Saturday, October 22, 2016


It's been a while. I often think about blogging, but thinking isn't exactly the same as doing, is it?

I'm on Fall Break right now, and have enjoyed playing the piano, reading just for fun, and spending time with my family and my two 7-month-old orange kittens.

Fall weather is my favorite. Even though the colors are rather muted this year due to the drought-like conditions we've been having, I still find the trees absolutely amazing. October might just be my favorite month of the year...

Without further ado, here are a few pictures from the Tennessee Mountains in October :)

A pumpkin Mom and I bought at Wooden's Apple House yesterday. Don't you just love the little curls???

Oak leaves.

Forsythia, one of our outdoor cats. Not one of the new ones I mentioned earlier.

Forsythia's sister, Chrysanthemum.

Oak tree.

Me and my walking buddy.


The brightest leaves I could find!

Chrysanthemum again, looking slightly awkward...

And last but not least, a leaf.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Campus in Winter

My nose is still cold. The metal on my camera is still cold. But it was so worth it :) I just went outside in the windy-wintry weather to get a few shots of campus - now lightly frosted with snow. Without further ado, here are ten of my favorite shots!

What's the weather like where you're at right now? Any wintry stuff?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Mandatory Fandom Post...

"Fandom is a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of empathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest." (from Wikipedia, because I'm pretty sure it's not a real word . . . yet.)

This post is going to be a bit different than my normal posts. Fandoms are not my life. But it would be a lie to say I don't have my fangirl moments :) And what's a good blog without some pop culture posts every now and again? So without further ado, here are some "mini-reviews" (spoiler free) of some of my current favorite books, movies, and TV shows. 


The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry. I had read The Giver before, but for Christmas I got the entire series. It's already been established that I'm a bookworm, but finishing four novels in about a week is pretty impressive even for me. These might possibly be my favorite fiction books ever, along with Lord of the Rings. I'm attracted to artfully crafted literature, and Lowry is an absolute expert at making her words sing. Her books are original, not really fitting into any existing genre, and are just plain beautiful. They are also extremely thoughtful, touching on deep moral, ethical, and philosophical issues. Because of the depth of content, I would suggest the quartet for high-schoolers and up. Oh, and don't just read the first book. Read the entire series. It will blow your mind! At first, the books may seem unconnected, but by the end of the series it all makes sense. These books are brilliant. (The movie, not so much in my opinion. It's fine as a movie, but doesn't do Lowry's works justice).
The pictures represent The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son, from top to bottom.
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling. I'll be honest, these books/movies were a touchy subject growing up, so I never read them until now. And they aren't my favorite books ever. But judging from the fact that I'm now in the middle of the fifth books (which is nearly 900 pages long), they must be pretty good :) For me, the Harry Potter books have been a bit predictable, the plot lines a little too repetitive, and the characters not dynamic enough. However, Rowling always does throw at least one big surprise at me each book, and I guess that's what keeps me reading them. And at the end of The Goblet of Fire the pages wouldn't turn fast enough as I stayed up late into the night getting through the intense ending! Perhaps the thing I like most about these books is the character of Hermione (pronounced her-my-on-ee). She reminds me a lot of myself (and did I mention she has a cat?).


War Room. I really enjoy all the movies made by the Kendrick Brothers. My favorite is still Courageous, but I think they did a great job with their most recent installment: War Room. This isn't a movie you'd watch for entertainment necessarily. But it is quite inspiring/though-provoking on the topic of prayer, which is really what the movie is all about. I saw it once with my parents in the theater, but I'm really wanting to watch it again now that it's on DVD...

Star Wars. So, I had friends who wanted to go see The Force Awakens in theaters. This is actually how I get dragged into most fandoms :) The problem? I hadn't seen any of the Star Wars movies in, like, 10 years. I was never a big fan of them, but I thought I'd give them another chance. And this time I really enjoyed them! And then I saw the newest movie in theaters....twice. It's quite good in my opinion. Not super original, but I liked the retro feel of the movie and the fact that they brought the old actors back. BB-8 (the new droid) is awesome, and they created a more complex villain in this episode, which I appreciated. Because of all the Force mumbo-jumbo, the Star Wars movies need to be watched with caution, but the spiritual elements are not sketchy enough to be a big turn off for me. I've had tons of fun watching the entire saga with my brother over Christmas break :)


The Flash. I was never much of a TV person. The only three TV series I have every really gotten into are Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., BBC's Sherlock (more on that in a minute), and The Flash. My brother showed me the first episode of this DC superhero series at the beginning of Christmas break, and the rest is history. I watched the entire first season over break. Yeah... kind of obsessive, but what's a college student supposed to do when you don't have work or school, and you live 30 minutes from the nearest town? ;) I really, really enjoyed this show. The Flash has all the action, super-powers, and plot twists that one would expect from a superhero show, while being just a bit more . . . human. Sure, some of the relational/emotional drama is a bit cheesy, but I appreciate the fact that it is there. The Flash is also more lighthearted than most comparable shows I've seen. There are some questionable elements that I don't want to ignore, but overall, I think DC did a great job with this one!

Sherlock. See? I told you I'd get back to everyone's favorite super-sleuth! Well, maybe not everyone's favorite, but he certainly is mine! BBC's Sherlock is the first TV series I ever watched all the way through. Granted, it is more like a series of movies than anything (there are only a few episodes, and each is 1 1/2 hours long), but still. Sherlock is just brilliant. The detective and the show named after him. BBC's retelling of Doyle's classic stories is set in modern-day London instead of the 19th-century, which adds a neat dynamic to the show. The episodes all have really great story-lines and character development, and are just extremely well-made. The acting is also superb :) Anyway, this post is getting rather long so I'm gonna resist saying any more here...
TV Reviews: The Flash and Sherlock

Anyway, that's that!

And I figured I should also mention that today is the first day of my second semester at Bryan! And... it was a snow day! How crazy is that?

I have another post planned, and then I will have met my goal for 4 posts in January!

How are you all coming on your New Year's Resolutions? And do you have any thoughts on the movies, books, etc. I reviewed here? Do you have other you'd add to the list?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

When Days Become Memories

Seconds become minutes. Minutes become hours. Hours become days. And inevitably, days become memories.

2015 has now become a dynamic collection of such memories, and I thought I'd share a few snapshots of those with you!

January 12, 2015, "Stars Upon the Ice"
          "Be still, and know that I am God." Ice. I love ice. It's so clean and clear and cold and beautiful. Whether hanging in frozen droplets from the barbed wire, falling from the sky in intricate crystalettes, or creating wild formation on the fountain in Centennial Park - ice holds a strange attraction for me.
          The other day I went out into our woods. It was beautifully worth the windchill of 7 degrees. I could see the water of the tiny trickling creek running and falling under a thin window of ice. And I discovered a pool covered in 2 inches of crystal clear ice.
           The truly mesmerizing thing about this pool was that on top of the ice were dozens of 3D white "ice stars." I have no idea how they formed other than that the Brilliant Artist created them there for me to discover.
          Somehow I feel so much closer to God out in nature. Perhaps that's why I love the outdoors so much. Even if I don't hear the still small voice, I can be still in the stillness of creation and rest in the knowledge that there is a good God who designed all of this to praise Him.
           He is there amidst the silence of the barren trees, the crisp winder air, and the stars upon the ice.

March 13, 2015, "Drawing Worship"
          I've been drawing lately. Drawing pictures; graphite on paper; left hand slightly and inevitably smudging the gray. Coloring. Resurrecting the long-forgotten colored pencils, the old-fashioned pencil sharpener. Buying a box of 64 new Crayola crayons - nostalgia in wax.
          I stay up late, drawing in the lamplight. The life of artistic expression energizes me and enlightens me, helping me see within myself and uncover thoughts, feelings, desires, beliefs. 
          Because the pictures have meaning. The one with space, tiny earth: God distant. The one with the path, the butterflies: God with me. Like words on lines and notes on clefs, pictures, too, can convey meaning. 
          Can I use art and music to spend time with Abba? Can creativity be worship? Can I read and pray . . . and write? and sing? and play? and dance? and draw? Can this all equally be worship?

May 27, 2015, "21"
          21. Forever 21? No. Only for a season. A few hundred fleeting days to embrace. Enjoy. Live. Breathe. Smile. Count. Notice. Love. Serve. Sacrifice. Change. Adapt. Hold. Be. And perhaps the last on is most important . . .
          21 is a gift. Another year of living in this world to be the unique me God designed. Be a part of creation. And most of all just be God's beloved daughter. He paid the adoption fee with His perfect blood. I am His forever.
          21 has come so fast. I don't want to mourn the inevitable passing of time. I want to experience God in each new day. Every day, every year I live is a gift.

June 2, 2015, "Night Beauty"
          Night is beautiful. I look out my window and don't see a world of dead emptiness or fear. Well, maybe a little fear . . . but also living beauty.
          Moon. Perfect found, implanting white on my retinas. Brilliant reflected light of the sun.
         Faint stars peeking out from between gray wisps of lunar-lit cloud.
         Fireflies making the black treeline glitter green.
          Night is beautiful.

November 12, 2015, "Elements of Life"
          Today was filled with the stuff of life.
          Tiredness and stomach ache. Blue sky and breeze and dryness in my nose. Classes and homework and stress and Netflix. Peanut butter, and Dove chocolate, and grilled cheese. Finishing Avatar for a class project. Feeling like we botched choir dress rehearsal under the scrutiny of glaring lights and blaring orchestra and the conductor's baton. Worry for tomorrow and wondering whether my paper will be turned in on time and if my dress will be hemmed.
          These are the elements of life. Life is crazy, and chaotic, and beautiful. I just want to be able to stop the spinning for a moment and rest in the beauty of life.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Hopes for a New Year

My bookworm Christmas tree :)

RESOLU'TION, n. : Fixed purpose or determination of mind; as a resolution to reform our lives; a resolution to undertake an expedition. (from the 1828 Webster dictionary, as are all other definitions in this post. Is it ultra-nerdy to have a favorite dictionary???)

It's a new year. I started a new journal, and, as tends to happen around January, I've thought about my hopes, dreams, goals, and expectation for my life. I know that no magic happens with the turning of a calendar from December to January. There is nothing fundamentally different about 2016. But human minds need landmarks, and New Year stands significant and proud as one of the most important human landmarks.

A time to put the past in the past and work towards an ideal future.

Me? I don't really do resolutions. I know from experience that New Year's resolutions have an annoying tendency to fail and frustrate, and so I left them behind several years ago. But goals? Hopes? I have plenty of those.

GOAL, n. : The end or final purpose; the end to which a design tends, or which a person aims yo reach or accomplish.

HOPE, n. : A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.

In 2016, I hope to finish reading every word in my Bible. I have read some books in my Bible recently, but it has been too long since I've read to get the big picture. So, to avoid overwhelming myself, I'm just planning my reading one  month at a time. My pace will probably be less than perfect, but that's OK. The important thing is the doing - the reading - not necessarily the finishing.

I also hope to blog more! That said, my goal for January is to write four posts. Here is the first one! Again, I don't want to get discouraged if I don't meet my quota. It's the writing that counts, regardless of word count.

I hope to work again next summer. The goal? A job at least remotely related to my major and my career goals :)

What kind of year will 2016 be? Only God truly knows. But I can feel that it too, like 2015, will be full and important - a significant landmark. How could it not be?

"You have made known to me the path of life;
You will fill me with joy in Your presence,
with eternal pleasures at Your right hand"
~Psalm 16:11, NIV

What are some of your resolutions, hopes, and goals for 2016? Let me know in the comments! I'd love to hear from you! Also, any thoughts on the new look of my blog?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

College Day (a.k.a. WayTooMuchStuffedIntoOneDayAndIsThisEvenPossibleAndINeedCoffeeAndCongratsIfYouActuallyReadThisTitle...)

You want to know what I've been up to today? Probably not. But you know what? I'm gonna write it anyway, because it's kinda crazy...

1) Got up and got ready and ate breakfast in the cafeteria. Chocolate chip muffins have a way of starting a stressful, busy day out on a pleasant note :)

2) Research Design and Methodology. Sound intimidating? Yeah, sort of is, but I've really learned a lot from this class... I'm actually considering entering a research contest of sorts, but we'll see if that happens!

3) Christian Life Formation. Today the speaker talked about an American Christian response to Islamic fascism. Nope, I definitely don't have the time or mental/emotional capacity to go into that right now, though I'd suggest it is a subject we really don't need to ignore...

4) Social Psychology. In which we proceed to debate whether or not Milgram's obedience studies explain Nazi behavior during the Holocaust. Yep, today was full of deep topics.

5) Lunch! Finally, a short reprieve from being productive. Unless of course eating is productive, and I'm pretty sure it is seeing as we need food to live... :)

6) Back to my dorm to prepare a lesson for a kids/teens Bible club and practice choir music.

7) Choir. Can you spell C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S???? I realize, it is not Thanksgiving yet, but I can't help it! Practicing Christmas music just gets me excited for the holidays!

8) Finished preparing my lesson, and headed off to the Bible club.

9) Bible club! I actually need to insert something here. Have you ever noticed how God uses sort of random things to speak to your heart? I was teaching about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. As a church kid, I basically thought I knew this story inside out and couldn't possibly get something else out of it. But God's Word is not static, it is "living and active." While preparing and teaching, and asking the kids to name some idols in their lives (idols can be anything that take the place of God in our hearts), I realized that I have some idolatry in my life that needs to be dealt with. That sounds so bad, but it's true. With crazy days like the one I am currently relating, and a desire to achieve academically, I have pretty much neglected my time with God the past couple weeks. For simplicity's sake, I'll call my idols School and Schedule. Well School and Schedule are both good, I think we'd all agree. There's nothing inherently wrong with other common idols either. The problem is when they cross over the line from "good thing" to "idol." I'm not going to go into tons of detail here, but how do we invest our talents, gifts, and personalities - without making things or concepts take the place of God in our hearts? Food for thought.

10) Not done yet! Went to an abstract writing workshop. In research writing, and abstract is basically a short summary of an article that goes at the beginning.

11) Was going to watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to unwind (my favorite TV show), but the TV room was taken. Which is probably a good thing based on the revelation I had during Bible club. Now I have time to spend some time with God at the end of this crazy day, and process what He's been teaching me.

College is weird and crazy and busy and full of coffee. But you know what? It's also pretty great. I know the term "learning experience" is becoming really cliche, but it pretty much sums up what college life has been for me.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

(Don't) Smile! Jesus Loves You!

     The title caught your eye? Good. That's kind of the point. Yes, Jesus DOES love you, and no, I'm not trying to be heretical or start a cult or anything. Jesus loves you more than life itself! He loves you so much He died for you! Let's clear that up right off. But that doesn't mean you have to smile. I promise, I'm gonna explain my opinion on this... (and I'll probably step on some toes, but I feel like we need to talk about this).
(Remember this?)

      Let's have an honest conversation about what it means to be human. I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a Christian, while simultaneously being human. Too often when people come to Jesus, they try to leave their humanity behind. Guys, we still live in a broken world, and like it or not, we're still broken people. Yes, we are redeemed and set free and adopted as sons and daughters of God.... but we are NOT perfect.
      And I think that's the way it's supposed to be this side of heaven.
      After living in Christian communities my entire life, a question that has been weighing on my mind is: Is it OK to not be OK?
     Think about that.
      When you are having a bad day, a bad week, a bad year, do you feel comfortable NOT being OK in Christian circles? Sometimes I don't.
      I think a lot of times it's easier to be not OK outside of the body of Christ... and that's not OK.
      I usually try to be a pleasant person, but I do have bad days. Sometimes I feel sad, lonely, depressed, anxious, or scared. That's called "being human." But there have been times when I have let myself show my negative emotions, and then people are like, "Smile!" "Don't look so down!" "Cheer up!" What kind of a message are we sending when we tell our brothers and sisters in Christ to "just smile" when they're having a bad day? The message I get is that it's not OK to not be OK. That we should always be happy, bubbly people. That negative emotions are something to be ashamed of and hide. That it might even be sinful to experience such emotions.
      But that's just not true.
      Being human means experiencing the whole gamut of emotions! Let's not forget: even Jesus outwardly experienced negative emotions. He did not try to hide His anger or sadness. And Jesus is PERFECT. Shouldn't this tell us something? Shouldn't the body of Christ, of ALL places, be a safe zone for experiencing and expressing any emotions? The good, the bad, and the ugly?
     In the church, are we free to be human?
     I want to be a person that people feel comfortable just being open, honest, and real with. And I want to set an example by being open, honest, and real. I want to share the message that yes, Jesus loves you, but that doesn't mean you have to smile. Jesus loves you when you cry, tremble in fear, or tense up in anger just as much as when you smile, sigh in contentment, or laugh 'till your sides hurt (which I did the other night, and it felt so good!). It's awesome to be happy! But when we set happiness up on a pedestal and hide all the other emotions, we are missing out on a lot of what it means to be human.
      Have you seen Inside Out? Pixar has a knack for creating stories that are quite insightful. With Inside Out, I think this is especially so. As a psychology major, I really appreciate the research that obviously went into the movie. As a person (and a Christian), I appreciate the honesty. A big message in that movie is that all emotions (including sadness, disgust, and fear) play an important part in making us who we are. We NEED to experience the full range of emotions! It's a very refreshing movie (and very clean, and also quite funny!).

      Anyway, I guess by all this I just want Christians to think about the atmosphere we create. Is it an atmosphere where we feel like we always have to smile? Or is it an atmosphere where we feel free to be open, honest, and real?
      I'm still trying to process all of this myself, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this! Please leave a comment, even if you aren't on Blogger (you can comment without an account. I think you just choose "anonymous" and leave your name in the post somewhere if you want me to have it :)
      Thanks for reading!