Sunday, June 29, 2014

95: figure of speech

Sometimes I suspect that God isn't going to give me what I want. That perturbs me because, well, better is a bird in the hand than two in the bush. Sure I don't really have anything in my  hand, but I've got a good idea of what should be in there, and it's lovely and shimmery and fills my stomach with happy feelings. But when I look up and see that bush, and, what? is that a slight movement? I peek across my closed fist and my curiosity is aroused. Maybe there's something fantastic and amazing hidden but planned for me. But then I fret. What if it's, like, a gift that I have to grow into. You know, the bike that is just a little big for you now but you'll grow into it? What if it's beyond my comfort zone, and, as I imagine what it could be, Lord, I don't know if I want that--. Yet, if He gives me something a little too big for me to handle, He will handle it for me because it will be a God-sized future.

Is He going to give me the bird in the hand or the two in the bush? I don't know. Why does God like surprises so much???

"Prayer is request. The essence of request, as distinct from compulsion, is that it may or may not be granted. And if an infinitely wise being listens to the requests of finite and foolish creatures, of course He will sometimes grant and sometimes refuse them." -C.S. Lewis, as quoted in Laura Story's devotional What If Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops?

Grauman's Chinese Theatre, taken when I finally went to Hollywood last week (only lived in California all my life)

Friday, June 27, 2014

94: my trip

Last week I went to Mexico with my mom to visit missionary friends. It was a relaxing way to start the summer. We stayed in a house next to our friend's big house with a living room view of the ocean. We went on ATV rides on the beach and along the cliffs an hour north for breakfast. We went segunda (thrift store) shopping and ate lots of yummy food.

It was also spiritually refreshing. And it was nice to get away from most of the internet noise, though, to my chagrin, we had wi-fi. But it was so unpredictable! I read a lot, and watched a couple intense movies, three of them about the Holocaust, which actually was nice. I like intense sometimes.

I tried to write a bit. But I felt like I didn't know what to write, so my mom told me I should wait for inspiration to strike. Funny, that is usually my philosophy, but "real" writers work at it. Maybe I should stop being a real writer for now. Do it as it is--a hobby.

Last couple days I've been at school taking teacher classes on learning disabilities and ADHD. I love sitting there listening to someone else do all the work of teaching and me just being the student.

Am I rambling? Yes. Ah well.

There is something detrimentally lonely about looking at the clock at 10:30 or so at night and realizing that you and your dog are the only ones awake in the house.

And so I cast my words into the world wide web and try to feel not quite so alone.

I read some of what I wrote on the trip--a spiritual turn-around for my character--and I feel much better now. Thanks.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book Review: Stuck Together

I've heard it said that authors should set up their characters and then put them in hot water and pour on the trouble.

That's exactly what Mary Connealy does in Stuck Together, book 3 of her "Trouble in Texas" series.

This is the first time I've received a free book to review from Bethany House Publishers. A free book, in exchange for an honest review? How could I turn down a free book? I was excited when I ordered it--they let you pick from a list of new books, or bypass them all and wait til next month--but then I started reading another book, got into that, and when Stuck Together came in the mail, and I opened it, I just wasn't that interested. But I had to read it so I could review it, so I left my other book at home and, somewhat grudgingly, brought this one to Mexico with me.

Thankfully, it only took a little while of setting the stage and introducing the characters before the action started. And once the action started, it didn't stop. In fact, more and more stuff started happening.

Abridged synopsis from the back of the book:

Vince Yates earned the nickname "Invincible Vince" because of his reputation for letting absolutely nothing stop him. But Vince is about to face his biggest challenge yet: his past has just caught up with him. His father, mother, and the sister he didn't know he had show up in Broken Wheel without warning. His father is still a schemer. His mother is showing signs of dementia. And his surprise sister quickly falls for one of Vince's best friends.

That's not even to mention a friend and his pregnant wife being shot at, an angry Indian tribe, a jail break, a stash of whisky bottles being found, and a manhunt. Meanwhile, as if Sheriff/Lawyer Vince's life wasn't crazy enough . . .

With nearly every other man in town married off, Vince finds himself stuck with strong-willed Tina over and over again. Of course, Tina is the prettiest woman he's ever seen . . . .

And that's why I've gladly carried this book around the house with me and stayed up late reading, reading, reading to see what would happen next. Unlike my initial fears, it wasn't boring at all. At all. Stuck Together was one of those books that immediately took me to my happy place.

Frozen's song "For the First Time in Forever" has been doing that lately too. :-P

Saturday, June 14, 2014

93: Mexico

From "the book," in honor of my impending trip to Mexico and the many memories collected from the many missions trips I went on there growing up.


The sun was setting over the ocean as we all huddled around the campfire, salty, sandy, uncomfortable and content.

I had never felt such closeness with a group of people that I largely had not known before five days ago.

After the sun sunk into the Pacific, we headed through the darkness toward the car, attempting to knock as much of the gritty sand off our legs and feet as possible. A few people got into the truck. The rest of us hitched ourselves up into the truck’s bed. I headed towards the back and lowered myself to the floor, leaning against the truck, hidden from the breeze. A couple of the girls joined me. Joey and the guys sat on the side rims, holding on with both hands. The engine started, and we jerked forward. I bumped against the corrugated bed floor. Joey swayed on his perch.

One of the girls inside the cab began singing a song we had been learning in Spanish.

“Todos deben de saber--”

We all joined in.

“Todos deben de saber
 Todos deben de saber
Quien es Jesus.”

After repeating the chorus we launched into the verse in our obtrusive American accents, singing our hearts out about our Savior into the Mexican night, the starts twinkling overhead and the light of the moon and the truck’s headlights creating comforting shadows as we bumped over the dirt road.

We finished the Spanish lyrics and switched to English.

“Everybody ought to know
Everybody ought to know
Everybody ought to know
Who Jesus is.

He’s the lily of the valley.
He’s the bright and morning star.
He’s the fairest of ten thousand.
Everybody ought to know."

Lord God in heaven, I prayed. This is paradise. This is beautiful. This is redemption. This is pure.

I smiled. Not an outward smile, but a true happiness from deep in my soul radiating outward.

A happiness and peace and contentment I hadn't felt for a long time.

my nephew, fitting right in

Me, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2014

92: opposites attract?

Tonight I sat on a grassy knoll in the warm, but breezy, shade, watching an ultimate frisbee game that I wanted to join, but since I can barely catch or throw a frisbee, I just couldn't bring myself to go do the whole act-like-I'm-playing-when-really-I'm-just-running-around-on-the-field thing.

There were three teams so they rotated out. And in one of the teams was a very cute couple.

I know the guy a very little. The girl came up and introduced herself.

I am quite thankful I refrained from saying what was going through my head: I know who you are. I've stalked you on Facebook. You're with so-and-so, right?

So thankful.

She was all girl. Petite, wearing a cute bright pink shirt, not playing much when she was on the field. He was all boy. Tanned, sweating, putting his all into the game.

I watched them interact when they weren't playing (call it reality TV...without the cameras). They made each other laugh. He'd grab her hand and they'd walk down the hill together and then they'd let go and race the rest of the way.

So cute.

And, once again, I am baffled. Ok, I understand why girls like guys. Because they're GUYS! But why oh why would a guy like a girl? We're nothing like them. We put demands on their time. We aren't their buddies that do all that guy stuff with them. And sometimes, we're silly.

And then, how on earth do two people fall in love?

The verse in Proverbs 30 came back as oh so true:

There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
Yes, four which I do not understand:
. . . [T]he way of a man with a virgin.

Hear ye, hear ye! This, indeed, is a mystery!

One of God's mysterious planned ironies.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

91: don't let go of your surrender

Tip of the evening: Don't watch a sappy Hallmark chick flick late at night.

I've been processing a lot this year. And I've learned something about myself, that I kinda knew before, and that's kinda embarrassing, ie. I take a long time to process and learn and grow. One of those, oh, I was saying the exact same thing last year? And I'm still saying it now because I haven't mastered this yet?

Actually, I was encouraged. I read a journal entry from a year and a half ago, and I found I had actually grown in that area. :-P Only a year and a half later!

Then sometimes I read what I write and go, wow, that was amazing. Why don't I say the same things now?

Anyway . . . sappy romance movie. About twue love. And of course, what does that make us single girls want? Twue love. :-P

But, to rehash a year plus of rambling on this blog, a guy that loves me and whom I love back is only a wish. It is not a promise. Or a right. Or a necessity (tho sometimes I wonder, since it was part of the creation plan). Because, as a friend so wonderfully and unintentionally reminded me a couple months ago, life is not about that--marriage, having kids, etc.--it's about glorifying God.

It takes a marked amount of surrender to say that and mean it. So if you can say it now, let me warn you, do not let go of that surrender. It is so valuable. You need it to be the person you want to be--a girl who wholly follows God.

Let your desires be desires and not demands. And then you can feel the pain of loneliness without having it destroy you.

"'You are My witnesses,' says the LORD" (Isaiah 43:10).

Monday, June 9, 2014

90: the assumption that I'm a sinner

After the academic part of school ended and we just had school picnics, award ceremonies, and cleaning up, I started watching Once Upon a Time. I had heard that it was addicting, so I put it off til then. Good thing I did too!

In the second season (SPOILERS), Snow White kills Cora. Snow is devastated. She is known for being pure--more or less faultless. When she kills Cora, her heart grows a dark spot. According to Regina, that dark spot will grow until her whole heart becomes dark.

Watching that, I thought how I cannot imagine not having forgiveness. The Bible starts with the assumption that we are all sinners. The book of James tells us to "[c]leanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded" (4:8). Unlike Snow, we don't start with a perfection to maintain. As Bible-believers, we don't believe in the Lockean blank slate.

I forgot the freedom in acknowledging that I am a sinner, that I need a Savior, and that there is a Savior and Redeemer of my sin.

Snow White doesn't have that. All she can do is work to redeem her sin for herself and hope she doesn't become a villain.

But as believers, although we strive to be like Snow White--holy and blameless--when we mess up we haven't destroyed who we are. Instead, our sin testifies that God's plan for our salvation is exactly what we need.

In the fairy tale, true love's kiss is always the last hope against death. But fairy tales don't have what we have: a Master Savior who will walk us through any mess we make during life and will guarantee us life everlasting after death.