Saturday, August 12, 2017

201: the question of how to not lower standards but still be like a peasant

Today I re-read this article (hidden link) which I printed and pasted in my journal several months ago. It is such a good article, you should read it for yourself, but basically it is saying that we often go about looking for a mate like royalty and aristocrats did back in the day.

Here is my list of what I want. Do you fulfill my criteria? I am worthy of more than what you can offer.

Instead, the author and her citations argue, we should search for love like a peasant. A probably inaccurate summary of that position (which I am not very familiar with because I'm definitely more aristocratic) might be,

I want to share my life with someone, and you do too. Let's share life together.

My arranged marriage side is full-on peasant. Gimme a God-fearing guy and we will make it work and fall in love while doing so! <3 <3

My reality side is full-on aristocrat. *pulls out royal checklist* Similar theology? Wants to homeschool? Don't find him repulsive? Similar preferences? Enjoy being around him? Doesn't say something that totally shocks me and makes me want to run the other direction?

My arranged marriage side cries, "But there is no one! No one is interested!"

My reality side gerhumphs, "Yeah, they're interested. You're just not interested back in those that are interested."

I look at all the divisions we have as believers. I mean, not only does my future guy have to be actually saved and following the Lord truly (basic, basic bottom line there), but he also needs to not be Calvinist, not be Arminian, and he must agree on a myriad of other things that aren't doctrinal as much as having the right perspective.

And then there's personality. Because if we marry, we're going to have to live together. And there there's that intangible chemistry that makes you think being married would be better than being single (or, perhaps, being single is better than this relationship). And the time period of dating in which we wait with bated breath for the (seemingly inevitable) red flag (or accumulation of yellow flags) to wave and end it all.

I'm not cynical at all.

If two people can survive all that and end up married, then statistically, it seems a result of a divine miracle.

Praise the Lord such miracles do happen (and the couples stay together).

Or maybe those couples were just less picky.

What would I give up, relinquish, compromise on to be a peasant? I do not know. Because ideally, I do want someone that sees the world the same as me. I don't want to have to defend myself to my spouse. I don't want to fight rolling my eyes. (pride much?) I want to enjoy being with him as a person, both alone and in groups. I want to be completely attracted to him.

I want it all. I do.

I don't even know what it means to not have it all and still have a somewhat-compatible relationship. At one point do differences divide rather than naturally occur? I don't know. I don't.

How do we not lower our standards, but begin to adopt a peasant mindset that allows marriage to be more like God seems to have intended it--a complimentary meeting of needs via cherish and respect--and less like the 2D, flat characterization of two humans having everything they ever wanted satisfied in the other without any annoying aspects portrayed? I do not know.

I'll need to go pray about that...

Any wisdom out there from people who are doing it?

Sweet potato characterizations

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Book Review: A Name Unknown

Pretty book covers and seeing an author's name over and over actually is effective marketing it turns out.

When I had a chance to read a novel by Roseanne M. White, I knew I wanted to finally try this author that kept popping up on Facebook. So I got a Kindle copy of A Name Unknown.

Wow, oh, wow!

Characters you fall in love with (and learn from!), an interesting plot, romance, complications--it was all there. A female street thief from London gets hired to prove a certain wealthy man is a traitor to England. She infiltrates his estate posing as a librarian and begins discovering the true character of this man and, perhaps, questioning her own. But what will her Artful-Dodger-type family and powerful and mysterious boss think if she doesn't deliver? She must deliver.

Unlike most novels I review, the romance in this one comes much later in the storyline. So while it is not strictly a romance, it is still satisfying. The gospel plays an important, and necessary, and exciting, role in character development. My only complaint is the characters begin to pursue a modicum of romantic interest before both are saved. I can't stand it when stories do that! (Like the Christy TV series and Hallmark's Signed, Sealed, and Delivered movies) But because the romance happens at the end, the spark and the conversion happen almost concurrently.

Since sadly finishing this book, I've read a really good arranged-marriage novella and a sweet juvenile fiction story (that I plan to read to my class), but I still feel like A Name Unknown was a story I was able to cozy into like an oversized leather chair and enter into a world worth entering into. It's a good feeling.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. And apparently, this is the first in a series! I also heard from a friend that the author's other series is really good too.

Monday, July 24, 2017

200: adquiere sabiduria

Quick thought: God highly values wisdom.

Oddly enough, it took reading Proverbs 4 in Spanish to get this through my head.

"Sabiduria ante todo; adquiere sabiduria;
Y sobre todas tus posesiones adquiere inteligencia." -Proverbs 4:7

"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding." KJV

Or, my translation of the Spanish: "Wisdom before everything; acquire wisdom; and over and above all your possessions, acquire intelligence." (kind of a shocker)

Then in Proverbs 8, Lady Wisdom of course has her great soliloquy:

"The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way,
Before his works of old.
I have been established from everlasting,
From the beginning,
before there was ever an earth." (vv 22-23, NKJV)

Wisdom is such an intangible quality, I think. And this is a quick thought blog post, not a study, because I haven't recently done a study on wisdom, though I'm sure I did in my homeschooling days with my mom, because, well, wisdom was a big thing back when we were reading a Proverb every day and reading books like Wisdom with the Millers and Pearables.

Sometimes wisdom can seem like a suggestion. I mean, it's not as if it's a command of "do this." Well, okay, maybe it does say to "get wisdom," but that can feel more like a wise saying.

What I'm saying is sometimes having wisdom can feel very much like a general exhortation with little specifics tacked onto it.

So when Ephesians 5:4 says that there should be no foolish talk, I'm left thinking, Really? Is this truly a command? What does foolish talk consist of? Because I'm not sure I regularly check that part of my speech. (I mean, it also says no crude joking, but I come from a loud and proud heritage of, well, *coughs*, flatulence jokes. So is that ok?)

Ok, I've got to wrap this up. My thought is that foolishness is the opposite of wisdom. And God seems to highly value wisdom. And if God highly values wisdom, then so should I.

So if something is "foolish" or "ill-advised," I need to stop seeing that as a not-so-great-choice-but-not-necessarily-sin, and start discerning if it is the opposite of wisdom. If so, it is the opposite of what God values. And if I'm a member of the Kingdom of God, it is not only ill-advised, it is not the kingdom way. Walking wisely is how God's people walk.

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." (Eph. 5:15-16, ESV)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Book Review: Reformation Women by Rebecca VanDoodewaard

Sometimes you're in the mood for fiction; sometimes you're in the mood for non-fiction. And sometimes a book outside of your mood draws you in and takes you captive for several dozen pages while on a plane heading for Chicago.

Thus was my experience with Reformation Women: Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity's Rebirth by Rebecca VanDoodewaard.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I requested this book from Cross Focused Reviews. I hoped to be edified. I was. I also was pleasantly surprised at the author's scholarship. Most pages cite sources in the footnotes, and the style is straightforward. I was afraid I'd have to wade through conjecture and fluff. But while always interesting and cohesive, the mini-biographies of the ladies in this book seemed to stick to simple fact. In an enjoyable way.

Reformation Women is actually based on a book by James Isaac Good published in 1901. The content of that book has been "revised, expanded, and corrected to make the stories of these remarkable women accessible for today's church" (from the Preface, p. xiv). Each chapter is a mini-biography of a woman who lived during the time of the Reformation, focusing on her life and how she fought for the cause of Protestant theology. I really enjoyed reading about these sisters in the faith. It's been awhile since I studied that era, so I often could not keep up with the background history of what was going on. This book would be a great companion to a world history unit! But even in its own right, it really is so edifying.

Each woman is different--they don't have the same personalities or the same life experiences. Rebecca VanDoodewaard does an excellent job of prefacing the book by noting some characteristics you'll observe in each of these women, like their devotion to supporting their husbands' work if they were married to believers (though these women often carried on the work apart from their husbands). At the end, she does an equally amazing job concluding what we can learn from the biographies. And she was spot on in drawing out some of the things I noticed in their lives as well.

What was perhaps most impactful was how these women did not let circumstances get in the way of always encouraging the church and pushing forward. One woman lost her father and husband in the same massacre, a year after she was married. One woman had her children taken away and raised by Roman Catholics. Younger women often remarried and helped raise their new husband's children. This remarriage quote I thought was noteworthy: "He was content to have her without a dowry. She was happy to have a husband whose abilities and goals she could respect" (p. 73). Such a different world almost, or maybe it just seems so. Where life is more matter of fact. Where you are chased from one city to another, one country to another, corresponding with famous people and taking stands for Protestantism smack dab in the middle of violent Roman Catholic opposition. Where you carry on.

Rebecca VanDoodewaard writes in the conclusion, "Often, if our self-appointed identity evaporates, our feelings of security and usefulness shrivel. When we think about how the women in this book had the versatility to be fruitful in many different situations, it is clear why they did not associate with one identity other than a spiritual one. They were Christians" (p 110).

Married. Single. Living at home. Living on your own. Those are lesser identities. But the one constant thread is glorifying Christ. N'est-ce pas?

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars easily.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

199: being taken beyond it all

Sitting out on the porch at 9:30 p.m., "enjoying" the 80 degree weather so my dog can have some front yard time.

"Lord God, do something," I pray over a situation.

I am.

He very well may be working without me even seeing a glimmer. In my mind's eye it is like the Spirit moving over the surface of the waters. Always above all this gunk that weighs me down. Moving, accomplishing unseen purposes, preparing miracles, doing miracles that I am not privvy to. Basically, being trustworthy as I scramble to find solutions. He may be grieving at things, same as me, but He is not  threatened by lack of control like me.

Accomplish Your unseen purposes, oh Lord!

I have been focused on solutions. Fixes. Turn this ship around.

Or, when I acknowledge my inability, let go of the lines and let the waves toss, trying not to look.

It's all exhausting. And, as I tell the Lord, I can't. I cannot.

There is one more step I have forgotten. Beyond giving the earthly drama over to Him.

Sit and be filled.

I'm doing this teacher's Bible study with QR codes to songs. I'm loving Moriah Peters' I Choose Jesus, Selah's I Got Saved, and Laura Story's Grace.

I can feel the drip-drop of spiritual rain filling my very dry soul.

I want fixes, solutions, and changes now, on earth as it is in heaven, please, Lord, amen, thank you, moving on.

But He reminds me there is such a thing as mounting up on eagle's wings away from it all. To see Him high and lifted up in heaven and be filled with awe and worship. That's what my soul needs.

I'm back in the air conditioning now. I think I'll try for more filling time.

Friday, July 7, 2017

198: still finding my identity as a single apparently

One friend has three kids under the age of 3 and the youngest has an apparently life-long disease. She's in the hospital with him right now.

One friend is juggling sleeplessness as her baby just turned 1 and she and her husband have welcomed in a foster baby for the next month.

I have none of their trials and none of their joys, but I have my own. I'm tempted to think my life is less worthy to be spoken of because the only sleeplessness I suffer is when I stay up til 2am and then have to walk the dogs before the sun gets hot here in the California valley. What are my own frustrations and worries to theirs?

Can you tell one of my weaknesses is constant comparison?

I listened to a Moody Church sermon on singleness the other week that was so good! So, gathering from that, which you should totally listen to, the truth about me--about us--is...

...I can display  the sufficiency of Christ. That if He witholds the marital relationship and all that entails, He is enough. He is enough, and has been, and will be. Shake off the chaff. He is enough.

Not that I am enough. Not that I don't need a man or am self-sufficient. That sounds so inaccurate right now anyway. But I can show the Lord's sufficiency in human lives.

...I can focus on spiritual things. As I was reminded once when I was in a relationship, the single life really does differ from the married life in that you are not thinking 24/7 about your husband and kids and how your lives intertwine. My season is different. I am not consumed with child watching-feeding-putting back to bed. I frankly have more time in my life. It's a different season to embrace and learn how to use well, not to wield as a numchuck of comparison.

But to be honest, I'm starting to think that spiritually, marrieds and singles are not all that different. Our vertical relationship and our kingdom citizenship really has no correlation with horizontal circumstances. It sometimes feels like a chasm of difference, but we all deal with temptation and sanctification and the need to believe our God no matter our marital status, age, historical era, or ethnic culture.

I am a single. I fully accept it. I am a believer. That is my true identity.

"you are . . . fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19)
7 Junes ago in Oregon
This June in Chicago

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Book Review: High as the Heavens

It's summer! It's summer!

Granted, I've just spent the last few hours working on school stuff. I don't know if it's the late hour or sitting in front of my computer that has me not making any jerking motions with my head because of the pain on the right side. But, summer means long days of free time. Summer means a trip to Chicago a couple weeks ago (SO. VERY. ENJOYABLE). Summer means an abnormal amount of time playing games (Marrying Mr. Darcy, Ticket to Ride, baseball card game, Canasta, Iota). Summer means time with my great-nephew and my new great-niece! Summer means multiple trips to the dog park. Summer means sleeping in and staying up late. And summer means lying on my bed absorbed in a book!

beautiful cover, no?
I chose High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin from my Bethany House Publishers optional, complimentary, books-to-review list because...nope, not because it has a marriage of convenience plot. Ha! Thought you had me pegged, did ya? Nah, I chose it because I had read one of her books before and had been intrigued. Only...the book I remembered reading before ended up not being by Kate Breslin; I had read a different book by her. Ah well. :P

High as the Heavens is set during WW1--a historical time definitely not as popular to write about as WW2. (Ironically, the next novel I'm going to review is also set during WW1--what a coinkidink!) The plot happens mostly in Belgium and tells the story of a woman who works for the Belgian resistance group "La Dame Blanche." Like Wings of the Wind (which I reviewed last), High as the Heavens has a strong romance. And yet, that's almost misleading. The story is compelling because of the personal drama (with and without romance), but it also has all the intrigue, suspense, and deceit you would expect in a story set during a world war. It is character driven with a strong plot. I hesitate to say more because I don't want to give away anything! If you enjoy character-driven war movies, you'll definitely enjoy this book. I was completely engrossed and entertained.

FYI, I don't feel like I learned tons about WW1 through this novel--maybe I did and didn't realize it? Also, although it is a Christian novel, it did not have as strong of a Biblical message as some of the other novels I read.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I'm not disappointed in the least!

Here are some pix from my Chicago trip for my non-FB friend (Hi! Sorry I haven't written in ages. :/):

This place reminded me of Lyme in Persuasion!!
Marrying Mr. Darcy--so fun! :D

The Bean! Actually, it's called Cloud Gate.

yes, it was as good as it looks

Lake Michigan--my first time at one of the Great Lakes

I tried not to think about it.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

197: 57 year old virgin--what if?

I was listening to the audiobook version of Kingdom Woman (by Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst). I'm only in the introduction so far, but it was talking about how we assume a kingdom woman is someone over there who has it altogether. Someone who has been married for 57 years, or someone who is 57 years old and "has walked in remarkable purity."

I know the author wasn't talking about marriage or singleness or even what our ideal should be. But it got me thinking.

Would God be glorified if I got to be 57 years old and was still a virgin?

See, I look at our divorce culture and God's design of marriage and I think, "If I could be married and do marriage well, I could be a light to show that what God designed is good!" With all the conflict inherent in our relationships, a marriage that stands the test of time seems to me to be a testimony to the goodness of God's design! Amen?

What I haven't considered recently til I heard the line from the book is that, just as I look at a long lasting happy marriage as glorifying God, maybe, too, a long lasting purity glorifies Him equally.

Not only do we live in a divorce culture where you go to a wedding and wonder if it will last in the face of 50/50 statistics, we also live during a time when fornication is culturally accepted. As a 31 year old wanting to be married, I know the likelihood of finding a guy who has not slept with a girl at some point in his life is ridiculously slim. And I'm not downplaying God's redemptive power. The Lord is glorified when we cast our trust for redemption from our sinful selves on Him. He is glorified  when He gives new life. Purity cannot be worn as a badge of boasting, just like a happy marriage cannot be taken for granted.

But. For those who are progressing through the decades in singleness, in virginity, as living within a culture of immorality and yet not part of it, don'tcha know that God's righteousness is lifted up through your life? You may not be a testimony of God's design of marriage, but you are a testimony of God's character, to His own purity.

There is purpose. How I live out my relationship status can glorify God. And that encourages me.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Book Review: Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette

Isn't the cover breathtaking?
My mom read the first Out From Egypt book by Connilyn Cossette awhile ago. She loved it! When I got the list of possible books to review from Bethany House Publishers, there were a couple authors I've enjoyed before--which to choose?? Well, Wings of the Wind (the third book in the Out From Egypt series) was not only by an author my mom had enjoyed (I made sure to request a hard copy so she could read it after me), but it also had an arranged marriage of course I chose it. :-P

Wings of the Wind takes place during the end of Moses' leadership and the very beginning of Joshua's. It is a romance, but more than a romance. It is about a Canaanite woman and a Hebrew man who marry solely for the sake of her own safety. The plot, especially for the first couple dozen chapters before the plot twist, are about their budding relationship. But that's not what I take away from this book. What I loved about Wings of the Wind was how the author contrasts Canaanite culture and Yahweh's way. I think often we read the first five books of the Bible and scratch our heads and go okaaaay.... That's a weird law. That law doesn't seem severe enough. We read God's laws from a 21st century, Judeo-Christian/post-Christian perspective and, to be honest, they don't seem to fit into our thinking. Connilyn Cossette plants those laws back into 1400 B.C. culture where Biblical morality wasn't the norm and, granted it's a novel, suddenly His laws appear how they are--wonderful and beautiful and designed to create a holy people. She also describes (not in excessive detail, but in detail) the cruelty and immorality of the Canaanites, and you understand why God told His people to destroy that culture of evil (and the cultural anthropologists gasp). The author also puts her own spin on what the pillar of cloud looked like and makes a beautiful contrast between the living Yahweh and the "having ears, they do not hear" baalim.

I left this novel--and yes, it's a historical fiction romance--worshipping God more.

5 out of 5 stars!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Book Review: Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano

Behind the Scenes is I think the sixth Jen Turano book I've read. Her historical romances are always humorous and somewhat outlandish, her female heroines unique and strong-minded, and her plots much more like a comedy of errors than a staid historical novel. It's her trademark.

On Amazon, it seems you can always get a Jen Turano prequel for free--and then you're hooked! I think the novella At Your Request, introducing the reader to the world of wallflowers during the 1880s, was my first Jen Turano book. Behind the Scenes, the official Book #1 in the series, was not yet published, so I put its release date on my calendar and went in search of other Turano books. I read through the Ladies of Distinction series, one right after the other. Bad choice. Even though I really enjoyed the first couple books, by the time I reached the 4th and last of the series, I was completely burnt out on Turano's style. And I kinda still am.

So although this author's books are always guaranteed for a good laugh set in either the Regency Era or, like Behind the Scenes, in the Gilded Age, let me forewarn you about the aggravations of these novels, and you can decide if those would inhibit your own enjoyment.

Besides outlandish situations and quirky characters, another trademark of her flowery language. It reminds me of how I used to talk on instant messenger when it was late at night and I wanted to pretend to be British and talk witty and at length. At long length. It's fun to read, but there is no economy of words. None. Whatsoever. And some of the same phrases are used over and over.

Then when the male characters sound and think EXACTLY THE SAME as the female characters, and the side characters are the same, and characters between books in the same series all sound the same--it becomes painful. Very painful to this reader.

I can't help but wonder why the editor didn't notice the lack of characterization? If I were her editor (which I'm not qualified to be), my red pen and I would have a heyday with Asher Rutherford's parts in Behind the Scenes. He should not sound like a carbon copy of Permilia. He should not talk and think like a girl. His lines should be more succinct, his mental density more natural, his thoughts less ridiculously intuitive.

Confession. When the author started focusing on Asher Rutherford's mental processes, I read a whole other book (Lassoed by Marriage--soooo good!) before returning to finish this one.

It's not that I don't enjoy Turano's writing. I do. It's just sometimes very painful to read because of the lack of ruthless editing. But even though it's painful doesn't mean I won't read another of her books. Because, despite being historical fiction, Turano's novels are in a category of their own.

Try one of the free novellas on Amazon and know that every other book she writes is exactly the same, for better and for worse.

(Side note: If you want to read really well-written historical fiction--but less crazy--from the same general time period, try Kristi Ann Hunter. Yummmm.)

P.S. Amazingly enough, I didn't have to buy this on the release date after all! I got a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for writing an honest review. Sweet deal!

Monday, May 8, 2017

196: placebo, cure-all, inner muse in male form

So, I'm reading Deuteronomy 33 right now. I'm very tired. Like, physically I've been sick for over a week so my eyes kinda hurt and my throat and stomach. ANYWAY, I'm reading a little of Deuteronomy in an effort to feed my soul--which is also empty of strength--and some things I'm coming across are cool, like

"From His right hand
Came a fiery law for them.
Yes, He loves the people;
All His saints are in Your hand;
They sit down at Your feet;
Everyone receives Your words."

Isn't that a cool mental picture? "Fiery" law is just cool (Mt. Sinai, clouds, thunder, fire--what a spectacle that had been 40 yrs prior). And the direct statement of His love! And then us being in His hand (cf John 10). And all us like sheep sitting down and receiving His words.

And then I keep reading. "He was King in Jeshurun." Now, I feel like I should know what this means but tonight I'm like what is Jeshurun??? So I follow my unhelpful cross-reference over to 32:15 which says (and I remember reading this the other day), "Jeshurun grew fat." Well THAT didn't help. And I figure I could look up the Strong's definition on my phone but right now I'm just whinily, humorously frustrated that I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS! (the Jeshurun part, not the fat part) (oh. Is Jeshurun a synonym for Israel? But why?? I don't remember 😩).

And somewhere around my whining and discovery of cool words like "fiery" it comes to me AGAIN that I, like, really wish I had a guy to text right now about it and someone to swap deep thoughts with.

(And no, if you're a guy I have tried to wrestle deep conversations out of that doesn't necessarily mean I'm on the hunt. A single does not have to be deprived of co-ed good conversations until (s)he is married. Or rather, I'd hope not!)

The thought (of wanting a guy to talk with about stuff like this) occurs to me semi-regularly.

Of course, do I really want to sit there and listen to someone else go on a tangent that has nothing to do with obese Jeshurun?

That's not really what I had in mind.

What I have in mind is more like a cure-all for these moments of wistfulness.

Realistic expectation? No.

But it was a nice thought.

(I wouldn't mind hearing his thoughts too, my head is just hurting right now so I'm leaving out commas I should add now that I'm proofreading, and not being clear about what I mean. Of course a real person is better than a placebo! And basically, singles sometimes think in terms of Disney 2D static characters without realizing it. At least I have a tendency to :( ).

Instead I have the internet (you) and the God whom I should care more about being in communion with than a fella.

"There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
Who rides the heavens to help you" (Deut. 33:26)

(I really need to look that up!)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

195: most recent thoughts on believing in the beauty of God's unknown plan

I have completely lost my voice, it's getting close to a time when I should be getting ready for bed, my throat feels scratchy, but I want to write what I've been thinking. Might not be as coherent or well-examined (or succinct!) as if I had more time. Disclaimer there.

Do I believe in the beauty of God's design? Do I believe in the beauty of His redemption?

I'm reading Laura Story's When God Doesn't Fix It. For those who don't know, Laura Story is a Christian songwriter. Shortly after she and her husband Martin married, he suffered from brain trauma and now has short term memory loss (reminiscent of the movie Remember Sunday but not that bad). Her dream had always been to be a stay at home mom, like her mom before her. But instead she had to deal with seeing that dream die as she became the breadwinner for the family. And she and her husband have had to walk through his medical issues and figuring out how to do life differently than they had ever imagined. She writes:

"When Martin and I said, 'I do,' we set out on a boulevard of marital bliss. Then came a bumpy detour called 'Brain Tumor.' We took the detour and followed its winding ways. but I kept thinking the detour would take us back to the main road. It took me several years to realize that it wasn't a detour; it was the road. It was taking us farther away from anything familiar and would never lead us back to the boulevard of dreams where we started. . . .
I had to reconsider other dreams. Our parents had always been our role models--both our dads worked outside the home while our moms took care of their homes and children. That was our dream too. I'd always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Now my only option was to a be a working mom. I didn't know what that would look like, or even if I could do it." (ch. 9)

"It's easy to sign up for a short-term mission project or donate money . . . . But would you be willing to sign up for the brokenness in your life, if you knew your brokenness would bring glory to God and enable you to learn to trust him in everything?" (ch. 10)

"When Martin and I walked through his medical trials, we saw a lot of things die. Our vision for our future. Our dreams for each other. Our idea of a perfect family. Sometimes they died all at once; other times, our dreams slowly withered away. When they did, I thought they were gone forever. But occasionally God allows a dream to die so that we can see his power greatly displayed." (ch. 16)

(I did NOT summarize the book, just picked the relevant parts, so get the book for yourself! Here's a vid of Laura Story singing her song "Blessings.")

My mom and I went to Sight & Sound's movie production of "Jonah" last night. They characterized Jonah as a man who had been waiting for 17 years for God to give him another prophecy. When he heard God say He was going to destroy Ninevah, Jonah was ecstatic. Then he realized, wait, why would God tell him to warn them unless . . . . And at that point Jonah began fighting God. He wished God had never spoke to him. He told God He was asking too much of him. He ran away. He decided he couldn't do what God asked and decided to disobey and separate himself from God. He even was willing to be thrown into the sea and die instead of having to do what God wanted him to do. Of course, God kept him alive. God got him to the point of reluctant obedience.

When I think of redemption, I think of a mosaic sun catcher of colored broken glass. Like something made "perfectly" has been broken and recreated. Usually I think of the breaking being a result of sin, and so God redeems the ugly to make something beautiful.

What if God does, or allows, the breaking? What if He breaks what I think is perfect? How much do I believe that whatever beauty He is going to create from the brokenness is better than what I thought was perfect?

We all have what we think is perfect. And we all experience brokenness. It is common to man.

Ok, not sure where I was going with that.

Not sure where the thread of Laura Story and Jonah and the mosaic weave together....

God. Do I trust God when He breaks my plans and presents me with the unknown. Do I look at the unknown and then look back to Egypt and say, but THAT would have been better, Lord? Or do I look at the unknown and say, You are good, You create amazing beauty, and I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Or is it (more likely) two steps forward in faith and one step back in wishful thinking?

How much do I trust that, in His power, He will make something more beautiful (by His definition) than I would have, and how much am I willing to let Him?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

194: ...and a sound mind

Fear. It's powerful in relationships. It's no coincidence that when 2 Timothy 1:7 says that "God has not given us a spirit of fear" that the corollary is His giving us "a sound mind." Because when I am fearful about a relationship, I do not have a sound mind. Obsessive. Overanalyzing. Worried. Stressed. Predicting the future. Jumping to conclusions. Reading into things. Seeing doom. Giving up. And all within hours of the last interaction.

There is no buoyant hope. No steadiness. No waiting to see what will happen next if I let it rest a day in God's hands.

If I squint and cock my head, I can vaguely see the writing on the wall, and even though I have no divine interpreter, I can agonizingly surmise it says, "This person has been weighed on the scales and found wanting; this relationship's days are numbered." The former butterflies in my stomach transform into a knot that drags me under. No more information needed. It's the end. I'm going to bed.

Been there, done that, Lord, please, teach me to have a sound mind.

The other day I was sitting across from a little girl who deals with possessiveness when it comes to friendships. And one of her male friends had been particularly chummy with another person lately. Not good. So as we sat there coloring, she told me resignedly, "So, I think this *her name* and *his name* thing is over." After I got over the humor of hearing a little girl refer to herself in the third person, I started talking to her about how friendships go up and down, and, yes, it's hard when we have to wait. She was like, "I know. It's been TWO days." Inwardly chuckling, I replied, "And it feels like FOREVER." But it's not. It's hard to wait. It's really hard. But things will change. (I may have even promised her chocolate if it doesn't . . . I don't always have wisdom when interacting with kids.)

I know firsthand how hard it is to wait and want a guy and try to surrender him to God and then see him get married and want any guy and get one and lose one and spend months recovering from the loss and wait some more. I literally know emotional pain very well, like the back of my hand, like an old blankie actually.

I also know that God has been there with me in every painful season of my life. He has been so close. I also know that the days upon days that sucked me under were seasons. They did not last. Two days is not forever. A painful day or two (or week) where the anxiety over a guy makes me want to keep sleeping and I'm eating two bowls full of chocolate ice cream and yet my stomach still is in knots? It will not always be like that.

But even if the disappointment is more severe, God has been with me through so much emotional turbulence already, and He's continually taking me back to the basics of who He is as my baseline. He is my baseline. THE baseline, apart from me. My life will have highs and lows. But the Rock does not change. Do you know how much having a sound mind is related to clinging to that Rock and knowing He'll get me through even this, because I've seen Him do it in the past over and over? My memorial stones were agonizingly set, but they are there, witnesses of God's faithfulness.

God has also blessed me with people who listen when I'm hovering at irrational highs and dragging through irrational lows. Sometimes they just listen; sometimes they speak steadiness and insight into my crazy, rubberbanding, emotional self.

Fear. It's powerful in relationships. But God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

During a very hard season,
I played/sang this song over and over.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Book Review: Long Time Gone by Mary Connealy

Long Time Gone is the second book of The Cimarron Legacy series. I remember where I was when I read the first book. It was last summer, and I was out in the back yard on our lounge chair. When the book ended, I felt all delicious and so ready to read more about the Bodens and Sadie and Heath.

I have loved everything I have read by Mary Connealy. She always grabs your attention right away and perfectly combines suspense, action, and romance.

So I don't know if it was because I have more recently been reading Regency Era fiction (so different from Western!), or because I was struggling to recapture my first impressions of this book's main character from when he was introduced in last summer's book, or if it was because the author spent chapters upon chapters re-establishing the plot so we wouldn't be confused, but I didn't feel like this book picked up the pace until around chapter 12.

Long Time Gone is the continuation of No Way Up. The characters are trying to figure out the reason behind all the chaos in book one. Which means there is a lot more sitting around talking and trying to piece the puzzle together than Connealy's normal fare.

The romance too, while fun once it started, seemed to go way too fast, like time in each other's presence was implied, but I didn't even realize it had happened.

In the past, I have marveled at how smoothly Connealy writes--flawlessly smooth. This book wasn't like that at all. It felt more haphazard and pieced together. (Example: I didn't like that when it was Angie's time in the spotlight, the point of view was more omniscient than her POV.) The end was the best part (and it was really good!), but then it was over.

I still want to see what happens in the next book--so little happened in this one--but I have to give Long Time Gone 3 out of 5 stars unfortunately.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

193: reminder to self to not let sin become normal to me

Some more thoughts based off of the Facebook buzz these days:

The world acting like the world is not an excuse to accept it as okay for us. I often hear the phrase "all sin is equal," or a similar phrasing. While I think you could argue from Scripture that that is not accurate, even if it is, this phrase always seems to be used to 1) excuse sexual sin, or 2) point out the hypocrisy of making a bigger deal out of a behavior than an attitude.

But if we are going to argue that all sin is equal, then that should encourage us to become even more sensitive to the evil of sin, and to increase our fear of the Lord. It should not make us timid to take a personal stand against sin in fear that we are casting the first stone and ignoring the plank in our own eye. Our beliefs and convictions are not based on our perfection but God's holiness. It should make us more diligent to personally repent and recalibrate our lives as we see the contrast between God's holiness and our rebellion.

It's as if because we accept that the world is acting like the world, and that our pride is on par to other sins, that we then lay down our battle standards and accept sin as normal. Not just normal to the world. Just normal. Normal to us.

He had to DIE--God in the flesh--and yet we'll let sin entertain us? I bring up entertainment because that's what the conversation is about these days. I'm not talking about making every movie a Christian-themed movie or one where no character acts fallen. I'm talking about when the sin is part of the entertainment. When it becomes part of the turning off our minds and being fed as acceptable what Jesus had to die to deliver us from. When we become okay with that. Living in the world but not of it . . . except when we willingly breathe in the world's values from the comfort of our Christian homes as part of the pleasure of our souls.

I'm not even thinking about dictating to the world what movies should or should not be made, though as consumers we should let our voice be heard. And I'm not talking about "judging the world." I'm referring to when we as confessing believers are tempted to mindlessly submit to, and defend (!!), the world's standard. We do not need to be slaves to what passes as today's entertainment. We serve God Almighty before Whom His created beings cover their faces or fall on their faces crying, "Holy, holy, holy!" That is our standard. We compare what is acceptable to that, not to what is accepted by "good people," or mainstream Christianity, today. God help me.

I write because I am so easily influenced. I so easily take on the flavors and scents of whatever I am around, the opinions of Facebook, of spoken words swirling around me mixed with the culture of the age. I must recalibrate myself to the truth sometimes, drawing the line in the sand even as I struggle to get on the right side of that line.

If sin is sin, then let's treat it as such and not accept it as the world has.

"People are requesting prayer regarding their besetting sins and character weaknesses instead of coming in honesty and humility to God and saying, 'I am constantly tempted to commit this sin because I love this sin. I do not hate it. I need the fear of God. O God, give me a hatred for what I now love. I receive it by faith in Jesus' name.'" --Joy Dawson, Intimate Friendship with God

"knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin" --Romans 6:6

P.S. This is not my opinion on Beauty and the Beast. This is my reminder to not let my standards fall in general.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

192: what I meant and reminder to self about His goodness and my entertainment

By my previous post I was not saying we should or should not watch movies with objectionable content, or that we should or should not continue making the same movie choices we have been comfortable making in the past.

I was saying that the logic that justified former choices must carry us through now. That's the nature of logic. You can't justify one while condemning another.

And so I suggested--or attempted to suggest--that we let this opportunity cause us again to examine our logic, check our justification, hold up our choices to the light of God's holiness, the Light Who searches out the deep recesses of our hearts.

Hold up our choices to the Light...

(and here is where I squirm and want to NOT think about this)

...keep them there...

...let not only the Savior of our sins but also the One who is pure righteousness shine brightly on our lives...

...until He gives us peace to move on.

I don't need to automatically assume He's displeased with my choices. I also don't need to shrink away from the brightness of His glory in fear of what lesser things He might actually require me to give up. He is good. I've got to remember that. He's got my back. He knows what holes giving up this show or that movie would cause in my life (I sound melodramatic--ah well). Again, He is good. If I'm really following Him, then whatever I have to lose (if anything!) by letting His Light shine on my Netflix, YouTube, and movie tickets will be well made up in gaining more of Him.

So maybe we can hold up our choices to the Light once more, trusting in His goodness, surrendered to His direction.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

191: where on earth do we draw the line

With the news that the upcoming, and much anticipated, live-action Beauty and the Beast remake will be a "watershed moment" for Disney, the question niggles at me, "Where will we draw the line?"

Alisha Rouse for the "Daily Mail" writes:
In an interview with Attitude magazine, director Bill Condon said: ‘LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston.
‘He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realising that he has these feelings. It is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.’
Mr Condon said the character, played by Josh Gad, is part of a ‘watershed moment’ for Disney. He said: ‘The studio is sending out a message that this is normal and natural – and this is a message that will be heard in every country of the world, even countries where it’s still socially unacceptable or even illegal to be gay.’
Now, I understand that sometimes the news is all hype--like when Facebook exploded with the "lesbian" scene in Finding Dory. And, granted, no one has seen Beauty and the Beast and declared it to have a homosexual element. But when the director of the film says that, through the character of LeFou, Disney is "sending out a message that this is normal and natural," I think we can say the intent is pretty clear.

Immediately I asked myself whether that would affect my plans to see the new remake. Would this slap in the face of Biblical values and Judeo-Christian conservatism produce any more than a small blip in my plans to patronize the theater later this month?

And what has led us as a Christian culture to consider letting an "exclusively gay moment" in a classic fairy tale not affect us?

One of the few TV shows I actually let the world of Facebook know I watch is Doctor Who. It is relatively clean, both in language and sensuality. But in the first several seasons--the best seasons, in my opinion--there's Captain Jack Harkness, blatantly gay both on and off screen.

One of the movies I don't openly tell people I like, but happen to like, is Leap Year. While there isn't any homosexuality, the movie does have two characters that live together--in fact, the only reason they're able to get an apartment in an exclusive community is by telling the board that they are going to marry (I mean, we were going to eventually, so why not now?).

Sherlock--which I just finished watching for the first time in the last month or so--is decidedly pro-gay and pro-fornication. It's not the main focus of the show--it's not why we become so enthralled with the characters--but it's there. Perhaps even more overtly than it will be in Beauty and the Beast.

So where do we draw the line?

Even Christy and Signed, Sealed, and Delivered, extremely innocent TV shows that they are--and that I've loved--explore themes of believers falling in love with non-believers without any insinuation that that is extremely foolhardy.

I feel a little like the frog being boiled in water--immorality as Biblically defined has become such a normal part of entertainment that I have accepted it even while keeping in the back of my mind that "that scene/character/theme is wrong."

So what's the big deal if Beauty and the Beast will be a watershed moment for Disney? For us believers, it's just another movie we'll enjoy. Maybe we'll give a caviat when recommending it, because, well, some people might not want their kids to be exposed to that, or, it's not something you would expect it in a cartoon remake. But as adults, we will watch the movie because how can we condemn this film and yet swallow hook-line-and-sinker all these other shows we enjoy that are as bad or worse?

Be holy as I am holy, He says.

So where do we draw the line?

P.S. And how far have we come? When I was a child, I tore up my VHS copy of Beauty and the Beast--even though it was a favorite--because of Biblically-condemned bestiality and witchcraft.
(If you wish to read the full article by the Daily Mail: )

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

190: marriage: object or portal, building or frontier

What is marriage? No idea. So this is my rambling.

As a single, sometimes marriage becomes an object. It is something you try to get.

Or we think of it like a portal into another world. You have no idea what the other world is like, but it must be Narnian in its magical qualities.

But we forget--unintentionally, temporarily--the relationship part of marriage.

Edward entered Narnia with his grumpy jealousies and wreaked havoc. Narnia was magical, but they still had to contend with the White Witch. We haven't tried merging our lives with another selfish being--like us.

Marriage is not an object or a portal. It is a building. It looks sturdy and safe and appealing from the perspective of a visitor. But the architect and construction crew know that you don't just say, "I want a beautiful house," and bam! it's there. It takes a lot of planning and starting and backing up and re-figuring, dealing with pipes bursting, and the city finding something wrong with the electricity, and the tile costing more than you planned, and the roofer taking twice as long as promised. On the worst days, you wonder if it was worth the headache to take this on.

Is it worth the labor? Yes. Oh yes. Because then you have a beautiful home that you built. There is pride and satisfaction and shelter.

But it's not an object to snatch up. This building is not up for auction. It's just a piece of land--maybe not even cleared of brush and rubble accumulated from the past. It's a portal into another world, sure--but that world is an untamed frontier you will have to pioneer.
Still sound romantic?

Actually, yeah, it does. :D

Monday, February 13, 2017

189: why I celebrate Valentines (not profound, not comprehensive)

I celebrate Valentines Day because I like romance and oohs and ahhs and an excuse to go over-the-top with hearts and chick flicks and red and pink décor.

I celebrate Valentines Day because I don't want to feel left out as a single person. Yes, that's the selfish, preventing-a-pity-party, barging-into-a-day-marketed-for-couples reason. Ah well.

I celebrate Valentines Day because I relish special moments. Those moments that make you smile from the inside out. That tickle your heart and make you smile even when you recall it months later. Those moments you write down in your journal to remember for always. That the two share that no one else sees--the personal joke, the unspoken expression, the unexpected look or word. Meaningless...except to you.

I celebrate Valentines Day because I believe in marriage. Because I believe God Himself made marriage. Because God Almighty endorses the relationship between man and woman. So Hallmark can be all wet, but no matter if I'm single or married or in a dating relationship that's going south, I'm still going to believe my God that that institution is a GREAT one and that He designed us to fit well in it.

So although rotic it may be (rotic = "romantic" without the man), tomorrow you will find me wearing a heart-bespeckled shirt to school, helping the kids with fractions using conversation hearts, eating holiday treats, and then spending an evening with the girl friends just because I get to enjoy the present!

"Clem caught her eye across the table. It seemed to her sometimes that the most important thing about marriage was not a home or children or a remedy against sin, but simply there being always an eye to catch." --Mrs. Miniver (1942) by Jan Struther


"Catherine coloured, and said, 'I was not thinking of anything.'
'That is artful and deep, to be sure; but I had rather be told at once that you will not tell me.'
'Well then, I will not.'
'Thank you; for now we shall soon be acquainted, as I am authorized to tease you on this subject whenever we meet, and nothing in the world advances intimacy so much.'
--conversation between Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, chapter 3

Friday, February 10, 2017

188: today's present

Today I am thankful for my little full time job where I can be lying in bed, waiting til the very last minute to get up for work, and get a text saying school is cancelled due to weather conditions. I'm thankful I can feel on top of things by mass texting my students' parents the news and then posting it on the school FB page. I'm thankful I can then be so not on top of things and cuddle back under the covers irresponsibly. I'm thankful I have time to read Laura Story's latest book, When God Doesn't Fix It. I'm thankful for time to get together with a friend and enjoy this oddly spring-like day (was Punxatawny Phil wrong??) by walking down town and book shopping. I'm thankful for money to buy yet more books for my classroom library (if I ever quit, I'll need a storage shed just for my books). I'm thankful for spontaneous friends who will bring over their Chinese takeout and make themselves comfortable while I run to the store for icecream and wait around anxiously for a hard phone call to happen that never happens. I'm thankful for movies from 80 years ago that still set my heart aflutter. I'm thankful for phones with Internet and Kindle apps when the Internet on my computer flops like a slippery trout. I'm thankful tomorrow is Saturday--after a full day off today--and that I can set it aside as a Sabbath and have TWO days off in a row.

These are things I'm thankful for that I would not have experienced if this were not my present. This is my present and I accept these gifts. :)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

187: this year's Valentines post

I have a new theme for my blog. Embracing the Present.

But I don't want to be always zipadeedooda either.

Basically, I don't know what to write about anymore. I feel like I've already said any thoughts that I continue to regurgitate.

I recommend 2 books. Pain Redeemed: When Our Deepest Sorrows Meet God by Natasha Metzler, and Blindsided by God by Peter Chin. Neither have to do with singleness, but both apply.

I haven't experienced the hardships that other people go through. I haven't experienced infertility or infidelity or wayward children or financial crisis or cancer (which is no respecter of marriage status).

I've only experienced singleness and living at home.

That's it.

So God uses the putty at hand to teach me what I desperately need to learn.

Like, it is okay for life to derail. In fact, it is normal.

When I read my Bible and hear testimonies, I discover that God has no reverence for the "ideal." I'm not sure where we come up with the "ideal" life or the "perfect" life or the most virtuous way of doing things, even down to me thinking that bigger families, living in the country, and not dressing trendy is, by default, "better."

I have completely subjective ideas of what is the ideal life. My ideal would have been to marry NO LATER than 21 years old, have probably a dozen children, raise them so that I have a close relationship with my children and none of them rebel, and have a marriage that would show the older, less-romantic marrieds that this is how you have a good marriage.

What does God do? He gives me, oh, none of it.

I have yet to see where God observes our ideal.

God does not work with ideals. God does not work with your perfect dream.

Sarah was barren for about a century. Her ideal? NO WAY.

Ezekiel's wife dies. His plan? No!

Hosea marries a woman who leaves him for other men, and their relationship is publicized before the whole nation. His idea of a good life? Uh, no.

Moses is sent away by his mother while a toddler, forced into a adoption/foster child type situation where he (my conjecture) fits neither as an Egyptian or as a Hebrew.

Elijah feels all alone in the world.

Daniel is castrated as a eunuch while a teenager.

Esther is forced to marry an older man who sleeps with many women.

Jeremiah is cast into a pit just for doing what God says.

We dismiss these examples because that was God's plan for them. Because we see how God was going to use it. Because they're in the Bible.

No, no, no. These were real men and women who had their lives upended because having your life upended by fate is NORMAL, but God is not fazed IN THE LEAST when your life derails. He does not have to come up with a Plan B. He is right there. His ideal for me was never dependent on me getting married, having children, and homeschooling. His plan for me never involved the path of sanctification I wanted--I wanted, I've always wanted, to be sanctified through marriage, to grow up through the crucible of marriage, to mature through parenting, to fulfill my life's purpose alongside my husband.

Instead, God's plan of sanctification for me means I have to say, no, I have no idea what it's like to be a parent. I've never had to stay up nursing or taking care of a sick child. No, my heart has never broken over my flesh and blood. I have not had to deal with miscommunication with a spouse. I haven't had to learn to compromise with a husband. I haven't had to feel the pang of selfishness being scraped away through marriage. I haven't. And not because I don't want to. But because this, THIS, is God's plan for ME. And the whole world can think I have the easy life as I shake these iron bars and cry out that it wasn't my plan, but--

God is in Heaven, and He does what He pleases. He chooses the paths we trod. Why, why do we hold on to our dreams so tightly and forget that EVERYTHING could go wrong in our lives and, still, EVERYTHING would be ours through Christ? His ideal for us is not temporal and circumstantial but spiritual and eternal. We lose nothing through singleness that every other Christian before us hasn't experienced in their own God-ordained way--the loss of something dear so that we might gain the intimate knowledge of Christ, apart from circumstances.

inside recess on a rainy day

"[T]o be a witness to God is, above all, to know, believe, and understand Him. All that He asks us to do is but means to this end. He will go to any lengths to teach us, and his manipulation of the movements of men . . . is never accidental. Those movements may be incidental to the one thing toward which He goads us: the recognition of Christ." --Elisabeth Elliot, The Savage My Kinsman

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

186: not living the supposed to life but/and being thankful

Some days I feel like I was made to be a homeschooling mom, not a private school teacher. Like, that would be more "me." Especially when I read great articles like this: A Missing Piece that Public School Can't Provide.

For example, I prefer flexible structure. I like giving my students an unplanned half hour of "stamina reading" (ie. free reading without interrupting anyone). I would rather do corporate Bible reading and "Great Books" (reading out loud to them from a higher-level chapter book) than add in more work pages of close reading passages with exercises. I like throwing up the curriculum pages and doing something different sometimes. Going with the flow and seeing what great things we'll learn simply because the flow of interest is heading that way.

But this is the deal: It does not matter if I'm "supposed" to be a private school teacher (at my wonderful country Christian school) or, alternatively, if I'm supposed to end this year of teaching, get married in the fall, start giving birth to children, and finally begin homeschooling my little brood. There is no "supposed to" when it comes to life direction. Man plans his way, but the Lord directs our steps. I can choose to quit my job and look for another. I can choose to stay at home and build up no savings. These are choices I can make. I can choose to find the first guy on Christian Mingle who loves Jesus and marry him because I don't want to wait anymore. Those are choices I can make.

But if those are not choices I think God is leading me toward, I can also embrace my present situation with thankfulness and positivity, just like, Lord-willing, I would embrace any other season of life with thankfulness and positivity.

Interestingly enough, have you ever tried being thankful for the things specific to your season of life? I started trying to do that the other week, and it is kind of eye-opening.

m' life - L to R - part of MLK Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech in cursive for my students to copy, me kicking back during stamina reading (I asked a student to take a pic of me), a 4th grader's interpretation of Magellan, a selfie while on vacation, dangerous roads while on vacation, watching icecream being made in a minute (it was hard and clumpy)
I'm thankful I can...
-sleep in on a day off
-drive out of state to spend a couple days with a girl friend while her husband is working
-listen to the audiobook of my choice on road trips
-stop for food on road trips whenever and wherever I want
-visit friends nearby and binge-watch a season of When Calls the Heart
-spend my evenings however I want

Selfish items for gratitude? Yes, it's a casualty of being single. But if I'm going to reap the benefits, I might as well enjoy them and be thankful for them, instead of wishing for change or feeling guilty (same could be said with any season of life, eh?). And I really AM enjoying this season of life.

So since this is your life, what are you thankful for?

(P.S. You do realize that a lot of this I write so I can later come back and remind my forgetful self of these things, right?)
(P.S.S. Actually I write them to solidify thoughts and create thoughts and write thoughts because writing makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.)