness of character} but her heart is usually in the right place even if she does disobey her uncle at nearly every turn.
I found her observations about slavery to be very sound and interesting. Her thoughts on anything else were generally less sound and she had an annoying tendency to be very appropriately immature. However, her confusion over her own treatment and views of slaves were honest and thought-provoking. Forced by her circumstances to act as if she agreed with slavery and also to treat the slaves around her - Earline included - in keeping with those views, she grappled convincingly with the consequences of such power.

Uncle Alex
Rinaldi literary crush extraordinaire. Much less realistic than the Rinaldi heroes of yore, he comes off way to strong in the romantic category. 
The man can do no wrong. There is nothing wrong with him. He's the perfect mixture of handsome, strength, vulnerability, rightness, wrongness and excels at nearly every activity known to man.
 I didn't buy it this time.
However, his back story IS intriguing {wish there was more of it} and he does have a very good tongue in his head when it comes to interesting dialogue. 
He treats CeCe a little more leniently than is good for her {she could do, on several occasions, with a darn good spanking} and I'm not sure why he has no control whatsoever over Earline when she appears to worship the ground he walks on. 

Incredibly confusing. She was a former slave with an extraordinarily complex history. CeCe often complains of not being able to understand a thing she does, and I am in wholehearted agreement. I can't decide if she was really complex or if she was just allowed to do anything and everything she wanted because the author needed a little action in the plot. She seems like the type of character who would be difficult to control. 
Earline does, actually, provide nearly all of the action with her independent defiance of the boundaries between slaves and whites. She's the one who CeCe first must treat as a slave {a difficult feat after how she treats CeCe in Ohio where she's free}. She's the one who goes on and falls in love with a white man in the middle of the Deep South. She's the one who stubbornly does exactly what she's been told not to do and she's also the one who pays the steepest price {even though CeCe makes a solid second} when the climax eventually rolls around. 

This isn't Elsie Dinsmore or Anne of Green Gables. Rinaldi's characters are usually pretty gritty and defiant. They're not obedient, quiet or sweet. Thus there is some language, a lot of disobedience and gobs of literary crushes. But there's also solid history, real-life issues, realistic characters and a refreshing lack of picture-perfect scenarios. 

It's life - with a lot of great dialogue thrown in.  
Till next time!

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

One Kind of Perfect {Part 1}

There's something amazing about God {pulled out from among the infinite ways He is GOOD and faithful and loving} that is hard and wonderful and mind-blowing.

How He refuses to let us continue in our sin.

Just thinking about that makes my head twist. First of all He created us. We messed that up good. Second of all, He died for us. We can't accept it without trying to earn it. Third of all {it makes you wonder how He can keep on bothering} He continues to bail us out. Because this, this ladies, is a God who CARES.

I confess that I am not good at catching on. When something goes wrong, God's goodness is the first thing out the window. Then He's subjected to a lot of worrying, fretting, complaining, ect. because I've got to fix this. Me. I'm gonna figure out what the dickens is wrong and make it work again.

Not so, as the Psalmist says, the wicked.

Because the very thing I'm trying to fix - trying to make go away - is what God is using to teach me the truth that will bring me one step closer to Him.

You'd think by now I would have figured this pattern out, but I haven't.

Take, for example, last month.

You know how it says in Proverbs 31 that "charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised"?

Do you want to know how badly I screwed that one up?

When I was younger, my mom always called me "average" - which I took to mean that I wasn't as thin as my sister and probably a little overweight - and I was. I didn't like it, but I was too lazy to change.

A little less than a year ago, I started running {consistently}, came across the idea of portion control, and made healthier food choices. That's all. It's amazing what just those three things can do. I lost 13 pounds and had to get new jeans and ditch some of my skirts. People noticed. It felt GOOD.

Now before you get the wrong idea about where I'm going with this: no, this isn't a story about anorexia. When it comes to that, this is me:

However, as that 'success' went to my head and gave me the wrong idea about my image, I turned twenty and my dad lifted the ban on makeup.

It was fun at first. I didn't really need it, but it made me look just that much better. It wasn't until I realized that I didn't feel pretty without it that the problem began.

You've already heard {well briefly} the saga of the eyelashes. Now I will tell you the saga of the skin.

 See, I usually have pretty clear skin. It's always been {I'll be honest} a point of pride and a comparison mark for me. I got the occasional breakout, but hey, what is coverup for? In February, however, it didn't stop. My face was a mess. Even my dad {my dad!} noticed. He asked me {with considerable bluntness} "what happened to your complexion?"

I was devastated.

My father had noticed those red blotches all over my face. Great Scott, was there a lower depth to be plumbed? I was losing my beauty! Coverup wasn't making a dent. I couldn't figure out what was causing it. I became the mirror's face, I looked in it so often. I would literally stand there for minutes on end and bemoan my skin - and my eyelashes {which were acting up again. If it doesn't rain, it pours} And of course I compared myself to other girls.

*sigh* I remember when my skin used to look like that...

Does she know how lucky she is to have such thick eyelashes?

Phew, at least my complexion isn't that bad.   

I wonder how much makeup she uses to get that look?

I suppose if you guys haven't all had the same thoughts at one point, you'd probably stop reading now.

But there's more.

The world has this standard called 'beauty' and it's all on the outside. It's funny how we fall so easily for the pictures on the magazine covers without remembering that not even the models and actresses on those covers look that way in real life.

Now I know that unless I am an airbrushed model on a magazine cover, I will never look like an airbrushed model on a magazine cover. That's just the way it is. I can't Photoshop my face while it's still attached to my body so there's certainly no hope for me in that quarter. And, normally, I'm ok with that.

But when that precedent slips and I don't catch myself and remember that only the world defines beauty as what's on the outside, I find myself caught in the trap that says "this is beauty and there is no other. How much will you sacrifice to attain it?"

Apparently, a lot.

It wasn't so much what I was doing to my face {I'm not really comfortable with more than a smidgen of makeup} but my mindset when I looked in the mirror. It sounds silly, but you can become obsessed with how you could look.

I looked in the mirror and that became my focus. How can I get back what I used to have? How can I make this a face that will make me want to look again? Will I ever be able to see myself and be satisfied?

That's what scared me the most. I was no longer satisfied by what I saw in the mirror. I had set a new standard for myself, based on unattainable things, and I couldn't reach it.

I couldn't be the beautiful that gave me worth on it's merits alone.

It was all out horrible and I hated it, but I felt trapped. I had picked up the world's measuring stick and allowed it to set my standards of worth. Breaking out of those standards - letting go of the ideal of "perfection" - was suddenly unthinkable. I wanted out, but I couldn't give up the idea that there was no going back and being content with the way things used to be.

I was stuck wanting - and never getting - that 'more'.

And that is the sad, pathetic struggle of this story. Part 2 will come {with all due hope} next week.

Till next time!
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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Break: Olympic Style

Hello there!

Just checking in briefly so you know I'm still alive. {That's actually a cover-up for the fact that I'm cheating shamelessly by counting this as my post for the week}

It's been a busy...umm...25 (25?? Are you kidding?} days since my last post, as I am currently arranging my schedule around the Olympics so that {if at all possible} the only things I miss are ads and figure skating. I hope most of you have been watching, because it's totally worth the sacrifice of sleep and free time {and blogging...}.

I have been trying to multi-task while I watch and am here to report that, as of yet, I am not caught up in my journaling, writing or reading. I have, however, tried three new teas, seen every single ad at least twenty times, done my taxes and still have no idea how they score the figure skating so that only the Americans who wipe out actually get low scores for it.

Such is life.

I've weathered greater disappointments, thankfully.

The tea was delicious though. And the American sweep in Slopestyle Skiing {which still boggles my mind. How on earth are they doing that??}

I'm such a prejudiced viewer. I don't care how well anyone else did, I always think the Americans should have won.

Is that prejudiced or patriotic?

I'm not sure.

Until next time - go Team USA!

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Monday, January 20, 2014

14 Things I've Learned in 2014

Thus far, 2014 has proven to be an incredibly interesting year. I can't remember a time in my life where so many things clicked and the lessons taught came with such sobering side-effects that they stuck and are continuing to stick. Not all of these lessons began in 2014, but since that doesn't flow with the title of this post, I'll just pretend. December was a struggle anyway, so having the outcomes occur in January was sweetly encouraging.

 1. Tearing others down tears you down as well

2. Not washing off mascara is incredibly detrimental to your eyelashes

3. Blog resolutions take conscious effort to keep

4. If you take yourself too seriously, no one else will

5. Sleeping with your arms above your head is stressful on your rotator cuff {alas!}

6. A soft answer DOES turn away wrath

7. The Ten Commandments are not just a list of rules. Behind every one is a God who knows how much sin damages us.

8. Thinking before you speak can make you miss the moment, but it also leaves you with less regrets. Not everything thought needs to be said - witty or otherwise.

9. Encouraging younger siblings is infinitely better than ignoring them {and gets you help with the laundry}

10. Looking for love in everything God does transforms hard things into overwhelming blessings

11. Rubbing olive oil on your eyelids every night before you go to bed helps your eyelashes get thicker and longer {at least it does if you haven't been washing your mascara off and really ravaged them}

12. Defusing situations helps you control situations. You can't choose how people speak to you, but you can choose how you respond to them.

13. The wisdom with which Jesus answered the Pharisees is yours for the asking. However, you can't ask and then ignore the answer - no matter how much you don't like it.

14. Week days aren't just stepping stones to weekends. Each day can be great if your attitude is one that remembers every moment is an opportunity to bring glory to God.

Till next time! 

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Something That I Want

Are any of you familiar with the song that played while the credits rolled after the Disney princess movie Tangled ended?

It's by Grace Potter; entitled {tada!} Something That I Want. The rather catchy chorus taking up the song goes like this:

Something that I want
Something that I tell myself I need
Something that I want
And I need everything I see

I don't like this song. Mainly because I think it's unimaginative and pointless, but also because it makes an awful sort of sense if you look hard enough at the first two lines. 

Because there's something that I want.

And I've gotten so used to wanting it that...well, became a need.

I pushed it away at first - the wanting - but as time went on I forgot the wisdom of trust and began to lean on my own understanding.

I stopped waiting for God and decided that if anything was going to be accomplished, I was going to have to step in and do a little work.

And that, my friends, was a horrible idea.

Because the funny thing about wants is that they can be castles in the air. And the funny thing about castles in the air is how easily the cracks, shudders and non-existent foundation can be ignored, smoothed over, and excused. It shifts a little and you rationalize it. It crumbles a smidge on the corner, the one right near the west wall, and you lose a little mortar, but you bandage a comforting explanation over it and the weakness is covered up. Maybe a tower topples in and you reel a bit, but time heals all wounds and soon you don't even remember it was there. And so you worry your disintegrating little want along; wondering why it won't stand like you built it. Why there is no foundation even though you've tried to make one. And why, for heaven's sake why, won't everything stay put and one day be real? And it isn't until that day when the last brick gives way and you see the rubble and wreckage at your feet and are left scrambling for a reason for it all that the dust clears and you lay eyes on the last thing you ever expected.

God - with a sledgehammer in His hands.

When your eyes brim with tears and you sob with whatever it is you feel: anger, grief, hurt, loss, humiliation at the hands of the thing you put your faith in, gave your heart to, defined your dreams with, you can either sit in that rubble and try to rebuild it, or you can leave it behind and go the the man with the hammer and ask Him why He used it.

There's only one answer you need.

It's love.

Love tore down those walls and broke the towers. Love shifted the air beneath that tenuous, trembling floor and watched it collapse.

And love understands how much it hurts to stand in the rubble.

Because, sometimes, love hurts.

But a castle in the air is too dangerous a place for a God who loves to let you live - especially when the most frightening place He wants you to be is square in the palm of His hand.

So when you ask why your dreams don't come true and what's wrong with your plans and wouldn't this be grand? He smiles with the knowing that softens His eyes and gently cups your chin.

"There's something that I want," He says.

"Something that I want and it's better than that. I know you don't understand now, but the dreams you build aren't big enough, strong enough, or good enough for you. I created you for a reason so just wait and see what I've got in store. Remember that I made water into wine. Famine into feast. Sickness into health. Death into life. Don't be afraid to let Me build your dreams. After all, I'm a master of foundations."

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them..."

- Ephesians 2:10 -

'Til next time!
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