Friday, January 20, 2017

Life Hacks

Because I'm so good at life ;D

(Ha.  Hahaha.)

I have recently discovered that index cards are kind of magical.  Like, if you're into making bookmarks or other paper crafts, those things are awesome.  They're cheap, they're easy to get, and they're versatile:  you can use the plain side of them like a piece of card stock, and (again) they're much cheaper :-P  Also, naturally, there's the traditional use of flashcards when needed.

Music helps, guys.  Of course, I'm not saying we should be constantly listening to music and never taking a moment to clear our minds, but at times a good tune can be motivating or calming or comforting or whatever else is just the thing we need at the moment.  (Aren't you impressed with the originality of these tips?  I mean, all the things we never knew . . . )  And this song, in particular -- a life hack in and of itself ;)

For real, though.  It's so beautiful.

Okay, another craft one:  I have nothing whatever against fancy-schmancy calligraphy pens (in fact I rather like them), but as I recall they're somewhat expensive and they don't do so well for extended periods of crafting.  But you know what I recently discovered?  A plain old ballpoint pen will do just as well.  (Or at least pretty close to it.)  For moments when color is required, I have this collection of double-sided Stampin' Up! Stampin' Write pens, and I really don't know what I'll do when all the ink runs dry.  They're technically my mom's, and they are awesome.

Well, obviously.

God's really been reminding me recently that worrying is Not Okay.  (I mean, if you think about it, it's actually a sin.)  Sometimes I think we feel like we ought to be worrying about something, and that's where Satan makes his mistake -- we never ought to be doing something that God has specifically told us not to do, even if we're worrying over how bad we are or how much we need to improve in some aspect of our life.  Worry is still Not Okay, even if it's about our relationship with God or other people.  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Maybe He means it.

Lamps are the best.  There's just something about lamplight that's so soothing and warm and fuzzy, isn't there?

Lately, especially, the days have been kind of hectic, so it's nice to start noticing the relaxation that starts to take place as the day comes to an end -- when the schoolwork, practice, jobs, etc. are done, and the fam starts to unwind a bit.  (Also, the prospect of bed is nice.  Because sleeping <3)  Random fun fact that hit me today as I was doing history:  "dwindle" is an awesome word.  Especially "dwindled" and "dwindling."  

Books are just dear little entities, really <3  Particularly Peter Pan, by Barrie.  I just recently re-read it and GUUYYYYYS.  Also, since I'm reading Les Mis right now, I'm having struggles.  I think I appreciate it more this time around, but still.  It has moments when I'm like "C'mon, Hugo, you really don't have to tell me all this" and then other moments when I'm like "UM EXCUSE YOU MY HEART IS A THING."  And Pinterest doesn't help, because there are all these feels-y pictures fusing the musical and the book and gahh.  And Enjolras kind of annoys me in the book.  I feel like that's a problem.  

I'm so glad there's a blogger app that'll work on my iPod.  It's helpful to have my blog & y'all's blogs "in my pocket," as it were.  

Well, I feel like there was probably more but I must adjourn now because of reasons.  (Before I go, though, Evie, thanks loads for inviting me to collaborate on that "Delights" Pinterest board.  It's a lifesaver.)  Ta-ta, darlings!  Y'all are awesome human beings.  I'm rather fond of you.  Have a fabulous weekend!  Oh, and pray for me, peeps -- I'm taking the SAT tomorrow and in a nutshell:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

15 Reasons to NOT Watch BBC

I am here today, as a friend, to issue a warning to my fellow humans.  Unfortunately, a great number of my fellow humans have already fallen victim to this menace, and -- I believe I may safely say I speak on behalf of them, too -- I felt it incumbent upon me to caution any unwary newcomers to the world of entertainment that there is a force out here that should be staunchly avoided.

Have you heard of it?  It's called . . . *ominous music* . . . 

The BBC.

This is serious stuff, folks.  The BBC is a terrible corporation out to profit from the hearts-blood of innocent adolescent girls.  If you value your emotional stability, your sanity, your reputation, your ability to function in day-to-day life, and your independence, STAY. AWAY. FROM. THE. BBC.  I'll even give you fifteen reasons why.  

#1.  It takes a sick satisfaction in making sure that there's always at least one death, and rarely has it ever been content with that.    

#2.  It's ridiculously prolific.  As if one or two destructive television shows weren't enough, it has to go and deluge us with multiple shows AND multiple movies, miniseries, etc.  So discourteous.  

#3.  It likes to lull you into a false sense of security, thinking that you don't like a new love interest for another character, and then all of a sudden the relationship is threatened and you forget how you're supposed to do that breathing thing.  I speak from experience.  

#4.  It birthed the show Robin Hood.  I still have not fully recovered from this show, and it's been -- *checks date of S3 review* -- coming up on two years.  TWO. YEARS.  It tore my little heart all to pieces and then put it back together and then tore it up again and on and on the cycle went.  IT IS AWFUL. 

#5.  If the Dickens book isn't creepy, the creators will find a way to make it creepy.  And if the book's a little creepy, they'll make sure you don't sleep for a week after watching the movie.  

#6.  Does it care that you're a human being with a heart and basic humane tendencies?  No. No, it does not.  Couldn't care less, as a matter of fact. 


#7.  It manipulates you into rooting for bigamy.  I don't even know what else can be said on that.  

#8.  It makes you fall in love with terrible human beings who make awful choices that hurt other people but who don't even care because they think they know everything and they're repulsive and arrogant out the whazoo but you basically come to adore them devotedly.  (What?  I'm not bitter, just stating facts.)

#9.  IT HAS WAY TOO MANY UNBELIEVABLY LOVABLE AND GRIPPING OTPS.  Like how am I even supposed to know how to handle life with this surplus of precious love stories going on?  And also why can't any of them ever have a smooth ride??

#10.  Even if you don't like the characters . . . you like the characters.  

#11.  It'll deal with one particular topic for a lot of the show/movie/whatever, which will then trick you into thinking that you know a lot about that particular topic, when in actuality you know very little.  (Like midwifery.)

#12.  One of its greatest dangers is that it will alternate between heart-bursting happiness and gut-wrenching pain and IT WON'T GIVE YOU ANY WARNING BETWEEN CHANGES.  So at times you start to think, "Oh, maybe the worst is over.  This is really feelsy but in a good way, so p'raps it's okay now."  IT IS A DECEPTION, FRIENDS.

#13.  You don't even have to have seen the show in question for a fandom picture from Pinterest to stab you in the feels.  

#14.  It inundates you with all these awesome role models, and how can you possibly hope to imitate them all??

#15.  Basically, it's just best to stay away from it.  Because it will destroy you.  On multiple levels.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Fare thee well, Christmas break. You will be missed.

Well, folks, it's that time again.  Tomorrow is the official start of my next school semester, which means blogging activity will, most likely, begin to slack off pretty soon.

I know I'll settle back into the school routine fairly quickly, but I can't help wishing it'd delay getting here a little longer, heh.

This Christmas break was good to me.  There were certainly some hard moments, but that's just life.  God's still good, eh, what?  :)  Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this break, and I'm sorry to part with it.  :-P  Here are some of the highlights from my last month or so!

~ Crafts.  I did a lot of crafting over this break, and I've rediscovered how much I enjoy it.  (Also, I asked for and received a laminator for Christmas, which means I can now make all the projects look more professional!  I am unreasonably happy with my laminator. :D)

~ My oldest sister got a dog, and he is literally a little pumpkin spice latte.  Seriously.  He is one of the strangest (and cutest) looking dogs I've ever met, and he's a bit older, and he's a sweetheart.  I wuvs him. :)  His name is Rudy.  (Or Rudy-bear, as he's more often called.)

~ Lots of music.  I got several new songs on my iPod as a result of gift cards, which has been immensely satisfying :)  (I know I mentioned this in a previous post, but GUYS, Hillsong Worship's album "Let There Be Light."  This group makes me feel like I could actually do nothing but worship in Heaven.  And the song "Grace to Grace" . . . wowza.  "When I see that cross, I see freedom.  When I see that grave, I see Jesus . . .")  I learned that the song "Lord of La Mancha (I, Don Quixote)" from the musical Man of La Mancha is an epic and awesome song, especially when sung by Linda Eder.  

~ Solitaire.  I developed an inexplicable urge to play several hands of solitaire at a time.  I truly don't know why.  

~ I watched a lot of movies for the first time, most of which I liked immensely and a few of which I didn't care for so much.  {Among the newbies was Die Hard.  (Don't ask.)}

~ "Such a superfluity of dainties."  There have been so. many. sweets. in the house recently, what with the last day of co-op, extended family visiting, Christmas presents, stocking stuffers . . . it's perfectly awful.  I have hitherto been able to constrain my cravings to salty things (which isn't awesome for a body either, I realize), but lately I've been noticing a most unsettling propensity to grab a candy throughout the day . . . hopefully all will blow over once the contraband has been removed from the house. :-P

~ BLOGGING.  Y'all, I've so enjoyed interacting recently.  You guys are the best pals a girl could ask for. <3

~ Realizing that, after all, I may not prefer being cold to being hot.  Further reflection is called for. :-P

~ Les Misérables overload.  My World Lit. class is reading Les Mis right now, so over break one of my friends hosted a movie night to watch the musical.  We had fun color commenting together, gently poking fun at the characters, singing along (often off-key), and commiserating over the pain by turns.  

~ Getting ideas for books to write.  (One of them being a continuation of Susan Pevensie's story -- what think you all?)

~ Impromptu shopping trips.  Nothing like the Christmas season for inciting shopping expeditions that last late into the night, is there? ;)  Also, the day after Christmas, my younger brother and I went out to spend some of the gift money we'd received, which was fun.  And then recently I decided I needed a thrifting fix, particularly since it had been a long while since I'd been at one of my favorite thrift stores.  

Yessir, it's been a great break.  I'll look forward to chatting with you guys/blogging/reading posts when I can/do, and until then, ttfn!  

How have the holidays been for you?
Are you excited for school to start back up or dreading it (for those of you who are in school)?
If you're not in school, what's one thing you're hoping to get done/looking forward to in the coming months?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Lucky Ones

This one goes out, in particular, to all of my fellow single ladies.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Once one reaches a certain age, no white knights on the horizon can start to become a little irksome.  Wouldn't you agree?  Now, some of the time, those of us who are "single" couldn't be happier with our lot.  In all sincerity, we are perfectly content to enjoy our "years of freedom."  

But . . . other times . . .

However determined we are to not be that person, we can occasionally slip into a bit of pining.  After all . . . why are all of our friends getting asked out by decent guys and we've never even had one come close to broaching anything related to the subject?  (Because, of course, all of our friends are getting asked out.  We are literally the only ones.)  

All night long on my bed I looked for the One my heart loves; I looked for Him but did not find Him.  I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares; I will search for the One my heart loves.

"What's so wrong with [us]?"  Why aren't we "good relationship material"?  Are we that awkward?  That ugly?  That disconnected from society?  Why are we undesirable?  

Clearly, that last one is pretty melodramatic.  But honestly, deep down, I would venture to say that more people than just me have felt that subconsciously.  So what do we do with those feelings?  It's not as though we like them -- it's not as though we don't see how silly and school-girlish and desperate they make us sound.  Yet they're there . . . and sometimes they're not so easy to shake.  

We're not complaining about our lives (at least, not purposefully).  We're grateful for what we have.  But we do have this nagging question sometimes:  Why not me, too?

So I looked for Him but did not find Him.  The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city.  "Have you seen the One my heart loves?"

True confessions:  I have struggled with this more often than I would like to own.  Our self-images play a large role in this, of course -- whatever physical imperfection we see in ourselves, we transfer onto the opinion that other people (especially guys) must have of us.  (Personally, for example, my opinion of my facial birthmark contributes to feeling that no guy would ever truly want to marry me.  Like, ever.)  But recently I realized something:  We -- we who have yet to have a significant other -- we are the lucky ones.  (Cue the title plug.)  We get the opportunity to really, truly, deeply realize that our first love is Jesus -- before we have a romantic relationship.  To honestly see how the Messiah adores us and how we can adore Him.  To learn -- because it does take some learning -- that no human male will ever satisfy and fulfill the deepest needs and longings in our souls.  That's setting outrageously and impossibly high standards for our brothers in Christ, as many authors remind us.  And we all know that on an intellectual level -- we've heard it over and over and over, from people like the Botkins sisters, Sarah Mally, you name it.  Thank God for them; we need that teaching.  But have we realized it on a feeling level?  In Healing for Damaged Emotions, David A. Seamands explains that a lot of times, we might know something mentally, but it hasn't penetrated to our emotions.  Neither he nor I are suggesting that feelings should override the mind, but I think that sometimes, in our zeal to avoid the "just follow your heart" cliché, we forget that emotions are not evil; that, when used properly, they can instigate great good. Sometimes, we have to work harder at feeling a truth than at knowing a truth -- and both are important.

Scarcely had I passed them when I found the One my heart loves.  I held Him and would not let Him go.  

Sisters, it's important for us to realize that we are fulfilled in the love of our Lord, trite and unconvincing as it may sound.  But it won't happen overnight.  We have to work at letting our souls soak up this strange new idea -- that Jesus Christ, Master of the mountains and Tamer of the oceans, is our first, last, and always LOVE.  We have to listen for His wooing whisper:  "Come with Me from Lebanon, my bride, come with Me from Lebanon."  We have to search out passages in His Word that speak of the overwhelming love He has for us.  We have to write to Him, write out the struggles and the doubts and the fears and the concerns.  We have to ask bold questions.  We have to be brave and honest with ourselves and with Him.  We have to start unlearning the old patterns of the old self and allow Him to renew our minds (see Romans 12:1-2 and Ephesians 4:20-24).  

Listen!  My Lover!  Look!  Here He comes, leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills.

Please understand me:  I am not bashing adolescent/young adult relationships.  Nor am I saying that  those girls who are in those relationships have any less of a need to grasp this, this truth that they are transcendently adored by Jesus Christ.  I'm not saying that this special first love changes when a young woman enters into a relationship.  That's preposterous.  I'm not in any way suggesting that those who are in relationships have any less special, "set apart," precious, devoted, and deep of a relationship with their Savior.  No. What I am saying is that there are special things God teaches through relationships and special things that God teaches through singlehood.  And since I don't have experience in the former, I'm trying to share some of the things I'm slowly learning about the latter.  

What I am saying, to those who are in the same boat with me, is that we have a unique opportunity.  If we choose to, we can let this time be a time when we work at falling hopelessly and fully in love with Jesus, without distraction.  (Again, I'm not saying girls in relationships can't/don't work at the same thing!)  We can let this be a time when we really dig into of this "eternal verity" that the Rider called Faithful and True is our ultimate Lover.  But we do have a choice.  The Lord will never force Himself on anyone.  

Look!  There He stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice.

Have I gotten my point across?  I don't feel like I'm expressing it adequately -- while it's normal to hope for a man at some point in one's life, and to be tempted to despair of finding one, the Man Who already sacrificed everything for a relationship with us is waiting to show us the fullest extent of His love that we can bear while in these earthly bodies.  He has stores of affection that He lavishes on us, and if we will cooperate, we can feel how much that love validates us.  We are fulfilled, dear single sisters of mine!  (And you are fulfilled, dear not single sisters of mine!)  Do we truly get that?  We are fulfilled.  F.U.L.F.I.L.L.E.D.  And we can be completely satisfied, too.  S.A.T.I.S.F.I.E.D.  We are already loved.  L.O.V.E.D.  We are honestly wanted.  W.A.N.T.E.D.  By GOD -- by the most resplendent, thoroughly perfect, unbearably kind, scandalously merciful, radiant Being in existence.  For goodness' sake, what more do we want?  What vain little creatures we are! ;)  We may know all this "as a matter of course" . . . but do we know it as a matter of everyday-life-living feeling?  Because we can.  

My Lover spoke and said to me, "Arise, My darling, My beautiful one, and come with Me.  See!  The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.  Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.  The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.  Arise, come, My darling; My beautiful one, come with Me."

I am my Lover's and my Lover is mine.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Italicized Scripture quotations taken from Song of Songs.  Respectively:  3:1-2a, 3:2b-3, 3:4; 4:8a; 2:8, 2:9b, 2:10-13; 6:3.  

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Movies: Month(s) in Review

A very happy New Year, dear blogging buddies all! <3  IT IS THE FIRST DAY OF 2017.  WHAAAAATTT.  Here's to an awesome new year discovering even more of the wonders of our God!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

I thought I'd go ahead and share with you all my thoughts on some of the movies that I have watched since my last hiatus during the semester.  (The movies that I watched for the first time and liked, that is -- I have watched a few that I didn't like as much.)

Dear Eleanor (2016)
The trailer for this movie caught my eye several months ago, and I was excited to finally get to watch it recently.  It did not disappoint :)  The screwball humor is successful because it's not too outrageously pointless, and the friendship between Max and Ellie is adorable.  MAX THOUGH <3  Is it possible to dislike Max?  She's so cute, irrepressibly optimistic and naïve, and over-the-top.  I loved her.  (And she and Billy were cute too.)  Plus, Josh Lucas <3  Be warned, though, if you do look into it (which I recommend), that this movie certainly earned its PG-13 rating.  There are some pretty racy "dance" sequences.  And some language.  (In other words, not one for the younger sibs.)

Evelyn (2002)
I found this by chance at the library and I'm soooo glad I did -- it was awesome!  Better than I expected it to be.  It sort of looks like it was made in the 80s, oddly, but no matter.  It's based on a true story of a father who's been abandoned by his wife, fighting to regain custody of his children.  Pierce Brosnan stars in it, and he and his coterie of supporting characters are great.  The film has surprisingly bold Christian undertones, with the faith of the characters being brought even into testimony in court.  I really, really liked it.  One caution I have is that Jesus' name is used in vain a lot, which is very irritating.  Unfortunately, it seems to have been sort of like the Irish equivalent for OMG at that time, but still . . . watch with care, what.  I still wholeheartedly recommend it!

Finding Dory (2016)
Hurrah for Pixar!  Finally, the sequel we've all been waiting for!  This was a darling little aquamarine film with the right mix of old and new characters.  (ALSO.  THE SHELLS.  CAN WE HAVE AN "AWWWW" MOMENT.)

Ice Age 5: Collision Course (2016)
Hehe.  You see, Ice Age is kind of a tradition in my family, so it's sort of been inevitable that we'll watch every successive one they come out with.  This fifth one was a little better than I thought it would be, actually (albeit it did get worse as it progressed) . . .  there were some funny Sid moments and some funny Manny moments.  And, of course, Buck!  Buck is awesome!  It was great to have him back :)  And Crash & Eddie were as silly and amusing as usual.  However, *SPOILERS*  I'm not sure how I feel about Sid having actually found a permanent love interest.  Something just feels off about that.  *END SPOILERS*

John Adams (2008)
WELL.  Despite my extremely mixed feelings on the majority of the characters themselves, I can't deny that this miniseries is excellently made.  (My parents had watched it and loved it and decided to show it to me.)  The main musical theme is also drool-worthy.  

Miracles from Heaven (2016)
I wish this had a less cheesy title, but OH, gosh, this movie kind of blew me away.  I thought it'd be good after seeing the trailer (rarely can one go wrong when one includes "Fight Song" in a trailer about this kind of story), but . . . man.  I've watched it twice already and still want to watch it again.  The faith element is strong, but it's not corny like one could fear from a faith-based film.  It's wonderful, in my opinion.  Have any of you seen it?  I want to rave about it with someone.  And the scene pictured below . . . wowza.  Let's just say the trailer does NOT prepare you for it!  Seeing Christie's months of hardening towards God give way as she starts sobbing the Lord's Prayer out of sheer helplessness, and then the prayer chain forming . . . GO WATCH IT.  

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016)
MBFGW is sort of nostalgic for my family (similar to but in a very different way from Ice Age), so we watched this one.  There's far too much unnecessary innuendo, but there's also some sweet and accurate depiction of the crazy, sometimes bittersweet awesomeness of family.  

Everybody's face in this is perfect.

Zootopia (2016)
This one was really cute and funny the first time around, and slightly less so the second time around.  Still, however, I think it's good.  The sociopolitical agenda is *aherm* not exactly a paradigm of subtlety, but it's not a bad sociopolitical agenda to have, so . . . yeah :)

Plus, it's got one of the most accurate summaries of The Iliad that I can imagine:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Here's to 2017!!!

Do you have any fun New Year traditions?