Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What I'm Into (April 2013)

I can't believe that it's almost May already! I'm linking up again with Leigh for a recap of the month.

Highlights



     My dear friend Demetria was in town for the week, so I got to have a belated birthday dinner with her, and also meet up with Geri for a three-some breakfast. We all led a worship ministry together our sophomore year of high school, and have been good friends ever since. Demi and Geri graduated a year early and proceeded to leave the continentDemi went did a YWAM DTS in Kona, and Geri attended the Alpha Bible school in Greece, while I stayed home to finish up high school. Since then, Demi has moved to Spokane, WA, so we try to hang out whenever she's in town and we get the chance. It was such a blessing to meet up with these two girls, cook breakfast together, and enjoy some sweet conversation. It went by too quickly, I miss her already! The hardest part is not knowing when I will see her next, but since I'm moving to the west coast next year, hopefully it will get a little easier to see each other more often.
     I've been writing like crazy this month, and working on a series for May or June. I'm looking for some people to guest postif you're interested, comment, and I'll shoot you an email with the subjects that I'm looking for guest posts on. I'm also guest posting later this week on Aubrey Sampson's blog: stay tuned!
     This was certainly a hard, stressful month in parts, and it is still surreal that my college decision is made, but it has come to good close, and I am grateful for that.

Bookwise

I did a quarterly reading update at the beginning of the month to check up on my year-long reading goal. This month in particular I finished a total of  seven books, though two of them were re-reads.
I finished:
  • Uncommon Decency by Richard J. Mouw was the second of my Urbana reads that I have finished. I really enjoyed his thorough and Christ-centered approach to the idea of civility. He tackles the idea of learning how to engage in a kind and loving manner with people that we disagree with. A terrific read whether or not you are passionate about social issues and politics.
  • Love Walked In, Belong to Me and Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos were my quick reads for the month. They have incredibly cheesy titles, but were surprisingly well written in spots. Not classics by any stretch, but they were light and fun reads.
  • The Pricking of my Thumbs and A Pocket Full of Rye (by Agatha Christie) were my re-reads for the month. I love anything by Agatha Christie, and I love that I can re-read her books and still not remember who committed the crime. 
  • East of Eden was probably my favorite read this month: see the Quarterly Reading Update for a longer review. 
This month I started quite a few longer books: A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens); The Once and Future King (T.H. White) and The Dangerous Act of Worship (Mark Labberton; another Urbana book). I'm not too far into the latter, but already I love everything he has to say. The Once and Future King is still intimidated me a little because of its immense girth, but I love the adventure and whimsy and humor, so I'm definitely sticking it out to the end. A Tale of Two Cities is good, but I am having trouble sticking with it. Ironically, I was watching an old Mentalist episode last night, and one of the shots showed Patrick Jane lying up in his loft reading the same copy of Tale of Two Cities that I have. Guess I should get moving on that one!

TV and Movie-wise


This month, I got hooked on Sherlock, thanks to a few friends who suggested it. I love the intensity of the episodes, and the wit and humor convinced me to stick around. One of the best adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories that I've seen. I'm currently one episode away from finishing the second season.

Kelsey and I have been working our way through the seasons of Chuck, and we just finished the third season. One of my all-time favorite shows!

Music-wise


I'm listening my way through all of the Josh Garrels albums that were on Noisetrade earlier this month. I really like his newest album, Love and War, and the Sea Inbetween, as well as a few songs from Over Oceans, but as I listen through, I find myself marking a lot of songs as deletes. There are some really good songs on both Jacaranda and Over Oceans, but some that are equally bad (in my opinion). 

On the Web:


New in my blog feed: 
chatting at the sky  for the beautiful words, the clean, restful design, and the encouragement. The post that drew me in was How to Brush Your Teeth Like a Revolutionary
The Run a Muck for the beautiful combination of poetry and prose, and her honesty about the struggle of women using their gifts of teaching in or outside of the church. The post that made me cry was On Holding It In.

Favorite Links: 

"When I was 16, I got a purity ring.
And when I was 25, I took it off.
I didn't tell anyone I was doing itit wasn't a statement or an emotional thing. I just slipped it off my finger that day, and before tucking it away in a box, ran my finger around the words on the familiar gold band.
'True Love Waits.' Waits.What's it 'waiting' for anyway?"
The Way of the Water at (in)Courage
"All must be, in some way, let go. This is the way of the Water. He moves, scatters, shakes. We will stand and be engulfed by Glory. We will feel the breaking apart of everything that is us. Hearts will tremble in awe of I AM. And every day the Water will overwhelm. And every day, the tide will roll out and our eyes will see the life He has given, the life that comes after the Covering."
When I believe in the gospel, not your story at Deeper Story
"We weaponise STORY as a concept sometimes as a means of hiding behind the fact that we don't want to face the consequence of being wrong, or being prideful, or dare we actually say it-sinful, out of line, not conforming to the pattern of God's logic and design that is woven through complex strands of Scripture.
We need to find the balance. Let us share all the stories, but let us pledge our allegiance but to the One."
A powerful response to the Dove "True Beauty" Campaign: Why Dove's "Real Beauty Sketches" Video Makes Me Uncomfortable. . . And Kind of Makes Me Angry
"I don't know if anyone else is picking up on this, but it kinda seems to be enforcing our very narrow cultural perception of "beauty": young, light-skinned, thin. No real diversity celebrated in race, age, or body shape. So your beautiful... if you're thin, don't have noticeable wrinkles or scars, and have blue eyes. If you're fat or old...uh, maybe other people don't think you look as fat and old as you do yourself? Great? Oh, and by the way, there are real women who look like the women on the left. What are you saying about them exactly?"
Something to make you laugh: Do you speak Christianese? at Stuff Christians Like
"Brethren and sistren, how is your daily walk? How are your quiet times and devos? Remember that seven days without prayer makes one weak! For me, I've just been counting it all joy. I'm too blessed to be stressed and too anointed to be disappointed. I hope you don't think I'm superspiritual or that I've arrived. After all, I'm not perfect, just forgiven. Some people have accused me of being so heavenly-minded that I am no earthly good, but have patience with me pleaseGod's not finished with me yet!"
And a few more if you are interested:
 Pursuit of Beauty: http://kindredgrace.com/ambassadors-of-beauty/

How to make art when there's no time for art: http://www.chattingatthesky.com/2011/05/02/how-to-make-art-when-theres-no-time-for-art/
The one song no woman can afford to miss: http://www.incourage.me/2013/04/the-one-song-no-woman-can-afford-to-miss.html


On the blog:
The three most popular posts this month were:
How to Survive as a Homeschooler... 
7 Quick Takes Friday (In which I told you about my college decision)
Quarterly Reading Update

Teaching-wise

This was a great teaching month, we finished it off on Sunday with our spring recital. I only had twelve students who were available to play, but they all played well and I am so proud of them. I had two students perform a duet for the recitala first for my studio, and for four of my students it was their first-ever piano recital. 
     I had a group class this month with nearly all of my younger students; it was quite an adventure
(there were seven of them) but we had fun, and I think everyone learned something! We played some games, sang together, talked about Mozart, and then they filled out a worksheet while two of the girls practiced their duet.  And they all got to perform their recital pieces for each other.
     I'm excited that it's warming up outside now, yesterday I was able to take my students outside for a time to work on note naming and rhythm in the sunshine and warm weather. I'm going to need to buy some new side-walk chalk soon, mine is running dangerously low!
 
What have you been up to this month?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

How to Survive as a Homeschooler...

In a world of not-so-sheltered people

I've been homeschooled my entire lifeI've never been to public school, unless you count my two classes at the community college. I'm still learning the basic survival instincts that go with being a homeschooler in a world of not-quite-so-sheltered people, but I think I've adapted fairly well, so just in case you're struggling, let me help you out.

Six Ways to Blend In

1. Don't look like one.

This is the most obvious point, but I can't get away with wearing a skirt and t-shirt without my little sister teasing me that I look like a homeschooler. Of course, I just tell her, "Of course I look like a homeschooler! I am one!", but still, this does count in real life. If you want to blend in, the first rule is appearance. As follows:
a) no jumpers of any sort.
b) denim skirts are cute, but vary it a tad.
c) polo shirts aren't the only shirts out there.
If you're trying to blend in, go trendy-modest.

 

2. Play the hipster card instead of the sheltered card.

If you don't know who an actor is, or you don't know the words to the latest pop song, don't tell everyone that you weren't/aren't allowed to watch that movie or listen to that song. Just name some obscure (but preferably real) band that is "similar in style" or some "foreign film" that you watched (don't say it was for schoolthat doesn't count in real life). I wasn't super sheltered but I still don't listen to pop music. I listen to a lot of obscure indie artists. That's apparently cool these days, so just make sure that they don't play that artist on K-love, and you are good to go as far as name dropping in conversation.

Friday, April 26, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

 
  I'm linking up to Jen at Conversion Diary to participate in 7 Quick Takes Friday. Basically, I get to link up (YAY for blog traffic, because practically zero people regularly read my blog) and I get to make a list of seven random things. Doubly awesome. Plus, I'm going to tell you about my final college decision, but first you have to read all the way to the bottom. Muahahaha.

1.

Blog troubles...
I am trying to use Google Analytics to help me figure out how to make my blog more readable/navigable (is navigable a word? Because when I say it in my head it just sounds funny... sort of like divisive. Whenever I use the word divisive people say, "do you mean decisive?" to which I answer, "no, divisive, like it divides people..." and they stare at me blankly. Most of the time. Me and not-real words...) but I am having trouble. I can't figure out if it (google analytics, in case you are lost) is actually scanning my page and I just have had zero stats because I've had zero posts the past week or if I didn't set it up right.
I love Blogger because it is easy to navigate, but I'm pretty close to downloading my blog to Wordpress, because blogger has been incredibly stupid lately. My HTML feed is the worst, like when some tutorial says "search for thus and such" and I search for "thus and such" using CTRL + F and it doesn't show up in the feed, and then I go looking for it myself and find it exactly the same way that I typed it in. Maybe I'm just computer illiterate, but I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to be able to mess it up when you follow a tutorial word for word.
And I tried about five ways to get a related posts widget instead of LinkWithin, but it wouldn't work. LinkWithin keeps linking posts that aren't even slightly related, so I just sort of gave up, and left LinkWithin because it is better than nothing.
Lame.
 Thanks for listening to my blogging rant. I feel better now. 

2.

I got to celebrate a belated-birthday dinner Wednesday night with my lovely friend Demi who is in town briefly from Spokane, WA. I didn't get a picture of us that night, but I did get a few pictures of the amazing birthday present. I love her gifts, because they are usually just a random jumble of things that made her think of me, which means that they are super spontaneous.
Exhibit A:
That's her handwriting. She writes me lots of letters. Be jealous.
Exhibit B:
box of birthday goodies... :D

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Because of Boston: A Pair of Sonnets

                                 1.
Before the mountains were brought forth, before
     Earth and the world were made, then God was God:
And God will still be God, when flames shall roar
     Round earth and heaven dissolving at His nod:
     And this God is our God, even while His rod
Of righteous wrath falls smiting sore:
And this God is our God for evermore
     Thro’ life, thro’ death, while clod returns to clod.
For tho’ He slays us we will trust in Him;
     We will flock home to Him by divers ways:
     Yea, tho’ He slay us we will vaunt His praise,
Serving and loving with the Cherubim,
Watching and loving with the Seraphim,
Our very selves His praise thro’ endless days.

 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Castles on the Plains


He was only a boy, then,
but it is quite easy to recall
the memory of her face, when
in the misty mornings she would call
him, his name echoing in
cobwebs of dreams, clearing
away the thickness of sleep, thinning
the murky fantasies and tearing
the veil of sleep.
He would come,
and she would look intently
at him, her passionate earnestness
engulfing him.
"You must be strong today,
for I need you, in your way,
to be a man for me, my son.
And men must be strong.”
         There was always more,
he could see it in the pain
behind her eyes, the slope
of her shoulders, but the pane
of kitchen glass would catch
the rising sun, and the sun
always took her away.
And he never heard the latch
click because he was still
staring into the flare of the
reflected dawn and aching
to hear the words he could
always just see but never know.
Hints.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Quarterly Reading Update



          As you know, I started out the year with a book list with exactly twelve books on it. If you missed the original post, you can find it here. Here's the list I started out with:
    • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
    • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
    • Uncommon Decency by Richard J. Mouw
    • The Dangerous Act of Worship by Mark Labberton
    • Western Christians in Global Mission by Paul Borthwick
    • Out of the Saltshaker and into the World: Evangelism as a Way of Life by Rebecca Manley Pippert
    • Gulliver's Travels by Jonathon Swift
    • War of Art by Steven Pressfield
    • Seven: An Experimental Mutiny against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
    • You Learn by Living by Eleanor Roosevelt
    • How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler
    • The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbit
        It is a great list; a little heavy on the non-fiction, no doubt, but it had a perfect number to read one book from the list each month. The problem is that I add to my lists as the year goes on, so my list currently has seventeen items on it. Here's an update on what I've finished and what I've read in addition.

    Monday, April 8, 2013

    Rachel: birthing Benjamin

    Madeleine L'Engle

    Fight the darkness. Fight.
    Let the night not rise.
    Push the shadows back
    with tearless eyes.
    Fight the darkness. Bright
    is the loving heart
    pierced by the sword of light,
    thrusting the darkness back.
    Let night not rise.
    Fight the darkness. Start
    the fear-filled fight.
    Love is the one surprise
    that startles the dark.
    Heed not the certain pain.
    Hold anger back.
    Push the shadows apart.
    Dark's loss, light's gain,
    fight the darkness, fight,
    let it not rise.
    Nor fear the pain.
    Follow the light
    which cannot be understood.
    Oh break, my heart,
    fight the darkness. Fight.
    But O my God I would
    push the shadows back
    until I see the child.
    Love is the one surprise.
    I struggle toward the bright
    joy that ends the night.

    Wednesday, April 3, 2013

    Oblation

    Dom Julian Stead

    A sacrifice and oblation we offer to the Father
    Our own lives brought down like a pheasant in late autumn
    Broken blind warm and dead
    May what is left of us be acceptable to Thee
    We bring what we are, not what we would be
    To us it looks like Comedy
    Though pride would have it Tragedy.

    The audience are bored and have all walked away
    And I am left alone, better leave the stage,
    It is only an ice floe slowly melting.
    Soon I shall be alone and very wet
    And very cold, in the lower Arctic
    Up to my neck, that will be the end.

    And there will be glory to the Father
    And to the Son and to the Holy Ghost
    As it was in the beginning
    Is now
    And ever shall be
    Amen.
    But how this shall be His glory
    I cannot ask or tell.

    Tuesday, April 2, 2013

    Vulnerability: Thoughts on Nehemiah 1

         (Before I begin, I want you to know that I am post-dating this. I originally wrote this post on April 2nd, and I'm going to publish  it as if it was written then, but in reality, I took two weeks to edit it and get the thoughts of other people in on it. I'm not in that same place any more, but it doesn't make it any less true.)



    “And they said to me, ‘The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.’”





    The remnant in Jerusalem has survived; somehow they have lived in Jerusalem (or somehow made it back) during the captivity of Babylon and then of Persia, and now they are vulnerable, open to attack, because the wall is broken and the gates are gone. Their defense and protection has been broken and burned, the gates are gone. They are open to great trouble and shame, vulnerable to attack.

    There are periods like this in all of our lives when somehow we have made it through one crisis after another. An attack, a loss, and a betrayal later and finally we emerge, but barely. We’re only just hanging on, and we have fought so long and been hurt so deeply that all of our defenses have crumbled down until we are this close to breaking point. We are vulnerable.

    There are days we are strong, when the kind words of friends, the encouragement of those we love and the joy of the Lord build a shining barrier round our most precious parts and we feel secure, confident, safe. Happy. In these moments we have the power of choosing to whom we show our hearts. We can open the gates; let others in, or bar the gates to keep them out.

    But then there is that treasured dream which is crushed, and not just taken away but mutilated, scorned, smashed to bits before our eyes and we are left humiliated. Hurt. And there are the words and betrayal of a friend whom we loved, trusted and pursued which shake our foundations and cause us to question ourselves. There is the long anxiety of unknowing about the future which gnaws at me, wears me down in unrelenting steadiness. Loss, too, breaks the walls. It doesn’t matter what it is—a friendship or a friend, a trust, child or parent or relationship, a family member. Our walls are broken down and our gates destroyed by fire.
         In that moment our hurt and shame and anguish and grief are so near the surface, boiling-over ready, on-the-verge, breaking-out ready. You’ve been walking barefoot too long and if anyone mentions your dirty feet, you lash out at them with the buildup of the last month. You are so tired, broken, that you’re just hanging on. Just barely.

    It’s easy for me to forget that I’m not the only one who knows that feeling when I walk into a store or church or work. We’re walking bombs, waiting to collide with one another before we explode and hurt everyone around us.

    But despite all of this, we have a God who rebuilds defenses. He doesn’t tell us to get over it and move on already, but tells us we don’t have to build our own walls. He tells us that we don’t have to ignore our anger and pain and hurt, because he is our defense. He is our stronghold, our refuge, our strength in times of weakness. He holds the pieces together.

         There have been days in the past two months when I have been so angry I didn’t understand myself. In those moments I hardly knew myself. I have inwardly exploded and thankfully had the self-control to keep most of it in, to control that dis-proportionate and unjustified anger. The impurities have been boiling to the surface lately and I’ve seen myself once again, that “old man” of which the apostles speak.


    Monday, April 1, 2013

    Easter Monday

    Red River

    Dom Julian Stead

    A river rose
    And flooded in my window

    A river red

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