October 13, 2015

The Enchanting Rose Mug Exchange!

I am SO happy I decided to participate in the Tea Cup/Mug Exchange with one of the blogs I follow, The Enchanting Rose.  I signed up to just exchange coffee mugs - I'm more of a coffee person - and had a ton of fun picking out some stuff to send along to Natalie at Wordz on a Page.  Here is the picture she took of the mug she got from me in this post:


An enchanting woodland creature mug (owl or fox?  Who knows!), a notebook, a copy of a book I thought she'd enjoy, some shortbread cookies, decaf coffee.  It was such a fun shopping trip and I'm glad Natalie enjoyed her package!

September 21, 2015

This past week...

Who knew working two jobs and going to college full time could be this much fun?!

I was so nervous at the beginning of the semester, but here I am a week later, and if my days are busier they are certainly not any less enjoyable since I love what I do at school and work.  And somehow there is always time to do other things I love.  :)

At school, I learned about cell division and osmosis in human biology, practiced using the subjunctive mood and the present perfect tense in Spanish, and in advanced composition, I reviewed tons of picky grammar things, like different kinds of clauses.

I packed out a mug for to send for a mug exchange... Thanks to Stephanie at The Enchanting Rose for coordinating the Tea Cup and Mug Exchange!  Shopping for other people is one of my favorite things to do.

The Enchanting Rose

I also received a mug!  But you'll have to wait to see it... It is going to get its own post.

I began working at my college's Writing Center as a "trusted reader" or TR (basically a writing tutor, except it's a more collaborative experience).  I've loved it so far, much to my surprise.  As a very shy person, I imagined tutoring sessions being really awkward and hard for me, but I actually feel so comfortable working on an essay with someone.  All kinds of students come in.  It's going to be such a fantastic experience to have before I graduate.

I cut my own hair!  A year ago, my hair looked like this:


Short on the sides/back and floppy on top.  (Also slightly orange... Thank you, misleading box hair dye.)  I've been growing it out for a year, but I missed the fuzzy feeling of buzzed hair, so I gave myself an undercut on the nape of my neck.


I really like the way it looks, especially with a bun.

At the library, I've been creating a display in the young adult area.  Banned Books Week is coming up next week, so I compiled a list of frequently challenged books and made a nice display on the bulletin board.  I'm also changing all the signage in the DVD section.  I like putting the skills I learned in graphic design classes to use!  All of the random things I am interested in seem to converge at my job in the library... Such a God thing.


I read a good book.  Actually, a collection of novellas by Stephen King.  It's called Different Seasons and has four stories in it.


"Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" is my personal favorite; it's about a couple of guys in prison for murder (but I'm sure you've seen the movie The Shawshank Redemption).  It's an interesting commentary on institutions; I made some parallels in my mind to the public education system (not to say school is a prison - just to question what the institutions are supposed to accomplish/how they attempt to accomplish it).
"The Body" is another good one.  I began reading it and thinking, "I'm pretty sure I watched a movie exactly like this..."  As I read I finally realized it was also a movie called Stand By Me.
"Apt Pupil" was the most disturbing and graphic - very twisted; not my favorite.  I didn't bother with "The Breathing Method."  Maybe I'll get to it eventually.  It didn't grab me the way the others did in the first few pages.
I've seen some of the movies based on his books, but never read a single one until last week.  I liked them a lot and plan on reading Misery next.  What an excellent, creepy movie - but of course the book is always better.  ;)

I also went to a Renaissance Faire with my mom and sister.  It's such a fun, playful environment with TONS to do and see.  There were many different singing groups of bands, plays about Robin Hood, all kinds of food and shops, random entertainers milling about, and SO MANY people dressed in period clothing!  I'm not into costumes and stuff, but it was a great place to people-watch, haha.  And of course I had my picture taken with a cute juggler.


I would totally go back next year.  It poured on us for a while as we watched the jousting tournament, but all in all it was so much fun.

September 13, 2015

Back-to-School Organization!

And now for something totally different...!

When it comes to organization, my motto is the cliché, "A place for everything, and everything in its place."  Everything I own has a home.  If I have something that doesn't seem to have a logical place, I usually have to rethink if it's something I truly need.

The hardest place to keep organized, it seems, is my desk area.  Ideally, I could have the Pinterest office of my dreams.  Think perfect white walls, lots of natural lighting, a beautiful modern desk, a comfortable yet adorable chair, office supplies totally hidden away, maybe some tiny plants for good measure... Something like this:

So much inspiration: http://www.stylemepretty.com/living/2015/03/19/30-of-the-prettiest-offices-ever/:

I can only dream!  I get frustrated when I see these kinds of set-ups on Pinterest because 1) they don't seem 100% functional to me, and 2) they make me SO JEALOUS that I can't have something so gorgeous!  ;)  I'm sure there are real-life people who have such lovely set-ups as these, but it's not attainable for me where I am right now.  So I make do with what I have!  And what I have is a corner in the bedroom I share with my sister.  


The furniture doesn't match, none of it is dainty or chic, and there's a fair amount of clutter,  but it is DEFINITELY functional and comfortable.  It's probably a hastle keeping a Pinterest office clean, with all the expensive accessories and white furniture... I've just got a hand-me-down office chair, a bunch of plastic Target drawers, and some black furniture that can take a beating.  Dream offices aside, my "office" is the most important area in my room.  I spend a lot of time working here, so I need to make sure that I know exactly where every single thing lives.

Bookshelves


As a huge bookworm and librarian, my bookshelves are the most prominent pieces of furniture in this area, and I take pride in making them "user-friendly."  I do this by organizing my books by type/subject.


The top shelf has mostly school books, dictionaries, sketchbooks, art history books, general creative-inspiration type of books, and folders with boring paperwork in them (bank, car, college).  I like that kind of stuff to be right by my desk, so I can quickly grab whatever I need as I'm doing homework.

The bottom shelf is a bit more diverse and has Christian books/devotionals/study guides, Bibles, and Bible references, English and grammar handbooks (probably belong on the top shelf, but I can't fit them there); and books that I want to get rid of.  Lol.


This is my fiction shelf!  It's small - just the top two shelves right now - but growing at an alarming rate.  I imagine I will need a new book shelf soon.  My fiction books are organized alphabetically be the author's last name, just like in a library, and they're two books deep, which is... Annoying. (On the bottom shelf is just some CDs, computer stuff, and super old books that I didn't know where to put...).

Art + Office Supplies


On top of my fiction shelf is a set of very precisely-labeled drawers with office supplies in them.  It's not the most beautiful set-up, but it's very organized.  I absolutely relish being able to quickly grab whatever I need as I need it.  I also keep a file holder up top (the light teal thing that's half cut out of the picture) for stuff I need to do: homework exercises, paperwork-type stuff, paychecks, etc.  Once I finish it, it goes off into its rightful folder or binder.


Underneath my desk are two large sets of drawers.  The one on the left has a lot of technology-type stuff: camera + accessories, Wacom tablet, headphones, microphone, adapters, random cords, memory cards, flash drives, etc. (I also stick doodles from my notebooks in the top drawer.  I'm not sure what to do with them yet!)

On the right is all my art supply paraphernalia.  The top has paintbrushes, palettes, and spray paint.  The middle has paints, markers, and tons of drawing supplies of every medium.  The bottom has tools and stuff: different kinds of tape, a hammer, modeling tools, a tape measure, wire cutters and benders, a glue gun, etc.

I keep some small sizes of paper on top of the drawers, but my larger pads of different kinds of paper live in the closet with my drawing boards and easel.

Between the drawers are a toolbox, paper cutter, and massive ruler.

Desk + Things Organization


My favorite innovation this school year has been my "Reference Binder."  I have picked up on a lot of library-style organization habits, and this is one of them.  At my library, we have binders for everything from community activities to general procedures.  My binder is a tool for keeping my class info in order.  As you can tell, I didn't spend any money on a new binder - this one has been generously reused for at least ten years.  There's all kinds of stuff in here.  I have a section for each of my four classes.  I put whatever I don't need with me at school in here for quick reference when I'm studying: syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, handouts, etc.

The Reference Binder lives right behind my computer for easy access.  :) If you are struggling to keep track of schoolwork, I really suggest you try a "reference binder."  I imagine it would be helpful in homeschool as well.  All you need is a binder, some dividers, and a hole punch.


I write all my homework on this whiteboard as it is assigned.  Obviously I've done my Spanish homework already.  :)



 Here are many Things.  My Van Gogh poster is mostly for looks and for sticking notes on.  I've got the reference binder, a tape dispenser, a stapler, a desk lamp, and a pen cup, as well as my brand-new Things organizer!


 I got this at HomeGoods for $10.  It's a beautiful shade of yellow-orange and the perfect size for my desk.  I keep things in it that I need on-hand everyday, like my planner:


 Most important to me in a planner is that there is ample space to write and that it can fold in half backwards.  I got this one from my college's bookstore.


Anyway, that's all I got done this week as far as organization goes.  I'm very happy with it!

September 7, 2015

A day off.

My year is about to get pretty crazy starting tomorrow, so I'm trying to enjoy today - the last day before working 2 part-time jobs while also going to school full-time.  But I guess that's what Labor Day honors: hard work!  I'm a little apprehensive.  Wondering if I bit off more than I can chew.

Still, I wouldn't want it any other way.  I love going to college.  People go to college (or don't go to college) for all sorts of reasons.  For me, it's about the knowledge, community, experiences, and opportunities, and knowing that where God has me is the best place for me to be.

At college, my faith is at times challenged - I feel so alienated as when a professor talks about Christians as if there aren't any sitting in his class.  But I have never found these situations to be damaging to my hold on what is true, nor do they shake my belief in God.

If a professor is standing in front of a group of forty kids giving a lecture on how evangelical Christianity is detrimental to scientific progress, I know that it would be happening whether or not I am there to experience it.  To be there is an opportunity that I should take advantage of, and I often do.  God has used this challenging of my faith to grow me in my knowledge of what I believe; to know the arguments against Him, and how to refute them if He calls me to.

I love how God gives us the chance to be the light someone needs to see.  He could change someone's mind, just like that, but he chooses instead to say, "Lauren, I could speak right into this guy's heart and tell him the truth about who I am, but you will be so blessed if you get to talk to Him about me.  Here is an opportunity to be involved in my mission!  I don't need you to do anything, because I am all-powerful and have other ways and other people I can use, but what an amazing experience you will have if you say yes."  I just love that so much.

And I love my jobs, too.  Well, I love my library job: my other job as a tutor in my school's Writing Center starts tomorrow, so I have yet to decide if I like it.  But in general, I like to work.  I like to live a quiet life and work with my hands (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12) and be involved with a community.

So busy is good.  Too busy and I might have a nervous breakdown. ;)  And I might be sitting here with anxious thoughts running through my head like "What if I can't get my homework done?  What if I suck at the tutoring job?  What if I start getting confused about my schedule and show up late for work or school?"  But it is easily silenced when I think about the incredible sequence of events that have been used by God to lead up to me being in this place, and I know He won't abandon me now.

September 2, 2015

Don't eat the sandwich board; also, don't be afraid of growing up.

I'm finally settled into my job at the library, and again, it is literally a Godsend of a job.  For real, guys, imagine spending all day in the stacks at the library.  And I get paid to do it.  While "on desk," my duties as a library clerk are to check books in/out and help the patrons.  Behind the scenes, though, I have "off desk" duties.  All of us clerks are assigned a different job to do, in addition to some tasks that we all do.  I could not be happier with the duties I was assigned.  Firstly, I am in charge of the sandwich board.  It looks just like this kind of thing:


Except our specials are more relevant to library events, book sales, etc., obviously.  I have to say, I added a highly unnecessary amount of artistic flair and flourish to the sign.  I've spent way too much time in art classes to not start going ALL OUT when I'm given a blank canvas and some markers.  I may have to tone it back next time to make it more reader-friendly and be able to fit more stuff on it...

My other job is equally as perfect for me: I am more or less in charge of the Young Adult section.  Our YA section is admittedly very small in comparison to the rest of the library, but I'm proud to have the responsibility of decorating the bulletin board, creating themed displays, choosing which books to highlight, helping with the teen activities, etc.  It works out, since I'm actually a Young Adult.  ;)

So, yeah, I'm just writing to say I am so extremely happy right now, and also I feel totally unqualified to have such a great Grown Up job.  I've had jobs before.  But something is different now.  I'm still growing up, at 20 years old, and it's not as drastic and scary as I thought it would be.  I don't know; I kind of thought (way back when) that growing up was some milestone.  It kept changing as I passed milestones.  At some point, all of these things seemed to be the Next Step of Growing Up:
  • I turned 13 and started high school.
  • I turned 16 and started driving myself places.
  • I graduated high school.
  • I met my first boyfriend.
  • I went to college.
  • I got my first real job.
  • etc, etc, etc
However, it was not these accomplishments themselves that grew me up.  It was the experiences I had between the milestones.  For example... I had my heart broken, it felt like the world was ending for a while, and I survived.  I felt myself growing up through learning to deal with the pain of ending a relationship.  I changed my majors three times, causing a lot of stress in school.  I was aware of growing up then, too, as I finally gave it all up to God to hold my future and not let me get in the way by constantly changing my mind, lol.  My family left the church we'd attended for years and years, and it was honestly one of the hardest changes I've ever gone through to find my place somewhere else, but I was maturing through it.

I guess I'm realizing that "Growing Up" is totally a thing.  It's experiencing, and maturing, and learning, and growing. "Grown Up" as a milestone does not exist, though.  That's not a thing.  I don't know exactly what it means to be Grown Up; it probably some kind of myth to motivate you to do stuff.  There will probably never be a point where I say to myself, "Yup, I did it - I have Grown Up, and it's all downhill from here."  Like, I honestly don't want to "finish" growing up.  Ever.

Adulthood is one thing; growing up is entirely another, I think.

August 16, 2015

To the Christian who is floundering.

It's been almost 2 months since I posted last, and literally SO MUCH has changed since the middle of June that I don't even know where to begin.  I can't just start writing again as if I'm picking up where I left off because I left off at somewhere completely different than I am now.  I'll explain a little:

You've probably noticed that I don't use this blog exclusively as a way to give updates on my life.  Usually I stick to my ~thoughts~ on various topics/books/etc. because honestly, my life/lifestyle isn't unique or interesting (in my opinion, haha).

But God has been working behind the scenes in my life so much this summer, and I wanted to share my story, because maybe there are people out there who need to be encouraged by what I've seen and can testify to: God is working behind the scenes in your life in ways you can't understand right now, but it will make sense when He reveals some of His plan to you, little by little.

As much as it feels like I'm going through something that no decent Christian ever has gone through in the history of EVER, in my heart I know there must be Christians like me.

At the end of May, my fourth semester in community college was over and I was working a few nights a week at an Italian restaurant and that was about all. I had big plans!  I applied to a bunch of library jobs to get my foot in the door towards library science (what I plan on going to graduate school for eventually).  I looked for ministries to get involved in.

But one by one, the rejections came in.  I put out a HUGE effort to do try new things or put myself on a path towards the future, but nothing came of anything I applied for or pursued.

On top of that, I was mooching rides off of my family to work because I didn't have my own car, so during the day, I didn't have much of a choice but to spend a LOT of time at home.

I felt one hundred percent the definition of stuck.  I was antsy for something to HAPPEN.  My day-to-day life wasn't challenging or exciting.  It was quiet and chill and boring, boring, boring.  I was so incredibly discontent and felt guilty - like I was failing to be a useful Christian.

I prayed for direction from God, for some kind of opportunity to crop up and get me out of this rut of not doing anything.  I put myself out there and interviewed for a few jobs, trusting God to make the right thing work, but still was being rejected.  I felt a little abandoned and very confused.  I was walking with God and had surrendered myself to His will, but nothing was happening.  Did He really not have anything for me to do?  Had He really just left me to my own devices?

Finally, a few weeks ago, I had a huge lightbulb moment during one of my devotions:

"Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called..." - 1 Corinthians 7:20

"'...let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the LORD."  - Jeremiah 9:24


"Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." - John 13:7

It struck me suddenly that until I was called somewhere else, I was where God wanted me at that exact moment.  To realize that doing (seemingly) nothing could be a "calling" was a little bizarre, but the more I prayed about it and talked about it and read about it, it made sense.  I realized that this - right here, right now - was God's will.  I had surrendered my life to Him, and this was what He had planned for me: to hang around my house, working part time at a job I couldn't stand (but that I was grateful for having!).  An excerpt from my journal at that time (in purple, because I always use a purple pen):

Here's what I know: God isn't trying to confuse me.  But He has made my life in this moment very clear [...] In a small way this seems like a renewed sense of purpose: I've made the effort to change my path to something that more directly seems profitable to me, but God says that I am doing well for now here where I am. [...] My resolve is renewed to make the most of my days at home & nights at work: to follow my little routines, save my money, spend it too, tithe it, pray, fellowship, be creative, relax, whatever, you know?  I don't have to feel guilty for my simple little life.  I'm not called to be guilty...

I "learned the secret of being content" (Philippians 4:12) with my calling and became so much more joyful and purposeful.  God's plan had been revealed to me a little tiny bit and I threw myself into wholeheartedly serving God where I was by being a fantastic waitress and taking advantage of my time at home, rather than dreading going to work and complaining about boredom at home.

Maybe there was something going on through these experiences that would prepare me for something later, maybe not.  But it was nice, after a little bit of an existential crisis, to finally have peace.  I began to remember times before when I found out after the fact what was going on in the background, and had hope that something BIG was coming soon...  There is ALWAYS something going on in the background.  Sometimes big things.  Sometimes little things.  Sometimes a LOT of things.  God reveals what He's doing in HIS time.  I hope I'm not making anyone uncomfortable with these super personal journal entries, but here's part of a prayer I wrote later that week:

It's the hardest thing right now to just trust that I am where I am supposed to be - that you are here in my lil life and not somewhere I need to work towards in order to know you.  

You might know from previous posts that I struggle with "working towards" being a Better Christian or Closer to God.  I challenge you to just be and let God do.  Because God absolutely does.

I was happy, content, and peaceful with where God had me.  I enjoyed God's presence, put all my fears at His feet, and trusted Him.  I was not antsy.  I didn't feel guilty.  And all of a sudden things started happening.

First, beyond all reason, my Spanish skills (which I had ample time to practice with all my free time) started coming in handy.  Then, I finally saved enough money to buy my own used car and pay for insurance.  Then, totally out of the blue, I was offered a library job that I had absolutely NO qualifications to recommend me for.  I interviewed and gave it up to God to fill in the rest.  He saw fit to give me a job that I had prayed and prayed for, and I am still in shock that I was accepted for it.

In the space of four days, I had the independence of my own car, a fantastic new job dropped into my lap, and began to see the things I had messed around with at home were becoming useful.  If I sound like I'm bragging, well... I am.  ;)  I'm bragging not on my own accomplishments (obviously lolol), but on what an awesome God holds my life in His hands.  You can see that I am pretty useless on my own strength (as well as really pathetic...), so how cool is it that I can trust a God as mighty as this?

And now I am a witness and I want to tell you that you are NOT forgotten, floundering Christian.  God is doing things in your life.  Soon, you'll look back and see how all these crazy and confusing moments brought you to somewhere fantastic.  Walk with God and bloom where He has planted you.

June 17, 2015

How to Dress Modestly?

The topic of modesty has been hashed and rehashed a million and one times.  Not only that, but there are a lot of different philosophies on what is modest and what isn't.  I searched "modesty quotes" on Pinterest and found quite a menagerie of ideas...!






It's all very confusing for a girl who just wants to please God, but I am going to simplify it for you.  God doesn't care what we wear.  He really, really doesn't.
We aren't our bodies.  There's a lot more to use than that.  We've simply been allowed to live in these living corpses for a little while, in preparation for where we - our souls - will spend eternity.

1 Samuel 16:7
"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

Does He look at my clothing?  No.  The Lord looks at my heart.  That's kind of scary, because there in my heart, He can see the root cause of all the things I do.  As I go about in the clothes I've chosen, the Lord doesn't look at my clothes, but at the reason in my heart for why I wear what I wear.  He knows why I do anything that I do.

It's easy to hold onto the belief that God has made rules to follow regarding dress.  It's a lot harder to open yourself up to a relationship where someone knows you literally inside and out.  It's SUPER hard to trust that in a relationship with God, we can have security knowing that we are doing the right thing, as long as we are walking with Him.

I think sometimes that I would rather follow a set of rules.  I'm kind of black-and-white like that sometimes.  Before Jesus came to us, there absolutely had to be a law and rules to follow.  There was a black-and-white.  Wool and linen together, eating pork, and adultery were off limits.  Circumcision and animal sacrifices were commanded.

But now a new law is written on our hearts when we open it up to Him.  Instead of constantly referencing a written law to find out right and wrong, all we do as Christians is walk with God.  Hand-in-hand, He guides us.  Sometimes decisions aren't black-and-white, like what we should wear or whether or not we should pursue college.  But in the company and fellowship of Christ, all we have to do is what we want to, because when we walk with God, what we want is exactly what He wants.

Psalm 37:4
"Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart."

It's not a huge mystery.  There aren't hidden rules.  God doesn't want to confuse us!  He has made it so simple; we are the ones who make it complicated.  This doesn't just apply to clothes.  It applies to every decision we ever have to make.

Here's why emphasizing clothing at all is impossibly backwards:

Matthew 23:25-28
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.  In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

For instance, getting a girl to switch from bikinis to a feminine neck-to-knee swimming dress is cleaning the outside of the cup.  It's not a victory to convince a girl to toss out her "immodest" clothing and fill her closet with "modest" clothes.  Don't push your ideas of modesty on girls who don't walk with God.  God doesn't smile down on the lost souls in long skirts and say, "Well, they may be dead in spirit, but at least their knees are covered!"  Start with the inside of the cup, and watch as the outside of the cup reflects the heart.

I'm definitely not saying that it is wrong in any way to dress with a certain level of coverage, if that's what you want to do.  But do not push it on others, believers or non-believers, or claim to be following a Biblical standard.  When you walk with God, it's really your choice to wear what you want.  So wear pencil skirts,  wear soccer shorts,  wear plain jumpers,  wear pink floral skinny jeans, and own that choice!  If it's a personal conviction, great.  If you want your daughters to dress a certain way, fantastic.  I just think modesty shouldn't be a movement, and it is not a Biblical standard...  In the Bible, it is just a Greek word that means "orderly, virtuous, decent, modest, well-ordered."

Here are the two places where the Bible mentions a woman's appearance:

1 Timothy 2:9-10
I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.  

1 Peter 3:2-5
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. 

He could easily have contrasted the "braided hair/gold/pearls/expensive clothes" with "this specific kind of acceptable clothing and modesty standard," but instead He contrasted it with "good deeds and a gentle and quiet spirit."  That is what is more important than anything we put on.

To sum it all up, what I've learned is to quit worrying that I'm breaking some hidden rule in the Bible, and just focus on walking with God and revel in the freedom He has given me.  He has brought me to life and set me free.

~

Lauren

May 9, 2015

No more dead footballs.

I'm totally procrastinating from studying for finals right now.  Three exams on Monday, then one on one on Tuesday and two on Wednesday.  Send help.
In the same way, a couple of months ago I was totally procrastinating from reading The Silver Linings Playbook!


Ight so my sister suggested The Silver Linings Playbook to me, but I thought it was going to be a football book, because of the title and the little icon of a football helmet on the cover.  Football is honestly one of the least interesting things I have ever come across in stories - whether it's a movie, book, or even an actual game being played on TV.  I really, really don't care about football.  So I put off reading this book.  I guess I forgot the #1 rule of reading: Don't judge a book by it's cover!  n00b.

It's not really about the playbook.  It's more about the silver linings.  TSLP is the story of a bipolar and possibly amnesiac guy named Pat Peoples who is trying to return to normal life after some time spent in a mental institution-type thing.

"I believe in happy endings," Pat says to his therapist.  “If clouds are blocking the sun, there will always be a silver lining that reminds me to keep on trying.”

Pat's story isn't going too hot so far.  But he knows things are going to turn around eventually.  Soon his wife, a high school teacher named Nikki, will end "apart time" and come back to him, no matter what everyone else tells him.  In the meantime, he works out obsessively, reads books off of Nikki's high school reading list, and tries to reconnect with his father and, ultimately, his old life.

This is a one-of-a-kind story.  I loved every page and was so absorbed in the story that I couldn't put it down, even to go to class.  I put it inside my textbook to read in Philosophy 107.

The sense of hope is so refreshing among a host of popular books that offer none.  Pat is a perpetual optimist, and is truly trying to do the right thing.  He used to have a horrible attitude, which he blames for his wife leaving, so now he is "practicing being kind over being right."  Through the first-person perspective of being put inside Pat's head he narrates, the reader can feel the kind of innocent quality in the way he views the world.

There are plot twists galore!  (No spoilers.)  HOWEVER, don't watch the movie before reading the book, because the movie gives away every single twist away in the first 15 minutes.  Like... come on.


Although I think this is a universally enjoyable book, avid readers especially will appreciate the scenes where Pat voices his opinion on various classic novels.  He makes references to

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

and maybe a few more... can't remember.

Generally, he is frustrated by the end of these books, because there is no happy ending.  It sort of acts as a device to show Pat's psyche:

“When I read the actual story - how Gatsby loves Daisy so much but can't ever be with her no matter how hard he tries - I feel like ripping the book in half and calling up Fitzgerald and telling him his book is all wrong, even though I know Fitzgerald is probably deceased... You can tell Fitzgerald never took the time to look up at clouds during sunset, because there's no silver lining at the end of that book, let me tell you.”


In a way, this whole happy ending/book reference theme reminded me of the JF book No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman.  If you read NMDD in middle school, you'll probably like TSLP.  A really entertaining read that totally leaves you with a different perspective on what happy endings are.

This book is totally a touchdown.



Background Music

You'll understand why I picked this song after you read the book. ;)

May 1, 2015

This book review is for the guy who keeps yelling from the balcony.

Before I start into this review, I must tell you something that I am very ashamed to admit.  I watched the movie first.  I almost NEVER watch the movie adaption of a book until I've read it.  I firmly believe that in most cases, it is necessary to understand the author's intention before seeing the translation onto the big screen.

Wait, no, come back!  I'm really not That Person who will tell you "The book was way better than the movie!"  Okay, well, sometimes I'm That Person.  But not with every book and movie, because I'm about to tell you about a movie that was as good as - or better than - the book.

Scott Pilgrim is a series of graphic novels by Bryan Lee O'Malley.  I did not know this when I put the movie on.  I just loved Michael Cera in the show Arrested Development, so I found another movie with him in it called Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and when the title card said "Based on the graphic novels by Bryan Lee O'Malley" I was like... Oops.

Anyway, spoiler: the movie was fantastic.

BUT I had to read the graphic novel to fully comprehend whether or not the movie was true to the nature of the book, so I bought Scott Pilgrim, Volume #1: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life on Amazon.  Not even a hard copy of it, just the Kindle version.  So impatient.

A few key points:

1.  This is a 6 volume series of graphic novels that was combined into a barely 2 hour long movie. Kudos for doing that!  (It's exactly the opposite of The Hobbit's franchise...)  For this reason alone, I appreciate the movie/books - it was a masterful, concise adaption.

2.  In this particular case, I recommend watching the movie first - it has all the best parts in it.  Then go into the graphic novels and see the details of the rest of the story.

3. I don't want to write a movie review, but UGH.  It was just such a great movie with wonderful comedic timing and the right amount of cheesy special effects and one-liners and it is so awfully quotable.  Bread makes you fat?

4.  I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of graphic novels or video games or rock band kind of stuff which is this book/movie in a nutshell, but I still loved it.  So I think I can safely say that this will surprise those of you who think it's not your kinda thing.  It's probably a universally awesome movie.
If not, prepare to die, obviously.

~

Nominated for this tag by Kelpie from C'est La Vie!
  1. You are in a parking lot and see a rough looking man drop a bag full of Coca~cola cans. They roll under cars, out into the road way and everywhere else imaginable. What would you do? (Not what should you do but what would you do?) I would get in my car and drive away.  #strangerdanger
  2. You are alone out riding your horse in the (uninhabited) mountains. A blizzard comes screaming through the trees and quickly engulfs you. What's your response? I would do that thing they did in Star Wars & turn my horse into a sleeping bag if I had the proper resources.  Or maybe die accidentally.
  3. Where would you rather be stranded during a bad storm: a bookstore, a restaurant, or an antique shop? I could spend all day in a bookstore, but realistically I would be at my job waitressing in an Italian restaurant.  So yeah I would hang out at my job and eat chicken parms for a few days.
  4. You may go to only one of these parties: a masked ball, a sock hop, or a sleep over with your best friend. Which do you chose? A sleep over... Not big on dancing or parties.
  5. You are told that if you swim from the mainland out to an island (a very long distance, longer than you have ever swum before) you will be given the wish of your dreams. Do you try or are you afraid of drowning? I don't think I could swim that far and even if I could, I wouldn't know what to wish for when I got there!  So no, I wouldn't try.  :)

April 22, 2015

Imagination, of course, can open any door - turn the key and let terror walk right in.

I'm a huge sucker for those real-life crime shows: Cops. 48 Hours. Cold Case. Forensic Files. Documentaries and movies based on unsolved murders, serial killers, and strange tales of almost unbelievable villainy pique my interest: Zodiac. The Imposter. I Survived BTK.

This obviously comes from my mother. We frequently sit up together until late at night on weekends to watch the newest episode of Dateline or The First 48 or whatever else is on, both of us equally engrossed.

The horrifying stories of people who seem to have no soul are so intensely interesting to me. I prefer not to hear the interviews with the police, but the interviews with the cold-blooded individuals in orange jumpsuits.

I want to understand them. I want to find a piece of them that I can relate to; something in them that is in me, too.  These people were knit together by the same Creator as I. We both have some semblance of a soul within us. We are both human.  What makes us different?

Truman Capote’s book In Cold Blood is an account of the events that led to the capture of the men who senselessly murdered the Clutter family in 1959. Capote spent six years working on this book, interviewing witnesses, neighbors, friends, and detectives. Then he filled in the blanks with so much detail that it is not simply a retelling of a horrific crime, but a story.

Two things I have taken away from it:

1. A deep, profound encounter with murderers that satisfies in me the desire for understanding the mind and intimate thoughts of souls in the dark.

“There’s got to be something wrong with us. To do what we did. ” – Perry Smith

2. An understanding of what a story is. This account emphasizes how life really works. A murder doesn't simply affect those who kill and those who die. The wingspan of the whole situation touch parts of the human existence outside of life and death. Capote includes seemingly arbitrary dialogues and details that express the reality that no man is an island. There are references and conversations that cover so many topics and induce a multitude of emotions: chilling or heart-warming or thought-provoking.

“Sometimes, when I come home from work – well, I’m tired. But there’s always coffee on the stove, and sometimes a steak in the icebox. The boys make a fire to cook the steak, and we talk, and tell each other our day, and by the time supper’s ready I know we have good cause to be happy and grateful. So I say, Thank you, Lord. Not just because I should – because I want to.” – Mrs. Alvin Dewey

Whether or not Capote maintained complete accuracy in every exchange and process, he captured the essence of non-fiction writing.  This will be added to my bookshelf as a reference to how influential the talented telling of a true story can be.

April 21, 2015

Dude, this thing claims I have been nominated for an award.

Kelpie at C'est La Vie totally just nominated me for a Liebster Award and I'm not even gonna lie, I'm so excited.

1. What other blogger inspired/inspires you to blog? 

No one really; I kind of took it upon myself to blog and I think I stay quite independent of outside influences.

2. What is your Myers-Briggs personality type?

So I took the test and I'm an ISFP, "The Artist," and it is so awesome to see how right the description is.

3. Do you have any traits that do not fit your personality type?

Really everything applies to me except for maybe the part about being serious - but I probably come off as more serious than I am.  I'm also iffy on this page that says ISFPs are "extremely perceptive and aware of people... gather information about people and seek to discover what it means."  I'm not sure that I have that trait.

4. What is the biggest lesson you have learned during the past year?

To simply be and let God do (as opposed to searching the Bible for rules to follow, etc.)

5. What is your favorite subject of study?

This semester, the history of modern art.  I could look at Impressionism/Post-Impressionism paintings alllll day.



6. What is your favorite non fiction book? Why?

Right now it's Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung.  "Hyper-spiritual approaches to finding God's will don't work. It's time to try something new: Give up.  Pastor and bestselling author Kevin DeYoung counsels Christians to settle down, make choices, and do the hard work of seeing those choices through. Too often, he writes, God's people tinker around with churches, jobs, and relationships, worrying that they haven't found God's perfect will for their lives. Or-even worse-they do absolutely nothing, stuck in a frustrated state of paralyzed indecision, waiting... waiting... waiting for clear, direct, unmistakable direction.  But God doesn't need to tell us what to do at each fork in the road. He's already revealed His plan for our lives: to love Him with our whole hearts, to obey His Word, and after that, to do what we like.  No need for hocus-pocus. No reason to be directionally challenged. Just do something."

7. If you could chose any era of time in which to live, what would it be?

Anytime before Internet but after indoor plumbing.

8. Do you play an instrument (may include voice)?

Piano, guitar, and I have participated in many choirs.

9.What is your #1 hobby?

Tie between reading and drawing!

10. How do you prefer to spend your free time?

Reading and drawing.

11. How many times have you done this award? ;)

I've only been nominated this one time!

~

Thanks, Kelpie!

April 20, 2015

Who will write book reviews for my charmingly helpless husband when I'm gone?


Before I Go by Colleen Oakley (Fiction/Romance/Chick Lit) was a suggestion that came up for me on Goodreads.  The premise sounded really interesting to me – Daisy, recently diagnosed with breast cancer, seeks out her husband Jack’s next wife.

What we read on the back cover is the description of Jack as “brilliant but otherwise charmingly helpless.”  Charmingly helpless?  What does that mean?

WELL.

Daisy needs to find Jack a new wife because she is worried about what will happen to him when she passes away and isn’t around to take care of him.  To take care of him.  I’ll paraphrase her reasoning here: “Who will pick up his socks from the floor when I’m gone?  Who will make sure he eats a balanced meal?!  Jack doesn’t know how to cook, clean, or function without a woman to slave for him!” Chill, girl.

Anyway apparently he is a man-child.  Then why not seek a new mother instead?  Or a maid?  Or a therapist?

Honestly, I really wanted to like this book.  It has a cute premise.  But when the story began to develop – Daisy worrying about Jack and concluding that she must find him a wife - I was not convinced by the plot, and I think that killed the story for me.

As I was reading it all was seeming weirder and more bizarre and I was expecting a really dramatic ending.  I was so disappointed when it all added up to a big misunderstanding.  It was resolved in like… One page.  “Oh, Jack, I was foolish for not trusting you!  (Even though you have been ignoring me and hanging out with a hot chick who doesn’t have cancer that I have been trying to set you up with!)  Silly me!”

That is not how it probably would have gone, realistically, and I felt like it was a cop-out.  If Jack had at least admitted attraction to this other woman, I would have been happily unsatisfied with the ending (tension!).  But nope, Other Woman is quickly forgotten, and *spoiler alert* Daisy dies and that is our ending.  (But is it really a spoiler if you know that she has a couple months to live after reading the back cover?)  And I really didn’t have any emotional connection to the characters, since I couldn’t justify neither Jack nor Daisy’s actions at all in my own mind.

I didn’t know much about Oakley when I finished the book, so I looked her up to see what else she’s written.  She is a journalist and this is her first novel!  I thought that was super cool.  It’s possible that she is still finding her voice as a creative writer, or she has little personal experience with the topics dealt with in this book.  I will probably read her next novel out of fairness to her.  :)

April 15, 2015

The Great Gatsby TL;DR



I like these blogs so I answered their questions.

Since I have a few posts in the works right now, I don't want to post anything that will take a lot of effort, but this week 2 of my favorite bloggers were nominated for Liebster Awards and they said that anyone could answer the questions they posted.  I liked getting to hear a little about them, and I thought maybe you all would like to hear a little about me, so here we go - I picked 5 questions from each blog!

TEXT HERE

Caitlin at Daughter of Destiny

I love this blog because Caitlin always has an anecdote to connect an inspiring and encouraging message to real life.  Be sure to press play on her playlist to hear some calming, uplifting hymns and worship music!

What type of church do you go to?
I go to a Calvary Chapel!  Calvary Chapels are nondenominational and take a "come as you are" approach to services (casual and comfortable for people from all walks of life to come to).  At least, the one I go to is.

Do you play any instruments? Why or why not?
I play the piano and the guitar.

What interesting studies have you done that you find fascinating?
Ok, this semester I am taking an English class in which we are studying popular culture and it's definitely one of the most interesting classes I've taken.
We are studying a lot of different things: McDonalds, outlet malls, the TV show The Wire, illegally downloaded music, advertising, clothing factories abroad, etc.  It's been very eye-opening.

What's your favorite kind of music? Why?
I love so many kinds of music, but right now I'm obsessed with Spanish worship bands, such as En Espiritu y En Verdad.

Coffee or tea? Hot or cold?
Cold coffee in the morning, hot tea at night.


Sunday Best and All the Rest

Paige at Sunday Best and All the Rest

I've been following Paige for a little while for the fashion inspo and consistent outfit posts!  If you have "four eyes", don't miss here two posts titled "All About Glasses" for some tips on choosing the right frames and how to use your makeup to compliment your specs!

What movie have you seen more than any other?
The Princess Bride.  I've also read it more times than any other book.  I also want to marry Westley.

If you could be in a costume drama, what era would it be from?
The 1920's

Do you feel more at home in front of a camera, behind the camera or far away from any camera?
Behind the camera for sure!

What are you feelings on exercise?
Exercise is insanely important, but my feeling is "I don't want to exercise."

Would you rather plan your own party or have someone throw a surprise party for you?
I would rather never, ever be the center of attention at any kind of party. I would rather throw one for someone else instead.

April 12, 2015

It's a smile, it's a kiss, it's a sip of wine, it's summertime!

We're not even halfway through April yet, but it's finally nice enough that I could spend the day outside after church and I'm just SO EXCITED about the summer!

I'm already planning a list of ideas for things I want to do when school lets out...


A good mix of long-term goals for the entire summer and goals that can be completed in a day.  :)

April 8, 2015

Dogs can't sit still for very long.

Right?  Dogs just don't have it in them to sit still.  Everyone knows this, I think.  It's one of their most endearing qualities as a species.  I love dogs.  If you ever need a model for gesture drawings, look no further than a dog.  The other day it was really nice outside, so I tied my dog, Mika, to a big tree with her super-long leash and let her enjoy the sunshine and smells and grass while I knocked out some sketches of her antics.


Forget 30 second gesture drawings or even 15 seconds - I don't think she stayed in the same pose for more than 3!  It was challenging, but it forced me to grab the most important details quickly; after she moved, I had to flesh it out a little more without the reference.  Quick drawings like these are important to practice.  It's easy to obsess over getting perfect shapes and outlines, but being all perfectionist like that is a really tough way to work.

April 5, 2015

Here in the love of Christ I stand.

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

I've made up a playlist of songs that I feel describe Easter perfectly.  Some of them I added because we sang them in church this morning.  :)

Enjoy the joyful music!


March 31, 2015

...Out like a lamb?

March came in like a lion, and is going out like a lamb.  Like some kind of mutant death-lamb with razor sharp teeth that preys on lions.  Totally loving this never-ending winter we're having here in New York.

Anyway, here are some stuffs that I liked on this last day of March!

Stuff I Heard

Evan Craft and Carley Redpath - "Oceanos"
If you have tuned into any Christian radio station in the last couple of years, you will most definitely know Hillsong United's song "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)."  It is poignant, worshipful, and beautiful.  "Oceanos" is the same song, just in Spanish. It came on my Spanish worship music Pandora station.  I fell in love with it immediately.

Stuff I Bought

I got a new job earlier this month, so I buy things now.  Really random things.  A lot of books.  I went to Barnes & Noble between classes.  If left unchecked, I can spend way too much money there, so I just stuck to the bargain priced stuff today:
  • A copy of Martel's Life of Pi
  • A compilation of Carroll's classic works, including Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
  • A bag with a picture of Heller's Catch-22 on both sides
I think the bag will be perfect for trips to the library, and I'm quite excited to own the two books, even though I have already read them.  There's a relatively new ULTA Beauty store next to B&N, so I also popped in there and picked up a mascara, springtime-y peach lipstick, and a tiny bottle of hair product.

A package from Amazon also arrived today, containing a Spanish translation of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and a pair of AWESOME socks featuring one of my favorite paintings, Klimt's The Kiss.

Stuff I Wore

LOL @ me trying to make an outfit post.  Not my thing.  But yeah I didn't have to cover my clothes up with a jacket this morning so here we go.  (Pretend like you can't tell how grody my mirror is.)
striped cardigan ~ flowery dress ~ gray fleece-lined sweater tights ~ lace boots ~ the end ~ also ft. a tiny bun and my fav backpack

Basically it was a good last day of March.  Hopefully April takes a hint, though, because as much as I love these fleecy tights, I am ready for shorts.