Posted in Life, Remembering

This Year Will Be Different

I asked my students to complete this prompt, so I thought I would as well.

This year will be different. That’s an intimidating statement to make because who am I to say what this year will hold? Only God knows that. As I look back on the last year, though, I realize I was discontent with many of the relationships in my life. I wanted people to be different, and I sought acceptance from people around me. I was unhappy and insecure when I felt left out, whether I was truly left out or just imagining it. The root of my discontentment was that I was looking in the wrong place for my security. People, myself included, always disappoint, and I will never feel satisfied with a human relationship. Only God can satisfy and define me. This year will be different if I’ll keep that focus and perspective. 

Secondly, this year will be different if I am thankful for the deep friendships I’ve already formed rather than attempting to force those in a new place. There’s no need to strive to be accepted by all. Instead I’ll strive to be a better friend to those around simply because that’s what God put me here to do. I’ll focus on demonstrating God’s love and being vulnerable as God leads rather than being concerned about how someone responds to my friendly gestures.

Ultimately this year will only be different if I’ll keep my focus on God and how he defines me rather than how people define me.

What will make your 2018 different?

Advertisements
Posted in Book Review

I learned that the term cows only refers to female cattle. How did I learn that, you ask? This evening I had the opportunity to play Catan: Settlers of America. Overall, it was a nice change from the original Catan or any of the expansions. It was useful to have played Catan before though because it enabled us to skip over some of the rules. It wouldn’t be impossible to learn though because the rule book is very thorough.

The gist of the game is similar to the original Catan, but it is set in the United States. Players try to build cities farther Eastward and deliver goods to other player’s cities.

Other Positives

The concept is fun because you can recognize cities that you know. It would allow families to discuss history of the Westward expansion. The rulebook explains the history in the almanac.

One nice addition from the original Catan is the resource bonus. If a number is rolled and you don’t have that resource, you get a gold coin. The gold coins can buy resources or help you travel.

The Downfalls

The game is very long. With three players we spent 3 hours playing the first time. Of course some learning time was factored into that. The game is easily modified to be shorter though. We played a second time with only half of the original goal and spent half of the time.

Unfortunately it only allows for 3-4 players. We also couldn’t find an expansion option. The board is so large already that expanding it would be hard.

Personally, I found the pieces a bit large and unwieldy. By the time you get a city, wagon, train, and rail on an intersection it’s quite crowded.

Unlike other Catan games where I find development cards to be an annoyance, development cards in this game make a huge difference. They allowed me to win the first time by letting me build two free roads.

I look forward to playing this game again in the future. 

Posted in Gratefulness, Life

Celebrating the Connections

“Woah oh we need each other.” (Sanctus Real) How true that statement is. Even as an introvert, I still need to get out and socialize. As I’ve been overwhelmed by classwork and other responsibilities this week, I’ve realized this even more.

This past week in class we read a story by Ray Bradbury called “The Pedestrian”. In this science fiction short story, a lone man walks the streets in a futuristic city. He’s stopped by a police car, questioned, and eventually taken to the Psychiatric Center for Regressive Tendencies. His “regressive tendencies”? He writes; he walks; he doesn’t own a tv; he isn’t married. These may not seem very “regressive” to our society, but in a society where people go to work and then come home to watch their viewing screens in darkened silence, this behavior is abnormal. In fact, the main character has not seen another person walking in the ten years he’s been walking the streets. The message of this story is clear: we can very easily allow technology to deaden and isolate us to the point that what was once viewed as normal begins to be viewed as regressive. The fact stands that people need each other.

I’m grateful for all of the people in my life, whether I met them 25 years ago, a few weeks ago, or somewhere in between. I appreciate the relationships God has give me whether I speak to certain people daily or only occasionally. This weekend I was especially grateful for the friends I made in college and maintained relationships with. Here are some highlights of our time together.

*The bottom two photos are borrowed from friends (Clare and Amanda). Kudos to these ladies for helping to document the trip.

Now get out and appreciate the people God has put into your life.

Posted in Holidays, Life

The unexpected

This weekend was our 7th annual camping trip things didn’t go as planned. Two of our meats got left out. A friend at the last minute didn’t get to come. The water in the pond was really low. It just wasn’t the weekend I was expecting. For the past bit my mantra has been “God has a plan”. I’m sure this weekend was no different. Even though I haven’t quite sorted it all out, I know God has a plan. The changes to my agenda were not random or unnecessary; in fact it was still pretty good weekend. Here are some highlights.

We relaxed in hammocks.
Each person had her own hammock.
Even though the water was down, the view was still beautiful.
We’d already celebrated my birthday once, but they brought cupcakes anyway.
The land owner took us on a nice tour of his forest. It’s always a nice excursion. This time we saw baby raccoons.
I was the fire master. Not once did we have to use any fluid to start it. Even though it rained Friday night, we still had a fire to heat water for tea and coffee each morning.
Posted in Gratefulness

Day Three and Four: Friends and Church

How is it that I missed yesterday’s gratefulness post? Oh no! I figured this would happen at some point though. I’ll just play a bit of catch up.

Day Three (abreviated version):

Yesterday I spent the majority of my time watching The Great British Bake Off and writing papers. I also made some jewelry but since I can’t find my card converter I can’t show the pictures to anyone. Finally, my friend and I went to see Ender’s Game. Yesterday I was grateful for friends. Because of many changes in mine and my friends’ lives, we just don’t get to see each other as often as we would all like. Senior year is busy. On Friday night though we got to hang out and do a scavenger hunt around campus which ended in pizza at a local pizza place. Yesterday I spent some time watching a movie with a friend, even though I’ve never read the book. It’s good to do something that maybe you wouldn’t have chosen to do simply because your friend wants to and then discover that you enjoyed it as well. This semester, with all of the time I spend alone, has taught me to be grateful for the time I do get to spend with my friends. I am grateful for my friends.

 

Day Four:

Today, our pastor showed a video about a church in Nigeria. The small church was meeting for a normal Sunday service. In the midst of praying for persecuted churches, some Muslim hate group came in to the service with guns and opened fire. A 13 year old girl told her perspective of the event where she watched her father die in church. She told how he was the one that always talked about Jesus and brought them to church. Then he died. She told how she was running out of the church and felt scared and cold. Then she realized that she was bleeding. She cried Jesus because “that was all she had.” It amazed me that even after watching her father die in church she still had a strong faith in God. That’s the power of Jesus.

I am grateful today that I was able to sit in church without fear of attack. That girl mentioned that her church did not fear attack either, but it happened. I realize it could happen in my church here but I am grateful it has not. I am grateful that I can go to church at all, because there are some places where Christianity is not welcomed. I am grateful for church because it helps to revive my spirit and reminds me of my faith. The fellowship is sweet; God’s presence is sweeter though. I know what I believe and it breaks my heart that others do not see the need they have for God. What also breaks my heart is that different belief systems cannot get along. I realize that people do believe different things but killing each other is not going to make anyone change their mind. That’s not necessary.

So I am grateful for church.

Posted in Bible Study, Life, Literature

What It Means To Have A Friend.

Real recently I read a quote from a guy named David Roper in a book called Psalm 23.  It says:

“When we ask our friends to take away our loneliness we force on them a burden too heavy for anyone to bear.”

At first I vehemently disagreed, because friends are supposed to be there for each other right?  That’s what the purpose of friends is, so that we don’t have to be lonely and sad.  Then I started thinking more about what he said and decided there was some validity to his statement.  I can’t ask my friends to take away that burden, because that’s a burden only God can take away.  I need to turn to God.  I decided I needed to focus more on how I could help my friends rather than how they could help me.  I took that thinking even farther to think that I shouldn’t bother my friends.  At the point of reading this quote, I was a little lonely because I was sitting alone all day at home with no social interactions.  It was a shock from coming from school.  I decided I should resist the urge to text people just so I would have someone to talk to.  That was hard though and I gave in to the urge.

Then I felt guilty for talking to my friends.

What kind of crazy logic is that?  I shouldn’t feel guilty for talking to my friends.

Now, a few days later, I am reconsidering this quote and my thinking.  The quote may have some validity in that I shouldn’t ask my friends to fill a void when I haven’t first sought out God to fill that void.  I shouldn’t ask my friends to take away my loneliness.  I should ask God to take away my loneliness.  I should be talking to my friends not because I’m lonely but because they are my friends and that’s what friends do.  I did some Bible-searching (as opposed to researching) and came across these verses about friendship.

“Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?” Proverbs 20:6

-Okay…rather than thinking if my friends are reliable, I wonder if I’m a reliable friend?  That’s gonna take some soul-searching and more than I wanna post to the world on a blog.

“Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” Proverbs 27:6

-What?  I do not want to be wounded by a friend!  That sounds horrible.  I guess though I can understand how that is better than being kissed by an enemy, because an enemy’s kisses won’t be sincere.  At least a sincere friend will hopefully eventually come back with forgiveness.

There were many others in Proverbs, but the real clincher for my thinking was found in John 15:12-13

“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.  There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

That’s what it means to be a friend- to be willing to sacrifice even your life for a friend.  As a friend just told me today, friends are a commitment.  In order to be a friend, I have to commit to be there and sacrifice, not just expect my friends to do that for me.  While friends are there to support me and help me not feel lonely, God has to fill that role first.  I need to rely more on him than I do on my friends, and I often I fail in that aspect.  This does not mean though that I can’t reach out to friends, because friendship is given to us so that we can support each other.  Ecclesiastes 4:12 says that “a person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.  Three are even better, for a triple braided cord is not easily broken.”

God is my best friend.  So I need to go to him first, whether the situation is happy or sad.  I also have some pretty great friends here on earth as well who are always willing to listen.  For that I am thankful.

Posted in Life

Have Fun Storming the Castle

Today I felt like a princess…kinda.  My friends and I took a spontaneous trip out of the campus town to eat frozen yogurt, shop at Goodwill, play in a castle, and celebrate life and friendship.  The park we visited looks like a castle made of wood.  After a tree climbing experience, in which I failed to climb a tree, we found our inner child and played on the playground.  Since it is Saturday, there were lots of little children playing on the castle.  I am a princess by the way so I felt right at home.

Every time we visit this park, we end up playing with the cute kids there.  Today, this little girl came up to me and was talking about how it had been a perfect day except for the cold.  Then I heard her mom say “don’t sit on that” and I realized that I was sitting on the very thing her mom told her to not sit on so I jumped down.  The thing about kids is their inhibition to talk to strangers.  I’m not sure I was like that as a child, but the kids that visit this park sure are not shy.

This is the tree my friends climbed (and I attempted).  It's very magical looking.
This is the tree my friends climbed (and I attempted). It’s very magical looking.
Climbing in Uggs.  Walking out the branch.
Climbing in Uggs. Walking out the branch.
Walking all the way out the branch.
Walking all the way out the branch.
The tower.
The tower.
I could live here.  Maybe with a little more insulation.
I could live here. Maybe with a little more insulation.
This dog was huge!!!
This dog was huge!!!
The Peoples Exchange Bank...where apparently people are exchanged.  Sounds a little sketchy.
The Peoples Exchange Bank…where apparently people are exchanged. Sounds a little sketchy.

I am a princess by the way.  My Father (in Heaven) is a King!

 

I would also like to add a bit of the book that I purchased at Goodwill.  I picked up A Farewell to Arms (Hemingway) and what convinced me to get it was a drawing from the previous owner that told me the book was bad. Listen to this:

“The forest had been green in the summer when we had come into the town but now there were the stumps and the broken trunks and the ground torn up, and one day at the end of the fall when I was out where the oak forest had been I saw a cloud coming over the mountain.  It came very fast and the sun went a dull yellow and then everything was gray and the sky was covered and the cloud came on down the mountain and suddenly we were in it and it was snow.”

That is beautiful.  This is why I can appreciate Hemingway.  The nature described here shows the emotion of the scene.  Hopefully the rest of the book is as good as these few sentences.