Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What It's Like to Be a "Half" College Student

Hey all!
Today is one rare occasion that I have to just sit and write a blog post without sacrificing something else. Okay, maybe I should be doing some Biology homework, but I'd rather be doing this.

So, I don't know if I posted it before, but I got accepted as a dual-enrollment student at a Christian University in my city. It is both exciting and VERY strange.

I feel a lot younger than EVERYONE else on campus. And I feel like I don't know anyone, although a bunch of people from church are at school here...but I rarely see them on campus. And everyone else just walks by me as I sit alone at my table in the caf writing a blog post. Though, I doubt that if I was a full time student here they would talk to me...I just don't know anyone.

I've only told a few people that I am a dual-enrollment student...and only because they asked. I don't want people to think I'm some super smart overachiever. I'm just a normal human...promise.

The application process wasn't as smooth as I think it would have been for a regular student. Two weeks ago I had to go to the admissions office to ask some questions about how to get my ID card and parking pass. "Normal" students would have got that information at orientation.

I also feel weird because I'm only on campus for a few hours on Tuesday and Thursday. I take one class plus a lab, so I don't have loads of homework from multiple classes.

But I still feel overwhelmed at times with just my Biology homework (Which I really should be doing right now...). It makes me wonder...how do college students not DIE with all the homework from all the classes? 

I feel grownup and so little at the same time. I feel grownup because I am a college student (in a way). I also feel little because I'm several years younger than the people around me. I feel like I don't quite fit in. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like I have a big sign on me saying "I'M REALLY TOO YOUNG TO BE HERE!"

I have to admit, it is fun to see the college students interact around campus. Today, everyone is walking around with books on their heads. The first one I saw, I thought was just shielding himself from the sun. But then I noticed that everyone was doing it... someone in Biology explained it to me. There is a campus-wide game of Gotcha going on right now, and the safety thing is having a book on your head. Interesting. :) I have a feeling I'll see many more things like this...or hear about it anyway.

Another thing I've discovered about college life is book sharing. I have a friend at church who also is a student here and is taking the same class as I am. She has borrowed my textbook a lot because hers hasn't come yet.

I like sitting here in the caf and watching the people go by. All the people with books on their heads crack me up. I like people watching. I like to see all the different types of people who come by. I feel weird people watching, but I promise I'm doing homework at the same time. ;)

Alright, I suppose I've wasted enough time. Time to work on Biology for a few more minutes before heading to AWANA. :)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hero in the Ashes

Today is the sixteenth anniversary of a huge attack on America...when three planes crashed into the pentagon and two towers called the World Trade Center. A fourth plane crashed in an empty field on the way to probably hitting the capitol building.

On the anniversary of this day, we hear lots of horror stories. We see pictures like the ones I'll post below of people running from exploding buildings. We see smoke and flames and death. We hear hints of heroism in the mention of the firemen and police who rescued people even as the building fell.

I like stories of ordinary people who became heroes in times of crisis like this. This morning I googled "hero stories from 9/11" and found an article on Business Insider about 7 heroic stories from 9/11. This story of Welles Crowther caught my eye. After reading several articles on the story, I decided to share it here.

Welles Crowther was a 24-year-old young man who worked on the 104th floor of the south tower. Just moments after the plane hit the building, he called his mother to tell her he was okay. He then proceeded to help as many people as he could get out of the building. At one point, he carried an injured woman down 17 flights of stairs, only to return to the 78th floor to help more people leave. He wore a red bandana over his face, and most of the people he rescued didn't know his name. He died alongside many firefighters as he rushed back into the building as it collapsed.

There was no reason for Crowther to keep going back into the building. From a human perspective, he had every right to get himself out and run for home. But instead, he gave his life for people he didn't know, working to the end to get as many people to safety as he could.

Here are some pictures from the horrific day:
Here is a picture captured as the second plane heads
 towards the second building. Source 
The Second tower explodes in flame source
Taken as the buildings collapsed, scattering debris everywhere source
Running from the debris source

the smoke and debris source
Welles Crowther source

Saturday, September 2, 2017

What I've Read- August 2017

Me without a book? Absurd! :) Here are the books I've read this month:

The Robe (Lloyd C. Douglas)

the robe

Per a recommendation by one of my faithful readers, I picked this book up at the library (technically, I downloaded it from the library on my overdrive app). It was...interesting. I liked the insight into Ancient Roman culture that it gave. But I felt like the plot was slow moving at first, and it took a long time for the driving event to happen. At the end, after Marcellus finishes his quest, I felt like it took a long time to finish the book, and the loose ends dragged on forever. And I wasn't entirely happy with the ending. I feel like I still have unanswered questions.
Let me tell you the basic plot. As I do in all my reviews, I'll try not to be a spoiler. Marcellus is a Roman centurion who is put in charge of crucifying Jesus. In fact, he is the centurion that wins Jesus' robe. He is quite shaken by the event, especially because he feels the man he just crucified was innocent. He goes on a long quest to find out the truth behind the man who wore the robe that is now in his possession.
So, my other complaint about the book was that it didn't stick to the biblical facts very well. It took liberties, left out very important things, and was not entirely accurate. I'm okay with books taking liberties, but it didn't stick to the important facts. It took too many liberties. And there was too much of Marcellus trying to explain away Jesus' miracles. I understand that he was a Roman Centurion, so he would not believe the miracles, but the other characters didn't do a good job of defending the miracles. It made those amazing things seem less amazing. It also did not accurately and clearly explain salvation. There was a very fuzzy line between just being a good person and being a Christian.
The faithful reader who recommended this book cautioned me about mild language. I do remember catching some as I read, but I don't remember what it was.
I would give this book a three or four star.

Playing With Purpose (Mike Yorkey)
playing with purpose

I'm not a baseball fan at all, but DodgerDog is. He enjoyed this book, and I like biographies, especially about Christian people, so I thought I'd give it a try. I didn't track at all with the baseball stats (I will openly admit that I skimmed or skipped most of them), but the stories about the players coming to know Christ were interesting. And the stories of how they try to live for him were super inspiring. Each one inspired me to live more like Christ. So if you are a Christian and a baseball fan, I would recommend this book to you without a doubt.

They Called Her Mrs. Doc (Janette Oke)

they called her mrs. doc

This was the second time I've read this book, and I loved it just as much. Janette Oke is generally placed in the genre of "Christian Romance." Although this book is about a girl who marries and moves west with her husband, it is not really in the "Romance" genre. Other books by Janette Oke (like Love Comes Softly) fit more in that genre.
This book is the story of a young girl, Cassandra, who has grown up rich and rather spoiled. Her father is a doctor, a doctor teaching young doctors, actually, and he has taken special interest in three young men. One of the young men (Sam) takes a special interest in Cassandra and after his internship is over, they marry and move west. He has always dreamed of taking his practice out west, and Cassandra is at first very hopeful that he will decide to move back to the city. But he doesn't. Cassandra goes through a lot of character building as she makes their small house a home and has five children, who all grow up to pursue great careers of their own. In the midst of it all, she learns to assist her husband in his practice...something she never thought she would do.

Ben Carson: A Chance at Life (Janet and Geoff Benge)

ben carson

How can I tell about this book without spoiling the story? That is the problem I have with all biographies. :) Many of you have heard of Ben Carson, I'm sure. And many of you probably know bits and pieces of his story, as I had before I read this book. But I still felt like I was reading his story for the first time. I was saddened by the story of his childhood, angered at the displays of racism he encountered, inspired by his mother, and fascinated by the brain surgeries he performed. I loved this book from beginning to end and was disappointed when it was over. :)

One final word for today....
  reading quote

Thursday, August 31, 2017

What I've Been Up To (August)

Hey all!
Can you believe August is already gone? I feel like I got hit by a tornado this month...and two tornadoes this week.
The beginning of this month was spent getting ready for school to start. On August 14, we started school.
I got my permit.  The first time I went to try, I didn't have the right paperwork, so I had to try again. Thankfully, I passed my test that time.
All I've been doing this week is feeling like I'm drowning in homework...and feeling some sympathy for the poor college students who have a ton of homework from five or six classes. I started my dual-credit biology class on Tuesday. So far, I have had two classes and a lab, and I have survived. But I have a ton of reading to do....the dictionary has become my best friend, because I don't understand all the words. :(

On Sunday, I went with my youth group small group to a pottery painting place. We exchanged names and made mugs for each other.

AWANA started on Tuesday. I went straight from my biology lab to AWANA to check kids in. What a night! I'm thankful that my mom was able to take me to the church on Monday to get stuff ready beforehand. And thankful that I have almost zero prep work to do before next week....but I do have some I should probably go do now.

Student leadership started this week for our youth group. It's me, another girl, and eight guys. It is going to be a fun (and interesting) year. :)

I finished our family bible study on prayer, and started one with a friend on 1 and 2 Timothy. I'm working on memorizing a beautiful piano piece, and I'll post a video of it when it's done. I'm also working on a duet that I'll be playing with a friend in November at a recital.

It has been so hot here. Yet this afternoon, it rained. We had a short thunderstorm that lowered the temperature significantly. It felt so good. It was nice to have some relief from the miserable heat. I was reminded of God's blessings....in fact, there is a song that I've heard on Pandora recently that has a line: "What if your blessings come through raindrops..." I love the song, and that line is especially true for us today. God blessed us with a short thundershower to cool us off.

Hope you had a good August! :)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

If You Could Change One Thing

from designerpics.com

A question I have asked myself before is this...If you could change one thing, anything, about your past, what would it be?

I'd like to say that my answer is nothing, I have no regrets.

However, as nice as that would be, it would be untrue.

There are things I regret. Times I said something I regretted for years...or did something I regretted. Things that probably changed the relationship I could have had for someone. Things I had to tearfully apologize to someone for. And things they probably don't remember anymore, but I do...and groan.

Perhaps I would change one of those times. Perhaps not say that one thing.

Or maybe I would go back and change my 7th grade year. Maybe I would actually go and talk to people. Maybe I would change it so that an older girl came over to talk to me. Perhaps I would have my one small group leader stay with us. Perhaps.

Or perhaps, though I regret things, though there were hard things I went through, perhaps I wouldn't change anything. There is no way I want to go back and repeat those things...but maybe they don't need to be changed either.

Perhaps those things I regret have shaped me to be the person I am today. I watch my tongue more carefully now because I have said hurtful things in the past. Perhaps I have learned some things from awkward situations created by something I said or did. Perhaps I have learned to laugh at myself sometimes because of some goofy and dumb things I have said that have caused people to laugh at me. Perhaps the hard times have taught me to trust God. Perhaps God had me go through those times so I can help some other struggling seventh grader. Perhaps.

So if I could go back and change one thing from my past...would I? Would I? I don't know. If I erased that thing I said, would I be the person I am now? If I erased that thing I did, would I be the person I am now? If I erased that memory that brings pain, would I be the person I am now? If I erased the loneliness that I felt in 7th grade, would I be the person I am today? If I erased the things I struggled with, would I be the person I am now? If I erased the things I went through that were extremely difficult, the trials, would I be the person I am today?

As difficult, embarrassing, or painful things from my past may have been, I believe that they have shaped me to be the person I am today. I don't think I'd be the same today if those things hadn't happened. And I think I'm turning out alright, if I do say so myself. 😉

Is there something in your life you would change if you could? Or would you keep it the way it is? Can you even be thankful for the trials you have been through, the regrets you have? Do you see how those things have shaped your life?

I had a conversation with a trusted friend recently where I admitted that I still struggle with regrets. I can't get past some things I have said and done. I get mad at myself all over again when I think of them. She asked me why. Why am I still focusing on the bad in the past? The truth is, you can't change it, whether you would like to or not. So why can't you just focus your eyes forward and try to make better decisions in the future? Why not just forgive yourself and move on? She gave me a lot to think about. I don't remember everything that she said, but I remember that her point was why not move past the past? Put it behind you, forgive yourself, and move on.

Thanks to Jesus' sacrificial work on the cross, I have already been forgiven by God. I have asked for his forgiveness for the wrong things I have said or done. I have decided to move on. To leave it at the cross and walk on, free. I have a whole future ahead of me, but if I let my past hold me down, I won't get anywhere. I feel free since I have given those things to God.

Can you do the same? Can you move past the past? Leave it with God? Look into the future and see an opportunity to start fresh?

As for the trials, I have seen so many ways to be thankful for the trials, now that they are done. Sometimes it is hard to be thankful in the middle...I sure wasn't. I cried. A lot. I was mad at God. I was mad at some people. But I recently asked forgiveness of God...and someone I have been angry with for four years. It is freeing! You have no idea until you do it. Are you still mad at God for a trial he sent you through? Ask forgiveness. Find something to be thankful for in the trial. It helps. For me, the stuff I went through in 7th grade has shaped me to be sensitive to those who may feel left out. I'm thankful for those experiences now.

Can you leave your past behind? Can you be thankful for the trials? Can you move past the sinful, embarrassing or dumb things you have done in the past? Can you forgive yourself?

And be content to let the past be the past and move forward into a fresh and open future?

I can. I hope you can too.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Guess Who Can Drive Now!?

You probably guessed it...I can!
I took my permit test yesterday...and passed!
In front of the DMV with the paper that says
 I am a permitted driver!
Next step is to get some behind the wheel training with a professional...then in February I can get my license! :)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

10 Social Sins...and What to Do About Them

Stock photo from Unsplash.com

Happy August! :)
This is a more difficult post to write...mostly because I am going to write is going to greatly convict me.

What are Social Sins?

First of all, what are "Social Sins"?
Social sins are known as sins that many Christians are so used to that they explain them away or just don't know that they are committing them...or worse, have become numb to the fact that they are sins.


These are all examples that I struggle with. I'm pointing fingers at no one but myself.

A Word Of Warning

I'll put it plain and simple...DON'T USE THIS AS A WAY TO JUDGE OTHERS!!! Remember the log in your own eye before removing the speck in someone else's eye (Matthew 7:1-5).

Ten Examples of Social Sins

1. Anxiety

I'll hit you with a big one right away. Anxiety is directly telling God that you don't trust him. Woah! I CONSTANTLY struggle with anxiety. I want to know what is going to happen...now! Not later, now! I want MY plan to work...and I forget that God's plan is better. I forget that I need to trust him.
For example, right now I am trying to get into a class at the local Christian University. I have my plan of how it should work...but apparently, that is different from God's plan, because I have been accepted as a student, but registering for the class is moving at a snail's pace. I have to remind myself to put it in God's hands and not worry about it.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. --Philippians 4:6-7

2. Pride

Yeah, I know, this one seems obvious. We have been told since we were little not to brag. But did you realize that bragging is not the only form of pride? The one that hits home hardest for me is putting myself down. I sometimes struggle with comparison..."I'm not as popular as her" or "I'm not as pretty as her" or "there is no way I could ever be as mature as her" or "as outgoing as her"...the list goes on and on! Comparison is a form of pride. Pride is anytime you take your focus off God and others around you and put it on yourself, whether that is saying you are better than others, or worse than others, or talking about yourself all the time, or doing other things to draw attention to yourself.

"...for God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." --1 Peter 5:5b

3. Complaining

Is it sin to move quickly to obey your mom, all the while mumbling under your breath about how you always have to clean the bathroom? Is it is sin to play with your sister, but think about how boring her games are and how you would rather text your BFF? Is it sin to outright tell your mom that you HATE broccoli and WHY DO WE HAVE TO EAT IT AGAIN THIS WEEK!?
The answer....yes.
Complaining is a sin. It is a form of disrespect. God gives us several commands in the bible about honor and respect. First, he tells us to honor our parents (Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16, Ephesians 6:2). He also tells us to honor and respect other authorities in our lives (1 Peter 2:17, Romans 13:1). Complaining is a big way that we dishonor those authorities.
Besides that, God also gives us a couple direct commands not to grumble or complain.

"Do all things without grumbling or disputing" --Philippians 2:14

4. Anger

So you think murder is bad? How about anger? Murder deserves consequences...but we just let anger slide by. Jesus says that anger is equal to murder! Ouch! How many times am I angry with someone? Let's put it this way...how many times have I committed murder against my siblings in my heart because I didn't like what they did?
Yeah, I struggle with anger. A lot. And yeah, it is a sin. Just like murder.

"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.'  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council...'" --Matthew 5:21-22a

5. Laziness

Pretty much all of Proverbs has something to say about laziness (Proverbs 10:26, 10:4, 12:24, 21:25, 6:6, 10:5, 13:4, 18:9, 19:15, 20:4, 20:13, 12:27, to name a few). The idea that is repeated in all these verses is that the lazy person receives no reward, but whoever is diligent will be blessed. God commands us to be diligent and to work hard. So anytime that we are lazy, or, as James 4:17 says, we know the right thing to do but choose not to do it, it is SIN!

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men," --Colossians 3:23

6. Gossip

I have noticed this in my life a TON lately. "Oh, I've got a story from So-and-so to share" or "Can you believe what so-and-so did" or "did you hear about..." are all things that I've said that very quickly lead to sharing a story that is not my own to share...sometimes (more than I would like to admit) to tear the other person down and build myself up (there's pride again!). As innocent as it seems, it hurts the other person, and really does no good for you or the people you are talking to. And it is sin.

"You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness." --Exodus 23:1

"to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people." --Titus 3:2

See also Proverbs 11:13, 20:19, Ephesians 4:29, Psalm 50:20, James 4:11

7. Lying

Also known as stretching the truth. There is a fine line between joking and telling a lie. I think it is when you stop admitting "yeah, I was pulling your leg" and start insisting that you are telling the truth. It is sin. Even the tiniest little white lie. Still sin.

"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." --Exodus 20:16

8. Jealousy

This is one that you don't hear much about. But think about the time that you saw someone's new phone and you said to yourself "I want that phone." I have a rather funny example from when I was a lot younger. I was at a camp and one girl had some candy. Instead of just outright asking her for a piece, I said, "Oh, I wish I could have some!" Yep, I was jealous of the fact that she had candy and I didn't. I've struggled with that at times at camps more recently when someone I know finds a note in their duffel bag or receives a letter from home. But as I have matured, I realize that that's not the point of camp and I've gotten over the jealousy. But I get jealous of the way that a girl did her hair, or the friends or attention someone is getting, or the shirt my friend is wearing.

"For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice." --James 3:16

9. Corrupt Speech

This is exhibited in many ways. Besides cursing (Exodus 20:7), it comes in the subjects we talk about, and the type of speech we are using (gossip, lying, etc.). In Colossians 3:8, obscene talk is put in the list of sins with anger, wrath, malice, and slander.

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." --Ephesians 4:29

10. Judging

I used to judge people by their feet. "Oh, their feet look weird, they must be weird." How silly is that!! Of course, I don't do that anymore! But I judge people in other ways. "They wear skinny jeans and ride a skateboard, they won't want to talk to me." It is sad, but too true. We judge, I judge, people all the time. Sometimes without realizing it.

"Judge not, that you be not judged." --Matthew 7:1

What do we do about it?

Oh how often I sin against my Lord! It makes my heart sad as I write this post and think about the sins that I just listed. How many times in the day do I commit one or more of these sins and fail to realize it? Too many to count.

If you have similar thoughts, would you consider joining me in a period of meditation and prayer, examining your life today and this week and seeing what areas you have sinned in and confessing them to our perfect savior?

                          *                  *                 *                   *                    *                    *
So what do we do about these sins? We can't just ignore them. And we can't fix them on our own. Believe me, I have tried in the past to fix my failures on my own. But it doesn't work. Read this next verse s  l  o  w  l  y...

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." --1 John 1:9

The word for confess means to say the same thing. You call sin what it is, and you call it what God calls it...evil.

The first thing to do when the Holy Spirit convicts us of a sin is that we need to confess our sins to God. And if you have sinned against someone else, confess to them as well.

The second thing that we need to do is repent. Repentance means that you are walking one way, you stop, turn 180 degrees and start walking the other way. This is hard, but it is worth it.

The third thing is PRAY. Prayer is key to every part of our Christian walk. In the Lord's Prayer, there is a line that says "forgive us our trespasses, as we also forgive those who have trespassed against us." We need to daily ask for forgiveness (Matthew 5).
Also, the Bible clearly tells us that there is a war out there. And I don't mean a war in Iraq, or a war on Terrorism, or a world war, or a war between two tribes in South America...I mean a war in the spiritual realm.

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." --Ephesians 6:12

There is a spiritual war going on all around us every day of our lives. I would encourage you to read "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis. Though it is fictional, the book gives good insight into the spiritual war and how it affects us. Later in Ephesians 6, it tells us to put on our armor--the shield of faith, the belt of truth, the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the sword of the spirit, and prayer. Prayer is our key weapon for battling sin.

Bear with me, I've only got three more things to say on this topic.

The fourth thing we can do about sin is to spend time in God's word. Read it, study it, memorize it. I listed a verse with each sin. If you struggle with any of those, might I suggest that you memorize the verse so you can call it to mind when you are tempted to fall into sin?

"I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." --Psalm 119:11

Our fifth weapon is accountability. Don't try to battle sin on your own. Get friends behind you to pray with you, to ask you how you are doing. If you know that at the end of the week you will have someone asking you if you gave into temptation, you will be less likely to do so.

The sixth weapon is related to the fifth. I would highly recommend getting someone in your life who you can mentor. It's like this: You know that this person is looking up to you to see how they ought to live as a Christian. It makes you think twice before gossiping, or living in anxiety, or complaining.
If you have a younger sibling, you have that younger person to mentor already. In my life, I have four younger siblings who (though they probably would not admit it) look up to me. I also work with kids at church and babysit all the time. Do I want those kids I come in contact with to pick up bad habits of corrupt talk, complaining, gossip, disrespect, etc.? No!! It is a constant reminder to live a life that sets an example.

"Do not let anyone despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." --1 Timothy 4:12

I'm sorry, this was a long post. :)

Do you have any additional ways to battle sin? Are there any other "social sins" you can think of? Any Bible verses that help you in the spiritual warfare that is going on all around you?

Remember that God loves you and he wants you to turn from your sin. Nothing you can do can make him love you any less or any more than he does.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but shall have eternal life." --John 3:16


Friday, August 4, 2017

What I Read- July 2017

I love summer because it gives me the chance to read. I don't have to worry about all the other school work, I don't have assigned reading for school, I can just read for fun. Here is what I read this month;

The Hidden Flame (Janette Oke and Davis Bunn)

This is the second in a series of books by this team of authors. The first book (titled: The Centurion's Wife) is set between the resurrection of Jesus and Pentecost. This book is set between Pentecost and the Martyrdom of Stephen.
In this book, Abigail is a young woman in the Christian community who helps to make food and care for the apostles and the other believers- or "Followers of the Way" as they call themselves. She has injured her leg and walks with a limp...and yet there are two men who are interested in her. One is an influential and rich Jewish merchant. The other is an unbelieving Roman soldier. She is not interested in either one. She ends up marrying a fellow believer named Stephen and helping him in his ministry to the orphans and widows.
But their joy as a married couple is soon to end. The Jewish merchant, her former suitor, was the brother of Saphira. Saphira and her husband were killed by God for lying...but the merchant thinks the apostles did it. So he plans to take revenge. He does this by having Stephen arrested and killed.
In the midst of all this, Abigail's younger brother, Jacob, as grown into a young man. He has always dreamed of being a Roman soldier, but his guardian is now a believer and won't support his dream. So he goes to the Roman soldier who was Abigail's suitor and appeals for help towards his dream. But this Roman soldier too becomes a believer, and Jacob ends up joining a friend as a caravan guard. He isn't happy there, but it is a little closer to his childhood dream. But Abigail feels a new tension between the two of them, and she doesn't like it.

The Silent Songbird (Melanie Dickerson)
This is another fairytale rewrite (I wrote about one of them in April). This one is based off the story of Ariel. She is trapped by her cousin (the King) in one of his castles, and she has a beautiful voice. The king is scared that she will be stolen away if she ventures out in the world, so he forbids her to leave without a guard...and he is forcing her to marry a man who is at least twice her age. So the maiden (named Evangeline) ventures out on her own. She goes with her faithful servant and pretends to be mute. She goes by the name Eva. She meets and falls in love with a son of a duke. Then her secret comes out, and he is angry with her. She eventually regains his trust, saves his life, he saves hers, and they marry in the end. This book connects with two of the other books in the series...but since I had to figure it out on my own, you do too! :) (Oh, and by the way, the next book in the series comes out in September 2018...eagerly awaiting!!)

Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives (Charles Swindoll)

This is another one of Swindoll's amazing Bible biographies. I love these books. This one was a smattering of stories of often-overlooked people in the old testament. From the part of Abraham's story we don't hear about, to Jabez, to a guy named Uzziah I'd never heard of, this was full of unusual characters and great truths to learn from their lives.

This Changes Everything (Jaquelle Crowe)

This was a FANTASTIC book written by a teenager for teenagers. Guys, don't let the pink cover fool you, it is a book I would recommend to both girls and guys. Her retelling of the gospel brings so much color to it...as if there wasn't enough color in the gospel already. I mean, GOD comes down to earth to die for his enemies...pretty amazing! But her retelling made it come alive for me. I really saw the WONDER of what he did on the cross. Anyway, following her retelling, she talked about how the gospel changes, well, everything. She applied the truth of the gospel to ALL of life. Not just sin and church, but time, relationships, media, service, and more. And let me say, some of the things she said were SERIOUSLY convicting!!!! I loved the discussion questions at the end of each chapter. Just three short questions that make you think about how what she talked about applies to YOU.

reading quote

Monday, July 31, 2017

What I've Been Up To (July)

It's me again.

I feel like July has been a crazy busy month, but when I look back, I realize that I'm exhausted because I've been doing the same things over and over and over.

Here is what I've been up to this month.

Working...on finishing two school subjects- Geometry and Spanish 1.
Applying...to take a dual-credit biology class at the Christian College in town.
Exercising...at the gym and with Karate. I've tried swimming, the treadmill (ouch), the elliptical machine, the stair climber, and the bicycle machine.
 Studying...for my green belt test in August.
Attending... Forest Home as a CCA (child care assistant). I babysat a little boy (22 months old) named Harvey. He was adorable. During the day, I worked with the 7/8 year old day camp, attended my own camp sessions, played games with the other CCAs, and enjoyed a little bit of free time taking pictures. Then at night, I babysat Harvey so that his parents could go to their session and have some time to hang out.
Serving...at children's hunger fund with my youth group. We sorted through donations of cleaning supplies and hygiene items and food. It was fun to serve with other teenagers.
Visiting...downtown with a group from church. We saw a Taoist temple and learned about that religion and culture.
Contemplating...being a student leader again next year.
Thinking...about what it means to live in the world but not be of the world.
Finishing...and adorable sock monkey for a friend's new baby.
Cleaning...my room. I tried to finish a deep clean by the end of the month...but I failed. So my new goal is the end of August. :)
Practicing...piano. I'm working on memorizing a nocturne. I'm also working on a duet to be played with a friend.
Preparing...for school to start again. I'm excited and ready to go.
Making...a wish list of books to get on my kindle!
Enjoying...time with my family and friends, as well as any chance I can get to use my camera!
Wishing...I was at the beach or in Oregon with my extended family...I want to escape the heat!
Gathering...supplies for our emergency kit. It was a summer project that mom assigned, and I decided to work on it the other day. I gathered a bunch of phone numbers for the contact sheet.
Spending...lots of time at the beach...and wishing I could be there more :)

I think that covers all the stuff I've been doing lately.

Now for my goals for the next month.

1. AWANA starts at our church in a couple weeks. I'm being T&T secretary again this year, and I want to get everything in place to be ready to start BEFORE it actually starts!
2. Finish Spanish 1 before school starts.
3. Memorize my Grieg nocturne.
4. Deep clean my room.
5. Make a decision about student leadership.
6. Start School! :)

Keep scrolling for pictures!

Trip downtown

Spent plenty of time at the beach this month

The creek at camp

The view on a hike at camp

With my friend at camp

Friday, July 14, 2017

Photoshoot: Downtown

I went on a little day trip downtown on Saturday. The main purpose of this trip was to learn about different cultures, but I took my camera along too...just for fun. :)

The ticket counter from the old days

The sign says "Step up and give us what you've got.
All players welcome." If only I had something
A shoe shine guy!

A fun old building

This just made me laugh. I wonder if they still
make candles here?

A classic city street

Welcome to Chinatown!

We stopped by a Taoist Temple, just to see
what it was like

Inside the temple

One of many shrines
This was an interesting stop on our trip. Most of the temple was Taoist (pronounced with a D), while there was a little portion that had a couple Buddhist shrines. There was Buddhist funeral going on, as well as a festival, so we got a free meal out of our visit! We also talked to a guy who claimed to be a Christian, but he also said that Buddhism and Christianity go hand in hand...anyway, we think he was probably of the Bahai faith, which (as I understand it) teaches that Jesus has revealed himself to all people of all religions in different ways...basically, any way you try to get to heaven will work. Which, by the way, is not true. Jesus is THE ONLY WAY.

Lastly, the food we ate. :) This was noodles, veggies,
and tofu. It was actually pretty good.

And lunch part two. Chinese dumplings with pork
inside called Dim Sum.

This was an eye opening trip, as far as getting introduced to a couple different cultures and three religions. It was also a fun chance to get to try out my camera! :)