Monday, December 24, 2012

Traditions

Oh me.
Christmas time is here!

While there are plenty of fantastic traditions associated with Christmas, anticipations, showings of love, present buying, remembering the important things of life, this time of year also holds a particular trend for me:

I get sick.

(...I feel that I have posted more about being sick on this blog than anything else.

This is partly due to the fact that when I am sick, there is little else for me to do save sleep, watch movies, read, or stare at the walls and ceiling. After a while, those tasks become tedious and I turn to typing out things.
The reasons for this typing habit I am yet unsure of. But I know I like the clickity-clack of my keyboard and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from "officially posting" something. I can't do much else productive, so this is therapeutic.)

Almost every Christmas, I have come down with something.

This year it is the flu and a sinus infection.

It all started last Sunday...I'll spare you the details. It has not been a very fun week, but I will say that I now have antibiotics, which should heal me up nicely.

There is one little downside to said antibiotics: they completely remove my appetite.

The thought of food is off-putting, which is unfortunate, since it is important to life/health, and doubly unfortunate, because this is the time of year when all the scrumptious treats and goodies are made.

But even amid the sickness and not feeling well, Christmas is here, and it is heartwarming family time. I am reminded of how richly blessed I am.

Perhaps I just needed to spend a week or two sleeping after this semester. 


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lover of books. Books, books, books.


A few months ago, I was posting about being allergic to my book collection.
I didn't get rid of my books.

...I still have said collection, and it's growing.

I love books.

Some people say this, but I realllly do.

I often prefer reading a book to watching a movie. In books, the reader gets to decide just what everyone and everything looks like, whereas in movies, you get to see what Hollywood and the director dictates.

...maybe it's a control issue for me. I want everything to look the way I imagine it, which is more than anyone could put on a screen.

 Either way, my bibliophila is a small problem.


I should never ever go into book stores, especially used book stores where good deals can be had.
Yesterday I found 8 books (and some of them were compilations -- meaning, even more books for my money!)
A few of them were gorgeously bound hardbacks. I am a sucker for a beautifully bound novel, especially if it's a classic.

The stack of yet unopened and unread books, just waiting to be devoured, is exciting.

Something to tack on awkwardly at the end of this post:
I have been noticing that I am starting to read some novels just for the writing style. It's almost like a form of music, to read beautifully crafted prose. Oscar Wilde is a perfect case of this. When I read The Picture of Dorian Grey, I was not fond of the storyline, but I enjoyed how well the book was written. I've started to read other things by Oscar Wilde just for the fact he was so clever and good at writing.

What on earth is happening to me? Am I growing up?

Someday, maybe, possibly, hopefully, I will achieve that similar ability to weave descriptions and dialogue so my reader feels they are right in the situation with me.

I'm sure you know this, but, not all prose is good prose. I have read some badly written published work.
Question: HOW DO SOME RAGS GET PUBLISHED??

When I tried to read Twilight (yeah, yeah, everyone ribs on Twilight, but I am serious), I couldn't get over the bad syntax.

Maybe I should have gone through that "book" with a red marker and sent it back to the publisher. Instead, I got halfway through and decided it was not worth the time. I wish I could write something halfhearted and hokey, get it somehow (magically?) published, and rake in the millions!
.
...but so does everyone, I am sure.

If I had mailed the marked-up book in, maybe I could have gotten a job as an editor!

Now, that would be a fun job.


I'm afraid that I'm turning into a book snob. Oh dear.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Finding Sanctuary


I have been feeling far away from God.

I've been feeling like maybe I'm not really usable, like I am not good enough for being useful.
 I have been tired, stressed, and sick off and on -- still, no excuse.

GRUMP = Makenzie.

I've given in to my selfishness a few too many times, which means I am not fun to be around. I didn't even like myself.
You'd think I'd get it, go to God, and sort it out.

But this thing hung over me like a thick fog. 

I had gone to a few on-campus outreach events, and I got nothing
How could I? I was wrapped up in me.

I was feeling like a very bad Christian.

I was getting to the point of thinking I was hopeless.

Recently, the story of the Prodigal came up. (It's from Luke 15)
You may be familiar with this parable.
I know I am, I've heard it a dozen times at least.

A father has two sons: the younger wants his inheritance and wants to leave his family behind.
The father gives him what he wants and the son goes on his merry way.
The money disappears as the son spends the inheritance on frivolities.
A famine hits the land he's in.
He gets a job.
Feeding pigs is his new occupation. (and pigs were highly unclean to the audience -- they were considered to be just nasty)
He is so hungry, he wants to eat pig slop.
The son realizes his father's servants have it better working for his dad than he does feeding pigs, so he sets off to see his dad to beg for a job.

NOW, this is what hit me:
The son was approaching the father's estate, but he was still far off. 
While he was still far off, his father saw him. He must have been looking for his son.
The father ran to his child.
He wrapped his arms around his son.
He kissed him.

This son is probably nasty from feeding pigs/his journey.
He has nothing. He had insulted his father by saying he wanted his inheritance, which meant his father was dead to him.
His plan was just to beg for a servant's job.
If I were that son, I'd be heading over -- head down, shuffling forward: mortified and full of shame.


I would be embarrassed, rehearsing an apology, hoping it would work to get me some semblance of compassion. 

But his father ran to him. The son didn't even say anything.

After his father hugged him, the son fell at his feet and apologized saying he would gladly work as a servant if it were possible.

But the father gave him the family crest and declared the son was his son and that it was time to rejoice.

The imagery that comes with that makes me feel a deep emotion because I'm getting it.

I have heard this story countless times; I thought I had gotten all I needed from the story.

annnd, I was wrong.

I was just in that spot of realizing that I needed God.

I am admittedly a horrible human being without Him; I don't like who I become when I'm not walking with Him. I'm prideful, whining...well, let's not go there.

I realized how much I needed to reconnect.

So, I was slowing edging towards Him, full of remorse, but not sure how to go about making it all right.

I was far off.

And HE RAN TO ME. 

He embraced me.

I experienced a relief, like when you've been holding your breath underwater and you surface, gulping in fresh air.

Or when you've been out working in the sweltering heat, and you get a glass of ice-cold lemonade and sit in the shade.

That ahhh feeling.


The thought that God runs to us, embraces us, and declares us as HIS, even when we've taken our inheritance and run off, even when we have been pretending like He doesn't matter, is huge.
When we come back, He accepts us.

It's not like He halfheartedly saves, or barely saves us, all the while despairing at how much we screw up.

When we are His, He goes above and beyond, enveloping us in acceptance because He loves us that much.

That kind of love is not like anything else. It is inexplicable...I could try to describe it, but I wouldn't do it justice. It's joy-bringing.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

space cadet.

Ideas, inspiration, thoughts, and issues all cloud my mind, competing for attention.

This may sound sad, but I can easily be entertained. Maybe my standard of entertainment is low.

Once, I did a traffic count for the DOT. I sat on a street corner for 2 hour intervals, counting pedestrians and bikes. (hey, it was good money)

If anything could be boring, it's sitting still for hours.
It wasn't a busy intersection, but I was strangely okay with that sort of sitting still. I was lost in thought, appreciating the surroundings, and counting the few who used the intersection.

I'm not saying I would make that my JOB, but I was able to do it.

I've rarely ever been legitimately bored.
This lack of boredom is something my parents instilled; if I ever complained about being bored, they could find me a task. Sometimes it was entertaining, a craft or a project; other times it was extra chores. I appreciate that they taught me to never allow myself to be bored.

I've trained my mind to occupy itself with ponderings all the time. I like to take on projects.

A downside to always having something to mentally munch on: your mind gets full to overflowing with thought.
Thank God for the invention of writing! Otherwise, my brain would most likely explode.

Another downside to this sort of over-thinking: it is so easy to be a space cadet, absentmindedly floating in one's own world.
It has been embarrassing on a few occasions, because I have found out later that I saw someone I knew, made eye contact even, without even realizing it.
How mortifying.  
I should work on that sort of awareness. I really don't want to come off as rude.

So, if you do see me and I'm not at least smiling at you, please do something to get my attention and pull me out of my thoughts.

...I'm already well on my way to becoming an absent-minded professor.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

That time where I learn not to put things off.

This week?
Oh my.
It has been a rollercoaster.

I had the most wonderful break, and then reality set in on Monday: I had a report to write.
I thought it would be a cakewalk.

No sweat, type the thing up in a few hours, submit it, and be on my merry way.

Not so. This thing was daunting.

I ended up attempting to stay up all night writing.
Once you reach a certain point...

(and realize how UTTERLY DULL your subject matter is)

YOUR BRAIN SHUTS OFF.

If it was anything I had a passion for, I could have stayed up all night. As it was a subject most dull to me (titration) I couldn't get excited.
Because I have in the past been able to stay up all night working on projects and feel fine the next day, I thought it would be a tolerable experience.

This experience was terrible.
Pretty much the worst.

Everything within me screamed sleep, but I made myself stay awake, thinking that perhaps if I could only keep my eyes open, I would be able to write something, anything, coherent.
Sound theory.

Riiiight.

At some point, I dozed off and woke up freaking out -- it was only an hour later. The clock read 3:30 am. I gave in to the urge to sleep, making myself wake up at 6 to try to hit the keys on my keyboard some more.

Because that's pretty much all it was: me banging on the keys.

But I survived. I MADE myself function all day Tuesday.
I was worthless.
I never want that to happen again. I felt the absolute worst I have felt in ages. It was like my brain was seriously impaired.
I hope I learned my lesson.

It was by God's grace that I was able to even write anything to submit.


SPEAKING of writing: I have exciting news.
This kinda makes my day in a strange way.
I, the girl with has little confidence in her own writing ability, am going to grade papers for a class next semester.
I am SO excited!
Proofreading (other people's work) is a favorite hobby.

Monday, November 26, 2012

listing of incoherent thought

Just one quick post.
One quick post and I'll go and be productive.
Seriously.


I have a few things I really need to work on, but blogging is therapeutic.
I may not be able to write a stellar lab report or paper, but at least I can write something to make me happy.

Life is rushing by at an incredible pace; terribly cliche, I know.
But it's true.

I'll be 20 in a little over a month.

20. Two DECADES.

ONE FIFTH OF A CENTURY.

There are so many things I should have accomplished by this point in my life.
I can't be a child genius! Missed opportunity. When you're a kid, and you say something smart or "profound", people think you're amazing.

I suppose, accomplishments are arbitrary when you look at them in the light of, well, forever.

I didn't get quite everything done that I would have liked over break, but that wasn't the point. The point of break was to just be.
I took time to appreciate the luxury of not having a thing in the world that had to be done.
It was a fantastic release. Stress melted. I was silly. I had fun.

I am pretty good at running around and doing stuff, which makes sitting still a luxury, because I can always seem to think of something I need to do.

I really don't understand people who claim to be bored. There is always something to do, ponder, create, talk about...

REALITY CHECK

...it is Monday, and I'm realizing that I really should have been studying a little bit while on break.
But I didn't.
Oh bother. 
If you're in school, please don't follow my example.

I dreaded going back to class today.
But there was the silver lining: THE GYM
How I love that place. I can work out until my frustration and stress disappears and endorphins come to wash away stress.

Bonus of this stress-management technique: I'll probably hopefully be in great shape.

As it is, Chemistry is calling me.
Chemistry is a really needy subject.
If it were a person, and we were dating, I would have dumped it by now.
It demands so much of my time. 
It is full of theories that are both true and untrue, depending on what suits your fancy.
It can be volatile, deadly even.
It has so many silly rules and laws.
It loves naming things after dead people [morbid]. 
But if I can get along with Chemistry, life will be much better.
Because I know, deep down, that Chemistry is my bag, and it's what I'm going to major in, one way or another.

In High School, I had puppy love for the subject. But just as a relationship changes and matures out of the puppy love stage, into something deeper (though hard to handle), now is the time when I have to make this thing work out.

It isn't a picnic...

Enough incoherency for one day.
 Also, these pictures are ones I took while hiking. They also make me happy. It's fall, y'all!



Friday, November 16, 2012

Goals during the giving of thanks

I am so excited for Thanksgiving break.
I have ONE MORE DAY of classes, and then I get a blissful 5 days of vacation.
I am going to study some, of course *wink*, but I have a list of things I really want to do. {Beyond eating an insane amount of food that makes the nutrition-major in me shudder.}

  • I really want to explore a place. A town, a landscape, I'm not quite sure. But I want to take my Nikon and capture stuff on film (or a digital media card, whatever)

  • I want to play music on my uke and guitar until my fingers want to fall off.

  • I want to write and write. It's like an itch. I'll write a short story, a novel, a letter  ...I don't even know...probably a chemistry lab report will be in there somewhere...

  • I want to read a book just for fun. I have not done this in what feels like ages. This is because I do not have the self discipline to put down a book when I am totally engrossed in it. ...though my reading material will probably be about people who live in the Philippines and describe their migration patterns over time. I'll pretend that it's fun reading (yay, anthropology class)

  • I want to spend quality time with those I love. 'nuff said.

  • I want to be totally organized. While I know where things are, and I have a semblance of organization...I'd love for everything to have a nice little home and look all nice and OCD-ish. {note that I am not OCD. I am only really picky about everything being uber-tidy when I am about to be really sick. It has happened on more than one occasion, right before a bad bout of strep and also before a case of the swine flu, and before other various viruses. Perhaps my cleaning sprees are good indicator of when I'm sick. ...or maybe my body is allergic to cleaning...}

These are my goals for my short reprieve from school. Maybe they'll all happen, we shall see.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

type, type, type

I've got a serious list of to-do's.

However, I'm just sitting here.
Type, type, type.

Facebook.
Imgur.
Pintrest.
Twitter.

Type, type, type.
Click, click, click.
Procrastinate.

When I look away from my computer's glowing screen, I see tasks calling out to me, competing for my attention. The tasks that will be put off until the next weekend if I don't get a move on. Seemingly trivial tasks that, if delayed, will grow into mountains of work.

I look back at the screen. Other people are putting things off too.
I'm not alone.

I'll be fine.


Type, type, type.

But I know these mountains will swallow me and I'll never be the successful, accomplished human being I'm 87% sure I can be.

But hollow excuses are rampant.

It's Sunday.
I'm sick.
I want to sleep.
I'm sick. 
My toenails need repainting.
I'm sick.
Maybe I need a snack.

And of course there is much to type, but none of it is meaningful.

Type, type, type.
Click, click, click.
Procrastinate.



I'll brew a pot of tea, grab a blanket.
I'll muster what courage I have.
Armed with index cards and highlighter, colored pens and paper.
I will conquer.
I will conquer the homework and textbooks. I will understand and comprehend.

And the other chores?

The wills must turn into do's.
It is easy to say "I will", but enormously hard to say "I did".


I can think of nothing to type save that I have much to do, and I am not doing it.

Admittance is the first step of solving a problem.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Chapter... Oh, I give up

I am failing this writing a "chapter a day" thing.

Apologies.

I just have suffered greatly the past few days.
And by suffer, I mean, "gone through several trivial inconveniences"
Like, Thursday night I pulled a late-nighter (3am, whee!), trying to understand psychology. As far as I can tell, it's all very silly stuff, but interesting silly stuff nonetheless.
Friday, I had an exam, a quiz, and a paper due.
I also spent four hours sitting in the library intensely studying chemistry.

Saturday, I went to one of the saddest football games.
It was HOMECOMING GAME for my school. I had even gotten my dad a ticket to come with me.
I was excited.

Third quarter? We were actively letting the other team win.
And it's not like the other team was that good. My team had beat the second ranked team in the ACC just a few weeks before.
At the end of the third quarter the score was ZERO-26 
We left at that point.

I think the final score was 6-33.
All I got from that game was a sunburn and a bad attitude.
[Though the band was nice and it was good to spend time with my daddy.]

I've had a head cold all week, but it came back strong Saturday night.
Sunday I stayed home. I felt like crum.

I studied some more.

Today I was thankful for daylight saving time. When I woke up, the sun was creeping up too!

It's so much nicer than waking in the middle of the night.

Also, I am still sick.

As I wandered from lecture to lecture today, I had a strange craving.
All I could think of was how nice it would be to be wearing a soft fuzzy, warm, sweatshirt. I was wearing "normal clothes". They were comfortable enough, but not at the sweatshirt level of comfort.

I even thought about buying the 60-some-odd-dollar sweatshirt they sell in the bookstore.  I didn't, but it would have been worth it.
I wanted a sweatshirt bad.

It sounds weird, but that thought was like a serious craving. I was at the point of not caring at all about my appearance. I wanted a sweatshirt and a cup of something hot. Tea, cocoa, coffee, whatever.
And possibly a blanket.
Throw in some good music.
Maybe even *GASP* if it were possible, a NON-school book. A just-for-fun book. I haven't read one of those in a while.

I was like the little mouse like that book, "if you give a mouse a cookie".

The thoughts kept me going.
Now I have my sweatshirt and hot tea.

ANND My reading book is:
*drumroll*

...my textbooks.
You can't have everything, gotta keep those goals realistic.


Thursday, November 01, 2012

Chapter 1.

As you may know, November is National Novel Writing Month.

I would love to participate, but sadly, life is a little too busy for me to focus my attention on novel-writing.
I don't know that I'd be good at it. Novels are quite different from blog posts.

I am good at typing whatever pops into my head, which is okay for blogging, but not okay for a book. It would be much too jumpy and incoherent, I'm afraid. Writing details isn't always my favorite.

I could play off of that famous Thoreau quote:

"My life is the poem novel I would have writ,

But I cannot both live and utter it.

...I can only blog it."


Plus, I don't know if I could actually write a story. ...actually figuring out a plot? Hrmm.

Okay, okay, I do have some good ideas. Way far-fetched, but as there are so many aspiring writers out there, I am sure they've already been written and novelized.

...and no, I'm not sharing them.  Just in case they haven't been taken.


Also, I recently discovered there is something crazy that actually exists: "fan fiction". It's exactly what it sounds like: writing fiction about something you're a fan of.  Defined by the interwebs:
"Amateur fiction set in universes and using the characters created by other people in television shows, movies and books."
...
...
I'm not sure how to respond to that sort of behavior.

It's... interesting.

...
But really, good for those people writing. At least they're following their dreams and writing something. Adding to and playing off the original author/creator's ideas.


Anyways.

Perhaps I will try to blog something every day in November. It's a start.

I'll have 30 posts CHAPTERS of...whatever it is I decide to write about.

ALSO, the only valuable thing I'm really saying in this whole post: my favorite musician at the moment is Mat Kearny -- such good studying music.



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

An Acceptable Form of Schizophrenia

“Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”~Gene Fowler

“If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad.”
~Lord Byron

“Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators.”
~Olin Miller
 

Writing is an exceedingly temperamental hobby to pursue.

You, reader, as a literate human {I am making some assumptions here, you are human?} have some experience with the fickle muse that is writing. I'm sure that you've had a paper or two to write, or you just felt like expressing thoughts via pen and paper {or keyboard and screen}.

It's possible that you're one of the gifted few, who never realizes how dreadful writing can be.
[If so, why are you reading this? I can offer little.]  

Or maybe, you're like me. You've realized more fully the fickleness that is subjective art.

A lesson I've learned:
Good writing, like good music, cannot be forced.

I know this well from experience.

I took years of classical piano at a young age.
I am no master pianist, even after the hours I labored, and *cough* the practicing I tried to evade.

Elation fills me when I realize that there is NO MORE PRACTICING PIANO.
You'd think eventually, there would be some sort of after-school-special lesson, some comforting moral to impart concerning practicing the piano.
Nope.  Not for this girl.
No regrets. I got what I needed and split.

From an early age, I adored the guitar; it's what drove me to practice piano.

My parents wanted me to be musically literate in piano before I pursued other instruments. It was smart of them, but honestly, piano just isn't my thing. However, I can play Fur Elise, so I am content.

I have a few brief moments of wishing I could play like a great composer, but those moments are fleeting.

I am still sick of that black-and-white-keyed instrument, though I can say that I have experienced that entrancing elusive musical muse from time to time.
It has not come from playing the piano. The muse comes with guitar and song.

When it comes, it's a beautiful feeling. (I won't judge the actual quality of my musical skills, because, in all honesty, I don't like the sound of my own voice. But I like the evoked feelings)

Back to writing. In writing, there will be rare days when the words just flow effortlessly.

An idea bubbles up.
Hazy ideas become sharp in my mind. They refuse repression. If I write those relentless words down, they can happily escape into the written world and trouble my mind no more. 
It feels as if these ideas are aching to be written and I am merely typing as fast as my fingers will allow.
I love those moments.
During those times, paper-writing is a breeze, and I sometimes even write a blog post or other nonsense. (though it may well not be "posted")


But then there are the other days.

Those other days, when writing anything, even:

"Today was Monday. It rained. It is gray outside and I am cold. I want coffee."

feels like a huge chore, something I can hardly bring myself to. The words are bland, the sentence structure awkward.

In such cases, when I force myself to write, it's an utter mess.

I wish I knew the secret of triggering that effortless ability.

Perhaps the key is just more writing?
With instruments, the key is practice. But you also must love what you do. Something about writing, I love, so therefore I will practice.

Maybe I will begin blogging more often, to exercise the creative writing section of my brain
(because we all know college papers do NOT inspire creativity. They inspire regurgitation and saying what professors want to read. )

It is put well this way:

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”
~E. L. Doctorow  
 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

running. late. [part 2]

[for part one, see here.]

..."You are here for the experiment?", he asked.
I began, "Yes, you see I'm sorry I'm a few minutes late, but --"
He cut me off, looking past me. "Follow that man", he instructed.
Not realizing there was another person in the room, I first followed his gaze...

The man before me was nothing like I was expecting.



Long Blood Oozes Down.

The man wheeled close. He sat in a motorized scooter, staring at me behind thick glasses.

Long Blood Oozes Down.
I looked at the man as he departed the dark corner and approached the lighted section of the room.
I smiled and said hello. He continued to stare coldly.
As I took in more details, I saw he had short dark hair, slightly pocked face, and was moderately overweight. He wore a purple sweater and tattered khaki's. On his feet were battered, once-white New Balance shoes. Under his sweater was a holey gray T-shirt.
Thinking back, I have no idea how I remember these details, but they stick out sharply in my memory.
Long Blood Oozes Down.
He spoke and his voice was distinctive.
It was of a higher pitch than I expected, nasal, and his words came out as if his tongue was too large for his mouth. His volume was outright jarring.
The words that came out were slurred, and though I knew the general meaning of most what he said, I had to think hard.
I was becoming lost in thought and he repeated his words. I was to follow him, and he wheeled out of the room, into an adjacent room.

Long Blood Oozes Down.
The adjacent room was small, just large enough to accommodate two computer desks. An older man sat at one of the desks. He stood. He looked the picture of a professor, salt and pepper hair, glasses, mild-mannered. He introduced himself, Dr. ____. The professor told me that he would merely be observing the experiment, so I should just act as if he was not there.

After the professor introduced himself, I realized that the wheelchaired man never told me his name.

Long Blood Oozes Down.
The wheelchaired man spoke again. I still could not fully understand the meaning of his words, though I believe they were English.
He was telling me to sit at the empty computer desk.
Eager to be finished with the experiment, I sat.
Long Blood Oozes Down.

"NOW, YOU WILL NOTICE THE SIGN." It was going to take me a while to get used to that voice. Why didn't the professor say something to this guy? Like the fact that he was practically yelling indoors? I looked for a sign. He noticed I was scanning and pointed, "THERE, ON THE WALL." I saw a paper had been taped to the wall with an odd phrase.  "READ THE PHRASE ALOUD AND WORK ON THE COMPUTER."
I read the words on the sign aloud and clicked to start the computer program. The hum of the machines in the room were soothing.
Long Blood Oozes Down.
The computer instructions told me to memorize a string of letters and numbers silently. I clicked to continue.
"NO."
Jolted, I looked over at the wheelchaired man.
"NO. REPEAT THE PHRASE REPEATEDLY. THEN DO THE PROBLEMS. WHILE YOU REPEAT. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?" He spoke condescendingly as if I should have known.
"Oh. Okay, sorry. I didn't realize..."
"NO. NO OTHER WORDS. SAY NOTHING BUT THE PHRASE."
Long Blood Oozes Down.
This was beginning to strike me as weird. I glanced at the professor in the corner. He was taking notes and looking down. I could just leave. But this experiment was required for me to pass psychology. If I could get it over with, I wouldn't have to worry about participating in any other studies. If this was a taste of the experiments... who knows what the others would be like??
I stared at the screen.
Long Blood Oozes Down.

I took a breath.
I repeated the phrase.
I memorized letters.
I solved basic math problems.
I worked puzzles.
All the while repeating the phrase. The wheelchaired man just sat and stared at me. He was uncomfortably close, but I did my best to ignore it.
The phrase became a long string of nonsense sounds to me.
An hour passed.
I was almost lulled into a daze saying this phrase that had initially disturbed me, but was now simply a chant of nonsensical noises I was making with my vocal chords.
"NO, NO."
The man's loud nasal tones pulled me out of my chanting.
I looked over at him.
"NO. YOU MUST SAY THE WORDS CLEARLY."
While I am typing this in clear English, I had no idea what he was trying to say at first.
Long Blood Oozes Down.
"Could you elaborate, please?"
 He gave me an example of what he meant. He said the phrase, though I couldn't tell it was English. I repeated it to him verbatim, exactly how he said it.
"NO, THAT ISN'T IT"
I said the phrase using good enucication.
"YES. THAT IS BETTER", a nod.
I repeated the phrase.
After another half hour had passed.
Long Blood Oozes Down.
He handed me a piece of paper.
"READ THE SCREEN."
The screen told me I would answer trivia questions, but also I needed to remind my experimenter to call someone in 20 minutes, and to ask for a red pen on question 60. If I had any further questions, I was to ask my experimenter.
I had a question.
"WHAT?", he asked as if I shouldn't have questions.
"Can I write on this paper you gave me? Is that allowed?"
He nodded.
"Great!" I made a note of the instructions I was given on the front sheet.
He looked at me with a shocked expression.
"NO. NO. NO! YOU CAN NOT DO THAT."
"Why not? You said I could write on this paper, right?"
I could tell he was not happy.
"UMM." He paused, unsure how to continue. "You weren't supposed to do that." he said it quietly, as if I was in trouble.
"What do you want me to do? Do you have another paper?"
He pondered this, then shrugged it off.
"PROCEED WITH THE TESTING. AND SAY THE PHRASE."
I took a breath and started clicking. "REPEATEDLY," he added, as if I had forgotten his first outburst.

Long Blood Oozes Down.
I proceeded with the test. The only alteration I had made to my test paper was to add a star to question 60, though he had acted like it was the end of the world. I remembered the 20-minute-phone-call. When I told him, he nodded.
Um.
I wanted to tell him to go make his phone call. I wasn't sure if it was a test to see how persistent I was. The computer told me the experimenter was supposed to actually make a phone call. My guy was just sitting there, motionless, staring at the side of my head, breathing heavily. If he made a phone call, maybe he'd stop staring at me.
Long Blood Oozes Down.
I have decided that I don't like being stared at like that: coldly, unblinkingly.
The phrase again became a singsong mantra, though I said the words clearly.

I finished the questions.
"Anything else?", I asked.
"No. BUT," he leaned in, "I TELL YOU THIS: YOU MUST NOT SPEAK OF THIS TO ANYONE. TELL NO ONE WHAT YOU SAW TODAY. PROMISE OK?"
 Long Blood Oozes Down. 
I just stared blankly and stood. Freedom at last?
Long Blood Oozes Down.
The professor stood and shook my hand saying, "Thank you so much for your time. Have a pleasant day."
I felt strange.
Long Blood Oozes Down.
Two hours had passed in total in that closet-type room.
Long Blood Oozes Down.
Two hours repeating a mindless creepy phrase.
Long Blood Oozes Down.
 Two hours of my sanity sucked away.
Long Blood Oozes Down.
The rest of my day felt surreal, and not entirely pleasant.
I followed up my experiment time by clearing my head on a run.

I am still unsure what they were really testing: my ability to handle myself in a surreal setting? My ability to memorize useless facts?

I'll probably never know.
Long Blood Oozes Down.


Thursday, October 04, 2012

running. late.

 This is a true story and one of the weirdest things to happen to me in the past few weeks. I present part 1 of it:


Long blood oozes down.

I was running late.
I parked in my designated spot, grabbed my bag, and dashed out of my car. It was a mile to my meeting point, thanks to my far-off parking spot, but I had on running gear, as I was planning on going to the gym after my appointment. The day was warm and the sun was shining; I was going to participate in a research psychology project as a test subject. My professor had told me it would be educational and informative. I would be seeing "real-life" psychology work.

A sense of giddy expectation filled me as I anticipated what the project would be like. The description I had been given while signing up was vague; something concerning memory retention and basic skills.

I jogged across campus to the building.

Long blood oozes down.
I arrived at the drab building, breathless. I walked in, trying to figure out what floor my experiment would be on. The design of the building screamed 1960's "modern" architecture, which is not a beautiful sight in any situation. 
I scanned the directory at the entrance: my experiment was on the 7th floor. Currently being on the 2nd floor, and being short on time, I decided to take the stairs. 12 flights up and even more out of breath.

Long blood oozes down.
If anything could give me the creeps, I would say the 7th floor would be on that list. The floor plan was identical to the 2nd floor, but instead of tidy hallways and classrooms, cardboard boxes were stacked along the hallway walls, old office furniture sat in a pile. Rooms branched off of the square hallway, doors shut, contents undisclosed.  I was becoming disturbed by the unprofessional surroundings.

The premises were silent, aside from the occasional murmur of human voice coming from behind those closed doors. I saw one man walking the hall. We made eye contact, and I smiled, but he looked away and exited the floor, not adding to my comfort level.
The hallway wrapped around the floorplan in a square, making it hard to become lost, a security for which I was becoming increasingly thankful. It was not the kind of place you would want to be lost in, this seemingly deserted place with its harsh florescent lighting and linoleum floor.
Walking the square, I finally found the room I was supposed to enter. A hand-made sign scrawled in a shaky hand was posted beside the door. It read, "Experiment #156" with a wobbly arrow drawn beneath it, designating my place of entry. I took a breath, reminded myself that I also had pepper-spray on my keychain, and walked in. This was, after all, a university-sanctioned experiment.

Long blood oozes down.
I walked into the room, still slightly breathless from my exertion. Upon entering the room, a man, typing at a desk, looked up at me. His hair was well-kept, he wore a goatee, khakis, and a mild-mannered expression. His smile reassured me, he looked the picture of a calm, rational psychoanalyst. I felt myself relax slightly and began to feel more at ease despite feeling like I was in a storage container.
"You are here for the experiment?", he asked.
I began, "Yes, you see I'm sorry I'm a few minutes late, but --"
He cut me off, looking past me. "Follow that man", he instructed.
Not realizing there was another person in the room, I first followed his gaze...

The man before me was nothing like I was expecting.
(part 2)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

focus. focus.

Hey blog peeps.

I have many many good stories.

I've shared some verbally, and they were entertaining to my listeners.
For real! There's nothing like getting instant feedback by hearing a laugh or seeing amusement on your listener's face.

...I'm pretty sure that means the story would make a good blog posting. The only problem with this is that I don't have the time to sit and type it all out in a way that conveys it in the right way to you. I have to be in the right mindset.

Right now my mindset is to focus on homework (...which I'm obviously doing well as I'm typing on my blog)
FOCUS.
Yeah...

So, maybe sometime when I have time to really type, I'll share some of the stories from this crazy college experience. 

Maybe tomorrow.

Also, this:

Friday, September 21, 2012

some weeks...

This week has been insane. I can't believe how much time it has taken. Physically, it has been no longer than any other week (as far as I know), but mentally, it has felt much, much longer.

It's the weekend! While I should probably rejoice over this fact, I'm slightly overwhelmed by the amount of homework that will be due in a few days time.

I feel like I should just be a hermit until said things are accomplished. I have a nervousness that I will put the things off [my tendancy] until they are all on top of me and I suffocate from the weight of procrastination. College procrastination is much heavier than high school procrastination, leading to sooner suffocation.

*deep breath*
It's all going to be okay.

On top of it all, this week has also been rather amusing in events that have happened. I really wish I had a camera crew following me discreetly sometimes, so that I could later view my week at my leisure.

Maybe I'll write a book. I'll write a book about the craziness that is my life. The style: tongue-in-cheek, because everyone knows those are the best kinds of books. It will be written for my own benefit, really. And probably I'll force a copy on my close friends and relatives.

But 19 years of my life have been fantastic so far, and rather humorous years at that.
I hope they keep going at this rate. Maybe it's just me, but I hold to the philosophy that humor and amusement is everywhere, if only you look for it.
 ...a decidedly good thing, for I dearly love to laugh.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Getting into shape

This made me laugh hard:
Anyways...
Four weeks into the semester!
My friend reminded me that we are (already or only, call it what you will) 1/4 of the way done with the fall semester.
I'm not sure if I should be encouraged or discouraged.

I have been struggling with time management. I am not the kind of person who can explicitly schedule out every minute of my day, but I do have to have some sort of structure in my life. I've been putting social first, which is not good. I need to become more of a hermit-like person.
I did go on an amazing fall retreat last weekend:



I realize that this whole "college thing" is totally a God-thing.
Going into it, I was pretty sure I wouldn't be getting in, I applied late, I would have to have a ton of loans, and then I was out-of-country for most of the class enrollment period. I was just like, whatever God wills will happen. I surrendered it to Him and stopped worrying about it {mostly}

All of those excuses? God took care of everything. Every little detail!

Now I just have to work to get the groove of using my brain.

I am feeling pretty certain that God has put me in this place to learn and grow. I've heard a few stories of God pulling people out of college to go into full-time work, but I'm experiencing the inverse. God directs every path individually (such a beautiful thought) and if I keep on trusting Him, I know He'll see me through.
My faith is growing through all of this.

So as I'm working on getting mentally in shape, I'm also working on the physical side of in-shapeness. Running around campus from class to class is a good workout. Whee windsprints! My backpack is also about 100 pounds [maybe a slight exaggeration], so it's a good arm/back workout.

My university has an amazing gym, and I've been trying to go there and swim, weight train, and run. My goal is to build up to the ability to run a 1/2 marathon again (and do way better than before)

I've never been a lap swimmer, so the ability to jump in and swim 25+ laps would be awesome. Yesterday I did 8. But Rome was not built in a day...

Anyways, all of that to say that there is much to work on and improve in my life, but God is holding me up! Kind of a boring update, but c'est la vie.

I so love this passage. I identify with Israel, thinking that maybe God doesn't care so much. But He does! {Isaiah 40}:

27Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Come back, Monday!

The whole labor-day thing is throwing my week out of whack!
I need my Mondays.
As much as I might moan about Mondays, they're actually a pretty amazing day.

They take the full brunt of people's complaints.
I don't think I know of anyone who thinks Monday is their favorite day.

A google search of "Monday" proved to be...interesting
From cute little kittens
 To a really bizarre, "Have a Magical Monday"


Poor underrated Monday.

Monday is so dependable though. It takes a beating, is universally disliked, yet it still comes around once a week.

Except for this week. This week Monday took the day off, decided to be a weekend day, and the rest of my days have suffered.
I am used to having one day to gripe, and then all is well. Instead, my week feels like I overslept my alarm on an exam day, and I'm dashing out the door while trying to wake up.


>>>
I am a nutrition science major, and therefore I should be eating like a healthy person.
HA
Ha ha ha ha

If you saw what I've been consuming since the start of college, you'd be shaking your head. I'm working on figuring out how to eat healthily while also not having conventional eating times open and not being close to a kitchen.

My diet has ranged from celery sticks to McDonald's (though I'm not eating there again for a LONG, long, long time)

I have also been eating gluten-free bagels (I have a wheat allergy, therefore, gluten-free)
Bagels are one of my all-time favorite foods. When I found out wheat was making me sick, I was okay with giving up most breads.
But even giving up bagels? That was a sacrifice.

Then Udi's was discovered! I am now not feeling so deprived and full of self pity.

free product placement!


Only one thing that has remained consistent in my diet: my coffee.
I have consumed much caffeine. 

I'm happy God created the coffee bean.

Also, a coffee company visited my college and gave a talk about their facility.
I now know my dream job: coffee cupping.

You get to taste coffee. As a job.
All day, every day, tasting and rating coffee. 








Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Glory Hallelujah!

Okay, cheesy as it may sound, I had a jump-up-and-down-inside kind of moment today.


I have to confess something: I have been in a spiritual slump.

My day was long and busy. Here's how it went down:

6:30am - Up and at 'em...after hitting the alarm 3 times. [yes, I set three alarms, spaced about 10 minutes apart, so I have time to wake up properly. SNOOZE DOES NOT WORK. I pretend it doesn't even exist, or else I'll hit it infinitely]

I grabbed breakfast and coffee, then dashed out the door to hit the beautiful downtown, heavily congested traffic.
The interstate I take is usually 3 lanes. Something had happened this morning to make those three lanes funnel into one.

Oh Beautiful.

But never fear, I took the next exit and used my innate ability to navigate (*cough* my gps *cough*) and arrived at school just in time.

Following this was a blur of classes, rapid note-taking, and trying to be an active participant.

Did I mention that my classes are in different parts of campus and are 15 minutes apart?
It's a good workout (but really, it is. I'm thankful for the excuse to dash about quickly)

After the classes, it was 1:30, and LUNCHTIME.
I ate, and then went to study.
I studied...
...and studied.
Chemistry is what my main focus is on, because my teacher (I do like him) told the class that we needed to devote at least 2 hours a day to the practice of Chemistry.
Optimally, 3 hours.

"How do you get to Carnegie Hall?", is his favorite question.
PRACTICE is the answer.

Following my study time, I went to some meetings [and am now a co-chair at the Nutrition Club! Yay!]

So it had been a long day, and I was about ready to just go home. I had gotten an email about a Cru (campus crusade for Christ) Bible study kick-off, but I was pretty sure I wouldn't like it/I'd be too tired/I wouldn't fit in/insert-excuse-for-not-interacting-socially. (I sound like a terrible person to expect the worst from a Christian group!)

On top of that, thought I, I'm going to Nutrition Club, and it would probably make me late to the Cru thing...and being late isn't good, so I won't go.

Crazily enough, Nutrition got out early.
I had no excuse for not going to the Bible study. I had been studying school stuff for the past few hours, so a break was on the to-do list. 

So I went, in all honesty, expecting the worst.

My expectations were unmet.

I had a great time. I am so stoked about how it is working out! It was exactly the pick-me-up I needed, to be around a group of Christian peers, a more tightly knit group (the on-campus weekly big meeting has ~1,400 attending)


I mentioned it at the beginning: the slump. My spiritual slump has been a downer. I came back from Burundi all glowing with stories of God's provision. I had seen how He provided in real ways. 

I felt almost like Moses coming down from the Mountain -- His face was GLOWING with God's glory, but the glory faded over time.

I was feeling like the glory was fading. I needed a renewal! Personal quiet time was good, but I think I was craving real fellowship.

I've been feeling like every thing Satan can use, he has been using to attack me and how I relate to God. Little things have added up to a discouraged, despondent, apathetic me [though it isn't very visible on the surface level].

It does hurt my ego to admit this, but it also feels so good. It is freeing to admit that one has been in struggle, because through it I can say that: God is faithful, and He doesn't let His own slip away.

This is part of what we read in Cru tonight:
(John 10, Jesus speaking) 
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father —and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life —only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Knowing that Jesus knows me, that he is not like the hired hand who just runs off when attacks come, is... 
it's... 
I can't even describe. 

I have been feeling attacked, but Jesus has my back, and He is the Good Shepherd. He gave me just what I needed today!

And get this: one of my Bible study leaders is a Junior and a Nutrition Science major, too.
It's the little things.
The other leader is awesome as well. We all clicked nicely, and the whole Cru event left me feeling refreshed and encouraged.

I love those moments.  When God takes all of those expectations and flips them around.

Imana ni neza cane! (Kirundi for God is very good!)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I'm still alive-ish

Hello my dear readers!

It has been a good long while since I have posted anything terribly significant on here. I have some good excuses for this, as my life has changed drastically in the past few months. (Africa to home to college)

You see, I am not the best at multi-tasking, and I have to say that my current phase of life is quite taxing time-wise.  (I am taking a few minutes to just quickly update)

I am now a real-deal college kid. I *was* a college kid before during high-school (as my current school insists that I'm a transfer student), but I was never an University student.

Now I am here at uni, and it is a wild ride.

I am currently taking Cultural Anthropology, Intro to Psychology, Engineering Chemistry, Intro to Nutrition, a required orientation class, and Whitewater Canoeing.

I must say, whitewater canoeing is the class I am so so so stoked about. There are only 9 other students in my class, which is a lovely change from the lecture halls of 200+ students.

There is one little hang-up: part of the swimming requirement for said PE is that I be able to swim at an intermediate level:

Tread water for 5 minutes, and swim 4 laps straight.

Now 4 laps sounds measly (I have friends who swim 25 as their workout), but you must know that I am not a lap-girl.
I can swim pretty well, I took swimming lessons back in the day, so I thought this lap-thing would be a walk in the park.
I lean towards being pretty physically fit, too. I mean, I bike and run on a pretty regular basis.  Nothing spectacular, but I have some endurance.

I decided to go to the pool yesterday to practice the swim test...no problem, right?

HA. I am such a land-dweller.

I DID swim 4 laps straight, but I was breathless afterwards.
You know that a lap is down the lane and back, right? 
200 yards does not sound like a long distance to swim, but oh, my muscles are not tuned to this swimming thing.
They're used to pounding pavement or biking.

I tacked on another 2 laps, noticed the time, and decided that I had better get to the pool and practice again pretty intensively ASAP.


Thursday, August 09, 2012

Deal with it?

Deal with it

My eyes have been mega sensitive to the sun the past week or so. I'm pretty much at the point of the link above. I spent the whole day in shades. 

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Oh say! I'm happy.

As I've been back from Africa, I am realizing how much STUFF I have. It's great and all....but I don't need so much of it.
It is time to purge.

Also, I am happy for a few reasons:

1) I now have a bike. A nice classic road bike.
At my church there is a nice older man who loves to bike...and set other people up with bikes. He had an old school Ladies Schwinn road bike he said I could have to use for commuting around school.
I have not ridden a bike in ages, so this past week, I've been getting back into the saddle.

I will not say that I'm super fast or that I have super endurance... but I'm content with getting in a good cardio workout. (Plus, that thing is going to be a lifesaver at school)

2) I now have a desk. A nice, vintage-y, student desk. Last week, I bought a desk from IKEA. It looked nice online...upon opening the box, I discovered it was ALL PARTICLEBOARD and it didn't seem very sturdy. I was so frustrated.
Beyond annoyed.
Words can not describe.
I checked craigslist again (I had been hunting on there days before and hadn't found a thing) and I found a cutesy desk for 1/3 of the price of the cheapo IKEA desk.
AND it's all wood.
AND it has butterfly drawer-pulls.
Score.

I have not yet written about my lifetime longing for a desk.

So here it is: I have wanted a little desk for a long time.
There. Written.
I have visions of writing great novels while seated at a desk -- Or actually penning letters to people (I'm terrible about it!).
I'll feel more like a profesh blogger when I type posts while seated at my desk. (first post written from my desk!)
At the least, I have visions of having a nice place to store my school supplies. [I have a love of office supplies: hilighters, post-it notes, index cards...]


3) I have 2 whole weeks of freedom before school starts. I've been catching up with friends, and it has been awesome.


4) Most importantly, I am loved by God. This is a reason to be joyful any day. Even when I'm not "happy" I still have hope because of this.
It doesn't matter what crummy mistakes I make in life, what crummy things have happened to me, He is always there to love on me.
He has also mega-blessed me with wonderful family. I don't know where I'd be if my parents weren't as great as they are.

5) I have a coffee in hand. Today, I have a headache. I have had a headache the past few days, and meds just do enough to take the edge off. I went out shopping with my sunglasses on, because my eyes are so darn sensitive to light today.
It might be all in my head, but I think I got some funny looks from people. I don't really care anymore about what the general public thinks of me. Africa kinda helped to get rid of inhibition.

Maybe I'm becoming a vampire.






Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wait...Wait...

My sister's dog, Roca, is pretty smart.

I've taught Roca a few tricks (and as my sister would dispute, WE have taught her tricks)

One of the most entertaining is the "Wait" trick.

"wait", I tell her. She sits down and stares at me expectantly. She knows whats coming...

I hold the treat bag in hand and pull out an odoriferous treat.
I place it in front of Roca.
To me it smells not so great, but to her...you can just tell,
She wants that treat. She wants that treat now.
"Wait.", I repeat.

Amazingly, our dog has the willpower to not eat the treat. She even averts her eyes so that she isn't tempted. She holds gaze with me, waiting for permission to scarf down the treat.
This is a representation. My dog is not quite that talented yet...


"Okay!"
As soon as those words leave my lips, Roca gobbles up the treat.

It was such a perfect reminder to me.

There are some things that God tells me "wait" about. They're much bigger and better than a milkbone treat, and He has better reasons for having me wait than just for an entertaining trick. Just as Roca trusts that I'll eventually tell her, "okay!", I trust that my Father will tell me when I can stop waiting.

Love these verses:

Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.
~Psalm 27:14

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
~Isaiah 40:31


BOOK RECOMMENDATION:


Let me say, this book is amazing. I read it, and it just floored me. I was convicted and encouraged.

The book is called, What Are You Waiting For? by Dannah Gresh. It is so pertinent to people {especially girls} entering the relationship realm (whether you call it "dating", or "courting", or "hanging out"...)

I strongly suggest you read this book.

It's pretty life-altering.





Monday, July 23, 2012

A term I HATE

Now I have grown up in Christian circles.

I've learned much about relationships from various speakers and books. It's definitely a blessing that there are so many resources out there!


But there is one word. One word, that when I encounter it, makes me feel a little queasy.

You know what this word is?

Help-meet

*shudder*

It sounds so...strange! The connotations that come with that word are just not right.

If someone were to call me that, I'd feel like a literal piece of raw chicken.
 
A helpful one, I guess.

 I can just imagine this playing out someday:
"Honey, if you are going to insist on calling me your help-meet to friends, how about you just call me Hamburger Helper? It's much more preferable."

I mean, I guess to some people "help-meet" is somehow sweet?

But, if you love that term, good for you! I'm not telling you to change.

It's personal preference.

To me though, as happy as I'll [someday] be to help my [way-in-the-future] husband, I will not be called his "help-meet"

Sunday, July 22, 2012

up late? time to blog!

It's the wee hours of the morning and I'm awake.

You know what that means: BLOGGING TIME!

A great many things have been swirling around inside of my head the past few weeks.


I came back to America expecting extreme culture shock.
I was so prepared, I had such high expectations of my own inability to adapt, that well,

...really, pretty much all has been well for me.

For the most part. There have been a few, "WOAH, Americans are strange!" moments, and a few, "I MISS BURUNDI SO STINKING MUCH!" moments sprinkled in there.

But on the whole, the culture shock in both going over and coming back have been pleasant experiences.

So, I praise God for that. I praise Him that he is the one in control of all things (despite my feeble attempts to be the one in charge)

I have this horrible habit of stressing out and overthinking. God has been hammering the lesson of "my child, I am the mighty one who has got this." into my head. Still, if I'm not careful, I go back to my way of thinking that the world rests on me.
Newsflash: IT DOES NOT.
I forget that I can't do any good thing without my Jesus.

I'd be lost without the Holy Spirit's guidance.

It's a daily struggle that needs daily reminder.


Surely God is my help;
    the Lord is the one who sustains me.
-Psalm 54:4

Monday, July 16, 2012

I am a hypocrite

During those lovely years of high school, I took a chemistry course.
I loved it.

It was my absolute favorite class, and I was actually good at it.
I understood the logic of the class and I pulled off an A in Chemistry.

 I decided that I wouldn't mind having a career in the Chem field. It was just that fun to me.

This was in 9th grade, however, and many subjects have happened since. I've even had a gap year of no school! (except for that calculus class...)

But when people would ask what subjects I liked, I always said "Chemistry. Chemistry is my favorite! I could study reactions all day!"

...fast forward 4 years.
I'm supposed to take a placement test for getting into the basic 101 college class. I looked at sample questions and... I'm a little rusty.

So I am sitting here with my old textbook and notes, cramming for the placement exam. I am happily having AHA! moments.

I am feeling more than a little sheepish for declaring to the world so often that I love this subject.

Because now, I'm blanking out.




Tuesday, July 10, 2012

keeping up the blog?? HA

I have not kept up this blog very well. I have posted PLENTY on my other blog. You know, the AFRICA one.

When I was in Africa, I couldn't get enough of it.

Before I left Burundi, I made a joke of using the adjective "African" before pretty much everything. I was soaking in the most of Africa I could.

I'm pretty sure Whitney (the other volunteer I was with the last month of my stay) thought I was too silly.

Me: "Well, here I am sitting under the african sun, on the african grass, drinking african soda. How about we go to walk on the african path and meet up with our african friends?"


It was silly, I admit. But I do have this sort of deep-down-crazy-unexplainable-love for Africa.

It seems to be the trend nowadays for Christian girls (guys aren't as into this: why?) to go overseas for a few months. I don't know what started this trend.

So, a hint to Christian guys looking for solid girls: go to the short-term mission field. You'll meet so many!
haha, but seriously.

I didn't go because it was the trend.
I didn't go to look good.
I just went to Burundi to grow and broaden my worldview.
I went because I felt like it was God's timing for the trip to happen.
I went in with no idea as to what would happen.
I had expectations, and many were unmet in ways that God used to teach me some big lessons. Some expectations were incredibly exceeded.

I don't feel quite like the same person I was before I left...
Which does sound a little dramatic.

I have only been home for 2 days, so I haven't seen a huge change (as I've been pretty out of it) but I feel that as I interact, my interactions with others will be changed for the better.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

the recipe for productivity

You know those times when you read something and you feel like, "That's exactly it! AHA! I needed to read that today.

Well, that happened this morning in devotions. 

I read the prescription for being an effective Christian, penned by Peter:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
 2 Peter 1:5-10

Unproductive-ity is something I fear. I like to have something to show for my work. I want to make an impact and difference, but sometimes I feel that I don't even know how to go about it.

Peter's prescription is simple. Here is the recipe of things that need to be added to (don't you think this verse reads like a recipe?):
first, have faith.
  • Add goodness. 
  • Add knowledge. 
  • Add self-control. 
  • Add perseverance. 
  • Add godliness 
  • then comes mutual affection
  • finally, love!
 I find it interesting that the man who wrote this was the same guy to whom Christ said, "Get behind me Satan! You have not the things of God in mind, but of man."

What a 180 turn-around Peter had!

It gives hope to see such an example.

"I can do no great things, but small things with great love"

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fretting=evil??

I love Psalm 37. As I read it yesterday, I was struck by the beauty of God's promises.

 Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  
 Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
 Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this: 
 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.
  Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes. 

Then, a phrase hit me hard: 
 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret —it leads only to evil. 
 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. 


I have this bad habit of finding things to worry about and allowing molehills to become mountains. I like to have a plan, be "put together", etc, etc. 

I mean, there's no harm in fretting a little bit, right? 

I don't think of it as something leading to evil of all things. 

When I fret, I'm just taking precautions, considering all of the angles, right? 

...WRONG. 

God is working on my fretfulness.  

According to the dictionary: 
To fret: to be constantly or visibly worried or anxious 

Maybe I am not always visibly worried, and maybe not always constantly, but there are usually a zillion little problems that I allow to become issues on my mind. 

Psalm 37 does much to quell worries. 

The writer goes on to say: 

The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him; 
 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
I was young and now I am old,
    yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
    or their children begging bread. 
 They are always generous and lend freely;
    their children will be a blessing.

What an amazing promise. God does not forsake. He takes care of His own! So really, all of these trivial issues I let build are nothing. When I grasp God's hand and let Him uphold me, the worry melts away. 

It takes courage to release worry, but when you do let go, it brings an incredible feeling of peace and security!

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Musings on my future...


Animals!

In case you didn't gather from my last post, I love giraffes. I really really do.

I have always had this deep love of animals -- except for snakes, though that is changing since I now have a pet snake of my own (well, it's a family snake, you know). Okay, and chickens. I don't like those.

I have a story about little me:

when I was young, I was warned about snakes, particularly the poisonous copperhead, which lives in North Carolina. I was about 2 or 3 (I remember this moment very clearly) and my mom told me that she would let me go outside to play (she could see me through the window), but that if I saw a snake, to be sure to let her know by yelling. If I saw a snake, I should stand as still as a statue and not flip out.
I agreed and went out to play.

Well, after I had gone down the slide a few times, I SAW IT.
A snake.
There it was, slithering in the grass in front of me.
I stood stock still.
I screamed. I pointed.
And then, I didn't move.


My mother came rushing out and asked why I was screaming.
I told her I had seen a snake.
She grabbed me and put me on the play structure, high off the ground.
She searched for it.
She looked around, but couldn't find it.
She was close to it. I warned her: "No, no, mommy!! You're almost stepping on it!!"
I was terrified. Then I became even more so because my mom saw it, reached down, and picked it up.
I'm pretty sure I screamed.
She held it out.
It was on her index finger. My mom informed me that the squirming green thing on it would not bite.
It wouldn't even hurt me.

This creature was called an "inchworm"

…oh.

This is proof that I have a flair for the dramatic, a large imagination, and an ingrained fear of snakes. But that fear is changing now. (though I still have a healthy respect for them)

Any other animal though, wow, I love it.

I was absolutely dog-crazy when I was younger.
We had a cat (that I loved), but I desperately wanted a dog. I remember telling my sunday school teacher that I was positive that Heaven was FULL of puppies that all loved me. Heaven didn't need anything else.
I pestered and pestered my parents. I wrote stories about me and dogs. I drew pictures. I even made lists of why I should have a dog.

When my dream of having a pet dog came true, I was SO HAPPY.
But then, sadness, I was very allergic.
When I held my dog, my skin broke out, I would wheeze and cough, my eyes would water and swell, and I couldn't stop sneezing.
My dream was shattered.
I remember crying when I realized that I couldn't cuddle with my dog. We had to give her away to a kind family.

I have a love for animals, and I was reminded of it after I visited the giraffes and the elephants on Thursday.

They are such unique, beautiful creatures, and proof that there is a Creative Maker.

Guess what?
I didn't have an allergic reaction to the giraffe! And it even licked my face!

I think I need a pet giraffe.


I am reconsidering zoology as a major.

I have considered just about every major under the sun, some have been tossed out quickly, others have stuck. If you know me, you know how I've waffled from idea to idea.

The big ones have been Elementary Education, Nutrition, Chemistry, Biology, Nursing, and Pharmacy (Notice a trend?)… and the ones that would be a dream come true might be Acting or Photography, though I don't think those would be worth the $$$$$ of college instruction. If I'm paying for college, I want to gain information that can only be gleaned from higher education…and I've noticed that some of the great actors and photographers are self-taught.

You don't usually find a phenomenal self-taught doctor.

But, happiness, Zoology is a pre-med degree, AND it involves animals (I have had medical school in the back of my mind the past few years) Nutrition is still a strong consideration (and what I'll start to study in the fall), but it's close enough to zoology…

It may sound crazy, but I can sense a connection between me and an animal.
It's like one can communicate in a non-verbal way. I mean, there's body language and I think animals are very good at sensing intent. It sometimes seems that they can read one's mind!

Maybe I watched too many Disney movies with the personification of talking animals, but do remember that they are God's creation and we are called to be caretakers of these creatures.
Hey, Baalam's donkey talked!

Anyways, this was a new breakthrough in figuring out my future.

I spent time yesterday daydreaming about getting to be one of the lucky people to observe, photograph, study, and work with animals, and I was on cloud 9. I seriously could just observe animals and nature all day, boring as that sounds to some.

When I think about Nutrition, I am still excited at some prospects of it. I'd love to help people with food allergies, weight loss/gain, and overall health. I think that many mystery medical problems could be solved if people could become educated in nutrition.

Bodies are delicate machines and food is what fuels us.

Food is important, and it saddens me that people just fill themselves with junk fuel.

 But I have been told by more than one person, "You want to study Nutrition? Oh! Well, that's great. You could work in a nursing home or in a school cafeteria!"
…not exactly my idea of a rocking job.

Is nutrition really just menu-planning?
I pray that it isn't.

 I am interested in the research of foods, studying breakthroughs and benefits of food, and helping people to understand junk food=bad, and adapt menus to their specific food-fuel needs.

…I'm not into figuring out what to pair with the mashed peas for dinner.

Nothing against Nursing Homes or School Cafeterias, of course, since they both play a vital role to society…but it's not quite my cup of tea.

I shall keep praying for my paths to be directed.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

"So, what are you doing?"

"What are you doing in Burundi?"
I have been asked this question many times, especially as I've been here in Africa.
It's an innocent question, but the answer is complex. 

The truth is, I don't have really have a "set agenda".
I have been taking each day as it comes.
Which has been amazing.
I've been able to experience so many wonderful things!
Some days I stay home with the little ones who are sick and need attention (there's some sort of bug going around).
Some days I have helped to organize files.
Some days I have written interviews and snapped photos of the Rainbow Centre babies.
Some days I have worked on designing brochures and websites. 
Some days I have helped at Discovery School.
Some days I teach Sunday School.
Some days I run errands and just assist in the day-to-day life of the Johnson family.

 So, when I am asked what I do, and why I'm here, I know I should have a short, easy answer.
But it has caught me off guard a few times.
I've resorted to just saying, "a bit of everything"

I think the most important thing is to focus on my relationship with God and to realize that no matter what I do, I am called to spread the aroma of Christ:  

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.  For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 
2 Corinthians 3:14-16

I know that I am not equal to such a task. 

But because I have His spirit in me, He can use me as a tool to bring others to Him. My goal is to serve and point to God, no matter what task I have been given. I know that He will provide exactly what I need, and He knows what I can handle.

I delight in serving Him!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mark Twain's inspirational quote

This is overquoted, but, it's true:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

This includes kissing a giraffe (if you're friends with me on Facebook, or if you've been looking at my other blog, then you already know and are probably rolling your eyes at the overpostage of this picture)
Giraffes have antiseptic saliva, fun fact.


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